my week in objects (mostly).

3.20.2015

five little things that made my week.

1. this little bag.
bag
{because it was filled with trail mix for getting through long days at the library}.


2. this upside down basket.
basket
{because honestly, it's the best twenty dollars we've spent. and because it's faye's favorite place to pull herself up these days.}

3. this book.
hey natalie jean
{for being such an open-hearted joy to read.}

4. these backward books.
books
{so faye can't pull every single one out. also, sticky notes.}

5. james's blue hat.
hat
{because i appropriated it for myself. and because i'm holding out hope that i won't have to wear it much longer.}

other things:
this post made my cry in public and take a deep breath. (this one, too.) (thank you, tara.)
christine got me thinking about coloring books. i think i might order this one (and maybe this one, too).
women on 20s.
more safe cosmetics, thanks to my friend hadley.
drenched in honey.
currently ogling.
beautiful, beautiful nettle bread.

me in other places:
living large in small places.

growing a minimalist wardrobe: (while) nursing.

3.19.2015

growing a minimalist wardrobe: breastfeeding | reading my tea leavesI thought it was only fitting in a week when I wrote about breastfeeding to also write about the wardrobe needed to accommodate such a job. I realize that this post will only serve a niche readership. But I hope it will be helpful for those readers and not too tiresome for everyone else. Besides, my point, really, is that a nursing wardrobe doesn't have to be nursing-exclusive, it just has to provide easy access to one's breasts.

Suffice to say, I was not interested in growing a whole new wardrobe to accommodate breastfeeding. And yet. Not all clothes are created equal and not all clothes make for easy access. The first month or two post-baby presented an especially interesting conundrum of not wanting to get anything new and not being able to comfortably wear much of what I already owned. To be clear: this would have been true breastfeeding or no. Growing a human has a way of shifting things.

Still, I didn't want to invest in a special breastfeeding shirt or dress and I didn't want to give up on any of my favorite sundresses. So I mostly just waited it out. I spent the summer in a pair of worn-out cut-off corduroys and pulled v-neck t-shirts up or down to nurse. More than once, I pulled a tank top strap off my shoulder and nursed, one boob out. I bought a tank top with buttons. I bought a romper with straps that I could pull down. And I splurged on one special dress that I knew I'd love to wear even after my boobs had calmed down and I began to feel more like myself. Because sometimes you need to treat yourself. Even if your stomach still feels pouchy. Especially if your stomach still feels pouchy.

Truth be told, I spent the first few months after Faye was born feeling frumpy. But frumpiness notwithstanding, I don't think I would do anything different clothes-wise. Like everything else with a baby, the moment of discomfort is relatively fleeting. My best advice to brand new mothers is to wear clothes that are soft and comfortable and that won't make you scrutinize whether you can fit your bum into your jeans. (You probably can't. But you probably will be able to soon enough. And if you still can't after a few months? You buy a pair of new jeans. Because the problem is the jeans, not you.) I think you should treat yourself to something lovely if you're able, but I don't think that that treat can only come in the form of a utilitarian dresses you're not going to want to wear again.

Nearly ten months in, breastfeeding still presents its share of sartorial challenges but I don't feel quite as stymied by it. My favorite sundresses still don't really allow for an all-access pass, but I'm saving them for next summer and date nights and embracing buttons instead.
growing a minimalist wardrobe: breastfeeding | reading my tea leaves
A few of my favorite breastfeeding-friendly finds:
Washable nursing pads (I borrowed my sister's!)

A few other things I think look lovely:
A button-up tunic dress
A button-up jumpsuit
A button-up dress for a special occassion
A pair of shorts (or two) + tee

One thing I never used:
a nursing cover (though I did cover up with a swaddle a few times)

More minimalist wardrobe posts, HERE.

*I received both my new Bridge & Burn button-up dress and my favorite Tradlands button-up (pictured above) as gifts. Many thanks to these thoughtful brands for letting me test-drive their beautiful clothes.

baby proof: breastfeeding.

3.16.2015

baby proof: breastfeeding | reading my tea leavesIt's taken me nearly 10 months to write this post. Everytime I sat down to write about breastfeeding, I would stop.

There would be voices in my head telling me that no one wanted to hear another sappy story about a woman nursing her child. There were voices telling me that a post about breastfeeding would come across as insensitive to the people who don't or can't breastfeed. What about the new babies who have two dads? Surely, the world doesn't need another post proclaiming the health benefits of breastfeeding. This isn't a post meant to convince you that what you're doing with your baby is anything but fine.

But if I've learned anything since becoming a mother, it's that the world doesn't  have enough talk about breastfeeding. Or natural childbirth. Or postpartum recovery. Or child-rearing generally. At the same time that we're utterly bombarded with "mom" articles, I've found myself wanting more. So I'm writing.

There are days when I think of breastfeeding as my superpower. My impossibly tiny boobs are feeding a human being. I am purely mammal: a blue whale, a leopard, a kangaroo. Improbably pumping out a magical, nourishing elixir for my own human animal. It's staggering.

But there are other days when breastfeeding feels like a burden. I can't wear half the dresses in my closet. I had to wear breast pads for at least five months and still, when I nurse in the middle of the night, whatever boob isn't being suckled spurts milk. I have leaked through my clothes in public. I have rushed home to pump with aching breasts.

I have cried when I couldn't pump enough milk to fill a bottle. I have sat strapped to my electric breast pump wailing against the inborn patriarchy that means that I have to be the one to nourish our child.

I have cried because I can't think of a single thing sweeter than the tiny hand of my daughter reaching back to play with her hair while she nurses. Or the way that she stretches her fingers to touch my lips when I look down at her. Or the way that her lips crack into a smile and she can't continue nursing because her grin is too wide, laughing at her own private joke.

I've wept because I can't wait to stop nursing. And I've wept because eventually I will.

In the first days of breastfeeding, the physical transformation was mind-boggling. My breasts were so engorged that I couldn't put my arms down, like a bodybuilder whose bulging muscles keep his arms permanently lifted away from his sides. My nipples were tender. My armpits were lumpy. I texted friends for advice. I bawled to my sister who hopped on a subway bearing nipple butter and a breast pump. I drank cup after cup of tea to help with my milk production and fortify my spirits.

But eventually Faye learned to nurse and I learned to nurse her. Together we made it happen. The misery lasted for two whole days, which is not very many days. The slight discomfort for just a few weeks, which is not very many weeks. I'll get to nurse this baby for a year or two, which is not very many years.

I guess what I'm trying to say is, all blessings are mixed blessings. But they're blessings all the same.

This post was sponsored by Traditional Medicinals, whose Mother's Milk and Mother's Milk Shatavari Cardamom teas I've enjoyed regularly as a part of my breastfeeding routine. Thank you for supporting the thoughtful, sustainable companies that support this blog.

Photo by James.

my week in objects (mostly).

3.13.2015

five little things that made my week.

1. band aids.
bandaids
{because blisters on my heels aren't fun, but going sockless for the first time since november sure was. even it was wishful thinking.}

2. tulips.
tulips
{carted home by james and faye after a long walk for them and a long day of writing for me.}

3. this sweet book.*
little green island
{because three cheers for tiny green islands and teaching kids the names for obscure colors (and critters).}

4. this serum.
serum
{because i finally ran out of my old stuff and could try something new! patience rewarded. such good stuff.}

5. these bongos.
bongos
{because james has been trying to sell an old set of drums for forever and this week we got rid of one and faye found a deep and abiding love for the bongos. progress?}

other things:
one more treat for surviving winter's last hurrah.
on packing a weekend bag.
nearly ten months in, thinking about slings.
good thoughts about negativity online.
might need canvas for spring.
new life for papas' old shirts.
the search for general tso.

*down east books generously sent me this copy to review.

baby proof: toys.

3.10.2015

baby proof: toys | reading my tea leaves
We keep Faye's toys in an old wine crate that we slide underneath the couch.

It's funny how becoming a parent changes the composition of things. The box used to be a catchall for our stuff. We'd stash the laptop there. We'd lazily wind our cell phone chargers and toss them in, too. When we wanted to tidy up, whatever books we were in the middle of reading would get thrown in, dog-eared for later. But around this time last year we started to receive little gifts in anticipation of a baby.

A set of blocks. A rattle. A small collection of books.

So I relegated the phone chargers and computer cords to other corners and cleared out the crate. Everytime we were given something new, I'd unwrap it and rearrange the contents of the toy box so that the blocks fit just so or the rattle had a place to rest.
baby proof: toys | reading my tea leaves
I still have the weekly ritual. Rearranging the box so that Faye's toys fit it in more or less neatly. They get jumbled over the course of the week. Played with, tossed back in, and played with again. We've outgrown the wine crate a bit, so the books now get stacked in their own separate box. At the end of the week, I sort through the boxes and put everthing back in its place. Teethers and rattles and colorful balls on a string get zipped into pouches. Alphabet blocks get pushed to one side. It's a calming practice for me. A quiet moment for finding a bit of order after a busy week.

While parenting quickly quashes the notion that you're in complete control of anything, it can be funny the ways in which that crops up. I'd imagined buying a few precious toys for Faye myself. I'd planned to wait and see what she needed or wanted or what happened to strike my fancy.  But the truth is that we've been given so many toys as gifts that I haven't added to the collection much myself at all. Gratefully, almost all of the toys we've been given have been in keeping with what we'd hoped for. Wood, mostly. Toys borrowed from Montessori and Waldorf traditions with an emphasis on leaving room for imagination over anything else.

In general, we haven't been overwhelmed by too many toys, though we have left a toy or two at her respective grandparents' houses. And a duplicate item or two has found itself in the donation pile.

Like most everything else involving Faye, we're taking things a step at a time. Her toys will surely eventually outgrow this box. And of course, we still have parties and birthdays and another decade of life (at least) to get through before I can declare victory over an onslaught of toys. But for now, we've been able to keep things simple by resisting the temptation ourselves to buy her more than she needs and by gently nudging insistent grammies and grandpas in the right direction.
baby proof: toys | reading my tea leaves
Because so many of you have written asking for recommendations, I've put together a little resource list for places to find sweet toys. If you have other suggestions to add, please do!

Acorn Toy Shop: My favorite local stop for heirloom-quality toys (with an online shop, too.)
Babyccino Kids: Some of the very sweetest shops on the internet, all pulled together in one easy-to-browse space.
BellaLuna: Waldorf, wooden, and imaginative toys for babies and big kids.
Wilson & Willy's: A source for very sweet stuffies and Faye's beautiful building blocks.
Madesmith: Home to a gorgeous collection of dollies by Erika Barratt
Brookfarm General Store: A solid collection of beautiful toys to match the rest of the shop.
Kaufmann Mercantile: Knitted veggies, wooden toys, and building blocks for big kids.
Diaperkind: Our diaper service, who happens to also stock a beautiful toy or two, including Faye's round rattle.
Meus Shop: For the sweetest teether blankets I've seen among other treasures.
More & Co.: For brightly colored blocks, etc.

PS. If you're looking for a good read on the subject of kids and toys, I recently read Simplicity Parenting and found a breath of fresh air.

PPS. If you're looking for more specific ideas, I update my "things for babies" pinterest board with treasures for admiring fairly often.

Disclosure: Faye received her set of building blocks as a gift from Wilson & Willy's. The blocks are a collaboration between St. Paul's Beka Block and Minneapolis's Wind and Willow Home. ...And—ahem—they're not for kids, only.

my week in objects (mostly).

3.06.2015

five little things that made my week.

1. this crate.
crate
{one neighbor's trash. my treasure. (and also a temporary radiator barricade.)}

2. this little pop of peony.
stowaway lipstick
{because i needed a touch of spring in a snowy week. (you too? right this way.)}

3. these headphones.
headphones
{for blasting mozart and trying to drown out café chatter.}

4. this little knife.
kiddo knife
{and the little buddy i had here to help make dinner last night.}

5. this staple gun.
staple gun
{and moms who read blogs.}

other things:
beautiful tools to inspire beautiful work.
the strap that gives back.
faith in abundance. via the laramie report.
wayward & proper.
vintage meets modern.
moist towelettes.
reorganizing pinterest boards is easier than writing a book.

ps. in case you missed it: one more day to enter.

life in a tiny apartment.

3.04.2015

swap the lights | reading my tea leavesTip #118: Swap the lights.

As you've probably grasped, my general approach to living in a rental apartment tends toward making as few drastic changes as possible. (In case you need a reminder about how I'm currently dealing with my bathroom: head here.)

There's always going to be something that's not quite right. In our last apartment, I didn't like the kitchen cabinets. In this apartment my dislike for the kitchen cabinets is overshadowed by my dislike for the bathroom. Suffice to say that if we owned our house, we might make a few tweaks and changes to both. But it's likely that in this place, neither bathroom nor cabinets will get any kind of overhaul. You know how it goes.

But there are other kinds of apartment improvements that require a little bit of know-how, a little bit of daring, and a little bit of time, but that are ultimately doable. That's the kind of fix I like to focus on.

In this apartment that kind of fix has been the light fixtures. Because a bad light fixture is so bad, and a good one is so good. And with just a little bit of dedication, a swapped light fixture—or even a capped light fixture—can make all the difference.

I don't take messing with the light fixtures lightly. It takes some skill and some gumption and a place to store the offending fixture. It might even take a call to an electrician.*

And I'm the first to admit that part of this light swapping business has come with getting older. When James and first embarked on the magical mystery tour of cohabiting, we were young—just 23 and 25. We were still figuring out how to pay our electric bills, never mind swapping out light fixtures for ones we liked better. But a real doozy of a light job changed our minds when we moved to Providence and found an apartment that came complete with yellowed track lighting in every room, including the bedroom. We took it all down and stashed it in the attic. We never replaced it, we just capped the wires and the box and dusted off our hands. We used table lamps instead and never for a minute regretted either decision.

In this apartment, for the first year, we took a similar approach. We took the shades off our ceiling fan lights and replaced the bulbs with clear, round vanity bulbs. We removed a wonky white chandelier that hung awkwardly close to a wall, and capped the place where it hung. In our bedroom, we satisfied ourselves by simply never turning on the ubiquitous boob light that hung above our bed.

But after nearly a year in this space, we got a little bold. (And a little tired of walking around in the dark.) So we replaced the boob light and the old chandelier with two simple ceramic lights from Schoolhouse Electric. And just like that, our humble abode feels more like ours. (We're still doing our best to ignore the fan. At least it's white.)

swap the lights | reading my tea leaves
Bonus: our tiny bedroom floor plan, as reflected by our new silver-capped light bulbs. A double-bed, a dresser, and a crib in one little room. Plus three.

PS. Seriously: Please exercise caution when messing with your electricity. If you don't know how to change a light fixture, definitely ask for help. And don't come a knockin' if your landlord is none too pleased with your redecorating.

PPS. Who knows how to reupholster? Our little bench needs halp!

Disclosure: Schoolhouse Electric generously gave us our two new beautiful lamps. Yes, we'll be taking them with us when we go.

Tiny apartment survival tips #1 - #117, RIGHT HERE.

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