The Essential Gift Guide for Expecting Mamas

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Stumped on what to buy the pregnant lady in your life this season? Or maybe you’re the one who’s knocked up and just in need of a little pick-me-up?

I’ve got you covered: Starting clockwise from the upper left corner, here’s a handy list of gifts to make any mama-to-be’s life a little easier.

Earth Mama Angel Baby Organic Mama-To-Be Tea Sampler: Because when you can’t have a cocktail, you turn toward these four herbal remedies for nausea, heartburn, anxiety and labor prep, respectively.

Leachco Back ‘N Belly Contoured Body Pillow: Support in just the right places to help you sleep like a baby…even if baby is doing his or her best to keep you awake at all hours with those karate kicks.

Serola Sacroiliac Belt: Recommended by my PT and vouched for by me, this keeps cranky SI joints and other pelvic problems (thanks to relaxin hormones) in check so you can keep moving with less discomfort.

Simple Wishes SuperMom All-in-One Nursing and Pumping Bra: I sang the praises of this brand’s pumping bra last time around, and for baby number two I’ve upgraded to their three-in-one version for maternity, pumping and nursing. Loving it so far!

Prenatal Physical Therapy: Either I’m ‘older and wiser’ or maybe just older and accepting that the concept of ‘bouncing back’ doesn’t really apply. In any case, it’s a smart investment to not only ward off aches and pains, but also prepare for labor and set your body up for success when it comes to healing after.

The Spoiled Mama Tummy Butter for Stretch Marks: It glides on, isn’t super sticky and smells like orange-chocolate, which is basically the stuff pregnant women’s dreams are made of, right?

Move Your Bump Workout: After following fit mom and health Nancy Anderson on Instagram, I was so inspired (do it for baby, she says!) that I pre-ordered her pregnancy workout program, which will be released December 20.

Expecting More®: The 4th Trimester Workout: Another Instagram fit mom, Sara Haley is a former Reebok Global Master Trainer, as well as a pre- and post-natal exercise specialist. Her 4th tri workout includes modifications for diastasis recti and c-sections, and is how I plan on easing back into fitness post-baby.

Ingrid & Isabel Active Legging with Crossover Panel: One of the few maternity workout pants I’ve found that is versatile (wear panel over belly or folded down), stays put, provides support and flatters blossoming curves.

How Not to Hate Your Husband After Kids: Required reading (don’t let the title scare you away) with practical marriage advice and insight into successful conflict resolution that’ll come in handy when the going gets tough – which isn’t ‘if’ but ‘when’ as your relationship dynamic changes overnight.

Prenatal Massage: Another pregnancy non-negotiable. There are so many benefits, for both mama and baby, but the best part is lying for an hour on your stomach thanks to that glorious cushion with the belly and boob holes.

True Botanicals Basics Duo: Billed as “pregnancy-safe skincare that works,” this liquid gold isn’t cheap but is worth it when it comes to peace of mind for mamas who want results without toxins that may be harmful to developing babies.

Mamas, do you have any other faves to add to the list? Please share!

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StitchFix (Maternity!) Shipment No. 15 Review

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Well hey, StitchFix, it’s been a while! But with baby on board these past few months, I’ve been waiting until now to update my maternity wardrobe.

I kept all the items from my last fix (read about it here), so I tried to be just as specific this time around with my requests – namely, a pair of fun jeans and a dainty-yet-unique necklace, plus a few tops and sweaters to use as the bump grows.

New to StitchFix? Read all about how it works here

Now let’s take a peek at what showed up in this month’s box…

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First up was the Just Black Maternity Andrea Released Hem Skinny Jean ($88).

At this point (17 weeks along) forgiving waistbands are essential, so these immediately caught my eye.

I’ve got a few pairs of standard blue and black denim from last round, but this time I’m all about color – especially as we enter the dreary Portland winter months.

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Next was the Romolo Munroe Feather Pendant Necklace ($28).

Pretty basic, yes. But I like the beaded detail on the chain, it’s a perfect length and it’ll add some interest to outfits without overwhelming them.

Plus, I’m not a fan of A) much or B) big jewelry, so this will be a great staple for accessorizing.

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Third was the Skies are Blue Olivina Hooded Slub Knit Cardigan ($58).

It’s got a classic color and shape, plus the open design is good for all stages of pregnancy and beyond.

The sleeve detail on the bottom threw me a bit, though – it’s a spandex-type material that goes maybe a quarter of the way up your arm – but maybe it’s good for keeping sleeves pushed up?

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After that was the Kensie Lona Zipper Sleeve Pullover ($68).

To be honest, this was the only piece that didn’t thrill me straight out of the package, but I withheld judgment because you never know until you try it on.

The color is mix of gray, taupe and green, which is kind of ‘meh,’ though, plus the shape is a little boxy for my taste…but we’ll see.

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And last but not least was the Loveappella Maternity Jillyen Roll Cuff Knit Top ($48).

As soon as I pulled this top out of the box, I knew it was my style – casual and sporty.

The material looked a tad see-through, however, so I definitely wanted to see how it looked on before deciding.

So what did I end up keeping?

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Once again…everything!

Here’s my reasoning: The jeans and short-sleeved top were no-brainers. I don’t currently have anything like the hooded sweater (which is great for fall layering!) or the necklace.

And the sweater I was so-so about? Factor in the 25 percent discount if you purchase all five items, and it made sense to keep the whole box.

Well played, StitchFix, well played!

Want to try StitchFix? Use my referral link to fill out your style profile and get started.

Disclosure: This is *not* a sponsored post; I pay for StitchFix on my own, and since I love the service, it’s fun to share my experience. If you sign up using my referral link, I’ll get a credit…so thanks in advance for fueling the next fix! 

StitchFix Shipment No. 14 Review

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After keeping two tops from spring’s StitchFix no. 13 (read about it here), I put some thought into requests for summer items this time around.

It makes sense that the more specific direction you can provide stylists, the better your fix. So instead of winging it and putting in a general request for my usual “trend-driven twists on classic items,” I asked for skinny jeans and tops (not polyester!) for my new start-up gig.

New to StitchFix? Read all about how it works here

Now let’s take a peek at what showed up in this month’s box…

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First up was the Skies are Blue Maple Two Pocket Top ($58). Whether it’s worn with jeans or shorts, there’s no denying that shirt is both comfortable and versatile.

The gauze-y fabric makes this top perfect for summer, plus there’s a small split back detail for a special modern twist on a timeless piece.

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Next was the Street Level Juno Small Folded Clutch ($38). Normally I fall into the “bigger is better” camp when it comes to purses (especially now that I’m mom-ing so hard), but this one gets bonus points for being hands-free.

Add in a removable gold chain strap and the fact that it can be dressed up or down, and this purse delivers on the bang-for-your-buck factor, too.

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Third was the Just Black Adorra Skinny Jean ($88). I had specifically requested these because I wanted to update my current denim options.

I’ve got plenty of boot-cut and boyfriend jeans, but was hoping my stylist could send a version that would work with breezy tops in summer and transition to tall boots in fall.

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After that was the Tart Kaylie French Terry Blazer ($128). My stylist sent this because she wanted to add a fun pop of color to my wardrobe.

She also said likes the “lightweight but luxe” material, which in momspeak means easy wear and easy care on days when I have a work meeting and need to up my professional game.

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And last but not least was the 41Hawthorn Kassidy Faux Wrap Dress ($58). While I love the silhouette of wrap dresses, I often have trouble with gapping at the neckline.

But this one’s a faux wrap, which makes it “effortlessly stylish” (according to my stylist), plus who doesn’t love a preppy polka dot?!

So what did I end up keeping?

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Everything.

Although I was wavering on the price of the blazer, I saved almost $100 with the 25 percent discount when you buy all five items. I know I’ll get a lot of use out of these basics; in fact, I’m planning on wearing the dress to an upcoming event and the blazer will be making an appearance at an upcoming meeting with potential investors.

My next fix is scheduled for fall. Until then, I’ll be working on compiling another list to help steer my stylist in the right direction (again)!

Want to try StitchFix? Use my referral link to fill out your style profile and get started.

Disclosure: This is *not* a sponsored post; I pay for StitchFix on my own, and since I love the service, it’s fun to share my experience. If you sign up using my referral link, I’ll get a credit…so thanks in advance for fueling the next fix! 

StitchFix Shipment No. 13 Review

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After scoring a cozy cowl-neck sweater for winter from StitchFix no. 12 (read about it here), I requested some bright spring pieces to help lift me out of the dreariness that is Portland right now.

Thanks to weaning and half marathon training, my body continues to shape-shift. But I went ahead and asked for form-fitting pieces because I’m feeling fitter than I have in months — and so ready for warm weather already.

New to StitchFix? Read all about how it works here

So let’s take a peek at what showed up in this month’s box…

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First up was the Coffeeshop Aerin Hooded Cargo Jacket. I have yet to jump on the cargo jacket bandwagon, which makes me wonder if I’m too late to the party at this point?

The fact that this jacket came in a different color than the usual army green was intriguing, though. But I’m just not sure how practical it is, considering how much rain we get here…

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Next was the 41Hawthorn Portar Fitted Pullover. Stripes? Check. Bright spring accent colors? Check. Chic French flair? Check.

The only thing that gave me slight pause on this one was the length (maybe a tad too long?), but I’d have to see it on before making the final decision.

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Third was the StateSide Kirsta Knit Top. And there was only one thought in my mind when I laid eyes upon it: A glorified SWEATSHIRT that I can wear out and not look like a total slob?! Yes, please.

I can’t even begin to describe how soft the fabric is, too. Even though the price made me shudder, it’d have to look pretty horrible on for me to be able to send it back.

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After that was the Tolani LeeLee Silk Maxi Dress. My stylist said she’d seen a number of maxi dresses on my Pinterest page, which was the inspiration behind this pick.

I just couldn’t get past a few things, however: First, it’s waaay too bohemian for my taste. Second, it’s soft but thin and unstructured. And, third, it’s $200. So unless it looked absolutely fantastic on, it’d be going back.

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And last but not least was the Papermoon Annebel Cross Front Knit Top. At first glance, this one only registered as “meh” to me.

But then I took a closer look at some of the details — the collar, the soft fabric and the longer length in the back, in particular — and figured I should withhold judgement until trying it on, as well.

So what did I end up keeping? I’ll give you a hint: Two pieces.

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Give up?

Well, the jacket and top in the photo on the left both left me wanting more when it came to fit; the jacket flared out oddly at the waist, and the striped shirt was just too long for my figure. And the dress…it was ok, but I just don’t like the style — I prefer a lot more structure.

So the teal and light purple knit tops were the clear winners this round. Not only am I excited to wear some pretty pastels for spring, but they meet my criteria for part-time-working-mom-on-the-go criteria: Cute and comfy.

My next fix is scheduled for early summer. I haven’t put in my request yet, but it’s a pretty safe bet I’ll be looking for something fun to celebrate the warm weather!

Want to try StitchFix? Use my referral link to fill out your style profile and get started.

Disclosure: This is *not* a sponsored post; I pay for StitchFix on my own, and since I love the service, it’s fun to share my experience. If you sign up using my referral link, I’ll get a credit…so thanks in advance for fueling the next fix! 

StitchFix Shipment No. 12 Review

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After keeping all five pieces from StitchFix no. 11 (read about it here), I knew the bar would be set pretty high for my next installment.

Although I haven’t been on a scale in a month or so, I was maybe six pounds up from my pre-pregnancy weight at the last check-in. So since I’m feeling almost back to my old self, I gave my stylist the go-ahead to experiment with trendier pieces (a la last Fix’s jumpsuit) as long as they were easy-wear and easy-care.

And even though I complained about getting more jeans last round, I actually requested a pair this time. My hope was to find a straight or legging-type fit to wear with tall boots, but when I opened the box there was no denim to be found. Go figure!

New to StitchFix? Read all about how it works here

So let’s take a peek at what did come in this month’s box…

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First up was the Coffeeshop Arion Cargo Jacket. I had also requested a cargo-type jacket, so this was exciting to unwrap.

The coat was super cozy with the shearling hood, but I wasn’t thrilled about the patches, particularly the California one. Sure, we’re proud to be one-time residents there, but it seemed a little loud for a jacket that’s supposed to be understated.

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Next was the Market & Spruce Brookline Mix Material Sweater. I could swear I was sent this top before (or something similar), although the deep plum color is perfect for fall and winter.

The back zipper detailing is nice, too; you can zip it open for a peek-a-boo of sheer fabric or zip it closed for a more fitted look. Either way, it’s a good wardrobe basic, plus I like the fact that it slopes down a bit in the back for extra coverage in the rear.

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Third was the Rails Ellson One Pocket Top. This one was love at first sight…until I saw the price tag.

I’m a sucker for a soft, fuzzy flannel, but I was able to get a similar Buffalo plaid shirt from the same brand from Saks Off 5th last year for around $50. It’s hard to justify playing $100 more for another red and black flannel, so I’d have to restrain myself with this one. Sigh.

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After that was the RD Style Lada Cowl Neck Sweater. I have a love/hate relationship with cowl necks: I love how they look on other people, but it seems like I can rarely pull them off myself.

I did like the chunky knit of this sweater, however, and the neck was large and comfy. Plus, the length would be perfect for pairing with boots and leggings.

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And last but not least was the Treme Knit Jacket from Evolution by Cyrus. With a straight cut and large print, it was out of my usual wheelhouse, but worth trying on to see how it looked.

The material is a super-soft knit and pretty dense, making this jacket ideal for those crisp days where you don’t need a heavy parka. I couldn’t help but want a little more shape to this, though, so I’d have to think about it…

So what did I end up keeping?

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Well, after consulting with my sister and husband — they both liked the plaid shirt…until I told them how much it cost — I ended up keeping only the cowl neck sweater.

It’s not the piece that first jumped out at me, but it’s just so snuggly and different from what’s already in my closet that it’s worth the gamble. Besides, my intention with this service is to go out on a limb with new looks, and this is about as risky as I feel like getting at the moment as a new mom, LOL.

My next fix is scheduled for late winter. I haven’t decided what to request, although I’m leaning toward asking for a bright palette to lighten things up after the next few dreary Portland months!

Want to try StitchFix? Use my referral link to fill out your style profile and get started.

Disclosure: This is *not* a sponsored post. I simply love the service and think it’s fun to share my experience. I pay for Stitch Fix on my own. If you sign up using my referral link, I’ll get a credit…so thanks in advance for fueling my next fix! 

October Goal Check-In

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The end of October is always a little bittersweet, isn’t it? As exciting as it is to really settle into fall and celebrate Halloween, now we’re suddenly barreling towards the holiday season and a brand new year is just around the corner.

And has anyone else seen all the holiday commercials already?! I’m the first to admit I’ll be cranking up the Christmas tunes before too long…but October 26 was just too soon to start seeing ads about Santa and stuffing stockings.

All that aside, I’m still focused on sticking loosely to my 2016 goals before setting new intentions for 2017. So here’s an update:

1. Health & Fitness: In terms of a typical week, I’m now trying to move at least four or five out of the seven days. With a baby’s schedule and Portland’s rainy season to factor in, this means taking whatever I can get whenever I can get it: Namely stroller jogs, treadmill runs, cross-training on the Nordic Track (yes, you read that correctly; it was left behind by the previous owners of our house), plus a smattering of free weights.

And as much as I miss the accountability of a training schedule, it’s been refreshing to exercise for general fitness for a change. If there’s a day where a workout just doesn’t work out, it’s a relief at the moment to be able to take it in stride versus fretting about getting behind schedule.

2. Training: Speaking of schedules…just last month I mentioned there wasn’t a race on the horizon, but that may soon change because I’m mulling over a potential spring marathon. It’d be a change of pace from my usual summer training cycles focusing on fall races, and this time I’m also considering working under the general guidance of a coach to train smart and stay healthy while ramping up mileage.

3. Community: Our 2016 Team LUNA Chix Portland Run season has officially ended, and we celebrated with our annual party at Title Nine Portland on October 24. In addition to a fantastic group of community members joining us this year, I’m proud to say that we also managed to raise nearly $3,000 for Breast Cancer Fund.

As for next year, we’ll be changing things up a bit, so stay tuned for details! We’re opening applications for team leaders for the 2017 season in early December, so if you’re interested in getting involved with a dynamic group of women who are making a difference in the Portland area, along with getting in some great workouts and making new friends, like our Facebook page for updates.

4. Career: This has been an area where I’ve been feeling reenergized as of late. First, Fit4Mom Cedar Mill hosted a very cool “Mindful Mamas” event this month where we worked out together and then sat down with a life coach to talk about time management and priorities. Lesson learned: Make sure what you’re spending your time on is truly aligned with your goals.

Second, I signed a new boutique fitness client in the Portland area, and we’ve been hard at work on messaging, positioning and PR planning. I love working with business owners who understand the importance of connecting — not only with clients to help them get fitter and feel healthier, but also with the community to give back. So inspiring!

5. Life: Finally, I need to do a whole in-depth post on the glory that is ‘sleep training.’ But for now, I’ll just say this: If you’re having any trouble getting your little one to sleep — whether it’s through at night or just for regular naps, it’s a total game-changer. I’d go as far as to say it’s the best baby-related investment we’ve made because it provides the confidence to do what you need to do to help everyone get some more zzz’s.

The woman we worked with was simply amazing (parents, ping me if you want an intro), particularly because she specializes in minimizing the amount of crying during the process. I had heard horror stories of people having to camp outside of baby’s door enduring hours of screaming, but our experience was quite different. We had a total of 12 minutes of crying in protest the first night before Wyatt slept 12 HOURS.

There’s a lot that goes into it — both in terms of preparation and consistency in order to develop new habits, plus (duh) you’ll still have the usual hiccups now and then — but, overall, it’s been nothing short of life-changing. Chronic sleep deprivation (seven months, in our case) can leave you in a pretty dark place, so it’s pure joy to finally come into the light at the end of the tunnel.

Ready or not, here we come: Are you excited for the final stretch of 2016?

StitchFix Shipment No. 11 Review

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After ending up with another pair of jeans from StitchFix no. 10 (read about it here), I had high hopes for my next shipment to include some more unique pieces for the upcoming season.

Shape-wise, I may not be back to my pre-baby fighting weight (breastfeeding isn’t always the miracle celebs claim it to be, just FYI), but I’m not too worried about it at this point; however, I am ready to get out of my mom-sweats and into some cute clothing for fall.

I didn’t give my stylist too much specific direction other than A) please don’t send any more polyester tops or jeans, and B) please do send some stuff that’s trendy yet mom-friendly — aka able to be washed when I inevitably get puked, pooped, peed or drooled upon.

New to StitchFix? Read all about how it works here

Let’s take a peek at what came in this month’s box, shall we?

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First up was the Kut from the Kloth Simmons Bootcut Jean ($88). Wait – WHAT?! Another pair of jeans?! This did not bode well. I started wondering if my stylist even read my requests…

Nevertheless, it’s hard to resist denim because it’s such a wardrobe staple, at least for me. And I did like the wash and fit of this pair, so they weren’t automatically ruled out.

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Next was the Market & Spruce Carlee Knit Jumpsuit ($78) and the Bancroft Dante Cut Out Metal Oval Layered Necklace ($32). Now we’re talkin’!

I love a good jumpsuit, but I’ve always just admired them on other women; usually they’re not as flattering on an athletic build. But this one is a soft jersey knit (read: feels like you’re wearing pajamas), which I knew would be tough to resist if it ended up actually fitting.

As for the necklace, I’m more of a dainty jewelry fan instead of large statement necklaces, which tend to overwhelm me. But I really liked how this worked with the jumpsuit. My stylist was slowly redeeming herself…

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After that was the Market & Spruce Benni Crossfront Knit Top ($48). My stylist included it because she said it’s a mom-friendly (aka easy-access, haha) top with a punch of color.

Again, I love cross-front tops…but they typically they don’t hang well on me. This one, however, fit like a glove and the color is awesome. It just might be a keeper!

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And last but not least was the Kut from the Cloth Benter Mixed Material Top ($58). Another easy-care top to throw on with jeans so I could feel somewhat pulled together when stepping out.

Totally my style + fun prints + super comfy materials = a win. Unless the fit was way off, this shirt and I were destined to be together.

So what did I end up keeping?

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Shocker — the whole box!

Although I wasn’t completely sold on the jeans and the necklace this round, I figured they’d be good basics to add into a fall wardrobe rotation. Plus there’s a 25% discount when you buy all five items, which worked out to a savings of $76.

I mean, that’s like getting one thing free, right? At least according to my shopping justification math…

The best part is that I’ve already worn three of the items: the jumpsuit and necklace out to anniversary dinner with Ben, and the cross-front top while wine tasting that same weekend. And as soon as the weather gets cooler, you can bet I’ll be busting out the floral top and jeans.

My next fix is scheduled for around the holidays and my well of wardrobe creativity is running dry at the moment, so I was hoping to pick your brains for inspiration. What should I request? Leave a comment below, and I’ll put your ideas in the next note to my stylist!

Want to try StitchFix? Use my referral link to fill out your style profile and get started.

Disclosure: This is not a sponsored post. I simply love the service and think it’s fun to share my experience. I pay for Stitch Fix on my own. If you sign up using my referral link, I’ll get a credit…so thanks in advance for fueling my next fix!