Great Expectations

Dear Readers,

It’s hard to believe that as I write this, I’m two weeks away from having Baby #2. Here’s the bump, in all its glory.

When Amanda from Bumblebee Boots Photography asked if I wanted to shoot maternity photos, I realized it hadn’t even crossed my mind this time around! But I didn’t want to let this moment go by, especially since this is probably the last time you’ll see me with a bump. This pregnancy has been its own journey, with its own milestones, and it means a lot to document it here.

And these photos surprised me. Not in their beauty – Amanda is incredible, as seen here and here – but in the way I see myself for the first time since March. I don’t look at these and immediately see an exhausted working mom or a body no longer my own. Instead, I just see a very happy, very grateful me. Because I am. I’ve been blessed to have a second baby and complete our family – this was always a dream but never a given. And despite the craziest year of my life, this baby is healthy and thriving and so damn cute. (My ultrasound pics confirmed it.) I’m just thankful that I get to experience this one more time and am so excited to bring this little person into our lives. That’s what you’re seeing here, and these photos will always remind me of that.

(LC Lauren Conrad Maternity Dress, Stella & Dot Earrings (similar here), Target Mossimo Supply Co. Flats)

A third trimester post is on its way next! Thanks so much for your continued well wishes and for visiting this space. Can’t wait to share the big announcement soon.

Live in Cleveland and looking for a photographer? Make sure to check out Bumblebee Boots Photography and book your next shoot! 

Fall Favorites With Stella & Dot

Dear Readers,

These days, accessories are my best friend. Give me all the statement earrings and plaid scarves and cute flats. (My clothing options are more limited by the day and this weird October heat wave doesn’t help.) I’ve switched focus (read: given up) and have been on the hunt for great pieces that help my boring maternity clothes feel more on trend this season.

Enter Stella & Dot.

A long-time favorite of mine (see here and here), Stella & Dot has everything from major statement jewelry to delicate pieces for everyday wear. Between new fall arrivals (have you SEEN the Rebecca Minkoff x Stella & Dot collection?!) and classic staples, my wishlist is out of control. Here are a few pieces I have my eye on:

Covet Crosby Bag

Leopard is the must-have print of the season, and I love it in this timeless style! (It reminds me of the Clare V. version, but less expensive.) You can actually wear this bag four different ways, believe it or not. I’ll be using mine as a crossbody by day, clutch by (date) night.

Rebel Pendant

Full disclosure: I already own this in gold and rose gold…and wear them all the time. The Rebel works with pretty much every outfit, though, and I always feel put together when I throw it on. Chic and simple, just how I like it. It’s time to complete my collection.

Riva Tassel Earrings

Two seasons in and statement earrings are still going strong. And for good reason: earrings are an easy (and relatively affordable) way to instantly pull together an outfit (or change things up at a moment’s notice). Tasseled, bejeweled, hooped – I love them all. These earrings also come in two of the prettiest shades for fall, wine and blush.

Rebecca Minkoff x Stella & Dot

Rebecca Minkoff is one of my favorite designers, so you can imagine my excitement when I found out she was doing a collaboration with Stella & Dot. And it doesn’t disappoint. I love that her pieces are feminine and party-ready, while still maintaining that cool girl edge she’s known for. I ordered the Pixie Studs IMMEDIATELY and have my eye on the Prisma Statement Bracelet and Chandeliers. Christmas is only a couple months away, after all.

Sparkle Studs

These are great for everyday sparkle! Just enough to add a little something to your office attire or brighten up a tee-and-jeans combo on the weekend.

Being the super fan that I am, I’m hosting a trunk show with my friend, Stella & Dot stylist Monica Verchick, until Saturday, November 4. You can shop my Stella & Dot favorites here and order directly from her (not to mention, pick her brain about how to style your new purchases!). With the holidays just around the corner, it’s the perfect time to get a head start on gifts. Even if they just happen to be for yourself.

Would love to know – what are your favorite Stella & Dot pieces right now?

The Second Trimester

Dear Readers,

Two down, one to go – home stretch!

How Far Along: 33 weeks

Due Date: Mid-November

What I’m Wearing: Well, my options are dwindling as of late. A lot of cardigans over tunics over leggings. And flats. (I know, I know! I gave in.) A few recent favorites that make me feel more like myself: this Gap vest, these A Pea in the Pod Maternity black skinnies, and these Rebecca Minkoff slides.

How I’m Feeling: Exhausted, yet happy and thankful. The baby is healthy and right on track, and we’re officially moved into our new home! The past month has been crazy, between work and preparing for the move, so I’m committed to full-on nesting from now until November.

Physically, I started to experience all the joys of the third trimester much earlier this time around. Insomnia, shortness of breath, pelvic/leg/back pain, a bladder that needs emptied every 5 minutes – it’s going to be a long 7 weeks, you guys.

Mentally and emotionally, I’m in a good place. I’m so happy to be in our house, and Caroline is doing great in her new toddler room at school – she “graduated” to the next class on the day we moved! And now that things are settling down, I’m just so excited about meeting this little one in a few weeks. We don’t know what we’re having, but lately I’ve been wondering if it’s a boy. (That seems to be the general consensus, anyway.) We finally have names picked out, too. We decided to go Irish this time around; the names aren’t as common over here, but I think Mac’s family will love them. We ran both by Caroline, and she seemed to approve.

What’s On My Mind Lately: Home decor everything! Mac and I are having so much fun (ok, I’m having so much fun) decorating the new place and furnishing the remainder of the house. I can’t wait to share pics soon! We’re trying not to go too crazy right now, but it’s great to get the essentials in there and hang a few things on the walls. Four weeks in, and it already feels like home.

What I’m Craving: All cravings have subsided for the most part, although I need something sweet after every meal. I’ve been loving the vegan peanut butter and chocolate chip cookies at my local coffee place and all the watermelon possible. This baby has taken over my body, so I fill up quickly, no matter how hungry I am.

What I’m Looking Forward To: Finishing up some house projects before Baby #2 arrives, fall festivities (pumpkin patching, apple picking, trick or treating), and becoming a family of four just in time for the holidays.

Coolest Moment So Far: Caroline has been talking about the baby non-stop and wants to spend all her time in the nursery. The other day, Mac went over a bump in the road, and she yelled, “Enough, Dada – I have a baby in my belly!” So she’s really leaning in to this whole sibling thing, I think.

To all you moms out there, I’d love to hear how you prepared your first for the arrival of your second – any advice welcome here! I’m a little anxious about how that first encounter will go at the hospital…

Home Sweet Home

Dear Readers,

We. Bought. A. HOUSE!

(Apologies in advance for the less-than-stellar IPhone pics ahead. We took these on the day we closed, tired from paperwork and so, so happy.)

After a few months of searching, we found a place to call home. It’s in a beautiful neighborhood right by the lake, where we can ride bikes to the beach and grab ice cream at our favorite spot. I always wished for a Christmas house in a trick-or-treating neighborhood, and now we have it. To say that I’m excited about future holidays and backyard BBQs is an understatement.

The house-hunting process was interesting for us, in that although we’re first-time homeowners, we also had a pretty clear idea of what we wanted. At times, this made narrowing down the pool a lot easier; at others, it limited our options considerably. I thought I’d share a few lessons we learned along the way and hopefully reassure others in the process that your house is out there!

Find a realtor who you really trust and connect with. I can’t say enough about our realtor – she’s the best. (For local readers, we can’t recommend Linda LaFleur of Howard Hanna in Westlake enough!) From the start, Linda had our best interests at heart, and that meant a lot to us. We could talk to her about anything and truly valued her opinion. I also appreciated that she would have us draw our own conclusions about a house first, and then offer her own point of view at the end. Linda gave us great things to think about and kept us grounded and focused throughout the process. And her attention to detail is fantastic; she knew what to look for that could be cause for concern, but also had spot-on suggestions for how to update or fix things. During a house search, you spend a lot of time with your realtor, and you want to make sure it’s a good fit.

It’s ok to change your mind. At first we had our mind set on one particular area, then another…yet the more we talked about it, neither felt quite right. We started exploring another neighborhood and before we knew it, we were spending most weekends here, getting ice cream, going to the beach, hitting up the playground. It kind of chose us, in a way, and even though we knew it would be hard to get a house here, we were willing to hold out for one.

Be honest with yourself. We initially put an offer on a house that wasn’t right for us. It was at the top of our budget and the more we looked at the numbers, we knew it would stretch us too much financially. We needed to take a step back and see what we were most comfortable spending; it was important to us that we continued to put a certain amount into savings every month and have funds set aside for my upcoming maternity leave and unforeseen emergencies. This meant readjusting our budget and changing up our search criteria.

Ask for advice and share details sparingly. This was kind of a painful lesson to learn throughout this process. For the most part, any advice we received was learned the hard way by someone else, and it gave us things to think about as we looked for a house. We appreciated that. But I also think that choosing a house is a very personal decision – what works for you and your family may not work for someone else. There’s not necessarily a right or wrong way to do it, and what matters most to you may not even be on someone else’s radar. Everyone has different budgets, different priorities, different circumstances. So, I’m giving you unsolicited advice here, but I would say to be careful about what you share with others and take whatever you hear with a grain of salt. People get funny about these things and ultimately, no one should take away from the excitement and pride you feel in the home you choose.

Be realistic and be flexible. The perfect house isn’t out there, but the perfect house for you and your family is. What I mean by this is that unless you build from the ground up, you won’t likely find a home that checks every box. Aesthetic updates are almost a certainty and these can be done over time – after all, you want a house that you can grow into! We prioritized our “must-haves” and “non-negotiables” so that we could narrow down our search, while also being flexible along the way. (For example, I was dead set against carpet, yet it’s pretty difficult to find a house without it. Mac and I agreed we could live with it temporarily…and start saving for wood flooring down the road.)

That said, don’t settle. I admit, we got to a point in the house-hunting process where I felt really discouraged. I’d half-heartedly look at houses and suggest going to see them, even though I had no interest whatsoever. At one point, we saw a house in a neighborhood I didn’t even want to be in, and I was willing to consider it because it was brand new and beautifully decorated. A reality check from our realtor set me straight, and I decided that it was better to hold out for a house in the neighborhood we wanted, rather than entertain other ideas out of convenience or desperation. (And thank God we did – our house went up for sale the following Friday!)

First one to open the door with our keys!

As we start to decorate and furnish our new place, I’ll be sharing more design inspiration here! We’re so, so excited for this next adventure and can’t wait to share it with you.