Friday, June 29, 2012

98 degrees*

Hot enough for ya?

(I hate when people say that. I know making small talk with strangers is tough sometimes, but maybe come up with a better fall back option than the weather....)

But seriously- it is hot. That's all people can talk/text/tweet about. But I refuse to complain. We've embraced the heat. Yep, we've stripped down, broken out the popsicles, and given summer a big sweaty embrace. Well- at least Piper has....So for this week's Summer Friday post (go ahead...join the fun!), enjoy some Pipin' Hot (iphone) Photos:

Cold watermelon in a bag? That's not anger on her face. It's determination. Yum.

Naked in a beer bucket. You'd do it if you could too.

Everything's better al fresco. Even baths!

Bare piggies enjoying the breeze from the window A/C. 

What happens when your mom cheaps out on the baby sunscreen. 
And by "your mom", I mean me. The worst. 

This one comes courtesy of my mom's cell phone from her day of babysitting this week.
1: how awesome is it to have someone around to watch your baby, 
clean your clothes, wash your dishes, and cook you dinner? Rreeaaalll awesome. 
2: Stop it right now with the half-naked, giant bum, tiny bow, tongue out adorableness. Too much.
3: Yes, her bloomers say "Courtney". Vintage bloomers, you guys. I said stop!

Ok. Now for real. Everyone can stop taking pictures of anything. 
Because this is the cutest shot that has ever been or will be taken. Ever and ever amen.

* I know. I was bummed too. Off to drown my sorrows in a Summer Shandy!

Thursday, June 28, 2012

{31 Things} Day 7: Work

“Worky work, busy bee!!”

Dustin and I constantly repeat that saying- a silly little quote from an old commercial- to each other. Sometimes when we are actually so very busy, but also when we just want to give each other a hard time about being too abrupt, or obsessed with piddly work details.

But the truth is, since I went back to work in February, I have indeed been a busy busy bee. I have always kept up a hectic (if not breakneck) pace at work, and one of my main fears with returning to the grind was that I wouldn’t be able to get everything done. Or more specifically, that I wouldn’t be able to get everything done within a reasonable number of work hours. And it turns out I was somewhat right to be worried. There is definitely an eb-and-flow to the workload at my office, but as of late it seems to be stuck on flow. A “no filter, wide mouth, drown everything in its path” FLOW. It’s not exactly anything new, but previously I was a bit more willing to make the sacrifice to arrive early, stay late, and generally run myself ragged one to two weeks out of every month. But now that there is a little lady in my life, I’m much more hesitant to squander all her waking hours at the office. After a full week of leaving Dustin to the drop off and pick up duty at daycare, including a few days where I only saw her to feed her in the wee hours of the night, the guilt was beginning to pile up. (I stacked it right on top of the rest of the pile currently crushing my spirit- a mountain of unfinished projects, and neglected messes).

But for all the negatives that come with my job, there are a whole lot of positives as well. Being a working mom is a choice for me at this point (sure, we’d miss my salary if I stayed home, but I’m not exactly forced into keeping my career), and it’s a choice I truly don’t regret. My brain is a quirky little monster that requires a constant stream of inspiration and projects to survive. I’m a thinker, a talker, and a do-er, and my mind craves creative stimulation the way my body craves Coke Slushies. (Read: frequently and desperately.) I adored the time I was able to spend with Piper, but I haven’t doubted for a moment that going back to work was the right decision for me. My passion for what I do is a double edged sword if I allow my drive to overshadow other areas of my life, but for the most part I’m lucky to have a creative outlet that constantly teaches me and forces me to grow.  Even in my dark times of being overwhelmed, I’ve never lost sight of the fact that I’m living the dream- my industrial-designing, problem-solving, fashion-producing, budget-balancing, art-creating dream. I have a very cool job, at a very cool company, with some very cool people. And bonus: they pay me. We should all be so lucky.

Monday, June 25, 2012

What to Get When You're Expecting

I have to warn you all...there is something in the water. Just in case you haven't already noticed in your facebook feed, everyone and their mama seems to be becoming a mama. It seems I can't turn around without hearing about a new couple that is expecting, and now I'm thrilled to say I have a few close friends that are pregnant with their first baby. Obviously I'm beyond excited for them to grow their families, and create new life, and experience heart shattering love, but more than that? I love the planning!! Oh pregnancy....forty sweet weeks of lists, and preparation, guides and gifts, prepping and organization. If it wasn't for the whole squeezing a baby out and raising it part, I might do it over and over!

One of my friends is just getting through her first trimester (yay for getting to tell everyone finally!), but is visiting family next week and was told to get a jump on her registry (double-yay for sort-of surprise baby showers!), so she reached out to me with questions. Rather than keep all my valuable (?) advice to myself- I thought I'd share my words of wisdom with the masses. So I present to you, the Bowdenisms Baby Registry Guide:

or more accurately: 

What to Get if You're Exactly Like Courtney, and Your Baby is Identical To Piper 
(That's my official disclaimer that all of my advice is just based on things that worked for us...which may prove to be utterly useless and entirely wrong for you and your baby. You're welcome!) And with that: let's dive into the questions!  

What did you register for or get that you never use?
Oh man, we returned so many things...but that's just my general M.O. In general I found that I was a strange combination of tremendously worried about being prepared, and adamantly against having too much stuff, that I ended up registering for way too many little "necessities" (blankets, towels, pacifiers, bibs etc.) and not enough big stuff (I'll detail most of this further down the list: video monitor, high chair etc.) I kept thinking the bigger ticket things were a waste (and I was probably right about a lot of it), and tried to make up for it by registering for tons of little things just so that people have something to buy. Dumb. My advice is to go easy on all the little stuff, because people will give that to you no matter what, and even if they don't, you can easily pick it up later, especially with the gift cards that you'll be raking in. But the big stuff is really hard to splurge on (Exersaucers are upwards of $100...for real?) so if you think you might want it, go for it, and allow people to spoil your little bean for you. You can always leave it in the box and return it later if you have a change of heart (or need diaper money).

What did you not register for and get or end up buying later that you love?
We were incredibly blessed, so we haven't had to buy a ton, but there are a couple of after the fact purchases I would recommend. First: get at least two swaddles. If your baby ends up liking it, you'll need an extra for sure, as one will inevitably be dirty when you need it. Same goes for sleep sacks and pjs. Get twice as many as you think. I also didn't register for any toys, mostly because I was scared of my house turning into a McPlayPlace overrun by primary colored plastic. And while reigning in the junk is an admirable goal, it turns out babies do need things to entertain them (and to make their little brains grow). I do still think the toys can be kept to a reasonable level, but having a playmat, a "gym" or a few things that make noise won't kill you.
And the one thing I didn't think to register for (perhaps because I was overly hopeful): medicine. Sorry to tell you, your baby will get sick. And most likely it will be the middle of the night, so you'll be panicked, unprepared, and up a proverbial creek. Having a supply of the basics- gripe water, gas drops, Tylenol, teething tablets etc will at least give you an arsenal of options to rely on when you have no clue what else to try.

Are you allowed/supposed to register for stuff you won’t use right away (high chair, bumbo, plates/utensils, larger sizes of clothes, training toilet)?
If you don't mind storing it? Absolutely. No one is judging you for being prepared, and it's nice to spread out the swag over a longer period of time so you're not overwhelmed by gear designed for 0-3 months, but left in the lurch after all those brand-new baby presents stop rolling in. Plus, babies seem to develop overnight, so it's great to have things waiting in the wings when they decide they're ready for the next step, rather than having to run out and buy things immediately.

Courtney asks herself a bonus question time: Should I register for clothes?
Yes and no. I registered for a few basics, like plain onesies, and some pj's, but found that people LOVE to buy clothes (especially once they know the gender...) so no matter what, you won't be hurting for tiny outfits. Plus, try as I might, I found it nearly impossible to avoid buying baby clothes, even though I knew we'd have plenty, so we ended up with a fully stocked closet, without much help from the registry. I say if you're going to register for clothes, do it for things that are practical (think: sleep sacks, or multi-packs of socks) and items that give people a hint to your style (they may be less likely to buy you "Diva In Training" tutu sets if everything on your registry is understated solids.)

Pack’n’Play, yes or no?
Yes. Piper slept in hers for the first few months partly because she wouldn't tolerate laying in the crib, and partly because it was easier to have her close when she had to eat every two hours. Since then we haven't used it a TON, but it's been well worth it for trips, or even just evenings at a friends house when you want to be able to stay out past 7:30. If there is one location you plan on going a lot (for us that's my mom's house), it may be worth it for them to get one second hand. They don't spend a ton of money, you don't have to lug as much stuff for each visit; win-win.

Diaper Bags-- fashionable one for me and utilitarian one for my husband, or just one unisex one we can both agree on? (Does your diaper bag really become your purse and will it be a pain passing baby and diaper bag to him and getting all my personal stuff out of it?)
I LOVE my diaper bag. LOVE LOVE it. But it's definitely not unisex, so Dustin has his own. I carry mine every day, and even if Piper's not with me it functions as my purse (which is why it was so important to me that it not have flowers or Disney characters on it). Dustin has used his maybe twice, so I wouldn't say a fancy bag has really paid off for him. (Typically if he has Piper on his own, the furthest they go is on a walk, so all the gear is a little unnecessary). What has worked for us though, is having a diaper-bag within a bag system to avoid all the switching drama you're worried about. We have Bummi's Wet Bags (leftovers from our brief foray into cloth diapering) which are the perfect size for a few diapers, a pack of wipes, an extra onesie, etc. I stock one bag full of essentials, and then throw that in the diaper bag whenever we're on the go with Piper. Then when she's not with me, I leave the bag at home or in the car and my purse is my own again.

Bouncer or Swing or neither? And what about those crazy walker/jumpers/exersaucers??
I think there are two sides of the fence here: People that swear by these things, and those that think it's all a little excessive. I tend to fall on the gear-adverse side. That being said, for us, the bouncy chair was essential. I don't know what people do without them (where does the baby sit? where does she nap? what do you do when you have to go to the bathroom by yourself for five and a half seconds?) I liked the bouncer option because it seemed to be the least obtrusive option, and was easy to take from room to room as needed. I know some babies can't survive without a swing, but I figured if we had one of those babies, we'd suck it up and get a swing later. And as for exersaucers/play yards theory is that Piper probably gets enough "independent play" at daycare, I don't need more giant plastic contraptions to contain entertain her for the few hours a day I do get to spend with her. But if I was a stay-at-home mom, I might change my tune real quick, so to each her own on that one.  

Rocking Chair or glider?
I may have to buck the system on this one and go with secret option C: none of the above. Don't get me wrong, having a comfortable place to sit down with the babe is nice, but it is no where near the necessity I was lead to believe. I assumed I'd use the chair several times a day, for feeding and rocking to sleep, but in reality, I had a baby who needed to be bounced to sleep for every nap (meaning: she wanted to be held, while I did deep squats and patted her back for ten minutes) so the quiet sleepy moments in our glider never materialized. Plus, I found that most of the time it was easier to feed her on the couch, or in bed, so again- the chair didn't exactly live up to the dream I had in my mind. So while I definitely advocate having a chair in the nursery (it's a nice place to snuggle with a book, or to sit and sing songs), I wouldn't stress about finding the perfect chair, and I definitely wouldn't spend a ton of money.

Monitor-- do we even need one with no walls between us and baby?
I say yes. Our house is small enough that we can pretty much always hear Piper without it, so I debated it too. But even if you all are going to be sharing one big space, it will still come in handy if you want to go out on the deck (or the rooftop?), or to the basement (not sure where your laundry is?) And when you visit friends or family who may have a different set up, it's nice to be able to set up a monitor so you don't have to worry about staying within five yards to hear baby whimpers.  

Courtney asks herself a bonus question time round two: What about video monitors?
In your case (a loft apartment), I would say that it might not be worth it, but in general I don't think they're a bad idea. Before we had Piper I thought video monitors were crazy expensive and total overkill. And while the crazy expensive part is still pretty accurate, there have definitely been times when I wished we had one. I can always hear if Piper's crying, and I'm getting better at determining what each of her little sounds mean (hint: they almost all mean- come pick me up I don't want to be in here!) but a video monitor would be great to give me peace of mind that no, she didn't get her arm caught in the bars, she's just cranky and we should leave her to work it out. Nothing is worse than having to get out of bed three extra times (when you're already getting up four times a night) just because you're paranoid the baby stopped breathing. Even if you're not a spazzy person, I assure you, there will be moments when you're a spazzy mom. If people are willing to pony up the money for your peace of mind? Let them.  

What stuff did you have to try 10 brands of before finding one that worked (i.e. don't stock up)-- bottles, pacifiers, etc
Again, this is pretty much a crap shoot. Bottles are a struggle for pretty much everyone I've ever talked to, but there is no magic brand or style that work for everyone, so advice here is pretty much useless. And pacifiers? We registered for a few different brands because we didn't know what she'd like, and turns out she hated all of them. (allllllllll of them. hated.) So I'd say get a few different types of bottles (2 or 3?) but only try your favorite at first. If your baby takes it, just return the rest. (For what it's worth- we ended up liking Dr. Brown's bottles, which seem to be a pretty popular choice. Just me typing that will all but ensure that your baby hates them.)

Carseat-- infant or convertible? We don't drive a lot, but will the convenience of an infant seat be worth the extra cost?
I say go for the infant seat...but then again- we're car dependent people. Even so, I think it's useful, as babies typically fall asleep in them pretty easily for the first few months, allowing you to run errands, visit friends or go out to dinner with minimal disturbance to your little one. Get an inexpensive stroller base that works with your carseat and you're set to go. (For the frequent drivers among us- I highly recommend getting a carseat base for each car. We constantly switch up the daycare drop off/pick up, and not having to trade out bases each time some has to get the baby is worth just about any cost)

Courtney asks herself a bonus question wrap up time: Any other random advice? 

Babies are like snowflakes. Each one is beautiful and unique. Ok, actually, babies are more like miniature people. Each one is a crazy mix of quirks, preferences, strange habits and piles of emotions that can't ever be fully understood. So take any advice (including mine) with a grain of salt. The registry is one of your first forays into the overwhelming world of parental decisions. You will have millions of options, make thousands of choices, and hopefully only hundreds of mistakes. the good news is at this stage, the worst thing you can do is get the wrong hooded animal towel (trick question...all hooded animal towels are right!!) So go forth with that electronic scanner and register with confidence, knowing you have a community of moms (and hopefully a decent return policy) to back you up. What about you guys? Do you have registry or baby questions you're dying to have my rookie self weigh in on? Or maybe (maybe) you have a touch more experience than me and want to chime in with your two cents...Share away!

For more baby gear advice- check out our Must Have Lists (First Month, and Fourth Month) and visit one of my favorite registry resources here.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Monthly Milestones

As Piper's mom, I'm obviously a bit biased towards her, so naturally I never get sick of seeing her adorable mug. But this bias also causes me to forget that other people may not share the same insatiable desire for more Piper pics- So please indulge me as I share yet another milestone update with you all.

It's been a while since I posted her monthly growth pictures, but that doesn't mean we haven't been busy snapping away over here. As time has gone on it's been tougher to keep up with creating each one on time, but I finally had a chance to wade through the last three rounds of photoshoots and play photoshop catchup. These four pictures represent over half our little girl's life so's astounding to see how much she's changed over time, and consistently surprises me that I can somehow love her more with each passing day.

P.s. if you read her "bios" you'll see that our girl is not always the greatest sleeper...but when she gives you that smile that somehow manages to involve her whole body it's really hard to stay mad. I'm telling you...babies are cute for a reason.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

{31 Things} Day 6: Things

(If you're wondering where days 4 and 5 went...First off- congratulations for being even more on top of it than I am. Things are a bit out of order here because entries 4 and 5 don't exist yet. I'm making efforts to backtrack, but in the meantime, let's keep on keeping on...)
  1. Age: 28. I think. I tend to forget. As the numbers get higher they seem to get more difficult to distinguish from each other.
  2. Favorite part of my day: putting piper back in her crib after a late night feed. I love her floppy little body...So tired she can't quite hold her head up, but just awake enough to hold on. She nuzzles in, lays her little face on my shoulder, and makes tiny little piglet snuffles. I nuzzle her in return, taking a minute to breathe in her delicious baby scent, and feel the warmth of her fuzzy head on my cheek. No matter how tired I am, I would freeze time to stay in that moment forever.
  3. Loving: The start of summer. The days are getting longer and warmer. Our evenings and weekends are spent on walks, or lazing around outside (or in Dustin’s case- doing yard work, but I’m not sure he’s “loving” that.) We’re as busy as ever, but the increases in flip flops, open car windows, and popsicles on the deck allows me to relax- even for brief moments inside the madness of our schedules.
  4. Longing for: More dancing. I’ve been taking a dance class since January, and I’m really starting to love it. I switched from hip hop to jazz, and though I was worried it would be way too hard for me, it’s actually been a great growing experience. The stretching is good for my tight, overworked muscles, and the class is just difficult enough to challenge me without being totally overwhelming. For an hour each week I force the stress and busyness of the day out of my mind, and focus just on movement. I immerse myself in the moment, and try to ignore my limits or mistakes and just enjoy swirling around to the music. Unfortunately there is no Summer session, so I’ll have to get my fix somewhere else. I’m hoping to work some dance in somehow, even if it’s goofing around with Piper, or at least catching some episodes of So You Think You Can Dance!
  5. Inspired by: Other mamas. I love to see and hear about the fun things moms are doing with their families. I’ve been reading the blog Enjoying the Small Things, and have been so inspired by the fun, creative, and simple things mom Kelle does with her girls. As Piper grows I hope to incorporate a little bit of magic into our days- having “spa days” painting our toes in the bathroom, dreaming up stories together, or taking moonlit walks.
  6. Dreaming of: The beach! We’re a little over a week away from our first big family vacation, and I can’t wait to feel the sand between my toes (and see it between Piper’s little piggy toes!) We’ve never gone on a trip with all of my siblings before, so the mix of people will be interesting. I expect a little drama, a lot of laughs, and a ton of memories (and probably a million photos).
  7. Needing: more sleep. And more hours in the day so I could do it all...and still sleep.
  8. Navigating: Being a working mom. I’m currently caught in the age-old crisis of being torn between two worlds. I want to give 100% at work and at home, but no matter how hard I try I end up feeling like I’m coming up short both places. I feel the constant battle between my creative brain and my “mama heart” as they vie to be the top priority.
  9. Struggling with: Wanting to have and do it all. (see above. And above that.) I dream big dreams about all the things I want to try, or write, or make, or eat, or read, and end up scattered in too many directions and spreading myself too thin. But I struggle to say no- not necessarily to others, but to myself. I’m not the best at editing my ideas, and my enthusiasm tends to get the best of me as I pile on more, more, more until I inevitably and predictably crack. Usually the result is a brief overwhelmed tearfest, followed by a dramatic cut back on activities, only to repeat the cycle immediately. Maybe I’ll learn someday…
  10. Knowing: That I am blessed. So profoundly and wonderfully blessed. This season of life can be so challenging at times; so much is new, confusing, and exhausting. But there is still so much joy as we muddle our way through the beginnings of forming our little family, and I know we’ll look back on this time fondly, even if it’s with a touch of thankfulness that pieces of it are over.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Summer Fridays

Early out workdays means its time for some sun, some deck action, some hubby-time...and a napping baby. Heaven on earth.

P.s. Today's post is linked up with the Summer Fun guru Kacia at Coconut Robot. Join the Summer Friday party!

And for more filtered photo goodness- scroll down to check out the new feature on the right side bar: our instagram feeds! If you're not on the instagram bandwagon (yes, I'm obsessed!), you can still get your fix right here on the blog. Now go make some sunny memories of your own!

Monday, June 11, 2012

Seventh Heaven

Piper's seven month milestone happened to fall on a week when we were off sunning our buns, so the official photoshoot had to wait a few days. Good news is a touch of a tan, and a little sunshine on her blonde mane only intensified her cuteness. I'm obviously beyond biased, but I challenge you to look at these pictures and not want to pinch her cheeks, nuzzle her neck, and smooch her delicious self to pieces. It is a battle I fight every day...

She really does just keep getting better.

1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6.

{31 Things} Day 3: Read

I'm a book worm…always have been. I think my mom is to thank for instilling a love of reading in me as a kid. We went to library constantly when I was little, especially on those long summer days that just begged for a good book. I still remember the bags they'd give you to tote your books home; I would stuff mine with as many volumes as I could fit, and the drawstrings would dig into my little hands as I lugged my treasures home.

I loved all types of reading- SSR (Sustained Silent Reading) period at school, curled up in the coat closet with my current volume of The Berenstein Bears; Teddy Ruxpin Storytime, cuddled up against my furry friend, following along with his adventures in Boggley Woods; Read Aloud, listening to my teacher telling tales of Narnia while I picked at the rubber label on the back of my Keds; Road trip reading, tearing through a Judy Bloom novel or two, glancing at the scenery whizzing by; Library Day, huddle up on beanbag chairs with my elementary school friends flipping through back issues of Cat Fancy magazine…But my favorite was probably at night, staying up way past my bedtime with a flashlight under the covers. I made a habit of falling asleep with a book in my hand as I challenged myself to get through just one more chapter for whichever Sweet Valley Twins editions I was currently obsessed with.

As I grew up, I maintained my appetite for reading, transitioning my focus mostly to required titles for school, or blowing through endless piles of magazines in my free time (In high school my closet was split about 50/50 between clothes, and Vogue). And though as an adult, it’s a bit tougher to fit in as much reading as I used to (that pesky job cuts into my page turning time) I do still love to read. Magazines are still a top choice- my desk houses a rotating tower of editions, stacked high enough to pose a danger to passers-by. I’m also in two bookclubs, which is proving to be too much at times- I only actually finish about half the books- but I like the encouragement to check out new books, and enjoy discussing them with friends. And Dustin will attest that I still like to read in bed…though he doesn’t love dealing with the glow of my book light.

There are a few aspects of my childhood that I desperately hope to recreate in Piper’s life, and one of them is definitely a fondness of reading. We designed her nursery around books, hopeful that the right environment will foster her literary love. We are already exposing her to the written word, flipping through board books, and aiming to read a story together every night. I can’t wait until we can snuggle up in her bed and listen to her sweet little voice narrate my old library loves back to me. What a happy ending...

Saturday, June 9, 2012


Today is a very special day. It's the 32nd anniversary of the day the world was forever the arrival of one Dustin Bowden.

For 32 years he has charmed people with his dimpled cheek grin, and kind, honest eyes. For 32 years he has blessed people with his patient soul, and giving nature. For 32 years he has shared his boisterous laugh and quirky humor.

For almost 9 years he's been the brightest spot in my life, teaching me what love looks, sounds and feels like.

And for 7 months he's been the center of our daughter's universe, paving the way for her, and shaping who she'll become.

Happy 32nd Dustin. The world...MY world is better because of you. I love you thirty-two times over.

Friday, June 8, 2012

{31 Things} Day 2: Morning Routine

I’ve never been a full on morning person- I don’t necessarily spring out of bed with a smile on my face, and a song in my heart- but after a brief warm up time I’m able to manage. I blame it less on being a grump, and more on the fact that I am naturally a bit of a night owl, and require a good seven to eight hours of sleep a night. By default it’s difficult for me to hit the ground running at an extremely early hour. Before having Piper I roused as late as possible on weekdays, sleeping until eight, to still make it out of the house by eight thirty. I built in time for at least two hits of the snooze button, and often climbed into the car with a wet ponytail, my breakfast and makeup in hand. Now that there’s a baby in the mix, the morning routine has changed dramatically. The AM tasks are multiplied, (one more mouth to feed and body to clothe) and everything seems to take longer (especially if one of those mouths throws up on one- or more- of those clothed bodies.) But after a few months of stumbling along, we have a fairly predictable morning pattern:
  • Piper wakes up around six-thirty. Typically she isn’t screaming, she just babbles in her crib, thumping her limbs around on the mattress to let me know she’s ready for breakfast (As a result, my alarm has been rendered all but useless).
  • Dustin jumps in the shower first while I feed Piper. (sometimes he gets up before her just to have enough time to get through his routine solo before being saddled with a spectator). I’m sure he’d love a little more sleep too, but he makes the sacrifice to get up early so I don't have to. He’s always been quicker and easier to rise, probably a left-over habit from his teaching days. Early in our marriage he had to be up crazy early, so he’d get dressed in the dark or in the hallway to avoid disturbing me. That’s love I tell you. 
  • Piper takes about 15-20 minutes to eat, so during that time I fiddle with my phone- getting a jump on email, browsing around on Instagram or Facebook, or checking the weather.
  • When she finishes eating, she’s ready for a diaper change and fresh clothes. If we time it right, Dustin is at least partially dressed and can switch to Piper duty (or dooty). I’m often consulted on the outfit choice, either picking it out before hand, or at least getting a veto-vote if she strolls into the bathroom looking crazy. 
  • While Dustin gets her ready, I get in the shower. I try to brainstorm my outfit while I wash up, as I don’t really have time to rely on trial and error. I base my hairstyle on what time I need to get to the office. If I have time- down and curly. If it’s tight- a half-dry ponytail with a quick flat iron to the bangs. 
  • During my primping, Dustin is downstairs with Piper, prepping for the day. After a few months of staying home with her, I consider it a luxury to have time to get ready by myself, so I don’t take this time for granted. He makes lunches for both of us, and washes any bottles or breastpump parts that didn’t get cleaned the night before. He usually plays some music while they work and I can hear them singing and goofing around while I get ready. I love to listen to their “conversations”, and get a kick out of imagining what it will be like in a couple years when she’s chattering right back. 
  • After teeth brushing, and maybe a couple of quick iphone pics, we gather our bags and head out, usually around eight. 
  • We alternate who takes her to school, based on our work schedule. Whoever has the most flexibility does the daycare drop off. I like to do it as much as possible because I’m usually not able to scoot out in time to pick her up at the end of the day. I actually think the drop off is kind of fun. She’s not at an age where she minds me leaving too much, so I get to see all the kids and slip out quietly without too much fuss. 
  • Then it’s just a twenty minute or so ride into work. I have kept the bad habit of doing my makeup and eating in the car on my way in (my breakfast is always a banana, a granola bar, and a yogurt- I usually save the yogurt until I get to my desk). Someday I’ll grow up to be a responsible adult and drag myself out of bed fifteen minutes earlier to avoid a hazardous commute, but for now any moment of sleep is precious, and worth the risk of smearing banana on my car seat. 
  • I wrap up the pre-work routine, pulling in the parking garage between eight and nine. And in a short 22 hours, we repeat the cycle.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

{31 Things} Day 1: Jewelry

When I first committed to the 31 Things course I knew I was in for a challenge- I often can't manage to find time to write once a week, let alone every day. And indeed it has proven to be a bit of a struggle to get each day's entry done (Today is day twenty. I currently have about eight written.) But I'm trying. Every morning I check my email for that day's assignment, and attempt to spend at least a few minutes outlining my thoughts (usually while feeding Piper or pumping. At this stage, those times are pretty much my only chance to sit, so I try to make them count- even if it is only a few minutes at a time.) I was torn on if I would share them here, and I'm still not sure if I'm going to post them all (assuming I write them all!) but knowing that I'm already in the weeds with these entries, I don't really see any new blog fodder coming outside of these 31. So while I continue to plug away, here is my first entry. (and forgive the lack of photo...In theory those should be taken in real time, but I think I'm going to have to do a big photography blitz at the end.)


I love jewelry. Practically every girl says that...but I really do love jewelry. I'm an equal opportunist when it comes to jewelry loving though, as my collection runs the gamete between (a very few) high quality simple pieces, and (a ton of) silly over the top cheapies. I'm not impressed by price- for me it's all about the item itself. But even then, my love spans the spectrum. I appreciate the beauty of a simple pendant, and prefer the understated elegance of plain stud earrings, but most of the time I have to admit that I'm a bit of a "more is more" girl. In fact, I have to respectfully disagree with Ms. Coco Chanel: When I look at myself in the mirror before I leave the house, I typically put on one more piece of jewelry. What can I say? I love some sparkle.

I remember as a kid being fascinated with my mom and grandma's wedding rings (my mom has an emerald set between six diamond baguettes, while my grandmother's was a round solitaire diamond encircled in a swooping, filigree band). I would constantly try them on in church and loved to draw little sketches of the stones. My mom usually wore simple pieces, always gold, and my grandma never went anywhere without her plain gold tennis bracelet with the tiny hexagon charm (it was actually a medical bracelet for her diabetes...but what style!) But as much as I admired their simple taste, it was more dramatic things that caught my eye. I loved to see my aunt's jewelry- she seemed to have a ring for every finger- all silver from her time in Mexico. And I still remember my utter fascination with a stranger in a tanning salon (why I was there as a child is another story for another day) when I saw she had piercings all the way around her ears. There must have been twenty tiny hoops and I vowed I would pierce my own ears as many times as my parents would let me; which actually turned out to be quite a few. My first set came when I was an infant, to distract from my distinct lack of hair. I got my second holes in second grade- a source of utter jealousy among most of my friends. And from high school through college I added three more- single piercings in various cartilage crevices in my ears. I may not have literally emulated that White Snake video reject I so admired previously, but I did manage to adorn myself fairly liberally. I hesitate to mention the crazy whim of getting my eyebrow pierced as a high school junior (I want to stand proudly and tell you that it was so cool! But I think we all know that's not true. I at least had the good sense to remove it after a year or so...)

But thankfully my taste in jewelry has evolved over the years, so while high school was a never ending parade of tacky silver trinkets, BFF necklaces, and a personal favorite- a Japanese coin strung on a chain, I slowly amassed a larger collection of pieces that I won't be ashamed of later on. And now I'm finding a groove with my personal style- I tend to gravitate towards simple dressing with statement jewelry. I have an endless parade of nearly identical heather grey tops, but I like to mix up my look with a unique necklace (most likely large, and possibly crafted myself) or an armful (ok, two armfuls) of bangles (I might be addicted to that jingling noise they make). I have silly little rings I picked up at Forever 21, dramatic cuff bracelets that my grandmother got from Mexico and a couple of tiny Tiffany's necklaces. I love the mix of things, and how layers of jewelry add unique stories and history to an otherwise plain outfit.

Recently keepsake jewelry has been becoming more important. I had a couple pieces of "nice" jewelry, before Piper was born, but since then I've gotten a few things that are simple, but mean a lot to me. I have a plain gold necklace with a "P" engraved on it, a silver ring with Piper's monogram and a teeny tiny bean necklace to remind me of my little bean. It's all a little cliche, but at least it’s not a “#1 Mom” locket. I love the idea of passing things on to Piper, and while not all of my collection is exactly heirloom quality, I hope she gets a kick out of sifting through my baubles someday. My grandma had a TON of jewelry- it was all over the board too- lots of artsy statements that she made herself, a bunch of costume stuff, and then some real pieces she and my grandpa picked up on their travels. Although we spent a lot of time together when I was young, we were never super close, so it’s neat to share an unexpected bond over similar taste in accessories.

Out of my rotating grab bag of gems, there are only two things I wear every day, and each was a gift from Dustin. The first is a pair of princess cut diamond earrings he got me years ago. He gave them to me in celebration of "my day": a made up holiday that marked the milestone of when he had been with me the longest out of anyone he had dated. That was such an important marker for me back then, but six years, a wedding, and one child later, it seems like a pretty silly occasion. But I still love my simple studs (and the sometimes-simple stud who gave them to me), and like the occasional reminder of how our love has lasted…but changed…over the years.

The second piece of daily jewelry, predictably, is my wedding ring. Unconventionally, I actually picked out my own ring – an idea I thought I liked at the time, but always kind of regretted later. It’s a bit of a double edged sword though, because I’m pretty picky, and have a reputation as the queen of returning gifts, so we both thought that if I chose my own ring, I would end up with exactly what I wanted. Part of the problem though is that for some reason I got it in my head that wanting anything too big or flashy was shallow, and I wanted to seem “above that” to Dustin. (A ridiculous and unnecessary mind game that I blame on my young age, and our very young love. Turns out getting engaged at nineteen to a man you’ve known for three months leads to some silly challenges. But again- that’s another story for another day.) So I forced myself into something small and simple to prove it wasn't a big deal to me. I don’t think about it much anymore…my ring is beautiful, and after all this time, there are a million things that are more important symbols of our relationship. But if I think back on it, I do wish I could have just been honest with myself and him about what I actually loved and let him pick something out. Since then he’s talked occasionally about getting me a new ring but there have always been plenty of other things to spend money on instead. I’m not clamoring for a replacement, but I’m also not opposed to a surprise anniversary gift down the road. Maybe someday. But for now, I’ll pile on my token trinkets, clasp my first-baby bean charm around my necklace and jingle merrily along.