Category Archives: Motherhood

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!


Weekend Snapshots

Friday was a bit of an adventure in food for me. I decided that morning that I should start taking the extra effort to pay attention to my nutrition (particularly my macros) so that it isn’t super difficult for me to bounce back when baby is here.

So I did avocado on some grainy toast with sea salt for breakfast. Avocado is always a good decision. Always.

But then, Friday was also Cinco de Mayo. I had cooked dinner all week, and I needed a night where dinner came a little easier. So I loosened my grip on that whole “macros” idea from that morning…

And Casey’s taco pizza it was! Plus, Alex found liquor-free Jose Cuervo for only $2 a bottle, so I did get to enjoy a virgin margarita. Our makeshift Cinco de Mayo dinner (plus the Blues winning Game 5 of the series) did not disappoint.

Sunday was our baby shower / Alex’s diaper party … what a day! I loved every minute of it — our friends and family went above and beyond! Here are some photos from the shower.

The weather was B-E-A-utiful, the decor was whimsical, and the company was awesome. I couldn’t have asked for a better day! I am truly amazed, and so thankful for all of the love shown for Baby Audrey already. Alex and I feel so full. <3

Oh, I had to include this sweet photo of my husband and my pup snuggling this weekend, too. *heart eyes emoji*


Wallet-Friendly Finds: Springtime Maternity

I have this thing with Spring — I love all the greenery and flowers growing back, but the rain has been annoyingly resilient over here! Regardless, Spring is a good transitional season to figure out what pieces to keep in your closet for days that range from warm and sunny, to cold and rainy. I’ve picked out some of my favorite, affordable springtime maternity pieces from different shops, and linked them for you so that you can find them!

Disclaimer: This is not a sponsored or affiliated post. All opinions are my own.


Lace-Yoke Belted Maternity Tee | Floral Off-Shoulder Top | Crochet-Accent Maternity Shorts

Zulily’s got great options for warmer days. A tee with a lace yoke can be dressed up or dressed down. Cold shoulders are definitely on-trend right now, so I thought this off-shoulder top was perfectly springy, and will make you feel a little cuter on your rough days during pregnancy. Also, dresses and skirts are a great way to go when you’ve got to endure some heat with your bump, but you cannot go wrong with a cute pair of maternity shorts. Show off those legs, girl!


Striped Maternity Dress | Black Destructed Maternity Jeans | Anorak Maternity Jacket

I have been loving stripes during my pregnancy; they do a good job of complimenting the baby bump! This striped maternity dress is honestly perfect for any springtime event.

Jessica Simpson was on point in designing her maternity jeans. They fit my body perfectly, and I am a true curvy girl. I promise there is hope for you out there! Aren’t these black distressed jeans the perfect amount of edgy? Love ’em.

And we all need a good jacket for those rainy spring days. This anorak maternity jacket is seriously so cute. It’s durable, neutral, and perfect for the season.


You’ll notice that I’m on a pink kick here with Nordstrom Rack. You know what, I’m not ashamed. I don’t think I own any pink otherwise, so I think now is the time to embrace it!

Infinity Nursing Scarf | Maternity-Nursing Sleep Dress | Lattice Studded Maternity Sweater

I love this bright pink infinity nursing scarf from Itzy Ritzy — it would be perfect with a loose or fitted black dress! Plus, it is an item that you can take with you past pregnancy; you can wear it as a scarf until it is time to feed baby, then you can put an arm through it and stretch it over you and your baby as a nursing cover.

Since we are stubborn and aren’t ready to turn the A/C on yet, there have been nights where our house is near 75 degrees, which is very uncomfortable for my already uncomfortable sleeping situation. A maternity sleep dress is the way to go so that you can stay cool under the covers, but you are covered up enough to let the dog out in the morning. This one is also a nursing dress, so all you have to do for middle-of-the-night feedings is unsnap the straps.

And, for those days where it’s drizzly, dreary, and not as warm as you’d like, there is this adorable maternity sweater. The lattice sleeve makes it perfect for a transitional season like Spring. Plus, I love maternity pieces that have some sweet detailing; cute maternity clothes (that are also affordable) is hard to come by!

And that’s it! Pregnant or not, what are your staple items that you must have for the springtime??


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.]

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.

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!

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.

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.*

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?

My Very First First-Trimester

Yay! I am happy to announce that my husband and I are expecting our very first Hooper baby! (Right now, we are nearly 13 weeks.)

Now that I am further along and we’ve announced the good news to our loved ones, I am excited to share with y’all the process we’ve gone through the last few months. It is also my wish that I would mostly have these types of posts to look back on in the future. I won’t only post about baby stuff from now on, so if you aren’t interested in this stuff, don’t fret! I’m keeping my vision for this blog pretty open.

Side-note: I know it has been a long time since I’ve posted; my life has been in constant ebb-and-flow recently (mostly having to do with my career and my inability to make confident decisions), so I’ll have to update you on that at a later date. Hopefully this happy post makes up for my absence!

I made this photo using the PicMonkey app on my phone! Free, and simple!

Monday, October 31, 2016
I went in to the gynecologist for an “irregular bleeding” appointment. [Brief, yet maybe TMI back story: I stopped taking my oral contraception at the end of August because we wanted to start trying; I had a light (yet certain) period the first week of September, and never had a period after that. I attempted using an app on my phone to calculate when I was ovulating, but it’s obvious to me now how completely unreliable my cycle was (and always has been, honestly) and how tracking every single symptom into that app was a complete waste of time. So days and weeks went by past my period due-date. All the while, every home pregnancy test I took–and I took a lot–was a bold-faced negative.] So, on Halloween, I finally had an appointment with the doctor; my blood pressure was perfect and they even got a negative urine test from me. I sat down with her and told her everything I’d been experiencing. She recommended a blood pregnancy test at their lab that day, though she doubted a urine test would come up negative and a blood test come up positive. I was relieved to hear that I’d get a blood test, because I knew that if there were ANY trace of HCG in my system, the blood test would probably catch it. (Bonus: my blood was drawn by a woman dressed as a witch, so that helped.)

Friday, November 4, 2016
Finally, the end of this most agonizing and anxiety-ridden week had arrived. I left a voicemail with the office so that they would (hopefully) prioritize my blood test results; yeah, I’m annoyingly Type A like that. I decided to hang out with a friend that day and try to forget about my lingering results. I had also, by this point, resolved that my body was adjusting to not being on birth control, and that my next appointment at the gynecologist would be for progesterone treatments to trigger my cycle, not for pregnancy.

When my friend and I were in the car, my phone rang. I answered, as coolly as possible, and was absolutely breath-taken when the nurse on the line told me that my blood test came back positive for pregnancy. My HCG levels were low (around 352, putting my gestation at no more than 3 weeks) but those numbers were certainly there. My body was, without any doubt, at the beginning of pregnancy. I cried. I cried a lot. My poor friend — she congratulated me (knowing that the news I’d received was good news) but wasn’t sure how to respond to the news, being that she knew before my husband even knew! I was grateful to have her with me in the moment, though.

The nurse on the phone asked me to come in for a follow-up blood test that day so that we could be sure the numbers were rising throughout the week. Still in shock, I dropped my friend off and was left with my own racing thoughts for the day. Plot twist: Alex (my husband) was on his way back from Iowa, in the car with his dad and guys from church, so I couldn’t tell him yet. Plus, I knew I wanted to tell him in person… it was just so hard to wait! I went to the doctor and got my blood drawn again and came home, only able to stare at the wall for four hours, still in shock.

Alex arrived home later that afternoon, and all I had for him was the print-out of the blood test results. (I always had an image in my head of revealing it with a cutesy picture of me holding a positive home pregnancy test… but I never actually got one of those. Throw everything Pinterest has allowed you to dream about and just toss it.) I had the blood test results taped to the bathroom mirror, assuming that would be the soonest he would see it. When he finally got home, he was not sensing my urgency to get him upstairs and unpacked. He wanted to do some yard work, play with the dog… basically a bunch of USELESS activities compared to the news I wanted to share with him.

He eventually looked up from playing with the dog and said “hey did you hear from the doctor today?” The best I could do was not answer his question, and silently gesture for him to follow me to the bathroom (in that good ole’ awkward Jan fashion), where I took the blood test results off the mirror and showed them to him. He was very shocked, almost in disbelief, but eventually he hugged me and it was a great feeling for both of us to just sit in this moment. We sat in that moment for a long time. We are still sitting in that moment, actually!

Monday, November 7, 2016
Monday morning, I did that Type-A thing again where I called the doctor’s office as soon as they opened and left a voicemail so that they would prioritize my test results. A few hours later, they called me and very excitedly let me know that my numbers jumped significantly from Monday to Friday the week previous. I thought that they’d say something like yeah, so we think you are ___ weeks along, we will see you at 12 weeks. Nope. The doctors’ office wanted me to come in that day to get my first vaginal ultrasound. I was so excited to hear that we would actually get an ultrasound this early, because I’d heard that doesn’t happen often. [First lesson learned: do NOT trust the internet, basically ever. Other women’s experiences will always be different from yours, too, but it’s better to eliminate at least the anonymous stranger factor that online forums offer.] I had Alex come home from work so that he could go with me to the ultrasound.

Five-Week Ultrasound

We were able to see the gestational sack, the yolk sack, and very faint evidence of the embryo (pictured above). It was still too early to hear a heartbeat, so we were a little bummed about that. However, we were on cloud nine to have our first glimpse at the Little Nugget (as he/she will henceforth be referred). The ultrasound tech estimated that we were about 5 weeks along at this point, and wanted us to come in one week later to check for growth and a possible heartbeat.

As soon as we left, we started planning our reveal to close family and friends. We wanted to keep it as minimal as possible, being that we were so early in the pregnancy. I have plenty of family and friends who’ve had miscarriages (some early, some late), all so heartbreaking and enough to turn me into a worry-wart. I know that choosing to not tell people doesn’t mean it won’t happen; I am trying to find a healthy balance since I am definitely an over-planner, and forward-minded individual. I don’t want to get way ahead of myself, but I also don’t want to dismiss all the exciting feelings that come with pregnancy (and my first pregnancy, at that).

I resorted, after consulting with Alex, to tell my mom first. If anything were to happen, good or bad, the one other person I would want to share it with other than Alex would for sure be my mom, a woman who has been through the good, the bad, and the ugly. Plus, she knows my personality and she knows what truths I need and how to talk me down when I’m freaking out. My method for telling people, I decided, would be quick and subtle. For example, when I got to my mom’s house that afternoon after the ultrasound, she told me she was preparing for a doctors’ appointment that day. I said “oh, that’s funny, I went to the doctor today too” and pulled out the ultrasound picture to show her. She freaked. And cried. It was awesome.

We told the rest of my family that evening. They all freaked. Also awesome. My parents are going to be grandparents, and my three younger brothers are going to be uncles — all for the first time; I was so thrilled to share the news with them.

Friday, November 11, 2016
We had been attempting all week to tell Alex’s mom and sister the news. My father-in-law was out of town, so we constantly went back and forth on waiting to tell them until they were all together. We kept coming back to wanting to tell my mother-in-law and sister-in-law as soon as possible. We tried multiple times to have an excuse to go over and surprise them with the news, but it kept falling through. Finally, on Friday, Alex had the day off. We went to see Doctor Strange (awesome) and met his sister and mom afterwards for lunch. I had bought a Christmas bib from Target that said “Grandma’s Joy” and presented it and the ultrasound to them. I know that they wished my father-in-law was there, but really, it’s his fault that he was gone for so long. 😉

Monday, November 14, 2016
Alex and I went to our second ultrasound, where we finally caught a glimpse of a heartbeat of 123 bpm! We watched Little Nugget flutter on the screen (it was a vaginal ultrasound, so we could only watch the heartbeat, not hear it) and I fell in love, seriously. The tech put us at 6 weeks 1 day, with an official due date of July 9, 2017.

Six-Week Ultrasound

My father-in-law arrived back in town in the evening, and we were already over at their house, waiting, so we could tell him the news. Being a man who is seemingly impossible to surprise, he walked in the door and within 30 seconds guessed that we were there to announce that we were pregnant. Still, he was very excited to be affirmed in his assumptions. Finally, our immediate families knew and we could relax with pregnancy reveals for a while.

So, how’ve I been feeling? I get asked this a lot. I appreciate these check-ins because they keep me light-hearted about the good (and not-so-good) symptoms I’ve been experiencing.

Nausea – I haven’t been able to confidently call myself nauseous, more queasy and un-appetized. I never feel hungry; I usually have to force myself to start eating and then I’ll develop an appetite. But my stomach always feels just full and bloated. I feel okay in the morning; it usually hits me around 10 am and lasts until around dinner time every day. Nothing settles it, really. I’ve tried all the ginger and peppermint and saltines that I could get my hands on, but nothing really ever helps.

Exhaustion – Of all of my symptoms, this is the one that I cannot wait to pass. I wake up very groggy, and I’m normally a morning person. Any productivity lasts for about half an hour before I need to sit down and relax. I’ve never known a tiredness like this; it is almost painful.

That “pregnancy glow” – *fart noise* Yeah, this hasn’t happened for me (yet). My acne is worse than it was before pregnancy, my hair is brittle, and my nails are soft. I am taking a monstrosity of a prenatal vitamin prescribed by my doctor; I hope it is doing its work on the inside, because I can’t see any benefits right now on the outside.

Cravings – These come and go; as I said before, I really don’t have an appetite, so I hardly ever “crave” food, whether it be healthy or unhealthy. I’ve had a significant increase in appreciation for the following, however: sausage-egg-cheese biscuits, ramen noodles, grape tomatoes, naval oranges, and water. So. Much. Water.

Mood swings – Yeah, these have been around. Most of the time, I am upset about something pregnancy related (like a weird pain in my hip, or the fact that SOMEONE AROUND HERE HAS EGGS AND IT’S MAKING ME SICK). I can feel these emotions starting to taper off a little bit, but they seem to just be culminating in a tendency of mine to randomly burst into tears a couple of times a week.

And that’s about it! I am growing steadily; Alex and I went in for an OB appointment this week and got to hear a 154 bpm heartbeat! Alex’s reaction when it came through the speaker was a smile I don’t think I’ll ever forget! We are nervous, but so so excited to be on this new adventure!