Thursday, May 11, 2017

Floral Maxi Date Night Dress + The BEST Long-wear Lip Gloss


Not to be shamelessly excited, but you guys, John and I found our first pair of 'couple friends' here! Hopefully they'll still keep being our friends after they see this. Bahaha. It all started when I met one of our new neighbors while walking in our neighborhood. We had one of those "You just moved here? So did we! Let's be friends." moments and decided to go out to dinner in a cool up and coming area of Charlotte. We ended up having a great time and can't wait to see more of them over the summer. :)

Deciding what to wear for dinner was easy because I just wanted something comfortable but pretty. So I pulled out this floral dress that I bought on Amazon for our trip to Italy last fall and was thrilled that it still fit over my bump. Can you believe I snagged it for under $30?! The dress is pretty low-cut, so I stitched up the front a bit to make it more comfortable. I paired the dress with these earrings from the boutique (20% OFF with code HELLOMOM until 5/14!) and topped it off with my favorite long-wear lip gloss in 'Daring Red'. Seriously though, this lip gloss is LIFE-CHANGING and lasts through eating, drinking, anything! I discovered it several years ago when I was trying to find a long-wear lip color for our wedding and haven't turned back since. 
Side note: John said that I looked like Esmeralda and made me smile from ear to ear. Hey, I'll take a Disney character comparison as a compliment ANY day of the week! 

And since we're talking about pretty maxi dresses, I pulled together a few other ones that I'm hard-core crushing on. I love love love this striped maxi dress and this stunning yellow floral dress from Anthropologie. I'm also head-over-heels for this sweet floral midi dress from Lord & Taylor. It would be perfect for a summer party or day-time wedding! 


Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Overcoming Pregnancy Body Image Issues and The BEST Maternity Pants for Work & Play

This post has been weeks in the making. Every time I want to sit down and write it, I seem to not have the right things to say. So I'm just going to get it out there and hope that it comes out right.

You know those women who bask in the glow of their pregnancy? The ones who take bare belly pictures and flaunt their pregnant bodies in two pieces bikinis? Yeah, that's not me.
Don't get me wrong, I love being pregnant. Well, let me rephrase: I love that I am with child. I wouldn't necessarily say that I love being pregnant. But I don't usually say this out loud in fear that it will seem that I am not absolutely over the moon about our soon-to-come arrival.

What I'm trying to convey is that getting used to the physical changes that my body has gone through has been difficult for me. Yet this topic is almost too taboo to talk about and no one does.

Quickly gaining weight over such a short amount of time is hard to deal with. I don't care who you are and I don't care how you slice it. It's difficult if you're naturally petite or naturally bigger. It's difficult if you're short or if you're tall. It's difficult if you're a woman in this society, PERIOD.
It's especially difficult for someone like me who has spent years overcoming body image issues, disordered eating, and binge eating disorder (yes, this is a real thing and yes it's as awful as it sounds). For years, I have worked very hard to arrive at a happy place with my body. I took the time (YEARS!) to make peace and amends with the food restriction and food binges that I put my body through, and over time, my body weight evened out.
My weight stopped fluctuating about three or four years ago and I became happy, comfortable, and appreciative of my body for how amazing it really is. It keeps me alive and healthy every day. Thank you, body! I stopped counting calories and started listening to my body. I had to relearn my body's hunger cues. I had to learn to stop caring about fitting into a specific size. I learned to buy clothes that complemented my body type and made me feel good. I learned to dress myself well.
I cannot exaggerate how much work this took. I had to actively work, every single day, to get myself out of the mental darkness that comes with life-long body image issues. My mantra became "No matter how you feel... Get up, dress up, show up, and never give up." And this blog was a huge part of my healing journey. Learning to put nice outfits together, regardless or how 'fat' or 'skinny' I felt became my goal and I loved every second of it. It became one of the best learning tools in my "life" tool box.

Fast-forward to becoming pregnant and I very quickly remembered what it felt like to be that young girl again. I swear, I began gaining weight the second that the pregnancy test turned positive. I don't know why, but I guess my body needed to do it. All I know is that I began to eat just a little more (all healthy things, too) to make sure that I was eating well and supporting my growing baby, but it seemed like every single day, I was gaining more and more and more weight. For someone with my history, it was terrifying. I will not sugar coat it.

So what did I do? I reached out to a couple of my friends who I knew had dealt with disordered eating and had been pregnant since. I reached out to them pretty early on-- when I was around 10 or 12 weeks pregnant. I knew they might not have answers, but I just needed to talk to somebody to know that I wasn't alone. To know that I wasn't already a bad selfish mother for not completely loving and embracing my changing body. And my friends were amazing. Even though neither of them said anything earth-shattering, they made me feel not so alone. They made me feel like I wasn't vain and what I was feeling was normal.

So I will say it again: dealing with weight gain and body changes during pregnancy IS hard. But do you know what the only way to deal with it is? "No matter how you feel... Get up, dress up, show up, and never give up."

Here is my advice:

1. If you need to, buy bigger pants right away. I kid you not, all my pants stopped fitting me sometime around the 8 or 10 week mark. At 12 weeks, I went to Target and bought two affordable pairs of stretchy pants, in two sizes up from what I usually wore: one cargo pant (exact) and one jean (exact). I cannot exaggerate how much this helped improve my mood and my self-esteem. It seemed like everything in my closet was wearable again, now that I had pants that fit.

2. Buy maternity pants and buy them early on. Somewhere around the 15 week mark, even my Target pants stopped fitting. The button was digging into my belly and I hated the way the button stuck out and didn't sit flush under my tops. So I went to the Motherhood Maternity outlet store with my mom and bought four pairs of full panel maternity pants. These Jessica Simpson dark wash maternity skinny jeans and these distressed grey skinny maternity jeans have been a staple in my outfits since the day I bought them. I also bought these amazing white skinny maternity pants that are perfect for work. I personally prefer full panel maternity pants because I think they look smoother under tops and I really like that they stretch with a growing belly.

3. Get dressed and TRY to look your best every single day. Yes, it's hard some days. Especially on the days when you wake up bloated and gross and feel like you gained another two pounds overnight. But it's worth it. Wear a bright scarf or a glitzy necklace and bring the attention to your face. Buy cute shoes. These scalloped gold flats and these nautical striped flats (both under $20!) from Target have been go-tos for me.

4. If all else fails, know that the people who love you, love you for YOU. And so should you, regardless of what your body shape is right now. Your body is doing an incredible thing-- you are creating a whole life inside of you! Basically you are a super hero.

So in a nut-shell, that's what been going on in my head. I know that this pregnancy (and having a child) will continue to bring up challenges for me. But I promise to be open and honest about my experiences because I KNOW I'm not alone, and neither are you. I'm here, with a listening ear.  Love you all so much. :)

OUTFIT DETAILS //
BLAZER [H&M] // Similar here here
NECKLACE [Hello Gorgeous Boutique// Exact here
FITBIT ALTA FITNESS TRACKER [Amazon// Exact here
ROSE GOLD FITBIT ALTA BAND (Amazon)// Exact here
MULTI COLOR PUMPS [Prabal Gurung for Target] // Similar herehere, & here (my fave!)  
BLOUSE [c/o Catch Bliss Boutique// Love these similar options hereherehere, & this cute ruffled one here
SKINNY WHITE MATERNITY PANTS [Motherhood Maternity] // Exact in white here & in khaki here
SKINNY NON-MATERNITY WHITE PANTS // Love these herehere, & here

Friday, April 21, 2017

Nautical Dream

I fell in love with this blazer the second that I saw it hanging up at the Banana Republic outlet store. The sleeves fit my freakishly long arms perfectly and I was sold on the spot. Even though the blazer below is the one that I ended up purchasing, I've had my eye on a couple of different nautical blazers for some time. I especially love this royal blue and white blazer from Zappos and this fitted striped blazer from Talbots.
And can we talk about this tangerine dream of a skirt that I bought from The Limited last spring? Can we also talk about how I won't be able to fit into it for much longer and how I can't link directly to it because The Limited closed it's doors? *Insert bawling emoji here.* But never fear! I found quite a few look-a-like tangerine pencil skirts that are just as perfect. First up is this gorgeous skirt from Macy's  and this chic pencil skirt from JCPenney's (both under $30!). And let's not forget this tall drink of water from Lord & Taylor.
The rest of the outfit details are linked below, including my current favorite cuff from HG Boutique. Have an amazing weekend, friends! 

BLAZER [Banana Republic Outlet// Exact here // Other cute options hereherehere
BLOUSE [The Limited] // Almost exact here // Similar hereherehere, & here
BELT [Forever 21]  // Similar here here // Super cute sparkly version
PENCIL SKIRT [The Limited] // Similar hereherehere, & here
BALLET FLATS 
[Target] // Exact here // The real Chloé pair here
BRACELET [Hello Gorgeous Boutique] // Exact here

Monday, April 17, 2017

Oh, Bébé ! (Girl or Boy?!)

Since the moment we found out we were expecting, I had a gut feeling about the gender of our little bébé. Call it mother's intuition, or in my case, a semi-scientific guesstimate of the likelihood of male versus female sperm making it through, given that I knew almost the exact date of the act and conception (is my nerdiness showing yet?). 
But you don't really know until it's confirmed, right? Keep scrolling to find out if my guess was correct. 



I seemed to have guessed correctly because Bébé Back is a...



BOY!



And he's already got his Spartan gear ready to go. ;)


Sweet baby, we can't wait until you're here!

OUTFIT DETAILS >>
NECKLACE [Hello Gorgeous Boutique] // Exact here
BELT [Forever 21]  // Similar here here // Super cute sparkly version 
DRESS [JCPenney] // Similar blue pleated maxi dresses herehere & here
BÉBÉ BACK'S SNEAKERS [BuyBuy Baby] // Exact here

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Five Month Anatomy Scan + Biopsy For Breast Cancer

The last thing that you want to hear from your OB at 5 months pregnant is "It might be cancer or it might be nothing. Let's send you to the radiologist." 
And that about sums up the last week and a half of our lives.
Backtrack to about three weeks ago to a night like any other night,  I sat on the couch marveling at my newly found boobies (which were my first symptom of pregnancy and what prompted me to take a test in the first place) when I felt something. A small node, the size of a lentil sat embedded in my right breast.
For a few days I didn't say anything to anyone. I thought that it was probably my imagination and a normal part of the changes that accompany pregnancy. I did a bit of Googling and diagnosed myself with a possible blocked milk duct. But if I was being totally honest with myself, did I really even know where milk ducts were located? How deep in the breast did they reside? Could they even get blocked this early on? I couldn't really tell from the anatomy pictures and info that came up in my search. 
A few days passed and I could still feel the node. Because of the history of breast cancer in my family, I didn't want to alarm anyone if it was nothing. But I was also to the point where I was growing more concerned by the day. So I asked John to take a look, and yup, he could definitely feel the lump. Damn. It wasn't all in my head.
We decided to bring it up with my OB at our upcoming 18 week anatomy scan. The scan went perfectly. Baby had two arms, two legs, a developing brain, all the chambers of the heart, and the spine looked good. Afterwards we met with the doctor and he asked if we had any additional questions. So I took a deep breath and told him about the lump that I found. 
Let me stop here and say how I saw this appointment playing out in my head: I thought that the doctor would do a breast exam and tell me that it was absolutely nothing and that it was just a normal part of pregnancy. Or even better, I thought that he would tell me that he couldn't even feel the lump.
This is what really happened: The doctor did a breast exam and felt the lump right away. He then asked about the history of breast cancer in my family and because of all of those factors, he immediately referred me to a breast cancer radiologist. He said it may be nothing. Or it may be something, and he didn't want us to miss anything.

So we left that appointment elated that our baby was healthy, but overwhelmed with the fact that I would have to get worked up for possible breast cancer. After everything that we've been through in the last year, this was NOT what we wanted to be thinking about. We wanted to be happy and celebratory about our baby, not worried about possible cancer. 
It took about five days for the radiology referral to go through and for my appointment to be scheduled. Coincidentally, my mom had planned to visit me last week while John was traveling out of the country for work. So our week of shopping for nursery items turned into a week of shopping for nursery items and also going back and forth to the hospital for breast scans and a biopsy. Good times. 

Walking into that biopsy appointment at the cancer center with my pregnant belly was one of the most emotionally wrecking things I've ever gone through. It just all felt wrong. The hospital staff was so kind and accommodating. But being congratulated on your pregnancy and then told to lay down so the radiologist could numb you with a long thick needle and cut out samples of a lump inside your breast was just surreal. 
Because my biopsy appointment was on a Friday, the results took a few days to come back. 
But finally, I received a phone call this morning with good news: My test results came back negative.
The lump was something called Psuedoangiomatous stromal hyperplasia (PASH), a benign mass that can mimic cancer.

Thank God Thank God Thank God. I am so incredibly relieved and so incredibly grateful that we know it's benign and nothing to worry about.

So why am I sharing this? Because I want anyone reading this to be aware of this condition. I want to encourage you to perform self breast exams (even during pregnancy!) and to speak to your doctor if you feel anything different in your breasts. As my doctor and radiologist said, this could have been something. And from everything that I've read, finding lumps during pregnancy is even more concerning because the high levels of hormones could possibly help cancerous cells proliferate even faster. The sooner you know, the sooner you can take action.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

MINT GREEN + ROYAL BLUE

The weather here in Charlotte has been inching toward spring and I could not be happier.
And if you're like me, once the weather starts turning, you can't wait to pull out fresh springy colors!

This necklace was actually the inspiration behind this whole outfit. I love all the bright happy colors that are incorporated into it. I can't wait to style it with something pink! But for now, I stuck to blues and greens and pops of gold, like these Sam & Libby ballet flats that I recently picked up at Target. I didn't know this until later, but apparently they are dupes of these super expensive Chloe flats. Who knew?! Yeeeep I think I'll stick to my $20 Target pair for now. ;)

My top is old from Flourish Boutique. Flourish is no longer open, but I did find these pretty mint green long sleeve blouses here and here and this adorable short sleeve version here. My pencil skirt is from The Limited (of course!) and since they are no longer open either, I found quite a few look-a-likes, linked below. My favorites are this very similar skirt from Talbots, this scalloped skirt (also from Talbots), and this great fit and flare skirt from Tahari.

Is it feeling like spring where you are? I hope it is!

NECKLACE [Hello Gorgeous Boutique] // Exact here
BELT [Forever 21]  // Similar here here // Super cute sparkly version 
TOP [Flourish Boutique] // Similar here here // Love this short sleeve option
PENCIL SKIRT [The Limited] // Similar herehere, & here // Adore this scalloped version & this flared version
BALLET FLATS [Target// Exact here // The real Chloe pair // LOVE these Tory Burchs // Cute dainty bow ones here here // Great textured silver ones here


Tuesday, March 21, 2017

SPRING FLORALS

Yesterday officially marked the first day of spring. Hooray! Since I spent most of yesterday in gym clothes, I thought I'd make up for it today. Because florals for spring? Groundbreaking. (Devil Wears Prada lovers, you're all over that reference, right?!) 
And to be honest, I'm more than happy to put on a pencil skirt and let this baby bump do it's thing because almost none of my old pants fit. And by "almost none" I mean ALL. Ha. But that means baby is growing right? Speaking of the little bug, I have my 18 week ultrasound later this week and I can't wait to see him/her again. It's been almost a month and a half since my last one and I just want to make sure baby is okay in there. Pregnancy after a miscarriage is something else you guys. The anxiety, the worry, the hand-wringing. I plan on writing a post dedicated entirely to that topic soon.

But anywho! Let's talk about the outfit below. My top and skirt are from my favorite work clothes store, The Limited, may she rest in eternal peace (!!!!). But I love this similar purple shell and this pencil skirt from Express. My blazer is old from Forever 21, but I found a ton of great similar options which I linked to below. I think my favorite is this navy floral blazer from Modcloth. My pink pumps are old too. They are from that amazing Christian Siriano and Payless collab a few years ago. (One of you loves just brought it to my attention in the comments below that Christian is STILL collaborating with Payless on a limited basis. So everyone RUN, don't walk to Payless because his designs are gorg!) My favorite look-a-likes for the pink pumps are these suede Sam Edelmans and these Nine West kitten heels. And last but not least, my necklace is from my boutique. :)

OUTFIT DETAILS below //

NECKLACE [Hello Gorgeous Boutique] // Exact here
TOP [The Limited] // Similar hereherehere, & here
PENCIL SKIRT [The Limited] // Similar herehere, & here
FLORAL BLAZER [Forever 21] // Similar hereherehereherehere 
PUMPS 
[Payless] // LOVE these Sam Edelmans // Similar here here // Great kitten heels here here