The Tiny Closet Challenge

I may be the only person to have this feeling, but I was a little bit sad to pack away my maternity clothes after each of my kids were born.

It was actually really nice being limited to such a small number of clothes that fit during pregnancy. I invested in a handful of decent maternity items and could clear out a good portion of my closet for a few months. Sure, it was frustrating at times, when nothing seemed to look or feel right (I think that’s just pregnancy), but if I stuck to my maternity staples, getting dressed was easy. Toward the end of my time being pregnant with Mara, I just resigned myself to the fact that I had about five dresses that I was going to rotate through until she was born. I don’t think anyone noticed or cared, least of all me.

When I pulled my normal wardrobe back into my closet, it was nice seeing some fresh items I hadn’t worn in so long, but it was also overwhelming. I am a clothes accumulator. It seems like no matter how many times I go through my closet and fill bags to donate, I still have so much that I don’t wear, yet I’m afraid to let go of it. And that can wear on me.

Starting June 1, I’m taking a minimalist wardrobe challenge. For six weeks, I’ll limit my entire wardrobe (including shoes, jewelry and accessories) to 33 items. You can read more about the challenge here. I’m going to blog about the experience for Fresh, the site I manage at work.

I don’t anticipate this to be a permanent change for me, but I think it will be a great opportunity to learn and grow, and hopefully make some positive changes to my wardrobe and life.

If you’re looking to simplify and think your wardrobe would be a good place to start, I’d love to have you join me in this! Here’s a form you can fill out to “officially” join the challenge. If you’re scared to commit… know that I am, too. But I think it will be worth it in the end (in fact, I’ve been told it’s worth it by several people who embrace a tiny wardrobe year-round).

How to DIY a first birthday shirt (no sewing machine required)

Ah, the first birthday shirt. Yes, this is a thing.

I found some extremely cute “one.” shirts on etsy… for $32. I mean, I know the photos will last a lifetime, but I wasn’t going to spend that much on a one-time-use shirt for C.

So, instead, I bought a shirt from Walmart for $3.50, cut letters out of old T-shirts of mine (that I recently cleared out of my closet and stuffed in bags for random future projects) and spent 3 episodes of “Parenthood” and 2 episodes of “New Girl” creating this:

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No sewing machine required! Here’s how it’s done.

STEP 1: Start with a solid-colored baby T-shirt. The sleeves are a little short on this one, but it was $3.33… so, yeah.

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STEP 2: Find some old T-shirts (or shorts) in colors and textures you like. I went with colors that matched his party theme.

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STEP 3: Carefully draw and cut out the letters. Use sharp scissors. Print out the letters in a font you like and trace them onto the fabric if you need to. I freehanded it and used lots of little snips with my favorite dollar store scissors (seriously, very sharp) to smooth everything out.

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STEP 4: Pin the letters in place and carefully hand stitch around the letters’ outlines. Adjust placement as necessary, and check often to make sure your letters stay lined up. The stitches don’t have to be super tight.

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That’s it! Very straightforward. Just be sure to have some good shows on the DVR to keep you entertained.

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Corban tolerated loved it!

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My favorite pregnancy symptoms

The other week I wrote a kind of negative nancy post on surprising pregnancy symptoms. It scared my friend about pregnancy. And I don’t even think I have it that bad!

Really, I’d say most of my negative symptoms are more inconvenient than hard.

But let’s be positive today. Here are my favorite parts about being pregnant – the things I might actually miss once the baby is here.

-Baby kicks! This is by far the best side effect of pregnancy – getting to feel the baby move inside me. I think Peter’s jealous (although the baby is really cooperative and will kick for him when he puts his hand on my belly). When I’m at work or in a meeting and I feel the baby move, it’s like we have a little secret bond that no one knows about. As Baby has grown, it’s gotten uncomfortable at times when he or she is moving around higher up in my abdomen. But I still love it.

-Excuses. This is really lame of me to admit, but when else will I have an excuse not to carry in all the groceries or help move a piece of furniture? Normally, I am more than willing to help do things like that, but it’s kind of nice not doing it (for good reason). It didn’t get me out of fertilizing the lawn last weekend, though.

-New wardrobe. While I don’t exactly feel the most attractive in my present state, it has been kind of nice putting away most of my usual clothes and busting out a new wardrobe from borrowed clothes and new finds. I am not a big shopper, so a lot of my normal clothes I’ve had for a while and don’t really miss. The flip side of this is that my wardrobe is more limited and I am starting to get sick of my maternity work pants since I only have one pair (I switch them off with jeans and dresses/skirts). But back to the positive, I actually like my two pairs of maternity jeans more than my regular jeans.

-Food mentality. I must say, it’s refreshing to not associate food with weight/size. Now, when I eat healthfully, I gain weight. When I eat too many desserts, I gain weight too. My eating habits don’t really have a noticeable effect on my size (note that this is also because I have not gone to one extreme or the other with food – my eating habits haven’t actually changed much and I think they are fairly balanced). I don’t strive for a balanced diet so my pants won’t get too tight. I do it so Baby and I will be healthy. It’s nice not thinking at all about pants fitting.

-New relationships. Being pregnant is the best conversation starter. I’ve gotten to know several coworkers better by swapping pregnancy/parenting stories. I’ve learned more about all sorts of people in my life, from friends to the cashier at my Pick ‘N’ Save. It’s an instant bond with other parents, who are excited to see another person joining their ranks.

-Dreams. Though I’ve had my share of nightmares while pregnant, I also get to dream. Daydream. A lot. About everything baby/family related. It’s fun to imagine the future (though I know it will likely be nothing like I’m picturing). I dream about what our kids will look like and act like, how we’ll be as parents, how big our family will be and what everyone’s names will be. I get to look at little tiny newborn onesies and picture our baby in them. And that’s a really easy way to get happy instantly.

That’s just a glimpse at the happy side of pregnancy. I really, truly believe the good outweighs the bad. Though I’ll be glad to be able to run again and drink margaritas and [I’m really hoping] have clear skin, I’m enjoying this temporary state of housing a baby inside me.

31 weeks

As I’ve entered the 30s as far as weeks go and realized that I’m now down to a single digit weekly countdown until my due date, I’ve sort of begun to freak out.

But first, some photos:

[You’d think I’d be an expert at looking normal in this pose by now, but I still somehow manage to make a weird face each week.]

And if you’re wondering, that’s a Liz Lange (from Target) maternity “coverup.” $12.48. I think it has a Halloween vibe to it (there’s lace at the bottom of the sleeves and along the slit neckline).

Anyway… so nine weeks until my due date! That means nine weeks until New Year’s Day. If that makes you freak out a little bit about all the holidays creeping up on us and winter weather, etc. etc., then you might have a tiny idea how I’ve been feeling.

I’ve been in massive nesting mode. Yesterday I picked up and cleared clutter out of our bedroom, the family room, office and kitchen, vacuumed the entire house, washed bath mats and rugs plus two other loads of laundry, made a bunch of piles of things to get stored in the basement and to be donated, reorganized a couple kitchen cabinets and made a few decor changes to the family room. And that was just yesterday! Also this week I completely cleaned out our office closet and reorganized (aka organized) all my gift wrap and craft supplies. I just can’t stand clutter and disorganization right now!

I don’t even know if any of that actually counts as “nesting” since it really doesn’t directly have to do with the baby at all. But there’s plenty to do in that regard, and that’s contributing to my freaked out state as well.

Physically…

Physically, I’ve been feeling pretty good, though I developed a cold on Thursday, a.k.a. the day after I emailed my friend who lives thousands of miles away and is 18 weeks pregnant and told her I hoped I didn’t get sick again during this pregnancy because when I was sick earlier in the summer it was BRUTAL. Figures.

I’ve had nasal congestion my entire pregnancy, but this is definitely a cold. Sudafed is safe to take and has been helping me breathe though.

I also felt like I was getting shin splints in my left leg earlier this week, but it’s feeling better now so hopefully that will stay away.

Other than that, I was a judge for the newspaper’s annual holiday cookie contest, which welcomed entries this past week, so I spent much of the week feeling super stuffed and in a sugar coma. I know it sounds like a dream job, and cookie judging is fun for the first few cookies, but by the end of the week when you’ve tasted 100 different cookies (literally) you kind of just want to curl into a ball and have something salty before passing out.

But Baby has been active (sugar high?) and kicking quite a bit. Sometimes it almost hurts if I’m taken by surprise and it’s under my rib or something. I definitely love feeling every movement though. I imagine I’ll miss it when he/she is no longer living inside me.

Halloween

I really wanted to dress up in a creative pregnant Halloween costume this year for my coworkers’ annual Halloween party. The best I could come up with was Juno:

Fun fact: Diablo Cody, who wrote “Juno” and won an Oscar for it, went to my high school.

The costume is made even more fitting because the party is hosted by our movie critic.

Unfortunately, I was just not feeling up for going out last night. After my massive house cleaning/organizing binge, I still had energy, but my immune system did not. The party was outside in their garage and front yard (with scary movies playing on a big screen) so it probably wouldn’t have been the smartest to spend the night in 40-degree temps.

Speaking of Halloween, our doorbell has started ringing with trick-or-treaters! The Milwaukee area is weird and almost all cities do trick-or-treating on non-Halloween nights (weekends) so they can set hours that are during daylight. New Berlin has fairly normal hours (4-7 p.m.) that straddle daylight and dark, and while the whole weekend thing is convenient for people like us who work during the day, I still think it’s royally silly not to just do it on Halloween.

Anyway, time to go man the front door. Happy Halloween!

Have you seen or dressed up in any good pregnant costumes? Would love to hear about them!

First childbirth class

Where has the week gone?!

Alas, it’s already Thursday. I had a super productive day at work, which hopefully means tomorrow I can get out a little early to head to Naperville for Fonte-side baby shower weekend, which also means adventures with four of my college roommates who are coming into town. Yay!

Tonight I spent 2 hours and more money than I care to admit at Target. I took my sweet time picking through their maternity section (dismal) for an outfit for my shower. There were a total of maybe 3 maternity dresses, all on the clearance rack and with slim pickins on sizes. None of them were very cute, so I browsed the non-maternity section as well, and actually found something off the sale rack there that I love.

I am currently loving stripes + polka dots, but I wasn’t sure whether that’s acceptable in real life. Thankfully a quick pic text to my sister confirmed that I am not the only one who thinks it’s cute.

I’ll love the dress more when I’m not pregnant, but it works for now even though it doesn’t fit 100% like it’s supposed to.

I also got a little insane and bought a ton of cute gift bags that were 50% off – it’s possible that we’ll be going to nine weddings next year (plus showers to go with many of them) so I figure I’ll use them all just for that. Is planning 9 months in advance for things like that considered nesting???

Speaking of nesting, I also bought something for the nursery that fits with my newfound vision for it, which I’ll share soon!

Anyway

Now that I’ve gotten completely off track, let’s talk about Monday night: our highly anticipated childbirth class! Class number one of four, that is.

To be honest, the actual labor and delivery has been one of the things I haven’t thought much about yet. I’ve read a couple birth stories of bloggers I’ve been following who have had their bebes (one is in labor right now! Her story sounds like it will be a long and painful one… hope things start improving for her) and I’ve read a bit about it in the booklet I got from my doc way back at 8 weeks, but that’s about it.

So I was eager to really start learning and planning from this class.

The first class was an overview of the stages of labor and an introduction to natural comfort techniques like breathing, relaxation exercises and different positions to sit or stand in. Yes, class involved back and hand massages, soothing music and relaxing visualizations. Awesome! The instructor was very clear that we need to practice these with our partners at home and I made sure Peter was listening closely when she mentioned this.

We also watched several actual births (on video, obvi). This was fascinating to me, to actually see what happens. It wasn’t always pretty. Peter giggled like a school boy at some parts, and I admit he made me laugh at one part where the camera zoomed in on the nearly comatose, non-medicated mom slurping a popsicle while taking a bath. I’m sure I won’t be laughing when it’s me though. (The rest of our class was very mature and didn’t snicker a bit. Oops.)

One highlight of the class was discovering that three of us (out of eight couples) are due on January 1. What are the odds?!

Another highlight was hearing the bell ring throughout the hospital – that means a baby was just born! I almost cried. Every time a baby is delivered, they ring the bell.

Overall, the instructor packed a ton of great information into the 2.5-hour session. I’m excited to learn more next week!

Afterward Peter commented that labor and birth seem so bizarre and other-worldly. I have to agree. After hours of pain and intensity, your body does something that seems impossible. I’m confident that I’ll be able to handle it, but it’s still weird to think about at this point.

Thoughts on: Stripes+polka dots? Labor? Medicated vs. natural birth? (I don’t have a strong opinion either way – I think I’m going to just see how things go) Do share!

Maternity models: Real or fake bumps?

Gap has its Columbus Day sale going on right now (yeah, apparently it’s Columbus Day today), which of course encouraged me to jump at some deals on a few more basic maternity clothes (these camis, a pair of black pants and a pair of jeans).

I browsed a bit at Gap Maternity (smartly housed inside Baby Gap) yesterday and tried on some pants, but the selection in-store is sorely lacking. It at least gave me a bit of an idea on sizes, but they didn’t have my size in any of the pants I liked. So if you know your size in regular Gap clothes, skip the store and head straight to Gap.com.

Anyway, while browsing the site, I started wondering if maternity models are actually pregnant.

Some of those bumps look pretty convincing, but others… not so much (the girl on the right doesn’t even look like she needs maternity clothes). Wouldn’t it be tough to find real pregnant models, at the ideal stage of pregnancy to boot? Furthermore, pregnancy isn’t exactly kind to one’s complexion (well, at least not mine). My money’s on fake bumps on these gals.

What do you think?

28 weeks

*First I have to say grrrr to WordPress for somehow turning my long post into zero words and zero photos after I hit publish this afternoon – no error message or anything either so I’m just discovering the blank post. Fist of anger. Now I shall attempt to rewrite it*

28 weeks seems so far along! I still get surprised when I see my growing belly in pictures, like this:

Side note: That’s my favorite maternity shirt. I bought it with my bump bucks at Destination Maternity when I bought my jeans. I like that it’s loose without losing my shape and flowy without making me look like a giant kite.

And… spotted! The Shirt on The Morning Blend:

Speaking of The Morning Blend, the last time I was on (September 29) I broke the news to them that I’m pregnant. Yes, six months pregnant and showing, but somehow it hadn’t come up yet.

This is mostly because I have sort of been discreet about it there. I’m supposed to be hip and happening when I talk about what’s going on in Milwaukee, and somehow pregnant doesn’t seem to fit well with that image, so I’ve been wearing looser tops to kind of hide it. And they didn’t know the pre-pregnant me, so for all they knew I just had a chubby tummy.

When I told the hosts, Molly and Tiffany, they were, of course, bubbly and excited (like they are about most things) and they nonchalantly mentioned it on air (they’re good at that kind of thing – that’s probably why they get paid to chat on TV). Tiffany threw in a joking, “Hope you’ve told your mom already!” since we never discussed talking about it on air. I had to laugh because my mom was the first person we told back in May and they were the very last.

In other news

It’s no longer surprising when strangers notice and comment on the fact that I’m pregnant. My favorite cashier at Pick ‘N’ Save commented the other day (I hadn’t seen her for a while) and coworkers who I don’t talk to very often feel comfortable enough to congratulate me based on appearance.

Haven’t had any annoying experiences with strangers petting my belly or asking if I’m having twins, but one conversation was kind of borderline. In the work cafeteria one day, a woman I don’t know asked me when I’m due, and upon hearing “January,” exclaimed, “Wow! You’re small but your baby sure is growing!”

I wasn’t sure how to take it, but then I realized I wasn’t clear that I’m due the very first day of January, and at this point in the year January seems eons away (no one wants to admit the Wisconsin winter is coming), so she probably figured I was only a few months along. Oh well!

Workout update

I suppose since I wrote down a workout plan last week in an attempt to hold myself accountable, I should actually fess up to what I did this week. Here’s the original plan with my actual “workouts” in bold beside it:

M: Walk to the Y (2ish miles) + 7:20 p.m. Body Pump / Incline pushups and tricep dips
T: Prenatal belly dancing / 1-mile walk and Body Pump
W: 2-mile walk to farmers market and back over lunch / 1-mile walk to farmers market (it’s closer than I realized and I was short on time)
Th: 5:30 a.m. Body Pump / Nada
F: Rest / Standing in the kitchen prepping food for a couple hours (that counts right? Standing that long is challenging these days)
S: 3-mile walk / Yardwork

OK, so I fell short by quite a bit. I’d really like to get more walking in and I have no excuse for that. Morning workouts are just not realistic right now because I feel like a bag of bricks rolling out of bed (and to anyone who knows how hard it is for me to get out of bed normally, it’s way worse than normal now!)

But I’m really happy I made it to Body Pump, even though it was a very challenging class even under normal circumstances. I was wiped by the end! When you’re carrying extra weight inside of you, lunges are so hard! And that’s without adding extra weight on the bar like usual.

I think my best action plan for walking more is to get in mid-afternoon walks at work. It feels great to get out of the office for a little bit, and I’m usually too tired or it’s too late after work.

OK, I think I sufficiently summed up my original post. It might even be better written this time. Time to go comfort the husband as he mourns the Cardinals’ loss to the Brewers. Here’s to a good week ahead for all!

2nd trimester fashion

My second trimester has been great for many reasons:

  • I stopped feeling like I need 12 hours of sleep a night
  • Food sounds good again
  • Exercise sounds good again
  • I gained my energy back and felt “normal” for a while
  • I still fit into most of my regular clothes. But…

I also began to slowly outgrow said regular clothes, but still not really look pregnant and not be big enough for maternity clothes. Each morning became a bit of a struggle to find a top and bottom in my closet that I felt comfortable in. And some days I didn’t really want to draw attention to the fact that I may or may not be pregnant, so there was the whole trying-to-look-normal element too.

Here’s how I’ve managed to actually feel confident and comfortable this summer.

1) Cotton dresses were my friend.

A dress eliminates the need to find both a top and a bottom – let alone a top and bottom that match. That makes getting dressed much easier! The dresses in these pictures are light and stretchy and loose enough that the growing bump doesn’t draw much attention. They’re also super comfortable.

Side note: These pics were taken during my trip to Tucson for a journalism conference, hence the hotel backgrounds. Please excuse how awkward I look in them.

2) Cotton skirts are also a friend.

The skirt below is actually not cotton, but it illustrates my point (see the photos with #3 for a real cotton skirt example). Cotton skirts are comfy, stretchy and can work to minimize the bump if they’re flowy enough and you pair them with the proper shirt. This outfit just kind of flows over my stomach without drawing attention to it.

Side note: I thought it might be less awkward for Peter to take the photos of me, but I’m not sure that worked.

3) Long shirts are necessary.

Wear anything borderline short and you’ll be constantly tugging at it to stay over your stomach. The tank below is normally long and slightly baggy, but now it’s long and slightly tight. But not super tight. It works perfectly.

You’ll notice that I also really look pregnant in this outfit. That’s because this particular stretchy cotton skirt (one of the best purchases I’ve ever been forced to make – for sorority recruitment,  you know, when we all come clapping and singing out the front door wearing matching outfits. Not creepy at all) while stretchy and wonderful, is more form-fitting around the waist. The shirt is too. The dresses and looser skirt above kind of flow down off of your stomach and don’t clearly define how round it is. The style below is nice when you want to be preg and proud.

(Stripes and polka dots? I think mismatched prints might be in style right now… but I like it even if they’re not!)

4) Embrace the jeggings.

OK technically I think these pants are somewhere between skinny jeans and jeggings, but the important part is they’re made from a forgiving, stretchy, fake-denim material that expands with my waistline (up to a certain point – they certainly won’t last all 9 months). They worked great on the airplane. Unfortunately this top used to be really long but shrunk in the wash.

Side note: How do you pack for a trip when your pool of comfortably fitting clothes is shrinking? Try things on and plan out each outfit! It’s a pain, but worth it so you aren’t stuck staring into suitcase full of ill-fitting clothes when you get there.

5) Dig up old clothes

If you’re like me, you gained the notorious freshman fifteen your first year of college (thank you cheap beer, late night pizza and the beloved dining hall yo-cream machine with toppings bar), eventually lost it when you moved off campus and matured a little, but bought a few pairs of pants in the meantime so you didn’t look like a sausage popping out of its casing. Oh, and you also still have those pants that are now one or two sizes too big. You might even have continued to wear your favorite pair of black dress pants despite the fact they are baggy on you and will show off your underwear if you lean the wrong way. Guilty.

Well, good news. Those pants now fit again! At least for a little while. I was thrilled to learn that my favorite jean skirt, purchased during the +15 days, was just my size a few weeks ago. Unfortunately, now it’s starting to get a little snug, but I knew I kept it for a reason – even if that reason was to wear it twice during a small three-week window while pregnant.

My formerly too-big pants have given me more longevity. Thanks to my tendency to keep things longer than I should, I’ll probably make it decently into my third trimester without donning maternity pants.

And I’ll be back to explain that photo in another post. But note the jean skirt for the purpose of this post.

What kinds of fashion advice do you have for someone in their second trimester? Would you rather show off the bump or hide it during this in between phase? (I’m proud to report that I’m all about letting it shine these days. Clearly a few weeks ago at my conference I wasn’t trying to draw attention to it though.)

23 weeks

Another week already! I braved heels for church today, an extreme rarity even in my non-pregnant life. All was well until I had another crazy hot flash/feel-like-I’m-going-to-pass-out episode while standing around chatting after the service. I could blame the heels, but I think it would have happened regardless. I don’t think my body likes me standing in one spot for very long these days.

Right now I’m struggling with the strong urge to take advantage of Labor Day sales and buy cute maternity clothes online. The only problem is I’ve been getting by fine so far with some of my regular clothes and I have a hamper full of borrowed maternity clothes that I can start wearing as soon as I wash them… so I feel like I should just hold out for a while and see what I really need. Also, even on sale, the cute maternity stuff is all outrageously priced.

I might have to splurge on these jeans though. They’re 25% off and I could wear them to work. They’re also really long, which is hard to find in any reasonably priced jeans, let alone maternity. And if I’m going to splurge on nice jeans, it should probably be for the first pregnancy – maximum utility, right? Only problem is I have no idea if/how they will fit…