My Maternity Capsule Wardrobe: The Essentials

maternity style

Capsule wardrobes have gotten big in the last several years and I’ve had really mixed feelings about them. There are a lot of principles of a capsule wardrobe that I believe in deeply, such as sticking to a base color and complimentary accent colors. It was huge to me when I finally accepted that I’m a “black” and not a “navy” person. No matter how cute a navy thing is, the base of my wardrobe is black so the navy stuff goes unused or feels like a chore to incorporate. When I just bought things that work with black it became much, MUCH easier to get dressed ad trust that I would wear things.

I also firmly believe in the idea of buying high quality wardrobe staples – a legit black pencil skirt, the perfect neutral blazer, a pair of jeans you LOVE and that fit you, etc. I think that part of the capsule wardrobe idea is perfect.

But the idea of only having 30 some-odd pieces in my closet is just way too limiting in my opinion. I’m all for minimizing and finding new ways to wear the things you love, but I just know I would get so bored and frustrated if I did a ~true capsule wardrobe. I much prefer the idea of a capsule wardrobe as your base – your starting point. It’s great for women who are reevaluating their style, have lost or gained weight, or who are expressing their first interest in fashion and style. But not everyone ~needs a capsule wardrobe.

But if there is one place where a capsule wardrobe is essential I would have to argue that it’s when you’re expecting! A maternity capsule wardrobe is something I would recommend to any pregnant woman, whether it’s a first or subsequent pregnancy.

A maternity capsule wardrobe is the basics, the bare essentials, of what you’ll need to look and feel good for 9 months (and, let’s be real, postpartum months too!). I’ve said this several times and I’m bound to say it several more – IT IS WORTH IT TO BUY MATERNITY CLOTHES. It is worth it to have key pieces that you love that fit you and make you feel both comfortable and beautiful. You don’t have to buy that much, and it does not have to be expensive.

How to Build a Maternity Capsule Wardrobe

Maternity Style

  1. Awareness. Step one is always just being aware of where you can find maternity clothing, what they have, prices, etc. Good news: this is just a whole bunch of window shopping and online browsing. It’s fun! I also like to browse Pinterest for outfit ideas and then click through to their product links to find new sites or maternity companies. Check out my whole board of Maternity Style here.
  2. Find a “Sisterhood of the Traveling Maternity Wardrobe” if you can. This time around has been way more awesome because my SIL and two of my best friends dropped off bags of maternity clothing once I told them I was expecting. And it made me feel so much better to pass along my maternity clothes (some of which I worried I’d spent too much money on) to my SIL when she got pregnant after I had Reese. A friend of mine got a HUGE box of maternity clothes from a lady in her ward who had just had her fifth and final baby – she just wanted them out of her house and for someone to use them! You’d be surprised at how many of your friends, family, or neighbors would be interested in giving/lending you their maternity clothes if you just ask. Then return the favor! Once I’m out of maternity clothes I’ll be handing them back, plus the stuff I’ve added to the collection!
  3. Assess what you have that will work as maternity – stretchy dresses & skirts, tunics, cardigans & blazers, etc. If you have a loose maxi dress that you LOVE – congratulations! You won’t need to buy one!
  4. Think about the way you’ll dress and the potential season. This pregnancy has been so different than the last. Last time I was teaching every day, so I needed more office wear. This time I’m a SAHM chasing a toddler, so I needed more tees and a good pair of skinny jeans. Do you need sweaters? Workout gear? A swimsuit? Tights? A party/event/special occasion dress? Walk yourself through the months of your pregnancy and postpartum recovery and think about how you’ll want to dress.
  5. Shop sales, clearance, out of season, and when you aren’t pregnant! You can build a killer maternity capsule wardrobe for a fraction of the cost. I mean it when I say it doesn’t have to be expensive. Don’t go out and buy everything at once or get discouraged because there’s nothing good in clearance. Just be patient and buy things as you see them. Basically from the day I found out I was pregnant with Reese I made the Target maternity clearance section a weekly stop, even though I rarely find anything. When Reese was like 6 months old I was browsing it and found the gray version of my FAVORITE maternity dress (it’s below) on crazy clearance, along with several classic maternity tees for mere dollars. Even though I wasn’t pregnant, or even close to getting pregnant, I saw an incredible deal and snagged it because I planned on being pregnant again. Honestly it’s more fiscally responsible TO buy it, right? Yeah, I thought so too. Just get in the habit of watching the clearance sections of maternity shops, and the cyclical sales of Old Navy, Target, etc. I’ve been known to keep a few maternity pieces I want in my online Old Navy cart and then wait until they do one of their 20-30-50% off sitewide sales. Yahtzee.

The keys to a chic maternity capsule wardrobe is buying things that you will actually wear, things that work well together, and things that can play a few different ways. Everything in my maternity capsule wardrobe are things I would wear in non-maternity versions, too. Don’t buy stuff you don’t like just because it’s maternity or on sale! You’ll also notice that basically everything in my maternity capsule wardrobe works with black because that’s how I roll. And finally, everything in my maternity capsule wardrobe can be pretty easily dressed up or down for the occasion. That basically doubles your wardrobe when you can make your pieces work for you with a little styling.

So here it is – my maternity capsule wardrobe. These are my key pieces that are in heavy rotation for second, third, and postpartum trimesters. Hey, I’ll even admit – those green pants? I never stopped wearing them between babies. AND I NEVER WILL.

Of course I have and wear a lot more items than just these ones here because I’m a shopaholic and worldly and vain. Plus you gotta shake things up! But I’m not kidding when I say I wear at least one of these every single day. Here we go.

My Maternity Capsule Wardrobe

Tees

Maternity Capsule Wardobe

Target, H&M, Target

This is actually my second black maternity tee, because I wore the first one down to threads. You need one or two in neutral colors (black, white, gray), one or two in a color you wear often (olive green is my go-to), and one or two graphic or striped tees. Wear with leggings for lounge, jeans for errands, tucked into a skirt for a night out or even church! Use jewelry, scarves, cardigans, blazers, or jackets to dress up or down or change things up.

Tops

Maternity Capsule Wardobe

Old Navy, Target, H&M, H&M

What I’m really a sucker for is tops. Probably because I didn’t wear the tees much last time when I was teaching. The nice thing about maternity tops is they are instantly dressier, but also a little thicker so they hide my pregnancy muffin top better. I highly recommend at least two tunic-style tops to wear with leggings – the first one is almost like a minidress, very flowy and pretty. I also invested in a plaid one for fall/winter because duh.  A chambray top is a classic. A striped top like this stretchy one is perfect for layering and looks SO CUTE on a bump. Finally, a fun sweater is great for the fall/winter/spring. This pug one was on clearance at the beginning of the summer so I snagged it!

Bottoms

Maternity Capsule Wardobe

Old Navy, Jessica Simpson via Amazon, H&M, H&M

If you’re gonna spend non-clearance, non-sale money… spend it on maternity pants that you love and will wear. First of all LEGGINGS. You need them, you’ll use them, you’ll wear them out. Buy as many as you can afford. Old Navy full panel black cotton leggings are just my holy grail – I wear them with tees or tunics or dresses as an outfit and around my house for lounge or pajamas.

Next, get a pair of jeans you love in a wash & style that work for you. Last time I only wore dark high waisted flare jeans because they were nice enough for work. This time it’s these dark wash stretchy skinny jeans. You have a lot of options.

I also highly recommend another pair of pants – whether it’s another pair of different jeans, twill or khakis (like my FAVE green ones up there. They’re my ride-or-die. I bought them at full price and didn’t feel great about it at the time but now I am SO GLAD I DID.), black jeggings, whatever you’ll wear if your go-to jeans are in the wash.

Finally, I recommend a “fun” or “nice” pair of maternity pants that you can wear when you need to dress up or don’t want to feel frumpy – mine are those black leather leggings, but you could also do a dress pant, printed pant, or palazzo pant. Just something fun!

Dresses/Skirts

Maternity Capsule Wardobe

Target, H&M, Asos, Groopdealz

Dresses are SO NICE when you’re pregnant, because you don’t even have to think about them. One piece that isn’t pinching your waist and you’re done. This time around I have bought 3 new maternity dresses because I know they’re my jam. I think you need these four in your capsule – casual knit, loose maxi, nice/fancy, and a skirt. This black knit dress from Target… I could just kiss it right on the mouth. I have since bought gray and navy versions too lol. Heels and it’s ready for work or church. Sneaks and it’s cute for errands and lunch. I love it so much.

A maxi is so nice on the days when you just can’t have things pinching you anymore. That cheetah print dress isn’t even maternity actually, just nice and loose. I’ll throw on a cardi and cinch a belt above the bump and it’s super cute.

You need one ~nice dress. For church, for a date, for the inevitable event that you’ll have to attend. I’m also a fan of treating yourself to a really nice, pretty dress to wear for maternity photos and your baby shower. Asos maternity dresses are droolworthy, and Pink Blush is a crowd favorite – I now have 2 from them and love them both.

Find a skirt in a cut you love/need – last time I wore an H&M black pencil skirt to school a lot, and rocked a lot of maxi skirts. This time I’m much more into the A-line midi with an elastic waist.

Layers

Maternity Capsule Wardobe

Target, H&M, Nordstrom Rack

Don’t worry about buying “maternity” cardigans or jackets. Unless you really put on a ton of weight that you’re carrying in your arms you should be ok to just wear what you have, or to buy non-maternity sweaters/jackets/layers. You have to know what works for you – blazers, thick drapey sweaters, cropped cardigans, boyfriend style, kimonos, dusters, vests… you have a lot of options. I think you need an accent color cardigan – this mustard has been on repeat lately, and I also have a bright red that I wear often. I think you need something printed – this kimono is perfect for adding some interest while simultaneously disguising how much fat I’m storing on my back hemisphere. And get something long and slimming –  I bought a couple of dusters/long boyfriend cardigans and I’ve worn this black one despite it still being 80+ degrees outside lol. I have a couple of vests too and they’re way cute. Just get a few things that you can use to layer/hide your back fat if you get it like I do.

Extras

Sweatshirt/Hoodie – I had a black cotton maternity hoodie from Old Navy that I wore basically the whole time I was home last pregnancy, and this time I’m wearing a gray zip maternity hoodie that my SIL gave me with almost every outfit.

Rubber-soled Slippers or Moccasins – I bought a pair because I read on a “Hospital Bag Essentials” post that they were perfect for the hospital, and then I ended up wearing them constantly around the house before and after delivery. If they’re cute you can wear them to the grocery store and not feel bad. It’s a worthwhile investment, to be honest.

Belly Bands – Everything fell down my butt, so I had to make the switch to full panel stuff pretty much instantly, but I still have a couple of belly bands that I use occasionally. Not only can they make your pants & skirts last a little longer, but you can also wear them under tops and dresses to smooth out your underwear lines and fat rolls. Oh you don’t get fat rolls? Don’t talk to me.

Favorite Places to Shop Maternity

I’ve had a few questions about where I like to shop for maternity stuff – it’s all my usual places to be honest!

I’m still learning and evolving when it comes to maternity style – but I am a big believer that it exists! You can look and feel good when you’re pregnant, and you should! If you have

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Happy 30th Beard!!

Today is The Beard’s 30th birthday!

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Did you know his hair is super fluffy and curly? No this isn’t from 1970.

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He was once a pure, young lil bb with no beard at all.

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Many people don’t know that he was a musician in the local Provo scene for years – that’s how we met!

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And he’s also a huge fraidy-cat, which is the very best thing about his big, bearded, burly, tough guy schtick.

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Happy birthday to my best friend, my biggest fan, my unconditional support! I’m looking forward to the next 30 years with you. <3

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My Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up

Shoes

I’m a big fan of self-help books. Some favorites include Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, Better Than Before, How to Win Friends and Influence People, and The Secret. I love being given the lenses through which I can look at myself in a completely different light. I don’t necessarily believe that there’s one self-help bible that should be the end-all, be-all of self-improvement programs, though. I think there are elements of various systems that will appeal to you depending on your needs or strengths & weaknesses. I read as many self-help books as I can get my hands on, provided I have heard at least one real-life positive review or recommendation.

I didn’t fully realize what I was picking up when I borrowed The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up from my mom. I thought it was just going to be a monumental new way of cleaning my house, which I needed. I have a lot of clutter and I’m so bad at keeping my house clean. People often ask me how I do it all – well, I do it all… except clean my house. I had no idea just how thorough, mental, and spiritual this book was!

At the risk of sounding cheesy and unoriginal, I kind of think this has been life changing for me! I’m serious. I’m talking about it constantly, doing things differently, and I’m much more aware of my feelings and moods. My home is cleaner and more organized, except for the areas I’m still processing. I feel such love and gratitude for the things in my home. I just genuinely feel ~good.

For those of you who haven’t read it, here’s the basic idea. She throws out all of the conventional ways to declutter and organize your home. Don’t do one drawer or one room at a time. Don’t throw out one thing a day or limit yourself to a number of items. Don’t allow yourself one “junk” drawer. Don’t buy fancy organizers or products that claim to help tidy your home. Everything you’ve heard about decluttering and organizing is wrong, suckers.

Instead, you start with what should always be the main focus: you, your feelings, your life. That is what dictates how you declutter and tidy up. Essentially, the only things you should have in your home are things you absolutely love or absolutely need or absolutely use. We, especially Americans I imagine, have SO MUCH. But how much of that can we say we truly love and use? An embarrassing fraction. The KonMari method takes it from a fraction to a whole number – 100% of the things in your house make you happy or serve a useful purpose.

How To Use the KonMari Method

clothes

P.S. my whole house has been a disaster while I go through the process, but it’s worth it! 

  • Take a minute to think about your house, your life, your goals. What kind of a life do you want to live in this space? Maybe you want it to be totally zen and chill. Maybe you want it to be artistic and inspiring. Maybe you want it to be full of books and cozy AF. Maybe you picture yourself cooking delicious gourmet meals. For me I want a space where I can easily host friends and family on a whim, the kind of place people are comfortable and want to go.
  • Tackle by category, not by room. This was HUGE. Don’t be like “Oh I’ll do my closet!” and leave the coat closet, clothing storage, and bedroom drawers for another day. Do ALL of your clothing at once. Gather it from all over your house, take it out of it’s organizers/drawers/hooks/bags/etc., and throw it all in massive pile to work on. That alone makes you go “Oh sh*z. I have a lot.”
  • Totally undistracted, pick up each single item and hold it. Notice carefully how you feel. Does it make you really, truly happy, of it’s own existence? The phrase she uses is “Spark Joy.” It’s not “did this make me happy?” or “did I once love this?” or “do I have good memories in/about this?” That was hard for me. It’s really hard to disassociate memories and past feelings from current feeling. It’s a skill, though, and it gets easier. I sometimes even had to say out loud “Do I love this? Today? Right this second? Does it truly make me happy as a single object I own?” At first the process was slow, but now, two weeks after reading it and well into my process, I can tell just by touch.
  • Analyze why you have a tough time letting some things go. Did someone give this to you? Do you have great memories? Did you really ~want to like it or want it to look good on you? Were you saving it for a time you weighed less or had more free time? Do you feel guilty about the amount you spent on it or how you acquired it? It’s such a raw look into the way we buy and feel about our possessions. It was even painful for me at times.
  • Say “thank you.” I thought this was the cheesiest thing at first. But now I LOVE IT. Everything you own has a purpose, and if it isn’t bringing you joy then it’s served it’s purpose. Thank it for serving that purpose and let it go. For example, I have so many decorations that I bought when we were engaged/first married and it was hard to part with them, even though they’re old or don’t really reflect our taste. The purpose they served was the excitement and unity and progress of moving in together and making our home our own. They served that purpose. I can say “thank you” to them and then discard them without any guilt or sadness. Sometimes (often) I had to acknowledge that the only purpose a piece of clothing served was the thrill I got when I bought it, or that it taught me I will never be able to wear a v-neck. Thank you, 8 different v-necks, for what you taught me. Bye.
  • Avoid putting your “keepers” away right away. Sometimes, like with my clothes, the process took a couple of days and I couldn’t just have piles of clothes on my bed, so I stashed them in my closet but with full understanding that I wasn’t done.
  • Return and do another round once you get the hang of it. I got rid of 5 bags of clothes, 2 bags of shoes, and a huge tote full of bags and purses. I got rid of a TON! But still, when I went back to put things away and reorganize I found there was even more I could discard. This is the point at which you really learn to let go and have faith almost – you won’t run out of clothes. You won’t regret or miss the things you’re ditching. Have some faith and trust.
  • Get the discards out of your house. I had a bunch of friends and family come and take anything they wanted – much of the stuff was barely used and some of it was even brand new! – and then took the rest to DI or trashed it if it was beyond reasonable use. It felt like a huge weight off my shoulders. It’s kind of addicting, actually.
  • Find a reasonable home for everything you own. Display the things you love, don’t hide them away. If a drawer is too full, you’re never gonna find or use the things you need. She’s a big fan of using shoeboxes as dividers and organizers, and really believes you don’t need anything really fancy to tidy up. Once you only keep the things that you LOVE or truly use, you find you have plenty of space for them, and it’s easier to put them away and keep everything tidy because it has a space.

That’s a pretty scaled down overview and there’s a lot more in her book. She talks about all the different categories in your home and the excuses/reasons you might give for holding on to certain things. Some of it is repetitive, but I highly recommend reading the entire thing.

Things I Love About It

Makeup

  • Tidiness, duh. The top drawer in our bathroom has always been a disaster. Full of random crap, overstuffed so it sometimes jams, and difficult to sort through when you need something. Now it’s about 1/3 as full and I don’t want to brag here, but I think I’ve actually flossed twice since conquering it. I know where everything is! Everything is visible! I’m not distracted by random samples I’ll never use and 2,000 bobby pins!
  • Fewer choices. This was a big fear for me, and I realized a big reason why I buy so much. I’m worried that I’ll feel “stuck” or like I have no options. I hold onto necklaces because they’re cute and what if I need them to complete the perfect outfit one day?? I need a variety of heels in every different color, just in case. Yes, I DO need this same color cardigan in both lengths. I never wear tights, but I should probably keep 8 pairs in my drawer; they’re small, might as well right??? NO. After I did my shoes (yikes), I was getting ready for my friend’s birthday dinner. I had my outfit locked in, just needed shoes. I realized I only had one pair of shoes in my “keeper” pile that I could wear with the outfit. I knew that in the discard pile I had at least 3 other pairs that would work with the outfit too – more trendy, taller, or more sleek. I would have tried them all on alternately and agonized over the choice, maybe going with the trendy ones for the outfit post even though they hurt and I didn’t love them. Instead I only had the one option – and they were ones I LOVED. They matched, were comfy, and I just felt ~good in them. It was much faster and painless to get dressed when I had fewer options – it’s less overwhelming.
  • Fun and Confidence getting dressed! This is huge for me right now when I’m so self-conscious about my bump/no bump/chubbiness. Every single thing in my closet is something I love, something that looks good on me, something that makes me feel great. I legitimately think I look better lately because I’m excitedly getting dressed and wearing things I’ve forgotten about or used to ignore in favor of something “new” or trendy that I thought I needed to wear first before wearing my old standards.
  • Space. With a baby on the way I was forced to think about the space we needed to free up. We’re like a noble gas – we have grown to fill all of the space available to us. We’re adding another person to the mix, and we’re planning on being in this townhome for at least a little while after the baby is born. Thankfully she’s a girl, so we won’t be adding a bunch of new stuff, but we will need to bring things out of storage for everyday use again – baby clothes, the Mamaroo, the Bumbo, etc. Not to mention the office was overflowing and our closet was so tight and difficult to access without making a mess. Now every single room in the house feels like it has feet of extra space. I found myself with empty drawers!!!!!! For example, I had a shoe rack in my closet, two organizers at the foot of my bed, and an entire shelf in our big hall linen closet for my shoes. Now that racks and organizers have extra space, and there are no shoes in my linen closet – it’s a whole huge shelf for baby girl’s stuff!
  • Uncovering your style & taste. I’m not a trendy blogger type, no matter how much I’ve tried to be. It was so apparent by what was dominating my discard pile. Neon heels that were chic for a hot second in 2013, tassel banners that are in all the instagrams of parties and cute nurseries, boyfriend jeans that I tried so hard to like. The things I truly love are much more classic and minimalistic in nature. Few bright colors, few adventurous cuts, very little navy blue (black is my base).
  • Humbling. It was so sobering to look at the HUGE PILES of everything I was discarding. How much money have I spent on this stuff? How many times did I buy one of these items to make myself feel better or be cooler? IT NEVER WORKED. I’m at peace with being a ~little worldly, but this ish was out of control y’all!!!! Do I think things can make you happy? Absolutely. But when about 1/3 of my stuff was truly making me happy and 2/3 was only costing me money and emotional guilt? YIKES. I felt really embarrassed and dumb.
  • Changing Your Brain About Things. This was a two part thing for me.
    • #1 I can already see it changing the way I shop. I can walk through Target and not buy something. I can resist a great discount on something. I will probably still make the mistake of buying things that don’t bring me joy, but I can already tell that I’m less impulsive.
    • #2 I have more love and appreciation of my stuff. It’s kind of hippy, but she literally thanks, out loud, her shoes when she takes them off every day. I’m not quite at that level, but I am so much more mindful of my stuff. It makes me more grateful and just ~happier. Even though I got rid of over a truckbed load of stuff from my house, I don’t feel like I have less. Honestly. I know it sounds crazy but it’s true.

If you’ve felt unhappy about your home or possessions, go get this book. I highly recommend even just doing it with your closet! That’s had the biggest impact for me.

They say it takes about 6 months to fully make the switch, and I’m honestly looking forward to seeing what my home and life look like in 6 months when baby girl gets here. For now I’m just working through the first round of the process. I have two categories left to tackle this week, and then next week I’m capping it off with a full-house deep clean.

The Beard even said “Whoa. You’re nesting way harder with this baby than you ever did with Reese.” Truuuuu. Anyway hit me up if you read it, want tips, or just want to talk about it! I’m hooked!

 

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Maternity Style Lately

I didn’t post outfit/full body pics for a long time because I didn’t love the way the bump/unbump looked from about 10-14 weeks. Even still some days it doesn’t look quite bumpy enough. Isn’t that weird? Like one day you look super pregnant and the next you just look like you had an amazing meal at Tucanos. Other than the actual pics we took to announce, I really didn’t take too many pictures at all. Now the bump is visible more often than not, and I’m flexing that maternity style muscle again.

I’ve posted about this a lot before, but I always get so confused and frustrated when girls say it’s a waste to spend money on maternity clothes. They always seem to be the same girls who complain about being uncomfortable or not looking cute, telling me how cute my outfits are or how I always look nice when I’m pregnant. Like, thank you! But it’s because I invested in some maternity clothes! It really isn’t that hard to look semi-put together when you’re pregnant – you just need to buy a few cute staples that you like and want to wear. Hair and makeup… well that’s another battle, obviously. But at least your outfits can look good.

Sunday Best

maternity style

Tank: Target, Cardi: Cozy, Leather Midi: Groopdealz, Heels: Famous Footwear, Purse: Kate Spade maternity style maternity style

I instagrammed this outfit on Sunday, and I honestly think it’s one of the best maternity outfits I’ve ever put together – and none of it is “maternity”! A-line midi skirts with elastic waists are so awesome when you’re pregnant because they’re long enough to wear over the bump. Another reason I love them is that you can wear them with your tees and blouses that you LOVE but aren’t long enough to cover your bump with pants or any regular waist, because they only have to be long enough to tuck into the high waist of this skirt.

Nice Casual

pregnancy style pregnancy style

Tee: H&M Maternity, Cardigan: Target, Maternity Jeans: Old Navy, Heels: Targetpregnancy style

My cute next door neighbor saw me taking pics and ran over “Me too!” hahapregnancy style

I wore this outfit to my girlfriend’s birthday dinner, so I wanted something that looked nice but not overly formal. This type of outfit was also what I wore nearly every day teaching when I was pregnant with Reese. I LOVE these dark wash flares. LOVE. The only thing is that they are long, so I need to wear a heel or wedge, but that’s ok. It makes me feel less frumpy.

Contrary to the first outfit, this one IS a maternity shirt and maternity pants. A striped maternity tee and a pair of maternity jeans that make you feel 100 emoji are great places to start if you aren’t sure what you need maternity-style-wise.

Everyday Casual

pregnancy style

Countdown Tee: The Countdown Shop, Maternity Pants: H&M, Sandals: Targetpregnancy style

You’ve seen these before, but I had some questions about the details when I posted the pic on instagram. These are actually my favorite maternity pants and I wear them at least twice a week. They’re super stretchy and have real pockets and a full panel so they’re basically my ideal pants. It looks like they don’t sell them anymore but this is a similar style in a beautiful wine color for fall/winter.

If you see me out running around town during the week I’m usually in these pants or leggings, with some type of maternity tee and slip on sneaks or flat sandals. That’s a basic uniform that works well for me and doesn’t wear me out or make me feel frumpy.

Anyway I hope to post some maternity outfit pics every couple of weeks throughout the remainder of this pregnancy and I want to share lot of different types – nice outfits for church and events, trendy casual outfits for dates and parties, wearing non-maternity clothes while pregnant, and everyday momiform type looks. If you have suggestions or ideas for me I’m all ears! And belly!

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How I Prepare for General Conference

ldsconf

I have been described on more than one occasion as “weird about General Conference.” I, like everyone else, really really REALLY love it. I also take it maybe a little bit too seriously. I kind of need my world to stop for the entire weekend to feel like I’m fully appreciating it. Other than Girl’s Night Out during Priesthood session, which is one of my favorite things, I refuse to make any plans. I refuse to miss any session. I refuse to watch them anywhere but my home. Yes, I know they will be the same messages in the Ensign next month. Yes, I know this makes me sound insufferable and self-righteous. Trust me, I’m more aware of what a nightmare I am than you are.

There’s just ~something about it though. There’s something about an entire weekend dedicated to listening, cuddling, eating, napping, and just being at home with my little family. I love everything about it. It’s not that we couldn’t have an amazing Saturday listening to the audio and doing chores, or hanging with family and friends and reading the talks when they go up online. It doesn’t make me one lick better than anyone else to watch all 4 sessions – in fact it takes my level of obnoxious up to 11 and makes me worse.

But I love it and I will never, ever stop. I feel so strongly about General Conference being a ~thing for me and my family for whatever reason. I can clearly see my family being raised knowing that we are extra weird about those two weekends a year, and that we’ll have traditions and expectations for it that make us seem insane.

This post isn’t about you guys getting on my hermit Mormon level for General Conference, of course. I just spend an inordinate amount of time thinking about General Conference and preparing for it. I tweeted a few weeks ago that there were 30-something days leading up to October General Conference and that I’d be reading the 30-something talks from last October’s session to prepare and I ended up talking a lot about it with a few different people. It inspired this blog post, which is a list of things I do to prepare for General Conference in order to make it a special and treasured experience for me and my family.

How I Prepare for General Conference

Weeks Before

  • Re-read a previous session of conference. There are roughly 35 talks in each session of General Conference. If you start today you can read 2 talks from the April Conference each day and finish before the general sessions begin on October 1st! I like to get hard copies of the Ensign and annotate, but this time I just used the Study Tools on LDS.org and loved it. You can color-coordinate, leave notes, write journal entries, and keep “notebooks” of study topics which are important to you.
  • Do my visiting teaching. I’m hoping to complete that this week. I’ve found it makes me feel really connected to my Savior, and I don’t feel as guilty when they mention it 5x in conference and I’m like “uhhhh haven’t done that in MONTHS.” lol
  • Attend the temple. I don’t even want to admit when the last time was that we did that. But we’re going next week!
  • Plan your menu!! I love this part!!!! One day I hope to have our family’s traditional General Conference meal locked down. For now it changes every time, but basically I try to make a yummy treat to enjoy throughout the weekend and a delicious meal for Sunday. Another family favorite is to get an Einstein’s bagel bucket – we LOVE them and they make fast breakfasts & snacks throughout the weekend.

The Week Of

  • Make your plans. It doesn’t always work out that you can spend the entire weekend on the couch or in bed watching. There are sporting events, baby and bridal showers, weddings, parties, work, and other obligations. I like to figure out where we’ll be at what times, so we can try to listen in the car or move things around to be home for a particular session.
  • Complete chores & house projects so you can be totally free for the entire weekend. Now, I’m not always the best at this but I did do it in April and it was amazing. I spent some extra hours Thursday and Friday cleaning the house – particularly the living room, kitchen, and our room – so it was clean and cozy. It’s so nice to just enjoy the weekend with your family without chores or tasks weighing on your mind.
  • Set expectations with your family. It took several conferences before me and The Beard were on the same page about conference weekend – and it’s still a struggle because I’m nuts. It’s helpful to talk about our plans and expectations for conference, because otherwise we’d be disappointed and it brings contention into a weekend that is supposed to be peaceful and uplifting. For example, I want him to watch all 4 sessions with me, where in the past he usually only watched the Sunday sessions. He wants to sleep in (for him that’s 11 or 12!) and play video games, which always makes me crazy. We compromise by watching the morning sessions in bed so he just has to wake up and sit up, and then he plays video games on the couch next to me while we watch the afternoon session, pausing to interact with me when something important is said or he has thoughts about a message. It needs to work for everyone in order to be the kind of weekend you love and look forward to, so take the time to talk and compromise.
  • Give yourself a cute manicure. That sounds so dumb, but there’s something about having cute nails while you take notes that just makes it so much more fun.
  • Buy some new pens, colored pencils, highlighters – stuff that will make you excited to take notes or journal. Making some kind of record of the impressions and feelings you get is HUGE and it has an impact on you, even if you never read the notes again.
  • Take an hour or two to pray, meditate, and journal – all by yourself. In the past I would drive up the canyon or do this in the temple, but the last few times it’s ended up being at my kitchen table in the morning before everyone else wakes up. It really doesn’t matter how or when or where. I just love this time to think about where I’m at: spiritually, mentally, emotionally, socially, overall. For whatever reason, the 6 month intervals of General Conference provide the best benchmark for my personal development. Better than birthdays, back-to-school, the new year, or any other recurring starting point. I try not to listen to music, and I put my phone and computer away, then I try to think deeply and answer questions like these:
    • How was I doing before last General Conference?
    • What was I concerned about then? Has it resolved?
    • Have I become better? In what ways? Why?
    • Have I become worse? In what ways? Why?
    • Who am I? Today. Right now.
    • Do I feel like I’m becoming who God needs me to be? Who my family needs me to be? Who Reese needs me to be?
    • What is my biggest struggle right now? Do I know what I need to do about it?
    • What am I hoping to hear during this round of General Conference? What questions would I like answered?
    • What am I *NOT* hoping to hear? (this question is particularly revealing I’ve found, lol)

Day of

  • Wake up with plenty of time to prepare. I used to roll right out of bed and watch the morning session without so much as brushing my teeth. I’ve found that doing just a little bit of prep time before the morning session begins helps me to be more ready and focused. I’ll brush my teeth, change into fresh lounge clothes, get breakfast ready, and have everything ready to go with time to spare.
  • Take a few minutes before it starts to say a prayer on your own, and maybe one as a family, that you can listen, feel the Spirit, and enjoy the messages of conference.
  • Light a great smelling candle. For fall that’s a no-brainer – my favorite is Flannel or Sweater Weather from Bath & Body Works. In spring I light something airy and floral.
  • Get ready to live-tweet! I don’t follow a ton of Church or church-related accounts regularly, but I LOVE live-tweeting General Conference so I like to follow lots of them during this weekend. I also give my followers a heads up that I’ll be live-tweeting conference so they can mute me if they like. Whatevs.

This year Reese is officially a toddler and she’ll be much more busy. I doubt we will be able to spend the entire weekend at home like I like, but that’s ok. It’s better for her if we get out and play a little, so we’ll be taking walks between sessions to avoid going too stir crazy. I’m particularly excited this year to hear more about the ways the Church is modernizing, our role in that, and continuing theme of addressing doubts and questions within the Church. As always, I’ll cling to messages from and about women; they give me so much hope and strength.

Do you have a routine or tradition to prepare for conference or make it special? HMU. I’m always looking for ways to blow things even more out of proportion. May the next 17 days bring us swiftly to the best weekend of the year!

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Ten Ways to Fight First Trimester Fat & Fatigue

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Ah the first trimester. You’re tired, sick, and neurotic… with nothing to show for it, except some chub. Besides the excitement and the treasured knowledge that you’re running errands with a tiny little jelly bean inside you, it’s just kind of blah.

How many days did I put on pants that were too tight and a maternity shirt that was too baggy, hoping TODAY would be the day the bump was real enough to look pregnant and not fat? How many days did I eat a snack before we went to dinner? How many times did I spend the majority of my gym time “stretching” instead of lifting or running? All of them.

That’s the thing about the first trimester. You don’t have the one redeeming glamor of pregnancy: the bump. I don’t want to call it an excuse or a justification, but you just get more of a break when you have a visible bump. You can look tired and people offer to help. You look bloated but they tell you that you’re glowing. You can be a little grumpy or emotional or dingy and people just roll with it. But before that bump arrives it’s easy for everyone, including yourself, to feel like you are actually pregnant. Your body is doing SO MUCH WORK that literally only an ultrasound tech can see. It’s a tough thing to deal with.

I was running some pregnancy post ideas past some pregnant friends and one of them suggested writing about ways I dealt with this fat and tired trimester. Now that I’ve done it twice in two pretty different circumstances I feel like I actually do have a few tips to share.

My Ten Ways for Dealing with First Trimester Fat & Fatigue

First Trimester

First bump pics I took at 9 weeks! Loving my Countdown Tee!

#1 Keep your Closet Happy.

Your closet should be your ally, not your enemy. Monitor it frequently and weed out things as soon as they don’t fit you. This means when you pull out that favorite dress and realize it’s uncomfortable or makes you feel fat – tuck it away somewhere else like a spare closet or a box or drawer out of sight. Trust me. You’re only going to get bigger, and it’s depressing to look at your favorite clothes that you won’t be able to wear for 9+ months. This goes for non-stretchy fabrics only – things that will not accommodate the bump. Stretchy or loose things are sometimes the opposite!

You are changing nearly every day, so try on lots of things every week. That tee that made you look fat when you were just a little bloated will suddenly showcase your bump perfectly when it shows up. Full-panel maternity leggings and jeans sometimes need a certain size of bump to fit and look right.

#2 Buy a Few Maternity Staples

When that day undoubtedly comes where you stand sobbing in your closet because everything is tight and makes you feel fat… THAT’S the day you need a pair of stretchy maternity jeans or leggings. Don’t wait for that day. I tell all of my friends this and I MEAN IT: buying maternity clothing is WORTH IT. Even if you aren’t out of your regular jeans yet, keep an eye on sales or coupons for Old Navy, Target, or other stores, and then go buy some kind of maternity pants that fit your style. I usually buy mine a size larger than my current jean size, and I always go with stretchy/jegging fabrics.

#3 Remember This Isn’t One Long “Cheat Day”

Ugh. I treated my first trimester like a 14 week cheat meal. Let’s be real, I treated my whole pregnancy that way. It’s ok. It didn’t ruin my life or hurt my baby or anything awful. But it also wasn’t healthy for us, and I put on so much extra weight that I then had to haul around and eventually lose. The truth is you really only need more water and a few couple hundred more calories. Should those calories be chocolate cake and cheeseburgers? Probably not.

This time around it helped me to still view certain foods as “treats” or “sometimes” foods. If you know you have a particular craving or weakness that isn’t the healthiest, still try to limit yourself to “cheat” or “treat” days like weekends, special occasions, or when you’ve been especially good. I tend to value them more and treat my food/diet more normally.

The best possible thing is to stay on track is to keep yourself flush with healthy options. Keep a good variety of healthy food and snacks in your fridge for those moments when you REALLY want to eat that whole tub of ice cream. Start with a piece of fruit and then see how you feel. Find a few “healthy” fast food options for those times when you’re like “I NEED FOOD RIGHT NOW AND I DON’T HAVE TIME TO MAKE IT OR EVEN THINK ABOUT A DECISION JUST FIND ME A CHEESEBURGER!” I love a Zaxby’s salad, Del Taco bowls, fresca items at Taco Bell, and subs with lots of veggies from the Subway drive through near my house. I mean, I know I’m not the picture of health with these, but they’re better than a burger and fries 3x a week.

#4 Fatigue is an Enigma

I’m not sure how this is a tip, but I really do feel it is vital for all pregnant women to understand. Fatigue. Is it real? Yes. Is it predictable? Sometimes. Does it respond to your actions? Not really. Accepting this truth will save you confusion and heartache. You are going to feel tired all the time, and it’s not always going to decrease when you get a good night’s sleep or take a nap.

Sometimes a nap makes you feel better, but a lot of the time it won’t. Listen to your body, because there are times when it truly needs a nap and you should take one. But I fell into the trap of napping nearly every day after school and I would wake up unchanged, but frustrated that I felt fat and tired and unproductive. Alternately, I found that on days I went to the gym, even though I was tired and lame about it, I felt better and had more energy.

#5 Don’t Fight Insomnia

Wait. Why am I tired ALL FREAKING DAY but I wake up at 3 am ready to scrub my bathroom and paint my nails and buy a carseat cover? First trimester, baby. It’s so hard to fight this. Especially when I was teaching and waking up so early, I’d be awake in the middle of the night and just lay there going “Don’t think. Shut up. Go back to sleep. You have to sleep. Sleepsleepsleep. Why aren’t you sleeping.” Which as we know is the most effective way to calm down and fall back asleep eye roll emoji.

This advice sounds crazy, but don’t fight it. When you’re awake, you’re awake. Don’t turn your bed into a place of stress and anxiety and wakefulness! I found it very helpful to do something my brain would perceive as productive. Sometimes Pinterest, but even better was reading something spiritual or about pregnancy. This time around I’ve gotten up and written freelance articles or blog posts. Eventually you’ll feel tired and can return to bed and actually sleep. Or you might just be awake all day. But weirdly (see #4) it doesn’t quite affect you as much as you’d expect. Just try to roll with it. Try to keep it from affecting your mental state or freaking you out.

#6 Disguise with Dark Colors, Accessories, and Loose Cuts

Before the bump is “real” it just looks like bloat or chub, so learning to disguise that is key – even if your pregnancy isn’t a secret. For a while your baggy boyfriend tees may do the trick, but once they graze the belly the boxy cut can actually make you look a lot bigger than you are. That’s a great time to switch to loose cuts and more structured fabrics – like flowy maxi dresses, chambray button downs, starched shirts and blouses, thicker sweaters. Balance them with dark, sleek bottoms. Don’t be afraid to put on some Spanx, either. It won’t hurt your belly or baby. I was so sick of the pudge and my garment line creating a gross lump, so Spanx just slimmed out my spare tire/muffin top under more form fitting clothing or thin fabrics.

First Trimester

You can also disguise your bloat by distracting the eye and posing well for pics. I held Reese in front of me (like above), or cropped from my waist up. In real life you can draw the eye to places other than your midsection and fake a flat tummy – A blouse with ruffles or a detailed collar, bright cardigans or blazers, even tying a plaid around your waist. Dark colors are your best friend right now on your belly. And you’re probably not feeling like it, but just try on a pair of heels and look in the mirror. Yeah. It works.

First Trimester

First Trimester

The morning I wore this outfit I was feeling so doughy. BUT. Black dress + Spanx + Plaid = A cute look that I loved and no one could tell I was pregnant.

#7 Gatorade

I wish I’d known this last time around. During my first trimester I don’t really like or want Diet Coke, and I can only drink so much straight up water. I bounced around from Sprite Zero, to Fresca, to Crystal Light packets. Finally one day I grabbed one of The Beard’s softball Gatorades out of the fridge and sipped it through the afternoon. It cleared up my headache, quenched cravings, and made me feel truly hydrated and healthy. Now I drink several bottles a week and I can definitely tell the difference between days I drink them and days I don’t.

#8 Once A Week Beauty Routine

I simply did not have the energy to get super cute every day. I still don’t to be honest. This tip was the best thing I learned last time around, when I was leaving at 6:30 am to go to school every day and didn’t want to be waking up an earlier than I had to. I started dedicating an hour or two every weekend to basic beauty maintenance and taking care of myself. With a couple of hours of prep work you can look pretty awesome throughout the week, even if you’re exhausted and feeling gross.

I’d start with a long, hot shower. I’d wash my hair, exfoliate, and shave thoroughly (in the summer I’d need to touch up every couple of days, but in the winter once a week is fine #leggings). The steam of the shower opened up my pores and softened dead/dry skin, so once I was out I would use a creamy cleanser and my rotating cleansing brush to really get my face completely deep-clean, because pregnancy acne is no joke. I’d apply self-tanner and belly butter to avoid stretch marks and itchiness. I’d layer my favorite thick moisturizer to my face, and prep my hair with products to protect and prolong my wash & blowout. I would then give my hair a very careful, sectioned blowout. Finally, I’d give myself a mani/pedi, usually while reading fashion magazines or browsing cute maternity outfit blogs.

I tried to make this a time I treasured, rather than a bunch of chores. I listened to my favorite music and got a cold Diet Coke and pretty soon it was almost like a zen spa time for me. If you’re doing all this stuff once a week, you’re never gonna get to the point where you look like a total homeless zombie monster, and it makes your day-to-day look faster and easier.

#9 Try a New Exercise

Chances are you don’t feel much like exercising. Know that feel. I was used to intense Zumba classes, rapid lifting, and reading on the elliptical. Whether because of my energy level, SPD, or exercise limits I was unable to continue my workouts like this. They say to just continue your fitness level but it’s not always possible – or desirable. Sometimes the workouts you used to love suddenly sound miserable. Heck, basically every workout sounds miserable at that point. But about a billion studies suggest that fitness in pregnancy has huge payoffs, and I know that to be true even when my fitness was so weak and lame. I felt better, slept better, gained less, kept up muscle tone, and I have to believe it had something to do with Reese being low, head down, and the ease of my delivery, even if I can’t prove that.

So think outside the box and try to commit to ~some form of exercise, if only for the mental benefits. If you’ve never tried yoga now is the perfect time. Start lifting weights if you can’t run. Meet friends for long walks. Start a new podcast or audiobook with plenty of listening time (I recommend Criminal!) and only listen to it when you are on the elliptical. Play Just Dance in your living room; it’s awesome. Do something. You’ll feel better.

#10 Remind Yourself of the Result

Anytime I’m having a particularly tough day I will go see my best friend’s new baby or pull up pictures of Reese in the hospital or read birth stories. Remembering what you’re doing is critical. Visualization is especially powerful. Picture your tiny baby in your arms! Buy a cute swaddle! Read a pregnancy or birthing book! When times get hard and frustrating, which they will, do whatever will remind you that what you’re doing? It’s incredible and it matters. You are a living, breathing, walking miracle!

Pregnancy is a long time, but it also ends in a pretty amazing way. I can’t predict your pregnancy for you, because we’re all unique. However it is usually expected that you WILL start to feel better in your second trimester. And at the very worst… it’s only 9 months, right? 😉

But for real. Pregnancy is tough. Good luck and treat yo self.

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Online Grocery Shopping: Comparing Walmart, Smith’s, and Macey’s

Exactly 0% of this is sponsored, I promise you guys. Here’s the thing: I’m pregnant and Reese is 18 months. Which means grocery shopping used to be really fun and now it’s a bit more of a circus, and I’d rather not be in the ring. Also I get SPD when I’m pregnant, which makes pushing a shopping cart positively agonizing for me. Luckily I haven’t had it yet in this pregnancy, but I know it’ll rear it’s ugly head before long.

So a month ago when I was put on “moderate rest” and told to limit my activity and heavy lifting, I decided it was a great time to try out the online grocery ordering. I wanted to get it all figured out so that I can use it confidently through my white winter whale months of pregnancy. I figured it was best to try a few different places and then compare. I tweeted about it and had some questions so I thought “Yeah… I should probably share this!” Here we are.

I decided to do Walmart, Smith’s, and Macey’s. Walmart for obvious reasons – they’re everywhere, one of the first to offer this, and usually the biggest. Smith’s is where I usually do most of my grocery shopping. I like their rewards and coupons – super easy savings for a n00b like me. I don’t do Macey’s as much but I like it and I saw that they were doing online too. The Beard prefers Winco, but they only offer online ordering from their deli/bakery/bulk items. We use Harmon’s sometimes because The Beard works right next door to one so he can grab stuff on his way home, but their online ordering still requires you to go into the store… so what’s the point?

If I did this again I would be more scientific. My junior high science teachers would be horrified that I wasn’t using a controlled grocery order at 3 variable places. That’s the way they taught me, and this haphazard experiment is just laughing right in their faces. Still I feel I learned a lot and know a little better what to expect and how to do this the right way.

Overall: At all 3 places it was worth it. Ordering online is pretty bomb. Any of the issues I had were pretty minor, and in the end I still got my groceries without pushing a cart, loading Reese in and out of the car multiple times, and without standing in long checkout lines. One of the things I like best about it is that it ~really curtails my impulse shopping. I had to search each of the things I needed and put them in my cart, watching the total climb higher. It prevented me from walking by the baby section “just because” or meandering through the makeup “just to see.” I was much more mindful of how much I was buying and how expensive everything was. Just for the price comparison and intentional buying factors alone I think I would choose online ordering, because the benefits were for me pretty big.

I broke down the experience of ordering groceries into 3 parts: online ordering, the actual order & items, and pickup. I’ll go over how these parts worked at each store and then my final assessment of the individual stores at the bottom.

Online Ordering

Walmart – By far the best site. I could easily find anything I cared to search for. The thing I loved best about Walmart’s site is that prices are broken down by oz/unit/etc, so I can compare things like different sized containers of Diet Coke or compare multiple brands & packs of diapers. Is it cheaper to buy cans or 2 liters bottles? The 120 pack of Huggies or several 48 packs of Pampers? Stuff like that. They break down the price all the way. The pictures on all of the items were usually there and of a very good quality. They have a little heart button so you can mark down your usual grocery staples like milk, bread, Diet Coke, etc. and it will remember them for your next order.

Smith’s – Decent, functional site. ClickList was easy to use and was especially easy to navigate if you were looking for current sales. One thing I really liked about Smith’s is that it linked to my FreshValue account to earn me points, apply the paper coupons they’d mailed me in a digital version, and to show things I bought before (in store!) that were on sale or new. They also have additional digital coupons on their website that you can add to your card almost like Cartwheel for Target so that was cool.

Macey’s – Terrible site. It was actually pretty frustrating to use. They use a site/app called Rosie and I’m sure it’s still in beta or in early stages of development, so it’ll certainly get better.  The search capability in particular was SO BAD. I’m not kidding – I literally searched for ice cream and it returned no matches. So then I searched for vanilla and it brought up vanilla extract, vanilla scented sprays, vanilla cookies, and finally vanilla ice cream. And there were so many things that I straight up couldn’t find and I know it must be the site, because Macey’s has to carry Dr. Pepper and ant traps and Chobani yogurt, right? The one good thing that it had was their limited or weekly ad deals were present and indicated on the items, which I liked.

Order Fulfillment

Walmart – $30 minimum order, no pickup fee, and next day pickup. Right now they have a $10 code if you have a $50 minimum first time order (use code REALEASY) and if you use my referral link you and I both get $10 off our next orders too! Ok so for the actual groceries – I think there ended up being 3-4 items that they straight up did not have. The kid gave me a receipt of my order, consulted me about the 3-4 missing items, and had me sign a little electronic pad. I had typed in my card information online, but they didn’t charge me until after pickup and after removing the items they were unable to find or replace. I guess sometimes they will bring out a substitute and ask if you’d rather have that, but apparently there were no substitutes for what I was missing. It’s a little disappointing, especially if they’re things you really need, but it wasn’t that big of a deal. I got a few produce items and they were fine – but it was just berries and apples, which are usually fine so I can’t offer a valid assessment of their produce-choosing qualities.

Smith’s – No minimum order, $4.95 pickup fee (waived for your first 3 orders), and next-day pickup. I talked about coupons above, but if you shop there regularly and use your Smith’s FreshValue card you get a discount and have access to all of their coupons and sales. Smith’s was only missing one thing, despite it being a much bigger order than the Walmart or Macey’s orders, so that was really nice – and it was just something small and random. Didn’t even matter. They swiped my card once I got there, which was an extra step but it was fine. NBD. The only thing I didn’t like was that I bought more produce (mangoes, pears, and avocados) and they were all definitely rare and rock hard. I actually left feedback about it on their website. It’s fine; I’ll eat them next week when they eventually ripen. But I wish they had a way of asking how ripe you want them or indicating how ripe they’ll be. If you absolutely need ripe, edible produce then you may need to take care of that yourself.

Macey’s – $30 minimum order, $1.99 pickup fee, and can be same-day depending on when you order. Macey’s wasn’t missing a single thing on my order! I was even surprised when the guy just said “Have a nice day” and walked off, so I stopped him and said “Wait… there wasn’t anything missing?” and he looked at me like I was crazy. I got berries and apples again, which were ripe and good. The only fulfillment issue I had was that I ordered chicken thighs for The Beard to barbecue that night for the Utah game. They were frozen, which wasn’t indicated on the item online, and I picked them up about an hour before kickoff so he wasn’t able to barbecue them.

Pickup

Walmart – this experience was my first and nearly soured me on the whole experience, to be honest. I placed the order and set the time that worked with my schedule. I got an email confirmation saying I could pick up between 12-1 pm, how to get to the pickup zone, and the number to call when I arrived. I had stacked my errands that day and grabbed my lunch to go at 11:50 (Zaxby’s!), then drove straight to Walmart. I got there at 12:05, ready to pick up my groceries and head straight home to unload and eat my lunch. I called the number and the apparently 12 year old employee responded with hesitant ummmms and errrrrs that he “hadn’t called me yet” because my order wasn’t ready. Confused, I asked when it would be ready and he said he didn’t know but that they would call me. I scanned the email once again – at no point did it say “wait until we call you,” instead saying to arrive during that designated window. Very frustrated I returned home to eat my salad (eating healthy is the worst. I could have eaten a cheeseburger in the car no problem and just waited!). And per expectation I got a call from the 12 year old kid about 3 bites into my salad. I told him I had gone home to eat and that I’d be back in 15-20 minutes. “Well… yeah… I guess that’s ok. We can wait. That will work.” Oh YOU can wait? By the way this phone call was at 12:25. Meaning I could show up even 20 minutes later and still be within the window I’d scheduled. I wasn’t happy. Once we got there the groceries came right out and it was very fast, but at no point did the kid say “I’m sorry for the wait!” or show any kind of remorse or understanding. It’s fine – I’ll order from them again. But I’ll make sure not to do it on a day with a tight schedule, and I won’t go until they call and tell me it’s ready. Or I’ll just get a cheeseburger and an audiobook and chill until they get their act together.

Smith’s – the fastest! I think I waited like 1 minute after calling in. Also the most friendly! They came out with two kids, one to confirm my order and process my payment, while the other was loading groceries into my car. They also gave me a little thank you/gift bag with water, hand soap, granola bars, and coupons in it for my first order. I thought that was a really nice touch. They had very good customer service, and it was clear that this online ordering thing is a priority for them which they’re trying to develop.

Macey’s – Very fast. Not very friendly, but whatever I’m not there to make friends. They were super businesslike so that was nice. They also gave me a 10% off coupon, which I’ll probably use the next time I do a really bigMy only complaint with pickup was that the guy did kind of a sloppy job of loading my trunk. I was loading stuff into the backseat and didn’t notice, but then I made a slow, simple turn onto 800 N and I heard all of my groceries shift and clank and fall out of bags. I had to crouch at my bumper to catch items from falling when I got home to unload.

{IDK what etiquette is for this, but all 3 times I got out and helped them load the groceries because I’m a control freak and I also wanted to be as fast as possible. I didn’t tip them and I’m not sure if I should have? They didn’t really give me any opportunity or indication that I should have and everyone I’ve talked to hasn’t tipped them either. They all wore special vests or shirts for the online pickup, which leads me to believe that is their actual job/job title, and I assume at least part of the pickup fee is for loading. I am going to do more research and I’ll definitely tip them this winter when it’s cold, snowy, and I’m huge/pregnant/not getting out to help them.}

I am converted. I don’t think this will ever completely replace actual trips to the grocery store, but if those can be limited or passed off to The Beard because I got 90% of the stuff through online pickup… that’s gonna be a good life. I think I will probably continue using Smith’s as my main choice. The $4.95 fee doesn’t sound great, but I think I usually save much more than $5 by using my member discount and coupons when I have them. Walmart is closer and has the best selection, not to mention no fees, so I’m sure we’ll use that too. I’ll give Macey’s another try, if only to take advantage of that 10% off coupon.

I think online ordering is worth a try for anyone, so choose one of these and give it a whirl. Let me know if you have a notable experience or any tips for me, as I’m likely to be riding this train until I can take Baby Girl #2 into public in confidence. No word on when that will be.

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What I’ll Do Differently This Time

By and large, I am so pleased with how everything went with Reese. From pregnancy to delivery to life with a baby – I’m hoping much of it goes exactly the same. Which of course means that it won’t. But! Hopefully ~some of it can be similar, because it was bomb.

Still, it’s in my nature to constantly assess and look for improvement, so even as things were basically perfect I started a list of things I wanted to do better the next time around. I’ve been thinking much more seriously about it since we decided to try to get pregnant again this last spring, and now every step along the way!

Countdown tee

13 week bump – taken right before we left for Disneyland!

Pregnancy

  • Keep it a secret longer – I felt like last time it made the pregnancy longer when I announced earlier. I’m glad I waited a little longer this time around. I already feel like it’s flying.
  • Stop using “well I’m pregnant” as an excuse. Last time around I was super hungry and would have cravings that I would indulge with no restraint. If I wanted a cheeseburger and fries – I ate them. If I felt too tired to do the dishes – I didn’t. And you know what? It was fine! But this time around I know a little better. If I’m craving something I don’t ~need it. If I’m hungry I should eat, but I should start with healthy, real food first. I’m not disabled and I don’t need to stuff my face with garbage just because I feel like I want it.
  • Accept fatigue. You know… we’re just gonna be tired while we’re pregnant. We just are. It’s a lesson I had to learn again this time around: just because I feel like I need a nap doesn’t mean a nap is actually going to make me feel better. I’m not saying you shouldn’t take it easy when you need it, or that you should work yourself to the bone, of course. But what I found was that I would spend a lot of the day on the couch, napping, doing nothing because I felt like doing nothing… and I didn’t feel any better or more rested than the days where I had to do be up and doing stuff. Basically it means that every single day it’s a temptation to nap for a couple of hours when Reese takes her nap. I do sometimes! Not all the time, though, because I usually wake up feeling just as tired (if not MORE tired and headachey) and I didn’t accomplish anything productive. Some days I’m just tired, but I just have to get some crap done. Even if it’s not much, it’s something ad it makes me feel a little better.
  • Stay active! LOL this was derailed for obvious reasons. Thankfully I’m cleared to work out again this week and I’m back on the (very slow) (very gentle) (very cautious) grind. I just feel better and less incapable. Whether it’s regular light walking and stretching or hopefully a weekly Zumba session, I plan to have a workout schedule for the remainder of this pregnancy. Yeah, it’ll change. But I’ll have one.
  • Gain less weight. This goes hand in hand with the last three points. I gained a LOT with Reese, and I was able to lose it all. But I think there will be numerous benefits to gaining less this time. I have gained much less at this point than I did with Reese and I’m really happy about it. I weigh in weekly and simply write it down without judgement. Just the awareness is good for me, and I’m hoping it means an overall smaller weight when baby time comes.
  • Take more bump & pregnancy style pics! I haven’t done great with this, but I do have a cute Countdown Tee and I’m going to try to take regular outfit pics with it and my maternity clothes.
  • Nest better. Last time I was working, and we also had a completely free room in our house, which meant I just bought and bought, sticking everything in there, but didn’t de-junk, deep clean, organize, or improve our house much. I’m already ahead of the game – I’m spending this week working through KonMari method for decluttering my house.
  • Save more. Having another baby girl is great for this, because I think the only thing I ~have to buy is a double stroller. And even that isn’t necessary, and I won’t need it right away. I’m going to buy the next size up of my current stroller (upgrade from the Uppababy Cruz to the Vista), and buy a few new things for baby girl to have for her own, but I’m limiting myself. We have more serious savings goals this time around, and I’m hoping we can stick to them.

Labor, Delivery, Recovery

  • Go in well-fed. This is probably my only real regret of labor and delivery – I was STARVING.
  • Tap into the spiritual nature of labor and birth. It was incredible last time, but I had no idea just how spiritual of an experience it was about to be. I really can’t wait for next time, and I want to be prepared to experience it fully.
  • Be prepared in general. I’m not an idiot. I know that it’s crazy to expect the same amazing and easy experience twice in a row. Much of me wants to believe what the nurses said: “You’re made for having babies! You should have 10!” Well, not that last part. But I want to believe that my body is naturally good at this. I also want to be prepared in the event that this round is more complicated and difficult. Natural birth terrifies me, so I think it’s prudent to be informed and prepared in case we have to go that route due to speed or other issues.
  • Start wearing my girdle earlier and more consistently. Last time I wore it so randomly, and basically just like Spanx. This means I missed out on the healing opportunity for my abdominal muscles to migrate back faster and better.
  • Concentrate on core workouts once cleared to exercise. I did a great job last time with cardio, which is why I was able to lose the weight. But my abs have just never really recuperated. I’d like to do better next time.
  • Keep taking prenatals after baby is born. I tried to but fell off the wagon last time. I’ve heard they help you bounce back faster, produce plenty of good milk, and just generally be healthier.

New Baby

  • Nurse better. My posture was TERRIBLE last time, which meant my back and shoulders hurt all the time. After consulting with mom friends I have learned some ways to improve my nursing experience.
  • Nurse in public. Idk why I was so weird about this. It wasn’t that I was uncomfortable or overly modest or anything. It just felt so inconvenient for some reason – which is hilarious because prepping a bottle every time we left the house was definitely not more convenient. I want to get more comfortable and efficient about nursing in public this time.
  • Nurse longer. I nursed Reese for about 5 months, and felt great about it! No regrets at all. I just want to go longer next time. I’m not gonna set a particular monthly goal, but let’s just say… longer.
  • Introduce formula, but limit it to 1 bottle a week. I was actually really glad that I introduced formula to Reese early on (2 or 3 weeks I think, once we had nursing completely conquered), because having the option was so so nice. But it also was a safety net that I fell on several times when cluster feeding was making me crazy. Of course, this might change depending on baby’s needs and #FedisBest, always. I just want to give her one bottle of formula a week to keep her taste up and make sure it’s always an option, and try my best to keep it to one formula bottle a week.
  • Get out of the house with the girls by myself within the first week of being home alone. I’ve heard this advice from multiple mothers I admire. It wasn’t that tricky with Reese – one kid is practically an accessory, even if it felt monumental at the time. It might be a huge hassle, a waste of time, and a complete disaster. But I’m going to do it. Because as soon as you start doing it you start getting better at it, and I want to be a mom that can still live my life with two kids in tow.
  • Daily routines in place earlier. I wouldn’t trade those carefree, wild first few months for ~anything. However, I think we don’t have the luxury of those lawless months this time around. I’ll have 2 years of experience under my belt when next baby arrives, so theoretically falling into a routine should be much faster.

Having two is going to be a whole new world. I’m nervous, if I’m being honest. Mothers of two or more – what about you? What did you do differently, or wish you’d done differently? What am I to expect with this next baby? Plz halp. I’m a textbook overthinker with ~only 5 months to prepare!!!!!!!!! (I’m serious though.)

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Hi September!

september I’m so happy to see you. August dragged me around and stood in my way a lot, but I still got a lot of stuff done despite it’s best efforts. We spent a lot of time outside, went to the Owlz game and Disneyland, cleaned the house, read books, and watched a lot of Bachelor in Paradise. Unfortunately I didn’t work out AT ALL and didn’t get around to my home projects, so that’s a big focus for this month.

september2

I’m very excited about the temperature starting to (slowly) decline. I’m excited about the flannels in the stores and pumpkin decorations in the displays. I’m excited about the upcoming General Conference, Chalk the Block, and about a billion family & friend birthdays that September has to offer. I’m excited that August was such a great month for me spiritually, and want to keep that going. I’m excited that a nesting instinct is making it easy for me to plan and tackle projects (me and my angel best friend finally crushed my pantry disaster last week!).

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September I am just excited about you!

Here’s what we’re gonna do, if you’re on board, September:

  • Celebrate the Beard’s 30th birthday!!! A big one!
  • Celebrate a billion other birthdays (my MIL + FIL, my brother, our best friend Brad, my girl Melissa, my bestie’s boy Finn)
  • Read at least 3 books (So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed, The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, How May We Hate You, and Devil in the White City are my minimum goals)
  • Have a Tucanos + Temple date, just me and the Beard!
  • Get back to the gym! I plan to very slowly build back up my endurance with walking, yoga, and lifting. I would love to be in a Zumba class by the end of the month.
  • Read the Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up (maybe Spark Joy too) and start decluttering everything. I mean everything.
  • Go through all of Reese’s stuff and determine what, if anything, we’ll need for Baby Girl #2
  • Create really good, balanced content for this blog. I am trying to stick to one mom/pregnancy/baby post a week and have a good variety of other content.
  • Barbecue for football games with our friends & family every week!
  • Plan a great “Pep Rally” for Harry Potter Book Club!
  • Read all of October 2015 Conference talks to prepare for General Conference
  • Watch the General Women’s meeting with some of my favorite ladies
  • Start eating pumpkin everything and not giving a d*rn what anyone else thinks about it

Yay! Let’s do this September!

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Books I Read: August

As you’ve probably gathered by now, August was a bit chaotic. Which means I was kind of scrambling this week to finish up my last two books. The good news is that I DID get my 3 books in, and I’m already into my next audiobook and have my next hard copy book on my shelf (The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up, and Spark Joy for good measure), so I’m hoping to start out September a little more proactively with my reading.

I listened to The Silkworm on audiobook and immediately requested and got the next in the series – Career of Evil – on audiobook, but on our roadtrip we had other books to listen to instead so it expired before I got along to listening to it. The one good thing about our roadtrip being such a disaster was that we were able to finish Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – meaning The Beard is finally an accomplished reader/listener of all seven Harry Potter books – and started The Hobbit. Tolkien is The Beard’s Rowling; he’s as into it as I am into Potter. Well maybe not ~quite as into it, as I literally started a book club and he’s never done that. I read The Hobbit in junior high, and I’ve attempted Fellowship about 10x and never gotten past Rivendell. But this is the least I can do after he’s listened to all 7 Potter books. We nearly finished on our trip, and then I wrapped up in the weeks after we returned. Plus started my next audiobook “Devil in the White City,” which has come highly recommended to me as I love serial killers and history.

Basically what I’m saying is August was audiobook central. It was great! There’s just something about curling up on your couch with a real book though, ya know? I don’t think I’ll ever be a full blown electronic-only millennial. I love my real books too much. Anyway here’s my books of August!

The Silkworm

The Silkworm review

In the wake of the Lula Landry murder discovery, Cormoran Strike and his assistant Robin are incredibly busy. Though he is overextended with cheating spouses and political scandal cases, he consents to investigate the disappearance of an eccentric writer when his equally strange wife shows up in his office. Owen Quine was about to publish a very scathing satire which featured many people from his life in a particularly unpleasant light, leaving plenty of people with anger and motive. The case takes surprising and grisly turns, including assassins, car chases, literary clues, and ancient rivalries. Strike proves his prowess by sifting through the accounts of writers, publishers, agents, police, and family to eventually solve the bizarre and evolving case.

I was slightly disappointed in The Cuckoo’s Calling, but liked it enough to press on to this next book in the series. I am so glad I did because I liked it so much more! I still don’t feel like mystery/suspense is my core genre, but I really do enjoy listening to them because they keep me really interested. This book was so reminiscent of Red Dragon (by Thomas Harris, from the Hannibal series) to me, which is one of my favorite books so I really enjoyed that.

Good

  • You just really grow to love Strike & Robin even more. They develop as characters and as a team and I’m just really invested in them now! The switching perspectives is masterful, especially because Galbraith/Rowling does a really good job of capturing the very different ways men and women can interpret the same situation.
  • The twists and developments in Strike’s and Robin’s personal lives are much better in this book, and they actually feel part of the story.
  • Very good audiobook. The reader was perfect, it was fast enough to keep me interested, but not too complex that I couldn’t listen while doing other things. Much less swearing/sex than Cuckoo’s Calling too so that was really nice.
  • I really loved the dark, gothic tone of this book. I know that’s not for everyone but I really liked it!
  • At first you think you’re just dealing with these Oxford sweater vest authors and publishers, but Galbraith/Rowling does another great job of pulling out a variety of diverse characters to support the story & investigation.
  • It’s one of those twists where you’re like “Whoa what?” but then after sleeping on it you realize it couldn’t have been any other way and of course they are the killer!! That’s always kind of fun.
  • I immediately downloaded the next one! It was unfortunate timing so I didn’t listen to it before it expired but I’m gonna request again!

Less Good

  • There is much more violence in this one. Well mostly just one super nutso graphic crime scene. And I mean graphic.
  • The missing author, Owen Quine, writes these awful gothic violent/sexual epics and tragedies. So you hear kind of a lot about that. It fits the story, but it’s still not pleasant.
  • I don’t know much about the mystery genre, but I guess I just wasn’t all that wowed by the mystery part of it? I didn’t mind because I just liked the story and characters, but the mystery wasn’t the most solid.

The Martian

The Martian review

Astronaut Mark Watney is the only person on the planet, literally. The Ares 3 mission is aborted after 6 days and he is left behind, presumed dead. He has to find ways to survive in an environment that is increasingly dangerous and largely unknown. Eventually he’s able to communicate with NASA and everyone on Earth is teaming up to help bring him home. 

I saw the movie first, and really liked it! I wasn’t stoked about reading it for Bon’s Book Club this month because it’s hard to read books when you’ve already seen the movie. I wasn’t sure that I could deal with all of the science, all of the back and forth problems/solutions, and the maddening isolation. You would think with how much I love Star Trek and Star Wars I would be into sci-fi fantasy books but I’m actually not! But I am happy to report that I definitely enjoyed this book.

Good

  • Mark Watney is one of the funniest, most likable characters I’ve ever read
  • I feel like I learned a lot about science?
  • It’s a very fast read, especially with the switching perspectives between Mars, Earth, and the Hermes
  • The movie is a great interpretation of the book. I’m not sure why that’s good, but it is, right? Great movie, great book.
  • The ending made me cry in both the book and the movie

Less Good

  • Super science-y
  • Some of the parts you do have to skim or breeze through because they’re SO SCIENCE-Y or repetitive. Like “oh no there’s this problem in my plan I didn’t foresee! What will I do I’m effed! Wait I figured it out I’m a genius!”
  • Because the movie is so good and so much like the book I think I’ll have a hard time actually recommending the book over the movie.

The Hobbit

The Hobbit review

Cozy homebody Bilbo Baggins’ life is turned upside down when a team of dwarves and Gandalf the wizard invade his home and enlist his services as a burglar on their quest. Along their path to the Lonely Mountain they encounter trolls, goblins, elves, eagles, and men. Evicting the mighty dragon Smaug is the least of their problems, when everyone in the region shows up to claim some of the legendary dwarf treasure within the Lonely Mountain. This classic tale is one of bravery, friendship, wit, honor, and magic. 

Ok, I read this book when I was in middle school but I’m counting it as a new read because that was SO LONG AGO and I barely remembered anything when we saw the movies. Not to mention I super owed The Beard. I used to roll my eyes at him, acknowledging that Tolkien is a master and that these books are important, but never thinking they would ever be on the same tier as Harry Potter. I’m really glad we listened to it together because it really did help me come around. I want The Hobbit to be a book we read as a family. I’d rather my kids be Harry Potter dorks than LOTR nerds, but why can’t we be both?

Good

  • This truly is a classic tale that everyone should read.
  • Bilbo is a lovable, relatable character and generally a really good protagonist.
  • I kept thinking about how many discussions we could have about morality, right and wrong, responsibility, and honor. I wouldn’t call it a parable or cautionary tale, but it really does have so many good lessons.
  • I really really love the way Tolkien writes this. Like he’s a friend sitting down to tell you a very long, very good story that a close friend told him firsthand. His voice is very present as the narrator, but in such a fresh and companion sort of way. He explains things to you without slowing down the story, somehow.
  • JK Rowling is an artist, and her writing is incredible. But I will say that Tolkien? Tolkien’s writing is prose.

Less Good

  • SO MANY SONGS. The audiobook dude even sings them which is just too much for me. At least if you read you can skip over them.
  • This isn’t a fast read or listen. It’s the kind of book you should read slowly all snuggled up. It’s not really a poolside or vacation read. We took a lot of breaks even just listening in the car. I think it’s perfect for like a bedtime story – read a few pages/a chapter each night before bed kind of thing.
  • Now I have to listen to LOTR 🙁 (it’s not bad, it’s just gonna take 10 years)

So the books I need to read for September are as follows but not limited to:

So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed – for Bon’s Book Club

The Legend of Sleepy Hollow – following Delicious Reads Book Club

How May We Hate You

The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up

Spark Joy

Devil in the White City (currently on audiobook)

Women & the Priesthood (currently reading, need to finish)

Career of Evil – hoping to listen on audiobook after Devil in the White City

Eve and the Choice Made in Eden

Gonna be a busy month. The good news is that next week I should be cleared to exercise again and I can do a lot of reading on the treadmill/elliptical and listening as I walk around the park or lift weights. Hoping to grind through a lot of these books that way. But hey – as long as I hit my 3 books a month I will be happy. 🙂

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