Christmas Christmas EVERYWHERE!

I think I've gone more Christmas overboard this year than any other year. I've had Rockin' Holidays radio on Pandora for a month, piles of presents under the tree for all of our loved ones, and yet I still can't believe it's actually Christmas in a couple more sleeps!  We are heading out to Colorado tonight so I wanted to stop in and share some pictures of our decorations and wish you all a very Merry Christmas! I hope it's filled with lots of love and quality time with friends and family.  This time of year can be downright crazy, so don't forget what it's all about in the midst of all the hustle and bustle. I tend to stress out about traveling around this time, all the people we want to try to see and trying to stick to a semi-normal schedule for our newly-ornery toddler...

Before the stack of presents got pretty out of control...
Even though it was about 4 degrees when we did this and ridiculously rushed, I'm so happy with our cozy little porch!
Beautiful centerpiece I won at my work Christmas party!

Excited to add another stocking to this line up next year!

When you switch wrapping paper themes halfway through...

Obsessed with these cute tags from Walmart!

Checking out one of the trees at Grandma and Grandpa's impressed he hasn't messed with any of the trees he's encountered this year.
Since we stuck with our smaller tree again this year since we'll be out of town and it's off the ground, Duke hardly even checks it out and literally hasn't even tried to get to the presents stacked up in front of it.  He loves ripping apart fresh rolls of wrapping paper, but the gifts themselves, he could care less.  Noted. 

We are really looking forward to a 4-day Colorado Christmas weekend, a short week, and then more Christmas festivities with South Dakota family next weekend.  I will hopefully stop by next week for a recap of all the fun and maybe do a fun New Year's giveaway! Stay tuned ;)

Merry Christmas!!


Vulnerabilities: All about yours truly...

I was recently given a really cool opportunity at work to go through a Leadership and Talent Assessment.  I call it really cool now because it's over and I found it incredibly enlightening and fulfilling...but before I really knew what I was getting into, I was sick to my stomach about it.  Basically I was interviewed as well as 3 of my teammates and my boss...all chatting about yours truly, as well as our team as a whole since the dynamics have changed quite a bit over the past year.  On top of that, 2 of my direct reports and another colleague I work closely with were interviewed and all of this was compiled into a comprehensive Leadership Assessment. 

This process was spread out over the course of a couple of weeks and involved a lot of self-reflection, identifying {or maybe just admitting to?} some of my own vulnerabilities and weaknesses as well as strengths.  I am so thankful for this opportunity and truly getting to love my day job makes such a difference in my life overall.  I feel respected and empowered and I have the opportunity to help others feel the same. 

I've found that since becoming a mom, I am far more guarded about my personal weaknesses and vulnerabilities than I was before...probably because I feel 100x more vulnerable as a mother than I have in any other role.  I know I'm pretty much an open-book and if anything, I tend to overshare the day to day details of our lives, but overall I'm actually pretty guarded about the things I don't feel super-confident about.  It's easy to share the good stuff, but to really let the walls come down and show that maybe we don't actually have all of our shit together, is another story entirely.

Much like my job, I find myself pouring every ounce of happiness and positivity I possibly can into Duke.  It is so important to me that he have a happy childhood and grow up in an environment where he is encouraged, challenged, and constantly learning. But my biggest struggle is finding the balance and reminding to take care of MYSELF at the same time.  I read a great blog post earlier this week about self-care and while I think it's important for everyone to do, I think it's especially important for mamas, who are inevitably taking care of many other people before themselves.  I'd like to have enough happiness and positivity left over to cut my husband some slack and maybe be a better friend.

In my leadership assessment I learned that the goals I have for myself personally in my career, are coming through clearly to others and I am representing myself just as I had hoped.  The values I find to be incredibly important {trust, integrity, follow-through, open-mind} are the values that my colleagues also see as strengths for me.  There are always things we can be doing to better ourselves, always things to be learning, endless ways to grow and evolve, and I'm excited to continue to work on myself and some personal goals throughout 2017.  I'm hoping to apply more of what I learned from this assessment to my personal marriage, my role as a mom, a sister, a daughter, a friend, etc. Also, if somebody can find a way to assess my skills as a mother and interview a 13 month old that speaks mainly in "ooh's", I'd gladly take the feedback. :)

It's a little cliché to focus all about self-improvement and reflection as we get closer to ending one year and starting a new one, but who cares?! Is there ever a bad time to try to be a better person?  It will likely be a goal of mine for years to come, and one I am more than happy to work towards.

Happy Monday Friends!  And more importantly...Happy Christmas Week! #totallyathing


Walking, Lap-Sitting, and Kisses: A Duke Update

Ah my sweet little firecracker baby.  Duke has always had a big personality, but it's certainly been developing ten-fold since we hit the 1-year mark in October.  Aside from the ridiculously dramatic tantrums he throws, complete with full on sprawl on the floor, he's hitting some pretty awesome milestones.  He's been taking 3-4 wobbly steps since before his birthday, but Dennis and I officially agree that we have a walker now that he can walk across an entire room and actually catch his balance and remain standing on his own.  We cheer and clap like crazy people and he absolutely beams with pride at his accomplishments.  I am so proud of him and also want to sob like a baby because this is a major step {pun intended} in our little man's life.  Then again, he is 25 lbs and I am 6 months pregnant, so I'm pretty excited about his new skill.

Another adorable skill that I can't say I ever even thought about until now, is Duke's ability to crawl and walk over to me and climb into my lap completely unprovoked.  It is the sweetest thing and I notice him doing it more and more.  Whether it's to bring me a book or a toy, he just plops down in my lap and continues on with his business.  I am a snuggle-addict so this has become one of my absolute favorite unexpected treasures these days.

I saved the BEST for last...the KISSES!  Duke has given some very random kisses in the past, but just this past week he's started freely giving them to me when asked.  Sometimes closed mouth, sometimes open {whatever the mood strikes, right?!} but always very intentional and aaaadorable.  He also gets this little grin right before like he just KNOWS how happy it's going to make me to get my mooches.  This little boy holds my heart and I must say, being a boy mom is the bee's knees folks.

Hope you all have a wonderful Monday!  We finished some final touches on our Christmas decorating and have moved most of the boxes and miscellaneous stuff back into the basement so we can just enjoy a pretty house for a couple more weeks!  I also took a note from Christina at Carolina Charm and made this stovetop potpourri yesterday, and I HIGHLY recommend it.  But please warn your husbands that it's not actually meant to be eaten before you make it...mine was insanely disappointed that it was all to make the house smell good. ;)


Baby #2 Update!

Well now that we have flown past the 1/2 way point I figured I should document this pregnancy before I forget everything.  We are 22.5 weeks into this pregnancy with baby boy #2!  I finally feel like a human being again, have a decent amount of energy back AND sometimes I even cook dinner.  Basically I've made a full 180 degree transformation from 7 weeks ago.
21 week bump photo
If you asked me if I wanted to have a 3rd baby at any point during the first 16 weeks of this pregnancy, I probably laughed in your face and said I am never doing this again.  Which totally sucks, because for the most part, I really enjoyed my pregnancy with Duke.  For whatever reason, this one has just been a lot more difficult and I was convinced it's because I was having a girl until we found out we will be welcoming another sweet baby BOY into the world in April. I cannot wait to see Duke with his baby brother and maybe in a couple years, we'll talk about trying for a girl ;)

Pregnancy Updates:
  • Sleep: Rough. I usually wake up to use the bathroom around 3 and turn into a full blown tossing and turning insomniac around 5 a.m. until I begrudgingly get up at 6:45 a.m.
  • Movement: Not as much as Duke, but starting to become more frequent in the evenings
  • Nursery: Now that we know what we're having, I've been pinning toddler room ideas like a crazy person in the hopes that it will motivate us to paint and transform our guest room in January.  Duke's room now will essentially stay the same and baby #2 will take over whenever he's no longer in our room.
  • Cravings: carbs (bread, donuts, pizza, pasta, etc.), breakfast items, juice and any kind of dessert (ice cream, cookies, candy, etc.) these days. 
  • Symptoms: Pretty bad lower back/sciatic pain and loads of hip pain when I'm trying to sleep.
  • Missing: Alcohol. Just a glass of wine or a beer would work wonders in the evenings.
  • Best Moments: Finding out that we're having a boy, doing a fun cupcake gender reveal at Thanksgiving, and dreaming about life with two wild boys!

Happy Hump Day!


First ER visit

I'll preface this by saying everyone is totally okay!  This space has become my pseudo-baby book for Duke so I want to make sure I'm capturing all the happenings for the day when I actually {maybe?} transfer it all to paper.

Anyway, backing up a bit. I went to Lincoln, NE to visit one of my very best and oldest friends who just had her first sweet baby girl 2 weeks ago on Friday night. {Baby girl is amazing and I'm so happy to have one of my very best friends in the mama-club!} Dennis and my parents took on Duke duty since Dennis works on Saturdays and everyone had a great time. I met up with my boys in Sioux City on my way back for a little Christmas shopping {I may have just gotten myself an early present that I am OBSESSED with.  Check these out- so comfy and so cute!}  We headed home, everyone slept great and we woke up feeling extra snuggly on Sunday.  We managed to bring Duke into bed for his bottle and also managed to get him to fall back asleep with us for an hour and a half.  This surely should have tipped me off that something was wrong with our little guy, but he used to do this occasionally and it was amazing, so we went with it.  And then the rest of the day, my usually smiling and laughing boy, looked sad, tired, and kept playing with his mouth and ears.

A million snuggles were in order.  I had planned for all things Christmas décor and even though everything is up from the basement and covering every surface of my dining room, it's been a slow process getting things setup in our new digs.  Anyway, obviously a sick babe trumps all plans so we hunkered down on the couch and cuddled our little man while giving him the occasional dose of Tylenol.  He continued to burn up, hotter than I've ever felt him and temps at different times read anywhere from 99 degrees to 103.  I called the nurse's line and was given a list of things to look for but the nurse didn't seem to worried, so we continued on for a couple hours.

At one point, Duke was laying on my chest, awake and calm, and breathing pretty hard. I remembered the nurse had said something about 50 breaths per minute so I started timing his and googling to try to come up with the number.  We counted a few different times and always ranged between 60 and 70 breaths so I called the nurses' back.  She said at his age, he shouldn't be above 45 so we should take him in to the ER to be checked out for pneumonia.
We drove the quick 4 blocks over and got our boy checked out.  Double ear infection: check.  Bumps on throat and mouth: check. Red spots around hands, cheeks and mouth: check.  The PA basically told us he definitely had a double ear infection, possible strep, and possible hand foot and mouth {although the spots could have just been a heat rash because he had been fighting fever all day}.  All of which would be treated with the same antibiotic.  So we opted to skip really pissing Duke off with a throat swab. She said his lungs sounded great and he was likely breathing so hard because he was trying to cool himself down. 

He slept off and on in the ER but was mostly whining and crying and downright miserable.  The worst part is how freaked out he was and even when something didn't hurt at all, like a sticker on his toe to monitor pulse, he would get so worked up we could hardly calm him down.  They give him the first round of medicine and some Iburprofen while we were waiting on some other tests and he started to perk up and turn into his normal self. By the time we left, he was waving at the nurses and even managed to let a smile out.  We got some meds and instructions and headed back home.

Today was spent snuggled up with my sweet boy.  He barely ate or drank unless he was given a bottle shortly after his Ibuprofen dose so I know his mouth is bothering him.  Praying these antibiotics work their magic quickly!  Hoping for a solid night of rest and a brand new boy in the morning ;)  Wish us luck!


'Tis the Season- Helloooo December!

Blame it on the fact that I work in nonprofit these days, but I am so much more keenly aware of the necessity of GIVING these days.  This year we've been able to support our local United Way, the Giving Tree, and a friend raising money for a Leadership conference I hold dear to my heart.  I am trying really hard to be intentional with our giving, and I think it's important for us to do even when it's not in earth-shattering amounts.  Every little bit helps!
December is always a season of reflection for me.  I think about the past year and what we've accomplished, what I wish we would've done, and what I hope we can do the next year.  I try to slow down {although I'm not doing a great job at that this year} and really savor moments with family and friends.  Something about the end of the year and the holiday season always have me craving quality time.

This year has been admittedly really tough, you guys. I've been pretty open about it but I feel like things are catching up to me a little bit!  Since January, we've had 5 jobs between the 2 of us, lived in 3 different places, and we're constantly trying to find the balance of working full time and raising our sweet baby {and frequently neglected fur-child ;)}  This year has also been truly amazing. I am so thankful to be living in South Dakota and beyond thankful for the opportunities this move has afforded us.  I've met wonderful people, have a job I get excited about each and every day, and Dennis is settling into a job he sees as a career for the first time ever.  This season of life we're in is crazy, but at the end of the day, I really wouldn't change a thing.  Except for inventing a laundry robot...

I am so thankful for everything that we have and I want to keep that reminder at the forefront of my mind this holiday season! Things will inevitably get a little tricky with travel and lots of family to see over the course of a few days, but what an incredible problem to have!  We have lots of family that is dying to squeeze and love on Duke and hopefully they still want to see us too.  Ha!

All of this rambling is to say, don't lose sight of what this season is really all about! Give more than you receive and spread the love - not everyone loves the holidays and there is no better time to be extra kind and make things special for the people in your life.

Cheers to the weekend!


Happy Thanksgiving-Eve!

I've been listening to a holiday Pandora station at work all week and I love it! I am beyond excited to decorate our house for Christmas this weekend after enjoying all things Thanksgiving.  I missed a lot of Merrigan Thanksgivings the past few years because I always had to pick between time off at Thanksgiving OR Christmas at my old job.  Christmas nearly always won and while I had amazing time with friends and family in CO, I'm super thankful our little fam gets to stay put this year for Thanksgiving and enjoy it with my dad's side of the family.

I am totally digging this 3 day work week thing and wish it could be like this every week! I've been slightly distracted this week since we found out the gender of sweet baby #2 on Monday and I'm plotting how we are going to announce to family tomorrow.  Here are some hints at how the big reveal will go down in South Dakota and Colorado...

We're also 99% sure we have a name picked out which makes me ultra excited! Now I can start panning out our upstairs transformation...painting rooms, eventually transitioning Duke to a big boy bed and maybe finally hanging things in our master bedroom {I've been purposefully avoiding it because I hate our current wall color and the way everything looks hung up against it! That being said, I'm pretty sick of the stack of pictures on my dresser and overall chaotic state of our room right now :( }

I'd be lying if I said I hadn't already started my Christmas shopping {kudos to you nuts that are already done!} and my family is real tired of me asking them what they want.  I'm getting close to throwing in the towel and just getting them whatever I think they would enjoy!  There are so many crazy good deals online right now and since that's pretty much the only way I shop, I'm cashing in on cash back through Ebates and monster savings on store sites. Buy all the things!  Here is a breakdown of some of the goodies I've snagged so far and things I have my eye on...happy shopping!

I hope you all enjoy tomorrow with family and friends! I am so thankful for all of you that stop by to see what's going on in our world and for your support of my creative endeavors.  Happy Thanksgiving!


FRIDAY! First Snow Edition

Happy Friday friends! I am really looking forward to a jam packed weekend full of fun.  Tonight I'm going to my first ever bunco party, assuming this blizzard we are in lightens up.  Tomorrow we have the last home football game for the University and MAJOR house prep for a holiday vendor event I am hosting on Sunday! Then I have a super short work week before I get to hunker down and enjoy Gilmore Girls Thanksgiving with the fam. 

Today was the very first snow of the season and I have to say that there is something so magical about the first snow! I was wide eyed this morning and tip toeing around the house, peeking out the windows to see the soft white stuff covering EVERYTHING outside.  Our fence, every tree branch, etc. The wind is whipping around out there so the snow is sticking to everything and so pretty.  Ask me if I still think it's pretty tomorrow...

My sister sent me a bunch of pictures from Duke's birthday party a few weeks ago and I am swooning over my little chubby superman.  I'm really happy we went with a Superman theme for the party because it mimicked one of my baby showers, Duke's first Halloween, and his daddy's obsession with his favorite super hero.  I found his outfit on Etsy and it was worth every single penny! He was adorable and it's so well made that I know we can get some awesome pictures done with him in it when I get my life together enough to book something.

This hand treatment is on it's way to me and I'm really excited. My hands have been SO SO dry and I don't know if it's the change in weather or this pregnancy that is sucking all of the moisture out of me, but I need a fix and I think this will do the trick!

I created a Christmas Wish List on Amazon to send to the hubs and my family and I'm pretty excited about it. I love getting to pick out the actual things I want {size, color, style, etc.} and I'm hoping my family jumps on the bandwagon and creates some for themselves so I can start shopping! Hint, hint...
jacket // candle // book // hat // purse // suitcase

Duke is a monster snuggler in the evenings. He rarely wants to be put down and will hook his little legs around me as tight as can be when he senses I'm trying to put him down. I've decided to embrace it, {easier said than done when my round ligament pain makes walking difficult...} because I know soon enough I'll have 2 little monkeys clamoring for attention!  I can't get over how happy and hilarious he is and I absolutely love the extra attention and love we get from him right now. 

Hope you all have a wonderful, warm and cozy day!


Duke Anthony Felecos: 1 Year Old!

My sweet baby Duke,

This has by far been the best year of my life.  I prayed for you and have imagined having kids for so many years, the fact that you're here and you're mine still shocks me sometimes.  You have brought more joy, laughter, happy tears, and love into my life than I ever could have imagined. 

You came into the world a little more fast and furious than we were expecting 1 short year ago.  I had been telling your Daddy my entire pregnancy that he needed to COOL IT in thinking that we would be in some crazy speeding rush to get to the hospital and that we would have hours and hours in which I would labor at home before we even went to the hospital.  I was so very wrong and ended up being the one begging your dad to go faster on our drive to meet you, 1 very short, contraction-filled hour after my water broke. You can read all about that here and here.

I've learned so many things as a new mom- and I've learned to trust myself and my instincts.  I have a lot more confidence now than I did a year ago, but to be honest, being your mom has always been fun.  It's hard, don't get me wrong, because being a parent means you are 'on' all the time and more often than not you have to put someone else's needs before your own, but I've never smiled more.  Sure, we lose some sleep, but I've never loved 3 a.m. more than when you are cuddled up and  fast asleep on my chest.  Our priorities are so different now, but I wouldn't have it any other way.  You are worth every minute of sacrifice, and knowing this time is so fleeting has us soaking in each moment as you continue to grow and learn each and every day.

You are adorable and people comment on your little face every time we leave the house.  You are so sweet and have a hilarious personality.  You are a lover in every sense of the word and you love hard.  Physically, you want to be hugging, tackling, kissing, licking, or smacking those you are most fond of whenever you can.  Someday we'll teach you how to be a little more gentle. 

You're fascinated by Capone and even though you want to be his best friend, you are a little hesitant because he isn't always welcoming you with open arms.  You love books, playing with any toy or thing you can find, climbing the stairs, being tickled, and eating.  Oh my you love eating.  You don't love your car seat but still do well on long road trips.  You get most frustrated when you haven't seen us in awhile and we immediately have to put you in your seat after picking you up.  You are a really great sleeper and love snuggling in with the fuzziest blankets we can find. 

You love being around people, especially other kids, but you aren't shy about needing some one on one mama time if you're feeling overwhelmed, sick, sad, or scared.  You are so LOUD.  I literally don't know what to do when we're around other super quiet {maybe normal??} kids because you can be heard from a mile away.  It's so funny and really shouldn't surprise us at all...your dad and I certainly have never claimed to be quiet people.  You have my eyes which is something I really hoped for- it's a Merrigan thing, and I just love it.

I was so happy as I sat in your room this morning and nursed you that we made it to this milestone.  You haven't been exclusively nursed since 9 months, but I can't explain to you how much it means to me to have been able to do this for you for 1 whole year.  It creates an indescribable bond and warms my mama heart.

Thank you for teaching me patience.  Thank you for making me a mom.  I promise to always love you the most, to protect you in every way I can and keep you safe. I promise to always give you a place to call home and I promise to always try to be the best parent I can be for you.   I cannot wait to see what the future holds for you sweet boy, but let's take our time getting there.  Every day with you is a joy.  Happy Birthday baby Duke!


P.S.  I will probably call you baby Duke until you're 35. :)

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