Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Maternity Photos Part Two | Sweet Love

Happy Wednesday! Can you believe we are half way through February? This weekend we are celebrating my birthday, the first birthday of being pregnant and it's just so fun because instead of traveling back home, our families are coming to us!
If you didn't check out part one of our maternity photos, go check them out here! I love these next photos because they seem to capture the love between my husband and I. He is so ridiculously sweet to me and I think you can see that in these photos!

We cannot wait to welcome our sweet little princess into our life (any day now!) and I'm so glad we have these photos to look back on to remember the season of carrying our first sweet baby.

Five Ways to Include Your Man in Your Pregnancy

I've been so blessed and even a bit spoiled since becoming pregnant because Joe has been so so involved in this pregnancy. We found out that I was pregnant together. When I was sick and in the hospital (three times) at the beginning, he was by my side. When I was nervous and scared of labor before learning so much about it, he was by my side. Through every joy and celebration, he's been by my side. Through every contraction and back pain and every false labor pain, he was by my side. I wanted to share a few ways that he has been involved in this pregnancy!
Learn Together 
My husband and I have been reading and studying the Bradley Method (husband coached childbirth) Handbook and Study Guide together for a few months now. Anytime I'm reading about what to expect in labor and delivery or just pregnancy in general, I always tell him about it. I'm sure he has learned a ton! Sometimes we lay in bed and read about what to expect or study different methods of child birth. Getting your husband involved in learning about pregnancy and the birthing process is a perfect way to making him feel included in your pregnancy. I couldn't do it without my husband!  

Have a Co-Ed Baby Shower
This is an awesome and fun way to get your husband involved in your pregnancy. It's not just your baby so why not celebrate together?! I understand that some guys aren't about baby showers but it doesn't have to be all pink and girly (even though ours was and my husband still loved being there) and you don't have to make him change a baby doll in front of 30 people. This made is really real that we were having a baby!
Take Him to the Doctor with You
I'm so blessed to say that my husband has been able to come to all of my doctor's appointments. Of course, your husband may have to work but if it's possible, asking him to come to at least one with you will help him see that this is real and I'm sure he would love being there supporting you!
Go Baby Shopping Together
This is SO fun and I couldn't imagine baby shopping without my husband. I love, love, love going with my mom and sister but it's so special when Joe comes along because seeing him get excited over tiny baby girl clothes or strollers just makes my heart grow ten times bigger. We have made this into a fun date night which is great for our marriage as well!
Encourage Him to Talk to and Feel the Baby
Joe LOVES doing this and actually, Josie will only respond to his touch or voice and I think that's just precious. All he has to do is get close to my belly and say "Josieee, what are you doin' in there?" And she starts kicking and hitting like crazy. It's so special. I know she is already a daddy's girl. Remembering that while you are carrying and growing that sweet baby, you couldn't of done it without your man!
Let Him be a Special Part of the Birthing Process
Of course you don't have to make him deliver the baby (but totally should if he wants to!) but asking him if he wants to cut the cord or hold her/him as soon as possible or massage and help you throughout labor will be something you won't regret. I hear so much talk about how special the bond between baby and mom is which I'm sure is completely true but I know that there is a bond between a father and his child that is like no other as well. Treasure that!
I'm so thankful to be in this season of life with Joe by my side. I know that he is going to be the best birth coach and partner I could ever imagine! I couldn't do it without him.  

Monday, February 15, 2016

Maternity Photos Part One | Our Favorite Spot

It's no secret that Joe and I love going on dates.. date days, date nights, date weekends.. we love doing life together! When it was time for our maternity photos, we knew we wanted to capture some photos in our favorite location, downtown in our city. Our favorite restaurant and ice cream parlor is downtown along with a plethora of thrift stores, the river, the outdoor activities, the art, boutiques, and the longest pedestrian walking bridge. I love our city! I think we will love it even more with a little mini-me added to our family!
We had two outfit changes and the first was a casual and cozy. I loved how they turned out and I can't wait to put them up in our home. This first one makes me so happy!



Stay tuned for the next set of our maternity photos.. they are a bit more fancy shmancy! 

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Tons of Tools & Inspiration for the Girl Boss

"I've got some dreeeams... she's got some dreams!" If you can tell me what movie this is from, we can totally be friends. For the past few months, I've been dreaming and scheming and wishing and hoping. Not only for our baby girl to enter into the world (any day now!) but also for what the future may hold. I've always had a thing for being creative. I've always had a dream of owning a quaint little coffee shop with a mini library tucked in the back. I've dreamt of hanging local art on the walls and showcasing lovely local scarves and jewelry and mugs. It's a big dream but a favorite of the few dreams I have for myself.
Another favorite is going to be kept secret for now but one day soon.. (after I get the handle on being a first time mom...) I will let you all in on the little secret I've been planning so stay tuned! I'm finally going for it. I've been too scared of failure, of the "what-ifs", of the comparison, but after an awesome talk with my husband over lunch one day a few weeks ago, when he told me that he completely supported anything and everything I wanted to do in this dream and will help me along the way,
 I'm going for it.
With that said, I love research. I have a growing list of my favorite places to go for inspiration on being a girl boss, a momtrepreneur, or whatever name you want to call someone who is in the business of going after her dreams of business and creativity. 
My Favorite Websites for Tools + Inspiration:
White Oak Creative - gorgeous site full of inspiration and help to get you going!
The Nectar Collective - Melyssa, my favorite go-to lady when it comes to anything creative business, inspiration, blogging and business focused teaching, and seriously just about anything you can think of. She is a genius and her attitude is contagious!
Entrepenueur Magazine - packed full of inspiration to really get you going! I love this site when I'm in the mood to be business-minded & serious about my game plan.

By Regina - this lady is on fire when it comes to being focused & business minded and she has so many loads of resources for you!
Jess Connolly - if anyone was my role model for all things creative + God focused, this gal would take the cake. just check out her blog and you'll see why. She co-founded The Influence Network + started Naptime Diaries Shop (both amazing and worthy of your time to check out).
Thrive Moms - not exactly business-focused but these moms who choose to thrive instead of just survive are so inspirational!! I cannot say enough good things.

XO Sarah - She's bold, passionate, & so business/blogging/freelancing savvy.. crazy right?!
Elle & Co. - a lovely resource for designers and bloggers and even business owners!
Career Contessa - this site is just genius and provides you with everything you need to be inspired to chase your dreams effectively!

Sarah Titus - super inspirational #momtrepeneur you want on your team. She seriously does it all!
Other ways to be inspired in your creative business endeavors:
-Search + Utilize Pinterest
-Listen to focused Podcasts that inspire
-Join a "Girl Boss" focused facebook group
-Purchase an Influence class

Monday, February 8, 2016

Our Valentines Day Plans

This year's Valentines Day is super special for Joe and I for a number of reasons.. One- it's our last V-Day without having children in the picture for the rest of our lives! Two- our sweet Josie girl is due 13 days after V-Day although at the way things are looking, she may be out by then! We wanted to make this Valentine's Day special and very "us" since for some reason, our V-Days always seem to get messed up which is so funny because normally, everything always goes so smoothly date night wise. But every year Feb. 14th rolls around, something crazy happens like we end up leaving the restaurant we went on one of our first dates to because they wouldn't let us order what we wanted to.
Maybe this year, we will end up celebrating in the hospital with our freshly born girl (I hope.. she is getting so big in there!). Or we may not even get to go anywhere in case she comes early. But if she decides to wait as long as she can, we decided to go ahead and plan what our favorite day would look like and then go for it (even if we have to celebrate two weeks early!)
My sweet husband got to choose the beginning of the day and then I chose to end. We decided to plan on celebrating on Saturday which is technically the day before Valentine's Day since Sunday we have church and I thought it would be fun to make a fun-filled day out of it. I asked him what his favorite day would look like (without traveling, since ya know, 9 months pregnant and all) and I added a few of my favorite things to it!  

+Sleep in as much as we want + then have breakfast in bed!
+On the menu: Pancakes, Bacon, & Eggs and some delicious hot Coffee
+Hang out all morning in bed being super lazy and have our quiet time
then probably watch The Office

+Get ready & go downtown for lunch at our favorite restaurant ever
+Walk around downtown (one of our favorite things to do together)
+Go see a movie of Joe's choosing

After Movie:
+Go to a yummy local coffee shop and finish reading our birthing book and read a chapter of the book Joe is going through with some guys in the church about studying God's Word (it's SO good!) while enjoying a sweet treat and a delicious hot latte.
+Take silly photos together like always.
+After hanging out downtown, maybe check out Anthropology & J. Crew (since I doubt we will want to go once the baby is born and I have a coupon for my birthday!)

+Get ready and go have dinner at a fancy restaurant
+Go back home to make chocolate covered strawberries, a fun dessert we find on Tasty, & make something for Josie (either a letter or painting or something sweet! That was Joe's idea.. he is the most romantic and most considerate guy ever.. best husband award!)

This is my definition of a perfect day and I can't wait to spend it with the one I love most on this earth! Now if only we can get in this fun day before Josie arrives!
What are your plans for Valentines Day if any? If you don't have any, what would your perfect day look like?

Friday, February 5, 2016

Tips on Rebranding, Getting Focused, + Starting Fresh!

A few months ago, I completely rebranded my blog. I used to blog at "Hot Tea and the Empty Seat" but I wanted to get more focused and inspired, so I started Life Encouraged, a place to encourage and be real. I have so many dreams for this space but for now, I'm taking it one day at a time (and sometimes a week at a time when I am organized enough to schedule posts!).
Audrey White of Whimsy & Co. designed my new look and let me just say that she is amazing! My new blog turned out to be better than I could of ever imagined. 
I wanted to share a bit of the process with you in case you are in the process of rebranding or thinking about it. Go for it! It's the best thing I've done for my blog!
1. I chose a designer whose style, cost, and personality fit my own. I made a list of things I wanted for my blog design and went from there. My list looked a bit like this: clean, white space, professional looking yet still cozy and welcoming with soft colors and a pop of inspiration.
2. I wrote a manifesto to get myself focused on what I wanted this blog to look like. I want to encourage women in all stages of life to live fully and freely in my writing and blogging endeavors.
3. I searched for inspiration through Pinterest and other successful purpose-driven blogs that I look up to like Coffee + Crumbs, Love Taza, and many others.
4. I prayed that God would use my little blog to ultimately inspire, encourage, and point others to Him!
After these things, Audrey and I got to work (well, she did all the work but I researched and planned like a crazy person!)
This is the inspiration board she made for my blog and I fell in love...
A week or two later, she sent me headers to choose from and I chose this one...
This is my mission statement for this blog (a great way to stay focused on your blog!)
Aren't they just perfection?! I absolutely love everything about my new blog design and that makes a huge difference in my motivation and inspiration to write my heart out.
I hope those few simple tips can help you get started with your own rebrand!


Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Currently No. 2 | February

Well that was quick! I feel like I blinked and January is now over! I didn't even get to write out my January goals list but just being honest, I didn't have many goals other than learn how to give birth naturally and effectively (which I'm still reading everything I can get my hands on) and hold out until February to have this baby. This month, my only goal is to have this baby!  
 I'm linking up with Jenna for another installment of Currently February. I love getting a little peek into the lives of the many lovely bloggers I follow. I hope you enjoy it too!

sending // thank you cards out this month to all the precious people who bought for us at our baby shower this past December & another one in January which just reminded me that I need to blog about that!

eating // everything in sight particularly Panera Soup + their yummy Cobb salad.. I will miss being pregnant and eating whatever I want!

dreaming // of what our precious Josie girl is going to look like.. her eyes, hair, cheeks, sweet smile.. I can't wait. Just a few more days!

smelling // I love burning candles and currently have three b&bw candles burning in our house right now.. my favorite being marshmallow peppermint... mmmm :)

hearting // my sweet husband who has been my rock these past few days filled with contractions and false labor. He is my forever Valentine!

what are you currently hearting? <3
Currently No. 2

Monday, February 1, 2016

My Very Short List of Goals this February

Happy February! It's my favorite month of the year (especially this year since we will be welcoming our baby girl into the world!). Here is my very short list of things I want to accomplish this month:

1. Celebrate Valentines Day & my birthday!!

2.  Survive Thrive at natural childbirth and rock at it! And be very nice to my husband during the process!

3. Actually finish our Bradley Method book and workbook before baby makes a run for it!

4. Try really hard not to go into the hospital with all of these false labor contractions that have been happening everyday. And also try not to cry when they are not regular or getting worse.. oh the anticipation is unbearable!

5. Post our maternity photos on this blog before baby actually gets here because that's just awkward...

6. Post photos of her sweet nursery before it becomes occupied!
7. Have a baby!
What are your goals this February?