Now that I’m officially caught back up on blogging (OMG please pause for a moment of silence to take joy in this), OBSESSIONS are returning to the blog! Plus I’m hoping to add lots of variety to the blog to break up all the pretty weddings and engagement sessions posts :)

For March, the story has been MOISTURIZE! My skin took a serious beating this winter. All life was sucked from it, leaving me looking/feeling like I aged 10 years. Positive self-esteem was a challenge! But have no fear, I found some super amazing products that I’m going crazy over!!

March Board

This face moisturizer // My fave was where I felt like I all of a sudden aged with winter. I started using this stuff a couple month ago, and saw a big difference! It brought beauty and youth and softness back in my face. With how much I love this, I just may try their whole face line! I try to use this every AM then rotate between this and another product (to be featured in a future OBSESSION post) at night!

This lip balm // Let us know forget how important it is to moisturize those pretty lips :) (HINT: moisturized lips hold lip color better!) This has been my jam for a long time. I stumbled on it last fall sometime. The egg shape really turned me off. It seemed so oddly shaped and just too large. But oh my goodness, guys, I love this. It moisturizes fabulously and the flavor/smell is my hands-down fave!

This coconut melt // Hands down, this is my #1 OBSESSION!! I’m utterly infatuated with this. I somehow came across the company on Instagram. Was intrigued by their products and their branding was on point, so I figured “hey why not give it a try!” and OMG I’m so glad I did. This stuff is a wax melt. I was so confused at first because it’s hard. There’s a little spoon for you to scrape the melt. Once it goes into your hands, it almost instantly melts. I can’t tell you enough how moisturizing this is!! I put it all over, though haven’t tried my face yet. But new life enters your skin with this :) As for the smell, I remember thinking it was a little odd at first but now I love it!

This nourishing hair mask // Ever wonder why your hair gets a little stringier, more straw like? Well aside from maybe needing a hair cut (reminder Jenna, get your hair did), our hair and scalp dry out like crazy in the winter! It’s super important to nourish our hair and help add extra moisture back into it during the cooler months! This stuff is great. It’s technically for damaged hair, but I’m pretty sure everyone’s hair is damaged somehow so this can be used by all! I try to only wash my hair every 3 days or longer (if I can), and I’ll do a mask of this in the shower. I leave it on for 5 minutes, then wash out. Or if you have a relaxed day inside, hop out of the shower and put this in your hair with a towel around it, then hop back in the shower 45 minutes later!

‘Tis the season for engagement photos and weddings. Today I’m sharing some of my favorite locations in the Chicagoland area to shoot at!

BEACHES:

// Montrose Beach

This beach has it all! Not only is there free parking but it has 4 locations in one – a beach, the bird sanctuary with tall grass, the cement pathway that overlooks the city, and a harbor. It’s one of the most versatile locations in all of Chicago!

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// North Avenue Beach

How can you not love North Avenue? The view of the city is just unmatched. Plus there’s a cement pathway between Oak Street and North Avenue that makes for a great change up from the soft sand.

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PARKS:

// Art Institute Gardens

This is probably my favorite place in all of Chicago. I have a love for ivy and, well, this place has it! It’s simply gorgeous and romantic and full of interest at every turn!

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// Olive Park

Olive Park is a great spot that few actually know about. I lived across from it for 4 years and it literally took me a year and a half to realize I could go in there! I love the view of the city – right up front and different from the other angles you see throughout the city. Plus it’s right next to Ohio Street beach which makes for a great complimentary location.

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// Lurie Gardens

Not only do you have beautiful flowers and gardens, but you have those things with a back drop of the beautiful Chicago skyline!

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// Cantigny Park

This place is expansive and beautiful! There are so many places to shoot, and it just screams romance!

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// South Pond

Probably one of the most popular of all engagement/wedding locations, South Pond is located in Lincoln Park just at the south exit of the zoo. It has an awesome bridge that brides love that overlooks the skyline. While those seem great, my favorite areas are those next to it with tall grass.

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TIMELESS:

// Wrigley Building

I love the architecture of this place with the tall height of the bridge connecting the two towers!

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// Union Station

This place has classic architecture with gorgeous columns, bringing both drama and beauty to any session!

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URBAN:

// Michigan Avenue

If you want urban and city, you can’t get much more city than this! There are medians up and down that allow you to capture the business of the city we live in.

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// LaSalle

This is a popular choice because of the drama that the backdrop brings! Nothing says city like being right in the heart of it!

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// Riverwalk

The riverwalk sits just below the streets along the Chicago River. I love it for it’s ability to get pieces of the skyline without being overly crowded! It allows moments of privacy.

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INDUSTRIAL:

// Fulton Market

A different take on urban. Fulton is a meat/fish market turned fun new neighborhood! It’s full of tons of great materials and textures like metal, brick, cement, etc.

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WISH LIST:

// Chicago Botanic Gardens

This place is of course gorgeous with lush gardens and flowers and colors everywhere you turn!

 

// Veterans Acres

This place sits at the top of my bucket list for locations I must shoot at! It has these tall gorgeous white birch trees. The height of the trees adds such drama!

The blog and social media have been a bit quiet this week as I battle what proves to be the worst sinus infection ever, which includes being uber sensitive to light and computers. Aye. Seriously guys, it’s lasted 25 days and just keeps getting worse! Finally on pregnancy-safe meds from the doctor and hoping for some relief soon! So many gorgeous engagement sessions to blog!

Now for the exciting (at least for me) stuff…

When I first started this business of mine, I never imagined it’d be what it is today! Like most small business photographers/creatives, I often lacked confidence early on that I’d ever be able to get anywhere. That’d I’d always just be this girl with a camera and a passion and nothing more. I didn’t have the confidence in myself and in my work, even after receiving constant positive reactions and happy feedback from clients. I still doubted. I think it’s something everyone that runs their own business feels. It’s a vicious cycle. There’s always someone out there that’s better than you, so just when you feel like you’re in a good place and are happy with yourself, you fall into the horrible “comparing yourself to others” fit and then hit rock bottom thinking you’re awful.

First things first, lesson learned to stop comparing myself to others. I saw a quote recently that I absolutely love.

“Comparison is the thief of joy.”

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Seriously, it’s so true. We often find ourselves happy with our work and our progress and our business and our achievements until we look at someone else and start to think “Ugh, mine sucks. If only I could be like XXX.” It’s important to understand that we’re all individuals and should have our own style, our own hopes, our own goals. To be happy for those around us for their achievements but to not use others to measure our own success. Everyone is different. Focus on you and you’ll find your happiness!

All of this has led me to a decision that I’ve been wanting to do forever but again lacked the confidence to make the financial investment. BUT at last, I’m so so excited to announce that Jenna Marie Photography is now an LLC. While I’ve always had my business license operating as Jenna Marie Photography, I was never fully protected. I wish I would have made this decision much earlier on in my business, however I’m overly excited to be where I am, have the clients I do, the relationships that I’m blessed with, and the life that I call mine.

Jenna Marie Photography, LLC

<3

Leading up to being pregnant, people would always come up to me and ask when Jake and I were having a baby. They’d go on and on to talk about how great being a mother is and how it’s life changing and how I’ll just love being pregnant and how it’s the best time of your life. While that all may be true, these people failed to mention a few things. So for you out there who are either A) pregnant or B) planning for a baby, here’s the real truth.

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// That your self-esteem will take a hit.
This was learned the hard way. I obviously knew that there’s weight gain and body changes, like stretch marks, associated with being pregnant. But I always thought that being pregnant would finally give me an excuse to not wear big sweaters to try to hide my insecurities. That I’d want to wear tight shirts all the time, because hey why not I’m pregnant and this is how I’m supposed to look. When I first got pregnant, it was hard for me to believe it’s real. I so badly wanted a baby bump to serve as a visual reminder that OMG I’m pregnant. Finally at almost 7.5 months, the baby bump arrived and my feelings of excitement with showing turned to feelings of ugliness. No matter what clothes I wear, I don’t feel pregnant. Just fat.

// That feeling the baby kick is seriously the best feeling ever. And your baby will kick… ALL.. THE… TIME.
I never realized how truly awesome it’d be to feel your baby kick. I always thought it’d be weird, like there was some alien inside of you. Granted yes early on it felt like a little alien in there, but now I know it’s my little babe. He kicks me all the time, all day long. It reminds me that he’s in there, growing stronger by the day. The best part is when he reacts to things that you do. One night when I was traveling for work, I read that it was good to read a story out loud to your baby to help him learn your voice. So I decided to read an online book to him. He started kicking like crazy. A seriously awesome moment! He also tends to kick a lot when he hears Jake’s voice <3

// That your baby would literally prevent you from tying your shoes.
No joke. While my belly isn’t big, when this little dude has his leg extended into my ribs it becomes nearly impossible for me to bend over. It’s like there’s a big stick pushing my top half up and all I can do is swing at my leg just hoping to get closer to those laces.

// That your abs will hurt, like always.
Okay I can’t complain too much, but for real. I think it’s technically called round ligament pain but it’s real. I apparently am carrying really low, so all of the muscles at the base of my stomach are just sore. I mostly feel it when they are flexed – like standing up from a lower seated position. But for real, do these last forever? I find myself randomly limping around like I’m recovering from a sports injury and then 2 seconds later it disappears.

// That I wouldn’t be the pregnant women I thought I’d be.
This one was a total shocker. Any time I thought of myself as pregnant, I always thought of what I’d be like. While I was never the girl who dreamed her whole life of having a little baby and starting a family, I at least thought I’d be the girl who was constantly posting bump pictures, or talking about it on Facebook about the pregnancy. I’m a planner by nature and by profession so just knew I’d be planning every bit of this. Ask Jake, I research everything. I hate not knowing an answer to something so I immediately turn to Google and find it out. And pregnancy? Holy cow it’s like a whole bag of mysteries and unknowns. I thought I would have had this whole thing planned and understood at like week 6 (aka: 2 weeks after you find out). I assumed at this point everything would be taken care of, I’d know exactly what the whole pregnancy entails, what labor will be, the order of the day, understand of the full process, and know exactly what’s needed when baby comes home. Turns out, I’ve been the least bit consumed in any of these topics. The most preparing I’ve done? Starting the nursery (which is really just being a girl and shopping and spending money) and then each week on my week marker, looking at my baby app to tell me what the babe is up to this week. That’s it. I haven’t really talked to the other moms I know, sought out advice, asked any real questions. That is until recently when this girl I know (also pregnant) started chatting me up and then openly started talking about things that blew my mind. Guys, I’ve got a lot to learn. Word on the street? I won’t sleep until he turns 18.

// That no two pregnant women are alike.
Seriously. No two people are alike. I always thought that everything I read on blogs or heard on TV or saw happen with my friends would be 100% what happens with me. It honestly made me a bit scared of pregnancy. Selfishly, it seemed super awful and painful and just a lot of unfun times. Let me be the first to tell you this is so far from the truth. Don’t look at what happens to others and assume it’s the exact same for yourself. Take for instance me and my sister. We both come from the same gene pool but our pregnancies couldn’t be further from opposites. My poor sister (who has 2 boys and a girl) was sicker than a dog every single day of the entire pregnancy for all of them. She couldn’t eat or even drink water. Me? I haven’t had even a day of feeling nauseous. Another example. A girl I know that’s pregnant is having a boy and is overly sensitive to smells and started showing at 12 weeks with her first. Me? No changes to anything with my sniffer and didn’t start showing until almost 30 weeks. Everyone is different!! And to that, I hear that even with the same person that every pregnancy is different.

// That I’d (GASP) get sick of leggings.
HUGE news. I didn’t even know this was possible. I love leggings. I think they’re God-send to all women. Comfortable and versatile – from lounging on the couch to working out to a night on the town, leggings are basically like wearing sweatpants but way cuter. I was pretty excited that I’d have an excuse to wear leggings every day. Total comfort around the clock? Yes please! Instead, I’ve found myself to grow sick of them. I started to dream of jeans, of how I wished I could wear them. This was in a 2 week span where my regular jeans still fit but were uncomfortable to sit in so I wore leggings until I could find maternity jeans. The first day I wore jeans again, OMG I felt like a new woman. I don’t know about you, but leggings only work with booties/boots and not flats. I finally can wear all my shoes now :)

// That I can paint my nails and color my hair.
Thank baby Jesus. Sadly this was one of the things I dreaded the most. OMG how could I go 10 months with unpainted nails?! The horror! Turns out it’s completely safe to paint your nails, including no-chips. It’s only harmful if you’re breathing that stuff in for countless hours on end, day after day. As for hair, so long as you’re not bleaching your hair at the scalp, it’s totally safe! Again, the only way it’d be harmful is if A) you have bleach hitting your scalp or B) you’re dealing with those chemicals all day every day.

// That prenatal massages are amazing and way better than regular massages.
For real. I have prenatal massages every week – mostly because I just love massages but also because of the benefits it can provide my body. Granted I haven’t experienced any pains, aches (other than abs), swollen body parts, etc. but massages help prevent against those! So what’s so great about prenatal massages over regular? For starters, you don’t lay flat on your stomach or back. Laying on your stomach while pregnant can be uncomfortable and being on your back puts pressure on a very important vein for you and the babe :) The whole massage you just are cuddling up with a body pillow. AND one of my biggest things before with massages is that they never focus on my back enough. But prenatal massages? Yea it’s all about the back. Just go get a massage and tell them you’re pregnant. No proof needed. It’s awesome.

// That I wouldn’t believe I was pregnant until 6 months.
Ask Jake. I honestly had serious doubts that we were really pregnant until our 20 week ultrasound. No joke. I didn’t feel pregnant, didn’t look pregnant. It all seemed like a made up story that wasn’t real. Sure we had seen the baby in an earlier ultrasound. We saw him moving around and sucking his thumb. But after we walked out of that room and the ultrasound vanished, it was back to a disbelief that I was really pregnant. It went so far as to wanting to wait as long as humanly possible to really tell people (especially at work) that we were pregnant JUST in case we somehow had a false ultrasound – you know… like they were playing an old ultrasound video of someone else. Ridiculous? I know.

// That I only get like 1-2 ultrasounds for the entire pregnancy, SAY WHA?
This was one of the biggest shocks of all. I thought you got an ultrasound every time you went into the doctor. I was so excited to constantly see the baby. To watch the babe grow and see how his face is developing and who he looks like. And then the doctor told me that our next ultrasound wasn’t until week 20. And that’d be our only ultrasound assuming the baby was healthy. Holy shocker! It’s still kinda hard to believe I won’t be able to see our baby until he arrives to the world!

// That there’s a good chance that the OBGYN you go to won’t be the same one delivering your baby.
Another major shock. Don’t get me wrong. I know that doctors can’t be on-call 24/7 but something in me just assumed that the main doctor that we selected and have been seeing would be who would deliver our baby. And then reality struck that labor is often unplanned as to when exactly it’ll happen. In an ideal world, you’ll go into labor when either your doctor is at the hospital or on-call, but if neither of those things hold true… you get whoever is on staff. Knowing that, we took the recommendation of our primary doctor and have been doing rotations to see different doctors for each appointment to try to get to know everyone. That way if worst case our doctor isn’t on-call or at the hospital, the doctor that does deliver our baby won’t be some stranger.

// That lamaze classes aren’t normal anymore?
This is a recent realization. Jake and I were totally taken back. We thought this was regular and something we’d have to do. Turns out it’s a thing of the past. Sure they have breathing classes but they’re no longer recommended to everyone by doctors. To be clear, it’s not that it’s not a good practice any longer BUT none of our doctors have even mentioned anything to do with that when they recommended taking a few other classes. So much for reenacting any previous Fresh Prince of Bel-Air or Home Improvement episodes!

// That you go to the doctor, like tons, and appointments last 2 minutes.
I didn’t realize just how much you went to the doctor. I was thinking once in the first trimester, maybe once or twice in the second, and like 3 times in the 3rd. Yea right! You go to the doctor every month up until you hit 30 weeks. At 30 weeks, you go every other week. Then at 36 weeks, you start going every week. And the appointments? I totally thought they were going to be crazy in depth. The reality? I walk in, they weigh me, take my blood pressure, (in my 3rd trimester) measure my tummy, ask if I have questions (which is usually no), and then I’m out. No joke it’s about 5 minutes start to finish. Not complaining, though. I’ll gladly take that time back in my day!

// That designing your nursery is seriously the most fun.
This one was the least shocking of all. I absolutely love design. For the longest time I dreamed of doing interior design. I mean creating and making beautiful things? Sounds right up my alley. I’ve absolutely loved designing our little babe’s nursery. I wasn’t able to start until somewhat recently once we moved to a place big enough for him. I’ve been creating design boards and private pinterest boards trying to find the perfect way to blend it all together. Slowly but surely it’s all coming together, piece by piece, pretty much with everything coming online. Side note, I love online shopping but putting together a full nursery and only referencing things online is kinda challenging. I’ve had to create countless baby design boards to see how patterns and colors work together.

// That it’s totally possible to not gain 70+ lbs.
This was by far one of my biggest fears. I have self-esteem issues as it is. The thought of gaining another 70 lbs on top of my already personal issues with my weight and then having the baby and it taking years to get back to normal? Terrifying. I thought I’d look drastically different pregnant. I was scared of being this massively pregnant women that no one would find beautiful. That people would be grossed out by me. That I’d be grossed out by me. And then I’d be utterly depressed after the baby arrived because I hated myself even more than before. Granted I’m only 8.5 months and still have about 6 weeks left where now is the time that the baby is packing on the pounds (1/2 lb a week!), but I’ve thankfully only gained 4lbs since we first got pregnant. Even worst case scenario, I can’t imagine gaining a crazy amount in 6 weeks.

// That you will never feel alone.
Let me preface this by saying I’m an overly independent person. Jake and I spent a good deal of our pre-marriage 6 years separated by 1-3 hours. I learned to be okay being alone and not feeling the need to always be around him or talking to him. In fact, some alone time is kinda peaceful to just be with your thoughts and not be distracted or always feeling the need to put others before you. But there are times, whether it be self-doubt or just having a tough day at work that you feel like it’s just you against the world. And like no one is there. That is, until you feel that little kick. It’s just those subtle reminders that you’re never alone. Your baby is always there with you. He hears your voice. He learns who you are. He loves you no matter what <3

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