This is a picture that popped up on my Mary Engelbreit calendar back in 2004 or so, around the time I was making some significant life changes. Every time I see it in print I have to buy it. This one is the magnet version that is prominently displayed on my fridge, but you can buy a high quality print of it here.
When I was pregnant, I entertained visions of being that mom with the perfectly done hair and makeup, wearing fashionable (and clean) clothes, carrying a designer handbag. This picture somewhat resembled my pre-pregnancy self, and I wondered why in the world would I have to change?
Please note: I had no dreams of a clean and coiffed child in overpriced (clean) clothing by my side. Oh no. I have seven younger siblings, remember, and four of them are of the male variety. I know where reality ends and fantasy begins.
Or so I thought.
My friend Hope had her fourth son over two months before mine was born, and I discovered secret number one from her. Not loving any of the diaper bags I found, I promised myself to adopt it.
Secret #1: Carry a diaper and wipes in your purse.
And adopt it I did. Along with toting an over-full diaper bag. Now that I have a toddler, he can carry his own emergency “pack-pack” and I have ditched the diaper bag on most occasions, but one must make allowance for the difference between the new and the experienced mommy.
When I met my friends Kristin and Tara last fall, each the mother of two preschoolers, I stood in awe of their sense of style as well as their maternal calm. I still do hold them in high esteem, but they, like Hope, have taught me several more mommy secrets. And I must admit, I was appalled when I first discovered Kristin’s secret.
Secret #2: Don’t carry a purse; carry a tote bag (as in a shared diaper bag for all your kids) and throw in your wallet.
What?!?! These three women are some of the cutest moms I know, and yet here Kristin had sacrificed cute for functional. Yet I had to admit, she pulled it off well. Kristin never looks like a pack horse, as I know I have when attempting to tote purse, diaper bag, and some other random “essentials” on my journeys.
But she and Tara had even more secrets to share.
Secret #3: Make sure whatever bag is your carry-all is a cross-body bag. If possible, let it be a backpack.
Here my inner diva began to scream. Cross-body? As in, wrapped across your chest, squashing jewelry and wrinkling clothes?
Oh yes. Because then you have both hands free to grab children, dispense snacks and drinks, and the bag is attached to one’s body should one need to make a hasty exit when (not if) meltdowns should occur.
Note yet again: last week I ordered a cross-body bag from Tara, a 31 consultant. It cannot arrive soon enough.
Secret #4: The mother of a toddler does not wear heels when taking her child to the mall. Or when taking her child anywhere, for that matter.
No one in particular taught me this secret. Common sense told me it must be obeyed, and yet I rebelled. However, when one compares sweating in heels to being poised in ballet flats or—horrors!—tennis shoes, the flats have it.
Most likely those of you mothers out there know these secrets, but please do share them with your uninformed expectant or new moms. And remind them that being a professional mom beats winning Clinton and Stacy’s approval any day of the week. At least that’s what I keep telling myself.
Last week I was introduced to the idea of the Capsule Wardrobe, which Caroline blogs about here. I’ll admit, the idea is a little intimidating, especially as Caroline’s magic number for her wardrobe is just 37 pieces. I do pretty well with this number until you calculate in shoes, cardigans, and jackets. Which she does. I think I have 37 items in those three categories alone.
Now, before you or I freak out, this capsule is per season, so with some overlap that gives you between 74 and (if you refuse to overlap anything) 148 items. These items include:
• Tops (shirts, blouses, cardigans, and jackets)
• Bottoms (jeans, dress pants, skirts, leggings, and shorts)
Back in the day, maybe sometime in the early nineties, I heard this concept referred to as “core wardrobing,” so it’s not new. However, Caroline offers some tips on her blog to help us limit the size of that wardrobe and at the same time give us countless combinations from those 37 items. According to her statistics, you might wear the same outfit (that’s outfit, not item) twice per season. Now, that is seriously exciting!
While I’ve only just begun planning out my fall wardrobe, I wanted to share this concept with you and let you know that you can download Caroline’s Wardrobe Planner here. I’d love to hear your thoughts!
Sometime in the last year or so my stylist Brittany started telling me about the fabulousness of dry shampoo. My goal at the time was to improve my hair health by washing it less often and using dry shampoo on the off days.
Yeah, so not happening. I tried it two or three times, and each time I ended up re-showering halfway through the day because I was so miserable. Even when I don’t exercise, I have one seriously oily scalp. Which (Brittany tells me) I can train to be less so, but I haven’t the patience. Besides, I work out too often to justify even trying.
Even so, dry shampoo is now one of my essential styling aids, especially during the humid summer days. Being the proud possessor of an abundant head of superfine hair, the dirtier it is, the better the style holds. But again, I can’t live with the oil.
These sticky days my hair styling routine (when I’m disciplined enough to leave it down) is as follows:
1. If time permits, allow to air dry until damp.
2. Apply J Beverly Hills Lift Up volumizing spray foam to my roots and a heat protectant to the ends.
3. Dry my hair with a round metal brush.
4. Apply a moderate amount of dry shampoo and work it through the ends. Since my hair is clean, I don’t apply it to the roots.
5. Curl, style, and spray.
Brittany has assured me that, while she normally advocates using salon products, for dry shampoo you can use whatever you like. Being what I like to call *frugal* myself, I’ve tried TRESemme’s Fresh Start and Garnier Fructis’ Volume Extend. Fructis was my favorite, but after a week of migraines, I determined that my body didn’t like the scent.
The proof that dry shampoo worked was, to me, a day of traveling by bus, lots of walking in downtown Ft. Worth, two flights, and a total of 18 hours from styling time to my arrival at home, hair still looking good. That, my friend, is why I love dry shampoo.
In recent months I’ve thought a lot about infertility. Having given birth to a son, I know that we are not technically infertile, but by this stage in my married life I expected to have two children and be thinking about a third. I’m no spring chicken. Throw in the fact that my parents were “diagnosed” with secondary infertility after having me, one can imagine my concern. They, however, went on to parent seven additional children.
My fabulous family of origin could be one of the main reasons a delayed second pregnancy has proven so painful for me. Who knows?
More couples suffer from infertility than one might think, often because infertiles or those trying to conceive (TTC) are in so much pain they prefer not to discuss it. When the all-too-common questions of “When do you plan to start a family?” or, in my case, “When will you have your next child? Don’t wait too long!” are asked, it’s often difficult to find a gracious answer. Reading Lizzy’s post from last week reminded me of the need to be gracious, as I’ve been tempted at times to hurt the questioner for unintentionally hurting me.
Please take the time to read Lizzy’s post, “The Dreaded Question (with Illustrations from Harry Potter).” If you haven’t experienced infertility yourself, this might be especially helpful. If you have, I hope it encourages you as it did me.