Always Original.

It has been FAR too long since I’ve done a “Things That Make Me Happy” post. Today’s the day to make that right.

I finally have a daughter to dress however I want, but because I’m always short on time (and money) she normally ends up wearing stuff from Target. Which is fine. But … you know. It’s not fab. So, when an old friend contacted me and asked if I would be interested in putting her clothes on Pepper, I said YES. PLEASE HELP US.

Elly Belly Style by Melissa is couture clothing for children. Note: I just looked up the definition of “couture” to make sure I was using it correctly, because this is unfamiliar territory. I’m a T.J. Maxx-er and a bargain hunter, and has always mistakenly assumed that “couture” was synonymous with “overpriced, frilly shit.” Now I am more educated and I know that it just means it’s the only one like it out there, and it doesn’t have to be overpriced or frilly. Who knew?! (Not me.)

Melissa asked me to take Pepper’s measurements, and it’s a shame no one has that footage on camera. Have you ever measured a wiggly 16-month-old? I don’t recommend it. It’s hard — way harder than dealing with tights or pigtails. I definitely broke a sweat and stress-ate a bag of M&M’s when we were done.

Based on the info I gave her, she created this adorable Halloween-themed dress and the panel (which is the part with the characters on it, I learned) was created exclusively for Elly Belly customers. The dress is made from organic, European fabrics, and don’t tell Melissa I said this, but when I opened the envelope and pulled out the dress it smelled so good I buried my face in it. Weird? Yes. I don’t get out much, you know.

Wanna see the dress?! Of course you do!

20141017_094116 20141017_094123 20141017_094223 20141017_094445 20141017_094446 20141017_094452 544924_10203299178420066_8006976742753994307_nYes, it says “LET IT GHOOOOOOOOOST!” That made me laugh. Pepper loves playing with the shiny ruffle around the bottom and got upset when I finally took the dress off her.

If you are interested in seeing more amazing creations from Melissa, you can find her on Facebook!

 

The Boutique.

All of the sudden I’ve realized through a series of events that I am completely out of style, out of touch, and wearing today’s version of the “mom jean.” I can’t even explain to you how much this has thrown me off my game.

I mistakenly assumed that by avoiding the style of high-waisted mom jeans with bad pocket placement that I picture in my head when I hear the phrase “mom jean,” that I was doing all right. That is not correct. I AM ACTUALLY A WALKING POSTER CHILD FOR THE MOM JEAN. I know this because I brought a stack of high-quality, too-large denim to several consignment places in town and no one would buy them from me. They all kindly said, “These labels are very old and out of style.

But they’re nice jeans,” I said. “The only reason I’m not keeping them is that they’re too big.

Crickets.

And then I knew. The pants that were in style 8 years ago? The ones I’ve worked so hard to fit back into? No one wears those anymore … except for out-of-touch moms like me. You see, I used to have a job. I used to buy nice clothes. Then I got pregnant and worked really hard to fit back into all of those nice clothes, which were by that point two years out of style. I then repeated that pattern two more times, and BOOM. I now have a closet full of outdated crap that I want to keep wearing because it is still in decent shape and it cost a lot of money ages ago when I bought it.

I now accept that it’s time to let go.

Yesterday my amazing mother-in-law came over to hang out with the kids so I could go do something fun. I went to this cute little store near my house that I’ve never been in before. I walked in and for the first time in my life I felt overwhelmed in a clothing store. Nothing was familiar — when did fringe become popular?! Is this a dress or a shirt?! The sweet sales girl could see it written all over my face: I needed help. I babbled on about how I am just now, right here in this store, having an identity crisis because I’m suddenly almost 35 years old and a mother of 3 and I have no idea what size I am or what even looks good on me anymore. And when she asked if I’d like for her to help me put together outfits to try on “just for fun,” I said YES! a little too loudly.

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I didn’t buy anything (yet), and I don’t love the outfit pictured above, but I took a picture of it as proof that I finally decided to embrace the skinny jean. They come in every color! I now know what size I wear! I tried on leggings and tunics, long sweaters and maxi dresses, and lots and lots of interesting shirts. I loved it all. Each time I put on an outfit I emerged from the dressing room so the sales people could see, because I truly needed professionals to tell me if I was wearing something the correct way. This was also a first. But I am so grateful that they HELPED ME!

Here’s what I learned: today’s style is really perfect for moms. Everything is layered, easy, and loose, the pants are stretchy just like yoga pants. It’s time to step out of my American Eagle time warp and into real womanhood, where people shop at boutiques. I feel like I’ve been living in a blur of gestation and diapers, but now it’s time to move past that stage and into the next one … fashionably.

 

Welcome To Hell.

Today I kinda snapped in the swimsuit section of Kohl’s.

Consider this my public apology to the kind lady who happened to walk up at the exact time of my snappage. I just made that word up, I think. I’ll add that to my Dictionary of Words I Say That Aren’t Really Words, right next to my other fave, “yellisper.”

Anyway, all I remember about the lady is that she had on a family reunion t-shirt and she looked a little surprised when I looked at her and yelled, “WELCOME TO HELL!” but she didn’t seem to judge me.

I tried to reign it in. I silently shopped in several other stores before I got to this one, the frustration building with each problem I encountered. The tankini top was perfect but the bottoms were made for someone with a tiny rear end. The mix-and-match section didn’t have anything in my size. Bikinis are out of the question. One-pieces are frumpy. Swim skirts just drew attention to what I was trying to cover up, and rather than look like I was smuggling potatoes to the beach I WILL JUST OWN MY THIGHS, THANK YOU.

By the time I yelled “WELCOME TO HELL!” I was so angry that I wanted to throw every ill-fitting shred of spandex/poly blend on the floor and stomp. Hard. And I really think I would have, except that I also wanted to hide in the car and cry.

There are a million blog posts and articles out there talking about bathing suit shopping, and they can all be condensed into one sentence.

Shopping for a bathing suit blows.

It would really make me happy if every article titled “Find Your Perfect Suit!” ended with something like, “Here are some tips to guide you, but overall, it’s going to blow. Godspeed.”

I came home and ate a healthy salad followed by Oreos, and thought about the torture women go through that straight men will never understand. Robbie does not realize that I spent the majority of my day self-loathing under florescent lights because I needed something to wear when I take the kids to the pool. He probably thinks I should wear one of the bathing suits I already have, and if he said that to me I would irrationally scream at him that I WOULD LOVE TO WEAR ONE OF THE CUTE ONES IN MY CLOSET BUT THREE DAMN PREGNANCIES MADE THAT IMPOSSIBLE, ROBBIE. IT IS IMPOSSIBLE NOW, SO LET’S JUST BURN THEM.

Happy Memorial Day weekend, everyone. I’m ready to get my tan on, in my very sensible one-piece with a ruffle around the bottom.

 

Behold ... it is hell.

Behold … it is hell.

 

Just Do What You Need To Do.

Do we look like normal, functional people? 

Photo credit: Leigh Anne Wilbanks

Like when I see a picture of myself, or my kids, we look totally NOT like we just made a scene in our local Rite Aid. 

After the past few weeks I’ve had, I really don’t think I’ll judge another mom ever again. We’re all just trying to do the best we can, I’ve decided. Usually when I tell stories of public embarrassment it’s because of something one of my kids did or said. Today, I was the one who lost my crap. I was the one who cried in front of total strangers and I was the one who left a trail of items all the way out the door of the drugstore, snatching them from children’s hands and literally tossing them to the floor as we made our way out.

I’d like to forget today ever happened, because wow, but I’m writing about it so I never forget. When things are somewhat manageable, and I don’t have to struggle quite as much to keep it together, I forget what it’s like. This. The impossible task of motherhood when it’s so hard that I’d quit if I could but I can’t because you don’t get to do that when you’re a mother. Even if you’re a horrible mother and you think that you can quit or leave, you can’t. Not really. YOU ARE ALWAYS STILL A MOTHER.

So on days like today, when I feel like I have entirely too many kids and I can’t possibly meet their needs, let alone my own, and my scalp starts itching from stress and I don’t eat real meals for sometimes five days or more in a row … and then I have to run an errand … I am humbled. The people who saw me today totally judged me and I don’t blame them. I would have too. But I hope that the experience stays with me for awhile so I can offer some grace to another struggling mom. 

The experience of parenting three kids is so intense, and adding in a move or illness just sends us spiraling into Crazy Town. I completely stop cooking, we’re never clothed properly, we don’t have food in the house — things unravel quickly. I find myself shouting to my husband, “I DON’T KNOW WHAT TO FEED THEM!” as I hand a kid an entire box of cereal to eat with his bare hands. Some women say they go days without showering or washing their hair, but I’m too vain for that. I’ll shower and forgo other important things, like bill-paying and family nutrition.

Which reminds me — one of the things I threw on the floor on our way out was vitamins. 

The next time I’m in a store and I see a woman laden with child(ren) really, truly, struggling not to cry or scream or freaking tear into the biggest bag of peanut M&M’s she can find and eat them right there in the aisle and throw the paper on the floor because she is just so DONE … I’m going to tell her I’ve been there and she should just do whatever she needs to do. That’s my new mantra: Just Do What You Need To Do.

No judgement here. I’ll pick up your wrappers. You eat that candy, girl. Better to do that than to eat your young.