Author: Kensley

Kensley is a tall, secretly introverted mama to her lady-toddler who believes in creekside exploration, IVF, a good Sauvignon Blanc, and embracing the hot mess in us all.

Vintage Art iPhone 6 Cases That (Better) Last!

Last week I wrote about what happens when you don’t have your phone with you. This week, it’s all about what happens when you do. I was so excited to get an iPhone 6 in October last year right after they came out. I had the 4S for an eternity and the 6’s bigger screen and speed were such comparative luxuries.

Cue today. Bristle. I have dropped that slippery little fsucker so many times it’s now being held together by scotch tape. I’m not kidding. Scotch. Tape. I already replaced the screen about 2 months ago and I’m just waiting for a chance to go back to reattach my now separated screen from the phone body. It’s literally hanging on by a thread. Held together by pathetic tape. Not so luxurious now are we? Nope. This shit show is in real need of some sticky fingers.

I thought it was the sleekness of the phone at first. Blamed it on the thin design. Damn you, Apple! But no. It’s not Apple’s fault. It’s my case’s fault. I, on the other hand, am blameless. Yes, it appears that my case has been coated in a thick layer of Teflon® topped off by a high quality dishwashing soap and maybe throw in some grape seed oil. I cannot keep a hold of that damned phone to save my life. Like a wide receiver who can’t catch a cold, these bear paws juggle that phone as if fresh out of the oven. Piping hot. And the clattering sound of technology shattering crack by tiny crack is now a familiar, almost daily sound.

I loved my hearty iPhone 4S case and was bummed to find out there wasn’t the 6 version just yet, so I stupidly settled for what seemed like a fun and harmless little Redbubble case featuring several water color drawings of whales. Super cute. Super slippery. Super not cool, Redbubble! Put some grip on that shit!

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At least the scotch tape is now adding traction.

So I’ve given up on this, um, whale of a disaster and started to search for an actual shatterproof case with still a bit of personality (no offense, OtterBox). I crossed my fingers and breathed a sigh of relief to find out that Condé Nast finally came out with the iPhone 6 version of my favorite design, their Vanity Fair June 1923 magazine cover. FINALLY.

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Getting.

 

So I thought I’d share some of their other lovely and unique vintage magazine cover designs to define you enhance your smart phone experience. Hopefully, they will stand the test of time yet again and come through for these sorry excuses for hands I call oven mitts. Enyoy!

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Condé Nast’s cases are found here.

 

What Happens When You Forget Your Phone

What do you do when you don’t have your security blanket smart phone with you? Freak out like me? Or remain calm and carefree?

I accidentally left my phone at my office while on a survey the other day. I had a sat phone and a GPS with me, so I was technically safe for work, but I kinda flipped my shit. The 5 stages of grief washed over me in a matter of minutes, but I eventually accepted my fate. My phone was not with me. And I was forced to let go.

It was pretty freeing, actually…after the panic subsided of course. There was nothing I could do about it. I was forced to spend my time elsewhere. I was forced to listen to the world around me and to my own thoughts. My job is often to listen…for a specific bird…on certain projects…and I am finely tuned to scout it’s lovely song out while I survey a property. But I have the tendency to multi-task in my busy life. I tend to obsessively check email to put out the latest fire. Or I have been known to call the office to plan for the next day. And I miss the little things amidst the distraction (not a golden-cheeked warbler call, obv).

But that day my soul quieted in technology’s absence and I could hear everything. I listed to the wind, the birds, the trees. I frowned at the unnoticed noisy traffic off the highway and sadness pinched me after realizing that this is the new normal for the beautiful old-oak woodland I was surrounded by. And that there would be no beautiful old-oak woodland sometime in the impending future.

I could even smell better. I noted the earthy wild onion and sweetened wildflowers that I was oblivious to a week before. I saw beauty for beauty’s sake, not scrutinized behind some square camera screen. Not for the benefit of social media, but for my own selfish eyes, knowing that no one else in the world is looking at this gloriously huge gray fox right now. I owned those precious moments when he bounded out of a gnarled oak, ran a few paces, and then turned around to glare at me. Because how dare I disturb him while in my thundering commotion of human presumption? I was connected to that annoyed fox and the surrounding indignant oaks, even if they did not want me there.

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Note the glare, not the species.

We talk about kids and technology, but what about adults and technology? No one is there to turn off the TV for us. No one is there to “limit our screen time.” And let’s face it, we are all kinda addicted. Not just to social media, but to all things digitized. We check the weather instead of feeling it. That Google Maps lady navigates for us instead of orienting ourselves to our surroundings or, God forbid, learning how to read a road map. We play mind-numbing games instead of, say, really observing someone for the beautiful person they are. We take our access to Wikipedia for granted. We search Bon Appétit recipes instead of scanning through our grandmother’s water-stained, hand-written recipe cards. And we whip out the phone to calculate our tip on a friendly meal.

Yet we continue to be so concerned about our children. We want to limit screen time, electronics, all things digital. We want them to be free and independent like generations past, right? But we’re not looking at the whole picture. We’re not taking into account that those parents of generations past also weren’t digitized. And I don’t know if we can ever go back to a simpler time like so many of us wish for. Simplicity parenting? Bringing up bébé? Free range kids? Rock on! But how do you really do it? Seriously. For real.

It seems like we need to not just think about our children, but ourselves as well. Because how can you let go of your child to have the freedom they deserve if you don’t value freedom yourself? How can we raise strong, independent individuals if we ourselves are completely dependent on the very things we want our kids to avoid?

As I write this post I am connected again. This time, just artificially plugged back in like an appliance. And yes, it is hypocritical of me to tout the negatives of technology for I am just as addicted as the rest of us. But I also miss that taste of freedom every so often and true connection with myself and the world around me that the social media so desperately lacks.

So I’m going to try it again this weekend. I will leave my phone at home. Shutter. I am going to take my daughter to pick berries at a strawberry farm outside of town and will have absolutely no help from technology in getting there. Poo is liquifying inside. Because I need that Google Maps lady. Bad.

reilingen-109905__180But I am also excited. Exhilarated even. To savor a bucolic day in the Hill Country, to watch my pigtailed daughter pick strawberries for our pancakes (thanks, Daniel Tiger), to eat a picnic lunch and feed grass to goats sans technology seems like the best idea I’ve had in a long time. It’ll be an adventure to share between just us and the moment. To be connected again to ourselves and the world around us.

It will be difficult. There could even be some serious anxiety involved. But once I let go, maybe I’ll start to be that mom who lets go of her children too. Who lets them be free, who trusts them to learn how to navigate, look up and feel the weather, and add up the tip in their independent little heads.

Of course. That’s when I’ll get lost, have a flat tire, or miss capturing the best stinkin’ strawberry-stained moment ever. Because, you know, I’m a hot mess and that’s how I roll.

Guest Post: Emergency at the Target Parking Lot

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Everyone has shitty days.

I am thrilled that one of our readers, one of my dear and unbelievably talented friends, Heather Watson Hardy, sent me one of her hot mess stories to share! This is such a wonderful forum for real, beautiful mamas to share their hard, hilarious, and honest experiences. It helps the rest of us feel like we’re not the only ones having a bad day or a difficult start to motherhood.

Thank you, Heather, for your heartfelt (and funny-in-hindsight) story! I hope it encourages other mamas out there to share their true, beautiful hot mess selves with us. xoxo


I am a recovering know-it-all. I think I will always be in recovery. I’ve spent my whole professional life working with children, and I’ve even been a live-in-nanny. So, when I had my son, I felt totally confident that my transition to parenthood would be fairly simple.  I imagined taking 3 weeks off before returning to work (I love my work) and had several other delusional dreams prior to my son being born.  What I didn’t know, and could never imagine, was that my son was born tongue-tied, with severe acid reflux, and with the inability to process most proteins found in foods.  In other words, from birth, he was having food reactions to my breast milk, and he was in severe pain.  It was 2 months before he slept more than an hour in one stretch.  Eventually, we figured out his food issues because the food was so reactive in his stomach that it created holes in his intestines.  Let me just say, when you see blood in your baby’s diaper, it is time to freak.  It was hell and so difficult.  Flash forward to the present, he has outgrown almost all of his food issues and he is a very healthy 4 year old.

But let me take you back to his newborn days. As soon as we came home, I had family visit. My sister with 3 kids, would gently say, “he really spits up a lot.” My dear mother-in-law, would say other gentle comments about him, pointing out what seemed less normal.  Well, my know-it-all defensive self (not to mention sleep deprived and hormonal) just yelled back that my baby was fine. He was perfect. Some babies are fussy and some are not but mine was fine.

So, my baby is 3 weeks old, my husband is at work. I’m going stir crazy. I’m really not used to being home all the time and I spent my time holding a screaming baby, nursing constantly (it would calm him down), trying to get him to sleep, back to a screaming baby, etc. So I got the brilliant idea to go to Target by myself.  I even planned. I would nurse, then we would go, maybe the car would put him to sleep. I told myself, I can accomplish things still! Watch me, world.  So I set my little plan into action. Nursed my little baby, he seemed calm, We got into the car, and I’m already feeling elated.

What I didn’t yet realize is that his reactions took time to happen. The milk had to get processed in his little system before it started to hurt. Later I could time it; his screaming would begin about 30 min after nursing. Target is 15 min from my house. We get into a cart and he is in his infant carrier, still calm.  So I begin shopping. About 15 min into shopping the screaming begins. Now, I’ve also learned that a newborn baby in pain screaming is way different from the normal quiet, soft little musings I’ve heard from other newborns.  This was a loud, piercing, scream with all my soul kind of crying.  I panic and take my baby out of the car seat. So now I have a cart full of stuff that I can longer push because I’m holding a newborn in my hands. Then people begin to ask me if he’s okay and can they help. That concern just put me over the edge. I tell people he must be hungry. It’s okay- he’s just still hungry. So I leave my cart in an aisle and I have a new plan. I will go to my car, nurse some more and then come back and finish at Target. I’m getting frazzled but I can still do this.

I go to my car and get in the back seat with the tinted windows because I’m still overly modest and unsure about all this breastfeeding (don’t worry- very soon modesty and dignity left me for good). I start to nurse and he calms down. I breathe a sigh of relief. All will be ok. Hallelujah. I’m not a total failure. Then I feel it.

One thing I forgot to mention, when a baby has severe intestinal distress, you also get baby diarrhea. This stuff is like water and there was just SO much.  No diaper could contain it. And that’s what I felt in my hand, in my lap, covering my legs. My clean hand was holding my son’s head as he nursed. The other hand cupped a pool of diarrhea. Pool. In my hand.

It was a moment like no other. I cried. I waited for a true grown-up to come rescue me. And then I realized I’m the mama here (clearly a hot poop-filled mess). So I opened the door, flung the diarrhea onto the parking lot (I still feel a little guilty about that but I had no other idea what to do with it), and then used every single baby wipe in possession. My Target cart was left abandoned and I drove home, still poopy and traumatized. But now it’s like a barometer. Having a bad day? Well, are you covered in poo with a screaming baby? No? Then it’s okay. You’ll make it. And if you are holding a hand-full of poop, just fling it out the door and get the hell outta there.

A Bag for All Adventures: BEXAR Goods Co.

I had a chance to talk to a long-time colleague of mine after doing a bird survey the other day. I hadn’t talked to him since he started his incredible San Antonio-based handmade leather goods company in his spare time, BEXAR Goods Co., and it was wonderful to catch up with him and see how it was going. Guy is that visionary kind of person who is passionate about all things, especially his family, his photography, and his designs of these incredible leather products.

I knew our fellow Hot Mess Mama, Lisa, was obsessed with his bags and purchased one of his leather/canvas bags as a diaper bag. FYI, this is pure genius if you ever want your husband to feel completely comfortable and manly while holding your diaper bag (and if you ever want to look, feel, and know you are undeniably cool carrying said diaper bag). Though I could still never look this hip (sigh):

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Adorable pregnant Lisa and her BGC bag.

Another one of my dear friends has been raving about BEXAR Goods Co for years. She even went to a workshop to help make her own bag. How cool is that?

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Photo by L. Acuna

But when I went to look at Guy’s website, I kinda shat myself. I didn’t realize just how awesome these bags were. It’s a very rugged, manly type of look; the kind of Indiana Jones satchel envisioned in the back of an old 1930s prop plane before it’s about to crash or the kind of Brad Pitt satchel used to house his trout while he’s fly fishing in a river…that runs through it.

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I mean, wow.

With it’s undeniably cool leather-covered, cork-topped, copper flasks and its thick, waterproof, waxed-cotton canvas bags, this line screams bellows “all things man.”

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Would this not be the coolest gift ever?
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Horween Outlander
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Porter Satchel

BUT these bags are not just for those with testosterone coursing through their veins. They’re just simply…classic. Timeless. The way people used to make things. With care, precision, and indestructible materials. It’s that kind of leather that gets even better with age. It’s the kind of canvas that proudly wears your hard-earned scars, whether its from that scrape from a slot-canyon hike, those bite-marks from a teething 18-month-old, that singe at Burning Man, or that urine “water” stain from that trip to the beach. It looks, feels, and knows it’s better with time. And THAT is a bag I can stand by. For any type of adventure, with kids or without. Here are a few more of my favorites:

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Cruiser Roll Top
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Market Bag
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Mustang Carry (p.s. I love how they call a tote a “carry.” Much more manly unisex).

Cheers to these versatile, beautifully made, classic bags and the groceries, diapers, fishing gear, and hipster craft tequila they carry. May you forever be enlightened from this leathery experience.

Product photo source here.

Sugar + Toddler + Restaurant = Fail

So my well-intentioned, but highly cocky “respect” discipline philosophy first mentioned here ran head first into a brick wall last night. And it died a slow and gurgly death. Because I am a shit show. And disciplining a toddler in public is difficult. Because they own you. They’ve got you right by your short-hairs. They know it. And you know it.

Cue yesterday afternoon. We had a lovely day. Ryan’s parents came in town. We played outside and enjoyed the beautiful weather. We put up some vintage outdoor lights and did some landscaping. And Nina had way too many fun sweets. But that’s okay–we bend the rules when the grandparents are here.

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Pre-crack. Note the calm, organized sweetness.
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Post-crack. Notice the boundless energy and that hint of mischief in her eyes. I should have seen this coming.

SOOO we decided to go to one of our go-to places for homey food and amazing atmosphere: The County Line on Bull Creek, where you can feed the abundant turtles and fish and ducks after stuffing your face full of yummy BBQ. Love this place for kiddos and would highly recommend it for families in the Austin area. Watching those turtles is hypnotizing!

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Beautiful Bull Creek

The thing is, Nina was not only completely full from the overindulgence in goodies, but completely wired. Like on crack. And so she proceeded flip out and hit me, as a game, non stop, throughout dinner. This is not a violent child. Every time I gave her a warning to not hit me again or it’s a timeout, she grinned and hit me again. And you gotta go through with a threat. So crap. Time out. Yet again. Away from everyone. Outside.

AAAAAND it backfired on me. That beautiful spring air was essentially a REWARD for bad behavior. So by the third timeout, it finally dawned on me to find a quiet room and have her face the wall in a chair for 2 minutes. Nope. That didn’t work either. She played me like a fiddle the whole time. Her muffled giggles while she shimmied in her chair to the head-shoulders-knees-and-toes tune were like sirens of defiance. And then she asked for more timeout time. Because what’s more fun than a party of one when you’re the star? C.R.A.P.

If it was just us, we would have packed up and left. But we were stuck there at dinner. I was getting increasingly upset because she NEVER acts like this. My husband wanted me to ignore her or switch places with him to break the cycle. But I had had enough. I told them I’d wait for them in the truck and left with her. When everyone joined us I broke down in sobs on my mother-in-law’s shoulder and she said, “motherhood is the hardest thing you’ll ever love.” This is just one kid. I am such a wimp! And I hold any mama with more than one kid in such high regard–don’t know how you do it.

But then this morning, Nina asked me as I was helping her get dressed, “you okay, mom? I hit you. I sorry.” And my normal sweet girl returned. Those glittery, mischevious little devil horns must have broken off in her sleep last night. Lesson learned: Over-stimulated, over-exhausted, and over-sugared shit happens.

So how do you do it, mamas? During those times of meltdown crises, what do you do? Remove the child from the situation? Ignore it? Talk sternly? Threaten? Give ’em the stink-eye? For real. I would love to hear your honest, solid advice. I am in need of some tried-and-true ideas that don’t require a 100 pages of book reading. And I’ll take a mama’s advice over a book any day anyway.

Photos by ChicEtChoc and Austin Wedding Day.

Playground Politics

Most people refer to “playground politics” as the petty one-upmanship parents do to each other while navigating through the intimidating world of raising children. Others think it applies to the children themselves as they navigate through the fascinating and often difficult world of growing up. My toddler has already experienced quite a few pushes, bites, and name-callings in her short lifetime. She’s TWO! It happens. I take it in stride. She needs to find her way, learn how to defend herself, socialize with other children, and get through it, as much as it pains me to say. Because I won’t always be there to defend her.

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She’s actually the ring-leader in many a plot to raid the fishbowl and overthrow the dictatorship.

But what really is the right thing to do? Protect your child or let them learn how to protect themselves? It’s so hard. My gut tells me the latter is correct. Let her figure it out. This world is a big, scary place and the quicker she can defend herself, the better. My job is to give her the tools to survive, the ammo to persevere, and the open arms to comfort her when my advice fails her miserably.

But my heart screams the former!! My nervous, inner-child spazmatically cries out to hover over her in protection like the helicopter mom (or plastic-bubble?? mom) I try so hard not to be. I was an anxious little thing growing up. I still am, just many (many) feet taller. I remember oh too well the playground politics of my day, you know, when kids were assholes. So I know what lies ahead and don’t want her to feel ANY emotional or physical pain. But that’s not actually fair to her, is it? That’s not life.

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Me at every situation. Ever.

It took me a long time to figure out the world. I’m lying. I’m still trying to figure it out (hence me being such a hot mess). Some people are born knowing. They are natural leaders. Their confidence is admirable. And they fart glitter clouds of cardamom and Mozart. Go for it you self-assured cuties! Sigh. But not me. I would say it took me until I was about 30 to really know myself, to feel comfortable in my own skin, to embrace my height, feel confident in meetings, to know what I was talking about at work, and to not (always) care what other people thought of me.

So when I get a call from her school saying my daughter has been bit yet again while I’m away at a conference and then I get a text from Grandma Birdie depicting the saddest face in the world, it bitch-slaps me simultaneously with blinding, white-hot anger and full, rational compassion for that child who did this to mine. It’s a very confusing sensation.

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This has happened several times over the course of this year, each with a different kid. And she confirms it when she tells she tells us nonchalantly the name of the boy who bit her, so freely as she’s playing with her toys, as if she knows it’s not that big of a deal, that it’s a part of growing up, that this is just simply how life is. Tit for tat. Because no, these were not unprovoked events. My daughter steals the kitchenware right out of those little cooking hands and takes off with cars the second that back is turned to get some gas. These other children don’t know how to express their anger at the moment and biting is one way to get their feelings across real quick. I get it.

At age 4-5, biting is likely a behavioral issue that needs addressing. But at 2-3, it’s a developmental response. It’s an expression of a language that’s tough to learn. And so we take it because we ultimately know this is just a part of life. We try to learn from it on our end and try to reinforce that asking first before taking and waiting to share, etc. are what we do. I try to remain calm and rational. Her school is an excellent one. Her class doesn’t have the only biters in the world. THEY’RE TWO! It’s okay.

School_02-10-15_7She will learn. They all will. She may even one day successfully negotiate that car right out from under that kid, making him think it was his idea the whole time, and with a grin as wide as the sea, she’ll navigate through the rough waters of playground politics and begin to make a life of her own. And be comfortable in her own skin (way before 30).

Chicken Coop Renting? What.

I have always wanted a chicken coop. So when we moved to a house with a big backyard, I started salivating at the thought of freshest of the fresh eggs and soldiers, creamiest of the creamy quiches, and a bit of rural magic in our urban setting. I am also hesitant to commit. I mean, I can barely take care of myself (I shower fortnightly), my child (she still uses a paci), my husband (I dry his undryables), my two cats (thank God they yell at me to feed them, otherwise…), and my house (the laundry should be referenced in Dante’s Inferno for its relentless, eternal torture). So adding one more stinkin’ chore to my life may not be the best decision.

Cue the Chicken Renters. I found them at our local farmer’s market and I am quite intrigued to say the least.  Your rent goes towards the purchase of a portable, brightly-colored coop and egg-layin’ chickens. But if something happens, if your plans go awry, if your neighbors complain, or you’ve had one too many muddy trips through the rain to feed those suckers, you know what to do. Send their asses packing.

The Chicken Renters’ creative duo has a smart plan for the hesitant hot mess, an approachable strategy for the fair-weather family. They have turned something so intimidating to me and put Groucho Marx glasses on it. And how can you go wrong when one of the owners is Daniel Radcliffe? Risk-free chicken renting from Harry Potter? Brilliant. (said in a horsey Cockney accent)

Speaking of chickens, I can’t help but share some of my chicken obsessions over the years. Because, yes, I’m a hot mess and I obsess not only over fresh chicken eggs, but fresh chicken style…

Barred Cochin Bantams

Because you can’t beat a good black-and-white stripe with red accessories. Classic.

Silkies

Because cotton ball bunny fur on a chicken is just so right.

Belgium Bearded Bantams (D’uccle Mille Fleur)

Because the lady is the pretty one instead of the gent in this breed… even though you kinda wouldn’t be able to tell if there was chicken poo on her, God love her.

Polish Frizzle Bantams

Because can you imagine this staring back at you in the morning? How could you not have a good day?

*Editor’s note: I actually do shower more than every two weeks. But not by much.*

Rediscovering Youth

I visited my parents a few weekends ago and had the brilliant idea to show Nina my childhood dollhouse. My grandfather built me a simple four-room house to keep himself busy after my grandmother died. In it was a lovely hodgepodge of handmade furniture, random Sylvanian Families, and 1980’s decor. Only now do I full grasp and appreciate this beautiful gift that I spent so many years playing with (and let’s be honest, defacing).  But this is no Mattel. This old house and its inhabitants have surprisingly stood the test of time. So I’m sorry, mom, for thinking in a singsong voice ‘hoarding tendencies‘ for keeping this after 30 years. I’m an idjit!

I loved rediscovering my youth as I watched Nina play. The child within is such a small part of us now, but I hope it’s still in there for you somewhere deep down as it is for me. These moments pull us from our racing minds and our aging bodies back into the world of soft skin and animal soap operas we created for ourselves so many years ago. We willingly, joyfully, and excusably get to rediscover this youth through our children and revel in its peace.

My mother (aka “Grandma Birdie”) wanted to repaint the dollhouse for Nina, but I love its history and vintage charm, its kith and kin scrawled on the kitchen floor, the bold declaration of ownership, windows “glued out” to ensure a good-night’s sleep, and apartment numbers hastily scribbled on the walls to resolve a rabbit-beaver fight over who gets to use the communal kitchen. Wildlife drama and childhood imagination at its best.

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It makes me want to build a simple dollhouse and start her own collection of dolls. Perhaps then some day I’ll take a photo of Nina playing with her daughter in that dollhouse I hoarded for 30 years and rediscover my youth all over again.

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Cheers!

Suck it, boobs.

WARNING* This week we’re all chiming in on breastfeeding so yes, we are talking all-things boob. It’s been a while for me, but it’s something that’s not very near and dear to my heart. I’m not all that passionate about it. If you don’t do it my way? Eh. I can barely keep up with my own boobs let alone think about yours. Look, breastfeeding is great if you can do it. The benefits of antibodies and other goodies that formula doesn’t provide coupled with the added bonding and the sheer convenience are all wonderful things. But bodies, jobs, injuries, surgeries, life, and a million other reasons sometimes just get in the way of our breastfeeding wishes and la leche dreams.

There’s so much pressure to do the right thing. So much guilt if you don’t. And that’s what I want to talk about today. The right thing. For me, I was going to breastfeed no. matter. what. But looking back I don’t necessarily think that was the right thing for my family. Because I’d rather be sane with formula than crazy while breastfeeding. Sorry. And I wished there had been someone there to tell me DO WHATEVER IT TAKES TO MAINTAIN SANITY OR AT THE VERY LEAST, SURVIVE. What’s sad is that my mom said this very thing and I didn’t believe her because she was from that generation. The parents of what, the ‘selfish ’70s’? Not from my generation–the parents of the — wait. What are we?

More and more, mamas these days seem to be sacrificing EVERYTHING for their kids. Their bodies, their minds, their time, their careers. And in some regards, that ideal is lovely. And it works. In others, I don’t know if its necessarily healthy. We are peer pressuring an entire generation to do whatever it takes to make your child the best he or she can be. All while being miserable behind closed iPads at the thought of doing the wrong thing.

What we’re forgetting in the equation is the needs of the mama. I kinda think the parents of American generations past and surprisingly the French parents of today got it right. There’s more balance in the mother-child dynamic. The former were kinda selfish compared to today’s standards, but it made kids self sufficient. It made for adults who knew how to respect elders and work for what they wanted. The latter, the French, seem kinda selfish too. But surprisingly while the parents take care of themselves, the kids learn to take care of themselves too. Huh.

Anyway, for me I bullheadedly pushed through 2 months of tortured agony to get to a point where breastfeeding finally gelled. Why did it start working, you ask? Well, because those nips finally gave up the good fight, God rest their souls, and there is no pain the Nipple Afterlife.

I stubbornly pushed through another four months of work-pumping hell to make it happen. You think bringing your pump to work is hard? Try strapping that bad-boy on your back, with an OCD-supply of batteries, a cooler and ice pack, pumping paraphernalia, a strap-on pumping bra, a cover, lunch, full-day supply of water, binoculars, field guides, sunscreen, a compass, handheld GPS unit, and a camera, all while wearing thick wool socks, hiking boots, and long sleeves and pants in the Central Texas heat of May. And then awkwardly hike through the woods with uncomfortable, side-glancing coworkers while they wait for you to milk good ole’ Bessie every 3 hours. Like I said. Stubborn.

bestbreastpumpever-blogspot-com
I bet that’s wine.

By the time my frozen supply was all used up and we had to start supplementing with formula at 7 months (and her head shockingly didn’t fall off), I had had enough. Because Nina couldn’t care less either way. Ugh. Really? Sayonara to you good pump. I bid you adieu. So I started to wean and was graciously rewarded with…weaning depression. Not many people talk (or even know?) about weaning depression, but I wish I had realized it was at least a possibility. Because I could not see what was happening to me until I was on the other side of it. It was a 2-month nightmare chocked full of insecurities, thinking my life was ending, and guilt that I had this beautiful baby girl and a loving husband and still felt like my world was collapsing. Boob hormones are powerful. And mine rocked me to the core. SUCK IT, BOOBS.  Suck. it.

Why am I sharing something so personal? Because I want women out there who are struggling with breastfeeding and feeling guilty for not wanting to continue, or for dreading the next feeding, or freaking out that their bodies hurt or aren’t doing what they’re supposed to, to know that you’re not the only one. There’s no perfect solution. And I identify with you. I wish I could say hold out until your nips have gone to Nipple Heaven. I’d like to push you through and get you to a place where it’s amazing. Because it sometimes is. But it sometimes isn’t. Sometimes boobs are the gift that keep on surprising. You just never know if that’s a good surprise or bad.

All I can say to you is DO WHATEVER IT TAKES TO MAINTAIN SANITY OR AT THE VERY LEAST, SURVIVE. If that means using formula, you and your baby will survive. If that means breastfeeding until they ask you for it, you and your 5-year-old will survive. Ignore everyone and their peacocked facades, call a few trusted friends only, and do what’s best for you and your family.

It’s better than saying Pinterest made me do it.

 

On Ballet and Valentine’s Day

I think I’m the only one who really doesn’t like Valentine’s Day. Shudder. Everyone seems to make a big deal about this day. All the blogs, Pinterest, grocery stores, commercials, even my mom–they all attempt to flood me with love and light. And reminders to get everyone valentines. And flowers. And chocolate. Yeah yeah yeah. I GOT IT!

Happy stinkin’ V.D.!

What it is is the quintessential Hallmark holiday. And instead of love and light, I am filled with dread and annoyance.  Sure, I guess some people do it up right, if right means sending luscious flowers to their loved ones (you DO know they are plant vaginas, right?) and cherishing this time-honored day with dinners, romance, and crotchless panties. I bet their Valentine’s cards profess undying love and devotion too. But for the rest of us, you’re either:

(a) Disappointed you didn’t get thought of.“Damn them all to Hades!”

(b) When you did get thought of it wasn’t in the way you wanted to be thought of. “I didn’t really FEEL the love in your 99¢ card and take-out Chinese, honey.”

(c) Surprised you got thought of and wipe the drool off your slack jaw. “Wow. You DO love me! And you’ve set the bar measurably high for the rest of your life!”

(d) OR you forgot altogether and feel really really (really) bad you didn’t get your mom and MIL a Valentine’s Day card. “Um. Thanks for all the thoughtful and handmade gifts you sent us, moms.” Seriously, thanks moms. I promise your minds will be blown on Mother’s Day–we’re all stocked up on glitter!

So cue my husband. If you haven’t noticed I don’t really like celebrating when society tells me I have to. Well, he had a brilliant idea for my Christmas present to take me to the ballet a couple of times this year. He listened when I mentioned I’d like to support the performing arts. And he came through. Out of nowhere. He showed me the love by listening–and that’s all I needed.

It just unfortunately happened to be on Valentine’s Day weekend. Gross. It was the first time we had gone out in years to celebrate on or near Valentine’s Day. We had amazing French cocktails at Peché. We laughed. We cried. And we passed the line of cars waiting to park at the ballet and kept going. And kept going. And. kept. going. I should have Übered just to drop us from our car to the venue. But I am über lame now and don’t go out much any more so I didn’t even think of it. A mile hike later and we have just enough time to order a cocktail and slide on in to the theater. And put Hello Kitty band aids on my blistered ankles. Whew!

Ballet Austin was performing Belle Redux: A Tale of Beauty and the Beast. I loved it. Edgy. Sexy. True to life with there’s-a-beast-in-us-all message. But I have to admit I was slightly disappointed after realizing there would be no rendition of “Be Our Guest.” I seriously envisioned a cabriolet-ing chorus line synchronized to “COURSE..BY…COURSE! ONE BY ONE!” Other than that, it was lovely.

Ballet
Non-stop-classy.

On the way home we walked hand in hand, chatted about the performance, and got sprayed by the sprinklers in the field we were hiking through. It was a perfect, magical Valentine’s Day that I will never forget. Thank you, my sweet husband, for making my V.D. flare up with love and light.

The next day we told Nina all about our evening. And she couldn’t wait to join the troupe next year.

Photo_287
Cue some ABBA, Nina Ballerina.

 

[Editor’s Note: For the record, I do NOT have a venereal disease as implied above, though no judgment for those of you out there that do.]