Newborn Realities for Second Time Parents March 29, 2018 05:00

Brian and I recently welcomed our new nugget, Margaret (Maggie), into our family. She was officially one month earlier this week. The past month has flown by and yet feels like it has taken forever. There have been many highs and lows. I feel like when preparing for our first child we were so intentional and thorough. This was probably because we knew we were adventuring into the unknown. This time with both of us working full-time and having a energetic toddler running around we honestly didn't have nearly as much time or mental capacity to prepare. I think we both secretly hoped it was like riding a bike, that it would all come back once she was born. The truth is that was only halfway true. Brian and I regularly look at each other and exchange the glance that means, "oh yea, I vaguely remember that, but I can't seem to recall the specifics, mental note to ask pediatrician next time we go in." I also personally think that God has somehow engineered our minds to suppress the newborn phase, cause really, who would remember all the details and choose to have another? But then again, those sweet tiny precious little fingers!

Newborn Realities for Second Time Parents

I jotted a few of those newborn-isms down that we failed to remember:

  • Babies are typically born nocturnal and it takes a few days (in our case weeks) for them to readjust to a regular schedule.
  • The most in-depth conversations that you end up having with your spouse seem to all happen at around 4:30am when you are both for some reason really awake. The few moments you don't have a toddler melting down or a baby crying.
  • Babies cry. Our first hardly cried. Maggie seems to express all emotions, good and bad, by crying. Definitely an adjustment for us. 
  • The "let you baby cry it out" thing is a lot harder to do when you toddler is sleeping soundly.
  • Babies have growth spurts where they are hungry all the time. 3 days, 7-10 days, 3 weeks, so on and so forth.
  • We completely forgot about acid reflux and gas. Our new addition seems to want to be upright or decently angled all of the time in order to be comfortable. 
  • For those that breastfeed, it takes up so much of your day, completely forgot the time commitment. 
  • Also for those that breastfeed, you forget about having to live life in 2 hour stretches of time.
  • I regularly have to look at my phone to know the day of the week. 
  • How long does it take for a baby to sleep through the night? We hit it at 8 weeks with our first, I'll keep you posted regarding round two.
  • You're continually washing everything: bottles, poopy clothes, milk covered everything!
  • We hadn't fully processed how our son was going to react. There have been very high highs and very low lows on this front. 
  • Cabin fever is real!

A New Addition to the UPstudio Team! March 1, 2018 05:00

Congratulations to Mary Beth and her husband on the birth of their beautiful baby girl, Margaret!  Maggie is the cutest little thing, even though she likes to stay up all night.  We're so excited to add another member to the UPstudio family!  Join me in congratulating MB on her precious and perfect addition to their family.

PS - Mary Beth's dedication to UPstudio is REAL.  She wanted to write a blog post while she was in recovery after giving birth!  (We didn't let that happen).

33 - The Jesus Year (and figuring out life) July 6, 2017 05:00

I'm turning 33 tomorrow.  33 might not seem like a milestone birthday like 16, 18, 21, 25, and 30 are, but I've always referred to 33 as the Jesus year.  Jesus was 33 when he was crucified, and man did He do a lot in those 33 years... kind of makes my birthday feel even weightier with the comparison because spoiler alert: Jesus was a way better person than me.

I've always thought that I would have my life figured out by the time I turned 33, and used this as my goal year to know what I was actually doing with my life.  For a long time this was totally attainable because 33 was so far off.  But now, it's tomorrow, and as I sit here and reflect, here is what I've learned.

I don't think I'll ever fully have my life figured out, and maybe that's ok.  Most of the time, I'm Type A and need to feel in control and have a plan, but, maybe being flexible is part of figuring out life (actually, I think this is definitely the case, it's just hard to realize sometimes).  I'm pretty good with most of the things in my life - I have the best husband, and some really awesome kids.  My day job has recently narrowed it's focus with a concentration on K-12 work, which is something I feel invested in.  Mary Beth and I are working in stride and growing UPstudio.  My youngest daughter is now old enough that we are in a routine as a family instead of constantly floundering with newborns.  I've been studying minimalism and how to simplify my life, and am taking steps in that direction.  So on the surface, everything is great.  There is one thing that I feel is lacking though, and it's really within myself.

My husband and I were talking recently, and the only way I could describe what I was feeling is that I want to do more good.  We had been reflecting a lot recently on the life of someone that we admired so much for her goodness.  She was real, and not perfect, but she was the type of person who would drop everything to help a friend, was always volunteering to help where needed, and never let anything that was going on in her life hold her back.  I want to be more like her - to be an example for my daughters and feel like I'm making a difference with all aspects of my life, and maybe even let go of some control to just be available as needed.  

I thought about trying to task myself with doing something for a year.. daily, weekly, monthly.. but ultimately decided that if I failed even once then the whole project would feel like a fail.  My goal isn't to put more pressure or stress on myself, but to live my life more intentionally.  My mind went back to some basic principles that were instilled in my early Christian days: the fruits of the spirit.  If I can live my life with love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control, then everything else should fall into place.  Easier said than done, I know, but something to strive for.  

When I thought more on this, I could easily see ways that I could apply each of these "fruits" to my every day life.  I've been trying to put it in to practice these past few days, and have felt and seen a difference in the interaction with my daughters, and even that difference alone is worth it.  So, here in my Jesus year is a reminder to try to live each day more like Jesus, and let life take it's course.  

"But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control..." Galatians 5:22-23

Sometimes Taking a Risk... Is Worth the Risk July 28, 2016 05:00

Here's the thing... taking a risk is scary. No matter what the risk is, you're putting yourself out there, maybe making a big decision, but you're not sure that the outcome will be what you want.

For Mary Beth and me, forming UPstudio was a big risk. We both had full time jobs and families - in other words, we had plenty of responsibility, but not a lot of free time. However, we also had numerous of conversations through our years of friendship about each wanting to do something on our own. Neither one of us felt quite satisfied with our careers, feeling an urge to do something more personal, more tangible, more on our own terms. So, one day when we were comparing our planners for the new year, talking about what we did and didn't like about each one, it made perfect sense that we could create our own. And then it was a brilliant idea that we create an entire business around this one shared interest. That was it - we were going to do it!

Taking a step back, we knew that this was a risky move, and we needed to think about it individually before committing. For one, neither of us had any experience with business minus the occasional lemonade stand of our respective childhoods. We had no experience with marketing, limited knowledge of product fabrication, limited knowledge of website design, no contacts in the field to help us, and knew we would have to spend our own money to invest in a start up. On the other hand, we are both designers, and knew that we worked well together. We knew each other's strengths and our own weaknesses, and knew that we would be able to fill in the gaps for each other. In our discussions we discovered that what we each wanted to do for our business perfectly balanced out. More than anything, we both had drive, and knew we could trust each other. So many things were working in our favor, but there were so many other things that made this way too scary. MB was newly pregnant and about to start on a whole new adventure by becoming a mom. This project would take up most of our free time.  Was this something that we were really willing to take a risk on?

With the support of our husbands, we decided that it was. And now, a year and a day after initially launching our website, we know that all our hard work has been worth it. Let's not get carried away, it hasn't been a cakewalk, and we aren't exactly rolling in the dough, but we have learned a lot. We've taken countless risks along the way, some leading to better results than others. Through our Lessons Learned posts, we're sharing this information with you all.  Goodness knows we've scoured resources as we embarked on each new step of this journey (and we're still going!), so we're now excited to be able to give back and be a resource for others.

In the coming weeks you'll see some of the results of the efforts we've made: the 2017 UPstudio Planner is in production (and we are SO excited about some changes we're making), we're a part of The Makers Mercantile, and we're featured in some really fantastic stores:  Ramble Supply Co., Stitch by Holly Aiken, and West Elm (coming very very soon in the Local section at Southpoint in Durham!). None of these things would be happening without the risks that we've taken over the past few months. 

The best part though? Knowing that we've done this on our own, survived, and feeling that the risk is worth the ongoing reward. So if you're on the fence about a risk, think about what it might be like on the other side, and don't be afraid to go for it.

Maternity vs. 'Meternity' June 16, 2016 08:00

Recently an article was published proposing the idea that people who do not have children should have the equivalent of maternity leave, a twelve week 'vacation' of introspective opportunities. The author cleverly called this 'meternity'. I'm all about this idea, with a catch: this should be offered to everyone regardless of if they have children and take maternity leave or not, because the idea that this could in any way relate to what maternity leave is, or that a woman taking maternity leave really has a 3 month vacation, is laughable. 

Now, I really don't blame her for having this thought. She hasn't experienced maternity leave, and she must not know anyone who has taken it, or else she would never be able to compare the two. From an outsiders perspective, it does seem like a vacation - 12 weeks away from work is a good break. In the article she notes that some of her friends made life changes such as ending or switching their careers after taking maternity leave, but this could be for any number of reasons, money being a huge factor.  In all honesty - kids are expensive!  Newborns go through approximately 47 diapers a day, and don't even get me started on the cost of daycare.  I thought college tuition prices were supposed to wait until college!  No wonder some of these women made changes... maybe they had to!  Back on track, let's talk about what the differences between a vacation and maternity leave actually are. We're all familiar with a vacation, but what is maternity leave? 

First, let's clear up a discrepancy. We all call the time taken after giving birth maternity leave, when the fact is that most companies don't offer a true maternity leave... In reality what most new mothers take is FMLA or short term disability, and the terms of these vary. Pay varies as well, but there is only a certain amount of time that pay is accrued, and only at a percentage of full pay. Some people do not have the opportunity to take 12 weeks, and have to go back to work much earlier, while they are still recovering, and while their baby is still very young. And, there is often no leave offered for fathers, who are usually just as sleep deprived as the mother.

But, let's not get caught up in the weeds of how things could be better, let's shift gears to the highlights of a day in the life of a mom home with her new baby (as experienced by me, on any given day these past 4 weeks):

  • Wake up at 6:00am after an interrupted night of sleep between hour-long feedings every 3 hours, which means 2 hours of sleep at a time.
  • Think about what is going on that day and determine which level of black leggings I should put on (level 1: fresh and clean, level 2: worn for a couple of days, or level 3: worn for several days and nights with several milk stains).  Locate a maternity size shirt to wear with black leggings (don't even think about trying to wear your pre-pregnancy clothes again yet, trust me)
  • Relocate everything that lives on my nightstand at night (pump and pump supplies, bottle, giant water bottle, phone, diapers, wipes, etc) to set up in the living room for the day. Who would've thought this much stuff would be required to get through one night?
  •  (unedited photo of my disaster of a nightstand)
  • Clean up 2 dog accidents within 15 minutes of each other (Ok not everyday, but this is just to say that regular life still happens with things to be dealt with!)
  • Clean up and redress an explosive diaper (Again not everyday, but more often than anyone should have to deal with)
  • Help my toddler get ready for school while nursing the newborn (Epitomizing the generation of multitasking!  I've learned to hold a nursing baby with one hand while dressing my daughter with the other.)
  • Kiss my husband and toddler goodbye for the day.
  • (7:00am) Settle in on the couch after another diaper change for an endless nursing session... eat breakfast, and binge watch tv shows that my husband would hate (but that I love!!! Recommendations: Grey's Anatomy, Hart of Dixie, UnREAL, Jane the Virgin) After the baby nurses, I pump breastmilk to make sure she has a good supplement of hind milk if she falls asleep too fast. Sometimes these milk cannons are more than she can handle (Sidebar: breastfeeding is not easy!  The first few weeks are especially hard as you and your baby are both learning how to work with each other.  Again, I won't go into detail with this, but just think about the sacrifices that moms make next time you see someone nursing their child.  My first was a hybrid with breastmilk and formula which worked great for us, and so far we're exclusively nursing with this one, but may have to use formula in the future.  There are drawbacks and benefits to each, but bottom line, here's the thing - sometimes one just works better than the other, and that is perfectly fine. In other words, don't judge a fellow mama, she's making her choice for a reason!)
  • Do an insane amount of laundry every day.  How does one baby go through so many outfits in one day?!  (answer: see note above about diapers)
  •  (the never-ending circle of laundry)
  • Lather, rinse, repeat with the possibility of a nap thrown in there. Eat lunch (time varies, but lunch is typically dry Honey Nut Cheerios that I have to fend my dogs off of) then repeat diaper, nurse and if I'm lucky, a nap.

Some days we do get out of the house - the older that she gets (and the more I recover), the more we can handle. We go to Costco (my favorite place ever, but that's another blog post!), Trader Joes, out for long walks, but not all in the same day and not without frequent breaks and sometimes, a lot of tears (from both of us).  

And, let's not get too into this, but recovery is hard. I can't be too far from the house for too long until my body can get itself together and stop leaking from every single orifice. Milk, sweat, tears, etc. The female body after giving birth is a hot mess for quite a while.  A new mom's center of gravity has changed so quickly that she is often left with extreme back pain from essentially re-learning how to walk.  And, sleep.  Precious, fleeting sleep.  It's amazing how a person can function on so little sleep.  I can do the basics - take care of the baby, shower, get groceries, etc.  But ask me to have an adult conversation and I'm a fumbling idiot.  I can't think of words, can't get sentences out, hear things incorrectly, and sometimes just don't even know what to say.  My daily conversations are with a baby, my TV, and in the evenings my husband and my 2 year old.  My husband struggles with the same problem and we often laugh about attempted conversations with others.  So, that leaves my 2 year old leaving the most impression on my daily speech, so please excuse me if in a conversation I manage to slip in a change of topic to 'talk about snowmans'.

You know though, the author of that article isn't entirely wrong... In the past 4 weeks I have had time to think more, and grow.  Even with all of the above wreaking havoc on my ability to be a 'normal' person, I'm evolving to love another human being more than I ever thought I could, with my love increasing for my toddler and husband as well as we spend time together as a family of 4.  And that is better than any true vacation.


(Disclaimer - I wrote this post several weeks ago, so now with my youngest at 8 weeks old, things are getting much easier.  For all those mama's out there struggling in your first few weeks of having a newborn - and especially if it's your first - just hold on.  I promise it gets better!  It's a tough journey, but the reward is worth it.)

Nobody Puts Baby in a Corner (A Nursery Reveal) May 5, 2016 08:00 1 Comment

Alternate blog post title: Baby Baby (as in the amazing song by Amy Grant, which I just learned has been remade by Tori Kelly in honor of the song's 25th anniversary. 2 things: 1) I don't know who Tori Kelly is, but if Amy Grant is ok with her, she's cool in my book, and 2) 25 years??? Way to make a girl feel old... This song was my jam, and the remake is great, check it out here.)

So, back on topic, I (Becky) am going to talk about something that MB and I both enjoy doing, as it's an extension of our everyday jobs: space planning and decorating. I had my second daughter, a beautiful little girl Nora, just over 2 weeks ago, and had so much fun putting her nursery together in the months before her birth. Creating nurseries when you're in a major nesting stage is so satisfying as you're working to design the perfect space for your newest family member, and I want to share her nursery today.

Nora's room started as a guest room when we first moved in, with all tan walls. (Sidebar: almost every wall in our house was originally the same tan color, we felt like we were living in a hay bale... We've since painted most walls grey, and my husband has nicknamed our house 50 Shades of Grey). So, when we updated the guest room (before we were pregnant with our second daughter), it got 3 grey walls with an accent wall in sage-y green (that's totally a color, right?). When we designed Claire's nursery (our first daughter), there was an intense amount of painting, so this time around we decided to work with the paint colors that were already in the room.  (Here is the mood board we used for Claire's room so you get an idea of the paint job we didn't want to tackle this time around):

Since we already had wall colors established in our then-guest room but they didn't scream 'baby girl' to me, I knew I wanted to incorporate colors in other elements, the biggest being the rug. I felt that the rug would hold everything together in the room. I narrowed it down to 3 choices that I loved and that had lots of colors, from West Elm, Anthropologie, and Ikea. Two of the rugs were pricey and I couldn't get my husband on board, but I just wasn't sold on the third, so we waited. MB and I happened to have a pop up show at West Elm RDU and were set up right next to the rug up for debate.  Seeing it in person helped me decide that it would be perfect for the nursery. My husband and Claire came up, saw the rug, and we ended up getting a great deal on the floor model (thanks to MB's suggestion of asking if that was an option for purchase - this is a great way to save some money if it works out.)

After the perfect rug, we found a dresser from a local mid century resale store, Gremlina Vintage, after searching at least 5 other stores. We found some more great options at other locations but again, it came down to price in the end. The crib and changing table were already waiting to be set up as we could use the same ones we had for Claire (both of these were Craig's list finds - Pottery Barn furniture still in the box). So as for putting Baby in a corner, I'm actually totally ok with it, because that's where the crib made sense, at least in this room.

Usually I like to start a project with a mood board but in this case I didn't make one until after we had purchased the rug and dresser; the major components in the room. This is what it looked like at that point:

The rest of the room was pulled together with details and smaller pieces of furniture: a patterned but monochromatic light fixture (Allen + Roth lampshade that my husband rigged up as a pendant), an Eames rocker, neutral bedding (again used from Claire's nursery), art for the walls (to go in frames we already had), a DIY mobile, additional wall hangings (aren't these little house frames from the Target Pillowfort line adorable?), and some sweet toys and gifts displayed from friends. The dress hanging at the closet is very special, made by Jessica of Little Grey Line. She works to create one of a kind garments from men's shirts, so one of my husbands old shirts was converted into a beautiful dress for both of our girls - Claire wore it to the hospital to meet Nora, and will enjoy wearing it until it's passed down to her sister, and maybe one day to a daughter of their own.

The art was homemade by yours truly, inspired by Scandinavian flower designs,  modern icons in an eye chart style, and modified modern font for the alphabet.

The DIY Himmeli mobile was another personal touch for the room.  I followed this blog post tutorial from The Design Confidential to create different shapes.  A word to the wise - the more pieces and intricate the shape, the more frustrating it can become to create, so be patient, and start small.  In the end it gets easier!

We were very happy with how the room turned out and had a lot of fun taking elements from Claire's nursery and pairing them with new ideas for Nora - now if we could only get her to actually sleep in there and appreciate all our hard work (babies... so ungrateful :) )

How do you start a space planning project?  Do you dive right in with purchases, or weigh all your options?  Create a mood board or let your shopping do the work for you as you go?  We'd love to hear from you!

Just Breathe April 28, 2016 08:00

Mary Beth here... 

The season of life I'm in right now = "chaos". I have so many mixed emotions right now regarding how my time is spent. It is hard to find time to be a full-time believer, full-time wife, full-time mom, full-time career woman, full-time entrepreneur, full-time everything else. I feel like everyday I'm just checking things off my list that need to get done, just rushing around to accomplish everything. Going to work, making baby food, vacuuming up after the dog, washing bottles, washing clothes, vacuuming, putting away clothes, vacuuming, writing this blog post, going to the grocery store, vacuuming, all things essential to our family making it through everyday (minus the blog post).  Living each day as a means to get to the next. I struggle with this, because I feel like I'm not completely "living". I'm not enjoying every precious moment with my son as he is learning and figuring things out. But the torn side of me knows myself well enough to know that if I'm not constantly checking off my to-do list everything will pile up and I'll have a mini melt-down and be frustrated with myself and probably end up taking it out on the people I love most. So, I struggle with finding a balance. A balance where I am enjoying and living life, but also getting the essentials done. I have found a better balance over the last 8 months by learning to let some things go. I know that my family and my faith are my top priorities, everything else has to take a back seat. So our floors aren't always clean, our baby doesn't always eat homemade organic baby food, and clean clothes pile up before getting put away (and I end up writing blog posts at the last minute). I am still working on the perfect balance, it is a daily struggle. It is all a mindset, but that's a hard thing to retrain. The clean, put together, organized, on top of everything person I've been the past 29 years is hard to turn off. But I'm prayerfully searching and working on it. Please share with me what works for you!

I talk about this balance with my husband a lot (my struggles = his struggles, because he is an amazing compassionate man). One morning after one of these conversations as I was really down on the way to work thinking about the rushed life we live, I heard a new song on the radio, Breathe, by Jonny Diaz. It was one of those moments that really put everything in perspective. 1. I'm not the only one struggling with this, and 2. All I really need to do is breathe, and rest at His feet... lay down what's good and find what's best...

(For those of you who receive out blog via e-mail, click over to our blog or click on the link below to listen.)

Alarm clock screaming bare feet hit the floor
It’s off to the races everybody out the door
I’m feeling like I’m falling behind, it’s a crazy life
Ninety miles an hour going fast as I can
Trying to push a little harder trying to get the upper hand
So much to do in so little time, it’s a crazy life
It’s ready, set, go it’s another wild day
When the stress is on the rise in my heart I feel you say just

Breathe, just breathe
Come and rest at my feet
And be, just be
Chaos calls but all you really need
Is to just breathe

Third cup of joe just to get me through the day
Want to make the most of time but I feel it slip away
I wonder if there’s something more to this crazy life
I’m busy, busy, busy, and it’s no surprise to see
That I only have time for me, me, me
There’s gotta be something more to this crazy life
I’m hanging on tight to another wild day
When it starts to fall apart in my heart I hear you say just

Breathe, just breathe
Come and rest at my feet
And be, just be
Chaos calls but all you really need

Is to take it in fill your lungs
The peace of God that overcomes
Just breathe
So let your weary spirit rest
Lay down what’s good and find what’s best
Just breathe

Just breathe, just breathe
Come and rest at my feet
And be, just be
Chaos calls but all you really need
Is to just breathe
Just breathe

I am Not in Control March 10, 2016 08:00 2 Comments

Just a forewarning... this post is about to get really personal.  (Becky here, and you may or may not know these things about me.  They're things that a lot of people have struggled with - job loss, struggles of giving birth - but are sometimes not easy to talk about.  I get through these things by support as you'll read below, so hopefully someone reading this will find it a helpful reminder.)

Do you ever have times in your life where you feel completely and utterly overwhelmed?  Times when there are circumstances outside of your control that have the power to make you feel so small and insignificant because you can do nothing about them?  I absolutely do.  There have been things happening in my life that really just get the better of me, and I let myself get caught up in them.  I feel sorry for myself and dwell on the situation, even though I can't do anything about it.

I graduated from college in 2007 and was fortunate enough to have multiple job offers.  I followed my Dad's advice (which I do now anytime I'm faced with a tough decision) and made an old fashioned list of pros and cons for each architecture firm, making my final decision based on the cons.  In the end I chose to work at a firm where I would be making less money.  It was smaller, so I would get a ton of experience, I would work on great projects with great people, and there were a lot of perks built in.  I loved working for this firm, but unfortunately the timing was just not right as far as the economy was concerned.  In 2008 there was a major crash that affected architecture significantly.  Many firms did not survive.  Those that did made a lot of cut backs.  The firm that I was working for had about 20 staff members total.  I remember a lot of closed-door meetings occurring for numerous weeks, and a lot of speculation going around between the people that were not in those meetings.  We knew what was coming, but we continued to work our hardest anyway.  I had several conversations with my husband about what we would do if I were to be laid off.  We discussed where we could make cuts on things that were luxuries, and knew we would be ok, but it was still daunting.  We were used to our situation and our income, and losing any of that would be a major change.  I left work on a Friday afternoon feeling so overwhelmed about the burden of what may come.  I was fighting tears in the car when I made a turn and suddenly the sky took my breath away.  The sunset was incredible and everything was a bright shade of pink.  It made my mind stop in it's tracks, and I felt a calm settle around me.  It was as if God took his paint brush and spread it out over the sky to remind me that I needed to stop worrying.  He said to me, 'I've got this, I am in control'.  I'd be lying if I said I completely stopped worrying, but I did stop obsessing.  I had a more constant thought in my head - the comfort of knowing that I wouldn't be alone in whatever may unfold.  The following Monday, 15 of us were laid off.  I am not bitter about the situation at all.  I thought I understood the circumstances, but come to find out our boss had been paying most of us out of his pocket for weeks.  This was just the type of guy that he was - selfless and caring.  I learned a lot working there and gained some invaluable mentors that I still reach out to (Jared, Becky and Jeremy, you guys taught me more than you know.)  I had surgery to remove my tonsils scheduled for a few days after the layoffs, but I had insurance, and I had built in time to recover.  I started working for my current company a few weeks after the surgery.  Lesson learned:  everything was ok.  My obsessive worrying was for nothing, and there was a better plan for me.

Today I'm facing a new overwhelming circumstance.  As I write this, I am less than 6 weeks out from having my second baby.  I'm excited, terrified, and on the edge of my seat waiting for this little one to arrive.  There's a big difference this time though, as I know that my little girl's delivery will take place on a certain date and time instead of waiting for her to decide when to come on her own.  My first delivery was traumatic and ended in an emergency c-section with a bigger than average (but very very perfect) baby.  This pregnancy is trending the same way, and I do not want another emergency situation, so with my doctor's advice, I have chosen to schedule the c-section.  Because the first time around was so traumatic, I can't get it out of my head that this time will be the same, even though my rational side knows that it will not.  Major surgery was nowhere on my mind when I went to the hospital to deliver my first daughter.  Recovery from labor and everything that goes with it in addition to recovery from major surgery was even further from my mind.  In the end we had a healthy baby girl and that is all that matters.  Nothing has changed about that this time around - a healthy baby girl is my number one priority.  But I am scared.  I am scared of willingly having surgery, scared of the recovery, scared of having to care for a newborn and toddler while recovering.  I have an incredible husband who will of course be there 100% and fantastic family members who will be there to help, but I am still scared.  Sometimes I let these thoughts creep into my mind until they grow and grow and I feel alone even though I'm surrounded by a support system.  Last week I was driving home from work, these thoughts turning over in my mind, and again, I turned a corner and the sky was all shades of low purples and pinks through the clouds.  Once again, my entire body and mind calmed itself after seeing these and I had the feeling of peace, knowing that God is in control and will take care of me. 

I'm not alone, I'm never alone, but sometimes I need a reminder.  God is there to give me those reminders when situations become too much for me.  I'm not in control, and I'm ok with that.  I'd rather be in His hands than take my chances on my own.

Q&A Part II October 29, 2015 08:00 2 Comments

Well, another Thursday has rolled around and we bet you're anxiously waiting to hear about our planner release, and the couple of other products that are rolling out soon.  Honestly we'd love to give you all of that information, but at least for now it'll have to remain a secret.  We've got a couple of behind the scenes things going on that are pushing this back, but we are beyond ready to get these babies out to the public.

In the meantime, we'll distract you with more useless facts about ourselves.  Drumroll please:

Who is your celebrity doppleganger/ who would play you in a movie?
Mary Beth: Sofia Vergara (wishful thinking)

Becky: Amy Adams. Some very nice people told me I reminded them of her, which I am happy to have them think.

What was your first and/or worst job?
Mary Beth: My first job was at the YMCA when I was 16. Worked as a camp counselor. Definitely a fun summer time job that turned into a year around after school gig. Helped with gas money. I've only ever worked for 3 companies in my life, none of them fall on the "worst" scale.

Becky: I've had some crazy jobs. My first job was when I was 15, working at a donut factory- to make some extra dough- ok I couldn't help myself on that one. (That job sounds much more glamorous than it was, trust me. Hairnets are not cool.) I also worked at Nauticus, leading shows like Shark Feed and Shark Touch (like shark week all year long). Before getting architecture internships in college I worked at a trucking company, routing 18-wheelers, and sat next to a woman named Tiajuana, whose husband, Mr. Bear used to bring in blonde brownies for month end. You can't make this stuff up.

What is one of your biggest accomplishments?
Mary Beth: Depends on what area of my life you are talking about... Conquering the physical and mental challenges of having a baby seems like a pretty big accomplishment. Might be because I'm still at home on maternity leave, having a newborn is no joke. Work-wise, passing my PE (Professional Engineer) licensing exam was a pretty big one for me. Being a speaker at Autodesk University was also a highlight. The list could go on, I feel like each chapter in your life has a highlight that falls under "big accomplishment".

Becky: Having a baby, becoming a licensed architect, running a half marathon, hiking a glacier, getting my 2 year old ready for school every morning (can I get an amen from some other toddler moms out there?)

What is your favorite Skittles flavor?
Mary Beth: Purple for sure!

Becky: Red. 100%.

What is your best corny joke?
Mary Beth: Why did the bicycle fall Over? (Because it was two tired.) Being honest, I'm not a joke teller, isn't my kind of humor, I just googled corny jokes.

Becky: How do you throw a space party? You planet!

What did you eat for dinner last night?
Mary Beth: Fajitas (courtesy of the mother-in-law). 

Becky: Shake Shack fries and a chocolate milkshake at the JFK airport. That's healthy, right?

What was your favorite vacation destination?
Mary Beth: Since it says "was", I assume it would be a place you've already been. Our Honeymoon in Moorea and Bora Bora was pretty epic!

Becky: Iceland was amazing and I'm ready to go back!

Now here's one for YOU!
What's the best thing about 2015 so far?


Q&A with Mary Beth and Becky August 13, 2015 08:00

We've shared a little about ourselves on our About Us page and our FAQ page. But we thought we'd get a little more personal with a Q&A session:

When someone asked you where you are from, what do you say?
Mary Beth: RALEIGH, NC! Born and raised.  I was actually born, went to high school, and college all on the same road, #cray!

Becky: Born in New Bern, NC but lived in the Hampton Roads area of VA for over 20 years.  I miss the beach but not the tunnel traffic.  (And white sauce!  Only Hampton Roads has this liquid gold)

If you had to pick a song to sing for American Idol, what would it be?
Mary Beth: A long time ago while listening to the radio I told one of my best friends that American Honey by Lady Antebellum would be the big winner for my American Idol debut, so I'll stick with that one.

Becky: It's not typical American Idol style, but I'm pretty sure I'd crush it with Gangsta's Paradise (my go-to for karaoke)

How would you describe "home"?
Mary Beth: My hubby is definitely my home. Wherever he and our sweet Bauer Bear are is where I always want to be. I know... mushy and sentimental, but so true.

Becky: What MB said.  Where my husband and my daughter are... that is home to me.

What is your favorite color? (Come on, every kid is interested in this one!)
Mary Beth: I love lavender! That is why I thought for sure that the grapesicle envelopes would fly off the shelf. Obviously I'm alone in my affections.

Becky:  Tricky question for me.  I'm bad at decision making.  Orange and maroon in the fall, but otherwise I like yellow.

What is your favorite food?
Mary Beth: Cheese by far is my favorite 'food group'. I'd have to go with Macaroni as my actual favorite food. (I also love me some squash, stir-fried with some onions and zuchinni, YUM!)

Becky: Taco salad!  Always my birthday meal request.

What is your favorite past time? (Other than being sidepreneurs with UPstudio.)
Mary Beth: I'm a big fan of vintage everything. So I think shopping vintage or going to estate sales are some of my favorite pass times (although I haven't had a lot of time lately to indulge in these). (I also am slightly addicted to candy crush!)

Becky: Reading (for education and guilty pleasures both!) and watching college football.

What do you do in the car when you know no one else is looking?
Mary Beth: I love to sing in the car. I also am not ashamed to say that I make sure there isn't anything in my nose that would be embarrassing once I arrive at my destination.

Becky: Singing, for sure.  And dancing.  (Do motions to wheels on the bus with a 2 year old count too?)

Where did you go to college and what did you study?
Mary Beth: I went to North Carolina State University. I technically have a Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineer. Civil Engineer is slightly confusing though because it is a really big umbrella with many sub-disciplines (water, environment, soils, etc.). I practice as a Structural Engineer, we essentially design the skeleton of a building that no one else sees (or knows is there) that keeps it standing up in wind and seismic events.

Becky: I am a proud Virginia Tech Hokie. My major was architecture (shout out to c/o '07) and my minor was French.  Mais oui, je parle français, et tu?

What is your favorite 90s jam?
Mary Beth: So, I really wanted to say NSYNC "Bye Bye Bye" but I just googled it and it was released in 2000. So maybe NSYNC "Tearin Up My Heart" (1998) or  Wannabe by Spice Girls (I still know every word to the rap part).

Becky: I CANNOT PICK JUST ONE! Zombie by the Cranberries, everything 311, Cannonball by the Breeders, No Diggity by Blackstreet, and anything that comes on the Pandora station Hip Hop BBQ (you're welcome - best station ever).

What is your favorite Disney Princess?
Mary Beth: I'm definitely a Little Mermaid girl. As a kid I set our cassette tape recorder in front of the TV to make my own soundtrack. 

Becky: Belle from Beauty and the Beast.  This movie was equivalent to a modern day Frozen for me.

What is your go to dinner for your family?
Mary Beth: Chicken casserole, steamed green beans, and yeast rolls (Sister Schubert for the win). (During the summer time though it is anything that goes on the grill.)

Becky: Summer salads: greens with all types of veggies on a bed of cold spaghetti noodles,  topped with breaded chicken and honey mustard.  Or, frozen pizza.  Dessert: s'mores, which my husband and I make frequently over our gas stove (we're classy).

What is your biggest pet peeve?
Mary Beth: I can't stand when people rub their hands or feet on carpet. I don't know what it is, but it makes me cringe. Maybe the texture?

Becky: Fingernail clipping at work!

Any other questions you'd like to ask us? If so, comment below.. 

Don't forget to sign up for our Newsletter to stay in the know regarding things on the horizon.

-- Mary Beth and Becky

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Who Are We? June 11, 2015 16:05


We are Mary Beth and Becky. Engineer and architect by day, type A list lovers and planners by night (ok, and by day. all day, every day). We work and live in Raleigh, North Carolina. 

December 2014 we were showing off our new planners for the upcoming year and quickly realized that we both struggle every year with finding one that has everything that we want. We hated that we always had to sacrifice something. This founded UPstudio. Since then we have been working diligently to create a planner that incorporates everything we desire (we aren't too selfish, we also solicited a lot of input from family, friends, and a focus group). Our goal is to create a planner that is affordable, attractive, versatile, and fit for people in all walks of life. 

Throughout this process we realized that we had a lot of other great ideas to offer outside of just planners. So, we decided to not limit ourselves. Currently we have a collection of every day cards and a calendar, but we have tons of new ideas in the works that we are really excited about.

Our planner will be available this fall for purchase with the calendar starting January 2016.

You can follow us on our journey by following our blog, signing up for our newsletter, or checking out our social media (Pinterest, Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram).