The Best Christmas Ads of 2016, Round Two

When I published a post on the best Christmas ads of 2016 last week, I told you I’d be back with more. After all, this time of year is chock full of feel-good or funny or just plain clever advertising (and many commercials — especially the international ones — are more long-form, which is extra fun).

And so here we are again, gathered to review some more awesome holiday-themed commercials that have just recently hit my radar. You’ll notice that most of these are from brands that exist outside of the U.S. (I think the States can really stand to pick up its holiday ad game).

Ready, set, FESTIVE!:

  • Allegro (a Polish online auction website):

  • Aldi, featuring an adorable carrot named Kevin:

  • Lidl (a German discount grocer), with a spot made for their Irish shoppers:

  • Kohl’s (finally, an America one!):

  • Sainsbury’s (the British grocer), featuring James Cordon from The Late Late Show as the spot’s singer:

  • Marks & Spencer (another British retailer), where Mrs. Claus steals the show:

  • Coca-Cola Brasil, a feel-good ad as always!:

Reflecting On My Miscarriage, One Year Out

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Today marks a year since Kevin and I experienced the miscarriage of our first pregnancy. We were talking about it last night and Kevin asked me how I was feeling about things, now that we’ve had a year to process it all. On one hand, that event feels like a lifetime ago, and so many other good things have happened since then. It also feels raw and recent in a way, though. I can easily take myself back to how things felt that scary morning and to the painful (both emotionally and physically) days that followed.

We had a pretty terrible nurse the day of the miscarriage (she actually led us to switching practices this time around — a decision we’ve been very happy with), and I still remember how it felt for her to have questioned my activities that morning I discovered bleeding. (I’d taken a Pure Barre class that morning, which is not only a low-impact activity I’d been doing for years before becoming pregnant, but was also something I’d discussed with my doctor without issue. The nurse’s comment? “You can’t just keep working out like you used to. You’re pregnant now!”) We also had a wonderful physician’s assistant that same day, though, who reminded me that this outcome wasn’t my fault, and I’ll always be grateful for her kind words.

So anyway. Now here we are, exactly a year later, and pregnancy remains a centerpiece in our lives. Thankfully, things are different this time around. Instead of being 10.5 weeks pregnant, I’ve made it to the 25-week mark and so far things are looking healthy and our baby girl’s growth is looking good (she’s currently in the 47th percentile).

(Look at that little nose! I just can’t wait to meet her…):

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Today, on this anniversary of our miscarriage, I’m feeling especially reflective, and have thought a lot about how last year’s events have influenced the emotions around this current pregnancy. Kevin and I have definitely been much more hesitant this time around. Hesitant to feel “all-in,” hesitant to let ourselves get completely excited. And I think that makes sense. This hesitancy has certainly started to taper off as this pregnancy continues to progress, and as we keep getting good reports from our ultrasounds and check-ups. We also, though, feel more thankful than I think we would had we not experienced our loss. Every milestone we hit comes with a sense of relief and gratefulness, and we don’t take any of those for granted. When I feel our baby girl move around, I get waves of reassurance and hope and excitement. Though tasks like setting up a registry and a nursery come with a hint of a “too soon?” feeling, they also are also defined by such appreciation to even be able to consider those activities.

And then, of course, remembering this tough time a year ago today reminds me of all the support we had throughout that period. We were surrounded by love — by friends and family, by thoughts and good wishes, by gifts of food and flowers and cards and hugs and phone calls. We were reminded of the true village we are a part of, made up of folks near and far. And that village? It’s still very much intact, only this year its theme is that of celebration and anticipation for this new little life. We are overwhelmingly lucky, and Kevin and I will never forget the kindness we’ve received throughout these months. Y’all are amazing. Every one of you.

Here’s to 2017 being a year full of life, love, and continued support of one another. Goodness knows we all need each other, no matter the season of life!

Secret Santa Gift Ideas Under $10

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Is your office or friend group getting into the Christmas spirit by kicking off a Secret Santa venture? It’s important, of course, not to confuse Secret Santa with Dirty Santa (although I do have some excellent Dirty Santa gift ideas to share), as Secret Santa consists of gifts your recipient can actually use and enjoy while Dirty Santa gifts (in my opinion, at least) should be as ridiculous as possible, in the very best way.

Secret Santa typically consists of a few small gifts from, well, Secret Santa, so knowing the price points need to stay on the low side I’ve rounded up a few budget-friendly yet sure-to-please gift ideas to inspire your purchases. All of these gifts are $10 or less (you’re welcome!) and are actually things people will enjoy and use.

Let the shopping begin!:

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  • Okay, yes. Everyone already has a ton of mugs. Who needs another mug? But when you find one this pretty, it’s hard to pass up (and it would be perfect to keep at work as an office mug!). Good work as usual, Anthro, and the price point (just $10) is pretty great as well.

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  • These hedgehog reusable dryer balls are so adorable and actually useful, too. I love them because though they’re functional, they’re something you’d be unlikely to buy for yourself. (And why not make doing laundry a little more fun, right?)

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  • Snag a smoker box (just $7.99!) for a grill aficionado to infuse some smokey flavor into his or her meal.

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Happy shopping, Santa!

 

 

Holiday Gift Guide: Parental Edition

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Hi, lovely readers!

So. I’ve published holiday gift ideas for the ladies and guys in your lives, but have had a couple of requests for gift ideas for parents as well. I’m always pumped to get reader requests when it comes to post topics, so I was happy to oblige! Below, you’ll find a collection of gift ideas for parents (the list applies to your parents, your in-laws, whoever!), and will hopefully plant seeds of inspiration as you get these folks checked off your shopping list.

Let’s get to it!:

JOINT GIFTS: It can be fun to get your parents a gift they can both enjoy, and these items meet that criteria

  • Blue Apron subscription: There are lots of meal subscription services out there, so feel free to choose the one you prefer, but this can be a fun gift for parents to experience together. They might be semi-new empty nesters and still getting used to this whole “cooking for just two” thing, or your dad might be getting into cooking after retirement. Whatever the scenario, if your parents like to cook or are interested in getting more into cooking, this could be the perfect gift for them this year.

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  • Guest book. Nope — they aren’t just for weddings! My family has always had a guest book in the guest room to record visits of friends and family, and it’s so much fun to page back through it and remember who stayed with you over the years and the various occasions that brought them there. This is one of my favorite go-to gift ideas, as it’s both useful and a keepsake. I like this one and this one in particular.

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  • Personalized calendar. Want a sure-to-please gift idea? Choose some adorable family photos, put them together in calendar format (so easy to do online through lots of great outlets), and prepare for smiles galore. This is a gift that’s sure to be enjoyed all year! (If your folks are social media savvy, consider pulling photos from their Facebook or Instagram accounts for this project.) This company has some especially lovely options.

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  • Painting of their house, either past or present. So many family memories are made in our parents’ houses, and so commemorating either their current home or your childhood home through a lovely painting is a wonderful gift idea. Check out this artist as a starting point.

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GIFTS FOR MOM: Time for some selections just she will enjoy…

  • Personalized canvas pouch. This is a great gift idea for the on-the-go, organized mom. It’s both lovely and functional, and the monogram adds an extra special, gift-worthy touch.

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  • A monthly flower delivery subscription. I love this as a gift idea! Think about how excited your mom would be to receive a new, beautifully arranged selection of flowers every month from you. It’s a gift that feels extravagant and yet useful at the same time (my favorite kind!).

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  • Pressure cooker. Yes, it’s sexist to suggest this is a gift your mom will enjoy more than your dad, but I’m going traditional here and assuming that indeed that would be the case. And don’t worry — these aren’t the pressure cookers your mother might have been familiar with from her childhood, that acted as ticking time bombs. These have improved technology and what seem to be magical powers, judging by how quickly they can turn food items like frozen chicken breasts and dried beans into gloriously delicious meals.

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  • A new watch. Watches always feel special, and if your mom’s a daily watch wearer, this gift will be a constant reminder of you. This watch and this watch are both good options if you ask me!

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GIFTS FOR DAD: His turn!

  • Bluetooth tracking tag. If he can be a bit forgetful, hook Dad up with this tracking tag (compatible with iOS only) so he can always keep tabs on where he’s left his keys.

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  • Fulton & Roark men’s grooming products. These go over just as well with dads as they do boyfriends and husbands. Plus, now through Christmas, use coupon code CURIOUSER at check-out to save 15% on your total order. (And shipping is always free for orders $25 or more. Score!)

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  • Grilling accessories. Again with the stereotypes, but in my family the dad is the griller (both my dad and my father-in-law, and the same is true at our house, too). If your dad is into manning the grill, too, consider some fun and helpful tools for him, like these kabob grilling baskets or these Himalayan salt plates.

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  • Motorized tie rack. If your dad (like mine) is a tie addict, this could be the perfect addition to his closet!

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Happy shopping!

The Best Christmas Ads of 2016, Round One

‘Tis the season to be…shopping. Yes, of course the Christmas season is also full of joy and family time and so much love and warmth. But it’s also a season of giving, which usually means some time spent in a retail environment. With that in mind, brands really step up the advertising this time of year, with some beautiful results.

I’m sure there will be more released in the coming weeks, but here are a few of the ads I’m loving most this holiday season so far:

  • H&M, featuring Adrien Brody and directed by Wes Anderson:

  • British retailers John Lewis, featuring the oh-so-cute Buster the Boxer:

  • Tiffany & Co. (so sparkly!):

  • Apple, featuring a festive Frankenstein:

  • Heathrow Airport in London (because Brits know their holiday ads):

  • Comcast Xfinity (too funny!):

More to come!

Pregnancy Update: Week 24

It’s already Week 24 of this pregnancy, which is completely insane because I feel like we just found out I was pregnant last week! Time is truly flying by.

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On the one hand, that’s exciting, because I can’t wait to meet our baby girl. I keep wondering what she’s going to be like, look like, sound like — it’s all so fun to anticipate. On the other, hand, though, we definitely have some things to get to on the baby prep to-do list, so the fact that the pregnancy is rushing by is a little overwhelming in that regard.

I’ve been lucky to have felt really good for the most part so far. The daily heartburn I was experiencing has all but disappeared thanks to my doctor’s recommendation of Zantac versus the Tums I was taking. (It’s made SUCH a huge difference!) I’m still sleeping well (and going to bed early, which is pretty excellent) and am not having any back pain or feeling like I’ve had to slow down much. I’ve had a couple of dizzy spells over the last few days, which are super annoying but are, as best I can tell, pretty normal (especially during the second trimester).

Mostly, I’m feeling excitement and joy in anticipating this little one. I love feeling her move around and have started talking to her and writing to her in a journal.

Kevin and I are starting to get things checked off our baby prep list, too, which is feeling good. We think we found a daycare (we’re on the waiting list, but the director said we were early enough that we should be able to count on getting in), we’ve landed on a name for Baby Girl, we have our registry set up, and we have nursery furniture. Over the next couple of weekends, we’ll start getting the nursery painted and set up, which I’m SO excited about! We also start birth classes tomorrow evening, and have a meeting set up with a doula in a couple of weeks.

This holiday season has been extra fun so far, and I’m feeling especially festive. We had a wonderful Thanksgiving with my family in Atlanta and Birmingham, and knowing that this will be our last Thanksgiving and Christmas as just our little two-person, one-dog family makes it really special and worth savoring. I put up Christmas decorations yesterday and loved thinking about adding a third stocking to our hearth in 2017.

Overall, I feel so very thankful, which is appropriate for this season. I’m thankful for this growing baby and her health so far. I’m thankful I’ve been feeling good and strong and healthy. I’m thankful we are surrounded by friends and family who already love this little girl (not to mention Kevin and me) so much, and are showing the three of us love in myriad ways. And I’m thankful for Kevin, who has been incredibly supportive and a wonderful partner throughout my pregnancy (no surprise there — he’s kind of the best).

We’re more than halfway there…

Holiday Gift Guide: Guys’ Edition

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Looking for some ideas on what to buy the guy in your life this holiday season? (They can be so hard to shop for!)

Hopefully, this round-up will provide a bit of inspiration as you search for the perfect way to show your guy you care this time of year.

(Oh, and I put together a gift guide for ladies, too, if you want to check that one out as well.)

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  • Proof Old Fashioned Cocktail Syrup. I discovered this tasty brand while Kevin and I were representing Fulton & Roark at the American Field pop-up market at Ponce City Market in Atlanta recently (don’t worry — I just had a sip!) and it’s so tasty. This would be a great gift idea for the old fashioned-loving man in your life, as it’s a perfectly pre-mixed old fashioned minus the bourbon or rye whiskey. Cheers to convenience!

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  • Allbirds Wool Runners. This New Zealand-based brand uses wool as its key ingredient for footwear, and the results seem pretty awesome. Not only are the shoes cool from a design standpoint, but the wool-based design makes for minimized odor, temperature regulation, and moisture wicking.

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  • TOMS sunglasses. We all know TOMS for their shoes (and admirable mission), but I’ve been most excited about their sunglasses selection recently, for both guys and girls. I snagged a pair of men’s shades for Kevin as a birthday gift this past summer, and we’ve both been impressed by both the style and quality. (Plus, the TOMS site offers 8% cash back on Ebates. Get you some extra savings!)

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  • Deejo Knives (Wood Collection). What guy doesn’t want a pocket knife? And these Deejo wood collection knives are beautifully crafted, making for an ideal and memorable holiday gift item.

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Happy shopping!

 

Holiday Gift Guide: Ladies’ Edition

Hey, girls, hey! We’re solidly into the holiday shopping season at this point, and so I wanted to share a few gift ideas that might be good options for yourselves (I’m sure Santa’s asking for suggestions, after all) or for other ladies in your lives. I mean, even the best of us can use a little inspiration when it comes to thinking of great gift ideas for our sisters, besties, etc.

Or maybe you’re a guy stopping by for some inspiration on what to get his lady this year. If so, welcome!

Here are some items I think just about any gal would be excited to receive this holiday season:

  • NEAL Jewelry. I learned about this brand when Kevin and I were in Minneapolis a few weekends ago representing Fulton & Roark at the most recent Northern Grade pop-up market there. I immediately fell in love with the collection, and adore its classic-yet-special feel. These are pieces you’d be excited to wear years into the future. (I especially love the Plateau Cuff Bracelet. Swoon!) And I have awesome news for you lovely folks: NEAL Jewelry has created a coupon code just for Curiouser & Curiouser readers. Just enter the code “nealcuriouser” at checkout and receive 15% off any ready to ship jewelry. What a deal!

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  • J. Crew Factory’s Quilted Jacket. This is such a lovely, classic outerwear piece, and since it’s available via J. Crew’s Factory, the price is lovely, too. I’m an especially big fan of the navy version.

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  • JLEW Bags. These are a splurge item to be sure, but these bags are truly incredible. I learned about this brand while Kevin and I were at the American Field pop-up market at Ponce City Market in Atlanta recently, and sure am glad our paths crossed. I snagged one of the Platinum Heavyweight Triangle Top Totes (in gold!) for myself while we were at the market, and have loved using it as a gym bag so far. I know I’ll love using it for travel as well. In a few months, though, the plan is to transition it into a diaper bag. These bags are built to be beautiful but also extremely utilitarian, taking you between all the activities that make up your days in style.

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  • Hobo Lauren Clutch Wallet. Y’all. These things are the BEST. I had a navy and gold one that I adored and it lasted me a good five years before I had to replace it. The size is nice and big to fit all your cards, cash, and other miscellaneous items, and I loved being able to remove it from my large purse and use it as a clutch for certain occasions. I can’t rave about these wallets enough!

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  • Cath Kidston Foldaway Overnight Bag. I discovered this brand in the Heathrow Airport while my family and I were in London over Christmas last year and think it’s pretty excellent. (I added some of the adorable baby girl clothes to our baby registry. They are so precious!) But don’t worry — there’s lots for grown-up girls, too. I especially love the weekend bags, and have one of these on my personal Christmas wish list. The prints are so fun, and the size seems just perfect for a weekend trip.

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  • Smith & Cult Nail Polish. Yet another sure-to-please stocking stuffer idea is a bottle of Smith & Cult nail polish. This brand feels just a little more special than your standard nail polish, which is perfect for this time of year.

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  • Anthropologie Bronze Measuring Cups. Does your gift recipient love to spend time in the kitchen? Gift her with something both beautiful and functional to help with her cooking and baking ventures, like these measuring cups.

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  • Workout Leggings. As someone who essentially lives in these things (I do wear them pretty much daily, for at least a portion of the day!), I can honestly say it’s hard to have too many pairs of workout leggings. My favorite brands are Zella, Alo, and Beyond Yoga.

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Happy shopping!

 

Friday Favorites

Can y’all believe this time next week Thanksgiving will be over? Good grief! This year is flying by. It’s been so fun to imagine what our lives will look like this time next year as we prepare for our first holiday season as parents. I just can’t wait to meet this baby girl and get to know her!

But thinking much more near-term, I’m looking forward to this weekend, which will be full of Pure Barre time (duh) as well as dinner with friends tonight and a Friendsgiving celebration on Sunday evening. So many fun things to anticipate! I hope you guys have a great weekend planned, too.

Okay, on to my favorites for this week*.

(*These were all happy distractions from the lingering political hangover I still have after last week’s election results were announced. I’m sure many of you can identify with this feeling all too well, too. I’m looking forward to getting involved with some local organizations that are brainstorming ways to band together to stand up for issues we collectively believe in and want to ensure are part of our society. Stay tuned!)

And…Friday Favorites, GO!:

  • Fulton & Roark released their latest product this week — an amazing smelling candle (just in time for you to add it to your list of holiday gift ideas). Seriously, though — these candles smell incredible and I love the simplicity of the design as well.

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  • This Food52 cauliflower soup recipe, which I cannot WAIT to try, comes highly recommended by my pal Bethany. Some of its selling points: it has just THREE ingredients, and Bethany swears it tastes like it’s full of butter and cream despite being devoid of both. Um, yes, please.

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  • I’ve had two Stitch Fix fixes so far that have included maternity pieces, and so far I’ve been quite impressed. I love that they also select some items that are non-maternity but totally work during pregnancy (like open cardigans or structured blazers). So far I’ve opted to keep a pair of dark-wash skinny maternity jeans and some awesome suede maternity leggings. I can’t wait for my next fix!

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  • Looking for a Thanksgiving dessert that’s a new take on a classic? I have you covered. This cinnamon roll apple pie is to DIE for. It was a major hit at the dessert table during our office Thanksgiving celebration yesterday.

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Happy weekend eve!

 

My Pregnancy Podcast Recommendations

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I’m a big podcast fan (evidence here and here), and so when I found out I was pregnant, finding some pregnancy- and parenting-related podcasts was most definitely on my short-term to-do list. I’ve since discovered a few awesome podcasts that fit the bill, and wanted to share them with you lovely readers in case you, too, are on the hunt for similar information. (Also, please let me know if there are any must-listen podcasts I’m missing from my list!)

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  • The Longest Shortest Time: Yes, I’ve been listening to this podcast well in advance of my pregnancy, but that’s because it’s awesome. It’s technically a parenting podcast, but speaking as someone who was a fan long before entering the soon-to-be-parent realm, I can solidly recommend this to just about anyone interested in family and parenting styles and dynamics. (In fact, its tagline is “The parenting show for everyone.”) I’ve become even more appreciative of this blog’s content since becoming pregnant, though, and episodes like the two-part series focusing on placenta encapsulation have made me perk up my ears in a big way. (I’m considering placenta encapsulation, by the way. I know there’s not much evidence yet to back up its success, but so many women have raved about it I figure that even if it’s a placebo effect kind of thing, why not try it?)

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  • The Birth Hour: My friend Mary introduced me to this podcast (it’s hosted by a woman who she went to college with), and I’ve really enjoyed hearing birth stories from a variety of women. It’s such a good reminder that every birth (and pregnancy leading up to it) has its own angle and each one is unique. That’s been helpful for me to be reminded of as I think about what my own baby’s birth story might look like this spring. I’m trying to educate myself about options, but also not put too much pressure on myself to have to do things a certain way. After all, so often those plans are tossed to the side based on circumstances and realities!

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  • Common Sense Pregnancy: This podcast is hosted by Jeanne Faulkner, who wrote the book of the same name. She’s a women’s health expert and labor nurse, in addition to being the mother of four, so I put lots of stock in her perspective. I’ve enjoyed the variety of her podcasts, which focus on topics like “Midwives in the World” and “When Dad’s a Rockstar.” I feel like her show is helping me beef up my knowledge base so I can be more aware of my options in certain situations, and become an advocate for myself and my baby as needed.

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  • Birthful: This podcast’s broad range of topics — all revolving around pregnancy, birth, and parenting — keeps it feeling interesting and relevant. Host Adriana Lozada brings experts in to discuss topics like “Your Pregnancy Microbiome” (which, as someone very interested in gut bacteria, I found to be fascinating), water birth, and breastfeeding must-know tips. As someone very new to this whole pregnancy thing, I love hearing from all the knowledgable folks Adriana brings onto her show.

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  • How to Be a Girl: Now, this podcast isn’t full of tips for navigating pregnancy or different approaches to childbirth. It focuses solely on parenting, but from a very niched perspective: parenting a transgender child. Despite it feeling narrowly focused in one respect, I’ve found this show’s perspective to be interesting to follow as Kevin and I start to consider what type of parents we want to be. Whether we find ourselves parents to a transgender child or not (statistics say we won’t, but you never know…), I appreciate hearing this mother’s take on parenting, because I want to be sure our child will be someone who will be kind to and accepting of children like the little girl profiled on this show.

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  • Not By Accident: Similar to “How to Be a Girl,” this podcast is a bit narrow in its perspective, but I’ve still enjoyed listening to it during this phase of my life. The podcast chronicles the journey of a single woman named Sophie as she makes the decision to — and then goes through the process of — become a single mother (sperm donor and all). Though my road to becoming a parent looks, in many ways, different from Sophie’s, as with the other pregnancy, birth, and parenting podcasts I’ve started following, I think that’s the beauty of all this: that everyone’s journey is different. Each is special and unique, which I love, and I also believe we can learn a lot from others’ experiences. I mean, I know I’ll take all the perspective and advice I can get right about now!