Every week my husband spends one afternoon with our almost four-year-old and every Saturday I have the day with her and my youngest. I take the kids to the zoo, the aquarium, to play parks, and on play dates. He stays home with my oldest and does chores around the house. Do you want to guess which day ends with a more relaxed child and one with a bigger smile on her face? Clue: I wouldn’t be writing this if it was me.
Yes -the day my husband spends with my daughter sounds boring compared to the one I plan. But I plan my day so packed because I hate playing. Pretending to take a nap or to ride in an airplane or to be a princess is so boring to me, and I am just not good at it. It is so much easier for me to take the kids out and have us busy doing “special” things. I don’t understand how in the world he has the patience to get on an airplane to North Carolina for the 1000th time in five minutes? But he does. He plays her games. He enjoys his time with her. And they accomplish chores during the day as well. She is a happier, more relaxed child just for playing. And to be honest he enjoys his days off of work so much more than I enjoy mine.
I’m sure I could look up countless studies on the importance of play and imagination but the proof is in my afternoon with my daughter vs. my husband’s afternoon with her. I honestly believe that play is so important in a child’s life, and yet I struggle with it way too much. How do I as an over-stressed-out working-mom who thrives on being busy with little to no sleep and always looking for the next level of achievement while carrying the mental load help my daughter use her imagination and tap into her creative side when I can’t do it with her? (And if the complexity of that sentence doesn’t illustrate who I am, I have no idea what will.)
Firstly, I recognize who I am. And although there are times I make myself suck it up and pretend our living room is an ocean, for the most part I look to my husband to fill this role in her life. I stand back and watch with joy as they play endlessly. I can’t be something I’m not, and that is just not a lesson I want to teach my daughter anyways.
Secondly, I look at it from my point of view. Where are the areas that this busy mom can increase creativity and imagination that works within my hectic schedule and personality?
I love art, so her room has a painted mural in it. The walls are lined with art down at her eye level. We talk about the pictures from time to time. I encourage her drawing while I am busy doing the dishes.
We talk fashion. She hates shopping, but she does love picking out her clothes, especially her dresses and tutus. I let her do her thing. And honestly it makes our morning routine a bit easier if I let her pick out her clothes.
I love music so I make sure that it is always playing and we talk about the songs. I watch her twirl around the house. And when I can’t watch her I tell her to put on a show for her sister.
I look for areas where talking pretend won’t bother me and the place I found it the most was the car. I have way too much time in the car with my littles and we used to fight over music. Will today bring Moana or the Big Little Lies Soundtrack? But lately I’ve turned the music off and asked my daughter silly questions.
“If Gabriella was a mermaid what color tail do you think she would have?”
“If you are Batgirl and Ryan is Batman, who should your siblings be?”
“What do you think happened when Cinderalla went to visit Ariel? What did they do?”
And just like that my car ride with my child is so enjoyable. No more fighting to find out how her day was or what she did or what she ate? Her face lights up talking about things that interest her. And for me it’s easy to get in that mode because the Go-Go-Gadget-Go mom side of me is literally going. I’m driving to and from school, so I’m still accomplishing something on my list.
And lastly, I read all the time to her. The books I hate, the books I love, the ones that teach, the ones that grate, I read them all. It’s our special time, and I know it opens up worlds to her. Sometimes I hate those worlds, but sometimes I get lucky with books like Blueberry Girl or Ada Twist Scientist.
We, as moms, are told to be super mom all the time. We run the household, we work, we raise kids, we remember birthday gifts, and to buy the string cheese that is swirled cheddar and mozzarella, and we are supposed to be playing with the kiddos too. It just doesn’t jive. Furthermore, the idea that I should put my kid’s needs first vs. the idea that I should put my air mask on first are two contradictory theories that we are supposed to live up to all the time. Just not possible, and it plagues me and eats at me. I feel guilty and angry and go back and forth with it. And finally, I found the medium- well today at least. It’s like a diet. Lifestyle changes. Somedays it works and somedays it doesn’t. But what can work for me, and what can I let go at least in terms of imagination? I will always hate playing pretend, but I can still encourage it in other ways that I hope will let my daughter’s imagination run wild. And in the end, I hope by trying to be true to who I am, and having my husband do play time, and me to offer the encouragement we can teach her to be her.
Ohh and just because I think this is an awesome version of this song- Pure Imagination
I’m three weeks away from popping. I feel like the little thermometer on the turkey is already up and this kid has been ready to get out of me for… ohhh I don’t know…the last 20 weeks. And part of me can’t wait to get her out. On the other hand, man I am not ready to have a second child. When I realized how little time was left until delivery date had my husband and I still had not discussed names, where she was going to sleep, pulled our baby stuff out of storage, or registered for the hospital. Basically it was time to spend the next three weeks getting ready for baby.
I started to think about all I did for Stella before she was born. The Luvs commercials are correct. With our first we had everything organized before I even hit 30 weeks. Diapers and clothes ready to go, coming home outfit hand knitted and a Pack N Play set up even though we were in a condo and had a crib as well. Her name was a last minute hold out, but that was because we had so many options we loved, rather than having very few as we do now.
My favorite was designing her nursery. My husband was amazing and let me do whatever I wanted. I went with a friend painting a “Starry Starry Night” mural on the wall with bright colors. The furniture, on the other hand, became quite the disappointment. I worked in the furniture industry for years. I know how it is produced. I know the best places to shop for it. I had the absolute cutest furniture as a kid myself that you could ever imagine. I should also note my father is also in the furniture industry. He so kindly offered to buy my crib. Even though I found some beautiful ones, I ended up buying a Target crib that was very simple. We will use the same crib for this kiddo. He was disappointed and opted to buy the stroller instead then.
But even looking back I think I made the right choice. The crib is short lived. But as my oldest is moving into a big girl world, I’m struggling to find the furniture I want for her. We are rearranging her room to encourage being a big girl and the joys that comes with. I spent Easter making a jellyfish light for her. By hanging it we had to move things around.
She’s struggled for a moment that the room wasn’t the exact same, but then was so happy to have the light on all night. Rearranging furniture is what I call the “Starbucks Effect” Change one little thing, buy one little coffee and it can change the whole view of the day. And it worked. She is feeling very big girl today.
But as I am looking for the right bed for her, and a new dresser I am finding the long lasting items that are beautifully crafted, that offer imagination and whimsy while also meeting my needs aren’t as out there as I thought they would be. This is an industry I know inside and out and yet can’t find what I want. Until then, Target to the rescue. But it does make me wonder.
What are some of your furniture wishes for your children’s rooms and playrooms?
For me I want storage in everything, I want whimsy for a playful environment and I want modularity. Yes, cribs can become toddler beds, but if you don’t buy the extra, super expensive pieces to convert to a bed at the time you buy the crib you might be out of luck. I mean modularity in that ottomans that stack up or stack across to create benches or drawers in a tower form. I want bright designs and fun. And not just the car or princess bed that you can have in cheap plastic or you can go for the super expensive but something that defines our children as more than car or princess loving. I mean my daughter loves both. So how can we work them together?
So what was your must have piece of furniture for your first?
What was your must have piece of furniture for children after your first?
And what’s the dream piece you can’t find?
I’m dying to hear what worked for you and what didn’t. Not just because I’m in need now, but also because I’m curious what I am missing in this industry I know so well.
Passion for fashion
I talk a lot about style and trying to find a style that fits into your lifestyle needs, wants, and budget. This is not that post.
When I was pregnant I was not one to collect clothes for my little one. I just didn’t get into it. I kept thinking why do I want to invest in super cute clothes just for them to get destroyed. And then I inherited some gorgeous second hand clothes for her, and my style diva exploded. Thankfully I shared similar taste as the woman I inherited all her clothes from, but my budget has still taken a hit. I’ve fallen in love with some children’s clothing designers that I have forgone a night out with friends to purchase a beloved dress for my daughter, and I’ve even gone so far on occasion to not allow her to wear a special shirt because I didn’t trust what daycare might do to the shirt if their was a stain.
In essence what I’ve done is transferred my fantasy style on to my daughter. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve dressed her and thought I wish I had that outfit. Or I wish that outfit would look as cute on me as it does on her. And it’s not like I’m playing dress up with tutu’s and big bows. No! Nine times out of ten it’s jeans and just the cutest shirt ever.
Proudly (sadly for my budget) I’ve passed on this passion for fashion on to my daughter. There are days where her style is just amazing, and there are days when her style is just amazing. (Please make sure you are reading one amazing as “it was simply amazing to meet my hero”, and the other amazing as “what is happening in our country”) There are days when people stop us to compliment her and she is so proud wearing her bright red cowboy boots with sparkly stars, her pink tutu under her batgirl Halloween costume, complete with Annie Hall hat. And there are days when she gets complimented because she is in her Annie Hall hat with green army vest with jeans and a black sparkly shirt and is rocking it. Oddly enough though, the girl hates shopping. She just wants me to bring home clothes. A win in my book, I still have some semblance of control.
This morning she walked out in one of my favorites. I have to say it took her 4 months to get excited about this piece but this morning she was bouncing off the walls to wear her poncho. Yes, I know, the thought of a poncho can evoke laughter, but really it’s the cutest thing. This is not the poncho in Ugly Betty. And although I don’t think as an adult I would wear this piece, I do wish there was a kick ass shirt in this pattern. It couldn’t be any cuter.
And it’s from Target. I’ve been super impressed with the Target styles lately. This is Oshkosh, but did you know that the Cat and Jack items have a one year warranty on them. And they are so cute! So for this month, this is my pick as favorite piece my daughter is wearing. Paired with jeans and pink books.
AKA 5 Ways to Handle Form and Function and Maternity
This week I had two revelations that I knew were brewing in the back of my head but I didn’t want to admit to.
- I am really freaking sick of wearing the same five things over and over again
- I really, really, really need to dedicate more time to myself for getting ready
I have been working with a life coach to prepare for the world of career vs. two kids. Rosie is amazing and if you need anything from career vs. family, meeting a partner to career help check her out at http://www.innerbrilliancecoaching.com Anyway one of the things I looked at was how I spend my time. In one week I spent a total of 3.5 hours grooming. This includes showers, hair, make up, dressing for the day. This boils down to well less than 30 minutes a day. Now I know I can get ready faster than my husband, and I don’t put in nearly the effort that my beautiful friend Bess does (and she does it with twins and a pre-schooler-my hero!) But come on, don’t I deserve more than 3.5 hours a week. Showers and baths are restorative. Looking good is the easiest step to take to feel good. And trust me being this pregnant I really want to feel good.
When I met with Rosie today we talked clothing for a minute, as I was terrified that I wore the exact same outfit last week. I literally am down to five outfits that look passable on me that fit. I’m so sick of them. I loved them when I bought them but at that point I fit into some of my regular clothes too. I’m due soon, so I am not going to buy more maternity clothes. And this leaves us with my form (being clean, feeling pretty, my pregnant belly) vs. function (I need to feel good , I don’t have a ton of time, I don’t want to spend more money) vs. maternity (ummm the pregnant belly)
So what is a empowered stylist to do? No, seriously what am I to do? Bess? Courtney? Anyone out there? I know the answer is either spend more time or spend more money, but those aren’t completely logical fixes for me. The function part gets in the way. But there is some balance here.
- I do need to dedicate a little more time to my routine in the morning to feel better. I can get up earlier- not likely as I am exhausted but it might work for you. But it is okay to take more time to shower. It’s okay to take a few extra minutes with makeup or hair. I can give my pre-schooler a special toy while I get ready or I can give the two of us more time as we get ready together. That way when she spends 10 minutes pulling on one sock I can take those ten minutes to do my make up. We are women, we are the masters at multi-tasking. So let’s multi-task this.
- I lie in bed for endless hours. I am not a sleeper to begin with but really not now. So one of the things I can think about is new ways to wear these same five fitting outfits. Not a ton I can do, but all my cardigans still fit, if I add those or jewelry or accessories in I won’t feel nearly as repetitive. More on maternity fashion next week.
- I can cut myself some serious slack. I’m a working mom with another on the way. It’s okay if I don’t look like Kate Hudson. But if I’m feeling good about myself that day then who cares if I don’t look the part. My whole thing about looking good is so I can feel better. If I already feel better, than problem solved. OHHHH and remember if you are pregnant you are creating life and give yourself some serious credit for that.
- I can remember that I am a role model for my daughter. If I can feel good about myself, then she will. My daughter learns about how to value herself from how I value myself. Yes I need time to shower, yes I need time for myself and I need time for her. But I want her to see what I value. And if my bun-tastic greasy hair is working for me, then why am I going to change it. Actually lately she loves wearing her bun bun. I’m calling that a win.
- I can remind myself that each day it is ever changing. Some days form will come first and I will finally give up and go buy a new outfit. This is how I got the maternity clothes I currently have. Some days function wins out and I don’t care if I haven’t gotten out of my jammies and some days maternity wins out and I realize that I am creating life and that is pretty awesome and only is happening twice for me so I am going to enjoy it. Let it evolve. Things change minute to minute and day by day and as long as we are honoring ourselves as best we can then it’s okay to have it change.
Last week I posted one my favorite, easy, go to recipes that will even get the kids to eat vegetables. Yay for a mom win! But what about the days we aren’t winning, and everyone is WHINING? What then? I’m guessing the answer might be WINE!
Well I don’t know how many of you know, but I used to work in the world of wine in a past life. And I don’t mean past life as in I was Cleopatra in a past life. I mean I’ve managed a wine bar and store and I’ve been a market manager for a wine supplier. So I figured if I’m going to share favorite family hacks, the most I can do for you is also share my favorite go to wines for days when everyone is whining.
I will start out by saying I am a very seasonal drinker. When the weather is warm I want white and when it’s cold I want red, and I always want bubbles. I can pair wine with food, but I don’t. In other words although I know the secrets of sommeliers, I abide by what I want, when I want it, not their secrets. I will also warn that because my husband works in the wine world my tastes can be super pricey. BUT I also love a great “Tuesday-Night” wine that retails for under $20, and ideally under $15 and even better if it can handle being open for a day or so. Finally always, always, always drink what you want and what you like. Don’t worry about what is trendy in the wine world and what you should drink with something.
One more thing I should note, I’m not doing much drinking at all lately as we are expecting our second child in the next few months. But that didn’t stop me from just returning from a wine tasting trip to France where I had full permission from my doctor to do some tasting.
So what have I been drinking? Despite the fact that the weather has been bi-polar and that I’m not drinking much I actually still have something that has been a go to. I highly recommend you try 2009 Bodega Benegas Cabernet from Argentina! It’s an awesome value for a wine that way over delivers for it’s price point. Check it out here: Knightsbridgewine.com
I love wine from South America. There is so much value there and the wines are so good. For a while everyone got on the Malbec kick from South America, but there is so much more coming out of there. To me this cab brings some rusticness of cab that is typical of old world cabs and yet is certainly new world without being super Napa-ish. And certainly doesn’t carry a Napa price tag. I used to have this on my list when I was managing the bar and recently rediscovered it. It also pairs great with food. Because we aren’t managing to go through a bottle in one sitting anymore we have discovered it holds easily through the next day when we put it in the fridge for the night. The perfect wine for whining or wine-ing or just Tuesday night drinking!
I eat everything and hope for a miracle.
Okay not really. I’m not on a diet at all. In fact I don’t believe in that word, but that is another discussion for another day.
And although I do eat whatever I want right now, I’m pregnant after all, I do try and come up with meals that are balanced. If not for me, and my unborn child, then for my 3 year old. I’m still hoping that one day she will have healthier eating habits for me.
So every night around six I’m staring at the fridge thinking what in the ever-loving world am I going to serve my daughter that is balanced and healthy. Now I know I’m a lucky one. My kid will try anything and will eat most everything. HOWEVER she’s still a kid and would prefer candy, sugar, chocolate, more sugar, snacks, pizza, cheese, peanut butter, did I mention sugar. You get the idea, although I’m guessing many of you have experienced it often between the time you wake up and the time your kiddos go to bed.
As I stare at my fridge getting ready for dinner tonight I thought I’d share what I’ve decided to serve. Because it’s easy, and it’s yummy and my kid actually loves it, and it’s healthy. And there is a high likelihood that your little will like it, and I’m sure you will like it.
1 head of broccoli
1 box of pasta
3-4 cloves of garlic
Salt and pepper to taste
Optional: Red Chili flakes
Optional: protean- I like chicken sausage, chicken, pork or shrimp cooked
Clean head of broccoli and cut off major part of the stem. Feel free to break into florets if easier. Boil in salt water for about 3-5 minutes, until soft/fork tender.
While this is cooking, chop and sauté garlic. Add uncooked shrimp now if you are using shrimp.
Place cooked broccoli into the sauté pan. Add cooked meat if you are doing so.
Add pasta into the boiling water and cook until al dente.
Break up head or florets of broccoli until it is falling apart completely/disintegrating.
Put cooked pasta into the sauté pan with 1 cup of pasta water.
Add Parmesan cheese, salt, pepper and chili flakes to taste.
Serve a healthy meal full of broccoli that feels like it’s just pasta with pesto.
See told you- EASY!
Hello my name is Brooklyn Gundlach and I don’t read fashion magazines.
Ohh yay that is finally off my chest. I’ve been caring around this weight for far too long.
Okay while I’m at it, here’s another thing, I don’t like shopping for myself most days. I much prefer to do it for you ladies!
Okay, okay, one more….
I sometimes look like I’m completely falling apart. Think of me dressed in my brother’s nasty old sweat pants, my husband’s old long sleeve shirt, underwear that is older than my child, and I haven’t showered in four days. Pretty image isn’t it.
This feels so good to get off my chest. I bet you are dying to hire me now huh?
But this is exactly why you should want to work with me. For starters how can the image above be intimidating? I mean I am as big of a mess as most of us woman.
There’s more though. For years I’ve been on here and talked about fashion. I will tell you I’m great at dressing women of all sizes. I’m great at fit, and I’m great at helping you find a style that works for you. But I don’t think it HAS to do with fashion. Fashion is part of it, but it’s not why I do what I do, and I’m guessing if you are anything like me, it’s not what you are thinking about when you are getting ready in the morning.
I do what I do because I want you to feel empowered to be the best version of you you can be. It breaks my heart that women have so much trouble talking about what is beautiful about them inside and out. To quote Pretty Woman “The bad things are easier to believe. Haven’t you noticed that?!” It really is. Not only what you hear, but what we think of ourselves, and what we focus on ourselves.
I want to help you perpetuate the positive. It is really hard work to switch our way of thinking. Sometimes it’s easier to switch the outside stuff before we work on the inside stuff. So that is why I think about style and fashion.
I, like most of you, have an over idealized view of beauty when it comes to myself, actresses, women on the street, you name it. We’ve been programed our whole lives to have this view. Skinny, almost to the point of anorexic, perfect hair, flawless skin, Barbie like proportions, and despite all my beliefs not to fall for it, I do. I look at myself in the mirror and I think I want to look like Kate Hudson. I constantly have to remind myself that the women we see in ads, in movies, on TV have a job to do, and part of their job is to work hard to look the way they look. My job is to be me, and be proud of it, so that my daughter will do the same.
But when I do look at my daughter I see sheer beauty. Yes, she is classically beautiful, and that is not just this mother saying so. But I’m not talking about her face, or her perfect little proportions. And as beautiful as she is on the inside, I’m not talking about that either. I’m talking about the mechanical work of her body. I’m in complete awe. I can see her muscles forming and growing stronger as she learns how to do more things. I look at her and I see what the body was built for doing. I see that she listens to her body and eats what she needs to and then stops. She pushes herself to strive for more physically because it’s fun and why not try, and then she listens to herself when she suspects it might be just a toe over the line.
I often wonder when I lost the ability to truly listen to my body. How has that instinctual message gotten lost? I know when I’m starving, but I don’t know before then. I know when I am exhausted (okay I’m a working mom, I’m always exhausted). I know I should try to push myself during my workouts, but then I feel tired and I don’t. In other words I don’t listen to the mechanics of my body. I think part of the awe I have for my daughter and her body is that I see it as it should be. I see real beauty in how the human body was designed. I want to treat it with the utmost respect. I want it to function at the highest performance not just because I love and respect my daughter, but because that’s what we should do. We would with a luxury car, with our house, so we should with our bodies as well.
The next question, then, is why don’t we feel the same way about ourselves. Why don’t I see my body as this perfect, amazing machine and all the things it is capable? Why don’t I treat it with the same respect I would a Lexus? I have no problem shoveling a bag of Cheetos into my mouth instead of premium gasoline (sorry peas and carrots). Are the Cheetos so yummy that I forget to listen to myself? YES. When people/memes/FaceBook tell me to respect myself, and respect my body I think “ahhh shut up, I do.” And truly I do. I am proud of who I am. I do show respect for myself in a million different ways. I just fail to think of my body as a machine that needs respect to.
I’ll be honest, I don’t have a solution moving forward to do this. I mean I can think to myself with everything that I put into my mouth “is this respectful of my body” but then pizza is just yummy, and I’ll eat it. I have some strongly formed habits which have seriously outweighed my body’s natural ability to tell me to stop. I will, at times, think it’s time to respect myself physically, and I will work to break my habits, but it won’t be overnight. In the meantime though I will hold true to what I do love and respect about myself. I will focus on the positive. And the better I feel about myself the more it will encourage positive actions.
When I eat a pizza- no not a slice, a whole pizza. I love every minute of it, and then a bit later I feel sick. When I eat ice cream, followed by chips, followed by cookies, followed by cheese the same thing holds true. I love every minute of my eating, and then I feel sick. I inevitably vow I will never do this again. And then a few weeks later rinse and repeat. Some would say I don’t treat my body with respect. Others might say I just don’t listen to my body, and may others would chime in with I’m emotional eating. In the moment I’m doing it because I am enjoying the hell out of what I am eating and it tastes damn good. That’s it. I’m not thinking about my confidence, or my emotions, or what it will do to me later, I am simply thinking yummmmm. Okay maybe I’m also a little bored, but more so…YUMMMMM….
The thing is though I do have respect for myself. And, really, I am quite confident. And more so I’ve come to terms with my emotions. Yes I eat out of boredom, but I make the bad choices because YUMMMMM. I’m kind of okay with this.
I have a friend who won’t eat all the things she enjoys around others. I have another friend who said she is the same way. I myself have gone out at lunch while my husband is at work, bought and eaten an entire Home Run Inn pizza and then thrown away and cleared the evidence. (Side note for those who haven’t tried Classic Frozen Home Run Inn pizza- DO IT-). I always think I’m an adult. I don’t need to hide my choices. Why am I ashamed? When my husband kills a steak, and then a full bag of chips in one sitting he doesn’t hide it from me. I don’t sit there and judge him for it. No I think “why am I ashamed to do it.” And really why am I.
I want us to get over it. I want to reclaim our adulthood and not be apologetic for it. I’m healthy. I’m overweight but damn I’m healthy. I walk an average of 12,500 steps a day. I eat fruits, and whole grains, and lean proteins, I just also eat a bag of chips, or a whole pizza every few weeks. I don’t need flack. And I don’t think you are giving it to me when I actually think about it. Really am I that important that you are paying attention to what I am eating. HELL NO. So here is my goal for you and me and everyone else. Next time you want to order dessert when you are out- order. Next time you want the next slice- take it. Then maybe the next day have the fruit. Again I’m not advocating do it all the time, I’m just saying own it. Be proud of who you are. I think it will make a change. When we are proud of who we are we feel better. It’s not okay for us not to be proud of ourselves in our own skin. So for today I ate junk. I’m going to finish with Chinese food tonight, and I will probably finish the rest of my vacation eating what I want. And I promise not to shy away from it!