October 31, 2013

Stitch Fix #1

Good morning!  It's Stitch Fix Day!

(Well, actually it was yesterday, but I'm sharing my Fix with you today, so...)

Let me ask you a few questions:

  • Do you find that you never have time to go shopping?  
  • Do you get frustrated in poorly lit dressing rooms with funhouse mirrors that make you look nothing like you look in real life?  
  • Isn't it frustrating to try on separates and try to figure out how you'll match them with what's already in your closet after you leave the store?  
  • Wouldn't it be great if you had someone picking out things just for you and your body type? 
If you answered "YES!" to any of those questions, then Stitch Fix is the perfect solution!

How it works:  Go to the Stitch Fix website and create an account, then fill out a style profile questionnaire.  (Full disclosure: every link to Stitch Fix on this post is my referral link. It's a great way to earn $$$ for new clothes with each fix!) Pay a $20 styling fee, and wait for your fix to arrive!

You will receive 5 items (could be any combination of clothing and accessories), which you can try on in the privacy and comfort of your OWN home and with your OWN clothes!  Send anything you don't want back in a prepaid envelope within 3 days of receiving it, and you will be charged ONLY for the items you keep!

This is especially easy for new moms! If you did what I did and threw out a bunch of your clothes in a pregnant, hormonal rage and now only have maternity clothes for the fall...this is the way to go! I can try everything on after Z is asleep without leaving my house! And I can send it back SO easily without having to go to the post office!

How much does it cost? Every fix costs $20 for the styling fee.  If you decide to keep any items, that $20 will be applied to your purchase! If you keep nothing, you do not get the $20 refunded.  If you decided to keep all five items, you receive an additional 25% off your purchase! The items themselves are a wide range of prices, but the website says that you can expect an average of $65/item.

Is it a monthly thing? Will I get charged $20 every month? Nope! You can sign up for monthly fixes, or you can go in and order a fix on an as-needed basis. 

But what if my stylist gets it completely wrong? You can go back to the site and offer feedback on every single item you receive and you can update your style profile at any time!

Okay! So onto my Fix!

I was SO excited to get the box! It's wrapped beautifully, which says a lot to me, and the packing slip included a personal note from my stylist, Jaime.

The first item I tried on was the Ashlee Floral Print Swiss Dot Blouse.  I loved this item as soon as I pulled it out of the box.  Sadly, it was too small. :( It just barely buttoned over my chest, and the sleeves were way too tight.  Getting it back off my body was an aerobic activity.

Verdict: Will not keep.

The next thing out of the box was the Foster Chambray Shirt Dress.  I love that Chambray is so "in" this fall! This dress was deliciously soft and very comfortable.  Unfortunately, it didn't do much for my figure. I tried it on alone and then as an "outfit" with my own scarf, leggings and boots.

Verdict: Will not keep.

Next was the Galena Solid Pleated Ponte Skirt.  I was skeptical of this skirt because of the length and the fact that it had no zipper or buttons or anything.  But when I put it on, with my own blouse and shoes, I loved it! And it has pockets!

This skirt will be perfect for the fall & winter months because it's thick and sturdy and incredibly comfortable and versatile.

Verdict: will definitely keep!

Next was the Vivianna Open-Draped Knit Cardigan.  This item was VERY warm and cozy (a little too warm yet for these balmy October days in Texas...).  The style card attached to it (oh I forgot to mention! there's a style card on every item with suggestions on how to wear it!) suggested it with jeans and over a dress, so I tried it both ways.

Verdict: Undecided. It's a great piece, but it's a little on the high end, price-wise, for my taste.  I can see myself wearing it a lot, though, especially on days that are too warm for a coat but too chilly to go without a sweater or light jacket.

Finally, the last item in my box was an accessory: the Facet Rectangles & Floral Jewels necklace.

This necklace is lovely, and would be perfect for the upcoming holiday season.  However, the price is way too high for a necklace that, in my opinion, felt a bit light and cheap.  A friend's wise words to me were, "if it feels cheap in your hand, then it is." I could find something very similar at Plato's Closet or TJ Maxx for at least half the price.

Verdict: will not keep.

Overall, my stylist did a great job. I loved the way everything in the box looked...just not necessarily how it looked on me.  So, she did a great job based on what I said in my style profile!  I'll definitely be leaving her feedback and ordering at least one more fix before the year is out!

October 28, 2013


Balance is something I've thought about a lot lately.  You may think I mean the obvious: balance in life since having a baby.  You'd be almost right...because I do want to address that, too, at some point.  But really I'm trying to find a balance in my blogging life.  A balance between vanity and community and therapy and honesty.

I don't even know how to really say this, so let me direct you to my internet-friend Joseph's blog post, which does a fantastic job putting words to how I feel about blogging, most of the time: The Flip Side.  Go ahead! I'll wait.

*Jeopardy theme music*

Back?  Okay! Isn't he a great writer?  He seems like a cool dude.

Anyway, here are some truths about why I blog, in the form of bullet points:
  • I love writing down how I feel.
  • I like being a part of a community of bloggers.
  • Of course I like the attention and the validation...
  • But I also like the affirmations and support I've gotten from people who are, essentially, strangers.
  • I kind of want free stuff sometimes (i.e., "I'll send you this [insert product] if you'll blog about your experience!"). Hasn't happened yet, but one can hope.
  • I like being real, open and honest.
Since becoming a mother, that last bullet point has been the leading impetus for my blog posts.  Sometimes I just want to write down how I feel, get support from other moms, or get affirmation and support...you know, all those other bullet points.  But I also want other moms (new moms especially; ones in the same boat as I am) to see that they may not be the only one feeling the way they do.

The only mom who struggled with nursing.

The only mom who ever felt exhausted and decidedly unhappy in the first couple of weeks.

The only mom who felt terrible guilt about...well...anything.

The only mom who has postpartum depression/anxiety.

The only mom who still wears clothes she got four years ago on clearance.

The only mom who wears the same pair of jeans/pants/shoes 3 times in one week.

The only mom who buys cheap, drugstore makeup.

The only mom who picks up takeout because everything is just too hard to cook.

The only mom who falls asleep on the couch instead of spending precious evening hours with her husband sometimes.

The only mom who cries into her pillow (or on the way to work) because she feels like she can't be good at EVERYTHING (wife, mom, employee, etc.) and so one or more always falls short.

And so on and so forth.

My blog also keeps me accountable, as I've said in my Outfit of the Day posts.  Knowing that a handful of internet strangers might wanna see what outfit I was able to throw together so that I'd look (and therefore feel) a bit more put together even after a frantic morning trying to wrangle a newborn out the door.

But man, I struggle with people thinking I'm just vain.  I mean, I am vain.  Sometimes more than others. Even what I just said above about my OOTD posts is selfish: it helps ME feel more put together when I know I'm going to post my outfit online.  I'd like to think it also helps other women know that they don't have to be wealthy or buy a bunch of new clothes in order to look nice at work, but I'll admit that's not always my reason for posting.

I don't know...I guess part of this slight feeling of discomfort comes from feeling like I'm defined by my blog, my Twitter, my Instagram, my Facebook account...but the truth is that we do live in a world that is pretty much run by social media.  I don't think that has to be a terrible thing, though.  I think that being honest and REAL about it is the best way to handle a social media society.

I just want to be genuine. I want to be liked for every part of who I am -- even the not-so-glamorous or put together parts. I want to be honest in my joys and in my struggles.  I want to never ever paint a picture of a perfect life on social media, because the reality of my life is that it's a hectic, crazy mess sometimes.

But it's honest. And it's real. And it's messy.  And it's wonderful.

I may never find the balance between vain and genuine.  But I think the fact that I try has to count for something. 

Outfit of the Day

I wasn't sure I'd start off this week doing Outfit of the Day every day...and I'm still not sure that I'll do it every day this week, but I did like how much these blog posts kept me accountable. As the week progressed and my general fatigue increased (why do 4-month-olds need so much attention anyway??) (also ALCS and World Series baseball games go late into the night sometimes!), I felt more and more inclined to just throw my hair up in a half ponytail and put on jeans (or yoga pants) and a long-sleeved shirt.

Today would have been the perfect day for that.

I woke up at 7:10 (I should have been out the door by 7:30) and still needed to shower. I hadn't planned what I was going to wear today. I could have blown out my hair, but I decided that just a few minutes with my smiling baby trumped that, so I left with wet hair (at 7:40...oops) wearing an outfit that I threw together after staring at my closet for a few minutes with slightly crazed eyes.

I'm not always a planner by nature but, when it comes to my clothes, I usually think ahead the night before about what I might want to wear.  Luckily, today didn't end up a total disaster.  I think sequins cover a multitude of sins, but that's just my personal philosophy.

Pants: Kohls (last seen here)

Camisole: Old Navy

Sequined shrug: Kohls (I think)

Shoes: Nine West

One thing I noticed in my crazed search for something to wear this morning is that I own very few structured, professional blouses/tops. This cami is old and soft and comfortable, but, as you can see, it hangs funny and would be better suited with a pair of pajama pants than with work slacks. It clings to the waist of the pants, and does nothing to flatter that area of my body.

However, the length of the cami paired with the cropped sweater gives the illusion of a longer torso.  Since I'm very short-waisted, this is a good thing.

As for the hair...here's a closer look:

My hair is getting LONG, and besides the fact that it takes forever to dry, it's falling out thanks to more lovely postpartum symptoms that nobody ever warns you about til it's too late and you're wondering if you could make a wig with what you find in the shower.

Here's my New Mom hair tip: ALWAYS have the following in your purse or at work: a small can of hairspray, a fold up brush (with a mirror! they sell them at Walmart), and a sleeve of bobby pins.  I did this in the bathroom at work in about 10 minutes. 

There are a bazillion hair tutorials online and on Pinterest, but let me sum this one up for you very easily:

1. Make two braided pigtails
2. Fold one up over your head and pin til it feels secure.
3. Fold the other one around the back of your head and pin the ends up into the start of the first braid. Pin until secure.
4. Spray all over with hairspray.

Today was another classic example of "hurried Mom" syndrome, but I'm learning little tips and tricks that help me get out the door feeling slightly put together and not quite so messy and frumpy. 

Happy Monday!

October 25, 2013

Outfit of the Day

Well I managed to post every outfit I wore this week!  I won't do this every day of every week, but I'm going to try to keep this series in mind when I'm getting dressed in the mornings. Even today, on casual Friday at work, I wanted to try to be a little less "ordinary" than my usual jeans & a school shirt.  This keeps me accountable and it keeps me constantly aware of what I'm wearing.

I know this will make me sound like a broken record, but I really do feel better all day long when I take the time to dress in something that makes me feel good. It's easy in the moment to just throw on any clothes but, by around midday, I always feel frumpy and haphazard and gross. 

Thanks for playing along with me this week!

Shirt: UNT bookstore

Cardigan: Same from Mom's closet that I wore on Tuesday

Jeans: ummm....Levi's? I'm not a big designer jeans gal...whatever fits, I buy and then RUN out the door before I can be further traumatized by the process.

Shoes: TOMS Classics black canvas

Butterfly earrings: Gifted

October 24, 2013

Outfit of the Day

Today I committed a two cardinal fashion sins:

1. Frump frump frump. Flowy shirt with loose-fitting pants. Yuck. Should've worn a more fitted top OR a skinnier pant with this top.

2. BAD shoes. Bad. Very bad. So bad I didn't even take a picture. They are busted up slingback black flats that are not flattering anymore in the least. But, they're comfortable, so I got lazy.

Today was a typical "mom"  morning for me. I woke up late (after being up for an hour between 4 and 5am listening to my poor baby cough and fall asleep between coughing fits...heartbreaking!), and had to get Z and myself out the door QUICKLY so I could drop him off at daycare and get to my doctor's appointment. Naturally, they were running about 45 minutes behind, but how could I have known that? Sigh.

So, I grabbed the closest things I could find out of my closet and threw my hair up in a bun sponge. Normally it looks a little better, but today was just a yucky day. I feel frumpy and sloppy.  Better luck tomorrow!

Shirt: Polka Dot Pleated Top - LC by Lauren Conrad at Kohls

Pants: Black Apt 9 Curvy Fit Trousers in Petite at Kohls

Earrings: Can't remember, but I love them! They're so airy and light, and they match this blouse perfectly!

Shoes: Too awful to photograph. A pair of heels would've made me feel MUCH better today!

October 23, 2013

Outfit of the Day

This morning, as I was getting dressed, I thought to myself, "Why am I doing this outfit of the day thing this week, again? Remind me, self, because I really just want to wear yoga pants." I know that nobody is holding me accountable or anything, and I know that I don't HAVE to do it every day.  But I always always feel better when I take a little time to put an outfit together, even I'm running a few minutes late because Z spit up at the last minute or because I can't find something weather-appropriate (that's clean) for him to wear.

So I put on my new dress and shoes and headed out the door feeling prepared to face another day in the offices of higher education!

Today's look is simple, which is nice for a new mom.  This dress is also a blank slate.  SO MANY OPTIONS for shoes, tights, jewelry, belts, scarves, cardigans, etc.  But since it's going to be a chilly 80 degrees in North Texas today, I went for an easy, simple look.

Dress: Elle Pintuck Fit and Flare dress in Red Lacquer for Kohls

Shoes: Mossimo Valmai pointed toe loafers from Target

Necklace: Secondhand from Plato's Closet

October 22, 2013

Outfit of the Day

Today's outfit mostly consists of items either thrifted or gifted! So it will be hard to tell you where to find the items, but I can try to help with brands, at least!

This dress is one of my very favorites. I wear it all spring/summer, and then just add tights and a cardigan once temperatures start to drop! I love the ruffle detail in the front and the crocheted lace back. You can be daring and just wear a bra underneath and let it show, or certainly be more modest and wear a cami so that the back is more covered.

Dress: Bailey Blue, thrifted, found at Plato's Closet

Belt: thrifted, found at Plato's Closet

Cardigan: Mom's closet (no really, my mom's closet) (I think she's always wanted it back) (Nope)

Patterned tights: Gifted

Shoes: Aerosoles (I believe the style is "Vivian," but I can't find a direct link anywhere online)

Earrings: Vintage.

Glasses: Zenni Optical 

October 21, 2013

Friend-Makin' Monday -- My Favorite Time of Day

That's right, it's a two-fer!  Mostly because it's the Longest Monday Ever at work and I needed a distraction from some mindless (yet important!) work I was doing.

The rules for Friend-Makin' Monday are just to answer the questions, and have fun! Oh and go and comment on Kenlie's original post with a link back so you can share in the FMM love with others!

Today's theme is "Fall," so I HAD to play along. The running joke in my family is that, as a little girl, I once said that "Fall is my favorite time of day!"  So my mom and dad tell me this every as autumn rolls around and temps in Texas drop to a frigid 82 and we sweat under our scarves and as we sip our pumpkin spice lattes.  Fall is a state of mind, I say.

On to the questions!

A New Season

1. What is your favorite thing about Fall? The fashions. I LOVE leggings and sweater tights and scarves and boots.
2. It's not Fall until... Pumpkin spice everything hits the shelves and the caf├ęs. And football starts.
3. Apple cider or hot chocolate? Cider for fall. Hot chocolate for winter!
4. Share a happy Fall memory. We're making going to the Dallas Arboretum kind of a fall tradition in my house. Also, I found out I was pregnant last fall. That was pretty awesome.
5. Do you have any hobbies that are seasonally specific? If so, what are they? I think I read more in cooler weather. I like snuggling up with a book and my puppy at my feet.
6. What do you miss most about Summer now that it's officially over? Well, I never got to go to the pool and go swimming. I was wayyyyy to pregnant and wayyyyy too cranky about it.
7. Do you prefer pumpkin pie or pecan pie? Easy - pumpkin. I'm allergic to pecans.
8. Do you suffer from allergies? I do, but the Spring allergens are way harsher on my system than the autumn ones. My poor husband, on the other hand...
9. How do you celebrate Halloween?  Our neighborhood always has a block party that we attend. It's fun to see all the little kids dressed up.  Now that we have Z, we'll probably start looking into more activities for him.  Once he's older, of course. Trick-or-treating with a four-month-old would be a bit silly.
10. What is the biggest change that you expect to experience during this season? My life has been changing so much. I guess I could say that continuing to adapt to being a parent, and finding my new identity (or a new aspect of my identity) will be the biggest change!

Outfit of the Day

I'm gonna start trying something new on my blog so that I'm not just posting twice a month for Z's monthly updates followed by my own Mind & Body update.

Yesterday, my mom took me clothes shopping since I literally have no fall clothes/pants that aren't maternity clothing. It was a belated birthday present, and I appreciate it SO much.  I'm really trying to re-vamp my wardrobe, but cautiously and selectively. I tend to dress very young (too young sometimes -- like it or not, I'm in my 30s now and it's time to grow up) and wear very cheap clothes because I could always just buy something new when the cheap article of clothing fell apart. Well, with a baby in the house, my disposable income for clothing is going to probably disappear in favor of his needs (which is fine).  So, I'm trying to spend a little more money and get some nicer basics that I can mix & match throughout the seasons.

Also, I'm trying to step outside my comfort zone and try some new things. I'm still always going to be more of a "classic" style (slacks and nice dresses and pearls) but, here and there, I'd like to try think outside the box and find new ways to flatter my (post-baby, fuller) figure and still feel confident and look age- and work-appropriate.

(Quick side-note: I've been following Gabi's blog for great styling ideas for fuller figures, and she's a huge inspiration for the whole "stepping outside the box" thing.)

(Also, inspired by Drea, I've got a StitchFix coming to me on October 28th, and I can't wait to see what my stylist sends me!)

So, without further ado, here's today's Outfit of the Day!

This is a very standard "Me" outfit.  Safe, professional, comfortable. The ornamentation on the shirt (it ties in the back neckline) led me to pick pretty basic jewelry (no necklace needed), and these gold earrings from Target are light and comfortable. I'm more of a silver jewelry gal, but the gold looked nice with the taupe pants and shoes, I thought.

Shirt: LC by Lauren Conrad Floral Mixed Media top in Blue

Pants: Apt. 9 Curvy Trouser Pants in petite

Shoes: Mootsie's Tootsies Bettebruce slingback pumps in Taupe

Earrings: Target

October 16, 2013

Mind and Body Update

First things first -- I got SO much support from friends and family after my last Mind and Body update in which I discussed my postpartum anxiety.  I've still been seeing my counselor at The Healing Place and we've actually just recently discussed going from weekly to twice a month and then eventually moving on to an as-needed basis.  So, progress is being made.  More on that in a minute...


How I'm looking/feeling: Honestly, about the same. I feel a little lumpier and flabbier than I did last time I wrote an update, but that could be the fact that I'm starting to feel the need to up my physical activity a little more.  Z and I have taken some walks while I'm wearing him, and that was fun for both of us!

My clothes still fit, but I'm just feeling....lumpy.  I need to make some pretty big changes in my eating and activity habits if I want that to change. I think the steady journey back to pre-pregnancy status has slowed to a halt and it's time to take action again. I don't really have that whole "fourth trimester" excuse to lean on anymore, and that's okay! I'm not holding myself to unrealistic expectations, but I'm ready to be proactive about getting healthy again.  Let's be honest -- before we know it, Z will be very mobile and active and I need to be able to keep up with him!


I think I've hit a major milestone, especially regarding my negative feelings regarding my breastfeeding experience and the subsequent guilt.  I mentioned at the beginning of this blog post that I'm making big strides toward feeling much better and much MUCH more confident as a mother. A working, formula-feeding, mistake-making mother who has come to some pretty powerful realizations lately:

1.) Once I started releasing my fears and my anxieties to God and identifying the thoughts as they come, what caused them, and what (if anything) supports that thought, I started feeling so much better.  Did the thought come from social media? A blog post written specifically to manipulate the emotions of a mother who, by her very nature, questions every choice she makes? An article or editorial written with such passion and vehemence that it just might be an outlet for someone who may be so insecure about her choices that she has to rail against the alternative?

While I was pregnant, I read everything I could get my hands on regarding attachment parenting, natural parenting, new methods regarding [insert child-rearing topic here].  I'd roll my eyes when my parents or others a generation or two before me said "Well, we raised you with/without [insert topic] and you're doing just fine!"

Now that I have a baby of my own, I feel somewhat wistful when my mom or my mother-in-law says something like "Wow, they never had that/talked about that when you were a baby." Sometimes she says it with no disdain but with genuine respect and perhaps some wistfulness of her own.  Perhaps she feels like it would have made parenting easier for her, while I'm thinking it makes parenting harder for me.  Maybe ignorance truly is bliss in some situations.  Maybe the internets and social media have not just perpetuated and exacerbated the Mommy Wars; maybe they created the Mommy Wars. I've learned that there is a well-written, highly endorsed research study supporting just about any parenting choice you make.  So, clearly there's an element of "make your own informed decision" in this whole parenting thing.

Now, when I realize I've been doing something incorrectly (such as the Car Seat Fiasco from last month), my first instinct will not be to immediately crumble into self-loathing because I did something wrong.  Instead I'm learning to step back and say, "Did I really do it incorrectly, or is it just not in line with this person's choices/philosophy? Was my baby in danger? What can I do going forward to make sure that he's safe and we're both happy?"

Oh, I'm still going to make mistakes. My task going forward shall now be to learn how to make being grateful to have discovered it the knee-jerk reaction, and to modify it for the future.

2) My second fairly HUGE milestone/realization/breakthrough is that I think God has finally revealed to me the "why" of my breastfeeding struggle.  I could get really verbose here, but instead I'll put it as simply as I can:

I believe God gave me that struggle for a reason.  I believe that it was His way of teaching me to be compassionate and humble because, had breastfeeding been easy for me, I would have been judgmental and completely lacking in understanding as to why some mothers truly need formula for their babies.

That may seem like I'm being hard on myself.  You might be saying, "But Mandy, you don't know you would've been judgmental!"  but trust me; I know myself pretty well.  I've already admitted in a previous blog post about how, before I even had Z, I would think, "Ugh, did she even try to breastfeed? It's obviously hard; that mother just wanted the easy route," as if I knew anything.  I think God saw in me the potential to wear it as a big, bright badge of honor–so bright that it would have blinded me to the very real struggle of others.

I read the books. I took the classes. I didn't even ask for all of the lactation help I could have asked for (and should have asked for) because I thought, "It's natural! I know what a good latch looks like! I went to the classes!" I'm not completely blaming myself for what I went through, but that's the amazing thing! I'm not completely blaming myself anymore. I see now that God took Z and me down this path so that I can be more compassionate toward other women.

I have a sneaking suspicion that I'm not quite finished with this journey, but I do know that I've turned a major corner. Now, when I look in the mirror and see the scar from my surgery, I feel more than just a need to remind myself "See what you went through?" in order to boost my confidence. I feel proud that I did all I could, but I feel humbled that I went through it.  Yes, I should be proud that I took my body to the limit to breastfeed my son, but that very pride could have led me to a sense of entitlement and the need to feel defensive any time I was asked "do you breastfeed?" in the most innocent of situations. I feel humbled because I thought I knew so much about it when, in reality, I had no idea just how difficult it is for some women, including myself.

I no longer grudgingly congratulate a mama who has reached her initial goal of nursing for 3 months because it's the "right thing to do."  I'm able to truly  mean it and not take it as a criticism of my own methods of feeding my baby.  That may not seem like much, but it's huge to me.  And it makes me so happy to be able to celebrate and be joyful with that mama.

I think I've admitted this before but, in case I haven't, I want to admit that there were times that I secretly hoped that new moms would fail at breastfeeding.  Just so that I wouldn't feel so alone and so I'd have someone else in "my corner." I think I've finally reached a point where I can genuinely cheer on breastfeeding mamas and be 100% confident in the fact that my formula-fed baby is healthy and happy!

3) Finally, I've come to the realization that what we say to ourselves and to other moms is so important! How we really feel and our own parenting choices and philosophies saturate every comment we make. We're so ready to share, but rarely are we ready to listen.  I've made it a personal goal to listen to not only what's being said but what is not being said.  To read between the lines. To look into the eyes of that mother (or mother-to-be or would-be-mother) or read into her post on Facebook and see what she might really need to hear.

God has really been working on me and my heart since the last update, and I'm finally at a point in my new journey where I can look back at the road behind me and see how the bricks have been carefully placed to guide me as I continue on.  I'm so grateful for the lessons, even the painful ones, and I'm so excited about what's in store for me and for my family.

October 11, 2013

Z at Three Months

I'm getting later and later at these monthly update posts!  But at least they're getting done! And we were about a week and a half late with his 3-month pictures this month...and he wasn't happy that we were taking them when all he wanted to do was take a nap!  But you have to have these photos...they're so funny!  My favorite:

Poor little guy!  Doesn't wanna sit by Kermit, I guess!

Z is such a sweet little boy!  He tends to have a flair for the melodramatic, but hey...it's hard being a baby! He sure is generous with his smiles, though, especially first thing in the morning and after his bottles & naps.

He has definitely found his voice!  He makes sounds all the time and has even started in with some giggles!

He is still sleeping so well, and we don't take one minute of that for granted!

Bath time is much less traumatic for him now and sometimes he even takes one with Mommy.  He likes that a lot because he stays warmer and gets to be held by Mommy. No picture of that (well, there is one but YOU CAN'T SEE IT). 

He's so very strong! His head and neck strength have improved so much and he likes tummy time a lot more now.

We had our first fever and sickness right before his 3-month birthday.  He started having an upset tummy (as noticed by his diaper production...that's all I'll say) and a fever that wasn't alarmingly high but was enough for the phone nurse to encourage a trip to the ER.  That was a long night, but he was such a trooper.  Turned out to be a bacterial infection and a round of antibiotics has cleared him all up!

He is strong enough now to sit up in his Bumbo seat and he's really working on starting to grab at toys on his Kick & Play gym.  The Bumbo was an enormous failure at first, but now he sits in it like a champ.

He started off his fourth month with a fun trip to the Dallas Arboretum to celebrate Mommy's birthday, and Gigi and Sabba came along to celebrate with us and enjoy the pumpkin village and all the pretty sights of the Arboretum.  This little boy seems to like being outside.  There's so much to see!

It's so insane and incredible to watch him turning into a curious little boy.  He's still a baby (and will always be to me, of course) but he has changed so much from that tiny little squish we brought home from the hospital.

So much that I want to say about him is just so hard to accurately describe in words.  His smile, his different cries, the way he stares, fascinated, at his hands for minutes on end...he's just our whole world and it's so exciting to see him growing and changing every day.

I mentioned this in my online Moms Group earlier today that I'm trying to enjoy every tiny moment...even the most frustrating ones.  Every time I hold him is one less time I'll get to.  All too soon he'll be squirming to get out of my arms and onto the ground and exploring his world. I'll still get plenty of Mommy cuddles, but not like the ones I get now.

Even at only 3 months past, I find the memories of those first few weeks getting fuzzier.  That is a good thing and a bad thing.  It's good because, let's face it, those first several weeks are really, really hard. It's bad because the crisp details of those first moments, hearing his first cries, etc., are losing their crispness. The feelings and the emotions are much more easily recalled and brought to the surface, but they're only so tiny for so little time.

I want time to slow down, but I am so thankful that we live in an age where I have the ability to freeze a moment or moments in time with just the swipe of my finger on my iPhone...and the ability to quickly share those moments with those who love us!

Mind and Body update for the 3rd month coming in a few days...and I'm happy to say that there's good news in there, too.

Happy 3 months, baby boy!!

October 3, 2013

What I Want for my Birthday

Tomorrow I turn 32. 

Thirty. Two.

How is it possible that I'm in my 30s? That I have a baby and a husband and a car note and bills and all these other grown-up things? How is it possible that I'm HAPPIER THAN I'VE EVER BEEN even with all these grown-up stresses and responsibilities?

I used to laugh when folks would say that life gets better as you age. But it's really true.  I could wax philosophical about all the reasons why it's true, but instead I want to get to the point of this post, which is "What I Want For My Birthday."

I want things, of course.  Everybody wants things. I'd love a new handbag I don't need.  Some new tall boots for autumn fashions. 

However, I'd like to do the complete opposite of our current government right now and focus instead on need.  I don't need a lot right now.  My needs are met on a daily basis.  I'm fed. I'm loved. I have a place to rest my head.  My bills get paid (sometimes just barely).  My baby is also provided for. Friends contact me for no reason to tell me they're thinking of me; my husband tells me he loves me daily.  I have a Father in Heaven who loves me and thinks I'm pretty special.  Currently all of my physical, spiritual and emotional needs are met.

Not everyone can say the same.  And sometimes it's hard to know, because admitting that those needs aren't being met can be difficult or embarrassing.  Sometimes they need a little push. A little help.  A little love.  Even something as simple as a smile. 

So, for my birthday, I'm asking that folks perform a Random Act of Kindness as my gift.  I got the idea last year from The Birthday Project (click on that link for some fantastic ideas!) and my friends really came through:

Barbara let 70 of her AP students bring notecards for their test that day. This was their gratitude to me! (Love the "call me!")

Diane gave away free love, smiles and mustaches around her town.

Bethany gave away one of her custom-made dottery mugs (one with a Firefly quote, no less!).

Ashlie left Operation Beautiful notes on bathroom mirrors.

Helina donated blood!

I got many, many more text messages and tweets detailing "pay it forward" acts of kindness in the Starbucks drive-through (that one is a favorite any time!) and even one friend who donated $10 to a homeless man she encountered, which she urged him to use for food.

I realize some people may think that it's defeating the purpose of a selfless act to broadcast it on social media like this, but in such an angry, politically divided world, I think it's refreshing and rejuvenating to see evidence of acts of kindness like these.

So, I'd like to do this again.  I'd like to see at LEAST 32 Random Acts of Kindness for my birthday tomorrow.  Take pictures. Post them on my Facebook timeline or Tweet at me or tag me on Instagram (username: OperaWife).  Or email me.   Please let me know!

Stuck for an idea? Click on the link in an earlier paragraph to the original post that inspired The Birthday Project.  Take inspiration from the pictures above.  Or come up with something else! 

Offer to babysit for a friend, so she can go on a date with her husband or get a mani/pedi or take a NAP. 

Call your local food bank or shelter and see what they need.  Clean out your pantry/closet and take stuff to them.

Instead of throwing away those endless formula coupons, use it to buy discounted formula and donate it to a local women's shelter.

Call your local animal shelter and see if they need old sheets, blankets, pet food, etc. donations.

Wear a sign around your neck all day that says "FREE HUGS!" 

Just be KIND.  Make someone's day.  I promise you it will make yours, and mine, and it's the best birthday gift you could ever give me.