Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Two Months

Here are some things about Audra at two months old:

- Oh, we smile all the time now. We smile at our giraffe mobile that hangs above the changing table, we smile at Simba during tummy time, we smile at Mommy and Daddy and sometimes the dog and just everything. She hasn't figured out how to hold a smile yet, and they're not purposeful; just responses to seeing something that pleases her, like when Jason gets home from work and picks her up at the end of the day, she usually has some great big smiles for him. I love to see it. I spent about an hour singing yesterday while I made dinner to keep her entertained, and she smiled like crazy all through it.

- Her favorite songs right now are "You Are My Sunshine" and "Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes." Currently "Father Abraham" and "Amazing Grace" are also popular (turns out I forgot most of the kids' songs I used to know? And now I only seem to remember songs from VBS or church.) She also likes a song I made up to sing while making dinner called "You have a face, Audra Grace." The lyrics consist entirely of those six words sung over and over again in increasingly desperate tones.

- She's sleeping better, here and there. We still have trouble getting her down some nights, but she tends to have a "long sleep" of about four hours, wake to eat, and then we're on about a two-hour cycle after that. She sleeps as late as 9 am some days. Which I enjoy, and am trying to enjoy as much as I can right now since it is my last week before I have to be at work before that time; and therefore, Audra has to be at the babysitter's.

- She hates having her diaper changed - hence the giraffe mobile to distract her. She's angry from the second the diaper is actually unfastened until the new one is back on.

- She loves baths, but hates the part where we take her out of the tub at the end to dry her off. Of course, her little mad face is usually tucked under a puppy-face-hood on her towel, so the effect is somewhat lessened. It kind of makes me wish I had a puppy-face towel (with a tail!) for grownups. We also have an owl towel, an elephant towel, and another puppy towel. I love them all.

- She still wants to sleep primarily on our chests. I remain inclined to let her, despite the possible longer-term difficulties, because it's one of those things I'm about to lose by going back to work, one of those things I will miss most. Even when she jams her little head underneath my chin so hard my teeth click together. She often ends up sleeping on Jason's chest in the morning for our last hour or so before the alarm goes off, because it's the difference between her waking herself all the way up and just waking up enough to make her displeasure at NOT being with us known and then going back to sleep and letting us doze some more.

- She 'talks' to me a lot. Just coos and chatters to herself, or at me, or sometimes at the little toys that hang from her bouncer. We play the 'ah' game, where she makes a noise and I make it back at her, which she enjoys at first and then rapidly grows annoyed by. It's another one of those things that is funny only to me.

- We officially had to slide the shoulder-support-things on her Britax car seat up, as she outgrew the original newborn setting. I may have teared up a little when I realized that. She's still so easy to pick up that it's hard to realize how much she's grown until things like that happen, or when I realize she's growing out of newborn clothes and is solidly in the 0 - 3 right now (you know, a month before she's supposed to be done with THAT size.)

- When we're bathing her, often our dog and our younger cat Sanna will come into the bathroom and position themselves to watch. Neither one of them will ever willingly get in the tub, but they are both fascinated by watching us bathe another creature. Our older cat just lifts her head and then goes back to sleep, because she is very old and that is all she does until 3 a.m. when it's run-around-the-house time.

- Her infant hair falls out in bits and pieces. We never see it go, but she has what looks like a distinct horseshoe of baby-baldness moving further and further back on her skull each day, being replaced by much finer and lighter-colored new hair. I can't really tell if it's dark blond or brown yet, there's just not enough of it.

- When we go to family meals with my in-laws, that baby's butt hardly touches her bouncy chair the whole time. She gets passed from family member to family member. Sunday, Jason's aunt and uncle from Virginia Beach were in town with their 8-year-old twins Carrie and Whitney. Carrie positioned herself next to Audra and basically did not leave her side through 90% of the visit. It was adorable, and I'm looking forward to a repeat at Christmas. Audra cooed back at Carrie when she spoke to her and gave her great big smiles, even when Carrie was kind of poking her in the ear.

- I had no idea that babies started up the "fight the power" routine this young. Even if she gets a shorter-than-normal nap and is clearly exhausted, she will fight it to the end of her strength if we don't manage to trick her into falling asleep via the magic power of rocking, vibrating the bouncy chair, or feeding her about a half-an-ounce to trick her tummy. I kind of assumed babies just... fell asleep for the first three or four months, whenever they were tired and not in any particular discomfort, but that is not. true. My baby will not go gentle into that good nap; she rages against the closing of her eyes.

Just for comparison; Audra and I in bed the day after her birth, just before leaving the hospital two days after birth, one month, and two months.

Good God.

That Simba is clearly shrinking.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Lo Siento, Little One

This afternoon, I ran over to the mall after Jason got home from work to exchange a sweatshirt I had ordered online at Lands End.

(It was this sweatshirt, and I loved it online but in person there were... so many wrong things happening in the way it fit me. SO MANY WRONG THINGS. For one, it looks like a mustard-y yellow online but in person it's... the weirdest green ever. Not a bad green, just an odd not-neon-but-pretty-much-neon green. Instead I picked up this cardigan (in charcoal grey) and this scarf (in the teal) instead, because I'm immensely predictable and my million-and-two cardigans and scarves in dark fall colors clearly aren't enough when I live in SOUTH CAROLINA, where the scarf is only justifiable for like two months in a year. This parenthetical aside has been going on way too long at this point. I kind of don't want to stop just to see how much of this you're willing to read. Who made it to the end? Show of hands!)

In any case, I ran into Sears, but forgot to go down to the first floor and ended up on the top floor with the mattresses and treadmills. I figured I'd stop by the restroom since it's up there in the very back corner anyway, almost invisible unless you're really really determined (or, in my case, if you once shopped for maternity clothing there while heavily pregnant, in which case knowing the nearest bathroom location is a matter of some importance and Sears helpfully puts the bathrooms right next to maternity clothing anyway).

I had had a couple of close calls on the way in (what is it about Saturday night that makes everyone in Greenville forget how to drive spontaneously?) so I was in a kind of bad mood, grumping to myself and sipping my cup of tea as though it had offended me in some way.

So I wander in, and there's two little girls sort of idly pushing each other back and forth in front of the mostly open stalls. They are maybe five and three years old respectively.

I frowned at them. They were blocking the stalls.

The three year old swirls around to look at me. She paused, and then put on her biggest smile and cheerfully shouted "Hola!"

I stopped. "Hello."

"Habla espanol?" I cannot even describe the bouncy glee with which she addressed me. This was a little girl for whom all things were wonderful and life was full of surprises and I kind of expected Disney critters to alight on her shoulders and start singing songs.

"Uh... no, I'm sorry. I only speak English." I hesitated. "I'm sorry," I said again, actually worried I had disappointed her.

Nothing was going to ruin this little girl's mood, though. If anything, her smile got wider.

"That's okay!" She replied, inexplicably doing jazz hands at me. "I speak English, too!"

I heard muffled laughter coming from inside one of the closed stalls. Exasperated, helpless laughter.

"I'm... gonna just go out on a limb here and say the woman laughing is your mom, huh?"

The three year old shouted "Yes! Yes, she is!" at the top of her lungs and then promptly dropped down and stuck her head under that stall, talking to her mother at lightning speed. The back half of her was still sticking out in the aisle, the front half under the stall door.

The five year old and I exchanged looks, mine baffled and hers somewhat resigned, the kind of 'what can you do' face you expect to see on a thirty year old.

The five year old just kind of shrugged.

I shrugged back and went into the stall.

When I came out, another woman was just coming in, and the two girls were still there. The little one turned to the newest bathroom visitor and shouted "Hola!" at her just as loudly and cheerfully as she had me, and went in for the hug. The new visitor, a Sears employee, looked at me with the expression of a deer who had just been embraced by some kind of lion.

I shrugged and smiled at her, left the bathroom, and found myself humming a little song as I went down the escalator towards the Lands End department.

As I walked towards the register to begin the exchange, I thought I can't wait until I'm steadfastly trying to get my daughter to stop doing that.

Friday, September 26, 2014

The Perils of Being Good

I will take literally any excuse to pull this photo out.

One time, I hid a bottle of vodka in a dresser drawer in my bedroom back at my parents' house.

The story of that vodka is one of many episodes of my life that probably tell you all you need to know about me.

Let's back up a couple of steps, though, and explain how it got there. The summer after my first year at college, I needed a job. I found an ad online for cleaning apartments and figured, hey, I could do that. When I signed up they asked if I had any preferences as to who I would be working with. I requested not to work with a man (you spent approximately 8 hours a day alone in apartments with this person, and it made 19-year-old me uncomfortable) and was told they had one other new hire who was about my age and a girl, and figured we'd get along fine.

So I show up for the first day and the other girl is someone I went to high school with - and sure enough, we got along just fine.

The job was straight-forward; we went around apartment complexes that primarily rented to ISU students and cleaned after the students had moved out for the summer. Supplies were provided, we had a decent lunch break, and more than once Kate and I were able to take quick twenty-minute naps, listen to loud pop radio, and even once make a mid-day run to Dairy Queen. That Moolatte was so good I still remember it, and it's the only one I've ever had.

One of the assigned 'perks' was that you could keep interesting or useful stuff you found as long as it was legal. That basically didn't come up; the most 'interesting' thing that we found was a kitchen floor full of crushed potato chips in an apartment that four guys had purposefully ruined to make it harder for the cleaning crew.

(Most apartments took us a couple of hours to clean. Four-bedrooms like that might take four hours. That apartment took almost two days.)

One day, we found some pot paraphernalia. The two of us being who we were, we actually had to talk about it for a while before we really understood what it was.

Our manager, a guy about ten years older than us, promptly confiscated that when we reported it to him.

Well, on another day, I found this bottle of vodka.

It was half-empty and stuck in someone's freezer. It seemed a waste to pour it out, and our manager would likely confiscate this, too; although I had no delusions that it would make it into the trash if he took it. Our manager wasn't one to waste good alcohol, and as I was a year into college I wasn't one to waste good alcohol either.

So I took it home. I stuck it in the trunk, took it home and hid it in a dresser in my bedroom. I was home with my parents for the summer. I looked at it fairly often the first couple of weeks, trying to convince myself to drink it. It was illicit! Forbidden! This was supposed to be exciting or fun or something!

Except for one problem.

I had always been raised to not drink, and there were some pretty clear rules. My parents understood that going to college meant a level of freedom you had to allow your children; no more curfew (a college student had just spent a year living without one; reimposing it is just ridiculous) and we just didn't talk about what I might have gotten up to. My mother was probably aware I'd had a drink or two... in Carbondale.

My parents did not allow drug use or drinking. Granted I was completely uninterested in the former (and still am uninterested; I think I remain the only person other than Jason with an art degree I've ever met who never even tried it) but under their roof, no drinking. And until I graduated high school, that was never an issue... I wasn't interested in it then, either.

But at college...

I kept that bottle of vodka in my dresser drawer.

I never opened it. I just couldn't. It would mean drinking under my parents' roof. Legal adult or not, I simply could not do it. My parents had given me a lot of trust in my life; they had been okay with fudging curfews sometimes if we were seeing a late movie. They asked to know who I was with and where I was, but didn't judge my myriad of goth or punk rock friends. They treated me like I deserved to be trusted, so I'd never been able to bring myself to break that trust.

I couldn't drink the vodka.

Even if they never knew, some part of them would be disappointed in me and not know why.

So I left it there. I forgot about it after a few weeks and went on with my life.

A few years later, as we were getting some of the last of my stuff out of the room before my mom converted it with my permission into a guest bedroom, the bottle of forgotten vodka was found, languishing still untouched. She asked me about it. I had legitimately forgotten where it came from or how it had gotten there. Eventually, I remembered and told her.

I'm not sure if she's ever believed me.

But there you go; my big rebellion was to sneak a bottle of alcohol into my parents' house. I am just one big after-school special, aren't I?

Even then, I couldn't rebel enough to actually disobey their rules and drink it.

You know what the funniest part is?

I'm the black sheep of my parents' three children. I was the rebel. I was the one who wore all black and lots of eye makeup and listened to loud punk music and dated boys with blue hair. I put Kahlua in milk one time when there was a bottle of Kahlua in my parents' cabinet (I assume for a recipe). My siblings got exceptional grades and full-ride scholarships and I've mentioned my sister is an actual living saint and my brother a genius, right?

I was the bad kid, by comparison.

Yet the worst thing I ever did was hide a bottle of vodka I couldn't even bring myself to actually touch.

(It's at this point I'm kind of hoping Audra takes after me...)

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Postpartum Essentials: Let's Be Realistic, Here

It seems like every new mom with a blog puts up a list of their essentials for life after baby sooner or later. Some of them are gross and a little TMI (no, I do not need five paragraphs on the benefits of Preparation H, thank you), some of them are things like fuzzy blankets and pillows (which, hey, those are life essentials as far as I'm concerned), some of them  are toys and food and all kinds of things. I thought I'd put up my own list of what got me through the eight weeks home with Audra. I've been trying to finish this post since something like the third week home, but... it's just never come together.

Still. When I go back to work I will have had eight weeks with my daughter.

Eight weeks I am immensely grateful for, and wouldn't trade for the world.

Although I do kind of wish some sleep had been included in those weeks...

Anyway, here were my home-with-baby essentials:

1. Jason.

Oh, what, does the essential HAVE to be something you can buy? Pffft on that.

I've already told you that Jason was indispensable while I was hospital-bed-bound shortly before and just after having her, but his ability to take time off to stay home with us for the majority of my time home with Audra has been incredible. I simply don't think those first couple of weeks would have worked without him.

We were able to take turns with her, which gave each of us a much-needed ability to step away for five minutes if we needed it. I could go get groceries or run to Starbucks or meet a friend at the mall, secure knowing that Audra was with the person I trust most in the entire world, knowing that I had been given the best gift of all; the ability to NOT have to lug twenty pounds of diaper bag everywhere I went.

It seems, based on what I've read online and in some of the various parenting memoirs I picked up during my pregnancy, that often the new dad is either somewhat shoved aside or actively removes himself from participating fully, and that's something I never once worried about. Jason was as involved with every step of Audra's early life as I was, and that's definitely the most important postpartum necessity for me.

He went back to work last week and his first day, after working for 10 hours, he came home and immediately wanted to feed Audra dinner and take over her care. We have a feeling we're going to fight over her a lot once we're both working. So yeah.

This is the space where I brag about my husband (again). Sorry. He's awesome; it's just a fact of life.

2. Netflix.

Ah, Netflix.

I would have lost my mind without it.

The first couple of weeks are basically spent on the couch, feeding a newborn that has no concept of how bored you are and frankly wouldn't much care if they did. You are Mom (or Daddy) and therefore exist to serve them. This means constant couch time, from 6 am to 4 pm to 3 am and back around in a circle until you realize you haven't known what day it is since you left the hospital, and you'd never know again if it weren't for your cell phone's clock.

Jason and I went through show after movie after show on Netflix.

I've watched more documentaries than I ever watched before in my life... combined. I know more about the Tower of London and the English monarchy than I have any right to know. I can tell you all about the definite interbreeding between early modern humans and the Neanderthals we eventually overran.

Granted, I watched a lot of non-educational TV, too. 

I watched the entire 8 seasons of That 70's Show. I kind of regret it, the way you regret eating a whole bucket of fried chicken, or ever setting foot in Long John Silver's.

But there wasn't much better when I needed something completely brain-dead to watch at 2:30 in the morning with a wide-awake newborn in my arms.

3. Chinese take-out.

Oh, I see you rolling your eyes, you healthy eaters who craved nothing but kale and coconut oil after your babies came to be, who "indulge" in single pieces of dark chocolate or who eat sweet potatoes for dessert, no sugar no butter no anything-worthwhile. Go ahead and roll those skinny eyes; eat your sauteed kale. Savor that Skinny Postpartum Peanut Butter Shake made with powdered peanut butter. Tell yourself those baby carrots make you happy.

I'll be over here stuffing my face with Singapore Mai Fun and eating my own weight in Hot & Sour Soup. I'll be over here with Szechuan wontons and sweet & sour chicken and just rolling around in duck sauce.

There's a Chinese takeout place near where we live that is basically my dream of chinese takeout places; the food always arrives fresh and piping hot, they seem to keep giving us more and more meat in our dishes the more we order from them, and they've gotten to know us - even before I was on bedrest, when the complications were just starting to rear their ugly heads, one of my stipulations was sticking to a fairly low-sodium diet. This meant no Chinese takeout for like three months.

A few days after we were home from the hospital, while my parents were still visiting us, we decided to order from the takeout place, to celebrate the fact that we could again.

When our usual delivery driver showed up, he knocked on the door and greeted us with "long time no see!"

And now I'm kind of thinking about ordering dinner from them sometime this week now.

So there you go.

On the off chance I ever become famous and am asked to interview about my pregnancy cravings in a magazine, you are not going to hear me do the usual celebrity "Oh, I just indulge reasonably with super crazy stuff like a hamburger once a month! I had a milkshake three weeks ago! I CRAVE KALE!"

Oh no. I'm going to start talking about crab rangoon, and I am never going to stop.

4. Pinterest.

I put a very similar photo up earlier this week, with the caption "if my Pinterest starts blowing up, this is probably what's happening." And it's true. I have the Pinterest app on my phone and it's going constantly when Audra's sleeping but refuses to do so anywhere but on me (IE, most of the time).

Pinterest allows me to stare at recipes and drool over them from the comfort of the couch. I daydream about outfits, make wishlists of items I probably won't buy (but sometimes do, to my bank account's chagrin), giggle over quotes from TV shows I haven't seen.

In short, I can sit down, start feeding the baby, blink and realize it's been thirty minutes, she's done and burped, and somehow fifty-two new pins have appeared on my boards.

It's magical, and also probably not good.

Also I'd like to take this time to apologize to everyone who is my friend on Pinterest. Apologize, but not stop spamming you when I'm bored.


I need Pinterest to live right now.

5. Starbucks (or, well, coffee in general)

Do I even need to elaborate?


I think I've already elaborated enough.

I realize that you'll hear all over the internet that you have to give up coffee during pregnancy and early childhood, but that's just... entirely not true. For one thing, coffee is perfectly safe to drink reasonably during pregnancy and is just as safe to drink after the baby comes, too. I just do half the caffeine (half-decaf with regular coffee, one caffeinated espresso shot and one decaf with lattes and fancy drinks) to make sure I'm only taking in about one cup of coffee's worth per day. Very little actually makes it into Audra.

6. Shout Stain Remover and Seventh Generation Laundry Detergent.

The damage babies do to clothing, you guys. 

And how fast you go through said clothing.

Sometimes there are six outfit changes in a day. Sometimes only one. But nonetheless, I'm doing laundry about three times more often than I was, and we've only added one (very gross) little person to our ranks. Shout Stain Remover works like a charm; there's a reason it's a staple product.

And while I like (and do use) Dreft, the detergent especially for babies, I prefer to do all our laundry together and not have to separate baby from adult stuff. Seventh Generation's unscented detergent is more environmentally friendly than most of our options, and it's fine for babies and their sensitive skin.

Seriously, though.

If you hate laundry, don't have kids.

7. Baby blankets and burp cloths.

On a related note to the last point, you can seriously never have too many of either of these.

When we had our baby showers, I kept thinking we were getting so many blankets, when would we be able to use all of them?

The answer to that question was within the first nine days of her birth.

We cycle through baby blankets incredibly quickly; we swaddle and so she's gotten used to having blankets around her to help her go to sleep. They also work as burp cloths in a pinch when we seem to have dropped or lost whichever one we were using (which is basically all the time). I have found blankets in the weirdest places - in our bathroom, underneath the couch, on one of the cats' scratching pads.

The burp cloths are also used at an alarming rate; she ruins them, or we drop them on the floor, or I find a cat lying on one I forgot to put away in time. So into the laundry they go, and we pull a new, clean one out.

Take my advice and put all the baby blankets and burp cloths you can on your registries, if you get pregnant and have a baby shower. If you add a certain amount and think you've probably added enough, add four more.


And still find yourself wishing you had asked for like thirty-seven more of them.

8. GROWN-UP blankets and yoga pants.

I know, I know. I am the biggest stereotype in the land.

A new mom in yoga pants? Gasp! Shock!

Well, you know what?

Yoga pants are just pajamas with delusions of grandeur but they are COMFORTABLE and I love them and you can't make me give them up! You can't! I won't do it!

Well, except when I leave the house.


Until then I will be queen of yoga pants, and I will rule with an iron fist. Of course, by 'rule' I mean 'not leave the house except for coffee, friends, family, or coffee.' And even one of those things I'm still going to wear yoga pants for.

(hint: it's the one that involves a drive-through.)

New moms, be not ashamed; yoga pants for everyone!

Monday, September 22, 2014

5 Things - The Audra, Autumn Excitement, and Captain Obvious Edition

1. I put this up on all kinds of social media already, but I thought I'd go ahead and share it here, too. This is a set of photos I've taken of Audra next to her Simba plushie. Birth, 2 weeks, 1 month, and 6 weeks are represented so far. A month and a half of Tuesdays and look how big she's getting!

She still feels terribly small in my arms, though.

I'm preparing for the return to work here very soon, so I'm trying to spend extra time holding her. Which is handy, since last week was a growing-week and being held was the only thing that would calm her down most of the day. Otherwise... well, let's just say the dog spent a lot of time in the backyard because it's quiet out there.

The funny part is that the fussiness last week was almost entirely during the day. Jason went back to work last week, and whenever he would get home she'd mostly be calm and sweet and you'd never have known I spent half the day singing and rocking her.

Next week is two months! Kind of awesome that we've kept her alive this long, right?

2. Kind of seriously craving this cardigan from L.L. Bean, its matching undershirt, and all the things that this weight of sweater and color suggest; a true chill in the air, actual ice and snow, the need to wear gloves or at least the need to make a pile of excuses (or write a poem) as to why I don't.

I never said I was particularly stylish or fashion-savvy. In fact, I think I've said exactly the opposite about a thousand times. I love gigantic cable-knit sweaters whether they are "in" or not, and I love the whole two months of the year I can really pull my heavy sweaters out without feeling vaguely ridiculous.

There is something to be said for living in the Upstate of South Carolina - there are still times I can really get away with heavy sweaters. Last year we had a ridiculous snow-and-ice-storm that shut my workplace (and Jason's) down for days.

And, if it's not cold enough, we can just take a day trip up to Asheville and feel about 20 degrees cooler there.

So yes, count me in on the excited-for-fall bandwagon everyone else is on. It's true! I'm weak. I hate summer, to be honest. I hate the humidity and the heat of South Carolina pressing down on me, I especially hated it while heavily pregnant and hardly able to walk. I dislike sweating.

So I dream about late fall and winter all year long, and I dream about sweaters.

This sweater, specifically.

3. NPR, with an article on how chronic stress can seriously exacerbate or outright lead to all kinds of health problems.

The article's title? "Best Not to Sweat the Small Stuff, Because It Can Kill You."

Thanks, NPR. Those of us dealing with chronic anxiety and stress are just super enthused to hear that. The article is pretty interesting, although honestly most of us with anxiety issues already know all that already; we've been hypochondriacs for years. We know all about every single twitch, mole, freckle, or bump that could mean Something Very Serious, because we're pretty sure it is serious and we were already worried about our cortisol levels thank you very much.

Basically, this is all about how I need to stop reading articles about stress and anxiety, because they are obviously written for people who don't have it.

Which I do.

Let me tell you about my psychosomatic health problems!

4. So, the thing about being home is that I'm hungry all. the. time. Seriously all the time. The fun part about being a new mom is that I've been able to eat a shocking amount of food without gaining weight; I'm going to look back on this time as the best eating months of my life, I suppose. The downside to that is that if I run out of snack food (or rather, don't want to run out of it within two days) I have to actually cook something.

Yesterday, I ate lunch (a whole package of those Campbell's ready-made soup bags, which says it's for two people but it lies) and then two hours later found myself completely ravenous.

So I looked up the easiest recipe for food I could think of.

Beer bread!

I used this recipe, just the first google result.

I added the melted butter straight in, and used Magic Hat's Wilhelm Scream (their pumpkin beer for this year). It only needed about 45 minutes of baking and it was absolutely perfect.

And so, so, so easy.

This and Irish Soda Bread are my go-tos if I want something hearty with as little effort as humanly possible.

5. So, I basically always wear color. This should surprise no one who has met me, or even people who have read here for any length of time. I don't really like neutrals, except sometimes black (if my jewelry is very colorful.)

This has led to a problem.

All my purses are multi-colored (or incredibly tiny) and, as such, don't really work with a wide variety of my outfits. So I've been staring all over the place trying to find a nice, neutral brown bag. I'm thinking about saving up for this purse from Madewell; Franish, my favorite style blogger, has a Madewell tote she often raves about. I know next to nothing about grown-up purses (honestly, I mostly chose my purses by asking the question "is this big enough to carry whatever novel I'm reading?" for my entire life so far), so I'm kind of looking for advice on that.

Then there's Everlane.

I found Everlane through Franish as well - it's a clothing company that cuts out the middle-man, dealing directly with factories and selling directly to consumers. This allows them to sell their clothing and accessory items for less than they would retail for. Each item has a little blurb about the factory it comes from, which I find really neat. I've had my eye on some of their T-shirts as well, since they sell for $15 and I'm seeing people rave about them.

And it's where I found the tote above. Sure, it's not a neutral exactly, but it is a single-color bag and it is gorgeous, and incredibly affordable.


Winter is coming.

Which means Christmas is coming.

Which means it is time to daydream!

(eh, who am I kiddin', I am going to spend all our money on Audra's first Christmas this year. Audra needs a purse, right? Eh? Am I right?)

Full disclosure: If you click through the link to Everlane, create an account, and purchase an item - I will receive a $25 credit as a referral reward after your first purchase. Just putting that out there. And hey, if you like their stuff, maybe you buy a T-shirt or a sweater, help me buy a new purse? Eh? Eeeeehhhh? Eeeeeehhhhh?

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

On Snobbery

I'm a coffee snob.

Well, no.

Well - I mean, I am a coffee snob. Where I'm going with this, though, is that I'm a coffee shop snob. Which is weird, because I would buy a latte from a man off the street if I hadn't had caffeine before 11 AM.

Still, I have a tendency to change my order based on my opinion of the coffee shop I'm standing in. If the baristas behind the counter are harried, covered in spilled syrups, clearly having a bad day and there's a line halfway out the door I'm going to order coffee and steamed milk. I make roughly the same decision if the person behind the counter seems to understand as much about coffee as I do about football; I'm not going to order anything I'm especially particular about from someone who has no idea what I'm trying to say. It's like when there are football games my in-laws go to; they know I'm not going to have any idea what went on, so they don't try and tell me anything about yard lines or downs or whatever it is those men in tight pants are doing out there. They just tell me about the tailgate and how much fun they had and we're all good here.

There are certain Starbucks locations in Greenville that I know are good (or when I go to the Barnes & Noble on Haywood, where I used to work). In those places (especially when ordering from friends), I tend to preface my order now with "Okay, I'm about to be that person," and then I just go ahead and rattle off something insane.

Right now, several planets have aligned (pumpkin spice is out, I have a baby so I can't caffeinate myself to the same level, I'm burning excess calories like crazy so I can actually drink whole milk for once) and my order goes something like this -

"Hi, I need a grande half-caff pumpkin spice latte, half the pumps, please? Oh, and whole milk/soy milk (depending on the day)."

By the way, a whole-milk pumpkin spice latte is basically ordering hot ice cream, and I'm pretty sure it's considered hedonism. It honestly might be illegal. It probably should be, since it's basically a drug.

Also, I get that the internet is in the midst of a gigantic battle over whether to hate pumpkin spice or LOVE IT, but as far as I'm concerned order the coffee you love and joy will follow and who cares what the person behind you in line wants, as long as they're nice to their baristas?

If they're not nice to their baristas, try to step on their feet or maybe spill something on them if possible*.

They deserve it; those baristas work hard. Especially during the Christmas season.

So... there it is.

I'm that awful person in front of you in line with the hideously complicated drink order. You know, the person you're rolling your eyes at? (By the way I SEE YOU BACK THERE DOING THAT.) The fun part is when Jason is with me, because then the order goes something like this:

"Hi, I need a grande half-caff pumpkin spice, whole milk, no whip, half the pumps. Oh, and... a tall black coffee."

And everyone knows which drink goes to whom.

There are some coffee shops where I know being that person who orders the crazy complicated thing just mostly means I'll have to repeat it six different times to three different people, I'll only get about two-thirds of my order correct and there's a distinct possibility everyone in the entire store has simultaneously decided to burn me in effigy.

At those places, I just order coffee.

Because I want to live.

Granted, there are some independent places in town that I love, where the baristas are on top of it. Coffee Underground, for one, being my favorite place to get coffee in Greenville. (They serve an awesome brunch, too). 

I never really considered it snobbery until yesterday when Jason and I ran to Target with Audra to snag a mirror so I can see her little face when I'm driving. I had this particular thing I wanted in mind; a half-coffee, half-steamed milk thing with a little syrup but not too much, maybe soy milk... when I caught myself taking a look at the blank-faced barista (and the other employee who stood silently staring at us, who let us know 'someone' would be over to take my order but then went back to standing idly, just... staring at us... and who never actually moved during the entire process).

When the barista did make it over to take my order, I simplified.

I just got a latte.

And I loved that latte, but that's not the point.

I realized that having worked as a barista has turned me into an insufferable coffee shop snob, the kind of person who watches them wipe the steam wands down (and would notice if they didn't), who wants to customize their drink order until it takes longer to order it than it does for them to make it. The kind of person who changes her order based on where she is and if she thinks it will come out right.

 I wish I could tell you that I'm ashamed of myself.

I probably should be ashamed of myself.

Is there a support group for coffee snobs?

* if you actually take this advice, I will not be held legally responsible for the fistfight you get into in the Starbucks seating area, so don't point your fingers at me folks. Try to videotape it, though, because I think we all know that's gonna go viral.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

One Month


So here's some things about my baby at one month old (as of today in the evening, although officially she'll be a "month old" on the 5th. But four Tuesdays ago I had her, so I'm counting it as a month, damn it.):

- Her... her face exploded. So did the skin on her arms and legs and feet. Seriously. "Skin like a baby" shouldn't mean soft and smooth and perfect, but acne-coated and covered in milk spots. And spit-up. And peeling skin.

- She's started to really look you in the eye. Sometimes I play the face-game; I make weird faces, but simple ones, at Audra and if she's really paying attention she'll start to mimic the expression unconsciously. Being a mom = this seems super fun to me and probably bores the living daylights out of anyone else nearby.

- Her first big trip out of the house? To the local library! So we're starting her off right. Although she DID sleep through the whole trip, so I'm not sure if she really picked up on any of that wisdom or knowledge stuff I was kind of hoping for. On the other hand, I realized that in a couple of years I'll have a reason to wander around the kid's section of the Main library, which is super adorable, and NOT look like a creepy weirdo.

- Sometimes she does little gassy-smiles, but today I was playing with her and she made that face right up there, and I don't think it was gas, because it seemed to be in direct response to me making her Simba plushie "talk" to her. Or maybe it was just gas. ... but maybe it wasn't. I WANT TO BELIEVE.

 - She flails around all the time. Constantly. She punches herself in the face without meaning to, she kicks at things. She makes little sounds in her throat that I love, little grunts and mutters and mumbles. Sometimes she'll accidentally bat at a toy we have hanging nearby and then freeze, studying it as it swings back and forth, clearly trying to figure out what just happened.

- My in-laws have offered to babysit so Jason and I can go to a party together in a couple of weeks. I am currently in the process of trying to decide if I can even handle that. They'll take such good care of her! But... I'd be like an hour away for FOUR HOURS. But they'll fawn over her and show her off! But AN HOUR AWAY FROM MY BABY. But I haven't seen these friends in forever! But my baby! But my friends! BUT MY BAAAAAAYBEEEEEE. So... you see how intelligent and brilliant new motherhood makes you.

- I was asked the other day if I miss being pregnant and knowing she was 'safe' in there, inside me, feeling her move. I looked down at my baby, she grunted in my general direction, and I thought, I wouldn't trade anything in the world for being able to see her face. Even knowing that in a couple of years she'll learn all kinds of interesting sass-back. Even knowing in a few more years she'll be slamming doors in a rage. Even with the terror of understanding that one day, she'll probably want to go to prom.

- This baby lives in onesies. I have lots of adorable little hand-me-down dresses (and a few new ones!) and whatnot, but I can hardly bear to put them on her. Onesies are so much easier in my brain, even though they're really about the same amount of effort in the end. Plus most of my onesies are gender neutral, which my brain just handles a little bit better. I can't wait for her to be big enough to wear some of the 3 -6 or 6 - 12 month stuff, though; we're got some awesome things coming. I know there's this thing about "omg people think my baby girl is a boy!" and sort of being freaked out by that, but... babies all kind of look the same to me? So that concept doesn't bother me at all. Onesies for everyone!

- I made it basically my entire pregnancy and almost her whole first month of life without buying a single piece of clothing for her. Yesterday, I finally caved and took advantage of Carter's Labor Day Sale and bought a big ol' slew of things. But they were so cheap with the sale! Including her waking-up-Christmas-morning outfit. Which made me realize that her first Christmas is coming, and she's not going to remember it, but I'm still going to try to take pictures of her every. single. second. All of you whose phone numbers I have, you should probably dread winter coming. SO MANY TEXT MESSAGES ARE COMING YOUR WAY.


- SO. LITTLE. SLEEP. For us, at least.

Audra? She gets plenty of sleep.