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Finding Time to Get Things Done

31 Jan

Trying to get things done can feel like a race against time.

“Like sands through the hourglass, so are the days of our lives.”  Remember that line?  For those not familiar, it’s the opening line from the ever popular “Days of our Lives” soap opera.  And it has been in my head all morning.  On repeat.  Most likely it is related to the fact that I feel like there is just not enough time to get things done.  I’ve been sort of obsessing about the idea of being more balanced and making better use of my time without getting too stressed out.

Today is one of those days where I feel like I am sand in a very small hourglass.  As I was preparing breakfast  this morning, I began to run through the list of errands for the day.  Just as I figured out the timing of things, I suddenly realized that today is a shower day.  A shower, ugh.  It’s not that I’m not into hygiene by any means, it’s just that showers have become inconvenient and unenjoyable since I had my daughter.  The horror, right?!  That’s supposed to be a safe place!  A haven!  When I was pregnant, a friend of mine who had just had her first child said “make sure you make time for showers in the morning.  It’s like your coffee and it will help you get through your day.  It will help you feel more like a person.  Trust me.”  When someone says “trust me” I now take it seriously.  But, at the time I was cool and was always going to have time for a shower.  Why wouldn’t I?  But, I digress.

Fast forward to after having a child and I now have “shower days.” But, I was up late last night and extra groggy this morning so I forgot that today is a shower day.  So, when my inner hygienic clock suddenly rang I started to panic because I had to redo my entire formula for the day.  But, this is pretty much how I operate on a regular basis.  It’s like a jigsaw puzzle or a never ending math class and I hate math.

So, today’s basic formula goes like this:

Getting dressed: 5 minutes
Exercise: 1.5 hours
Driving to grocery store: 10 minutes
Groceries: 1 hour
Driving home: 10 minutes
Unpacking groceries: 10 minutes
Shower + hair: 20 minutes
————————————–
3 hours 45 minutes
+ oh no I need gas!: 20 minutes
————————————-
4 hours 5 minutes

Time available while daughter is in school = 3 hours

So, I begin the process of subtraction and jigsawing (a fun term I substitute for multi-tasking sometimes).  It basically means figuring out what I can either remove and/or fit in while I’m doing something else.

Just writing this out makes my head spin.  Maybe I should be taking a shower or doing some laundry instead?

And even though that formula is based on being childless for a few hours, there are times where I play the same game with myself while I’m with my daughter except I feel like I am working on “borrowed time.”  Which means I am borrowing time out of my very active toddler’s day to make her do things that don’t always include a giant plastic car to ride around in while mommy does her thing (like at the grocery store).  I do try to work with her schedule and incorporate some fun time beforehand but fun time is never fun when it has to be interrupted for a ridiculous reason like mommy needs to pick up a few things.  And tantrums somehow seem longer and way more dramatic when you are trying to achieve even the tiniest goal for the day.

I could probably be more relaxed in terms of how I think about my day or my week but it still feels like a science.  I would love to hear thoughts and feedback on how other moms balance time.  Do you break up little tasks throughout your week or play catch up on the weekend?  Do you use any organizational tools/planners to help keep you on top of things?

Disclaimer: I’m not completely anti-shower and do occasionally take one on an off shower day.  It’s especially nice when I am surrendering to a burning hot shower with the lights off after a long day of tantrums.  It’s happened and believe me, it’s bliss.  I’m talking pitch black, no candles, no aromatherapy, just me and a gloriously steam filled room.
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Fit to be Tied

11 Oct

So last week I decided to try out a little wardrobe update.  I thought it might be a good idea to check out TJ Maxx since I had to make a return there from buying what I thought was a cool sweater vest a little while ago.  I decided to browse around and ended up with a ton of stuff to take home and retry since I was running out of time.  I heard the echoing of my mother-in-law saying “If you aren’t sure just take it home.  You can always return it.”  So I did.  I felt like Old St. Nick walking out of that store because the bag was THAT BIG.

When I went home I tried on a bunch of stuff for my husband and ended up with a bunch of things to return and some that needed in a different size.  So, I went back the next day and ended up trying a bunch of things on again.  As I was trying them on, the dressing room attendant (we’ll call her “the Attendant” for ease of reference) was commenting on a couple of the items I was wearing.  It was unsolicited but not bad advice.  And the attention was pretty nice, too.  So, I went through all of my outfits and with some help made final decisions on what I would be bringing home.  The last item I tried on was a knit dress with  3 broad color-blocked bands, knee-length and fitted.  Both my husband (from the night before) and the Attendant seemed to be very pleased with this dress but I still wasn’t sure.  I really haven’t worn dresses much less anything fitted since way before kids.  So I kinda shrugged and said “well, I think it makes me look fat.”  Shock and awe struck her face and she reassured me that it definitely didn’t and that I am skinny.  How could I argue with skinny?  And since I was already in a euphoric state from even being able to step foot into a clothing store for more than an hour ON MY OWN, I decided to set aside my insecurities and drop the dress into my “to buy” pile.  I then got dressed and headed out of the dressing room, thanking the Attendant for all her support and encouragement.  That’s when things changed…

As I was gathering up my “keepers”, the Attendant, almost in a whisper, leans over and asks “Um, do you have a baby?”  Now, I wasn’t with a child, I never mentioned a child, I didn’t have any child related products anywhere near me (in fact, I had man slippers in my cart, in plain sight) and I made sure to manage my time in the store so that I wasn’t asking around every 5 minutes if anyone had the time while explaining that I had to pick my child up from school.  So, the only conclusion I could come to was that I probably did look fat in that dress!  I replied “Yes, why because you could tell from my belly sticking out in that dress?”  And before I knew it we were in the underwear section standing in front of a rack containing items with control tops while the Attendant was explaining to me that if I needed to I could always buy one of these but I definitely didn’t look like I needed it in that dress and by the way did I remember to TIE MY BELLY when I was pregnant?  TIE MY BELLY??

If only I had known…

Naturally, I replied “Uh, Noo” as if I had forgotten because apparently in her world everyone has or is doing it and I definitely wasn’t going to be the idiot that had no idea what she was talking about.  She then continues to say “Oh yeah, you gotta tie your stomach but that’s ok if you didn’t this time, you can always make up for it with your second and third child.  And you know you can always do sit ups for your abs.”  NEWSFLASH!

So with little time remaining and clearly lots of work to catch up on (belly boot camp, working on a second and third child, picking my current child up from school), I excused myself and checked out.

I bought the dress but we aren’t friends and it will probably find its way back to the store and maybe into the hands of the childless, young and single Attendant who probably ties her belly just in preparation for the day she gets pregnant.

The irony in all of this is that I was in the store trying to find things that didn’t give away the fact that I am a mom.  I realize my body has changed and I look tired which doesn’t go well with many things other than yoga pants or jeans and a t-shirt but sometimes I just want to change it up.  I want to get past my postpartum insecurities and start feeling more like my old self.  But, is that possible?  Or do I embrace a new identity (a “mom-dentity”) with a side of who I used to be and incorporate the two into how I want to express myself now?

I suspect that although we want to find and embrace the things that remind us of who we used to be we can’t help but think about who we spend most of our time with and just how they play a defining role in who we are now.

Cardigans

2 Jun

If there is one piece of clothing I have come to rely on lately, it’s my cardigan.  For a while I seemed to find myself in the same jeans and hooded sweatshirt on a pretty consistent basis.  As I was thinking more about my beloved cardigans, and pondering just how long I’ve had both my black and white one (too many years to mention publicly, as it turns out), I wondered why I haven’t made better use out of these simple yet fashionable items.  For one thing, they are thin cotton and we are still (somehow) dealing with wintry weather here in the Bay area.  Putting a coat over a cardigan just doesn’t feel right.  So, my instinct is to cover up with something warmer and since it can’t be my blanket (pipe dream), I choose my hoodie or a t-shirt/sweater combo.  Also, I think that although most cardigans have some kind of button or snap, sometimes I just want to throw something on or zip something up and go.  There is just not enough time to be selective and thoughtful when you are mom-blasted out of bed in the morning (“MAMA!” “MAMA!” “MAAAAA!” is pretty much what we hear in this house) and in need of more coffee.

But, cardigans do work and can actually play a functional role in preparing for a mom’s day of work.  There are so many out there and it really only takes a few seconds to button them up.  For those of us who are rather deft, a one-handed buttoning while assisting with socks, shoes and the like is perfectly doable.  Some even have snaps for greater ease of use.  And if you have mastered the belt (which I still can’t quite pull off for various reasons), you can slide that t-shirt or tank over your head, toss your cardigan on and then just slip a belt around your waist and go.

I started doing a search online and found some really nice and very affordable options.  As it turns out, cardigans are everywhere and come in all kinds of fabrics, styles and shapes. Many seem to have some sort of embellishment on them as well which makes for a very put together and dressed up feeling.  For me, there aren’t many requirements either.  Since they are so basic, I’d just like them to be affordable, “easy to use” (read: thrown on at a moment’s notice) and perhaps work for both daytime and evening.

Old Navy and Gap tend to have some really affordable, sweet looking ones that work well with a variety of outfits.

 I recently bought a nice little pink number (above) which was $15 and is now out of stock on Old Navy’s website.  It’s so soft and the embellishments actually hold up in the wash.  While it’s not something I could necessarily wear around the playground, it is something that could work for various kiddie classes, i.e. music, gym, errands and then convert easily for date night.

Another one I ended up purchasing was a warm, wooly one from Anthropologie on sale for $40.  It’s got snaps!  And it’s tailored in such a way that it adds a flattering hour glass shape to your look.  This works with ANYTHING underneath.  That old, worn t-shirt you just feel like you need to be in or a cute tank or cami.  Works both ways.

And finally, a long, green cardi from Land’s End.  It has been great with skinny jeans and leggings.  Plus, on warmer days I can add 1 or 2 tanks (layered) underneath and I am ready for a romp around town, kiddie style.

While I was searching around for some updated cardis, I came across an article called “5 Reasons You Should Own a Cardigan.”   Like a Hallmark card, it pretty much says everything I would want to say about this topic.  Although, I did modify it a bit based on personal experience and to work with the subject of this blog.  You can find the original here.  Enjoy!

  • They add color & interest to any outfit. Buy a cardigan in a bright color to dress up a neutral outfit. A plain black tank top looks amazing with a colorful cardigan, jeans and some simple jewelry.  You could even dare to match crazy patterns under some of the darker solid cardis out there.
  • Dress them up or down. Cardigans are great for throwing on to run errands, a playdate or the playground and staying warm, but are equally awesome to wear for date night or a moms night out.
  • You’ll be prepared for any weather. Throw a cardigan in your Diaper/Tote (or in my case Whole Foods Eco) bag to protect from unexpected cold outside or even arctic air conditioning. You’ll look cute and be comfortable no matter what!
  • Wear your summer tank tops into fall. All those fabulous summer tank tops you own are good throughout the winter with a simple cardigan on top. Hello wardrobe versatility!
  • Shower Curtain /Stain Shield I chose this title because I seriously feel like I am showered with so many stains throughout the day that being naked would be a relief.  A cardigan is the perfect coverall to hide those indecencies, leaving only you and your tiny tot with the knowledge that they are really there.  On the other hand, they can pose as the first layer of defense when you don’t want to mess up a “special” article of clothing underneath.

I actually asked if they offered personal shopping

18 Dec Anthropologie seeks to create an inspiring shopping experience

I have never  really put much effort into shopping mainly because I seem to struggle with finding just the right fit, style and colors.  I am short with a petite frame which means most things are either too long or too big.  To make things even more interesting, I had to start wearing shoe inserts not too long ago because apparently child bearing weight has caused a couple of bones to separate in my right foot.  The shoe inserts seem to only fit into my New Balance sneakers which means my outfits are not only put together with my 2 year old in mind, but they must also look great with my sporty and fun street shoes.

Recently, I received some money for my birthday with encouragement to please “spend it on yourself.  You deserve it!”  I finally felt like taking that advice so I decided to treat myself to a little visit to Anthropologie.  I consider Anthropologie to be that piece of cake you reward yourself with after a week of “being good.”  Except in my case it’s more like I’ve been on a diet for 2+ years.

So, I decided to go to Anthropologie shortly after I got my birthday money and wouldn’t ya know ….the outfits I picked on my own looked terrible.  I selected a pair of cargo pants that were on sale and a couple of shirts to match.  The pants were too big (because I have no idea what my European size is) and the sweaters I chose turned out to be boxy and shapeless.

I was starting to get a little down when it suddenly occurred to me to ask if they offer personal shopping.  I have never done this sort of thing before so it was shocking to hear the words “Do you offer personal shopping services?” come out of my mouth.

Anthropologie’s personal shopper just so happened to be working that day and the dressing room clerk paged her for me.  When she came into the dressing room she asked me what sort of style I was aiming for and I froze up.  I didn’t know what to say.  My natural reaction is to say “something for work” or “something to wear out to dinner.”  Neither of those apply right now.  Dinner, occasionally, but apparently not enough to make me want to oomph up my wardrobe in some time.  I managed to cough out “well, I’m a mom and I have a 2 year old.”  Then I just stood there, awkwardly.  She smiled and said “so you just need something you could dress up or dress down depending on the time of day.”  Sure, let’s try that.

It seemed like seconds before half the store was hanging in my dressing room.  There were sweaters-cardigans and pullovers, Tees-long sleeved and sleeveless.  Colors of gray, burgundy, navy blue, mustard yellow.  4 Different types of pants-cargo, straight-legged as well as skinny jeans, even jeggings (which I had not heard of before until I came across them in Kohls while shopping for my daughter because her wardrobe is way more up to date than mine).   Everything was paired together perfectly and ready to be tried on.  I felt like I was getting ready for the runway.  I was informed that any of the outfits could be “dressed up or dressed down by adding a cute ballet flat or boots for nighttime.”  Note to self: get more shoe inserts.

As I went through each outfit, things seemed to be way off and did not work for several reasons:

– Price: None of the pants were below $100 and the tops ranged from $78 – $128.  The first outfit – gray cargos, a short-sleeved tee and a jersey cardigan – $294.  That’s just one outfit.

– Style: The pullovers were loose fitting with cowlnecks and asymmetrical hems which made it look like I was swimming in a sea of fabric. The cardigans were made of light weight fabric which caused them to hang open without any belt, clasp or closure of any kind.   I couldn’t picture running after my daughter while fidgeting with my sweater.  I feel like I’m moving around so much during the day that I need to make sure my clothes are secured to my body.

– Cleaning Instructions (and this could even be considered the most important): Most of the items were delicate, requiring Dry Cleaning or Hand Washing.  I don’t even hand wash the dishes.

I decided to head home and think some more about what I’d like to have in my wardrobe.  As I was getting dressed, I spotted a navy blue hoodie in the corner of the room.  It must have been hiding under a few outfits.  It was a glorious sight!  I went for it and it fit perfectly.  A match made in heaven.

After 4 hours in the dressing room (plus the aid of a personal shopper) I found one excellent hoodie!

The At-Ease Hoodie, making motherhood fashionably laid back.

It’s called the “At-Ease Hoodie.” Enough said.  I actually love the longer length and the gather at the waist makes it flattering and feminine. This would be nice for lounging around the house OR going out to run errands without looking like you are wearing your frumpy clothes.  It’s loose without being baggy and the sleeves can be rolled up and snapped in place. It also has 2 nice deep pockets to store a cell phone, keys, rocks or any other treasures small hands like to find.  It comes in 2 colors – navy and moss (olive greenish) and it’s MACHINE WASHABLE!  Look out boogers and pizza stains!  I chose navy because it worked better with my skin tone.  It is $88 and I can honestly say that the price is worth it.  I have been able to get a ton of usage out of it…rain or shine, playground and playdate.

Though it was rough in the beginning, I feel like my personal shopping experience ended well and helped me identify basic requirements for the clothes that would work with my life as a mom.  I approached the personal shopping experience thinking that I needed someone to tell me what works because getting dressed has become such a mechanical process (tainted by the demands of caring for a toddler).  In reality, it comes down to comfort and simplicity for me.  I want clothes that can look good and be comfortable without a whole lotta fuss.  Utilitarian fashion, if you will.  I found that in the hoodie, as well as some other items that were on sale in the store.  I was pleased and I will definitely return.

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