November 17, 2014

More, please!

Recently, my husband and I took Z to the Dallas Arboretum to visit the stunning pumpkin village (which boasts over 65,000 pumpkins!) for my birthday. Throughout the day, I took little snippets of videos of him playing among the pumpkins and trying (unsuccessfully) to lift them and carry them. Later, while he slept, I used a fancy iPhone app to make a video montage of the day’s festivities. Then, I made a choice which has haunted me ever since: I showed him the video.

My son is obsessed with this video. If he sees me with my phone, he walks over and climbs up into my lap and signs “please.” His face lights up and he throws back his head and laughs every time the music starts and he sees the baby on the screen playing among the pumpkins. He’s gotten to the point where he knows when the video is almost over, and he looks at me and signs “More, please!” Usually, after the 9th or 10th viewing, I get to the point in which I’ve decided we’ve had enough and I say “okay, all done!” and he just wails.

Recently, he's been doing the same thing with two specific books that he just can't get enough of.  The moment I'm done reading the last line, he closes the book and looks at me and signs "Please!" I think we read "The Jungle King" sixteen times yesterday afternoon alone.

Kids, man. Long after Mom or Dad has grown tired or bored from the activity, the kid is shouting or gesturing for “More, please!” I was laughing about this with my husband during one particularly epic meltdown (because what can you do other than laugh sometimes?), when I remembered a quote a friend had posted on his Facebook page (emphasis mine):

Because children have abounding vitality, because they are in spirit fierce and free, therefore they want things repeated and unchanged. They always say, "Do it again"; and the grown-up person does it again until he is nearly dead. For grown-up people are not strong enough to exult in monotony. But perhaps God is strong enough to exult in monotony. It is possible that God says every morning, "Do it again" to the sun; and every evening, "Do it again" to the moon. It may not be automatic necessity that makes all daisies alike; it may be that God makes every daisy separately, but has never got tired of making them. It may be that He has the eternal appetite of infancy; for we have sinned and grown old, and our Father is younger than we.” - G.K. Chesterton, Orthodoxy

The entire quote speaks to me on a spiritual level, of course, but I have often found spiritual lessons in my daily interactions with my son. The absolute delight he finds in an activity or a moment does not diminish with repetition. On the contrary, he finds a new joy with each repetition! Remember when we were children, how we used to rewind our VHS tapes over and over to watch our favorite part of a movie? Goodness, when did we outgrow that? When did we start to lose our “abounding vitality” and our fierce, free spirit?

As adults, we all too often rush through our day and the many things that need to be accomplished. Even the moments that have the potential to stop us in our tracks only give us pause for a moment because there’s always a schedule to keep, a meeting to go to, a lesson to plan, a deadline to meet.

Recently, I was walking across the college campus where I work on my lunch hour. I had music playing in my headphones and it was a beautiful, breezy and sunny day. I was soaking up all the Vitamin D I could before going back to my cubicle. All in one beautiful moment, the music in my ears reached a soaring chord and the wind blew my hair back from my face. Without thinking, I threw back my head, spread my arms wide and laughed with the pure joy of the moment, without worry or care as to who saw me or how foolish I looked..

After that brief, joyful moment passed, my son’s face entered my mind. I thought of how each moment and each new thing that he has discovered and encountered in his 16 months of life has been filled with that kind of joy and wonder. Therefore why shouldn’t he want to experience it over and over and over again? I know it’s easier for him than it is for us, but perhaps I should take a lesson from my son and, in my opinion, from my Heavenly Father to actively seek delight in the monotony of everyday life.

I’m realistic; I know that it isn’t going to happen every day. But perhaps I can strive to get to a point where I find such joy in the minute differences in the monotony of the daily routine that I can look up, smile, and say “More, please!” I think it’s worth a try.

October 1, 2014

::guest post:: Wearing My Confidence on my Back

Today, I am featured as a guest blogger at Mamas in Pajamas Read the full post here

Before I had Z, I had all these Big Plans.  While pregnant, I wrote out med-free birth plans, bought books about breastfeeding, researched cloth diapering and co-sleeping and baby-led weaning and, on a whim, purchased a Baby K’Tan wrap while doing some baby shower gift exchanges in Babies-R-Us.  Babywearing was just another aspect of the Attachment Parenting philosophy I just knew I’d subscribe to as a new mom, but it wasn’t at the top of the list.

Of all of those things, only one ended up working out for me and my little family, and it was the last one...

September 22, 2014

[sponsored post] eShakti Hummingbird Dress

Disclaimer: This post is sponsored by  However, all opinions and photos are my own! 

Recently, I was contacted by a representative of eShakti with the opportunity to choose and customize a garment from their stock, providing that I write a review of the garment on my blog.  First of all, clothes? YES PLEASE. Secondly, I have never done a sponsored post before, so I will just be straightforward and no-nonsense about all of the linkage required:

Find eShakti on:

There! Now that that's taken care of, let's talk about the clothes! 

The thing I love about eShakti is that they have sizes ranging from 0-36W and each garment is made according to your specifications.  This is amazing for several reasons.  For one thing, there aren't a lot of great options out there for plus-sized (or, as I like to call it, "normal-sized") women.  Or, if there are options, they are this stock, shapeless or shape-specific type of thing that doesn't fit all curvy bodies the same way.  eShakti provides options for customized measurements, hem length, sleeve length, neckline and pockets (though, why anyone would choose to remove pockets from a dress is beyond my comprehension!).  

I chose this dress:

Stock image from eShakti confirmation email

A boat neckline is not the most flattering on me, so I had it customized with a sweetheart neckline. I kept the cap sleeves, and chose "below the knee" for length.  I wanted a dress that would work in the later summer months in Texas, but still be appropriate for the crisp, autumn months with the addition of fall staples (tights, cardigans, booties, etc.).  

The dress arrived promptly, and I'm wearing it today!

 (Check out that morning light! So yummy!)

The dress ended up being the perfect length. So many dresses on me these days are somewhere in between "way too short for a working mom in her early 30s" and "ugh why do I keep tripping on this?!" So the "just below knee" length works perfect.  I also love how the overlay is just a bit longer than the skirt of the dress.

The neckline ended up being a little more ornate than I was envisioning, but I don't own any other dresses with a similar neckline, so it stands out among dresses I usually wear.  I can't decide if it makes me look more or less top-heavy, but I do like it.  So that's a plus!

The embroidery is beautiful on the skirt. I absolutely love the colors for fall, and they work really well with my skin tone.  I have to admit, I don't love the sash at all. I almost thought it was a mistake when I found it in the garment box, because it just doesn't seem to work naturally with the dress. There are no belt loops, so the sash slips around a lot.  I might try this dress with a belt of my own some time.  Maybe a braided brown one or a black leather sash belt I already own.

I styled this dress very simply.  Nude heels (I got them from a secondhand shop - Plato's Closet - but the label says they're Rue 21), plastic feather earrings to go with the bird motif (PUT A BIRD ON IT!), also from Plato's closet, and my black & gold reversible braided headband from Target.

The cap sleeves are perfect.  Sometimes, especially on curvier girls, cap sleeves can be the devil, and squeeze the tops of the arms really badly.  This dress is made in such a way that the sleeves have that perfect flare at the top, but scoop way back under the arms.  Plenty of room!

Every eShakti dress also comes with pockets, as I mentioned (love!) and bra strap stays (little snaps that hold your bra strap in place! genius!).  

The only cons:
  • It's hand-wash only. Note to self: don't spill anything on this dress and try to change out of it before dealing with the toddler.
  • The sash - not my favorite, but not a deal-breaker.
  • Wrinkles easily (but also irons out easily with low heat iron. Also! The overlay irons easily without getting weird as netting/mesh sometimes does.).
  • The side zipper is a real struggle, especially zipping it over the waistline, where the seam is.
That's it!  Overall, I love this dress.  It's a great quality, well-made, and I love the quirky design.  eShakti has some of the cutest prints and patterns. It was really hard to choose just one dress, and I think I'll have to go do some shopping before the weather really cools down...

If you'd like to do the same, please feel free to use a coupon code that eShakti was kind enough to provide readers of this blog! Enter code "theoperawife" (minus the quotes, not case-sensitive) at checkout to receive 10% off your order.  Coupon code only valid until 10/16/14. 

  • Code has to be entered in the ‘promotional code’ box.   It is not case-sensitive.  
  • Code can be used any number of times until the validity period. 
  • It can be clubbed with any other promotional offer, gift coupon or gift card in the same order unless explicitly specified otherwise in the offer conditions.
  • This discount code is not applicable on clearance / sale, gift cards & overstock categories.
  • Not applicable on previous purchases.  

September 12, 2014

20 Things

Just for funsies, since it's been a little heavy-handed over here recently, I decided to break out the Old School blogging technique of the survey/meme.  Got this from Drea's blog, and thought it'd be fun to play along!  I encourage you to do the same! 

Question 1: How tall are you?

5'3".  Recently met up with a 7 Days participant who said "You're shorter than I thought you'd be!" 

Question 2: Do you have a hidden talent? If so, what?

I'm really really good at second-guessing everything I say or do.  Or post. Or tweet. But seriously, I hope my talents are out there, being used, rather than hiding. 

Question 3: What’s your biggest blog-related pet peeve?

Bloggers who ONLY do paid advertisements or sponsored posts.  I want to read about the nitty-gritty, real life stuff. Not just something you're posting to get free or discounted stuff.  This is especially true with the parent bloggers. 

Question 4: What’s your biggest non-blog related pet peeve?

Bad drivers. People who walk slowly and weave around a sidewalk so I can't even get around them.  Vaguebooking. 

Question 5: What’s your favorite song?

Oh Lord, that's impossible to answer.  Here's one I can't get enough of, ever: 

Question 6: What’s your favorite Etsy shop that isn’t yours?

I don't shop on Etsy. (gasp!)

Question 7: What’s your favorite way to spend your free time when you’re alone?

Reading. Binge-watching something on Netflix.  Working on theatre stuff. 

Question 8: What’s your favorite junk food?

Bad question to ask me when I'm dieting. 
  • Pizza
  • Chips and Salsa
  • Margaritas
  • Peanut M&Ms
  • Oreos

Question 9: Do you have a pet or pets? If so, what kind and what are their names?
One pretty pittie named Carmen. 

Question 10: What are your number one favorite nonfiction and fiction books?

Geez, another Sophie's Choice question.  I have recently loved The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society and Eleanor & Park.  Nonfiction is tougher because I don't read it often. Though I did just finish Patti Lupone's memoir (ehh...) and I'm reading The Seven Spiritual Laws for Parents by Deepak Chopra. 

Question 11: What’s your favorite beauty product?

BB Cream (just started using it, and I love it. First one I tried was Cover Girl, but I'll probably try a different brand next time) and Maybelline Voluminous "Falsies" mascara. 

Question 12: When were you last embarrassed? What happened?
Oh man, I feel like I'm always embarrassed by something or other (see: "hidden talent" above). But I have learned to laugh at it or brush it off after almost 33 years of klutziness and not thinking before I speak.  And the last time I felt truly embarrassed was when I had inadvertently hurt one of my friends' feelings.  But that friend was very kind and honest, and we were able to resolve it quickly. 

Question 13: If you could only drink one beverage (besides water) for the rest of your life, what would it be?

Iced coffee.  And Diet Coke, if I didn't avoid it like the plague because I get seriously addicted to it.  As the Pioneer Woman says, "Amen." 

Question 14: What’s your favorite movie?
Remember the Titans.  The Princess Bride. Across the Universe.  (Can you tell I don't like picking "favorites" of anything?)

Question 15: What were you in high school: prom queen, nerd, cheerleader, jock, valedictorian, band geek, loner, artist, prep?

I went to a really small school (graduated with 70 in my senior class) and we all mostly got along and didn't really place labels on each other. I was very fortunate.  If I were to place a label on my HS self, I'd probably say band/theatre nerd. 

Question 16: If you could live anywhere in the world, where would you live?

I'm truly happy where I live right now.  But if I could get the Li'l D experience and be closer to Big D, I'd be in heaven. 

Question 17: PC or Mac?


Question 18: Last romantic gesture from a crush, date, boy/girlfriend, spouse?

My husband follows me and the toddler around, cleaning up after us; he folds laundry while I'm bathing the baby; he washes dishes after I cook; he lets me take naps on mornings that Z wakes up super early.  He's fantastic. 

Question 19: Favorite celebrity?

Jimmy Fallon came to mind first.  I love how he fangirls out and he has an amazing sense of humor. 

Question 20: What blogger do you secretly want be best friends with?

The Pioneer Woman
Sween and his wife. 
You, probably.

September 11, 2014

Today, We Made Funny Faces

My sweet baby boy,

Last year, I explained why today is important as I gave you your morning bottle.  You grunted and blinked and looked at me so intently as I tried to think of ways to explain why this day is so important to us. I know you were too young (and are, still) to grasp why this day makes Mommies and Daddies cry.  You were too young to understand fear or hate or even love or goodwill or kindness. You had needs, and they were being met at that moment. Hungry: bottle.

But I was practicing, you see. There will come a day when we have to explain this day to you. You will hear about it in school.  You will see images before I'm ready for you to see them.  You will ask me why the flag is lower. So, I practiced. I practiced my kid-friendly speech.  I like to think it was a good speech.

This year, today sneaked right up on me.  Having you in our lives makes the days run together in a beautiful, exhausted and chaotic mess of songs and naps and messes and storybooks and babywearing. I would have forgotten that mine and Daddy's wedding anniversary was last weekend if I hadn't gotten a reminder on my calendar at work.

For a moment, I thought about telling you again.  You don't sit still very often anymore, so I thought about telling you as we drove to school.  Two things stopped me.

For one thing, you were happily babbling to yourself in the backseat.  Still a little sleepy.  Watching the cars go by, catching glimpses of yourself in the mirror and sticking your tongue out at your reflection.  Blowing raspberries and randomly calling out "DA!" I didn't want to harsh your mellow with grave reflections of a day you don't yet understand.

Secondly (and this one is hard for Mommy), I saw your first glimpse into fear last night.  It took us off guard.  You were just watching Mickey Mouse Clubhouse before bed, like you always do, when suddenly you cried out, turned away from the TV and threw yourself to the ground, burying your face in your hands.  A cartoon bee had suddenly flown on to the screen, and it surprised you. It scared you. You crawled over to me and into my lap. I felt your tiny hands gripping my arms, and I saw your bottom lip pucker out in a heartbreaking little pout until the little Disney bees went away.  Then, as if nothing had happened, you clamored out of my lap again and went back to your Spot, where you love to watch Mickey and his friends at the Clubhouse.

Fear. Something that frightened you suddenly in the middle of a show you love and have come to depend upon as part of your daily routine.  You weren't expecting it and, for a moment, you were hesitant to trust it again.

It was a tiny moment, and you probably don't even remember it today.  But I do.  I remember a piece of my heart breaking off because I realized that you will experience that over and over again in your life. You'll lose tiny bits of innocence and uncover the truth that the world isn't always sweet and fun. Logically, I knew this was going to happen.  However, my heart was surprised and caught off guard.

As you grow and change and learn and develop into the boy and the man you will be, I can't promise I'll always be able to protect you and hold you until you trust that everything is okay.  (I mean, I want to, and your Daddy and I will do the best we can, of course, to prepare you for the things of this world that sting.)  But for now, for today, I can.  I get to make that decision.

So today, I didn't practice my speech again. Today,I smiled and tried again (unsuccessfully) to get you to say "Ma Ma" instead of "Da Da."  Today, I blew raspberries back at you.  Today, I sang "Shake it Off" to you when it came on the radio because it makes you laugh and dance in your carseat.

Today, we made funny faces.

Because today, for you, is a new day; another day to be joyful and innocent and full of laughter and smiles.

Today, maybe we will take your lead. Images may scare us, but we'll cry, be comforted, and then go back on with our routines.


September 9, 2014

My Child is a Person, Not an Inconvenience

Last night, I (very unwisely) commented on the Facebook status of a friend who posted something that basically said, "I'm really glad school is back in session so that I can run my errands in peace and quiet. I'm sure YOUR child would NEVER behave poorly but I'm glad to not have to be around those that do."  The mama bear claws came out and I snarked back, "Well make sure you get them all done before the weekend, because we have to run our errands some time, and we'd hate for our brats to ruin your Saturday!"

In retrospect, I should have kept my mouth shut.  I've never been known to be someone who thinks before she types/speaks in every situation.  I couldn't help but get defensive, though.

Listen, I get it.  Kids aren't for everybody. Not everybody likes kids. Some parents only like their own kids.  Sometimes kids can be jerks (I've called mine a punk before; I admit it), and some parents are negligent, choosing to scroll through their Instagram feed in the supermarket while their child empties a box of Lucky Charms onto the ground and stops all over the spilled cereal while singing some atrocity from a Bubble Guppies episode at top volume.

But I am so weary of my child-free/childless (which is PC these days?) friends complaining about children on social media sites.  From the ever-popular "stuck on an airplane with a crying baby; great. #FML" to the more malicious and, in my opinion, unnecessary posts such as the one I saw last night.

I'll be the first one to like or comment on a post complaining about an incident such as the Lucky Charms one above.  Get your face out of your phone and pay attention, ya know?  But in most cases, I think we could all stand to show a little more compassion and understanding to two main truths:

1. A child is a person.
2. A parent is just trying to survive.

Your judgmental glares and rolled eyes and heavy sighs do nothing but exacerbate the problem and, more importantly, make the parents feel terrible and self-conscious.  (Let me let you in on a little secret: we already feel self-conscious and think we're terrible!)

This past Saturday, I took my 14-month-old son with me to a brand new donut shop in town.  I was carrying him in Fiona while I waited in a line that went out the door and almost to the street.  The place was filled with families, hip-looking couples, and bleary-eyed college students  grabbing a delicious box of snacks before heading to the morning football game. It was already a little noisy in there, but somehow (I mean I don't know from WHICH parent he gets this...::shifts in chair::) he managed to be louder than everyone. Not screaming. Not pitching a fit.  Just saying "da DA! da DA! da! DA DA DA DA DAAAAAAAAAAAAA! da DA!" over and over again (and with great breath support and placement, if I may add) with a very serious and focused look in his eyes.

I tensed up automatically, bracing myself for the withering looks of other parents or rolled eyes of the way-cooler-than-me couple behind me, when the guy smiled at Z and started talking BACK to him.  "No way!? Dude that's awesome. I KNOW RIGHT?" Z smiled and continued his chatter with a bit more gusto.

I caught the eye of the guy's lady-friend, and she smiled at me.  I smiled back, my eyes saying a silent "thank you" to them both for understanding that he's just a kid, just figuring out his voice and his vocal abilities. Eventually he'll learn "inside voice," but for now he's just kind of exploring what he can do.

When a child is screaming on an airplane, I promise they aren't doing it to annoy you. How do you feel when you travel coach?  I'll tell you how I feel: Uncomfortable. Tired. Grumpy. Hungry. My ears hurt during takeoff and landing.  Guess what?  That baby feels all those things, too.  And the parents are feeling all of those things AND the panic and stress of flying with a small child.

When you're in the grocery store, thinking to yourself, "Those kids are crazy. They shouldn't have that many kids if they can't handle them," I promise you that the parents are doing the best they can to grab a few things for dinner or a school supply that one of them lost or forgot and probably mentally adding up everything they put into their basket, hoping they can afford it, while their tired, overstimulated and hungry children (who are not emotionally mature enough yet to just grit their teeth and bear it) slowly melt down.

Ask yourself -- how often have you, an adult, wanted to just sit in the middle of a grocery aisle and cry?  How often have you wanted to throw your coffee cup on the ground in the middle of a meeting when you get upset? We don't because we're adults and we know that we have to act better, but at some point we, too, gave into those instincts as younger people.

Maybe you're reading this and shaking your head, thinking "teach them early!" But I want my child to be a child while he still can. I already feel my heart breaking when he bumps his head and I see him struggle with the decision on whether or not to cry.  Even at 14 months old, some instinct is telling him not to show emotion and to just deal with it. Some day, he'll find himself in situations where he does need to tamp down his emotions until he's in an appropriate time and place to release them.  But not now.  Not yet.

Please be aware that I'm not just going to let my child throw tantrums and brush it off with an "Oh, isn't he precious?" smile.  No. I'm going to be embarrassed and wondering what everyone is thinking about me and my parenting skills, and I'm going to mentally calculate whether or not he or I can both handle the extra 10 minutes it will take us to just FINISH the shopping trip or if it's best if I just leave the grocery cart on whichever aisle we're on and just get outta there.

But I am also not going to tell my child he should be seen and not heard. I want him to squeal with delight. I want him to sing the songs he learned that day at school. I want him to point and call out when he recognizes things.  Your thoughts may not be heard, but your feelings are seen in every glare and every roll of your eyes and in every put-upon sigh.

I will do my best to comfort and discipline him when he inevitably melts down in public.  But you know what would help me more than a judgmental look or whispered admonition? An offer to help me load my groceries into the trunk. A smile that says "It's okay, that's just babies being babies."  Or, if kids really aren't your thing and you just don't get it and don't want to?  Just put your headphones in and please stifle your sneering as best you can until I can get to my destination and out of your way.

I can promise that you and I BOTH are thinking about the glass of wine we'll pour as soon as we get home and get the chance to sit still. In the meantime, please give me (and my child) a little grace. I'm not asking you to love kids (or even like them) or have a few of your own. I just am asking for some grace.

August 29, 2014

DIY Planner with Printables

Being a mom means you have a super busy life that you have to deal with after you lost about 30%* of your smarts after making, birthing, and beginning to raise a baby.  Being a mom who is also involved in lots of activities makes it even busier.  Being a mom who has a husband who is ALSO involved in lots of activities and/or a crazy schedule....well, you get it.

(*not an exact science)

For a while now, I've had real frustration with my iPhone calendar and my Gmail calendar (#firstworldproblem, I know, but seriously).  I'd be at the end of a meeting, putting in the next meeting's date and time RIGHT THEN, only to have it disappear only a few days later, for no apparent reason. 

ALSO, I was really growing tired of asking my husband over and over what his (varied, ever-changing) schedule was and what time he'd be done that day (he was getting pretty tired of it, too).  I honestly just couldn't remember from day to day.  So I started thinking about getting a planner.

The Erin Condren planners were the first ones I wanted to look at, but....L O L at spending $50 on that when there are other things to buy right now (and never enough money to spend it on).  Sure, I could have gotten a cheaper one (they're still like $15-20) at Target or Staples, but I wanted it to be pretty.

So, I like to have my cake and eat it, too.  Sue me.

Then Heather totally saved me by tweeting this link yesterday and using some printables there, along with some Pinterest and some creativity of my own, and VOILA! My very own DIY (pretty!) planner!

and it IS a crazy life...

At-a-glance calendar for the year

Full month calendar; different color/patterned washi tape to indicate my commitment/husband's commitment/Z's appointments

Weekly plan after each month (I can tear them out once I'm done, or keep them all!)

Menu planning/shopping list

Bought a post it/stick-on thingy to go in the back.  It folds into the planner when it's shut, and I can refill it with other post-its when I run out. 

I used the "Blog Planner" template to keep up with my social media postings for different organizations for which I manage pages. This is one area where it'd be nice to make it customizeable, but was free.

Task/to-do lists for the shows I'm directing. The washi tape came in handy again because, unfortunately, the guy at Office Max bound these pages upside-down. Grrrr.  

Who knows if this will actually help me out (I'm really great at starting planners...) but I'm excited about it!  And it was WAY cheaper to print all of this out on my own and then have it bound.

Cost Breakdown

Printing: Free (ink, of course)
Binding: about $5 at OfficeMax
Washi tape: $2 x 3 rolls = $6
Post-it thingy: ~$6

Total Cost: less than $20

Thank you HEATHER!  Here's to getting organized.