Category Archives: Friday Favorites

Friday Favorites

What’s been goin’ on this week, you guys?! Boy, it has been hot over here. I’m halfway excited about it, and halfway ‘yikes, how am I even going to summer while I’m so huge and swollen?’

Here’s what I’m loving this week…

Monday ended up being a very busy, exhausting day. My mom and grandma cam over to help me do laundry, get the nursery together, and clean the house a little bit. I could not have gotten all this stuff done without them — I am very grateful!

Along with that, I am so grateful for baby laundry. (Now, everyone remind me that I wrote that I was grateful for laundry when I am drowning in it in a few months!) Dreft is what I imagine heaven smells like, and having all these clothes to wash just reminds me how loved Audrey is already. <3

On Monday night, we got back from our birthing class and chilled out in Audrey’s room, like a couple of weird people! If you have kiddos or you’re pregnant, you probably know these strange, anticipatory behaviors. We oogle over how little the newborn diapers are, we turn on the baby swing sometimes just to watch it, and we spend a lot of time in her nursery, even though she isn’t here yet. New parent syndrome is real, and it has already started!

I ordered and picked up three books from our township library this week; all of them are about French parenting methods. I already started French Kids Eat Everything (mostly because it is due sooner that the other two books), and it has been very inspiring so far. I’ll write a review for you guys whenever I’m finished!

Alright, and finally, I am STILL loving my ’90’s playlists on GooglePlay Music. Third Eye Blind has been in my repertoire since high school, really, so it was hard deciding on a song to share with you this week. I hope you love this little kick-back hit of theirs!

xo,
Jan

Friday Favorites

Here’s a look at what I’ve been loving this week (plus allllll the emotions that have come with it).

We have been slowly, but surely, sorting through all of the gifts we got at our baby shower. (You couldn’t even see our couch after I’d brought everything out to sort through.) I am simultaneously so overwhelmed, yet so grateful for the love already showered on Audrey.

Similar Necklace (Noonday is an amazing company; look into their story!)

I’ve been emotional this week, and I figured out the possible source: I truly love being pregnant. There are parts that are unpleasant and uncomfortable, but I love feeling her near me 24/7. I know that one day soon, she will not be part of me in the same way and that makes me a little sad. (This is getting to sound a little like PPD, but I promise I feel “normal” even with all these emotions.) I cannot wait to hold her for real — that will be an emotional yet exciting day!

I hear that some mom’s start to feel guilty about their older children when a new baby comes. Call me weird, but I’m feeling a little bit of that about our pup. Baby stuff is everywhere, and I can’t help but feel like she is being pushed aside a little bit to make room. She’s only a dog, and I know she will adjust well once the baby is here. For now, it brings me a lot of joy when she still wants to snuggle with me.

See – that was a pretty emotional round-up there. But, something I want to start including in my Friday Favorites is some music that I’ve been into that week, and maybe that’ll lighten the mood. I pride myself on having a broad appreciation for music, and my tastes change often enough so that I don’t tire out on one genre or another.

I’ve been listening to a playlist on Google Play Music called “Feelin’ Good in the ’90’s” or something like that, and I love it! When all this music was on the radio, I wasn’t old enough to connect with the lyrics or appreciate the bands much. Now that I’m an adult, re-listening to a lot of bands like Everclear, Gin Blossoms, and Blues Traveler gives me a greater appreciation of the more pop-rock ’90’s tunes, not just grunge (which I’ve listened to avidly every since I can remember).

Also can we all just give a *praise hands emoji* to the raw-ness of ’90’s music videos?! Great stuff. Enjoy!

xo,
Jan

Friday Favorites

“Friday Favorites” are going to look a little different than they have in the past; I want to use them more to chronicle my week, and what I’m loving that week … more of a practice in gratefulness! Hope you enjoy!

1. Lists! Something I’ve loved doing recently is getting a modest list of to-do’s down in the morning. Some mornings, I head to work first thing. But, for days when I am home, I like to see a do-able list that I can get through that day.

Zip-Up Hoodie

2. Coffee! [First: Shout-out to my newly-married friend for this “Hot Mama” mug (here’s an equally adorable mug).] To keep my caffeine intake to a minimum (especially since I like enjoying a diet coke in the evenings), I am drinking Folgers Half-Caff (get a 10.8 oz can here) in the morning. I’m honestly not a huge fan of “budget” coffee, but for some reason, Folger’s half-caff hits the spot for me, even without sugar and cream. That’s a win, I’d say!

Cloudy skies on Monday

3. The weather. I am so hesitant to be thankful for the weather recently; our area has been under flash flood warnings for a week now. Not only that, but it’s been very hard to rely on the temperatures and weather conditions each day. But, if anything, the weather made for some neat photo opportunities. Here are a couple more photos to show how diverse the weather was this week…

Clear skies on Tuesday

Too rainy to even take photos outside on Wednesday or Thursday

I think it is safe to say that the pup was way more bummed about the weather than I was.

4. Breastfeeding class! Alex and I attended our first (and only) breastfeeding class in preparation for baby. We both learned so much, and it started to feel a little bit more “real,” having to think about all the details that go into breastfeeding. What an adventure all of THAT is going to be!

Well, we’ve got a fun weekend planned up ahead. So here’s to warmer, drier weather, Lord willing!

xo,
Jan

Friday Favorites: First Trimester Must-Haves

Hi, again!

I am now into the swing of my second trimester (thank the good Lord above us) and all the good things that come with it, like a real baby bump, increased appetite, more energy, etc. So, I thought I would share the products that made my first trimester as bearable as possible, now that I am out of it. (If you want to read about my first trimester, click here!)

[Disclaimer: This is not a sponsored post. I just love this stuff too much not to share it with you.]

Amazon.com

The Snoogle. Okay, so there are a lot of pregnancy-friendly body pillows out there. I have never been pregnant before, nor have I ever really had issues sleeping, so I had no idea what my body would like. I am glad I put my chips in for the Snoogle by Leachco, because it is great! You can sleep with it in several positions, and it curls around your body so that you’ve got a pillow in between your legs, under your head, behind your back, and supporting your belly all at once. I don’t need any additional pillows when using my Snoogle, and I will probably keep using it off-and-on postpartum (I’m pretty excited to sleep on my stomach again one day, so I won’t make any promises).

I will say that it is obnoxious to make the bed with this weird, whimsical, Dr. Seuss-looking pillow to deal with. It is also a ginormous pain to change the cover. There are no zippers or anything, so you have to basically wrestle it to the ground and slowly shove the pillow into the tiny opening bit by bit. (It reminds me a lot of when I try to get my legs into tights after a ten-month break from any sort of exercise, you feel me?) I have tried looking for a cover with a zipper to no avail, which makes me think there is an Etsy craft business idea there… dibs!

To that end, it is a great pillow. There were a couple of weeks towards the end of the first trimester where I could not find a comfortable way to sleep with it, so my husband got to enjoy it for a while! Now, I am back to using it every night to support my back as my belly grows.

Amazon.com

Gin Gins. No, unfortunately it’s not gin, it’s ginger. I know, a little disappointing but that’s the way of the pregnant lady, I guess. In grad school, my friend introduced these chewy ginger candies to me, as she usually had a bag or twelve of them around. I actually am not a huge fan of ginger, but if accompanied by sugar, I’ll definitely take it. You can usually find these at health-food stores; I’ve never tried looking for them at Wal-Mart or Target, but I know they are getting increasingly popular for their tummy-friendliness, so I wouldn’t be surprised if they became easier to find! Or, just order them from Amazon, then you only have to go to your front door to get them.

I had nausea daily for most of my first trimester. These were one of the few things I could keep down, and I could bring them in my purse if I knew I’d be away from the house at the onset of morning sickness. Gin Gins, for the win!

Target.com

BeBand. I don’t know how it happened so fast, but within a few weeks of us finding out I was pregnant, I was already unable to button my jeans. The hair tie trick was minimally helpful, but eventually my zipper wouldn’t even come up, and you could clearly see an open fly below the seam of the shirts I wanted to wear. Wanting to make it through the winter without getting frostbite through leggings, I went to Target and found the BeBand by Ingrid & Isabel. This particular company has a lot more options that you can find on Amazon, but this suited my needs just fine. It’s basically like the bottom half of a super stretchy camisole that you can stretch or roll as much as you need as your belly grows. Another plus: When I put it on, I looked exactly like the young lady pictured above. I think.

Amazon.com

Bubba Water Bottle. You probably have a trusty water vessel that helps you get in your daily water intake; if you don’t, I recommend you stop buying plastic bottle of water and invest in something like the metal cup by Bubba. These are also at Wal-Mart, and maybe even Target. The reason I recommend this particular Bubba is that the metal insulates your water and will keep your ice solid all day, no joke. I am the kind of person that will only drink water if it is ice-cold, so this helps a lot. Also, it has a straw (another necessity for me) and it fits in my car’s cup holders. The only negative with it is it isn’t spill proof; you can’t just toss it in your purse and hope for the best. But, for me, that sacrifice is worth having a straw; if I have to do so much as turn a cap, I will happily just die of dehydration.

I was much more tempted by water in my first trimester than I am here in my second trimester. However, even with having to consistently remind myself to drink water, the Bubba has made it easier.

To emphasize how serious I am about this cup, let me tell you a quick story. Last summer, we went on a vacation with my in-laws to Fort Myers, Florida. I left my Bubba cup at one of the beaches, and after I forced my father-in-law to drive twenty minutes back to the beach to find it, it was gone (because it is actual gold, guys). I bought a new Bubba at the nearest Wal-Mart within twelve hours because I just COULD NOT EVEN with any other water bottle. Yeah, I’m DEAD serious about this cup, k? *Takes a sip from the precious Bubba as we speak.*

Amazon.com

Palmer’s Cocoa Butter for Stretch Marks. Okay, before I promote this stuff, let me say… ya girl is quite familiar with stretch marks, even from before I was pregnant.  I’m not going to get into the emotional crap right now, but long-story-short, my weight gain over the course of my life has introduced me to stretch marks in a couple of places. When I found out I was pregnant, I expected that the ones I had would get worse, plus adding a bunch more to my stomach. To my surprise, I was actually kind of wrong. The popular hang-out for my stretchies are on my inner-thighs, but those have actually gone away a little bit. They decided to leave room on the stage for tummy stretch-marks, which have come up.

Okay, let me just take a moment to give you a pep talk okay? Stretch marks, for many of us, are inevitable. Do I wish I could take those cute maternity pictures where I lift my shirt up to a perfectly smooth, mark-free belly? Sure. But it happens to a lot of women, I found out. Not even just us big girls! With that in mind, take good measures, but don’t beat yourself up when stretch marks do show up, because it’s likely that they were going to arrive anyway.

So, on that note, how about some Cocoa Butter? I use this right when I get out of the shower just on my belly and hips. I don’t use it religiously, but I use it regularly enough that I am confident in its effects. I know my belly has grown over the last four months, but my stretch marks that arrived back in the beginning haven’t multiplied or gotten any darker, and I attribute that to the cocoa butter! It’s worth trying, plus the smell of this stuff is so calming to me!

Here is a short list of other things I used regularly during my first trimester that weren’t mentioned above:
– thick, warm socks (my circulation was way off for a few months there; socks helped.)
– prenatal vitamins (your doctor might prescribe you some, as was the case for me; no matter what, you want that added DHA and folic acid.)
– sports or comfort bras (underwire was a pretty big “nope” for me.)
– panty liners (TMI: it’s nice not having a period, but discharge is still a thing.)
– half-caf coffee (this is a good solution for those low-energy days, weeks, months.)
– journal (I’m already a journaler, but I whole-heartedly believe that journaling is so important when your body & emotions are going through so many changes!)

xo Jan

What did you use regularly for those first months of pregnancy?

Friday Favorites: My 8 Favorite Ways to Get Rid of Stress & Anxiety

Huge disclaimer: I am not a therapist or doctor. I am a person who is easily prone to stress and anxiety and I am sharing with you my favorite ways to glide through stressful moments. These work for me, and I am sure at least one of them will help you, too. However, if you have prolonged or potentially harmful anxiety, I recommend turning to professionals in those extremes. But, if your head is reeling from season to season, here are some practical ways to keep yourself healthy and productive, even when things are out of control.

1. Breathe / Meditate / Pray

Whatever is going on, you have to prioritize one moment to just stop. Don’t work, don’t think; just breathe and be. Nothing is so important or dire that you can’t step away for just a moment to collect your own humanity. If there is an emergency, your fight or flight reaction will trigger, which is a good kind of stress. I am talking about a moment where, maybe, a customer is screaming at you at work. You are arguing with your significant other. You are trying to fix a piece of furniture and it isn’t working. Whatever it is … you can step away. Let your mind go blank for a moment, or even several moments.

But, it is important to make this moment count. In other words, this is not a passive breath, but an active one. In these moments, I pray and acknowledge that I am not in control, here. I am but one person, with limited patience and limited grace. I don’t want to hurt other people or myself, and I definitely don’t want to be in control if it drives me to anxiety. So, I rest and decide not to jump back in blindly.

2. Write

I believe that every single person can experience the benefits of writing. Writing is literally your thought process; ideas will come out on paper that you could’ve never possibly put together in thought or speech. Keep a prayer or meditation journal, and write out in detail what is going through your mind that bothers you.

This also might mean keeping a blog and posting these thoughts for people to see. It also might mean writing something completely different; right now, I am finding a lot of rest in writing not what is on my mind, but creating something new. I will sit down and add to some fiction pieces I’ve been working on. I will enter a new world (that I created) and add to it, play around with it, and enjoy it, before needing to come back to reality.

3. Move Around

Do you have a couple of tasks around the house you could be accomplishing? Do you have a pet that will, frankly, always be up for a stroll down the street and back? There isn’t a reason you need to take your mental break still sitting on the couch, slumped over your phone. Figure out how you can get your mind thinking about what your muscles are doing, instead. The ADAA reported that exercise has a serious impact on anxiety, in a good way! Don’t post a sappy Facebook post first, or take a picture for Instagram, or do more research about what to do when your stressed … just choose to get up and go!

4. Podcasts

When I start to get overwhelmed with tasks that stack up, I will need a way to let my mind work. Music doesn’t quite do it sometimes; songs might just remind me of upsetting memories, or it ends up just being background noise, adding to all the things that don’t quite fit in my brain. Listening to podcasts has been a great way for me to think about something outside of my own life. They range from comedy bits, to story-telling, to interesting news, to health advice, to everything in between! I wrote a post about podcasts that I love, and you can check that out to get started! I can now happily add to that list with a couple more: Sword & Scale, Casefile, and Invisibilia (by NPR).

5. Read or Watch Something

If you aren’t much of a writer of fiction, perhaps your mind will wander successfully with reading a book, or watching a movie or TV show. As I write this post, I have Friends playing on Netflix. Since it is sort-of a mindless comedy, I can tune it out to think when I need to. But, since I have about four other tasks going on, too (laundry running, dirty dishes soaking, dog needs let out, and responding to emails), the sitcom is there for me to turn to something where I can disengage with reality for a moment.

Picking up a book is a very intentional choice I have to make (side-effects of being a student of English language and literature for 6 years). But, when I do, I usually get swallowed up in it. Reading isn’t a good momentary get-away for me, but it might be for you. If you haven’t tried it, I recommend it! Some people (I envy them) can pick up and put down a book in a moment’s time without losing interest… that could be you!

6. Color

Mandala’s and large intricate patterns are a huge stress reliever, and even the least artsy of us can get a hang of that. I found this awesome website where you can print coloring pages for free! Man, people are making a killing off of those “adult coloring books” you can buy at the book store. And, c’mon, just call them coloring books! Would any of us honestly turn down a Power Rangers coloring book that was meant for children if it were given to us? Probably not.

7. Prepare Food

I’m not necessarily advocating that you nurse your anxiety with food; that would lead to a potentially harmful habit. What I suggest it trying to exercise your mind a little bit by moving around in the kitchen. Grab some produce, wash it, cut it, try a few seasonings, and see what you can come up with! Preparing food not only has benefits during the process, but also has payoff afterwards when you get to enjoy the fruits of your labor (literally).

8. Talk to Someone

I recommend this as a last resort in a moment of anxiety, seriously. When you are under stress, the things you say may feel therapeutic to you, but they could be hurting someone else. Many of the verbal arguments we get into with people eventually just turn into loud venting, which is not productive for either person. Step away from a world of input (texts, conversation, social media, etc) and be alone with your own mind. Then, return to the conversation or issue afresh with a productive purpose. Eventually, you absolutely should confront the other person or people involved and let them know how you are feeling or what you are experiencing. Or, if you aren’t quite ready to re-approach the situation itself, find a removed third-party (for me, it is usually my husband or my mom) and vent your feelings and frustrations there. Ask the listener to be critical and honest with you so that, instead of continuing to fester in anger, your mind is renewed with fresh perspective.

I want to reiterate: I am no professional. My faith as a Christian provides me with resources and answers when I feel anxious and out of control. Moreover, I have had to be much more intentional about finding healthy outlets as I get older.

Friday Favorites: The Greatest Places I’ve Visited

I don’t know if I’d exactly consider myself an indulgent in “wanderlust,” but I definitely love new experiences, new scenery, and good pictures! Here are some of my favorite places I’ve visited (which I’m hoping to add to as life goes on!).

badlands

1.) The Badlands. When I graduated high school, my parents took me and my siblings on a trip through the northern Midwest. We saw Sioux Falls, Mount Rushmore, and Devil’s Tower. My favorite site, though, was the Badlands. I can easily say it’s my earliest memory of such a vast and beautiful landscape. It’s quite a distance from home, but there are so many must-see’s nearby, that it is very much worth the trip.

epcot

2.) Disney World’s Epcot. So most of you have probably at least heard of this beast of a park; it is by far my favorite of the entire resort. Epcot showcases the world, essentially. You make your way around a beautiful lake to different represented countries. What’s really neat, besides the food, shopping, and entertainment, is that all the employees are from their respective countries. You will buy a crepe from a French native, and you will watch street salsa dancers who are from Mexico. It really is a beautiful experience every step of the way.

islaroatan

3.) Isla Roatan, Honduras. If you were previously unaware, Alex and I spent our honeymoon cruising through the Caribbean, and it was fantastic. I’ll probably write about it another time. One of the port-of-call’s was in Honduras at Isla Roatan, where we trekked through the jungle a little bit and chilled on the beach. (Goodness, writing about this in early February is making me sad!) Anyway, Gumbalimba Park was so much fun, and so incredibly colorful. The tour we were on stopped us at two places to hang out with exotic animals, and we had so many opportunities to take neat pictures. Even though it was a little drizzly outside, the jungle was a neat place to be that day.

smokymountains

4.) The Smoky Mountains. We took some married friends with us on a trip to the Smoky Mountains, and spent the day hiking. We stayed in a beautiful cabin resort in Gatlinburg and made our way downtown and out to the mountains whenever we could! Even though hiking requires a huge amount of dedication and perseverance at some points, the views make it worth every step. I actually found this trip on Groupon for a super discounted price, and it was so worth it. I even wish now that we could’ve stayed longer and tried more trails, and maybe done some water sports too!

Adventures are out there waiting for you; they usually cost a little bit of money and time, but your life is so priceless. Instead of doing birthday or Christmas presents, consider buying a loved one a weekend trip somewhere new. Obviously, I recommend these places to you, but even just driving to the state border will prove worth the trip if you’re with good company!

With love and joy,
Jan