Learning from each other

Learning from each other

I love new ideas and new ways of doing things, or thinking about things. In our age of information, it can be a blessing… or a kind of curse.

In these early years of motherhood, there are so many decisions to make. Most of them are controversial, especially if you discuss them with other mothers (which most of us do, because it is really stressful to figure this mom thing out!).

We are all learning, all the time (though some of us may be reaching Expert levels!). No matter how many kids we have or how old they are, there is always that next stage that is unforeseen. I know what it is like to have 3 kids under 4…. but I don’t know what its like to have a 5 year old yet. Or what its like to have only one toddler/preschooler… which has its own challenges. Some of us may have lots of kids, an only child, little ones or older kids, but each kid is their own little crazy snowflake. Throw birth order and your family culture in there, and we are all so so different.

Why do we keep hoping that one piece of advice will fix everything? Whether we are the one searching for it, or the one giving it (or both!) there is really no magical solution that fits every family in every stage.

I was reading yesterday and it said WE ALL HATE THE MOMMY WITH THE HELPFUL PARENTING ADVICE. She was being funny, but it really struck me as shocking. I am so that mom that is likely to give helpful parenting advice. I realized when I read those words how right she was (there is always a bit of truth to every joke, right?). That isn’t to say that helpful parenting advice is always bad. There’s a time and a place, and a relationship context to consider. Sometimes we all need a little push, and sometimes we all just really are floundering and don’t know what to do. I have often gone to a friend, hoping she could help me figure out how to handle some crazy new antic.

What do we do about this? How do we learn and grow from each other without perpetuating the mommy wars?

I have stumbled upon the answer accidentally, though it should have been obvious.

Discipleship. That is… relationship. Coming alongside of each other and just being friends. Loving each other.

We often want to show each other how our lives line up with such and such thing that we have thought so carefully through, and maybe we are trying to find acceptance, or validation, or find our common ground. Sometimes I think we just want to show off because we are having a good week.

I’m learning grace and motherhood and techniques from just. being. friends. with people.

I learned from my friend Nikita how to have a day in day out, let’s just do life together best friend.

I learned from my friend Mandy that having the same love for a hobby (and coffee) can really fill your soul. That sometimes it is awesome to just sit and talk about pretty things for 3 hours. Also, I learned that I am capable of hurting people with my opinions (and she forgave me and loves me despite my shortcomings).

I am learning from Becky how to enjoy motherhood more outside of my home. She is teaching me the importance of having a community of moms to lean on.

I am learning from Brook how to have a friend who parents with grace and doesn’t knit pick whether or not we fall on the same side on controversial parenting issues.

I am learning from Christy how to make garlic oil and throw some delicious spices into my leftovers and make a whole new dish. I’m also learning that when your kids are weird in the same way, and you are weird in the same way… we don’t have to try so hard. And sometimes that is just. really. nice.

I learned from my mom (and BFF!) that GRACE. and being real are what it’s all about.

Reading books is great… Blogs are awesome…. But we all need real friends and real community more. We need to figure out what we have in common and enjoy that, instead of trying to find ways we can be divided against each other.

Motherhood beat the crap out of me.

Motherhood beat the crap out of me.

Who is that girl I see? Staring straight back at me. When will my reflection show who I am inside?  (Mulan)

Before I had kids, I had spunk. I had moxie. I was known for my great (daring?) sense of style, my outgoing personality, and being a generally friendly, fun person. I was vibrant.

This Valentine’s Day, my journey to motherhood is 5 years old. 5 Valentine’s Days ago, I made a romantic dinner, and was too tired to stay awake after that. I found out 2 days later that I was pregnant. Life has never been the same!

I had a baby. This baby liked to be held all the time. This baby liked to be with Mama all the time. This baby liked almost no one but Mama. He is still my moody, sensitive, child. He needs a lot from me, all the time. (My mom probably would still have said the same about me!) He did everything with me, and went to all of my normal activities with me. Life was good. I was lonely and watched a lot of Netflix, like many moms, but I often could find ways to merge baby into my old life too.

Then he turned 1. I got pregnant. I got tired. It became too hard to do most social things with him, and I hadn’t found where I fit in yet. I began to feel like it was harder and harder to be a part of church, as my little guy wouldn’t go to childcare during church services or bible studies, and he was getting big enough to draw attention. Keeping him quiet/still was exhausting.

I wouldn’t go back to being the me before motherhood. There was so much that I needed to learn and ways I needed to grow…

Motherhood taught me that my body is amazing. Capable of bringing forth life and sustaining it. Protecting it fiercely.

Deployment taught me that I am tough, independent, and that yes… I do have moxie! I moved myself and my two kids across the country and into a new house without my husband. I wasn’t willing to sit around and wait to experience life until my husband came home, even with two babies under 3.

I used to stand out and shine. I was totally comfortable with who I was, embarrassing flaws and all. I remember I used to say, “I’m not everyone’s cup of tea. If they don’t like me, that’s totally fine.”

Since becoming a mother, I feel this intense vulnerability. I no longer embrace myself completely. While motherhood taught me to trust myself and do what I believe is best for our family, it also taught me that being different is not celebrated. You are being judged, for every move you make. Motherhood is intensely personal, and intensely vulnerable, and everyone is doing is right. And everyone is doing it wrong. And you are everyone. And you are no one.

I’m getting to this point in my motherhood … I want to be myself again. I’m tired of being scared. I want a friend to share things with, like I did before motherhood took its toll. I’m tired of feeling like a victim (or a participant?) in the Mommy Wars.

GUESS WHAT MOMMY WARS? I am a person. Not just a Mom.

I’m ready to just like you, or not like you. Let’s be friends, or not. Let’s worship together while our babies are crazy and running around us, or maybe sitting nicely in their freshly pressed khakis (I’ll let you guess which ones are mine…).

I want to have coffee with you, or tea. I just want to be your friend. I don’t care about Mommy Wars.

I am not just a Mom. I am a woman.

I am an extrovert who loves fashion, de-cluttering, decorating, and is generally distractible in public settings.

I am an introvert who loves a good book or will pick up my knitting when I need something to do with my hands.

I will talk your ear off one day and shrink completely into the background the next. I like big group events but don’t feel satisfied unless I made a heart connection with someone there.

God has put a new song in my heart.

You make me brave. You make me brave. You call me out beyond the shore into the waves. You make me brave….

When things get weird with parenting, let’s say GRACE. Let’s agree that whatever it is doesn’t need to be part of our friendship. Let’s say it out loud. Let’s stop assuming judgment is happening when our kids are having a scuffle. If our kids are potty trained different, let’s just move on. It does not. matter. I just want to be your friend!

Motherhood beat the crap out of me. I’m a better woman for it.  But now, I’m ready to fight back.

I’m bringing ME back to my motherhood.

They are growing before my eyes.

They are growing before my eyes.

Today is a happy but hormonal day.

That makes no sense, I agree.

I am happy (not depressed) but I am hormonal, therefore all things are making me feel weepy, insane, or grumpy.

I have been playing the “Do I want any more babies?” game.

“I could maybe do one more. Look at that cute face! How can I not want another with all this love happening!?!?”

Minutes later….

*Feels overwhelmed by life in general, probably from dishes* “What AM I THINKING?!?!!?! I can’t do it again! There are so many of them! (babies. but also dishes.)”

And then…

I hope I’m not pregnant (I think this for a few days every month, ever.).

I could maybe do one more.

ARE YOU INSANE?

And around and around we go.

Isn’t it fun to be a woman?

I will now go consume some chocolate. Some stereotypes are there for a reason.

The holidays got my blogging all out of whack. But I’m not giving up yet, ladies. I want to do this.

Natalie’s Style File, pt 1

Natalie’s Style File, pt 1

Meet Natalie!

She is a babywearing mama who loves to hike and enjoys the great outdoors with her family.

hikingnat

She also owns her own business, as a music therapist.

guitarnat

She needs a wardrobe that will serve her well in her hobbies, her job, casual outfits for everyday wear, and all clothing must have boob access since she is breastfeeding!

Natalie’s shape is an inverted triangle, so she has broad shoulders, gains weight in her middle, and great legs! Inverted triangle shapes benefit from clothes that balance out the lower half with the upper body. Therefore, keeping the look clean on top and “fussier” things on bottom will create a more balanced silhouette.

Goals: Softening the shoulder lines, defining the waist, and creating curvature on the bottom half for balance.

Natalie is going shopping with her MIL today, so here are my suggestions on what she should look for:

natalie
 
White Oxford shirt: Such a versatile shirt!
You can wear it for work: with the trousers, with the straight skirt and flats, or the full skirt, tights and booties, possibly over or under the dress, under the blazer, under the cardigan…
You can wear it for play: with the boot cut jeans and boots, with cargo pants and sneakers, with boyfriend jeans, cardigan and flats (that’s how I would anyway!). Color: Crisp white is best for your skin tone and versatility
Bright flannel plaid shirt: This is one of the things that feels so Natalie.
You can wear it for work: with the straight skirt, tucked into the trousers if they have a higher waist, under the blazer…
You can wear it for play: Pretty much any combination of this shirt and any of the pants with an appropriate shoe will be awesome 🙂 If it color coordinates with the cardigan, all the better.
Color: Choose a color that is bright and clear (so nothing dusty or muddled, like a burgundy) like jewel tones, but you can also wear “icy” colors, meaning a pure color with  a bit of white added to it.
Pattern shirt: I chose a bright blue check because it would play well with the other pieces and still hints to an outdoorsy-ness, even under the blazer. 🙂
You can wear it for work: under the blazer or cardigan, with the boot cut jeans or trousers, with the straight skirt.
You can wear it for play: with the cargo pants and sneakers, with the boot cut jeans and either of the boots, with the boyfriend jeans and sneakers or flats .
Field jacket: This is a great casual jacket. The one I have pictured has a nice defined waist,  and not a lot going on in the shoulders and collar area.
You can wear it for work: With the skirt and oxford shirt, with boots or flats and possibly with the dress!
Neutral blazer: Obviously, this is a great way to make any outfit look instantly more professional. Try to make sure the length isn’t too long, it should hit right around or above your hip bone. The fit in the shoulders is also important, you don’t want anything that is bulky.
V-neck cardigan: The V-neck draws attention to your face which we like 🙂 Get it in a neutral like black, white, icy gray, or navy blue. Or get it in a pop color like red or emerald green!
Black V-neck tee: Obviously, this is just handy to have. The V-neck is good for your silhouette, and the black will go with everything.
Boyfriend jeans: These don’t have to be destroyed, though I think it gives them an edge. The “baggier” style of this jean balances out your shape nicely. You can wear it for work: Nope, unless you mean yard work.
You can wear it for play: Yes! You can wear them with the sneakers and casual tops for chill days… but wearing feminine pieces with them is also really fun when you want to look cute for an evening out (you know… to Target…) so I would work it with the black tee and flats, and a good dose of mascara 😉
Wide leg trousers/jeans: These balance out your figure, and are also great for bringing an instantly put together look. You could get these in a very dark wash denim and they’ll swing slightly more casual, or get them in black. Pay attention to the fit in the rear, as well as looking at the line from your hip down. You want it to almost just (look like) it is falling straight to the floor. A higher waist is an extra plus, but pick ones you love. You can wear for work: Yep. With any shirt and that cardigan would be cute. Or the blazer to kick it up a notch!
Cargo pants: Since we are trying to balance out your upper half, these do that and match your aesthetic! Wear with any casual top, and as above, you can also balance them out with more feminine pieces when you’re not hiking 🙂
Dark wash boot cut jeans: These are so great for that middle ground where you aren’t sure whether you need to be dressed up but the cargos aren’t going to cut it. Pair with something classic, like the white oxford, or wear with something funkier. You really can’t go wrong.
Neutral knee length skirt: Going with a lighter color will draw the eye down. I’d recommend an icy gray or khaki to warm things up. Wear for work: with all the things. Wear for play: Again, yes. With the flats and any top you can’t go wrong!
Full patterned skirt: I’m not sure if you’ll go for this, but if you find one you love, it is a great silhouette for you, and easily can do double duty as a professional item, and a more festive one. A higher waist is good. Pick one in your neutrals for the most versatility.
Little black dress: Black or navy blue, empire waist, fuller skirt, and hitting right above or below the knee is ideal. The one pictured has a V-neck for easy breastfeeding. Wear for work: with tights, booties, and the blazer or cardigan. Wear for play: Great for a date night, evening out with friends, or when you just want to look amazing without trying very hard. With the flats, it looks effortless.
Wide belt: Great for any outfit that is looking kind of boxy, it creates that hourglass silhouette. Intended to be worn around the smallest part of your waist. A thin belt works well too, and can be worn over a cardigan.
Riding boots: A great way to nod at your love of the outdoors, while being cute comfy shoes.
Fun sneakers: Because they are fun, and lighten up any outfit. Get ones you love.
Black booties: With black tights, these are a great way to be kind of dressed up without wearing heels. Without tights they are edgier, and can go with jeans, skirts, dresses, and even shorts for the daring.
Black flats: My personal favorite, they are feminine but not fussy. Get a pair you love, and can picture wearing with most of your outfits.
Black tights: These are an essential to any dress wearing in the winter. Opaque or slightly sheer ones are the most modern. Wear with boots, booties, or flats.
Nude camisole: Camis are a friend to the nursing mother,but the nude doesn’t disrupt the line of what you are wearing and requires no matching. It is also great for tucking in so that you are more covered when chasing after a little one.
Who You Are.

Who You Are.

I have a post in the planning process about body shapes. It gets more complicated when it comes to having pictustyleres/ multiple people in the mix 🙂 So, for today, I want to talk to you about perception… of ourselves, of others, and how others perceive us.

My ultimate goal here, is for you is to find clothes that work to flatter your shape and your aesthetics, and to feel like a more confident version of yourself.

We are not trying to change who we are. We are trying to use our clothing to show others who we are!

Unfortunately, appearances are very important in our society. Increasingly so, as our interactions with others in general have lessened. Now that people don’t have a need to do as much in person, we know less people. We have casual interactions with less people.  My point in this… is that people don’t get to know you. All they have to go on is the 5 seconds they’ve spent with you, and nobody is even talking!

So first impressions are often even shorter than they were before, and may be your only impression. A lot of that first impression is going to be how you look. I’m not talking about your weight or size or the face you were born with, though it is obviously easier if you like all of those things about yourself. I’m talking about your confidence, your smile, and looking put together.

There are a few things to consider when you get dressed in the morning.

1. Think about your highest expectation for the day and dress for that (like an important meeting, or …destiny?).

2. Think about your worst possible scenario. Would you want to be caught in not-your-best? Oh hello, ex boyfriend at the grocery store. Yes, I’m great. Can’t you tell by my stained tee and yoga pants?

3. Dress for how you’d like to be received. If your style is super rock and roll, but you are having a hard time making friends… maybe your look is too edgy? Try to tone it down to look friendlier. Or maybe you are trying to get a new job? You’ve heard the idea, dress for the job you want, not the job you have! Dare I say, we could almost apply that idea to anything. Dress the for day you want… the life you want… the friends you want…

4. Dress to make yourself happy. I’m working on this one. It is hard to stay out of a “box”, or trying to please others. I’m not saying wear gummy bear leggings (I mean, you can wear them in your house… alone…) but I am saying be yourself. The best version of yourself! And not who someone else expects you to be. I tend to be more “dolled up” than my friends or family, but I am working to not feel self-conscious, because that is just who I am.

Looking forward to talking more with you soon! ❤ Adrienne

What is your biggest challenge in dressing like your best self?

You are not a number.

You are not a number.

I think as women, of our culture, and our modern society where it is important that everything be quantified and labeled in some way… We care a lot about our size and weight. NUMBERS.

These things are not important. They are interesting to know from time to time. Yes, technically you need to know your size somewhat to choose a pair of pants or a top, but the number does not make the woman.

The number is often different, depending on which store you are shopping in and which scale you are stepping on! Add in breastfeeding, pregnancy, postpartum, hormonal changes, menopause, and Chinese food (Sodium!!!) and our weight and sizes fluctuate something crazy.

Are you with me? Let’s see the number as what it is, a number. And let it go at that. No guilt, no anguish, no self loathing. Let us all strive to be healthier and the best version of ourselves… but never a number. If you must be a number, you are A TEN! Not size. In the scale of 1-10 of awesomeness, you are a 10.

We are going to tackle BODY SHAPES next. Yay! Do you know what shape you are?

Instead of saying what lots of other people have already explained (with pretty graphics!) let’s ask Oprah what body shapes we are 😉 Just follow the directions for measuring without judgment, please.

http://www.oprah.com/style/Whats-Your-Body-Shape/2

Please excuse the actual link. I can’t quite get the hang of this new blog.