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Tag: life

A Casual Summer Capsule Wardrobe

I know you’ve seen the posts and bloggers out there championing the merits of a capsule wardrobe. Maybe you’ve pinned a few looks on Pinterest and thought ooh, that sounds nice. But just as quickly you’ve also thought nah, I could never live with such a small wardrobe. I had a million reasons why I didn’t think a capsule wardrobe was for me. Here are just a few:

  1. My closet is a mess.
  2. I love to browse and splurge occasionally—I can’t commit to a capsule.
  3. I don’t really have a personal style.
  4. No one cares how I dress.
  5. I just really like wearing yoga pants, okay?

i just really like wearing yoga pants, okay? 5 reasons i thought a capsule wardrobe wouldn't work for me.

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My Week in Review, June 30

Some of the following include Amazon affiliate links, which means that if you click on one of the product links and make a purchase, I’ll receive a percentage of that sale at no cost to you. All thoughts and opinions are my own. For a full disclosure statement see my About page.

I know I’ve talked about self-care before, but I’d just like to suggest taking yourself out to lunch with a friend and giving yourself a pedicure with a classic red nail polish (I chose Come to Bed Red by Butter London). I feel like a million bucks in comparison to how I started out this week. Read a chapter in your current book, paint your nails, take a walk alone to clear your head. Do one thing for yourself, and yourself only, as my friend Maggie says. Ignore the dishes and the laundry, chores can wait.

treat yourself. do self-care. just one thing for yourself. read a book, light a candle, do your nails.
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Returning to Work, an American Horror Story, Part I

I was really scared about sharing my story, but I’ve had great support from friends and my loving partner. I wrote this piece for myself to put into words everything I felt and agonized over this last year. The ongoing lesson I’m learning is that I don’t want to make decisions from a place of fear. It’s in that spirit that I hit publish and have kept myself from running over here and hitting delete.

Returning to work. A series about maternity leave, working full time, and my decision to be a stay at home mom.

Around this time last year, I was headed back to work after my maternity leave. It was a time fraught with emotional highs and lows. Now, almost everywhere I turn, I read something that hits me where it (still) hurts. I recently read an interview by the New York Post with Meghann Foye, in which she promotes an idea through her novel that childless women deserve time off to find themselves, a meternity leave, a benefit she sees her childbearing counterparts have over her. I’m not going to say that the concept of meternity leave is stupid per se, because I am not against anyone getting a break from work if they need it, but I will say that Foye’s ideas about maternity leave are wrong.

Maternity leave, paid or unpaid, if you are lucky enough to get it in any capacity in the US, is hard work. Babies are demanding, including the most even-tempered of them—and nothing can really prepare you for their relentless needs. Entering parenthood is about learning an entirely new mode of survival; it’s not the idyllic or “self-reflective” time that some might imagine. While “self-advocacy” is certainly a skill some mothers learn, let’s not jump to the conclusion that mothers are confident or “sure of themselves” when they return to work, or that their workplace “provides a modicum of flexibility,” as Foye claims in her interview with Anna Davies about her novel.

I was nervous to go back to work last year, but I had never seriously considered being a stay at home parent either. I lacked any sort of models in my life of what that might look like. Simply put, dual income households were all that I knew. I prepared by doing my research and following helpful checklists provided by many bloggers. My first major hurdle was lining up child care when I didn’t get my first choice at the conveniently located campus daycare, though I’d been on a wait list for almost a year. I opted for an in-home provider about four miles away from campus, thinking that I could make the trip there and back during lunch to see my son and nurse. I had heard from so many working mothers that finding childcare close to the office was key in making the transition back to work a relatively happy one. After that, I made freezer meals, practiced with my breast pump, bought postpartum work clothes, gave myself an at-home mani-pedi, and packed up all my essentials in a new little bag. I was as ready as I’d ever be.

returning to work is fraught with emotional highs and lows
This bag was the only cute thing about going back to work.

I knew that going back to my office would be difficult. The dynamic had changed substantially with new leadership and staff changes, but nothing could really prepare me for the reality of what that would mean as a new mom. My whole first month of work was a comedy of errors—it started with needing to queue with dozens of others just to get my parking privileges reinstated, having to pump breastmilk in a common room with only paper signs providing security because the mini-blinds I’d doggedly requested for months before my leave were still not ordered (and when they did arrive were the wrong size and my fourth floor window was broken during the installation), organizing a massive clean up of the 4×4 office kitchen because it was Kitchen Nightmares‘ level of filthy, and having so many mistakes on my paycheck that I became a frequent visitor at Accounting (and probably should have received one of those frozen yogurt punch cards because at least then I would have gotten something free on my tenth visit). Those things were all stressful, but the absolute most gut-wrenching thing that happened was on my very first day back. I asked my new supervisor if I could leave ten minutes early, and she asked me why. Why do you need to leave early? 

Why? WHY??? I felt flames on the side of my face. I needed to leave early that day and would probably need to on others for the same reason—my child. I was parked a quarter mile away from my office since I’d been at parking services for over an hour (see above) and by the time I had a permit all the closer lots were full. I was responsible for drop-offs and pick-ups and there was no margin for error. You have to pay fines at daycare if you’re late, on top of the incredibly hefty monthly price tag (think mortgage payment or college tuition).

Next she asked when. When are you going to make up your time? I had no real way of making up my time—I had allotted my lunch breaks for seeing my kid to nurse, and if I stayed at work instead I’d still need to take another (unpaid) break to pump breastmilk. I couldn’t come to work earlier or stay later because I had to do the pick-ups and drop-offs (see above). So what could I say? I had no answer that would be acceptable. I mumbled something and darted out of the building, embarrassed and truly worried about my future as a working mom.

my story about returning to work. "I felt the weight of my decision to return to work for what it was--a nightmare, a waking one that kept me on edge all the time."

I felt the weight of my decision to return to work for what it was—a nightmare, a waking one that kept me on edge all the time. I couldn’t sleep, I felt sick and anxious at night and on the weekends because I was scared to go to work. What if I was late? What if I had to leave early? What if someone needed me while I was pumping breastmilk? What if I hadn’t anticipated the needs of everyone else around me like I used to before I had a child?

I felt alone, and everyone I turned to was in a different (and sometimes) slightly better situation than me. I talked to women who were in positions of authority and I found that they largely got to make their own rules about their schedule. I talked to friends who had very flexible supervisors and cooperative units that did give them the “modicum of flexibility” to work from home a couple hours a week or clock a few hours checking email on nights and weekends. I had friends who were able to work part-time, and had a family network of support for childcare. I had none of those things in my favor, so I clung to the idea that it would get easier with time. It didn’t.

This is just part of my story, but I’ll end it here for today. I’ll leave you with this beautiful rant from People I Want to Punch in the Throat. Read it and laugh out loud like I did.

Photo credits // agenda (featured in graphic): Willy Sietsma via Ultra HD Wallpapers / unicorn pouch: Invented Charm

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My Week in Review, June 24

Some of the following include Amazon affiliate links, which means that if you click on one of the product links and make a purchase, I’ll receive a percentage of that sale at no cost to you. All thoughts and opinions are my own. For a full disclosure statement see my About page.

Another hectic week has flown by. Are there any other kind? Since my last week in review, there have been some big changes and a lot of firsts. I toured 20 houses for sale; bought the first swimsuit I picked up off the rack at Macy’s so I could go swimming with Rory for the first time in his little life; wore a swimsuit for the first time since childbirth, and swam for the first time since 2009; celebrated Father’s Day with my family for the first time since 2003. FYI, I can’t find the suit online at Macy’s but here it is at Amazon if you are curious. Sad face because it’s cheaper there than what I paid in the store.

I have to say, despite the stress of house hunting and having to wear a bathing suit in front of people, it was an awesome time. I actually really like the swimsuit and refused to feel bad about myself in any way when I was in the dressing room, and I kept any negative self-talk at bay while I was poolside. The important thing is that I got to spend time with my family and experience swimming with Rory. It was nothing short of special. I have finally learned to be gentle with myself…it only took 35 years.

succulents from moorten botanical garden in palm springs
Succulents from Moorten Botanical Garden. Follow me on Instagram @inventedcharm

This weekend we’re headed out of town again for a family birthday party, but on Sunday I’m hopeful to get down to the nursery to pick up some more plants. We have a bunny population that apparently loves succulents!? Two of my succulents in my planter look eaten, and my lavender plant is all wilted and dry even though I’ve been watering it. Last fall we went to Moorten Botanical Garden in Palm Springs and it gave me grand dreams of having a beautiful patio full of planties. I really need to up my game if we’re going to put our condo on the market.

For your reading pleasure:

  • Summer treats you can enjoy on a budget from Invented Charm: A quick plug for myself. Can I just ask if blogging ever feels like it gets easier? Don’t get me wrong, I’m really enjoying it. I just wonder because I plan posts and think they will take a certain amount of time to execute, and I’m nearly always wrong by a lot. Case in point, I finally managed to publish this piece late last night only after channeling Tiffany Han’s advice on letting go of perfection…
  • How to Give Back When You’re Trying to Save from The Everygirl: I haven’t put much thought into creating a budget for charitable giving, but I do let my heart speak to me. A friend was seeking contributions for her Relay for Life campaign and shared her personal connection to the cause and it touched me. It was easy to hit the donate button and select an amount that I could make work with my means. If you’re waiting to get rich before giving, don’t. Give, give, give–what you can, when you can. You will never regret sharing.
  • Salted Butter vs Unsalted Butter in Baking from Sally’s Baking Addiction: If you want to improve your baking skills, I definitely recommend the whole baking basics series of posts from Sally’s Baking Addiction. I am a self-taught baker, and by that I mean I just started baking one day without knowing or trying to learn any of the science. I’ve had mostly success, but then I’ve never been particularly adventurous. I learned a lot from reading the Momofuku Milk Bar cookbook by Christina Tosi, and her recipes were the only ones where I really struggled to get things right.

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I hope you have a great weekend!

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You Are Here

2016 is already almost half over, and this first blog entry has been on my to-do list for way too long. I guess it’s about time for me to plunge back into blogging. Here goes nothing…

I recently became a stay at home mom. I’m still trying to wrap my head around that. I’m a SAHM, a homemaker, a full time mommy. What? How did that happen? I had a plan when I decided to finally start a family, and this was not in the plan.

My husband and I decided that we were going to be a dual income household. I was going to balance my work and home life. I was going to do the morning drop-offs and evening pick-ups from daycare. I was going to pump in my office so that I could maximize my work time and still provide my baby with breastmilk. I read all the guides on how to survive being a working mom. I made a dozen freezer meals, I toted my pump and parts in a carefully selected messenger bag, I set my alarm extra early. I had a plan. But that plan didn’t work out like I expected. Life went off the rails, and now I’m wandering without a map.

Sunset with my son
Sunset with my son

Like many women of my generation, I have always worked. I had “my own money,” and never felt guilty about spending it on myself (or saving it). But now I’m living in a new world order: I provide full-time childcare, and my husband goes off to work everyday to support us financially. This is the first time in my life I haven’t received feedback about my performance. Being a stay at home mom is rewarding, but it is also…how can I put this delicately? Thankless. There’s no paycheck at the end of the month, and it’s 24 hours a day/7 days a week. Taking care of my child without the added pressure of a career outside the home is also an enormous privilege, one that I try my hardest not to take for granted. I am so thankful that we are in the position to make this choice, even if it is temporary.

The truth is, and I don’t know how many people admit this openly, I’m often lonely and confused about what I’m doing. Being with a child all day and out of the workforce can feel isolating, but I don’t think it has to be. I want to use this blog to connect to other people who are transitioning into a new phase of life and marveling at the journey. I think I have a lot to learn from all the awesome bloggers out there, and anyone with a unique perspective to share.

I am excited to write about what I’ve learned as a rookie mom, a first time homeowner, and a novice DIYer. I hope to entertain you with stories about my crafting mishaps and happy accidents in the kitchen. I welcome you to take a glimpse at my life–it’s messy, real, and hopefully full of laughter and love. This is a lifestyle blog, but don’t let the title fool you, any charm I have is very much still a work in progress.

 

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