Maternity Fashion: How to Keep Your Style While Wearing a Bump – THIRD TRIMESTER

I’ve written about maternity fashion for first trimester here, and second trimester here.  This is the final post on third trimester.
The thing to remember at this stage of pregnancy, when you’re feeling sweaty and uncomfortable, having increasing trouble sleeping, and putting up with a daily onslaught of comments ranging from, “Are you SURE you’re not having twins?” to “ARE YOU SURE you’re not having twins,” to “You haven’t had this baby yet?” to “When are you due again (was it yesterday?)” to “ARE YOU ABSOLUTELY sure you’re not having twins,” here’s the thing you have to remember:
This precious, precious little one is going to make it all worth it.  And with the sense of humor God instilled in the universe, you will exchange your sweaty pregnancy body for a drippy-lactating body; your firmly shaped baby-belly for a squishy, lumpy post-partum belly; and lots of trouble sleeping for no sleep at all, topped off with a bazillion comments about how freaking adorable your little one is and are they sleeping through the night yet?
And once again I will repeat, oh the precious little one that is worth it all.  Oh the joy they will bring to your days.  And just like the awkwardness of toting around a pregnancy belly, a puffy face, and swollen ankles, the sleepless nights of early parenthood, too, will pass.  It is for a season that seems long in the moment and short in the past.
Hang in there, mamas!
Overall third trimester fashion tips:
1. If you have any remaining ability to still wear non-maternity blouses or dresses, rock it.  However, pay attention to lines like bra lines or pregnancy boobs popping out of things, panty lines in your dresses, etc…. Being pregnant comes with a lot of imperfections, but you can embrace those curves while smoothing them out.  If the weather allows it, wearing a thin cotton tank under a fitted shirt, or a belly band over the pants and popped-out belly button, will help smooth things out.  I used Ingrid and Isabel belly bands during my pregnancy, because of their high quality and durability.
2. Your face inevitably changes.  Looking through these photos, I can see the beginning of “pregnant face” at about twenty weeks, but by thirty-four weeks, I was having to photograph my face at different angles in order to be happy with how the photos turned out. The good news is your face is probably the first thing to go back to looking normal after delivery, and should do so within a couple days, depending on if you had a lot of IV fluids during a hospital stay (which will add a few more days to losing the puffy look).  You can feel better about how you look by taking care of the parts you CAN control.
3. Comfort becomes increasingly important.  If the weather is cool enough, leggings or tights under a tunic or short dress can be wonderfully comfortable while still looking put-together.
4. You may need to invest in new shoes, if your feet or ankles experience swelling.  I needed new shoes by about thirty-two weeks ish.  I opted to purchase two pairs of flats that were dressy enough for work, but casual enough for daily use – a brownish color and a silvery color since those two seemed to look good with everything.  I had one pair of Crocs flats that also fit until the end of my pregnancy.  I couldn’t wear flip flops because the straps pressed into my swollen feet, plus it really showed that I was swollen, and I got tired of people freaking out over my ankles.  I wore a lot of thin pants at the end, to help hide my ankles.
5. You can still look and feel beautiful. In fact, I guarantee that you look prettier than you think you do.  Other people don’t see the imperfections the way you do, and the bigger your belly gets, the more attention it gets than your face anyway.  Once the baby is born, people hardly look at you anymore because they are too busy looking at the precious tininess.

6. Decide when it’s time to lose the “fitted-under-the-belly” blouses.  You may make this change based on a glance in the mirror, or based on how many twin comments you get in a day.  As long as belts are still comfortable against your ribs, I think they look great all the way till the end.  You will need skinny belts though; wide ones won’t do.  Preferably 1/4 to 1/2 inch at a maximum, or a soft sash or ribbon is even better.

29 Weeks. Dress: Old Navy (not maternity, but two sizes larger than my normal size). Necklace: thrifted. Belt: Ebay. Tights: Walmart or Target. Boots: Ross.  I can’t do the ankle-height booties that are so popular right now – they look like hooves to me, especially on my size 9.5 feet.  But these boots were a short length that was comfortable to wear without being so low they turn me into a horse.

30 Weeks. Blouse: Old Navy (not maternity, but the ruched sides made it an awesome maternity blouse). Cardigan: Old Navy. Skirt: thrifted (not maternity, super stretchy waist). Boots: Ross. Necklace: gift, from India. Belt: thrifted.

31 Weeks. Blouse: I don’t remember, not one of my usual stores… super stretchy and soft, not maternity. Cardigan: consignment, also not maternity. Necklace: fabulous, gift from my boss from New Mexico, real turquoise and various handmade beads. Pants: Craigslist, maternity slacks. I bought a pair of black, brown, and grey dress slacks off Craigslist early in my pregnancy, before they fit.  It was a great purchase as I wore them daily to work.  I paid more than I wanted to for them, but they were still cheaper than buying new high-quality maternity dress slacks, and I definitely got my money’s-worth out of them.  Shoes: thrifted, one of my all-time favorite thrifted finds, red leather retro-looking heels that fit perfectly and were my favorite brand of dress shoes, Gianni Bini from Dillards.  I paid $10 for them, and $16 to have them repaired where some of the leather was fraying.  Which is also to say that high-quality leather shoes can almost always be repaired by a good shoe shop.  I’ve saved many a pair of lovely shoes by sending them for a $10 repair.

I included the close-up belly shot here, to show the transition happening with fitted blouses.  In the first and second trimester, fitted blouses are your best friend. As you get further into the third trimester, they definitely show off your belly still, but it becomes a question of how much you want to show off your belly, and how many questions about triplets you want to field that day.  I was hitting the transition point here for sure.  As you can see, the following week’s photo my belly actually looks smaller, which is just a matter of how I dressed.

32 Weeks. Cardigan: thrifted (Gap), Blouse thrifted, Belly Band (showing under my blouse) Ingrid and Isabel, Pants maternity slacks Craigslist (see prior photo), shoes brown leather heels from Gianni Bini, Belt thrifted.

The cropped sweaters started looking good around this stage of pregnancy. They worked to visually shorten my torso, which seemed to make my belly appear a bit smaller.  This blouse that isn’t fitted-under-the-belly also helps visually shorten my torso and belly size.

33 Weeks. Blouse: Gap (not maternity), Necklace Ebay, Belt Urban Outfitters, pants Craigslist, Shoes Walmart.

Although I was slowly moving away from fitted-under-the-belly blouses at this stage, I wanted to photograph this blouse I had worn repeatedly during my pregnancy.  I had a gift card to Gap Maternity from a friend, and this was one thing I bought with it.  It was incredibly soft and flowy, and not hot to wear.  It was from the non-maternity part of the store, and was a size extra small. I guess they intended it to be worn like a short dress or something, because it would have been absolutely enormous on me if I wasn’t 33 weeks pregnant.  There was room for me to wear it right up until the end.

It is belted at the empire waistline, because I think this is such a wonderful look for pregnancy.  At this stage however, you may be feeling pretty constricted in the ribcage area, depending on how your baby and placenta are positioned.  I was lucky in that my placenta was at the top of my uterus, under my diaphragm and ribs, so I never experienced baby kicks knocking the wind out of me. If he kicked straight up, I couldn’t even tell.

Also, I use Ebay when I have a specific item I’m searching for.  For example, a gold leaf necklace, or a skinny silver belt.  I could visit a ton of stores before finding the exact item I have in mind, or Ebay usually yields it with a ten or fifteen minute browsing keyword search.

34 weeks. Cardigan, thrifted (Gap), Blouse Old Navy (not maternity, I think a regular size L maybe), pants Craigslist maternity slacks, Shoes Crocs Malindi, Necklace thrifted.

Eventually I couldn’t wear these Crocs anymore, as the sling back strap would press into my swollen feet. You can tell in this photo that my feet and ankles are merging.  It was getting hard to hide.  Around 36 weeks, I had slight signs of early stages of preeclampsia, but after treatment from my naturopath and lots of prayer, the symptoms all disappeared and I had a safe, normal home birth.

The looseness under my belly looked best on me at this substantial-belly stage of pregnancy.  The cropped cardigan helped to raise up the eye off the belly and visually shorten my torso.  I love, love this necklace.  I only have a few very-large necklaces in my wardrobe, and they always seem a bit overwhelming when I put them on.  But when I see them in photos, they just look fabulous and really bring vibrance to an otherwise simple outfit.

35 Weeks. Scarf Old Navy, Cardigan consignment, Blouse Liz Lange Target maternity), pants Craigslist, shoes Ross.

I usually say I don’t like purple, but then I realize I have a substantial amount of plum in my wardrobe, and it’s a color I really enjoy wearing.  This is the ivory blouse I wore backward in an earlier second trimester post with a black and white skirt.  I wore it front-ward for this outfit, since the scarf was drawing attention and I didn’t want to overwhelm it.  The cardigan also has little cut-outs on the bell sleeves, so there was plenty of detail here already.

My poor puffy feet.
My poor puffy nose.

36 weeks. Blazer: thrifted (not maternity, two sizes larger than my normal size). Blouse thrifted, not maternity. Pants grey cords Ebay. Shoes Crocs Malindi.

Again, the crop-length jacket really helps here.  This blouse was non-maternity, but had an empire waistline and a generous hemline, making it ideal for a maternity blouse.  It had a bunch of different colors in the pattern, so I was able to wear it many different ways.  I like using one item with a pattern on it to draw together the colors of the rest of the outfit.  The plum colored shoes here are one of the colors in the blouse.

37 weeks. Blouse, thrifted, not maternity. Tank Old Navy, Skirt gift from a friend, maternity and so huge and stretchy that I was only able to use it right at the end, and still had to use the belly band to hold it up. Shoes, Ross. Necklace, gift (some kind of rock/stone on the pendant).

Wow. Really swollen here.  It actually got a bit better after this week, but this was probably the peak of the swelling.  I really wanted to stop wearing shoes at all.  I got a couple “huge” comments this week, which for the record, isn’t a word a pregnant woman likes to hear.

For the rest of the photos in that week, I knelt down on the ground to hide my feet, so I wouldn’t get comments on my blog.

Also, after seeing these photos, I decided I should definitely avoid blouses that fit completely around my belly for the remainder of my pregnancy.

38 Weeks.  Necklace and bracelet, consignment, real coral, one of my favorite pieces of jewelry.  Blouse Old Navy, not maternity. Tank Old Navy. Belt Ebay. Pants Ebay. Shoes Crocs Crocband Loafer.

This blouse was a size XL but was thin cotton and flowy and soft.  If I hadn’t belted it, it would have been waaaayyy baggy under my armpits.  But it was comfortable and seemed flattering at this end-of-the-road stage.

I have never cared for my profile in photos, because it makes my face very angular.  However, at this stage of pregnancy, when my face was so puffy, my profile was actually what I preferred over a straight-on shot.  That’s not really something you can manage in real life, what angle to view your face, but if you’re taking photos at this stage, it’s worth considering.

My son was born six days after this photo, one day before we would have taken my 39 week photos.  As it turned out, after our midwife gave him a thorough review when he was born, she concluded that I was about a week further along in my pregnancy than we were calculating.  His conception date had been a bit iffy, but she felt like she could determine once he was born, which of the two possible dates it was.

So I actually delivered him with a couple days of “40” weeks.  However, I still only “thought” I was nearly 39 weeks, which made it emotionally easier to still be pregnant.  I was prepared to go 42 weeks without induction, since that is the law in Texas during which time you can still deliver at home with a midwife.  As any full-term pregnant woman will tell you however, she doesn’t want to be pregnant one day longer than she “needs” to be.  We chose natural labor and natural home birth for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is the over-use of induction in hospitals, leading to many unnecessary cesarean surgeries.  That said, I sympathize with every woman who is emotionally “done” with pregnancy.

So my 39/40 week outfit looked like this: (photos taken by my amazing photographer Ann Marie Itschner out of Kerrville).

And for all the twin comments I received during my pregnancy, it was a bit of relief to discover that my son was 10 pounds 4 ounces at birth, plenty big enough to have been a set of twins.  I lost 20 pounds the day he was born, from him, placenta, water, blood, etc.  And my ankles were back within 24 hours which was such a relief since I have always liked my feet!

I had fully intended to do some post-partum photos, because in many ways, it’s harder to dress THAT body shape than a pregnant one.  Chances are, your belly looks somewhere between three and seven months pregnant still, but it is loose and floppy instead of round and firm.  If you are breastfeeding, your nipples are extremely tender and sore and you would ideally want to walk around shirtless everywhere so no fabric touches your nipples.  Luckily both these things should last just a few weeks, and your belly will regain a sense of normalcy after time, and the nursing soreness will fade and become and easy and delightful nursing relationship.

I am now 22 months post partum, and not yet pregnant with my second child.  I would say that my belly looks now about like it did when I was 10 weeks pregnant with my first child.  It is a bit poofier than it ever was, even though I weigh the same as  I did then. I don’t exercise at a gym, or do special exercising at home, so I imagine it could look different if I did some working out.  But that’s not on my priority list at the moment.

My breasts went through so much change… Pre-pregnancy I am about a 34AA cup size, barely fitting into push-up/padded style 34A bras.  During my first trimester of pregnancy, I increased to a size 36C, and wore that size for the remainder of my pregnancy.  When I was first nursing, in the few weeks while your body doesn’t know if you need enough milk for a singleton or quadruplets, I experienced some engorgement and have no clue what my bra size was.  I didn’t wear a bra during that time, as it was too constricting.  I just wore a loose nursing blouse, and when I went out of the house, I wore a scarf that draped over my breasts to conceal anything showing through.  I guess that wouldn’t work in the summer, but I haven’t crossed that road yet.

I am now 22 months post partum, and still nursing my son at bedtime, nap time, and wake-up time.  I’m probably a size 34B, but nursing bras are stretchy and don’t have the distinct measurements that normal bras do.

I’m proud of the changes my body went through, and the permanent shape-changes that remain with me.  My body was meant to be used, it was designed to carry, nurture, and nurse babies, and it has done so (well one baby, not plural yet).  It has been serving some of that purpose, and shows marks from that use.  And that’s okay with me.

I have been so thin my whole life, primarily by genetics, and I never really liked my body or thought I was beautiful.  It was pregnancy, and all its crazy changes and lovely curves, that taught me to love my body, for how it looked, for what it can do.

So while fashion focuses on what we can do to our bodies externally, pregnancy is also a time to emotionally process how we feel about our bodies, good or bad.  I hope it becomes a time where you can enjoy your changing shape, no matter what size you were or are or become.  I hope the strength your body shows in growing and delivering a new human into the world (by the grace of God), can help you love your body more or begin to accept it for the first time.

We might be dressing the outside, but our hearts are on the inside, and our perception of ourselves is something that can blossom during this season of pregnancy, with all its loveliness and all its flaws.  This is me.  This is you.  Thank God for our beautiful, strong bodies.

And if you’re just here for the fashion, but curious about the birth of my son, I blogged about that too.
Birth Story short version
Birth Story long version
Two days old (the cute baby pics that make you remember why you’re pregnant after all)

| Filed under birth, fashion, God moments, health, pregnancy

Maternity Fashion: How to keep your style while wearing a bump SECOND TRIMESTER

I wrote about maternity fashion first trimester a very long time ago.  My clothing is probably getting a bit out of style so it’s about time to post the rest of my maternity fashion tips while I can still enjoy looking at the outfits again.

I think my tips remain about the same here as they were before:

1. Belts at the empire waistline make it obvious you are pregnant, and want people to know you are pregnant. There is less hesitation about the state of your belly when you are clearly showing it off with intention.

2. Avoid actual maternity clothes, blouses especially, as long as possible. Especially with the baggy blouse look that’s in-style right now, just buy blouses that you like that fit over your bump. If they have a bit of stretch, even better. You might need to go up a size or two, but keep them as fitted as you can so you can look pregnant instead of lumpy.  Stretchy skirts with a flexible waistband that are non-maternity also work great.  Actual maternity clothes tend to be either ugly+affordable or expensive+cute.  Most of maternity wardrobe, barring pants, was non-maternity until my third trimester.

3. Stick with fitted blouses when possible, again to show off the bump. If the blouse is flowy, belting it will add definition.

4. Thrift stores are my favorite places for unique finds that give depth. You buy a lot of brand new clothes the first time you are pregnant, so you can end up with a lot of all-the-same look. Thrifting helps round it out with clothes of other styles or seasons.

5. Being pregnant is hot. Make use of single-layers with a removeable over garment like a cardigan or blazer at work, so you can strip back down when driving to-and-fro.

6. Try to put yourself together every day, or as many days per week as possible, so you can feel good about your appearance.  Sometimes all the difference in an outfit being blah, and thus feeling blah, can be a couple accessories – belt, scarf, necklace, earrings, bracelet, fun shoes.

7. There is a stage of pregnancy where cropped cardigans and blazers look good, and a stage where they look terrible. There is a stage where hip-length longer cardigans and blazers look good, and a stage where they look terrible.  There is a stage where fitted-under-the-belly looks good, and a stage where it makes you look ginormous (at the end).  Take a moment to glance in the mirror and decide if it’s time to show off the belly or tone it down, and go with your intuition.

8. Use Belly Bands. I loved the original ones made by Ingrid and Isabel, but there are other brands that are cheaper. Theirs fit me perfect, were silky soft, and made my pregnancy fashion workeable.  They truly can hold up your skirts or pants when they are too loose, smooth out belly lines when things are getting snug, and perhaps wax your car.

Nineteen weeks. Necklace thrifted, shirt Old Navy, skirt thrifted, shoes Walmart.  I wore this outfit to work with a navy blazer and dark brown heels.

Still with a small enough bump to be fitted-under-the-belly. This is not a maternity blouse.

Twenty weeks: Earrings (feather) gift, Blouse Lands End, Belt thrifted, Pants maternity slacks, Shoes Crocs Malindi. Wore this outfit to work with brown heels.

Side note: These long sleeve basic tees from Lands End are fabulous.  On a clearance deal I purchased four of them. They were soft out of the bag, and have only become softer.  They are thin and lightweight without being sheer. They have never changed shape, stretched out, or faded in color.  My only gripe with them is now they are five years old and the colors aren’t “in” anymore so I should probably pick up a few more in newer colors.  I seriously don’t know if they will ever wear out.  They are unbelievably amazing in a way I didn’t think tee shirt blouses could be.

21 weeks: Necklace: thrifted, Blouse Liz Lange Target maternity (gift from my mom), Skirt thrifted, Shoes Ross.  I wore this outfit to work with a black blazer and black heels.  Also, this blouse is worn backward.  The other side is completely plain with just a little pintuck to help add definition to the belly.  The lacy detail is supposed to be across your shoulders.  I flipped it around, which brought the pretty detail where I could enjoy it more, and left the back loose and drapey.  I wore it backward every time I used it.  Fitted-under-the-belly is a substitute for a belt here – giving definition one way or the other.

22 weeks: Necklace: thrifted, Blouse Liz Lange Target (gift from my mom), Cardigan Old Navy, Jeans Gap (gift from a friend), Boots Ross (pleather).  This outfit was one that I felt confident in almost my entire pregnancy.  I wore it to a couple meeting/conference things and it made me feel cute and pregnant.  The blouse had this awesome ruching at the sides that made it flattering from this stage of pregnancy until almost the very end.  The Gap maternity jeans were fabulous but I wished they had a tad more stretch. I did eventually outgrow them and couldn’t fit my thighs and butt into them by the end of my pregnancy.

23 weeks: Necklace vintage gift (one of my very favorites that finally bit the dust, so sad), Tank: Old Navy, Dress Old Navy (not maternity), Shoes Walmart.

Two years later, these silver shoes are also about to bite the dust, which is going to break my heart.

This dress is a great example of non-maternity clothing being perfect for maternity.  As a matter of fact, I won’t wear this dress post-maternity, because the cut of it makes me wonder if someone might wonder if I’m pregnant.  It was super stretchy and super soft, and I wore it many, many times during my pregnancy.

24 weeks: Earrings consignment, Scarf Old Navy, Sweater thrifted, Bracelet gift, Tank Old Navy Maternity, Jeans thrifted, Shoes Crocs Crocband Loafer.

This scarf is amazing.  It is so soft.  It is one of the most-used scarves in my wardrobe, simply because it draws together any outfit in the blue/green/yellow range.  It has a plethora of colors in a gentle stripe pattern, and it goes with so many different things.  I also own the same scarf in the pink/orange/red hue, and it pulls together any outfit in that range as well.

A simple pattern accent piece can draw together multiple pieces that would otherwise be just a top and pants.

Also, this sweater was getting a bit short on me, so the maternity tank underneath provide added length and another layer of color.

25 weeks: Necklace thrifted (also broken now, sad), Sweater consignment, Blouse Old Navy, ribbon sash came with some other outfit can’t remember, Cords Ebay, Shoes Dillards (red leather and luscious, too bad can’t see them well in this pic).

It was SO COLD the day we took these pics.  I was DYING to be without a coat.  This blouse was non-maternity, and a size extra large. It was really baggy on me, so I covered up the sagging under-armpits with the cardigan, and belted it.  Unfortunately, it was also rayon, and shrank four inches in length with the first wash (cold water no dryer) so now it’s extremely wide and short and useless.  Bummer because I loved the colorful floral print.

I belted the outfit OVER the cardigan, again to add more definition, and I did the same with several other outifts at this stage of pregnancy.

Also, I love the way red looks on me.  I have hardly any of it in my wardrobe, maybe two or three items.  I need red to come back into fashion so I find it in stores again.

28 weeks: Earrings Claire’s, Dress thrifted, Belt thrifted, Hose (sheer black) no clue brand, Shoes were patent black wedges from somewhere, maybe DSW, Bracelet gift (real gold).

Twenty eight weeks is also third trimester I believe, but I’m including it in this post because it’s a change of pace/outfit.

I wore this outfit to my work’s Christmas party and a few other Christmas parties.  This was a perfect stage of pregnancy to be during the holiday – definitely pregnant but not feeling huge.

I tried on a bunch of different dresses at the thrift store, and finally settled on this one because it wasn’t itchy. It was also pretty classy, and my work’s Christmas party is on the formal side.  It is not a maternity dress.  The three-quarter sleeves gave it a youthful feeling even though it’s pretty plain and formal looking otherwise.

The tricky thing about dresses when you are pregnant, is they look great from most angles except directly profile. At that angle, it isn’t clear if you are pregnant in your belly or your butt or both.  After about 30 weeks, I didn’t wear dresses too much anymore because I couldn’t handle how it made my butt and belly look they were off-setting each other in some kind of competition.

Now, maybe I’ll finish the third trimester post sometime before my second child is born (that is an attempt at humor, not an announcement).

I also realize that I need a new collection of necklaces, since most of the ones featured in my maternity posts have since been broken by the lovely child formed in my womb at the time of these photos.

| Filed under fashion, pregnancy

Happy and other words


Now that you can ask to nurse by name (“Nah-nee”), our day time feedings have skyrocketed in quantity, and even length.

If you get a bump or fall down, you are quick to come to me….with a pitiful sad cry, an expectant, “hi!” Followed by a tender request in your cute little voice, “nah-nee?” It is still two distinct syllables, separated by a small pause.

If I discipline you, you cry for a moment then ask me, “nah-nee?”

If I’m carrying you around the house, and you just want to be sure it’s still there, you pull on my shirt, peek inside, and giggle to yourself, “hehe…nah-nee.”

You are so insistent it is hard to want to refuse you.

On Thursday, you added two new words: bobby and happy.

Bobby is sometimes bye-bye, and sometimes the name of a soft stuffed bear that we call weeble-wobble.

“Happy” sounds like “app-eee”, or sometimes, “opp-eee”, again two separate, distinct sounds. At first I thought you couldn’t possibly understand how to use an emotion word instead of a noun word. But you use it properly, when you are happy.

Waking up in bed together in the morning, cuddling and nursing like we have nothing better to do for an hour. You turn your sweet face up to mine and tell me, “happy.”

Awake from a nap, fed a yummy lunch of peas and turnip and beets and carrots in a beef gravy. You look over at me and say, “happy.”

Driving in the car with the windows down, singing songs, and you sing it, almost to the right tune, you tell me over and over, “happy! Happy! Happy!” So I sing us the happy song…

“Happy, happy, happy, happy, happy…
Happy is the people whose God is The Lord!”

There’s another song you learned from Tita.

“Ah-ah-ah-ah, ninito de mama…
Ah-ah-ah-ah, ninito de papa.”

When you want us to sing, I hear your little baby voice lilting on pitch…”ah-ah-ah….” Then a moment later, “nee-nee.” “Ah-ah-ah…nee nee,” and you are singing the song the best a one-year old can.  I have a feeling you think this is the nursing song, since your version of “ninito” sounds almost exactly like your version of “nursing.”

My tiny heart breaker.

| Filed under fashion, jax reilly

Some Things Explained

I used to blog daily during Jax’s morning nap (60-90 minutes) or afternoon nap (30-60 minutes).  He now takes one thirty-minute nap per day.  During that time, I’m like a crazy person, trying to tidy the house, put away laundry, pay bills online, edit client photos, and whatever other things I need to do that are difficult to do when he’s awake.  He hates it when I’m on the computer, and will give me 10 minutes max to be sitting at the computer when he’s awake, before he comes over to me and begs to be held.  So my only computer time is after he goes to bed at night – about 60-90 minutes daily, before I have to go to bed.  During that time, I have to pay online bills, respond to emails, edit client photos, edit personal photos, handle business paperwork, online shopping for things we need, and more.  I’ve had to abandon outfit photo blogging, because there are just isn’t time to fit it all in without cutting into my own sleep.

I’m spending less time on the computer, and more time with Jax during the day.  We do a lot of playing outdoors, since it’s still nice out (not too hot yet).  We play inside too.  I cook, and clean, with him awake as well.  We run errands, visit Tita, read books, etc.  

I got several colored skinny jeggings with birthday cash, and have been wearing them almost daily.   But since I haven’t been blogging outfit photos, I haven’t shared my new summer clothes.  Every once in a while though, I’m taking outfit photos anyway, so they’re now sitting in my pile of photos to edit and blog.  We wore this outfit on March 1st.

These jeggings are a pale aqua, almost a minty color.  I was surprised to see how much of my wardrobe they go with.  They are $10 at Walmart, if they still have any in stock.

Oh, and the only reason I’m blogging this post right now, is because my mom took Jax to run errands this morning.  I’ve been baby-free for a couple hours now.  The house is tidy, the laundry is started, I’m caught up on client photos, and I handled several important phone calls. 

Now I’m sticking up one blog post before working on the sermon I’m preaching at church on Sunday.

It’s called A Life Free from Worry.

They asked me to do it because I’m such an expert on worrying.

I meant to say, I’m at expert at worrying. 

It’s a sermon solely aimed at preaching to myself, about one of my greatest personal weaknesses.  Hopefully the Lord will give me something inspiring to say other than I KNOW WHAT IT FEELS LIKE TO WORRY ALL THE TIME AND NOT BE ABLE TO STOP WORRYING AND THEN WORRY EVEN MORE BECAUSE YOU’RE WORRYING SO MUCH.

| Filed under fashion, stories of my life


Since getting some birthday money, I’ve been doing a bit of clothes shopping.  I’ve done enough thrifting over the winter to last me a while, and I wanted some things that were new.  New colors, fit, styles, whatever is a bit more “in” than what I’ve dug up at the thrift store.  Summer always makes me feel ready for a fresh start and something new.

I haven’t been shopping for brand new clothes in a while, and I was really struck by how much things have changed in such a short time.  I realized that the goal of the clothing industry in America (don’t know enough about other countries to know if it’s the same), to make you have to change everything in your wardrobe every few years.  That everything in your closet will be “wrong.”  They have changed the fit, the styling, the colors, the shape, the color combinations, the accessoriess.  Every characteristic of every garment has completely changed in just a year or two.

Flare jeans and boot cut jeans replaced by skinny jeans.  Long pants replaced by crop pants.  Capris replaced by bermudas. Fitted shirts replaced by baggy shirts.  Hip-length shirts replaced by tunics or crop shirts.  Low cut replaced by high cut.  Of course the color palette has changed completely, and we’ve moved from bright (last year’s royal blue, kelly green, lemon yellow), to neon everything.  Coral is still around, and we’ve added sea foam green. You couldn’t find something brown if your life depended on it (okay, perhaps brown shorts in the men’s department, and perhaps your standard khakis).  But grey has completely replaced brown.  Black is around, but usually in combination with white.  Wedge shoes replaced by flats (okay, I’m still seeing wedges too).

So you can hardly buy yourself a new shirt without needing a different style and color of pants and shoes to go with it.

Then I have to still match the baby.  So he needs new clothes too.  (Maybe for his birthday.)

It reminded me how much our culture focuses on things that are temporal.  Quick to consume; quick to discard.

I love the song “Everlasting God” by New Life Worship….”One thing I know that I have found, through every trouble that surrounds, You are the rock that never fails, You never fail….One thing I know that I believe, through every blessing I receive, You are the only One that stays, You always stay….

You never change, You’re still the same, You are the Everlasting God
You will remain, after the day has gone, and the things of earth have passed, Everlasting God

How quickly the things of earth have (and will) pass.  What a comfort to know that our God stays the same.  Life is shaky sometimes.  Other times, downright torrential.  We need something to hang onto in those times. Someone that always stays, that never fails.  Hold on.  To the torrent around me, and the torrent around anyone reading, hold on to the Everlasting God.  Seek Him out.  He is the only thing solid in this life.  How desperately I need Him.

| Filed under fashion, God moments


The horse is Jax’s current favorite animal.  It used to be the dog, which he still enjoys.  We say hello to the neighbor dogs almost every day, going over to the fence and letting them sniff and lick our hands.  But the horse.

We’re lucky enough that a couple different homes on our street have horses.  One is a gorgeous female who is one quarter Tennessee Walker and three quarters Arabian.  She is a rich reddish brown with a white star on her forehead, and her name is Prissy.  We actually got to take some photos with her recently (for my nephew’s birthday portraits).  My sister Esther wore Jax in the baby carrier so I could take photos of her two kids with the horse (post of those images to come).

The other family owns an Appaloosa stallion who is big and tall.  We learned from Prissy’s owner, that the Appaloosa stallion is regularly used for breeding.  I was trying to explain this to the kids, and words kept failing me for how to appropriately but honestly describe the concept of animal “breeding” to a seven and five year old.

The Appaloosa is kept in an open field along the street, and we’ve been feeding him grass once or twice a week for a couple years now.  My mom started by taking my niece and nephew on walks, and stopping by the horse at the end of the street to feed him.  Now, when he sees us coming, he will whinny loudly, and gallop to the gate in the fence where we can get close enough to feed him.

Jax has a couple board books with animals in them, and as most parents do, we make the animal sounds to identify each animal.  He will now flip through the pages as quickly as possible, to get to the page with the horse.  We tell him, “Horse!” and he giggles.  Then we make a whinny sound, and he mimics.  If you say, “Horse” he will whinny.  When we put him in the stroller to take a walk down the street (which is when we usually see the horse), he will whinny.

It’s definitely the cutest thing since whatever the last cutest thing was.  Oh my heart.  I had no idea it would be this much fun.

| Filed under fashion, jax reilly



I titled this post, “Blow” and then realized there are WAY too many ways that word is used.  Absolutely impossible to tell from the title, what the content of this post will be.  (Just to name a few…. That blows! I blew it!  Then he huffed and puffed and blew the house down! etc.)  It’s safe to say, we will be G rated today.

We’re talking about food that is too hot.  And how you blow on it to cool it down.

When Jax’s food is too hot (anything warmer than lukewarm), he will drop it or spit it out of his mouth.

(I digress to mention that he doesn’t actually SPIT anything out.  Instead, he sticks his tongue straight out of his mouth as far as he can, and lets the food just roll off and out.  It might be the cutest thing since whatever the last cutest was that I mentioned about him.)

(I will try not to add any more parenthetical comments to this post, but it might be impossible.)

I’ve learned to blow on his food to cool it down before setting it on his tray (to feed himself) (see? impossible) or popping it in his mouth.

He is really heading into mimic territory to learn to shape sounds and words.  So of course, he’s starting puffing and blowing as soon as we begin feeding him.  He doesn’t blow on the food, he just puffs little bursts of air in anticipation of being fed.  Hysterical.  Also the cutest thing ever.  (As usual.)

| Filed under fashion, jax reilly

King (sleep update)

Have I mentioned we upgraded to a King size bed?  It is heavenly.

Space for all three of us and then some.  Except Benjamin and I keep finding ourselves laying inches from the edge, stiff as a board, with an ocean of space between us.  Old habits.  Jax can even lay completely sideways in the middle of the night and you almost can’t feel his feet kicking you over and over again.

Speaking of sleep, Jax has been doing SO WELL.  He no longer nurses in the middle of the night, at least until 5am when he comes into our bed.  He nurses to sleep at seven thirty, asleep by eight, and doesn’t nurse again until five.

Over the course of a week, he will sleep one or two nights straight through from 8pm (bedtime) to 5am.  He will sleep one or two nights from 8pm to 5pm with only one waking (at a totally random time, could be 10pm or 2am).  And one or two nights with two wakings.  About half of those wakings, he will go back to sleep on his own.  The other half, he is really wailing, and I feel he needs a bit of help.  I go in, pick him up, hug him, sway a bit until he calms down, then put him back in his crib.  Pat his back a minute or so, then leave the room.  This entire ordeal takes five minutes or less.  Sometimes he doesn’t cry when I leave.  Other times he cries.  If he cries, I don’t go back in.  He stops crying in five minutes or so, then goes to sleep.

He comes into bed with us at five (or just me on weekdays, since Benjamin gets up for work at that hour). He nurses, and goes back to sleep for another hour or two, nurses some more, back to sleep.  We sleep in together until seven thirty or eight, some days, nine (delight!).

I’m so happy.  So happy that he is sleeping better; so happy that I am sleeping better.  I’m getting ten hours or sleep most nights, with about seven of that straight through before he wakes.

And even though we have a King size bed, most of the time when Jax is in bed with us, he wants to be right next to me.  Often he’ll fall asleep with his head cuddling next to my shoulder.  I can’t describe how much I love this.  It is so comforting to me, feels so safe and secure and peaceful, to have him close by.  When we’re all together, it’s even better (as long as Jax and I can sleep through Benjamin’s snores!).

Family. Sleep. Such gifts.

| Filed under fashion, jax reilly


This little guy can climb and crawl.  He goes up stairs and down stairs.  In fact, I visited our CPA to finish our taxes, and the first thing Jax spotted while we waited in the lobby, was a flight of stairs.  He went up and down several times before our appointment began and I had to break up all the fun.

When he’s in bed with us, he will crawl over any body part or heap of pillows/covers that stands in his way.  I did the same at his age, so much that my parents nicknamed me, “Tractor Joy.”

One afternoon I needed to latch his car seat into my car after moving it between cars, so I set him on the driveway next to me to explore the garden while I worked.  Instead of exploring the garden, he crawled into the car.  I turned around shocked to see him clambering into the passenger seat, then across into the driver’s seat.

He can’t get out of his crib. Yet. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that one waits a while.

That’s the reason he’s upset in this photo.  He’s trying to get down out of my arms to crawl and play outside.  I’m laughing because he cracks me up.  Outfit photos are about to get a bit more complicated.

| Filed under fashion, jax reilly


Every Feb/March, our church does a corporate 40-day fast.  It’s always a time of refreshing and needed heart-change.  This year, I’m struggling to stay consistent with the things I chose to fast from: casual internet use and unecessary spending. 

It’s hard because SOME internet use, including things like Facebook, is necessary for my business and personal life. I have clients and friends who don’t have my email address or phone number, or just prefer to use Facebook instead of alternate mediums, to contact me.  To completely fast from Facebook is comparable to not answering my phone for the next forty days.  And while some people I know are doing so, I’m not prepared for that leap. 

It’s hard because spending SOME money, even some discretionary money, is necessary.  Jax’s first birthday is coming up, and his party is approaching.  While my budget is small, there is still going to be a party.  Which parts of the party supplies are necessary, and which are discretionary?  I received some money for my birthday.  Do I need to wait to spend it, or does it “not count” because the funds were a gift, not from our wallet.

And this is the story of the Christian life.  We serve and love God, but not always.  We treat others kindly most of the time, but not when they get us riled up.  I think that’s the point.  We need God’s help.  He didn’t create a life where we sign at the dotted line and become perfect people.  (although that would have made things much easier).  It wasn’t meant to be easy.  We weren’t meant to be able to do it on our own.

We need His help.  We need truth (Scripture) to saturate us. We need to surround ourselves with a community who join us in our journey to change.

Thus my (mostly) silence here on the blog.  I didn’t say I would fast from blogging, but I’ve slowed down, taken a break, put away the camera….gone to bed earlier, done more chores, finished our taxes, played games with Benjamin late into the night on Valentine’s Day….

I have a backlog of outfit photos to post though, and I want to get them up before Jax turns one year (Sunday!), so all his not-yet-one photos are up before his now-I-am-one-digit photos.

Can it really be a year?  What a blessed, joyful year it has been.

| Filed under fashion, God moments