Mama, Who Are You Wearing?

Image courtesy of Salvatore Vuono / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of Salvatore Vuono / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

When I was on maternity leave for twelve weeks, I watched a popular makeover show every afternoon while I nursed my daughter.  The hosts made fun of some unsuspecting women, often a working mom, who they felt looked a like mess and who I felt looked like me.  They surprised this woman with a fabulous makeover, including new hair, new makeup, and a new wardrobe.  In every episode, the hosts proceeded to turn the disheveled mom into a chic, put-together, modern woman, someone that we all should strive to be.

That show made me feel a little bad about myself because I prefer wearing sweat pants to the grocery store, not a stylish clothing ensemble replete with costume jewelry and heels.  In my post-partum exhaustion, that show actually convinced me that I should be embarrassed for myself because of how I dressed. After the hormonal, exhausted fog I was living in dissipated, I realized that I really don’t care what people at the grocery store think about how I dress.  In fact, most of the people at the grocery store are dressed just like me.  Seriously, who wants to wear heels and fancy jewelry to walk through the freezer aisle and stand in the deli line?

I don’t have time to primp when a screaming toddler is demanding my attention before work, so I have to get ready quickly.  Also, since my daughter uses my clothes as her tissue, I need to be able to throw them in the wash.  My clothing must be comfortable, easy to clean, and not fussy.

These makeover shows, although entertaining, annoy me because they tell women that they must look a certain way to be accepted by others and feel good about themselves. This is also why I can’t stand the vapid, shallowness of Hollywood and celebrities.  The media makes regular women feel awful about themselves because they can’t look like the unreal, airbrushed images of starved and Botoxed celebrities. These celebrities have nutritionists, plastic surgeons, trainers, stylists, and nannies at their disposal.  The media’s portrayal of these unrealistic images is absolutely unhealthy for women, and awards season is the worst.  It’s amusing to watch with the makeup, the designer clothing, and expensive jewelry, but it’s all so fake.

So when I saw that a group of awesome mom bloggers are sharing who they are wearing this awards season, I just had to show off my working mom style as well.

As a lawyer and a mother, I have to change my outfits throughout the day, so I will start with my fabulous daytime look, which I like to call Lawyer Mom.

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This look consists of:

Outfit – Sale price Anne Klein black suit, covered in dog hair; Sale price Victoria’s Secret dress shirt under the suit jacket that can be thrown in the washer and does not require ironing; Black socks, covered in dog hair; and Black dress boots with a practical and comfortable low heel.

Makeup – Powder and mascara.

Hair – Uncut for over 10 months because I don’t have time to go to the salon and pulled out of my face with some bobby pins.

Accessories – Toddler and wedding band.

After work, I change into my stylish evening wear.  I call this look Comfortable Mom.

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This look consists of:

Outfit – My great-grandma’s hand-me-down fleece zip-up sweater with toddler snot on the shoulder; Pittsburgh Steelers tee under the fleece; TJ Maxx fleece duckie pants that my daughter loves to hug; Nike athletic socks; and J. Crew fleece lined moccasins.

Makeup – None.

Hair – Unbrushed bun.

Accessories – Wedding band.

I know that I have serious style and I pull off my looks flawlessly, regardless of what that makeover show says.  So mamas, who are you wearing this awards season?

From Around the Web 1.25.14

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Image courtesy of Ambro / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Parenting news and articles from around the web.

* Working mothers everywhere breathe a sigh of relief.  The kids of moms who work outside of the home are no more likely to experience social or emotional problems than the kids of stay at home moms. Provide your kids with a loving environment and they should be alright. [CBS News]

* A little flexibility, please.  It’s no surprise that flexible work schedules would help lessen the gender pay gap. [St. Louis Post-Dispatch]

* The flu can be serious during pregnancy with major repercussions for both mom and fetus, so get your flu shot if you are pregnant or planning on becoming pregnant. [CNN]

* Put that thing out until you’re older! Pot may no longer seem like a big deal, but a new study shows that it may have a negative affect on your teen’s brain development. [TIME]

* Ingenious.  How these parents actually got to sleep in. [ABC News]

* People in the U.S. are having less babies.  Birth rates in the U.S. hit historic lows in a drastic shift from the all-time high in 2007. [NBC News]

* A big change in diagnosing autism.  New diagnostic criteria for autism could lead to fewer diagnoses, and less access to therapy and care. [TIME]

Pregnant With No Home of My Own

My husband and I spent four years renovating our lovely 1927 craftsman in a great suburb. After finishing all of the projects, we got bored and decided that eventually we wanted to purchase an even older home with more projects. However, we weren’t serious about selling yet because we planned on starting a family soon and I certainly did not want to worry about moving in the midst of a pregnancy. I wanted to “nest” during pregnancy, not upheave my entire life. Plus, there was nothing interesting for sale, so we were staying put.

My husband and I wanted to test the market, so we met with an agent.  The agent told us how much we could expect to get for our house, which was not enough to convince me to deal with the hassle of moving.  I had no interest in selling at that point, so we decided to list our house at an unreasonable price, thinking that we would never get it. We hoped to see what type of interest and feedback we received, make a couple small changes to the house based on the feedback, wait for another year or two, and then list the house at a reasonable price in a stronger housing market.  No one, including our agent, ever expected the house to sell at our jokester list price. When we were offered full asking price in cash within the week, we figured this was a sign that it was time to go. No appraisal necessary! The whole situation was crazy and unexpected. Just three weeks earlier, we were happy in our home and there was no discussion about moving.  Now, we were selling with nowhere to go.

My husband’s parents offered to let us move in while we searched for a new home. So off my husband, my two dogs, and my two cats, and I went.  Soon after moving in with my in-laws, I learned I was pregnant.  So much for “nesting.”  I was now pregnant with no home of my own.

My husband, my pets, and I took over the third floor of my in-law’s house.  It’s the stuff good reality t.v. is made of.  I was a pregnant and hormonal crazy person, trying to deal with my steadily enlarging body, my stressful career, and my marriage, while also trying to be as respectful as possible to my in-laws and their home.  On one hand, I felt guilty and embarrassed by my violent mood swings and the fact that my husband’s parents had the rare opportunity to get very close and personal with their pregnant daughter-in-law. Try getting into hormonal arguments with your husband in front of his parents in their house.  It’s pretty uncomfortable.  I didn’t want to be an absolute jerk, but I was so tired, bloated, and uncomfortable that I simply wasn’t willing to change my attitude. My husband’s family was so kind and gracious during all of this. Looking back, I feel like an idiot knowing that people other than my husband got this glimpse of me. Fortunately, everyone in the house is extremely easy-going and forgiving, so everything worked out. We learned a lot about each other and I feel that we all grew closer as a family.

During my pregnancy, my husband found a one-hundred-thirty-year-old Victorian that was literally falling apart.  We bought it and my husband began restoring it, along with acting as general contractor on the project.  I didn’t see much of him during this time because he worked at his job all day and restored the house at night. The most frustrating thing was I couldn’t help at all due to my pregnancy. So much needed to be done on the house and I felt like an utter waste because I was contributing absolutely nothing. I spent a lot of time alone with my in-laws and they provided me with support during this frustrating time.

After my daughter was born, there were seven adults, one newborn, five dogs, and three cats in the house.  My husband was working so hard to get our new home habitable that some days I didn’t see him at all.  It was tough being a new mother and hardly interacting with my husband. I was overwhelmed, sleep-deprived, unsure of myself, and confused about how to properly care for an infant.  I didn’t know what I was doing.  It was so weird because although I lived in a full house and I had a newborn with me at all times, I felt extremely lonely.  I was so tired and it was just me and the baby hanging out on the third floor for days at a time. Fortunately, my family and my husband’s family reached out to me, pulling me out of my reclusive funk. That meant a lot.  It was a good thing that I was staying with my husband’s family at that time because I don’t know how I would have dealt with having no one around.

Once our new home was habitable, we had to move on though.  I was sad to go.  My in-laws house had been my home during this life-changing event.  No more family dinners every night where we talked about our days at work, no more t.v. time where we discussed the news or reality t.v., no more daily time between my daughter and her grandparents.  Leaving felt like closure to a very important chapter in my life and the beginning of another chapter.  We were finally moving into our own family home.

Book Review: The Big Lie

This sounds like an interesting and informative read. I am one of those women who waited to get pregnant after starting my career because I incorrectly assumed that getting pregnant would be quick and easy. No women in my social circles had kids because we thought we had plenty of time for a family later. I certainly wasn’t thinking about infertility issues in my twenties or early thirties. I was only thinking about taking on the corporate world because I had plenty of time to have kids. I guess I was one of those women with “blinders” on, as were many of my friends and colleagues.

The Mamafesto

A review copy of Tanya Selvaratnam’s new book, The Big Lie: Motherhood, Feminism, and the Reality of the Biological Clock arrived in the mail a few weeks ago, and I have to admit, I was curious from the get go. There’s no big secret that motherhood and feminism have an interesting relationship (to say the least). I’m always up for reading more from anyone that decides to take it on. And, I had yet to read something so in depth about feminism and infertility. The book itself is part memoir and part research that focuses mostly on infertility and advanced maternal age.

I dug in, interested to see what Selvaratnam had to say about issues surrounding infertility and especially how they relate to feminism. The memoir parts of the book are particularly gripping. Selvaratnam’s story is a heartbreaking one. She takes us through a number of miscarriages, a cancer diagnosis…

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Mama, You Really Don’t Need All That Stuff: What a Newborn Really Needs

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Image courtesy of photostock / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

I thought that I required so many things for my daughter before she was born.  I was so excited for the baby to arrive that I got sucked in by all of the super cute baby items out there and all of the neat gadgets and gizmos.  I wanted to be prepared for every scenario that could possibly happen.

Even though I thought that I was ready for anything, things failed to work out as I had planned pretty much immediately.  My daughter arrived three weeks early and she weighed six pounds, yet I had refused to buy her any newborn clothing because I read that newborns wouldn’t get much, if any, use out of them.  So here I was with this teeny peanut and no clothes to put on her, except the hospital provided bodysuit. I thought I was so prepared, but, in reality, I hadn’t even bought adequate clothing for my daughter.  I certainly couldn’t dress her in my new baby monitor, Boppy pillow, or Bumbo seat.

The point here is that I “needed” almost none of the things that I accumulated for the baby (although a lot of the stuff sure was nice to have and made my life a heck of a lot easier).  I convinced myself that I had to have all of this stuff in order to make it through that first month.  I was wrong. I totally overbought and wasted money that could have gone to a better use (like my daughter’s college fund).

In reality, there are only a few things that a newborn really needs:

1.  Lots of love and interaction from her parents:  It has been found that early skin-to-skin contact between a mother and her newborn is healthy for future programming and behavior.  Babies thrive on attention from their parents and they learn through interactions with their parents.  So talk to your newborn, read to your newborn, make eye contact with your newborn, or make faces and smile at your newborn. You are helping their development by doing what comes naturally, so play away!

2.  Diapers/Wipes/Diaper Cream: There are a lot of options out there.  Cloth diapers have come a long way and they are pretty awesome.  You can purchase adorable cloth diapers that are just like disposables and they even have Velcro closures.   Disposable diapers are super convenient and very absorbent.  There are also numerous wipes options: Disposable wipes or paper towels/washcloths in wipes solution.  I combined a little bit of everything.

3.  Baby Bodysuits/Sleep and Play Rompers: This is all my daughter wore for the first four weeks of her life.  I preferred the zip-up sleep and play rompers because they made the continuous nighttime diaper changes easier.  My daughter was born in the summer so she didn’t need to be bundled up.  For cold weather, add a coat, socks, and a couple sweaters to your baby’s wardrobe of body suits and footed sleep and plays.  I had no need for shirts that I had to pull over my daughter’s head and maneuver her delicate little arms through or pants that I constantly had to struggle pulling off and on during diaper changes.  Some people swear by gowns, but I found them to be more cumbersome than the zip-up rompers and they were drafty for baby.

4.  Car Seat:  Obviously necessary.  I loved my bucket.  I highly recommend the Chicco KeyFit 30 Infant Seat.  It is safe, convenient, and stylish.

5.  A Sling/Baby Carrier:  A sling/carrier was essential for me to get anything accomplished around the house.  I put the baby on and off I went, arms free!  There are numerous sling/carrier types.  I ended up trying three different ones before I found one that my daughter tolerated.  There are online sites that let you rent a sling/carrier to try it out first.  You could also buy a used one to save some money or borrow one from another parent to give it a try before committing.

6.  First Aid/Hygiene Items:  Baby soap, nail clippers, a nail file, a nasal aspirator, rubbing alcohol, cotton swabs, cotton squares, a first aid kit, and a thermometer.  That’s the extent of it.

7.  A Place for Baby to Sleep:  Babies sleep a lot, like twelve to sixteen hours a day.  Babies don’t really care where they sleep.  Mama just needs to make it safe place.  I used a Graco Pack N’ Play with Bassinet, which was portable and versatile.

8.  Something for Baby to Eat:  If you plan on breast feeding, you probably want to invest in a small tube of Lansinoh cream because that first few weeks is painful.  Nobody warned me about the cracking, blistering, and bleeding.  If you formula feed, you will need to buy bottles and nipples. You really don’t need fancy bottle racks, brushes, or sterilizers. A rag, some hot, soapy water, and a towel clean bottles just fine.

This is all that a new parent requires.  These things meet all of baby’s basic needs and allow for mama to complete some tasks during the day. I wish I had realized this before blowing a portion of my daughter’s college fund on all of the other unnecessary newborn stuff!

High Maintenance Home Front

It is amazing how many wants and demands I get from every single being in my home (this includes the pets). These demands are combined with demands from my clients, demands from the courts, demands from my office, and demands I put on myself because I’m somewhat neurotic.

Honestly, sometimes I feel like I’m going to lose it. The way I try to deal with all of this is to laugh, cry, or get mad. Obviously, laughing is the most pleasant of the three so I am going to start chronicling my high maintenance life in a humorous way through pictures and blurbs. Maybe you will enjoy laughing at my life too.

So, I will kick things off with my daughter, G.G.

Christmas fun:

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I have not pooped in 3 days so I’m taking this opportunity at great-grandma’s Christmas celebration to do so in front of the entire family.

Snow day fun:

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I win. I will not sit in my highchair or wear a bib. Serve me breakfast while I watch cartoons. Oh, and get me my winter hat while you’re at it. Don’t worry, I will think of more demands during the commercial break.

Late for work fun:

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Even though it’s only 5 degrees outside and my face is burning from the cold, I DON’T WANT TO WEAR MY HAT OR GLOVES!!! WHY ARE YOU MAKING ME? WHY DON’T YOU LOVE ME?

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Now that I took them off, I WANT YOU TO PUT THEM BACK ON NOW!

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Fine. I did it myself. Now turn on the radio before I start crying again and get me to school pronto.

That’s my girl.

W-D 40 Is Awesome

As a working mother and an avid DIYer, I love finding new ways to use items around my house to make my life a bit easier. I put my daughter to bed last night and when I closed the door, the hinge squeeked. Fortunately it didn’t wake the baby, but the next morning, I pulled out the WD-40 and got to work on that hinge.  I read somewhere that WD-40 can attract dirt, but it’s always worked for me and I’ve never had a dirty hinge problem.

I have WD-40 laying around all over my house because of its usefulness. In addition to eliminating squeaky hinges, unsticking stuck screws, winterizing tools, and removing rust on metal, there are a ton of other surprising uses for this product.

A few of my favorites:

1. It erases scuff marks from the floor.

2. It gets gum out of your kid’s hair.

3. It removes lipstick stains.

4. It eliminates crayon from pretty much everything.

5. It removes sticker adhesive.

6. It waterproofs and removes salt from boots.

7. It removes those gummy, stubborn grease splatters on the stove.

8. You can use it to clean your toilet bowl.

9. It gets pesky burrs out of your pet’s fur.

10. It easily removes those impossible water marks from your shower door.

I love this product.

You can find more uses here:

List of 2000+ Uses [WD-40 Fan Club]

Baby, That’s Just Gross!

I am a very particular, neat person.  I don’t like when my stuff is dirty.  I don’t like when my stuff is messy.  I don’t like when my stuff is not the perfect way that I want and expect it to be.  I think I have a mild case of OCD that I have learned to deal with over the years.  It is one of my many personality flaws.  As my child has grown, I am really struggling with this particular personality flaw of mine.  A grimy, germy toddler running around is very difficult for someone like me. When my daughter was a newborn, my house, my things, her things, pretty much everything had to be neat, clean, and 100% sanitized.  How things have changed in the last eighteen months.

I now tolerate many disgusting things.  The key word here is “tolerate.”  I don’t like the mess that is my house, person, or life and I wish that I could be more “put-together,” but until I win the lottery jackpot and I’m able to hire a personal assistant, maid, and chef, I am going to have to deal with just getting by (mess and all).

So here are the ten most disgusting things that I have learned to tolerate since having a child:

1.    Spit up/food on me/her.  Babies spit up a lot and it gets on whatever person happens to be holding her.  As babies grow, they become messy little eaters.  Unless you want to change her clothes and your clothes eight times a day (which means even more laundry), you learn to live with crusty spit up or peanut butter on your suit.  Wipe it off and move on with your day.

2.    Snot/boogers on me/her.  My shirt has become my daughter’s tissue.  She always has snot on her face, so every time she hugs me or I pick her up, I get snot on my shoulder.  It has gotten to the point where I just use my sleeve to wipe snot off of her face.  I figure that my shirt is already covered in mucus, so what difference a little bit more?

3.    Poop/pee on me/her.  I remove my daughter’s diaper and that’s when she decides to pee.  When I remove her diaper after a poop explosion, she kicks her foot in it.  Diapers leak all over car seats, cribs, chairs, or the floor.  I initially gagged and ran to the bathroom to wash everything.  Now I just grab a disinfectant wipe and wipe it all down.

4.    My daughter puts stuff on the floor into her mouth.  I used to wash every utensil, pacifier, or toy that my daughter threw on the floor.  After watching her take clumps of dog hair and shove them into her mouth, I figure that she really doesn’t care that her spoon fell on the floor and neither should I.

5.    My daughter’s saliva gets in my mouth.  I used to get grossed out when I watched other moms put their child’s utensils in their mouths after their kid ate off of it.  Now I do it myself.

6.    My daughter shares food with the dogs.  I tried to keep the dogs out of the kitchen once the baby was born.  They are smart and quickly realized who would give them table food.  Since my daughter is constantly handing them food from her plate, I can’t keep them away.  She gives them a bite and then she takes a bite.  They lick food off of her hands and then she puts her hands in her mouth.  It’s just gross, but there is nothing I can do about it.  Once again, she doesn’t care that it’s gross, so neither should I.

7.    My daughter plays on the dog bed.  My dogs are foul.  They eat cat poop out of the litter box and they roll in deer poop.  Then they come back to their bed in the living room.  My daughter also likes to hang out on this nasty bed. I bought her two different types of chairs, but she still prefers rolling around on the dog bed with the dogs.

8.    Animal hair on everything.  I have two dogs and two cats.  There are also three humans running around the house.  There is hair everywhere on everything.

9.    Daycare germs.  My daughter started daycare when she was twelve weeks old.  When she came home that first day, I wiped her down.  That was a pointless waste of my time.  She got sick within the first two weeks.  I caught her cold a few days later.  Then I caught her next cold, her flu, her stomach bug, and the next three colds after that.  I was sick from October through April.  The good news is that my daughter and I have built up immunities to daycare germs, and this year, neither of us are sick…yet.

10.    A house that is not as clean/disinfected as I would like it to be.  With all the traffic in my house, it gets nasty really fast. I have four shedding, barfing, peeing, garbage eating animals, one destructive toddler, and one messy husband.  I vacuum daily.  I do at least a load of laundry every day.  I wash dishes daily.  I try to wipe down my bathrooms, dust, clean the litter, and mop the floor when I get a spare minute on the weekend.    I told myself that the house is clean, but then I made the mistake of looking closely at the caulk on my shower door seam and noticed that it had developed an active mold culture.  This is something that I would expect in a college frat house, not my home.  I grabbed the bleach, killed that mold, and went back to telling myself that my house is clean.

  • Sigh. I continue to lower my expectations.