Friday, June 19, 2020

And Baby Makes Four!!


We are so overjoyed to announce the safe  arrival of our second son, Elliot Rex Maxwell! He was born safely at home at 3:30am today, June 19th, and he tipped the scales at 8lb  4oz and 22inch long. I am doing great and have been absolutely loving getting to rest at HOME today with my guys!
It was  a whirlwind labor—hard and intense but fast compared to Axton’s! I can’t wait to share more with you all. Thankyou so so much to each and every one of you who were praying for us! The prayers were truly felt and Jesus answered in such a beautiful way. I am so grateful for the redeeming grace of little Elliot’s story!

Stay tuned for more to come!
Chels

Wednesday, June 17, 2020

My Maternity Style || Outfits & Ideas

Hello friends! I'm popping on here today to share a few bump pictures and my favorite hacks for building a maternity wardrobe! I'm pulling pictures from both pregnancies.
I have not yet figured out the art of taking professional-looking selfies, so please excuse the mirror shots and distracting backgrounds! I'll start and end the post though with a couple of professional pictures taken by my sis in love at the maternity session she did for me last week!

Here are a few hacks that have helped me in building up a maternity wardrobe that I love.

1) Shop thrifted.
Unfortunately, it does seem that by the time many maternity clothes are donated to thrift stores, they are mostly shot. I find that pilling is the biggest issue, but also stretching and stains are common as well. I think this is because many maternity brands simply are not high quality. I'm also guessing some of it is due to the fact that mamas just wear their clothes out!
However, just because much of the thrifted maternity selection is worn out, doesn't mean I don't check in case! I always check if a thrift/consignment store has a maternity selection, whether I'm pregnant or not. With my favorite maternity brands, I know my size, and so I can easily pick something up even without trying it on. (even when I'm not pregnant) Most of my maternity wardrobe has been purchased used, and has come from always looking and finding various pieces now and then. Over time, it adds up! Garage sales are also a great place to find used maternity clothing!
One of my favorite consignment stores, Clothes Mentor, started carrying maternity clothing at the beginning of my pregnancy with Axton. I'm not sure if all of them do, or just certain areas, but if you have a Clothes Mentor near you, it is definitely worth while to check if they carry maternity! They are very picky about what they sell, and so there I never have to worry about quality, which is so nice. If you haven't shopped at Clothes Mentor before, I would highly encourage you to click on the above link and check out their store locator to see if you have one near you!

2) Shop sales and off season.
I don't prefer to shop new, but I had to this spring when all the stores were closed during quarantine and there were a few items I really needed. I found that signing up for a few mailing lists of my favorite stores/brands was a great way to stay up on current sales, coupons, etc. One of my favorite deals of the spring was a gorgeous Gap velvet dress that was normally $59.95 and I got it on a "sale upon sale" deal for just $7.95! That's even better than thrifted pricing!

3) Find several maternity brands that you love and buy those whenever possible.
Favorites will vary from person to person, I'm sure. For me, I have found that Gap's maternity line is one of the best when it comes to quality! I also am a big fan of their fit and styles. Old Navy and A Pea in the Pod are two others that I also especially love. I'm personally not a big fan of Motherhood Maternity-their clothes wear out fast and I also don't care for their styles quite as much. This doesn't mean I don't have anything Motherhood-I do have quite a bit, actually, as you'll see through this post! But I am never willing to pay as much for their clothes as I am for Gap brand, for example, because I know that in my experience, Motherhood doesn't last as long as Gap.
What is most important is to find several brands that you love and that work well for you and then watch for those whenever you can!
(Note: I realized after doing this post that I didn't have any bump pictures with any of my Gap or Old Navy tops. So much for raving about the brands! I do have a number that I love and wear repeatedly, I just clearly haven't done a good job taking pictures in them this pregnancy!)

4) Know your favorite styles and colors and watch for those.
I discovered early in my pregnancy with Axton that I simply couldn't stand the typical maternity pants/skirts that have the big elastic "layer" over the tummy. Some mamas have to have that fit for comfort, but it drives me crazy! I am way more comfortable in styles that fit under the tummy. That means demi or side panel maternity jeans, and regular elastic waist knit skirts. I only have one true maternity skirt, all of the rest are elastic waist skirts that I can wear during and after pregnancy. And then I just always get demi or side panel pants. They are a little harder to find than the regular style, but I watch for them and have been successful in finding what I needed.
I also tend to prefer the look of fitted tops instead of more "blousy" ones. I do have both styles, but mainly buy fitted ones because those are my favorite.

5) Be creative in finding non-maternity clothing that also works for maternity.
I actually did this more with my current pregnancy than with my last one. For example, I had about four Old Navy brand swing dresses of varying lengths that I had gotten at various times. (two were gifted, the others I found used) I ended up wearing them the entire way through this pregnancy! With no waistband, they were super comfortable. They were also flattering and just worked so well with a bump. Because they were swing and "flowy" style, my bump didn't stretch them out either, so they will work just fine once I'm not pregnant again. Watching for styles like this that can work for both pregnancy and non pregnancy is a winner idea!

Okay! Now on to a few of my outfits!
This was an outfit I wore when pregnant with Axton. I don't remember the brand of the maternity shirt. (I totally wore it out and it has since passed on =)) The skirt wasn't maternity, just an elastic waist maxi skirt. Both items were thrifted.
Some of you will remember this dress from our pregnancy announcement with Axton. It is the Vanilla Bay Wrap Dress in White Multi. I got it years before I got married and I don't think it is technically maternity, but it worked great with a baby bump, as you can see! I loved the quality and style of this dress-definitely one of my favorite purchases and maternity dresses.
In this picture, I was wearing a black Motherhood maternity shirt that I thrifted, along with a non- maternity crochet vest (Maurices brand) and a non-maternity burgundy maxi skirt. (Inherit Co brand)
I took this picture while on a shopping trip to the afore mentioned Clothes Mentor. The shirt was non-maternity actually but I found that it looked great for maternity when I styled it with a belt. The whole outfit was thrifted except for my shoes-those were these shoes (in the gold color) that I wore for my wedding, and the earrings which were a gift from my sister.
This was one of my early bump pictures with Axton's pregnancy. Cowboy boots, Gap maternity jeans, cream lace cardigan, and a Mossimo brand tunic dress. Only the jeans were maternity.
Another non-maternity maxi skirt, and maternity shirt combo! Skirt was a gift (Inherit Co brand) and the shirt was also a gift. (Motherhood brand)
Here is a picture taken today, in the heat of the summer, and with me looking quite large and expectant, which is exactly what I am at almost three days overdue! I am wearing this maternity tank in burgundy floral this summer and it has been perfect for these very hot summer days. I love finding pieces like this that are classy and dressy but also very comfortable and easy styling for every day wear. It is long for a maternity top (which I love) and very flattering!
The same top, a few days ago. I figured I should get another picture of Axton "riding" the bump one last time. =)
Thrifted black/white cardigan, this Wine Red Babydoll Maternity Tunic, and this choker necklace in gold.
Here is a dressier outfit-I played piano for a wedding back in January and wore this maternity dress that I found at Target last year. It is floor length, knit, and simply beautiful, not to mention comfortable! Every mama should have a black maternity dress, and this one definitely fits the bill for me!
Here is an example of a maternity outfit that was comprised totally of non-maternity items. This picture was taken at our maternity shoot when I was seven months pregnant with Axton. I'm wearing the Aeropostale purple top (pictured earlier with jeans), leggings, H&M pencil skirt (pictured down below a few with the rust tunic) a mustard cardigan, and boots. Everything was thrifted except for my boots, which I bought new for a steal of a deal in Mexico five years ago, and my scarf, which I got at Kohls on Black Friday, years ago.
This was a favorite "comfy but classy" outfit during the end of my pregnancy with Axton. The skirt was a thrifted elastic waist Boden brand knit skirt (I've had it for a couple of years and have worn it through all the life seasons since-pregnancy and non!) Boots are from Target, the shirt was a long-sleeved thrifted Motherhood tee, and the sweater was also thrifted. Leggings were these buttery soft ones, in black and white paisley. I ADORE these leggings; they are literally my favorite ones that I have ever owned. John got them for me right after we got married and I have worn them countless times. I also have them in a blue paisley print. (note: since it has been a few years since they've been purchased I believe the print options are different now, but there are still lots of others to chose from!)
Thrifted Gap brand maternity jeans, this Wine Red Babydoll Maternity Tunic, a thrifted lace cardigan, and my gold wedding flats again. I LOVE the tunic; I have worn it through both pregnancies and I need to get more in other colors because it is such a great piece to dress an outfit up or down. 
I posted this picture a few posts back but am including it again. This is a non-maternity tunic (I'm wearing the rust color) that I have loved for both pregnancy and postpartum especially. It is very comfortable and flattering.
Here is the full outfit-complete with an elastic waist H&M knit pencil skirt, tights, and a favorite pair of winter boots. (from Target)
This dress! Oh my. Literally one of my absolute favorite pregnancy buys of all my short time! =) I found it on Kohls online at the beginning of my pregnancy with Axton and I got two of them. They were on sale for $5 and $10 which is a steal for brand-new maternity dresses. I have worn them SO many times, through both pregnancies! With Axton, I wore them through the winter, layered with leggings, boots, and cardigans. (and often hats as well!) 
Above outfit, the dress in seagreen, (no longer sold on the website, but it is the Aglow brand for reference) a thrifted cardigan, and this beanie in mustard.
And then here me wearing the same dress, last week, in 85 degree weather, at an outdoor party we hosted in our backyard! These two pictures should prove how versatile this dress is. If you can find pieces like this for your maternity wardrobe, they will become favorites in no time. It is the coolest and most comfy dress in summer, but makes for super easy layering and coziness in winter!
And then here is the same dress in the olive color, paired with a mustard yellow belt I found on sale at Old Navy, and a thrifted mustard cardigan. In this picture I wore it for a wedding, which shows how it can work for casual or dressy as well.
I've posted about this outfit before too, but it is worth mentioning again! The skirt is from Inherit Co and is actually the only "true maternity" skirt that I own! (all of my other skirts that I wear during pregnancy are simply regular elastic waist skirts) The floral shirt is from Burlington. It isn't the best quality maternity top I own but I still love it because it is so beautiful and feminine, not to mention flattering. I've gotten so many compliments on it.
My sweet husband bought me this Red Long Sleeve Knee Length Maternity Dress when I was pregnant with Axton. This picture is from a Christmas date we took the month before Axton was born. If I could style this particular picture over again, I would wear hose instead of the tan tights-I think they made my legs look weird. =) And I would probably wear different shoes. But this gives you the general idea of the dress, which is the main point. It is beautiful and flattering and comes in multiple colors.
I recently got this dress in red and navy floral for my brother in laws wedding. It is very comfortable and perfect for summer and I'm guessing I might get another color in the future! 
Here is another thrifted outfit, from this pregnancy--a thrifted Motherhood tunic and thrifted Gap brand maternity jeans.
This is an outfit from the other day-thrifted Indigo brand maternity capris, the same floral maternity top mentioned earlier (from Burlington) the same thrifted Maurices crochet vest also mentioned earlier, and a pair of leather flip flops that I got at Ross when I was sixteen. =) 
I got this dress (in purple, size medium) for my maternity photoshoot. It is beautiful and comfortable and comes in tons of colors!
I'll close with a few favorites of my little family and I...
He is going to make the best big brother!
Still kinda can't believe that I get to be mama to TWO babies...anyday now!
(shoutout to my sis in law Sarah for the incredible pictures!)

Now its your turn to share! Where do you like to purchase your maternity clothing? What are your favorite brands, hacks, or ideas? Share in the comment section below!

Also since I'm sure you all are wondering and wanting a baby update...
yes, my due date was Monday the 15th, and no, there is no sign of baby on the way as of yet. 
Stay tuned! There will hopefully be a grand little entrance one of these days! 
-Chels

(note: all of the items linked in this post are affiliate links to items I have and love! Click here to see my affiliate link disclosure)

Saturday, June 13, 2020

Weekend Roadtrip & Wedding!

Just three weeks ago today found us in Ohio celebrating the lovely wedding of John's younger brother  Jesse to his beautiful bride Anna! It was an amazing day in so many ways and we were so privileged to be a part of it! 
(first morning stop, and breakfast on top of the car =))

We left bright and early on Friday morning. Well actually, it was more early than bright-we hit the road at 2am! It had been a long time since we drove through the night for a road trip and we were curious to see how Axton would do sleeping in his carseat for that long. Overall, it was a great success, and I think we'll be doing this schedule again. John stayed perky for driving with coffee and podcasts, and Axton and I were both able to sleep quite well.
And here is the little sleeping angel. We got his new carseat just before the trip and he loved it. Previously he had still been in his infant one, and he had quite outgrown it with his legs sticking out over the front! This "facing forward" business was a whole new adventure for him and he greatly enjoyed being able to see everything much better from his new position. 
That is, when he wasn't snoozing. =) 
We got him this Graco carseat, the 2 in 1 version, and so far we have been really really happy with it.
We made it to our hotel by early afternoon and had time for naps and dinner before the rehearsal. Axton enjoyed his daddy's creative means of transportation for him. =)
After naps and changing for the rehearsal, we walked over to the next door Cracker Barrel for dinner. It was the first time Axton had been out to a restaurant since before quarantine. He was all eyes and very impressed with everything.
Ready to dig in to his grilled cheese and French fries!

We spent the evening at the church for the rehearsal. No rehearsal dinner made it a little different, but it was still a very sweet time and fun to see everyone.
Saturday morning dawned warm and beautiful. John was best man and helped in so many ways during the day. His problem solving skills and people personality made him an amazing best man, in my humble opinion. =) 
Bridal party pictures!
(my sisters and I)
Before family pictures and the actual wedding, Axton and I enjoyed some extra time to hang out with some of my family who had come from Iowa to attend the wedding.
(side note: Anna's family has been good friends of my family's for years, and Anna and her sisters provided the beautiful live music at John and my wedding! Jesse and Anna also actually met at my family's family camp three years ago! Small world!)
Our little family! Axton had just woken up from a nap before the family pictures and he was solemn as could be, which is quite unusual for him. Hence his "no smiling". =)
I got my dress from Amazon, and was so happy with it. I ended up sizing up and then sewing it in a bit under the arms. It is this dress, in the navy/red floral option, size large. 
The wedding was simple, meaningful, and beautiful. Such a very special celebration!
I sadly took hardly any pictures. Chasing an active toddler while being 37 weeks pregnant with baby #2 somehow has a way of making picture taking go to the back burner! But I am thankful for these few I got, and the memories will definitely last a lifetime anyways!
Axton loved burning off energy in the church parking lot with Auntie Rebs, after the wedding.
Snuggles and bottle with Nana before heading out towards home!
Middle of the night stop for fuel, bathrooms, bottle, and diaper change. Oh, and a little "practice" at the wheel with daddy. =)

And that is a little recap of our last roadtrip and wedding before baby comes! 
Hope you enjoyed!
  -Chels

(note: all of the items linked in this post are affiliate links to items we have and love! 
Click here to see my affiliate link disclosure)

Wednesday, April 1, 2020

A Few of My Pregnancy Favorites!

This post has been sitting in my drafts since partway through my pregnancy with Axton. I just never got it finished and posted back then. Now here I am, on round two, and I find myself using all of the same favorites again, as well as adding in a few new ones! 
I would've loved to read a post like this in my first pregnancy especially, so I hope that it can be helpful to any newly expectant mamas reading today! Maybe you aren't expecting but you have a pregnant sister/friend you could share it with, or you could bookmark it for "someday". I for one find that the tips/recommendations from those who have "done it before" are my favorite ways to learn, and I hope that can be the same for some of you as well!
Also! The above picture was taken during this pregnancy and I wanted to pop it in and also ask if y'all would be interested in a post with my tips for building a maternity wardrobe without breaking the bank? I would share outfit ideas/pictures, hacks, favorite brands and places to shop, etc. 
Let me know in the comments below! 
I wore the above top, this knit tunic in rust, through both of my pregnancies, and it has been SUCH a favorite! I actually bought it right after I got married-it isn't maternity at all!-but even after I got pregnant with Axton, I found that it worked perfectly for maternity. It was also a very forgiving and slimming postpartum piece to wear after Axton was born, and I've worn it this pregnancy as well.
(for reference, it fits true to size, and I got the size small)
(almost full-term with Axton)
This warm and lovely robe.
John bought me this robe (the light blue color option) just before winter, when I was pregnant with Axton, and I LOVE it! It isn't technically maternity, so I sized up. After having it for my third trimester with Axton, which was winter months, and then my first two trimesters with this pregnancy, I have to say that I highly recommend every pregnant mama to have a warm snuggly oversized robe for winter pregnancies. It is very warm and cozy and just perfect for winter. I'm currently on the lookout for a pretty summer option for my last trimester and postpartum days! Any recommendations anyone?
Here's a picture of me wearing the same robe, this pregnancy! Axton and I had both just woken up in this picture, hence the morning faces. =)

Red Raspberry Leaf Tea
(the pictured tea was given to me; the link is for a similar kind on Amazon)
This stuff is amazing! I drank a big 24oz cup of it every day during the end of my pregnancy with Axton. (I'm a little behind this pregnancy and have been taking some raspberry leaf capsules instead, and doing different flavors of tea) I know some ladies start taking raspberry tea earlier on in their pregnancies, and there are varying opinions on when is the best time to start. I've found that I like it best chilled, so I steep it, then add a bunch of ice cubes to chill it, and sip on it for the next few hours. Perfect!
A friend sent me the sweetest little "congratulations" package in the mail following our pregnancy announcement, and this tea was one of the items she included. I have loved brewing a cup of it almost every morning to have during my quiet time. It is a delicious blend!
I cannot recommend this stuff highly enough! Every mama needs it in her cupboard and in her hospital bag! Without going into too much detail, it is a life saver for keeping mamas regular and keeping everything moving correctly. I didn't have to take a single prescription after labor, I just went straight back on this and had no issues. GET YOURSELF SOME. Mama or not. We all need our bodies functioning well and properly! =)

Prenatals. This is the list that I took everyday (some earlier, some added in closer to birth) while I was pregnant with Axton. The bottles list the recommended time for taking each, which is very helpful. I honestly didn't do tons of research with what I took, but instead asked questions and used what my midwives recommended.

Rainbow Light Prenatal Multivitamin
Evening Primrose Oil
Wild Harvest Alfalfa
Dr Christophers Birth Prep 6 Week Formula
Mountain Meadow Herbs Gentle Birth 

The multivitamins I started on the beginning of my pregnancy, and they are actually great for taking throughout nursing/postpartum as well. (I slacked and didn't stay so consistent during that time) The next three I took for about the last month before Axton was born. And the Gentle Birth, I just started the week before he was born. I should've been taking it longer, but forgot about it and didn't get it ordered til last minute. One of my friends highly recommended it and said it really helped with her births, and my midwife also suggested it. I'm planning to start it earlier this time.

Of course, with these things, I don't really have anything with which to compare, since I have only completed one pregnancy and birth thus far. I will say, however, that my actual pregnancy and my recovery from birth with Axton were both amazing and I have to think that some of that is attributed to some of these products!
My midwife had me add in this one this pregnancy. It is supposed to be good for a number of things. 
Earth Mama Organic Morning Wellness Tea
My dear mother send this tea to me in a sweet little birthday package and I loved it as well! I've become a bit of a tea junkie during pregnancy, I think. =) I am not positive if it helped at all with the morning sickness; it is honestly so hard to know what helps and what doesn't when one is trying so many things! But it was yummy and soothing and definitely good for me so I fully enjoyed every cup.
Motion Sickness Patches
I have tried just about everything for my morning sickness. Sometimes, these seem to help. Other times, not-yesterday morning and this morning I threw up even though I had just put them on. They aren't listed for helping with morning sickness, but you never know til you try what might work! My  husband has been incredible in researching and buying multiple things for me to try, and it has been such a blessing.
A reader of my husbands' family's blog shared some ginger pills with my mother-in-law, and she shared them with me. The ginger seemed to help with the nausea, so I tried these natural ginger dramamine pills when I ran out of those, and they seemed to be very similar. Again, I couldn't always tell that they worked, but there were definitely a few times I felt like they did.
Hiccapop Maternity Pillow
Saving the best item for last...=) Oh my goodness, this pillow is a pregnancy GAME CHANGER! I have heard SO many women talk about how hard it is to get comfortable when pregnant and trying to sleep. John was so sweet; he researched and then bought me a couple of different kinds of maternity pillows to try out for my pregnancy with Axton, and this one ended up being the one that I kept. It was the smallest but was the one that was most comfortable and worked the best for me. I absolutely loved it, and now am loving it again! Who knows, it could partly be genetics, but I will attribute much of my good sleep during all nine months of my pregnancy with Axton (I literally slept great right up until the night I went into labor!) and now with this second pregnancy as well, to this nifty little contraption. It allows me to sleep on my side and supports my growing bump perfectly.
(in the picture, I'm holding it up so you can see the brand/name on the side, but when I use it I lay it flat-it is a wedge shaped pillow-and it slides perfectly underneath my belly)

Other important things for me during pregnancy have been drinking water, getting chiropractor adjustments and prenatal massages, taking magnesium baths, and walking. I did not do very well with consistent exercise during my pregnancy with Axton, but I am trying to get out and walk often this spring and I can already tell a difference in my energy levels!

Let's chat! I would love to hear if you've already tried some of these things, or if you have any favorites to add! Also, please leave a comment if you would be interested in the maternity style post I mentioned in the beginning! 

Happy Wednesday!
-Chels

(note: all of the items linked in this post are affiliate links to items we have and love! 
Click here to see my affiliate link disclosure)