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.

ZULILY

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!

MOTHERHOOD MATERNITY

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.

NORDSTROM RACK

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??

xo,
Jan

Weekend Snapshots

We got so. much. rain. this weekend. I know the rain is a huge blessing to the earth, but gosh… I thought we might need a kayak to get out of the neighborhood safely. *quack quack*

Anyway, rain or shine, I had the great pleasure of being part of my best friend’s wedding this weekend. We’ve all been waiting very (im)patiently for this awesome couple to get hitched. Every single part of it was uniquely them: the Irish car bomb before the ceremony, the gigantic barn where all the festivities were held, the option to have pizza at dinner, the DJ playing most of the music on vinyls… it was a dream!

Fortunately, there was a break in the rain for several hours in the afternoon. I loved this: they chose not to see one another before the ceremony, but they wanted to have a special moment on opposite walls of a barn, where they clinked their glasses before sharing an Irish car bomb, and the photographer got some of the sweetest photos of them. I was already starting to tear up. :’)

Due to the rain, our pup had to lay low inside a lot. I felt like I had eyes on me at all times. o.o

My brother turned 20 this weekend, so we celebrated over his favorite food (and thing in general, I’m sure): pizza. It is actually impossible to get a good photo of him. Look, here are some more from last summer when I was trying to capture memories of our July 4th trip to the lake…

See?! I’ve accepted it. I guess if what I really want is an authentic photo of this guy and his personality, this really does the job. Happy birthday, Jared!

One last thing I want to show you. I went to WalMart just to get some groceries… but then…

This bathing suit. I couldn’t. It is 0-3 months, and looks even tinier in person than in this photo. I knew when I picked it up that it was so, so impractical; I mean, what purpose does an infant have for a cutesy bathing suit? She won’t even be able to sit up yet, and I’m going to have to keep most of her skin covered and protected from the sun…

But I knew why I had to get it… had to… it’s all about the pictures. 🙂

xo,
Jan

Springtime Babymoon

Last week was a hard week for us. I won’t get into details, but there was many-a-sleepless-night for several folks in my family, including myself. Alex and I have had this “babymoon” (our last trip with just the two of us before baby girl arrives) planned for a long time — but, by the end of the week, I was exhausted, anxious, and I could come up with ten reasons we shouldn’t go on our babymoon. The weather projected rain all weekend and low temperatures, so I was increasingly un-excited about going.

Alex spoke a lot of positivity and wisdom to our situation, and said that, if anything, all the reasons I was anxious and bummed should be the reasons we needed a weekend away. He was so right; the things I was anxious about were things that I’d only add unrest to if I were home to worry about them. Plus, it was going to be cold and rainy at home anyway, so why not spend it at the lake house?

Since it was rainy outside, we had plenty of time in the lake house to be disconnected from social media and technology, and enjoy time with each other uninterrupted. We were able to catch up on TV shows, do some reading, and we got to see our St. Louis Blues bring home a series win against the Minnesota Wild!

This was a “babymoon” without the usual pomp and frills. We went to our family’s lake house, and did things that we would normally do if we were down there (minus kayaking and swimming, because spring is yucky.) We didn’t plan or pay for an extravagant vacation; sure I would’ve loved a long vacation, but our financial priorities actually left us feeling very satisfied about the simplicity of this trip!

We were only a short trip away from one of our favorite restaurants; my belly was happy, and even the baby was very satisfied with our dinner choice.

I mean, can we just take a moment to admire this beautiful french dip sandwich? Gosh. And the bacon and chive potato salad? Heaven. I am not usually the type to order the same thing twice at a restaurant, but I’ve definitely had this dish more than once. Not ashamed.

All in all, it was great to get away for a couple of days. When we got home, it is almost like I forgot what I was freaking out about before we left. The problems that had come up the week before had been resolved on their own, without my constantly worrying over them.

I learned a lot from this little bump in the road; our worry doesn’t ever fix a problem. It just gives us more gray hair, and gives us the false illusion that we have some semblance of control over the events in our lives… good, bad, or ugly. I realized that, by being anxious, I was robbing myself of being present and kept myself from having gratitude for the many blessings upon blessings in my life.

My mom told me last week that she often looks at the day ahead of her, full of to-do’s and commitments, and frets about whether it will all get done. And somehow, it just does. (She’s a wise woman, she is. I am so thankful for her.)

Jesus even instructed in Matthew 6 that surely, since God keeps all the birds of the world fed, He will satisfy whatever it is that we need. And the truth is, we don’t always know what we need, or what’s best for us, or what will help us grow, but He does. We run around frantically trying to keep ourselves and the people around us fed, clothed, and happy. At some point its time to rest, and trust that it all will get taken care of, because somehow, it always does.

xo,
Jan

It’s a Girl! Plus a Budget-Friendly Gender Reveal

We are having a girl! Her name is Audrey Marie, and she is growing right on schedule. At our baseline ultrasound, we got to see that she was, in fact, a girl, and we watched her move around (we hadn’t seen her since I was seven weeks pregnant!). My mom and Alex’s mom both got to see her on the ultrasound screen, too. It was an exciting day!

We weren’t able to set up a way for Alex and I to be surprised about the gender because schedules just didn’t work out, so we decided to surprise our close friends on our own. One of the ways we did that was by setting up a gender reveal party on Valentine’s Day; our friends could join us for dessert and drinks at our house after their Valentine’s Day dinners to be surprised about the gender. We were on a tight budget for the party but we still had a lot of fun; here are some tips to save some money on a great party (gender reveal or otherwise).

1. Don’t cook an entire meal. Just do dessert or snacks for your guests. Don’t throw a big party with a full meal if you don’t have to. The nature of a gender reveal party, to me anyway, feels like the stakes are much lower than that of a shower or holiday/birthday celebration, so I didn’t want to invest in feeding people an entire meal. The timing of our party being on Valentine’s Day really helped because we knew people would have arrangements for dinner otherwise.

I made gender reveal cupcakes, and I had candy and drinks available for people. That was it; I didn’t make four different types of desserts or make snack trays. I kept it simple. Moreover, I found the candy for cheap because it was Valentine’s Day. I bought the box of cake mix and icing from Aldi, and simply used food coloring to color the frosting.

2. Keep decorations simple. I actually didn’t formally “decorate.” My mom had bought a blue and pink teddy bear before we knew the gender, plus she bought those blue and pink king babies for the cupcakes. The kitchen and dining room were filled with pink and blue, and it took basically zero effort on my part. Use your food, early baby gifts, and free prints off of the internet to decorate. Another inexpensive/free option is to pick up a bunch of color-appropriate paint chip cards at the hardware store and make a banner out of them.

3. Include time for some fun games. I found some fun, Valentine’s themed “Minute to Win It” games, which cost me less than $5 to set up. Also, I had people vote for the gender they believed our baby to be, which created a little bit of fun competition between the “teams.” Games like these won’t break the bank, and they will give your guests a memorable evening.

4. Be minimal in your guest list. Because of our time crunch, we only invited a group of our closest friends. Our families already knew, and there were friends that I texted with the news. Having a smaller gathering saved me on money and time, and it felt a lot more special because we could genuinely visit with everyone.

(Would you look at that? Maybe those old wives’ tales are onto something!)

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?

My Decision to Stay Home (For Now)

The most horrifying “small talk” question I am confronted with these days is “so what do you do?”

What do I do? … Hmmm …

I definitely eat food a lot. Most days there is a load of laundry or two that needs attention. I make sure my dog spends plenty of time outside so she isn’t annoying me with relentless energy inside.

For most, “what do you do” is a question aimed more at one’s career–a thing I do not have, currently. Thus, that “what do you do” question is eternally impossible for me to answer because I feel like my answer will always be disappointing or confusing.

For the record: No, I don’t have a job; I stay home while my husband works. No, I don’t have kids (yet), so my time is taken up mostly with house chores or running errands. Yeah, I’m a housewife.

That’s what I do. And it isn’t as fun as Real Housewives makes it seem. At all.

I don’t feel the need to justify my decision to stay home, but if you are a person reading this who has considered staying home while your spouse works, I will share how I came to this decision and perhaps that will inspire you.

In May of last year, I graduated with my M.A. in English (teaching, rhetoric, and composition). My education is by far the most noble thing I’ve accomplished thus far in my life, while also being the most useless waste of time. B.A. and M.A. in English … I’m sure no one is surprised that I am a housewife.

Anyway, after I graduated, I didn’t really look for work, and my husband and I settled with me selling Tastefully Simple and volunteering for different events in our church, community, etc. I applied for some jobs through temp agencies with no luck. Many people generously approached me, asking me to write for one reason or another, but I guess a little bit of pride held me back. I’ve never wanted my writing to be the legs for someone else’s career. I know that I love to write, and I know that people enjoy my writing; however, if I’m not motivated by what I’m writing, it is no longer a gift, but a chore. That’s why blogging is perfect for me, because I don’t constantly feel like I owe anybody anything. I can write about whatever I want on my own timeline.

So time spent at home went on last summer. I received a phone call in August from the English department chair at a local community college. Even though I did not apply for a job, he wanted me to take a couple classes for the fall semester, as he’d gotten my name from a contact at my alma mater. I was truly honored to be offered the opportunity, so I took it. It gave Alex and I little bit of padding in our income, and I was able to broaden my resume a little bit.

Just weeks into the semester, though, I was reminded why I swore to myself after grad school that I wouldn’t teach first-year college writing anymore: I was so exhausted by the task itself, that the gift of teaching felt, again, more like a chore than a gift. I’ve been congratulated on my writing and teaching so often and so deeply in my education that I thought, like some sort of heroic movie, those words would forever be my motivation, my energy, the key to my income. Instead, I took those words of praise and sent them in the wrong direction, it seems. Maybe I am supposed to be writing, just not under the table. Maybe I am supposed to be teaching, just not in traditional academia.

About halfway through the fall semester, I signed up for an online paralegal certificate course, needing a light at the end of my seemingly endless tunnel. As I read more and more, got my textbooks and started sifting through them, I got very excited that my gifts in writing, researching, and communicating might finally be useful (and decently paid) one day.

Then, I found out I was pregnant.

I’m not going to say the pregnancy ruined anything; it isn’t a coincidence that Alex and I started trying to conceive within a week of me starting at the community college. I think I knew then (and he did too) that I’d need a way out; I’d soon be ready for a new chapter to give my life renewed purpose and energy.

I turned down the offer of more classes at the community college. He understood my life situation, and welcomed me back if/when I want to teach again.

For now, I am okay with staying home; I’ve made peace with it. Finding a little part-time gig right now (which I’ve considered) would be ill-intended; I’d be doing it just so I had the excuse to be behind on the laundry or the dishes, requiring my husband to come home from work and just do more work.

Even though I know I’ll have a baby shortly after receiving my paralegal certificate, I am pursuing it anyway. It is giving me something to keep me busy while I’m not working, and it will open up so many opportunities once I’m ready to go back to work in a year or so.

I am okay with my short-term goal of finishing this certificate program, having our baby, and seeing how I feel at the end of 2017 about looking for a job.

Staying home is teaching us a lot about needs versus wants. It is teaching me a lot about productivity and self-sacrifice. It is teaching us both a lot about clear communication and expectations.

I guess sometimes I wish I could go back and redo my career choices. I wish I would’ve just gotten a technical degree in the first place, scored a job, and done all this flighty non-decision making later in life. But maybe it is a good thing that I’m experiencing this desert now; maybe, because I’m young, I have time to grow into myself, rather than selling my soul to a career early on and regretting it later. [Note: this is all based on my own personality and tendencies; obviously many of you have a very healthy relationship with your career that you started early on. I envy that healthy relationship terribly.]

My prayers right now are for energy–physical, spiritual, emotional energy. I don’t need to pray for a career, or more money, or clearer purpose because all of those things have been satisfied in all the grace I’ve been blessed by so far. I have a very patient and loving husband. I have a roof over my head. I have a growing life in my tummy.

I think, no matter what, it’s all gonna be okay.

–Jan