March 6, 2014
Work Clothes/Play Clothes
Oh man! How long has it been since I did a fashion post? I went back and looked and it’s been nearly four months! I used to do these monthly and hope that with the warmer weather on the way and a slow down in my schedule that I’ll be able to document more of the clothes I wear to work and to play.
I wore this so long ago, I’m not entirely sure where I wore it- but this is my kind of outfit. I love this cropped, long sleeve top because it allows me to wear my maxi dresses during winter. Also, these black boots are a wardrobe staple - they go with EVERYTHING!
Banded Crop Top: c/o Minx Boutique (Bonus- it’s only $26!)
Maxi Dress: Forever21
Boots: c/o Minx Boutique
This is pushing it in terms of work appropriate but I’ve definitely been guilty of wearing things to the office every now and then that were probably more suited for the weekend. I love how layering a sweater with a sleeveless dress created an entirely new look. I was self concious and tugged at the bottom of this dress all day! I think I wouldn’t have worried if my hemline was about two inches longer. Even if I did like the outfit, I don’t think I’ll be wearing this particular dress again any time soon!
Sweater: Old Navy
Dress: Stitch Fix
Necklace: c/o Minx Boutique
Tabitha Tie Wedges: c/o Minx Boutique
I wore this right before the holidays and joked that I looked like Santa clause with my red shirt and big brass belt buckle! You can’t tell it in this photo, but this shirt has a pretty brass colored sequined color that made it really fun to wear. Also, I have been wearing these black heels TO DEATH!
Button down top: Target
I totally love this photo of me and my silly kids! I got really into this sweater/dress layer technique over the winter and so I did it A LOT. Here I’ve layered my favorite fisherman sweater underneath a really fun little graphic dress. I felt great in this!
Dress: Stitch Fix
Pink coat: Crewcuts
Leggings: (A little DIY I made with a bleach pen)
Plaid button down: Old Navy
Ooof. This is a bit of a rough photo (Arlo hasn’t been sleeping well lately, so neither have we!) and the state of my roots is just beyond at this point (Those unexpected household expenses keep pushing “get my hair done” further and further down on the things to pay for list) But despite all of it, I loved this outfit, so I’ve decided to post it anyway. We were having a little Valentine’s day themed event at work and so I wanted to wear something to fit the day. I never fail to get one million compliments when I wear this skirt. And also —- I loved the shoes the Minx sent me so much in black that I bought myself the taupe pair too. They are definitely the most versatile shoes in my closet.
Top: Stitch Fix
Show Stopper Tulle Skirt: c/o Minx Boutique
Tabitha Tie Wedges: Minx Asheville
So that’s what I’ve been wearing lately! I promise not to wait so long to post my next Work Clothes/Play Clothes post.
March 5, 2014
This Thing Called Yoga…
If you follow me on instagram, you’ve seen my head first dive into the world of yoga this year. It started innocently enough. A few girlfriends of mine participated in a yoga challenge where each day you try a different post.
After seeing them stand on their hands and balance on their arms, I thought - I want to try! It all looked gymnasticky in a way that the 6 year old inside me always longs for. I did a few of the daily poses and quickly realized I was going to hurt myself if I just jumped into doing challenging poses without any kind of background or foundation in yoga.
I have always hated to work out. I don’t have the time or money to go to a gym. Despite the fact that Brent and a large chunk of my friends love to run, I have always hated it. I did a 6 week workout class offered in the late afternoon by my company last fall - but even that didn’t keep me motivated to continue once it ended.
Like most people, motivation has always been my greatest challenge. Beyond that, after working 8 hours, and then jumping into making dinner and soaking in what little time I have with the kids before they go to sleep, I had pretty much convinced myself that I was out of options when it came to exercise.
I needed something quiet, that I could do on my own, with little to no equipment, without ever having to leave my home at 11 o’clock at night.
That silly instagram yoga challenge lit a spark and very quickly I realized that yoga could meet all of my needs with the added bonus of helping to relieve some stress.
I started doing basic yoga routines that I could find on youtube. I didn’t know a Vinyasa from an Ashtanga so in the beginning I was just looking for anything that seemed doable. At the same time, I started to follow a ton of yoga focused instagram accounts where people would post videos that showed how they go into posts & what considerations you needed to make.
I found myself excited every day to throw on something comfortable and do one of the yoga practices I was learning after the kids were in bed. I think what also really kept me engaged with the challenge of doing what looked impossible to me. I am so competitive with myself. If I discover something I can’t do, I can get a little obsessive about trying it over and over again until I figure it out. This has proven to be a good and bad trait when it comes to yoga.
I’ll admit right now, I know sometimes I am doing poses that are way too advanced for someone who has only been practicing for two months. But it is those technical, challenging poses that have kept me hungry to keep at it. So every night, I’ll do a 45 minute vinyasa flow practice (hello sun salutations!) and once I’m warmed up, I’ll work on one or two of the advanced poses that I’ve seen others do and want to learn myself.
I am covered in bruises from falling out of headstand. I have fallen on my face dozens of times practicing crow or flying pigeon. But honestly, I just love it so much, I don’t even care. Fall down, try again, repeat. Eventually, it starts to come together and the thrill of holding a difficult pose is a bit addictive!
A lot of people have told me that while all the enthusiasm is great - what I really need is a class where I can learn proper placement and breathing. And they are right - but the reality is that I can’t afford to take a regular class and the free ones offered at work are at times that my schedule doesn’t allow me to go. So the alternative for me is watching videos of workouts, studying placement and breathing, reading magazine articles and googling how-tos on technique and correcting when I discovered that what I was doing something incorrectly. Often, I will video record my practice and then watch it back so that I can see what my feet or arms or posture looks like. I ask anyone I know who practices regularly to show me things. I am so hungry to learn but trying to make the best of the resources I have.
A few weeks back, I discovered yogaglo.com and it has taken my practice to the next level. It’s $15 a month (or about the cost of one class at my local studio!) and gives me access to hundreds of videos that I can break down based on style, length of class, complexity, theme, etc.
The classes are really good, with a realistic camera angle in a REAL yoga studio in LA. People taking the class in the video are sometimes a little wobbly, just like me, which I like. The teachers talk about hand and foot placements, and have taught me a lot about proper breathing. I love that they offer 5 minute videos that I can do at my desk at work and hour long videos on how to work into scorpion or specifically focused on arm balances. I’m not affiliated with them in anyway - but I’m really so happy to have discovered this online resource.
It has turned my practice from a series of moves into what is starting to feel like a real practice. Fluid and purposeful. And still, after every class, I will take some time to work on holding flying pigeon longer and longer. Or bending slowly into forearm scorpion. I laugh at myself when I discover I’ve been getting into a pose all wrong and love discovering that the right way feels easier and more sturdy.
I am watching my body change. I am becoming stronger than I have ever been before, which is so exciting to me. I have always been a bit scrappy and weak so getting tone in my arms and being able to bend up into a headstand and then hold it for several minutes is so rewarding. It’s just so exciting to finally feel like I’ve found that “thing” that I was looking for when it came to exercise and mind/body wellness. I am so new to all of this, but I am so eager to learn and I can’t wait to really know what I am doing one day.
I just thought I’d share a little about my experience as I think there are probably a lot of other women out there feeling just as frustrated with the whole idea of exercise as I have been. Yoga is so much more than just a work out - the hardest parts for me have been how much it tests my mental focus and forces me to slow down and be purposeful. But it also provides a lot of opportunity to have fun and get creative. I am absolutely loving it and just wanted to share a little bit about my experience here.
February 14, 2014
Everly: wait, wait, wait… I know it’s bed time, but just one question…
Everly: Can I borrow that dress you have on tomorrow?
(Four years old and already in my closet. Not a day goes by that I don’t find her standing in her room wearing my heels, my hat, a scarf and one of my tops as a dress. So often she’ll catch me watching her and she’ll just say to me nonchalantly without skipping a beat in her imaginary play, “I told you it was time to pick the kids up! We’re going to be late.” And then she’ll just sashay away in my too big heels. )
Love, Love Here We Are! Happy Valentine’s Day from our hearts to yours.
February 6, 2014
Brent walked away from so much when he made the decision to stay home with our children. Music has always been the fire inside him and he went from play three or four times a week to now- every few months. He learned the hard way that children have no sympathy at 7am for daddy’s who were out late singing in dark bars. Tonight, he played to a packed house. We brought the kids and in the quiet before his set started, Arlo cried out “daddy!” And I swear you could hear the whole room smile. I spent most of his performance rocking our son in the Ergo in the hallway- he gets upset when he can’t be right there next to his dad. I stood against a glass door and watched my husband fill an entire venue with the inner corners of his heart and it made me wish there was some happy medium for him. I wished he had more stages. More alone time to write. More opportunities to do the thing he has always loved to do. I have reaped the rewards again and again of Brent’s passion for his family, but it’s hard to know that it came at the price of his music. This is all sounding more melancholy than I meant for it to be. Tonight was a good night, even if my son cried right through the entire experience. I am so proud of this man I get to call my own.
February 4, 2014
Last night Everly told me that I was ruining her life.
My initial response to this news was shock because, how did she even know what that meant and where had she heard it before? (I’m choosing to blame Good Luck Charlie since she loves that show)
My second response was amusement. Did we really just hear that? A four year old, stomping her foot and dramatically claiming that her life was ruined because I wouldn’t make her a pb&j before bed? I thought I had a solid ten to twelve years left before the claims of life ruining started to fly.
Here’s what I know. My daughter is full of emotions. A lot of emotions. They are coming out of her eyes and mouth and heart at a rate and speed that I often feel unprepared to manage.
But we have also learned some tactics for helping her with all these feelings. We redirect her a lot. We empathize with her. We talk about right and wrong ways to express ourselves.
For instance, instead of saying, “Leave me alone!” she has learned to say, “I need privacy, please”
She loves to tell me, “Mommy, you aren’t mad at me but you are frustrated, aren’t you?” (Truth moment, I get “frustrated” a lot. I work on being a patient and flexible mama every day, but just like Everly, I have a long way to go.)
We focus on helping our children feel like they have some control by offering them choices. One of Everly’s favorite things to ask when she has to do something she doesn’t want to is, “What are my options?” Option 1 and Option 2. She is happy because she feels like she made the choice and we are happy because we made the options.
Brent and I are reading a lot of books and blogs from parenting experts and picking and choosing what parts of all of these philosophies we think make sense for our family. There are some great ones out there (Here are some posts that are inspiring me right now: Gateway Parenting, Pyramid Discipline, Love and Blogic) I’d like to share more thoughts on Love & Logic later as we are reading a whole series on this philosophy now.
But beyond that, we are doing our best to think on our feet and hang on for the ride. Sometimes by the very tips of our fingers.
I don’t know if it is a boy thing or an Arlo thing, but at two and a half, he hasn’t given us much trouble. I know Everly really kicked the emotions into high gear around three, so perhaps we just haven’t rounded that corner yet with him. Arlo is pretty black and white on what he wants and what he needs. Now that he is able to verbally communicate, he is laid back and easy to please.
But our Everly, she is fire and drama and emotion. She has been this way from a very young age. We are told often that Everly is mature for her age - she understands a lot of nuances and subtle contexts in her interactions with others that really surprise us. But she is still very much a four year old with a four year’s old ability to process and express her feelings. We pull from our patience reserves on a regular basis with her, and often we still run out.
For all the ways that I feel like I am fumbling along at times, there are a two truths that we feel really work for our family.
1. We can’t solve all of their problems and we’re not supposed to. In Everly’s case, we are here for gentle guidance and to let her know she is loved and supported but sometimes life just doesn’t work out the way we want it. Learning to deal with disappointment is part of learning to be a functioning adult. Learning to problem solve on our own is even more critical.
2. In this family we talk to each with respect. All of us. Our children towards us and us towards our children. We reinforce this a lot. When Everly shouts a demand at us, we remind her, “I’m sorry, but that’s now how we ask for things in this family.” We don’t respond until she asks us calmly and respectfully. We use “in this family” a lot. In this family we eat dinner together. In this family we don’t slam our doors and scream. We are constantly trying to reinforce that we are a unit, the four of us, and the actions we take impact us all. We are in this together.
And yet, there are plenty of days when I am still ruining my daughter’s life. Because it’s not always easy when you are four and you don’t get your way. And sometimes all you want to do is kick and scream and say something mean.
One thing that I’ve found laughable in so many parenting books is that they act as if following their 5 simple rules or using three easy techniques will solve all your problems and result in well behaved children who never argue and always eat their broccoli.
That’s just not our reality (and honestly not our goal either - I’ll talk about my thought on raising kids who are sometimes willing to challenge us later). Some of those rules work and others fail miserable. One of those techniques makes our life easier but the other two are downright laughable. We live in periods of calm and days of chaos. We fail and we nail it, over and over again every day.
The needs of each of our individual children are so specific and are constantly evolving. So the only plan we really have is to spend the rest of the years that Everly and Arlo live under our roof tweaking and improving the way we support and guide them. It is a road unknown and a map we are drawing as we go.
There are no parenting experts in our house but we are doing the best we can. We go with our gut and our hearts and a healthy dose of humility (because nothing will humble you over and over again, like children). Last night I ruined my daughter’s life but I hope one day she will look back and realize just how much we are trying to do the exact opposite.
January 31, 2014
Something to make me smile on a Friday: This photo from the-sf-lovely popping up in my tumblr feed. I carved those two little words into the sidewalk in front of our old apartment building on Baker Street 5 or 6 years ago. It makes me so happy to think others are lingering over my little reminder.
(See original post here. And another with baby Everly.)
The weekend is here. Let’s find joy, shall we?
Finding Joy | San Francisco, CA
January 30, 2014
Music: Home by Dan Croll
The snow in our part of the world is so fleeting. We get cold or we get wet but rarely do they find us at the same time. Some winters, snow never comes at all.
Our snow days are not the bitter sort that go on for weeks on end. In North Carolina, our snow days are usually bookended by days where the temperatures creep into the fifties or sixties. It never lasts longs, often melting before it even has time to accumulate. The newness of looking out the window to see a blanket of white barely takes effect before it is gone again.
So we savor snowflakes on eyelashes. We become like children, grinning and waving to neighbors and strangers. We marvel at how it softens everything- our moods, the moonlight and the sounds of the city. We stay home and make warm things to fill us up and thaw our frozen fingers.
We tend to romanticize snow in much the same way that one might a summer love. It makes us lovesick fools, delirious to get our fill of snow cream and snow angels and snow men.
We woke up yesterday to a wonderland and already, it is melting. By Sunday we will wonder if it was all just a dream.
January 23, 2014
On the struggle that I’m not enough for my son.
Brent returns this evening from a week in Nicaragua. I hope he will share his perspective of his time there on my blog, but in the meantime, I wanted to talk a bit about what’s been going on here on the home front.
I have enjoyed a rare and precious experience this week - an entire 7 days of my son’s time and attention. Arlo typically only wants his father to hold him, put him down for bed, or comfort him.
Both of my children went through phases at about 18 months old where they preferred their father. It was a given, considering their stage of development and the fact that Brent has been their primary care giver.
I remember sobbing over the situation a few times when Everly was small. “I’m her mother and she wants nothing to do with me!” But shortly after she turned two, she began to seek me out and now at four, we are attached at the hip. She is my little companion and always ready to go anywhere and do anything with me.
When Arlo started his daddy preference, the change felt particularly hard because I had just weaned him the month before. When I stopped nursing him, I felt like I was out of tricks in my bag. I would try to hold him and he would resist. I would go to him when he needed comforting and he would push me away. “no mommy, daddy!” he would cry at me during bedtime. Sometimes, after a busy day of caring for our children, Brent is in need of a break. Every now and then, he just needs someone else to handle the tears or offer the comforting, but our son just won’t take it from me. It can be hard on all of us.
I don’t flinch when Arlo pushes me away these days. Even now that he has gotten more verbal and says things like, “I don’t want you mommy! Go away! Leave me alone. I want daddy.” Despite his preference for Brent, I still put him down for bed one night a week because I ache to do it and also because I’m a little afraid that if I just give in and never put him down to bed, then it will just push him further away from me. So I sit on the end of his bed, and swallow the hard knot in my throat and say, ” Arlo. Mommy is here tonight. I can rock you and sing to you if you want. But if not, I’m just going to sit on the end of the bed. I’m here and I’ll be here until you go to sleep.” Most nights that I put him down, he cries and protests for a bit before settling down to sleep, but some nights I can entice him to want to spend time with me by making up a game in the dark with a flashlight or making funny voices for his stuffed animals. The nights he agrees to snuggle up to me, I lay there way past the time he has fallen asleep, just soaking him in.
I don’t want this to sound like my son doesn’t ever want to be around me - he does. He will say to me in the morning, “Nuggle me mommy” and we will curl up together on the couch. We play a lot together when I get home from work and in general, we have a warm relationship. But whenever it comes to those moments when he is hurt, or tired or wakes frightened in the middle of the night - it is never me that he wants. So many times I have attempted to go to him when he is crying in the middle of the night and he will howl louder and say, “Not you! Daddy!” and I just stand there feeling helpless as Brent shuffles by me to pick up our son and end his tears.
Right after Christmas, Brent came down with a stomach bug and moved to the upstairs bedroom in an effort to keep his germs away from the children. Arlo awoke in the middle of the night, crying for his father. I went to his room and he told me to go away. I explained that daddy wasn’t able to come get him tonight and so he went walking around our house, crying hysterically and calling out for him. He wouldn’t let me hold him or comfort him and any attempt to do so would cause him to thrash and cry harder. So I sat on our living room floor, my head leaning against the couch, and made the same “shhh shhh shhh” sound I used to make when he needed comforting as a baby. It was the only thing I could do that didn’t make him cry harder and I hoped it would remind him that I was there next to him. I resisted the overwhelming desire to just hold him because it’s not what he wanted. It took almost 45 minutes before he quieted. He laid down on our couch and defeated said, “Nuggle me mommy”. And so I did. We slept there until morning.
I didn’t know how he would react this week with Brent gone. Would he roam the house every night? Would he let me comfort him when his father was not there to do it? I prepared myself for a sleepless week.
The first night Brent was away, Arlo cried at bedtime for about 5 minutes. When he woke in the middle of the night, he whimpered for his father a few times, but willingly climbed into my arms and settled down into our big king sized bed to sleep.
Every day since, whenever there has been a bumped head or a scratch he has come calling for me, accepting my kisses and comfort happily. Every night as we squeeze together in his tiny toddler bed, he has turned immediately towards me, resting his forehead against my cheek and rubbing my arm with his small hand until he falls asleep. Not a single tear or a “go away”. Just contentment and rest, which is all I could ever wish to bring him.
I have been a sponge for these moments. Filling up my reservoir and feeling hopefully that perhaps this week’s routine will continue once Brent returns.
In as much as I find fulfillment and joy in the work I do outside our home, it is this challenge with Arlo specifically that is the one thing that makes me question if it is all worth it. It feeds an insecurity in me that despite my best efforts, I’m not giving my little boy enough. What kind of mother can’t even comfort her own child? This is the first time I’ve ever said these things outloud, even though this fear has fed insecurities in the dark spaces of my mind for some time.
I keep reminding myself of how upset I felt when I went through these feelings with Everly and how those fears were short-lived. And I keep holding my arms out to Arlo, again and again, in the hopes that he will reach back for me. I’m also hopeful that maybe even when daddy returns tonight, Arlo will be more willing to let his mama comfort him too. Maybe his bedtimes with me will come with a few less tears. Maybe.
Brent keeps reminding me that there are so many stages when it comes to our children. That they will change their minds and their desires a thousand times as they grow up. And I know he is right. I’ve seen it happen again and again. But this feels like a particularly long stage in my son - I can’t help but feel eager to once again have the closeness that I share with his sister and once had with him. Getting to experience that feeling again this week with him has made me particularly emotional as I realize just how much I have missed out on with him over the past year.
I don’t know how to end this, so I will stop here. All I can really do is wait it out and never stop trying to comfort him. They come back around sometime, right? I sure hope so.
January 14, 2014
Everly’s Cooking Show.
Perhaps all of those rainy afternoons of watching the Food Network with me has finally rubbed off on my daughter. She’s been entertaining us with her own “cooking show” a lot lately, so I thought I’d get it on film. I edited this after she went to bed last night, and I can’t wait to show it to her.
A couple things to note:
1. We had just finished playing with a face painting kit Everly got for her birthday, hence all the fun face decor.
2. I told Everly she could start using a butter knife when she turned four. This was literally her first experience with one and for timing sake, I had to cut out about four minutes of her slowly sawing that poor piece of bread. I tried so hard to stifle my giggles -it was the cutest thing! Last night I let her chop the garlic for spaghetti and she did a great job, so she’s picking up her knife skills pretty quick!
3. She has asked me every day when I am available to film her next show. So it’s possible these might become a little series. I’m totally following her lead here - I have no idea what she might want to make next!