Gender Predictions

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This Saturday there will be photos both here on the blog as well as on social media officially announcing the gender of Baby Vendetti! But until then, I thought we should have some fun with some old wives’ tales when it comes to predictions!

Heart Rate Above 140 (Girl) or Below (Boy): At our very first ultrasound the heart rate was 119, but that was at 7 weeks when the normal heart rate is around 90-110 BPM anyway. Other than that very first ultrasound, the heart rate has been in the 160-175 range at the other 5 ultrasounds. So that is a solid GIRL prediction.

Craving Sour & Salty (Boy) or Sweet (Girl): Definitely craving all the sweet fruits and even frozen yogurt quite a bit in this pregnancy. Another GIRL prediction.

Beauty Glowing (Boy) or Stolen (Girl): At the very beginning of the pregnancy I had a little acne around the same time that I would normally have it for the start of my period. Other than that, my skin has looked great throughout this pregnancy so far! Hooray! A BOY prediction.

Morning Sickness (Girl) or Feeling Great (Boy): Well, I’m feeling pretty great now, but the first trimester was rough so I’m calling this a GIRL prediction. I will say, while most people have been guessing it’s a boy, I’ve had several people tell me they think it’s a girl based on how sick I was that first trimester so I guess this particular old wives’ tale is pretty wide spread.

Ring Test: We did the ring test and it most definitely predicted a BOY.

Mayan Calendar: I really know nothing about this, haha! But I heard about this from a “Gender Prediction” Google search and found this website. Looks like another GIRL prediction.

Chinese Gender Predictor Chart: Thanks to this handy dandy website, all the calculations were done for me and a GIRL was predicted.

James Test: Our friend James has correctly predicted the gender of a ridiculous number of babies. We’ve watched him be right over and over again over the years. And James is predicting a BOY for us.

Beth Test: However, my Aunt Beth has also correctly predicted the gender of a ridiculous number of babies. At one point she was 38 for 40 when all her friends were having babies! And Aunt Beth is predicting a GIRL for us.

So the final count is 6 predictions for GIRL and only 3 predictions for BOY. Though if you go with what most of our friends are guessing then you would think we’d already announced that it was a boy. 😉

So tell me, what’s your guess? Girl or Boy?
Love Rach

The Best Books I Read in 2016

Last year I decided to keep track of the books I read in 2016. GoodReads made this easy as I just added each book to my “2016 Reads” list after finishing. I ended with 116 books read in 2016. Mostly thanks to reading at the gym. I’m a quick reader and spend one hour (5 days a week) on the treadmill at the gym reading. So that’s 5 hours of read time meaning I easily read 1-2 books a week (depending on book length) just while working out at the gym. Plus I read during travel time on trips which we did a lot of this year. So, 116 is where I landed in 2016.

When it comes to rating books on GoodReads, I most frequently rate books at a 3 or 4. A 4 means I really liked the book and a 3 means that it was fine. If I rate it a 2 then I really didn’t like it (I have rarely given out a 1 star rating because I almost feel like it’s mean to the author, ha!) and if it gets a 5 star rating then it means LOVE! So today I want to share with you guys my favorite 5-star reads from 2016

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I re-read the Mark of the Lion trilogy this year (A Voice in the Wind, An Echo in the Darkness, & As Sure as the Dawn). These are some of my favorite books so naturally I loved them all over again. I couldn’t even begin to tell you how many times I have read this trilogy since I was first introduced to it as a teenager. I just love all three of these books so much. So so so good!

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Also a re-read for this past year was Scarred Faith. I first read this book in 2013 when it was published, but I think I’ve re-read it nearly every year since then (or at least parts of it). This book tackles several big topics (in a short 160 pages), but one of my favorite things about it is that it talks about how important mourning sad times is. We brush over grief so often because it’s uncomfortable and so many of us grieve differently and over different things. but I love this book for the reminder that God is standing with us through every moment of our suffering. And best of all, this book reminds us that the tomb was empty and that death doesn’t win. Jesus wins. And that reminder fills me with such hope for the brokenness in the world.

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The final re-read for 2016 was Unafraid.  Oh, how I love this book. I read it nearly every December because I love how it tells the story of Jesus’ birth from Mary’s perspective. It humanizes her in such a powerful way. Love it!

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I’ve read several of Cassandra Clare’s books and every one of them has landed a 4 star rating from me. I enjoy them for sure, but they aren’t the best ever. Until her latest book, Lady Midnight, which was just above and beyond! A 5 star read for sure! Personally, I think it’s the best she’s written and I am so excited for the next book to come out this May!

crystal-kingdom

I read Crystal Kingdom (the final book in the Kanin Chronicles trilogy) this year and loved it! I loved the original Trylle trilogy that she wrote and this follow up trilogy was equally excellent – especially the final book!

the-crown

I read The Crown (the fifth book in the Selection series) and I absolutely loved it! I loved the first 3 books in the original trilogy, but was really disappointed in the fourth book (partially because I didn’t know there was going to be a fifth book until the last few pages of the fourth so I was really confused as to why they weren’t wrapping things up better). This fifth book absolutely redeemed the fourth. Loved it! I look forward to seeing what Kiera Cass does next!

harry-potter

I initially had mixed feelings about Harry Potter & the Cursed Child. I had no problem with the script layout, but I didn’t love all the parts of the story or character development. However, when I finished the book I found myself happy to have read it. Happy to have spent some time with characters I had missed. And happy to have met some new ones. It barely squeaked by with a 5 instead of a 4, but in the end all the old Harry Potter feels won out. 🙂

esther

This retelling of Esther is incredible! Like the “Unafraid” book I shared about earlier, this one humanizes Esther in a powerful way. It really helps you imagine what it might have been like to be in her shoes. Such an interesting read!

land-of-silence

I can nearly always count on Tessa Afshar for a 5 star read. Her book, Land of Silence, was no exception. She is a powerful story teller and I love that about her! I’m looking forward to her next book in June!

pride-and-prejudice

I have loved the BBC version of Pride & Prejudice since I was introduced to it as a child. And when the Kiera Knightley version came out while I was in college, I loved that one too. I obsessively watched every one of the Lizzie Bennet Diaries YouTube videos as soon as I heard about them and I have read countless re-tellings of the story in book form. However, somehow I just never actually read the original Pride & Prejudice. So this year I did. And I absolutely LOVED it!! I thought it might get tedious reading it all, but it was the opposite. Even though I knew everything that was coming, I still couldn’t put the book down. Jane Austen’s wit is just the best.

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As many of you know, Christopher and I began volunteering with World Relief last year. We were placed with a family from Syria and spent our Monday nights practicing English with them. Talk about an eye-opening experience. This book, Seeking Refuge, is a great place to start if you are curious about what’s happening with the refugee crisis and ways you can help. (Note: this book was released before the recent temporary ban was put in place so it doesn’t address that topic, but it does give tons of great information).

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The Wonderful Things You Will Be is actually a children’s book which is a obviously different from the others on this list. But I loved it so much that I wanted to share it with you guys anyway. The message is beyond precious and the illustrations are beautiful. As soon as I saw this book I bought it for Mallory (the little girl who I nanny a few hours a week). And you better believe I’m excited to read this book to Baby Vendetti as well! Such a sweet read. 🙂

What was the best thing you read last year? 

Have you read any of these books?

Love Rach

Photography Favorites: Maternity & Newborn

In light of our recent announcement, sharing my favorite maternity and newborn photos felt right for today’s “favorites photos of 2016” post. 🙂

To be 100% honest with you, I photograph very few newborns. I’m asked to frequently, but I always refer to another photographer here in town who does beautiful work with newborns. It’s not that I don’t like babies (newborn snuggles are so precious!), it’s just that photographing newborns isn’t my specialty. The few newborn sessions that I do accept each year are ones where it is more of a “lifestyle” session. No unnatural poses or diaper-less babies for this photographer. Okay, true story, I caved once and photographed a diaper-less baby. After that explosive experience, I have promised myself I won’t again. 😉 But on to adorable photos!

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As always, you can see more of my work at Rach Vendetti Photography. Happy Friday, friends!
Love Rach

Health & Fitness in the First Trimester

So just last week I shared with you guys about my goals to be healthier last year and how well those paid off. I’ve had a couple of people ask what this means now that I’m pregnant. Going into this pregnancy, I felt so incredibly healthy and fit and I think that has made a huge difference in the habits I’ve been able to carry on even when I felt so sick. So here are the main things:

1. Obviously I’m going to gain weight. Most likely more than the 18 pounds I lost (my doctor told me anything from 25-35 pounds would be a healthy weight gain for me in this pregnancy). But this doesn’t bother me in the least. Those extra pounds were just hanging around making me feel sluggish and unhealthy last year. This weight gain will be for a great cause!

2. My gym time looks a little different sometimes. I still shoot for an hour on the treadmill five days a week, but there are days when I can barely make it to 35 minutes before I’m just totally worn out. And I’ve let myself be okay with that. I mean, I’m growing a person. That’s hard work. 😉 The past week when I’ve started to feel better has meant that my gym time has been back to normal and that has felt great! And I’m finally back to getting 10,000 steps a day which makes my Fitbit happier with me.

3. I have been cleared to continue weight lifting by my doctor, but honestly… I haven’t been lifting. My body has been so worn out this first trimester that making it to the gym at all has been a feat some days. My doctor said since my body has been used to it in the past, it’s more than okay to start it up again in the second trimester if I wanted to wait until I was feeling better. So now that I’m feeling better I’m looking forward to adding weights back into my routine.

4. My doctor told me to switch to prenatal yoga and asked that I not do any poses that require being on my stomach (even in the first trimester). So for those who would like to see what yoga videos I’ve been doing lately, I have them saved on a Prenatal Yoga list. The very first video on there is one that I got from Amanda and it is so great! I’ve done about half the videos on that list and as I continue to do more videos I’ll delete ones I don’t like and add new ones I find. If you have recommendations for prenatal yoga or prenatal workout videos, I’d love to hear them!

5. I am so thankful that I taught myself to drink water and hydrate well last year. I had no idea how important drinking tons of water while pregnant was. So that has definitely been a bonus!

6. Ah the diet. Pretty much all food made me sick up until last week. What’s comical is that initially I thought this was a mind over matter thing. “Oh, I’ll just force myself to eat this cottage cheese and it will be fine!” False. That was definitely false. A lot of my go to favorite snacks were ones I just couldn’t stomach at all (including eggs which is a staple for me). My diet overall wasn’t terrible, but it definitely included more carbohydrates than normal and lots more bland foods. Thankfully Baby Vendetti likes apples, bananas,  strawberries, clementines, watermelon, carrots, peanut butter, and Greek yogurt so even during the sickest days, I could still eat those. Since last week I’ve been feeling a lot better and am back to my normal super healthy diet which has me feeling much better over all! Here’s to hoping I stay feeling better!

7. Speaking of feeling so sick… I continued to use MyFitnessPal to track my food until week 10 of pregnancy when I just couldn’t handle thinking about food any more than I absolutely had to. I lost weight when I first got pregnant so I wanted to be sure I was getting enough calories plus I loved that I had such a long streak of logging my food into MyFitnessPal (it was well over a year). But alas, I just couldn’t do it anymore at week 10. Now that I’m feeling better, I want to start tracking again just to make sure that I’m getting a good number of calories plus making sure that I’m eating a balanced diet (I love how MyFitnessPal tells you about all the nutrients in your food, not just the calories).

Overall, I’m so thankful I had these habits in place before getting pregnant because otherwise I can guarantee you, there would be no way I would’ve started any healthy habits while feeling so miserable. But you know what has made it worth feeling so terrible? Knowing that Baby Vendetti is growing and healthy. Grow, baby, grow! Speaking of growing… wanna see a couple of pictures? 🙂

11-weeks

This was 11 weeks pregnant when I first started to show just a little. Such a sweet and emotional week in that way! Look at that sweet bump!

13-weeks

I’m sure many of you saw this yesterday on Instagram, but here I am this week at 13 weeks pregnant! Grow baby grow!

Any recommendations for health and fitness while pregnant? Either that you’ve experienced yourself or heard of?

Love Rach

Some pretty awesome news

Just in case you missed it on social media over the weekend…

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We mean every word of that canvas. Praise God from Whom ALL blessings flow! We are so incredibly grateful for this answered prayer! There have been so many happy tears and so much rejoicing over the past couple of months!

So to answer the most commonly asked questions:

We’re 13 weeks pregnant and our due date is August 1st. However due to medical concerns it’s very possible Baby Vendetti might be coming earlier in July.

Yes, I have been sick. So sick. But I’ve been so blissfully happy about this precious baby that I can’t be upset about being sick. I’m starting to feel better now and am hoping that as I enter the second trimester I will start to feel awesome soon!

Yes, we’ve had an ultrasound and heard the heartbeat. In fact, we’ve had weekly ultrasounds for the past six weeks. 😉 The medical concerns we face aren’t ideal, but it has meant close monitoring of this little one which has been so wonderful!

While we are “at risk” for many things… this pregnancy has been textbook perfection so far. Baby Vendetti has shown perfect growth every week with ideal heartbeats. So many hundreds of little things that can go wrong, haven’t. Baby is growing and healthy. Praise God!

If you are the praying sort, we would so appreciate your prayers for a healthy pregnancy and a safe delivery! We are so excited to meet this precious child! Thanks for rejoicing with us, friends!

Love Rach

Photography Favorites: Couples

Last year I shared my favorite photos from 2015 and it was so well received that I decided to do so again this year! To keep from being overwhelming, I’m breaking the photos up into categories so today I’m sharing my favorite couple photos from 2016!

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couples-photography-10Ah, such a sweet tenderness to photographing couples. I just love it! You can see my favorite couple photos from 2015 here and of course you can find lots more of my work on my Rach Vendetti Photography facebook page.

Love Rach

Learning to be healthy (and losing 18 pounds along the way)

gym selfie

Most of my adult life I’ve weighed about the same amount (give or take a few pounds) until a couple of years ago when I started a new medication that messed with my hormones. I gained 10 pounds in a very short period of time. And as I changed medications and tried different things, I found myself continuing to slooowly gain weight even thought my diet and exercise habits weren’t changing. Until the point that I just couldn’t handle it anymore. In December of 2015 I was officially up 18 pounds from my previous “normal” weight. My clothes didn’t fit and I felt sluggish. I realized that if I didn’t take control of this, I would only continue to slowly gain more weight and not feel healthy.

To be clear: I was always in a healthy weight bracket, but that doesn’t always mean that I FELT healthy. I think there is a misconception that if someone is in the right BMI weight bracket, that they are healthy. For me, I have not found that not to be necessarily true.

So in December of 2015 I decided to make some serious changes.

Fitbit & Commitment to the Gym

First of all, I got a Fitbit for Christmas 2015. A tangible way to track my exercise. I committed to myself that I would go to the gym every weekday for at least an hour and that I would shoot to still get close to 10,000 steps on the weekend if possible. And so I did it. I allowed no excuses to get in the way. The gym was a priority.

My Fitness Pal & Honesty

I also started using My Fitness Pal in December of 2015 and made myself be 100% honest with it. So that meant that there were lots of days at first that I went over my allotted number of calories. But now I could SEE the proof. Those bites of something here and there really added up. I learned to measure out my food and my portions so I could be honest with myself about how much I was actually eating.

My Fitness Pal & the Fitbit app connect on my smartphone so as I worked out, I got extra calories to eat which was fun. I also would get a weekly report from Fitbit telling me exactly how many calories I had eaten over the past week, how many calories I had burned in the past week, and what my deficit was. It’s just a big math problem, you guys. Calories in, calories out. That’s weight loss.

Quality of Food

Weight loss may be calories in, calories out. But there are some calories that are far more helpful to us than others. I started really gearing my diet toward high protein foods to help keep me full longer. I also started taking my carb-distributed diet more seriously which  meant smaller meals and lots of snacks. And I started eating TONS more veggies and fruits.

Snacks

I mentioned this before, but I started snacking all throughout the day. Last year I shared with you guys some of my favorite snacks so feel free to check that post out here.

Meals & Portion Control

For the most part we have always eaten healthy foods at home, but I have not always been good about portion control. So one of the biggest things I had to learn was what ONE serving of food truly looked like. And if I chose to eat two servings, that was okay – I just needed to be honest with my calorie tracker and put it in there. This helped me realize how often I eat seconds just out of habit and not truly out of hunger. And knowing that I will be eating a snack again two hours after eating breakfast, lunch, or dinner, made it easier to stick to one portion of food. For a list of our favorite healthy dinners, see this post.

Water

I have always been bad about drinking enough water. So I decided that if I was taking my health seriously (not just trying to lose weight, but trying to FEEL healthy again), that I needed to learn to hydrate myself. So in January of 2016 I bought a cute water bottle, brought it with me EVERYWHERE, and started tracking the amount of water I drank on my Fitbit app. Once I was in a good habit of drinking water all throughout the day I stopped tracking the exact amount and just made sure I was refilling the bottle at least twice a day. This made a HUGE difference in how I felt. Hydration is awesome. 🙂

Yoga

In August of 2016 I decided to incorporate yoga into my routine. I wrote about my experiences with yoga here for those of you curious. I found that it continued to tone my muscles and has helped with my incredible inflexibility. 😉

My Goal & Timeline

My initial goal was to lose 7 pounds. I didn’t think it was possible to be at my previous weight while on these medications, but I wanted to at least fit into my clothes. I hit that goal within 2 months. I continued to do what I had been doing and found that without working any harder, I was still losing weight. By the end of April of 2016, I had lost 17 pounds. At this point I was a little concerned about losing too much weight so I upped my calories to keep up with the work out routine that I had discovered I loved so much. I considered cutting back on gym time, but I realized that I loved how STRONG and FIT I felt. I was toned and just my overall health felt GREAT so I didn’t want to give up my gym time if I didn’t need to. I still lost one more pound over summer just from being so active, but I have stayed steady at 18 pounds lost since then.

How I Feel

Last summer I told Christopher that I have never felt so healthy in my entire life. I was even smaller weight-wise in college (by another 5-10 pounds depending on what part of college we’re talking about), but I never felt as healthy as I do now. Eating a healthy diet, staying hydrated, and spending time at the gym strengthening your body does wonders for your health. It wasn’t just about losing weight (though I did want to lose at least enough to fit into my clothes again), but about feeling better again. And friends, 2016 was the year I really kicked off awesome habits.

Also, I felt like a champ being able to lose weight while working against medication that was messing with my hormones. There were times that my calories-in-vs-calories-out equation showed that I should be losing more weight than was actually showing up on the scale and I think that was probably the medication I was working against. But with dedication and hard work, I still lost that weight and took control of my over all health.

Before & After Photos

There are no before-and-after photos in this post because I don’t believe that I looked bad 18 pounds heavier than I am now. Of course if you are curious, this is a blog… it’s super easy to find photos of me from December 2015. But it’s not about how much better I look, but about how much better I feel. About how much healthier I feel. About how my body is hydrated, nourished, fit, and toned.

Disclaimer

Many people say that this sort of hitting-it-hard approach of adding several new things to your life all at once is not sustainable. For me and my personality, it worked and has continued for a year now. I know other people may need a slower approach of adding one new healthy habit (starting a gym routine, starting a healthy diet, starting to drink water, etc) per month or even per quarter. For me, it worked well to just do a total overhaul all at once. So if you need to take it slower, that’s not a bad thing. I think that’s actually what many people recommend.

Closing Thoughts

I really struggled with whether or not to share this post here because I don’t talk about weight loss in general. I don’t like the way that our culture pushes this idea of weight loss and being skinny all of the time. It breaks my heart hearing young girls talking about dieting and wanting to lose weight. But at the same time, I want to show that it can be done in a healthy and safe way focusing on BEING HEALTHY and not necessarily just losing weight. It takes hard work, commitment, and honesty with yourself, but it can be done. I’m proof. 🙂

Love Rach