baby / pregnancy

Hospital Bag Essentials

April 6, 2017

weekender: Madewell | robe: Plum Pretty Sugar | nursing dress: Loyal Hana

Still waiting on a baby around here, so I figured I would go ahead & share what’s in our hospital bag since I’ve got the time!

FOR MAMA:
Things
Water bottle – Bringing my trusty BKR bottle, at least in the car for the drive over… It’s rather large but I shattered my smaller glass bottle at my last midwife appointment (RIP), so this guy might stay in the car.
Coconut water – This always made me feel better when I had terrible cramps, so I figure that might apply here, too!
Pillow & blanket – A lot of my friends have recommended bringing an extra blanket because of room temperature, but I am also a freak that would rather bring my own bedding to hotels. Sleeping on mystery pillows also really skeeves me out, so these are two things I WISH I could leave at home, but must have. I’ve read to make sure you bring a colored or patterned pillow case so you don’t forget this when you pack up!
Extra bag – Saw this on a couple different hospital bag guides, mostly for the extra things the hospital gives you to take home, & any gifts that friends/family bring by.
Toiletries –  Glasses, contact stuff, deoderant, brush, travel shampoo/conditioner, straightener, face wipes, chapstick, hair band, basic makeup, dry shampoo, lotion, toothbrush/toothpaste
Mama care – I’m bringing this cream & this spray.
Perfume – This sounds so silly but I have a super strong pension for scent memory, & I want to attach a smell to the first couple days of newborn wonder.
Phone & phone charger – I have every intention of Jared being in charge of contraction tracking on his phone, so once labor starts, the plan is to pack up my phone & charger in my bag.

Clothes
Big, cozy socks – This is the one thing I’ve heard over & over from friends with babies!
Open front pajamas – I found some button down sleep tops at TJ Maxx for ~$12
Robe – I’ve been so excited to wear my Plum Pretty Sugar robe for baby time since I got it 5 years ago, & I think it’s going to be really lovely to wear something pretty after giving birth.
Black undies – This has been a big recommendation, too. I picked up a cheap pack of black granny panties from H&M that I can toss as needed.
Flip flops – I hate being barefoot, period, so when people recommend things like flip flops, I listen.
Slippers – Aside from ^^, this is also just a comfort measure for me.
Belly support band – For after labor. I went with this one based on reviews, but Zulily has had a bunch of deals for these so check that site frequently! I’m excited because the one I got is three separate pieces, & I’ve heard that the hips wrap feels SO good after birth.
Nursing bra & nursing pads – I’ve heard & read mixed reviews on whether I’ll actually need these IN the hospital (assuming we only have a 2 day stay), but I have this bra & these pads in my bag, just in case.
Maternity leggings – They say you leave the hospital with about a 6 month pregnant tum, so I’m bringing my favorite Blanqi leggings to wear when we head home.
Loyal Hana nursing dress – I am SO excited about this dress. It’s comfortable (I wore it at 8.5 months pregnant for a Tart wedding & it was GREAT) AND nursing accessible AND so chic.
Oversized sweater – This was a doula recommendation, so you bet this got packed.
Some extra clothes – I packed just a few extra oversized shirts, leggings & my white slip on Vans as comfortable options. Who KNOWS what will feel comfortable?? I want options 😉

FOR BABY:
Carseat – Can’t leave with a baby without it! We have this carseat & were able to schedule an appointment to get it installed at our local police station, which was lovely in this city hustle & bustle!
Swaddle blankets – I’m bringing two.
Onesies – I’m probably overpacking here, but I have 4 onesies packed, heh. It’s April in DC, & the weather is bonkers, so I have long sleeve AND short sleeve kimono onesies in the bag.
Hats – I am bound & determined to keep that awful pink & blue hospital cap away from my baby’s head. I’m bringing two hats, but one is a bonnet for our going home outfit.
Mittens – Based on recommendations from friends!
Socks – Of the tiniest H&M variety. Too cute.
Going home outfit – I am so positive that our going home outfit is going to be waaaay way too big for baby, but… We’re going to try to make it work.
Footprint paper – Some people bring a baby book but I am not even pretending that I would keep up with a baby book, so I don’t have one. Instead, I got handmade paper off Etsy & am bringing that to have them stamp little footprints on. I’m not even sure I’ll do anything with this, but I’d rather have it than not, & having this framed is a way more realistic option for me.

OTHER THINGS:
Birth Plan – We’re super excited to be at a very “baby friendly” hospital, where a lot of the natural birth practices that would typically go on our birth plan are already standard procedure. But! We still put a plan together, & I found this site & this site to be very helpful guides as we talked through what we wanted to include.
Maternity registration paperwork – Read this stuff then read it again. I revisited the website our hospital has set up & realized I’d missed a step, then in reading the paperwork found a document that required witness signatures from people other than relatives or hospital employees! We would have been up a creek, so definitely knock this task out of the way while you have time.
Insurance & ID 
Playlists – Our doula recommended putting together three different hospital playlists: 1) A fierce playlist (lots of Beyonce) 2) A chillout playlist (lots of Feist) & 3) an instrumental playlist (lots of the Pride & Prejudice soundtrack)
Bluetooth speaker – We have this one packed in Jared’s bag.
Camera + battery chargers
Go-time last minute packing list – Let’s be honest, I’m not packing my makeup or toiletries because I’m still using them. I wrote out everything that needs to be gathered once we’re getting close to leaving for the hospital so Jared can either help me pack up or do it completely on his own while I get through… Whatever I’m going through 😉 This includes things like water for the car, my favorite chapstick from my purse, and some treats that are staying in the car until we’ve got a baby.

The most helpful guides I found on Pinterest all included post-hospital notes about what was actually useful, what was missing, & what could have stayed at home, so I’ll plan to revisit once this baby has made its big debut. (Soon. Hopefully.)

Come oooooon, baby!

DC / out & about

out & about: a visit to the cherry blossoms

April 1, 2017

We’ve known that the cherry blossoms blooming would be THE sign that baby time is almost here ever since our due date was adjusted for the 15th time by the midwives. I had scrolled back in my Instagram feed to see what we were doing at this time last year – We were at the cherry blossoms. Right at this very spot, in fact. It was Jared’s day off & I got off work early, so we rushed down to the Tidal Basin to catch the blooms at peak. From our old apartment, it was about a 30 minute walk & we had a bad habit of always trying to sneak our blossom visit in right as the sun was starting to set. It was chilly. We had tacos when we got home.

This year, our visit to the blossoms was much more relaxed. With such weird spring weather, the blossoms bloomed a little early, & we used some of Jared’s weekend to take a trip down to the basin. It counted as another free pre-baby date, & since it was a Monday, there were waaaay less people there than there would be on a weekend. It was HOT, & when Jared left my side for 3 seconds to scope out a bench to sit on, I managed to trip over the tree roots, skinning my leg & twisting my ankle like a hot mess 9 month pregnant girl. So we sat, for a long while 😉 Injury aside, it was so nice. Even though I walk at approximately 1/4 of the rate I usually do, it felt like a very firm just-the-two-of-us moment. Filled with “Next year…” imagining & cooing over the other babies visiting the blooms.

Now that it’s April, & specifically, now that we’re more than halfway through April Fool’s Day, I’m officially okay with this baby coming any day. Still not in any rush… I don’t feel so uncomfortable that I’m wishing away quiet evenings or slow Sunday mornings with just Jared. Our days of two are coming to a close & we are SO excited to meet this new person that will be our everything, but I’m also so very sentimental about closing this chapter of Jared & Kelsey. It has been a wonderful 6.5 years of us-ness.

… & at the same time, it has been a long nearly 11 years of wondering what our future babies will look like, & we are so. close to knowing the answer. All in good time.

travel

Seattle, WA

March 31, 2017

Good gravy, it has taken me for-eh-ver to get this post up. I’ve been slooowly composing it since November, isn’t that ridiculous? These types of posts honestly take so so long to put together, so I tip my hat to the full time bloggers that are constantly putting up travel guides. Phew.

Part 2 of our Not-Quite-Mexico anniversary trip was a quick jaunt down to Seattle. We crossed the border in our rental car & made our way into downtown Seattle, where we checked into, where else? The Ace Hotel. It’s like a rule if you’re a millennial visiting Seattle, I’m pretty sure. It started raining right as we drove into the city, so we cranked up the Bon Iver & relished the PNW-ness of it all.

We took some time to settle in & rest up (#pregnant), but realized that what little light was left on that cloudy afternoon was quickly dwindling, & checking the Space Needle off the to-do list of our tight itinerary got us back in our boots & jackets & sprinting over to the Needle with borrowed umbrellas. Definitely walking distance, so that was nice! We made it to the top with just enough time to catch a sliver of sunset off in the distance. It was perfectly drizzly weather, which made it such a quintessential Seattle moment. I LOVE doing all the cheesy, touristy things in new cities, but this is really a must-see, even if you’re anti touristy things. It’s such a striking view & so breathtaking for East Coast folks like us to soak in that West Coast horizon. It reminded me a lot of visiting the top of Montparnasse in Paris — Pictures that I would link here if I had ever gotten my life together & blogged our 2014 European trip. *hangs head in shame*

I maybe forced Jared into taking this picture, if you can’t tell by his grimacing smile, but omg worth it. We are mildly obsessed with Frasier & I just feel like we’re in the opening credits. NO REGRETS, JARED.

We trekked over to Serious Pie & seriously stuffed our faces with their amazing pizza. It was just a short walk from the Ace, so completely perfect for tired, waterlogged travelers. It’s a pretty intimate little restaurant, so I didn’t bust out the camera, but trust me that it was good.

The next morning, we headed out to The London Plane for brunch, & boyyyyy was that a good idea. I continued my PNW Avocado Toast tour, & this spot did not disappoint. I don’t know if it’s a West Coast thing or a PNW thing to include a flower shop in your cafe/restaurant, but I wasn’t mad about it. Such a cute little treat everywhere we went.

After brunch, we snuck over to Kerry Park to take in the view that had been recommended to us by my cousin .It was a super bright day, in contrast to our previous rainy evening, so it was really lovely to take in Seattle horizon in the daylight.

Next up, the infamous Public Market! We wandered for awhile (mostly reenacting parts of Sleepless in Seattle, let’s be honest) & made all the obligatory stops, like the gum wall, the ferris wheel… So fun to see this place in person!

Jared’s inner former-barista sprang to life when we passed the OG Starbucks, so we of course stopped there. Not pictured, & I can’t figure out for the life of me why, is the best macaroni and cheese I’ve ever had in my life from Beecher’s Handmade Cheese. I’ve seriously been dreaming about that mac n cheese since we left Seattle. SO GOOD.

HI CHELSEA! We met up with my sweet friend Chelsea (of Truelane fame), who gave us the Seattle-ite tour of the city, & insisted we take a trip on the ferry for a full Seattle experience. It took me a minute to get over her & Jared FINALLY meeting, but once I did, I made sure to play the Grey’s Anatomy theme song as we sailed across the water. Super stunning.

After a quick pit stop at Street Bean Coffee & Moorea Seal, we drove over to the OTHER Capitol Hill for books, dinner & ice cream… Basically, my favorite kind of evening.

We popped into the Elliott Bay Book Company, where I finally purchased my French parenting book, then enjoyed dinner at Oddfellows… Which I cannot recommend highly enough. Super delicious food & super cool vibe. I think I was just too entranced in conversation with Chelsea & Jared to take photos (& the lighting was real low), but trust me. It’s great. & conveniently close to Molly Moon’s Ice Cream, which is just around the corner. Early Grey ice cream of my DREAMS. We definitely found a lot to love about the other Capitol Hill.

& honestly, just like that, it was time to head home! Yes, our stay in Seattle was pretty short, but we managed to pack in a lot of great stuff. It was a perfect taste of the Pacific Northwest, especially for little ol’ me, who has never experienced the West Coast. I mean, I’ve been to Hawaii, but I’ve been told that doesn’t count. We’re definitely ready to plan our giant California excursion now. Someday!

EAT
Serious Pie
The London Plane
Oddfellows
Molly Moon’s Ice Cream

COFFEE
Porchlight Coffee & Records
Stumptown Coffee
Street Bean Coffee Roasters

SHOP
Moorea Seal
Totokaelo
NUBE
Elliott Bay Book Co.

DO
Space Needle
Kerry Park
Fremont Troll
Public Market
Ferry Ride

RESOURCES
Our time in Seattle was pretty quick so our itinerary was pretty tight – Check out these other Seattle Guides for some more insight on local spots to see!
New Darling Seattle City Guide
Local Wanderers Seattle City Guide
& of course, follow along with Chelsea on her blog and Instagram and Twitter and all the things for a look at a local’s life in Seattle!

 

DC / out & about

out & about: yayoi kusama’s infinity mirrors at the hirshhorn museum

March 24, 2017

Word spreads quickly here in DC when there is a new must-see exhibit, & a lot of the museums have instituted a lottery-based ticket system to keep crowds at a manageable number for both staff & visitors alike. It’s actually brilliant, but what it also means is that at 12pm sharp on Mondays, you better be at your computer if you want a chance at tickets for some day & time slot in the upcoming two weeks. OR have a friend that nabs a pair from someone that unexpectedly can’t use them. Crazy, right? So, in the spirit of sneaking in dates where we can (& in the spirit of sneaking in FREE dates because you better believe every extra dollar we have goes to baby prep these days), I snagged us tickets to the newest exhibit DC has to offer: Yayoi Kusama’s Inifinity Mirrors exhibit at the Hirshhorn Museum. 

If these photos look familiar, it’s because three weeks ago, your Instagram feed was flooded with them as the exhibit opened & everyone & their mother somehow went over the course of a week. People I follow that live in other states were there. It’s an INSANELY social media friendly exhibit, where you are literally let into the separate rooms with your “group” (just the two of us, in our case) for 30 seconds… Essentially, just long enough to get a picture, add it to your Insta story & gape at the surroundings for 10 seconds each. But goshdarnit, you don’t have to wait for a clear shot! It felt a lot like being in a social media experiment, or a case study on millennials, honestly… Like, someone is watching you on a screen predicting your every move, & if you DON’T get your phone out, you’re escorted to a small room to be questioned about how you fought the urge.

… I digress.

It was a REALLY cool exhibit, with our favorite room probably being the room titled, “The Souls of Millions of Light Years Away”, in which we 100% felt like we were floating amidst (amongst?) millions of little orbs. There’s more to the exhibit than just the rooms (like the amazingly colorful art pieces that gave me all the ideas for future kids’ rooms) since Kusama has been creating since the 60’s. It was quite the experience & a really lovely afternoon at the museum with each other, juuuust the twooooo of us. The exhibit is here in DC until May, then it moves on to Seattle. Highly recommended, even with the crazy ticket process… & the lines that you still have to wait in once you’re actually there. Heh. The things we do.

We are getting soooo very close to my due date, & Jared has a cold that I’m hoping is perfectly timed with him getting over by the time we have a baby. Life is so weird these days, because it feels like everything is a suspended breath before baby shows up. We’re not in any rush (I’m pretty determined to have an April baby), so it’s just sort of this quiet dance, day-to-day, knowing that everything is about about to change, but still going about our daily activities. I know we have so much to look forward to but I also just want to stare at Jared’s face for hours, unadulterated in the quiet of our home, because when will things slow down ever again?? I know. I’m ridiculous & everything will be great. Change is just scary & great & also scary.

But it’s going to be GORGEOUS outside tomorrow & I’m going to get some sunshine all over my face! Spring in DC is just the absolute best.

Happy weekend!

xx

pregnancy

pregnancy essentials

March 11, 2017

As this pregnancy winds down (/picks up??), I’ve already started reminiscing about this little journey, starting with maternity clothes & now with the things that got me through pregnancy. I’m a chronic Googler/researcher about all things in life, so pregnancy has been 40% reading reviews on Amazon, 40% perusing guides on Pinterest & 20% outsourcing recommendation via social media. When you put those things together, you get this little list of my Top 10 Pregnancy Lifesavers.

 

  1. Papaya tablets – Heartburn has been one of my very few pregnancy gripes since 2nd trimester, & papaya tablets have been super helpful. I’ve tried apple cider vinegar & just straight up alka selzter chewables, but papaya tablets or a small cup of cottage cheese (believe it or not) are the only two things that have truly helped.
  2. Prenatals – I switched between a few types of prenatals in the beginning before landing on Vitamin Code‘s prenatals with Nordic Naturals Omega-3 supplements. The smells are minimal & the doses are reasonable – Another type I tried had 13 different pills to take! YEESH.
  3. Lavender Essential Oil – To be completely honest, I have not been bitten by the essential oils bug, but! Lavender & peppermint oils have been a staple in my life for the past few years for headaches & stomach drama. Lavender oil has been a savior for 2nd trimester headaches & 3rd trimester sleep issues.
  4. Oils & butters – Again, tried a few different things over the course of this pregnancy, & these two have been my favorites. I use the L’occitane butter for my belly & the Vitamin E oil for belly & chest. So far, no stretch marks at 37 weeks soooo… Fingers crossed. I don’t know how much of that is these products vs. genetics. The next 3 weeks is the scariest, since this belly seems to keep wanting to grow.
  5. Hydration – I am very terrible at staying hydrated, so drinking water was the biggest life change I really had to force upon myself when I found out I was pregnant. (Well, that & actually eating breakfast.) The first thing I did was order a 1 liter bottle from BKR, & this has been crucial for me to keep track of whether or not I’ve had enough water in a day, since I know I need to drink at least 2 full bottles a day. I usually shoot for 3. Coconut water is also my favorite for a quick quench, especially on days that Tart has events or I’ve got a long walking commute around the city.
  6. Tea – Coffee has been a huge contributor to my heartburn, so I’ve been drinking more tea than coffee this pregnancy. I love our local tea vendor’s Vanilla Cream Rooibus, but now that I’m full term, I’ve moved to a nightly cup of Raspberry Leaf Tea, per my midwives’ instructions. Not super flavorful… But I’ll let you know if it seems to affect labor like the comments section on Amazon would have you believe 😉 *Tea is hot topic (pun intended) when it comes to pregnancy, so chat with your healthcare provider before you listen to me.
  7. Books – I’ve tried to not inundate myself with too much information about childbirth & parenting techniques, since I really want to just follow my body’s lead for labor & trust Jared’s & my instincts when it comes to parenting, so these are the only three books I’ve read so far. Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth was highly recommended by my midwives, & the insight from the Womanly Art of Breastfeeding was a great resource, if not a little overwhelming without having a baby around to put into practice what you’re reading. I loved Bringing Up Bébé & will definitely be revisiting it as baby gets older. I have a couple more books on sleep that I want to read between now & 2 months post-partum, so I’ll report back if they’re practical!
  8. Amazon Prime – This goes without saying, but Amazon Prime is pretty much my life force at this point. Whether it’s baby registry or help-I-need-sleep-NOW, Kindle book, or realistic prices on prenatals, we’re probably expecting at least two packages a week. I can’t imagine this is going to slow down once there’s a new little human to figure out how to care for… So, all hail Amazon Prime. No, I’m not being paid to say this. I should be.
  9. Comfort – Pretty much as soon as 3rd trimester hit, my belly grew exponentially & sleeping on my left side was suddenly uncomfortable from the weight of my belly twisting my spine towards the mattress & pulling my shoulders & hips forward. It was really painful! This wedge pillow from Boppy is $13 & has been such a help. Just a tiny support under my belly or sometimes under my back, & voila – SLEEP. It’s also not a pregnancy essentials list unless I advocate prenatal yoga, but hear me out. I’ve never been to a yoga class & I don’t super love it the way I should as a proper millennial, but my other pregnancy gripe has been one particularly sore rib – I think there might be a pinched nerve from growing to make room for baby. Yoga stretches & Jared massaging it have seriously been the only things that have kept the rib pain at bay.
  10. Apps – There’s a million & four apps out there for pregnancy, & every single one of them has a perk that another doesn’t. I really loved Glow Nurture during the phase of my pregnancy that I couldn’t feel baby yet, & it has a fun bump tracking feature, along with a daily tip about you & baby (but avoid the forums at all costs… Yikes). Ovia just has a cute baby size feature that compares baby to a Parisian bakery pastry (impractical but adorable), along with some good articles & videos that pop up. As I’ve got further into my pregnancy, The Bump is really the only app I check often for baby size estimates. **I should also note that the Relax Melodies App has been an essential for sleeping. I’ve had this app for years, but combining pregnancy’s oft light sleep with apartment radiators clanking or the occasional snoring husband has made this app crucial! You can mix your own white noise sounds, which is perfect for someone like me that sits somewhere on the low end of the misophonia scale. (Self diagnosed, I should add.)

Some things for next time: A 2nd pregnancy is like, HA! to me right now, but assuming that subsides, there are a few things that I rationalized not spending money on, but in retrospect, would have been helpful. Next time, I’ll prioritize getting fitted for a comfortable bra at the beginning of 2nd trimester. Though I ended up buying some sale bras in larger sizes at H&M, I think their fit has contributed to some of my rib pain. I’ll also invest in that crazy pillow everyone tells you to get but I was like pffttttt, I can make do. I get it now. That shape seems like it would fix all my problems. Lastly, hopefully next time around, we’ll be in a financial place that I can invest in a pre-natal fitness class of some sort. I’d love to do barre or pilates or cycling… I’m just really terrible at self motivating when it comes to exercise, so a class setting would be ideal to stay active throughout pregnancy.

Phew! It’s basically the final countdown, guys! I’ll be back with my hospital bag essentials once I, you know, put it together. I’m a little bit in denial that this is all happening so fast, honestly. There is still so much to do! I was just trying to explain to Jared how it’s so bittersweet to be this close to the end. Sure, it’s nearly impossible to get comfortable & even walking is… weird… But pregnancy is such a secret club. I’m surrounded by pregnant friends (& now a sister!) & it’s been such fun to share this whole experience for the first time. I’m sure parenting is a whole new level of membership with handshakes & t-shirts & knowing looks. But all I can do is soak up these final weeks where I’m NOT counting down to baby (I won’t be antsy until April 2nd), & keep getting things ready around here. Three weeks is NOTHIN’! EEK.

Have a great weekend!

xx

dressing the bump / pregnancy / style

maternity style guide

February 23, 2017

tee: Nom Maternity | maternity jeans: Old Navy | booties: Madewell

We’re somehow coming up on the final month of this pregnancy starting in March… WHAT! I’ve been asked by a few people about favorite maternity brands & pregnancy clothing options recently, so I figured I’d put some of my maternity thoughts all in one place.

Be ye warned that I didn’t start wearing any maternity specific clothes until about 20 weeks, which was right at the beginning of cold weather, so consider this a fall/winter wardrobe. Additionally, let’s keep in mind that I consider myself to be the ultimate pear shape, so my sartorial decisions are guided thusly.

Swing tops: These guys are great for my work-from-home days, when I can pair a swing top with leggings. Also great with a pair of skinnies, a top layer, & a heeled boot – The heel being super important because #thighs. Never flats, since the flare at the bottom of the shirt can accentuate my hip/thigh zone. I have about 4-5 of these guys, as they were a pre-pregnancy favorite (from Urban Outfitters & Target).
Turtlenecks: I’ve always known that tight was going to be the right choice for me during pregnancy, & having a staple 3-4 turtlenecks has been crucial for a dressier look, when paired with black denim & a pump or d’orsay flat.
Boat necks: Showing off some collarbone has been a nice way to remind myself that I have bones in my upper body, as things have filled out over the past few months. Nice & tight, these have also paired well with a third piece AND a coat. I have 2 of these in my closet.
Long camis: When all my shirts suddenly started showing off some belly, I came SO close to buying that black maternity cami at Target for $20 out of desperation. But I held off & found myself at H&M, where I got a super long black, grey & white cami for $6 each from their basics line. If you’re wearing a full panel maternity jeans, you can for sure get by without this, but even at that, I don’t love the faux button on the jeans showing & prefer to cover that up. Those three colors have been all I’ve needed.
Sweatshirts: I got a couple of these simple crew neck sweatshirts during my stylist days at Madewell, & I’ve really loved have them as a cropped look during pregnancy. Paired with sneakers & a baseball cap, this is as close as I get to a farmer’s market look.
V-necks: I don’t need to explain this. Paired with boyfriend jeans or skinnies or even a stretchy pencil skirt, these are a staple that I would potentially buy the maternity version of now that the bump is bigger.

Other notes:

  • I’ve made it through this entire pregnancy without purchasing a maternity top. These are all just tops from my pre-pregnancy wardrobe or tops I purchased from favorite shops.
  • However! I wish I would have invested in a white maternity button down early on in bump-dom. My regular button downs didn’t last very long & I’m too close to the finish line now to justify buying one, but I’d like the option to layer with sweaters/sweatshirts this late in pregnancy.
  • I personally have stayed away from sweaters in these later months, since they just come off as bulky & unflattering on me. I knew from the beginning that I wanted to stay away from long turtleneck sweaters and knotted scarves, just due to my personal style preferences.

Long Sweaters: Much like swing tops, I’ve had to be a little careful here, depending on where the sweater length lands on my legs, but paired with a tighter shirt (usually a boatneck) & flat boots, this has been a pretty active go-to look for me. I’ve got about 4 of these in neutral or winter colors in my closet.
Duster: I only have a couple of these, but my dusters are a light knit & have been nice especially in late pregnancy when my internal temperature sits firmly at BURNING HOT every moment of the day. I’m more willing to pair these with looser shirts underneath since the length is more elongating on my legs.
Denim jackets: I have two denim jackets & one denim vest in my closet (again, thank you Madewell days) – One of my jackets is shorter, the other longer with distressing. I’ve found the shorter jean jacket to be my go-to, as it just seems to hit a more flattering spot when paired with dresses or longer shirts/sweaters.

Other notes:

  • I believe with all of my heart that a black leather jacket would have been CRUCIAL for my maternity pregnancy style. Next pregnancy?? Putting it in writing. Ya hear me, universe???
  • Blanket scarves have also been my saving grace, & I DID purchase this grey H&M coat on sale a few sizes up so I could zip up on the coldest & windiest of days. (I’m secretly hoping I can get it tailored for next winter, it’s kinda great.) This winter has been INSANELY mild (it’s 72 degrees today!) so there’s only been a handful of days that it’s been miserable outside.

Black skinnies: Madewell announced their maternity denim line LITERALLY four days after I found out I was pregnant, & you bet I hopped on board that train. I went with their black frost skinny jeans since these are some of my favorites for normal wear, but they now also have a really cute demi-boot cut available. I do advise getting these pretty early on so that the denim can grow with you as you fill out, & also going ahead & ordering your regular size & one size up. (Online returns are easiest to do in-store.) I’m right between two sizes in Madewell jeans, & since I ordered a little late (20 weeks) & after a 1st trimester of craving carbs, the larger size ended up being right for me.
Distressed blue skinnies: I found a pair of these on sale at H&M & it’s been a really nice fit in my wardrobe. The style I got from H&M is really soft & pretty broken in, so these have been great for a casual look, with some distressing to help me feel mildly edgy… An important thing at 8 months pregnant 😉 I also have a 2nd pair of distressed denim in black from H&M that I got on sale for $20.
Grey skinnies: As seen in the first photo of this post! Okay, to be completely honest, my grey skinnies are from Old Navy & I sorta loathe them. I can’t wear Old Navy jeans when I’m not pregnant, which is probably a pretty good indicator that they won’t be a good maternity fit. They’re way too stretchy, & even wearing as small as a size 2, they require a belt & don’t feel like they hold my leg shape very well. (I got them on sale, so I don’t lose sleep over this.) But! I get THE MOST compliments & “where did you get those??” about these grey jeans, so the color, not the brand, made the list!
Black leggings: I’ve never identified as a leggings girl nor did I think so much of my maternity style would be defined by them, buuuuuut c’est la vie. Unless I’m leaving the apartment, I’m wearing leggings. I ordered a pair of Blanqi leggings pretty early on & snagged a second pair during an amazing Black Friday sale. I’ve really loved these leggings, as they don’t collect lint & have a silky enough texture that they dress up really well. The belly coverage is seamless, which is great compared to my Target maternity leggings that have weird ribbing on either side of my belly. Combined with my two Target maternity leggings, I have 4 pairs of black leggings in my closet & it gets me through the week!

Other notes:

  • So you may have noticed that pants are where I’ve invested with my maternity wardrobe. They’re also the only articles of clothing that I’ve found I needed to purchase actual maternity items. You just can’t fake pants fitting. In all, I own four pairs of denim, four pairs of leggings.
  • When you’re shopping maternity denim, you’re going to pick between full panel & side panel jeans. I have two pairs of each, & I definitely prefer the side panel. I haven’t had any issues with the full panel fabric falling down or anything (both from H&M), but it just feels bulky & unnecessary when I’ve got a long cami option to go under my shirts. The LAST thing I want is to feel bulkier than I already do. Side panels have been the way to go for me, though I do recommend not being tempted to use belt loops as handles. Cough.
  • Doing it again, I’ll invest in a pair of maternity boyfriend jeans. I just never found a pair that I liked in stores, & honestly, ordering multiple sizes online from some place like ASOS just seemed so dramatic. Next time around, I’ll have a good base with my current options that I’ll have some energy to invest in shopping for boyjeans.

Midi dresses: THIS was unexpected, since pre-pregnancy, I always felt like midi just weirdly emphasized my calves & hips. But! Midi dresses have been my go-to dress length during this pregnancy, since the midi length paired with a heeled boot has somehow been the most flattering semi-dressy silhouette for me. Forever21 has been a GREAT option for some cheaaap jersey dresses that don’t need to last more than a couple months… Which is what Forever21 does best right? This is what you’ll find me in on most of these abnormally warm days between now & D-day.
T-shirt dresses: These guys got me through those awkward is-she-or-isn’t-she pregnancy months leading up to a fully obvious bump. I wore a lot of these to my old part-time job, so I had a healthy stash from Old Navy, Gap, J. Crew & Madewell. They’re a little awkward now with a bigger bump, since they pull tight across my back/butt.
Fit & flare dresses: I’ve worn these more often than I thought I would, especially when paired with leggings? Like, what? But for event days with Tart or a midwife appointment, this has been a pretty big staple for me. On warmish days, I’ll opt for tights over leggings, & the real trick is a waistline that can sit over the bump without getting too short in the front. Not the edgiest of looks, but a staple nonetheless.

Other notes:

  • While I’ve been able to make it through with my pre-pregnancy dress options, it was pretty crucial to have my black jumpsuit from Hatch throughout the winter & its more formal events. From networking events to Christmas Eve to a funeral, my jumpsuit got way more use than I anticipated it would. I received it as part of Hatch’s ambassador program, which was the only way it found its way into my closet, but if you are expecting a fall/winter pregnancy, I highly recommend investing in a jumpsuit!
  • I am wearing a maternity dress from ASOS for our baby shower this weekend – SO affordable & SUCH pretty options, if you’re in the market for actual maternity dresses.

Phew! That took way longer than I thought it would, but of course it did. Hopefully this is helpful information! The end of pregnancy is getting so close for me that I’ve already moved on to nursing tops & belly bands, but there is certainly still more growing ahead of me in the next few weeks. Will the leggings be upped to 6? Honestly, it’s likely. Happy baby growing, mamas!

Maternity shops to check out:
(& don’t forget to keep an eye on the sale sections!)
ASOS Maternity
Old Navy Maternity
H&M Maternity
Madewell Maternity Denim
Hatch*
Pink Blush*
Nom Maternity*
Bae the Label
Legoe
Amore & Grace
Ripe Maternity
A Pea in the Pod
*indicates companies I’ve partnered with, but honestly are really great

DC / out & about

OUT & ABOUT: the national museum of african american history & culture

February 11, 2017

FINALLY made it to the National Museum of African American History & Culture! (Quite a mouthful.) This museum has been in the works on the Mall since we moved to the District (if not before?), & it’s been on our must see list since it opened last year. Getting into a new Smithsonian is no easy task, since the tickets sell out QUICK & are quiiiite the process to get. So, when my friend Brooke texted me on Tuesday morning saying she’d scored tickets & could I join her & her little girl that afternoon, I moved my Tart schedule around & made it happen. This museum is seriously SO well done, telling such an incredibly important part of history in a hugely impactful way. Brooke & I agreed that it’s the most breathtaking Smithsonian to date, in heartbreaking & meaningful ways. While it’s no simple task to get in, you must go see this museum… Especially in this country’s current climate.

Other life updates… Jared gets back tonight from his second to last business trip before baby arrives, & I couldn’t be more ready to have him home. My right rib cage seems to take the brunt of little babe’s growth spurts, & neither heat nor pillows nor stretching help, but baby daddy’s back rubs seem to work miracles. Funny how that works…

Starting this Out & About series in hopes that it does, indeed, get us out & about. Now that I’m working full-time from home, it’s easy to look up from my computer & realize that not only is it already 7pm, but it’s also already Thursday (*insert whatever day of the week*) & what have I even accomplished? Walking to the grocery store becomes my Vitamin D intake for the day & I start talking to the plants & my unborn child more often than another adult. We live in a city full of too many wonderful things to not venture out & experience. & we want to share them with y-o-u. Neighborhood guides are HAPPENING, I promise. But this is a start.

Speaking of Vitamin D, we’re going into a 60 degree weekend here in the District, so here’s to maybe never having winter weather? Would I be mad? Nope. Not at all.

xx

baby / pregnancy

maternity photos with annamarie akins photography

February 2, 2017


Photos by Annamarie Akins Photography
Blue dress: H&M | Taupe Dress c/o Pink Blush: Mocha Draped 3/4 Sleeve Maternity Maxi Dress

I wasn’t sure I wanted maternity photos, to be completely honest. I wasn’t sure if they could be done without being cheesy. The maternity photo shoots I have seen & loved seemed to capture a glow & beauty that I wasn’t sure I’d exude. Jared helped me realize that I would regret it so much if we didn’t do what we could to capture this short chapter in our parenting adventure… & he was so right. All it took was finding the perfect person to do the job, & we were so blessed to for schedules & weather & everything to align with having the amazing Annamarie Akins Photography take these precious photos for us.

I’ve had the privilege of working with Annamarie in various capacities via Tart over the last couple years, & she has become such a dear friend. There is no one else that could have photographed this bump with such grace & delicateness. We are overwhelmed with so much love for this baby, & Annamarie knew exactly how to capture our current state of love, anticipation, & joy. Although, let’s be honest, it’s not hard to get Jared smiling these days. Already such a good (& dapper) papa.

With maternity photos checked off the pre-baby to do list, we are just one step closer to holding this little one in our arms. Even though I’m already more excited for photos with baby in them instead of a bump, w e will absolutely treasure these photos for the rest of our lives. Thank-you, Annamarie! Go check out this lovely lady’s work & for heaven’s sake, locals, have her take your photos!

xx

dressing the bump / pregnancy

dressing the bump – 30 weeks

January 20, 2017

beanie: jared’s (Zara) | coat: H&M (similar)| maternity denim: H&M | shoes: Vans via Madewell

GREAT NEWS: thus far, I have yet to buy a single maternity item at full price.  Going into a cold weather pregnancy, I was super nervous that my wardrobe was going to get pricey, since I couldn’t just rely on the flowy dresses of spring/summer pregnancies. Turns out, maternity clothes are perpetually on sale, if you’re paying attention.This makes sense to me since seasons are fleeting in both temperature and styles, so I’m sure stores have to keep new product continually moving. FYI for any other DC locals, I was told that H&M stores in the District do not stock maternity items except for online returns, which are almost exclusively then placed on the sales rack. I’ve found two (of my four) pairs of maternity jeans on the sales rack at the H&M in Georgetown, both times at least $10 cheaper than the online sale price. Let your inner scavenger shine, mamas. Otherwise, the stores in VA do carry maternity, if you ever find yourself at Tyson’s, etc.

Otherwise, while I’m normally SO ANNOYED when spring clothing starts showing up in January, I was banking on it this year, since my ever-growing tum officially outgrew my winter coat’s zipper. I thought for a minute that I could get away with just wearing my coat open with a blanket scarf, & I do!, but all it took was one windy, frigid day & I knew I needed something that I could zip during my commutes around the city. Thankfully, since I can always rely on H&M’s shoulder/sleeve to body/waist ratio to be completely off, I was able to find a coat 5 sizes up from what I usually wear, marked down to 70% off its original price. The sleeves are a little large & long, much to my clothier husband’s chagrin, but it’s otherwise everything I need. It comfortably zips now, so fingers crossed we can get through February together.

All in all, I feel like my pregnancy wardrobe is pretty well rounded now. With a final purchase of $20 H&M distressed blue denim, my actual “maternity” purchases have been limited to just pants & leggings. My shirts & dresses have mostly been items I already owned or purchased with pre & post natal fit in mind. Once I get a little bigger, I’ll report back with full list of my pregnancy wardrobe. Someone wants to read that, right?

So, there’s my little 30 week check-in! We have our maternity photos next week, & after that, I’ve given the bump permission to get as large & in charge as it wants. But until Tuesday, a manageable sized bump & some warm-ish January weather is aaaaaall I’m asking for.

PREGNANCY, AMIRIGHT?

xx

minus & plus

minus & plus

January 18, 2017

This month has been a little quiet so far, as Januarys tend to go, so I thought I might bring back Minus & Plus posts as a way to share some random facts about our recent goings ons. It’s always a good way to force myself to find the positive… Highly recommended. I guess we could call this new apartment edition… But don’t act surprised that some baby related stuff snuck in there.


This abnormally mild January is wreaking havoc on my allergies. Cue emergency humidifier purchase – Thank youuuu, Amazon gift card Christmas presentssss.
+
This abnormally mild January! I’m usually “all board the blizzard train” (which sounds like a terrible train), but we’ve got maternity photos going down on Tuesday & no one is mad about the 60°+ forecast. Yes, please.


Radiators, man. Since it’s been pretty warm out, we’ve yet to see the good in how much heat these guys put out, & I’m pretty sure they wait to start knocking until the exact moment we get in bed.
+
There’s really only one out of four that we don’t seem to have on/off control over. Sure, it’s in the bathroom, the tiniest room in the house that rarely actually needs heat, but 1 out of 4 ain’t bad. I’ve lived with radiators once before in college, & we were 100% at their mercy, so I’m counting this blessing as a big one.


Inauguration week = slowly watch the city shut down street by street, shop by shop. & bonus: I get to try to drive OUT of the city tomorrow.
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I get to drive out of the city tomorrow! Tart has an event on Friday night in Richmond, so while getting out the city is most likely going to be a nightmare, I get to leave & not deal with any of the weekend chaos. & it could certainly be chaotic.


Our new building is no longer situated practically on top of a Whole Foods, & our laundry is not longer located next to our kitchen.
+
The walk to our new grocery store is just enough to get this work-from-home booty’s blood pumping, & since it’s not the highest grossing Whole Foods in the US (true story), I rarely stand in a line wrapped around to the meat counter at 8pm on a Tuesday night. I’ve gotten back in the laundromat groove, with our basement laundry letting me do four (or 12!) loads at a time. I’d forgotten how amazing that part is.


We were able to opt for an internet only package in this new place, & since then, have already encountered two previously taken for granted cable events – The NYE ball drop (just background noise, you know?) & The Golden Globes (we are award shows junkies, it’s our one thing). Already trying to scope out solutions for the Academy Awards because omg.
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We got to see La La Land, FINALLY, & loved it as much as we thought we would. I’ve had the soundtrack on constantly, & frequently wake up with it already stuck in my head. If you’re on the fence about seeing it, definitely go. I will tell you to expect a bit of a twist ending, since I think that’s why most people are having to see it twice. Not like a Sixth Sense twist, just different than what you’re expecting. I’ll stop now.


Speaking of waking up, my new wake up call is what feels like full body acrobats & stretches, which result in baby hiccups. I HATE having the hiccups, like, a lot, so my heart just BREAKS when the baby has them. Irrational, I know, since this is just little lungs/diaphragm practicing breathing but UGH. Let’s hope baby takes after its father, who is a freak that loves having the hiccups.
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It’s definitely feeling like a little human in there, with more body parts bumping under my hand than ambiguous thumps. So weird but so beautiful… Pregnancy in a nutshell.


Tiny baby things that are not used for very long are expensive yet essential to keeping a tiny human alive/happy + mama & papa alive/sane.
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But our baby registry is done & I can’t believe 1) how long it took to put together & 2) how proud I am of it. I want to show it to everyone, without expectations of gift purchasing, simply because it was so much work to create, ha. Much like fashion, most of the blogs about gift registry involved items that were very pretty but very expensive, so it took extra long since we needed 10 minutes to rationalize not needing the prettiest/top rated items & then another mmm 2 hours? to find the substitute we were comfortable with. Phew.
++
Babylist is amazing & they’re not even sponsoring me to say that.

I’m off to pack for 6 days of Richmond livin’, then to make this DELICIOUS brussels sprouts risotto. (We add bacon, because of course we do.) Copy me, I dare you!

xx