Date Day: Helen or Bust

With the first trimester behind us and the energy of the second trimester filling up my body, it was time to bust out of the house for an outdoor adventure date. Date nights have looked a lot different the last few weeks as the majority of our free time has been spent sleeping or eating carbs in an effort not to vomit everywhere. Did I mention being chauffeured anywhere was also out of the question as just a simple ride in the car made me queezy?

So when the energy hit, it was time to plan a date day with the hubs. the original plan was to go to the zoo… But I didn’t follow the rules completely about getting the free pass, so we had to make some last minute game plan changes. The zoo would have to wait for another day. We made a day out of it and headed up to Helen. We had lunch along the river, walked through the little German village, and then found our way to the state park.

I'm a sucker for face cut out photo ops.That hike though was a little rough. I get so frustrated with myself knowing my fitness level feels less than normal because I’m using extra energy to grow a human. It took at least 30 minutes to walk up hill .5 of a mile with multiple stops for breathing and water. I felt so bad as I knew I was holding Conner back from running up that mountain. At the top we sat for a while and I must have looked as exhausted as I felt because a lady commented with a question asking if we had just hiked the major trail (a 10 mile hike). Insert YIKES emoji face here.
Hike in HelenLuckily on the way down I had a burst of energy mixed with equal parts needing to hurry to the restroom and keep Brinkley from popping on the side of a mountain without a bag to clean up his mess. This combination made us run down the hill, finish strong, and catch a snack break of the fudge we bought while visiting downtown Helen.

It was a fun day, nice and sunny for getting out of the house, and the perfect amount of exhaustion to create the need for a two hour naps once returning home.

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Happy Birthday

Happy Birthday (a day late in the blog world) to my wonderful husband. We kicked off his birthday shenanigans a day early with a little donut treat. A group of Conner’s friends get together frequently to work out early in the morning. I’m talking 7am early. So I concocted a plan to surprise them with a little breakfast tailgate.

I made it my mission to set my alarm a few minutes after Conner left to go work out so that I could dash to the store for donuts and coffee. Because isn’t that what everyone wants to eat after working out?

Birthday DonutsAll went according to plan, luckily, and my mission was a complete surprise!

So to my donut loving husband, Happy Birthday. I love you, your hard working self, and your ability to splurge every now and then for a post-workout donut.


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(At Home) Tourist Date

Mandy is never one to pass up a great deal so when she heard about the apparently infamous “Zoo DVD”, she just had to get her hands on it. But what is this “Zoo DVD”? Don’t worry – I asked the same thing. Each branch of the Gwinnett County Public Library has a copy of a DVD that tells information about Zoo Atlanta. When you check it out, watch it, and return it, they give you a pass for two adults and two children to get into the zoo for FREE! The trick is catching it while it’s at your local branch. Apparently, large groups of people team up and keep it circulating around their friends for a long time.

zoo1Lucky for us, Mandy watched the online inventory at the library like a hawk and happened to catch a break! We decided to take our free zoo pass and turn it into a date: be tourists in our own city!

Our plan was set – go early on a Sunday morning and work our way through the park backwards in order to avoid crowds. We also swung by Sublime Doughnuts on our way down for some A-Town creams and Orange Dream Stars! Mandy loved (and commiserated with) the kangaroos and their baby pouches.

zoo3We watched a goat try to eat her keeper’s ponytail, saw the panda cubs happily munching on bamboo, and even got an up-close-and-personal look a the tiger chillin’ in the shade.

zoo2When I was growing up, my Grandma Dot would take Melissa and I to the zoo almost weekly. We loved seeing the animals and I would even make my way into the snake house reluctantly. However, our favorite was always saying hello to our friend Willie B, the gorilla. We actually called him “Willie Butt” because he always stood on the hill and showed us his butt each time we would visit.


One of our last stops at the zoo was stopping by the “African Plains” area where they keep the rhinos, zebras, antelopes, and giraffes. The definite highlight of the day was feeding lettuce to the giraffes. Their tongues are so long!

zoo5Any good tourist visit to Atlanta would not be complete without a visit to The Varsity! We ended a great date with chili dogs, onion rings, and a Frosted Orange!


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Marriage Retreat

You know that moment when you are in the middle of something, get halfway done with the task, and then commit to coming back to finish in the future but it never happens. Yeah- that is this post. Ha! Flash back to February when we decided to take a little journey on a marriage retreat.

There is a first time for everything. In an effort to challenge ourselves this year and step out of our marriage comfort zone we signed up to spend our Valentine’s weekend at a marriage retreat.

(Everyone rolls their eyes)

Yeah we didn’t know what to expect. We thought we would be surrounded by discussions of feelings and your best marriage. And while that was true, that wasn’t the complete focus. The true focus was on being together, disconnected from technology, and trying new things.

Ropes Course at WinshapeWe spent the weekend doing high ropes course activities and hiking up to a really pretty watermill that is on the campus of Berry College.

I think my favorite thing about the weekend other than the commitment to avoid our cell phones if the other person was in the room, was the team building activities. We did this one communication activity where one of us had a picture of shapes (circles, triangles, and squares), and had to communicate the layout to the other person. The challenge was to see how we communicated to one another and discover how the other person heard our instructions. After the first round of the exercise, we switched roles and had a new photo to attempt to communicate and draw.

winshape tree

We learned a lot during this exercise about the fact that when we describe things, they don’t always come across exactly as we want because of our spouses ability to interpret the request. For example, I may say “Conner please do the dishes before our friends come over tonight”. He interprets it as needing to do the dishes 5 minutes before the crowd arrives rather than doing it within the 15 minute window after I communicated my desire. While he wasn’t wrong in his execution of the request, it gave me anxiety because I did not clearly communicate and make sure he heard my true desire.

While this is just one example of the break down of how communication comes across, it truly allowed us to pause and remember that we are each made differently and therefore communicate differently. Rather than finding fault in one another, we have to extend grace and figure out a way to communicate effectively so that we feel heard and valued.

winshape water wheel

Honestly, the weekend was a blast, less “talk about your feelings because you are doing it wrong” than I would have thought this type of environment would brew. It was a relaxing weekend away, we walked away with a new understanding of one another, and appreciation for our common values.

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In Sickness and In Health

You never know when you will have to carry out the promises of the vows you committed to on your wedding day. I always heard the first trimester of your pregnancy is a doozy in terms of morning sickness and the occasional snicker from already-mom’s about how it really isn’t just confined to the “morning”.


I had no concept to know what to expect for my own body, because fortunately I don’t really get sick. Yes, I get the occasional headache or need to take a nap, but the only thing that ever really makes my body feel awful would be classified as “car motion sickness”.

Well the first trimester was the whole “car motion sickness” to the 1000th degree. It was all day-I think I’m going to throw up, but I am not actually going to, sickness. If I wasn’t eating, I was sleeping in an effort not to keep eating. If I wasn’t sleeping or eating, I was chewing on a mint.

All over the interwebs you see those cute little “1st trimester must-have” charts. Mine consisted of peppermints, sparkling lime water, pretzels, and naps. My typical food groups of greens, dessert, and veggies were out the window as my body hated all of those things. My 1st trimester food groups? Bread + Cheese + Potatoes.

This whole “in sickness and in health” vow thing really got put to the test and sweet Conner stepped up to the plate. I remember one day shutting down the computer from the work grind and he had waiting for me a snack station and napping essentials so that I could easily transition to what we have come to call “baby baking hour”.

Baby Baking Hour

How lovely for him to embrace this less than wonderful, crying over food dropping on the floor, pregnant lady that I have become.

Snack station for baby foxI am just grateful for how he took the time to grab the essentials to help me be as comfortable as possible in such a transitional time. I never could have guessed what that part of the vows would look like in such the context of not being on my death bed.

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Baby Baking Exhaustion

Here’s a secret. I write blogs when I sleep. Meaning I write them out word for word, imagine the pictures, and even recognize the words I’ll have to pay special attention to when typing because they probably will be misspelled. But when I wake up… The words have vanished, just like the over abundance of energy I just had during the last 6 hours of sleep.

Growing a baby is hard work. Energy zapping, stomach turning, anxiety ridden hard work. Every moment when I’m not trying to get through my adult responsibilities, I spend the seconds sleeping, stuffing my face with bread and cheese (because all my normal food groups seem to have me turning up my nose), or sleeping some more to avoid eating again. Let’s just say there has been a lot of self discovery the last few weeks. einsteins Having this outwardly invisible battle going on has made me thankful of the miracle and reassurance going on inside. It has made me reflect on the kind of mother I will be, the kind of spouse I want to be, and the type of parents we will be when it comes to disciplining. But those thoughts make me frustrated when I look over from my sleepy eyes and see a sink piled high with dishes, a dog begging to be played with, and a gracious husband who I haven’t been on a date night with in weeks. If I’m zapped of energy now…what will life be like in 7 months?!? Yikes.

Well during all this rest, I still wanted to spend time with Conner – ignore all the internal symptoms going on – and remind him that I love him. Luckily at the beginning of the year we began watching the TV series Parenthood. OMG, so good. I remember watching an episode when it first came out and I wasn’t impressed. I guess I just wasn’t mentally in the mindset to want to watch it.

This year…we binge watched the show. It took us two and a half months and we just got to the final episode. That was cause for a special at-home date night to celebrate. So if you’ve seen the show, you know that every episode has a scene with pancakes. Those Bravermans love their pancakes. So we ordered a batch from IHOP to go, sat around the coffee table, and cried our eyes out to the last episode. So sweet! pancakes In that moment I was thankful for Conner. He goes on dates with me because he knows that reminds me that I am loved. He knows that it is how I show love and remind him that I’m glad we are married. I’m thankful for all of his patience right now during this first trimester. And for his ability to be spontaneous when I wake up feeling adventurous for a few hours and declare that we are driving 40 minutes to get brunch in the city.  I’m excited for more energy and even have a date…outside of the house…planned on the calendar circled in prayers of no nausea and lots of energy.

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Baby Fox Coming Soon

I am writing this post at 4am. That is when this baby decides it’s no longer tired but would rather be fully awake leaving me to feel every wave of nausea possible at 4am. Excuse me while I cry over the fact that I am never sick and therefore the toll it is already taking on my body is noticeable. Also, it is mixed with equal parts joy knowing that the feelings of throwing up every five minutes are proof that a miracle is growing and I don’t have to question whether things are okay or if I should have passed on that deli sandwich I ate earlier yesterday.

Oh yeah… I’m pregnant!!!!

So allow me to back up and introduce you to the baby fox that is cooking and will make its debut around October:

Baby Fox 7 weeks

And here’s the baby announcement. This picture was from our marriage retreat two weeks ago but perfectly sums up our feelings.

Baby AnnouncementYeah I’m a little scared. Mostly for the labor part. Okay also for the part where we figure out how a tiny human fits into the Volpe lifestyle. I’ve been reading a devotional thought the pregnancy that goes week by week of the symptoms, tiny science lesson of what’s happening/growing/changing with the baby, and a place to journal my feelings. It has been amazing because it is showing me week by week to align my trust in what really matters and not to worry about every little thing. (Don’t worry, my A type self gasps at the words I just wrote. Who am I?!? What is life?!? Hard hitting questions at 4:00am)

To tell our families we had these sweet little pacifiers made up with the expected due date and a little fox. We attached a little note to let them know it was their mission to hold on to it for slumber parties and baby fox hangouts that would begin in 7 months.

So how did we get here?!? Well I mean I’m not going to tell you that part… I will tell you the part where I never cry and all of a sudden I cry for a week straight… I knew something was up. So I took a test… Saw a positive and after I had my own little “OMG this is happening” moment in the bathroom, I composed myself and took a box downstairs to Conner to open. Inside contained some printed instructions for him to build a crib and of course the positive test. Because we all know that looking at something that someone else peed on is super cool and all sorts of wonder.

Here is a little video of me telling the newest daddy to be of his new role. Enjoy 🙂

Movie on 1-30-15 at 8.52 AM from Mandy and Conner on Vimeo.


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