Wardrobe Malfunction

For the past (does some math…. THAT CAN’T BE RIGHT…. does math again) three years, I’ve taught an exercise class after work. Before the dumpling came along I taught Monday and Wednesday at 6:30. I just cover the Monday class now (along with my Saturday morning class), but the point is that I’ve been teaching after work for three years now. My routine has always been the same – I pack up my exercise bag the night before with my clothes and I change in the bathroom at work (the bathrooms at the center where I teach are communal bathrooms for the entire retail strip and they are a little…. gross). One time, shortly after I picked up this schedule, I left my socks at home and had to work out without socks. It wasn’t pleasant, but I made it through and I always have a spare pair of socks in my bag now – just in case. Probably at least once a month though, I always wonder what I would do if I forgot some other essential piece like my pants or my sports bra. Oh man, that wouldn’t be good.

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is exactly what happened on Monday.

I was changing at work, like usual, balancing on one foot as I removed my dress socks and put on regular socks, when it suddenly occurred to me that I hadn’t pulled a bra out of my bag when I pulled out my clothes. No, I thought incredulously, I must have just missed it. I pawed through my bag again, although it was painfully clear that I did not have a bra. Honestly, I couldn’t do anything but laugh at myself. What on EARTH was I going to do now? I didn’t have time to stop to pick one up (although I briefly contemplated if it was worth being late over). I also happened to pick the worst possible top for a no-bra situation. It was a loose tank with cut-out sides, in other words, no support and a side-boob situation going on. I didn’t even have a crappy shelf-bra to console myself with!

So what does any girl do when confronted with a dilemma regarding boobs and bras and the lack there-of? I called my mom.

Moooooooooooooooommmmm!!!!! HALP!

She, of course, talked me down and suggested I just wear my regular bra. Don’t worry, she said, your students will all think it’s hilarious.

And they did! It was a lovely time to meet a new student of course (nice to meet you! sorry about the side-boob), but we all laughed about it. I joked that at least I hadn’t forgotten my pants (ohdearlordinheaven, please let me never forget my pants). It also wasn’t entirely bad. I expected my regular bra to majorly fail me through all of my jumping and hopping and lunging, but it held up just fine. I had to adjust my straps a few times, and I’m sure it helped that I just happened to be wearing a no-frills, full coverage bra (as opposed to some sort of balconette, push-up, lightly lined, unlined, plunging, etc etc contraption). But really, 7/10 would recommend.

And now I have to tell you about how hard it was to come up with a title for this, bearing in mind that I don’t want to appear in any questionable searches. Top contenders were Peek-a-boob and Don’t Fear the Nip Slip. Why no, I am not a twelve year old boy. Why do you ask?

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In pursuit of a coat

Let me preface this post by explaining that I’m not much of a shopper, especially clothes shopping. I really, really don’t like it. Is that shirt going to look better on me than the hanger? What size should I get in this? Does this color complement my skin tone? Is this supposed to fit like this or is it just too big? Is this a piece that I can mix-and-match within my own wardrobe? WHO KNOWS. I certainly don’t. I’ve never been able to waltz into a store, pinpoint a few fantastic purchases and sashay away.

But what I especially hate? When you need something specific. I talked about trying to find a dress for my brother’s wedding, but I didn’t go into much detail. It all started about six weeks before the event. I just happened to spot (which is the best way to find things!) a perfect dress. It was the color I wanted (navy), it was a style I loved (sophisticated yet sexy), it had sparkle, it was short, it was my size. It was perfection. The only downside was that I found it online, at a second-hand site (which was actually a decisive pro at first because a $380 dress for $60? Don’t mind if I do!). I could barely contain my excitement when the package arrived. Of course, if you read what I linked to earlier, you know that it didn’t work out. It fit, as in I could zip it up, but it did not fit my body at all. Weird bunching at the zipper and the torso section was too long.

Not a problem! I just sent it back and started perusing the same site for wedding dress v2. I searched and searched and waited for my return to be processed (the free return option only gives you the ability to get store credit which is fine, it’s what I wanted, I just needed my return processed so that I could apply those funds to the new dress). I found a second dress! Not quite the color I wanted (gray this time), but it was by a favorite brand of mine and it was embellished like I enjoy. In a moment of suspense, the dress was unavailable for a period of time (reserved in someone’s cart*) but then became available again. Whew! The moment my return was processed and my funds were available, I snapped up the second dress.

My only issue now was that the wedding was less than a ten days way. The dress v2 wasn’t slated for delivery until the Wednesday before the wedding – what if it didn’t fit either? So, I sucked it up and went to the mall (which, ugh, I haven’t been to a mall in ages and they are really sort of sad) in pursuit of a dress. I went to my go-to for cocktail dresses – Dillard’s – but I could already spot trouble. My brand of choice for cocktail dresses (BCBG) had absolutely nothing I wanted. So I moved on to the regular dress section and encountered my first (second? third? millionth?) problem – all of the dresses in the women’s section were too large to fit me off the rack. However, none of the junior’s dresses provided the sort of support I needed (now that I have breastfed a child, I totally get it when bra makers talk about shaping and structure). I found one dress I liked, but it literally was like the kitchen sink of dresses (short! full skirt! flower print! two piece! lace! sequins! a bow! let’s just bedazzle the heck out of this poor piece of fabric! wheeeeee!!!!!!). After I had been there for, no lie, two freaking hours trying on dress after dress after dress, I finally grabbed a dress that I had initially spotted and dismissed because it was sure to be too large. Let’s just say that it is the tiniest size 6 I have ever encountered. (To be fair, it’s a junior’s size 5/6 but seriously, it fits like second skin.)

So ANYWAY. I bought the dress (I actually bought it and the kitchen sink dress because I think I can at least take off the bow thing, and then it will be super cute and sort of mostly appropriate for a 30-year-old**). And I am so glad I did because when the dress I bought from the second-hand store arrived, it was laughably huge on me. Just enormous. I didn’t even hesitate to send it back. Again.

All of this is an illustration of the horrible, terrible fact that if you absolutely need to find something, you will not be able to find it. I think it’s just guaranteed that you will only ever be able to find amazing items (you know, the ones that fit you perfectly and complement your shape and color and look effortless) if you are NOT looking. Next time, I’ll try to con the universe by pretending to shop for a swimsuit instead of jeans.

I’ve dealt with this a lot recently – from the wedding dress to my hunt for a the perfect outfit to photograph. And this time of year always brings it up because every year I convince myself that I would love a pair of boots. And every year I search high and low for a pair of boots. And EVERY. YEAR. I do not find a pair of boots. I do not own a pair of boots and yet I swear I have been searching for a pair of boots for the last five years.

And now I have another dilemma: I want a new jacket. I have a fleece jacket, for the casual look. I have a beautiful wool coat for the (few) bitterly cold days. I have a gorgeous rain jacket for bridging the in-between (or for those times on the weekend when I want to look more put-together than a gray fleece jacket from Target). The problem is that the rain jacket isn’t really warm. Cute! Functional! But warm, no. So I’m trying to find something that (a) looks a touch classier than your average fleece zip-up, (b) is not as buttoned-up as a wool coat, (c) looks good on me, and (d) is warm, but like Texas-winter warm (ie – I do not need it to be cold rated to -30, lololololz). Is that too much to ask? Should I lower my bar? Ugh, tell me now. Perhaps I should have started looking in the summer.

*Interesting side-story. The second-hand site allows you to mark items as “favorites” so that you can quickly view them again. It reserves items in a basket for 24 hours and marks them unavailable for you, but you can still view them. So it allowed me to sort of follow along as some other girl out there, with a taste and size similar to mine, also shopped for a cocktail dress. The black one (I assume) she ended up choosing was cute, although I think she should have risked it for the pink Kate Spade number.

** That’s right folks! As of TODAY I am 30. Oye. Where does the time go?

Passing Judgement

I have a secret to tell you…. You know those food pouches that are all the craze now? The little ones for infants and toddlers?

Well, I used to proclaim them the next fast food-esque convenience item and swore I would never give one to my kid(s). It’s not that I judged parents for using them, although I sort of kind of did. For me, it was more about wanting my kids to eat actual veggies – eat the whole pea rather than pea puree. I wouldn’t mask my child’s veggies under a blanket of sweet fruits. By God, they would know they were eating broccoli and they would enjoy it! They wouldn’t need it drenched in apple “concentrate” which is probably just a nice way of saying sugar.

Even after having a child, I still stuck to this ideal. I deemed pouches on the same level as purees, but with an added heaping of parental laziness. While not fully on-board with Baby Led Weaning for some safety reasons, I did hope that we’d pass through purees pretty quickly and move on to “real” food. And we did!

But now…. now I see the flaw in my reasoning and the brilliance behind pouches. You see, my child has graduated to “real” food and enjoys everything from avocado to chicken. Although he ate pureed veggies exceedingly well (his daycare teachers always commented that they’d never seen a more enthusiastic child over green beans), he’s gotten to the point where he wants to feed himself. He does not want your spoon – NO. He’ll take the spoon from you! Even gets it to his mouth most of the time. It doesn’t have any food on it by that point, but hey, baby steps.

And so I gave him actual veggies like I always said I would – peas and green beans and carrots steamed to within an inch of their lives so that he’d be able to gum them to death. And he ate them! Well, I mean, like four or five before getting bored. Close enough. So I sent them to daycare in place of his purees. And he did not eat them. Wouldn’t even touch them. Fail.

I went back to the grocery store in search of I’m not even sure what. Magical veggies. Veggies with the consistency of watermelon or grapes. Veggies that I would be able to throw in his daycare lunch bag because I already spend a half hour each morning prepping the rest of his food. Actually, I started in the applesauce aisle because the dumpling had been having a few – ahem – digestive issues that could be helped with applesauce. Except last time we tried his beloved applesauce, via spoon, he didn’t want it. And there, next to the cups of syrupy fruit and jars of applesauce, were pouches of applesauce. I even found one (several!) that met my no-sugar-added criterion. Hey! Belle’s brain went, maybe if he can feed it to himself, he’ll actually eat it. 

…..

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is when the brilliance of pouches hit me. It’s not parental laziness and definitely not about convenience (although the fact that they are easy and convenient are decisive pros), it’s about getting your child to actually eat some, any, veggies. The dumpling will happily eat 4 ounces of pureed garden veggies (which, by Gerber’s count contains 92 peas, 2/3 of a carrot, and 3/4 of a spinach leaf). If I sit him down in his high chair to eat, he might eat ten peas. Maybe? On a good day? If the stars align?

So where do I turn when he refuses the spoon because baby principles but won’t eat the same amount by hand? Pouches, my friend. Pouches.

I know! I know! Experienced parents are rolling their eyes at my naivety. I’d missed the whole piece of the puzzle that he would simply eat more vegetables via puree than he would whole. He’s got a short attention span and better things to do, apparently. That doesn’t mean I’ll stop giving him whole veggies to practice with. It just means that I can use the pouches on occasion to make sure he’s getting all the vitamins and fiber his little body needs. And yeah, I’m still a stickler for veggies. Even with the container purees, I only purchased vegetable or vegetable heavy varieties. I still compared fiber and sugar content and scanned the ingredient lists. But I’m happy to have found a solution for now.

Ducks as been-there-done-that parents pelt me with half-eaten pouches.

Yes, I am a capable adult…

Why do you ask?


When I work from home, my agenda for the day typically includes several home-related tasks or errands. A trip to Target at lunch. Running a load of laundry. You get the idea. All of these things take place in the time I would ordinarily spend dicking around on the internet in the office, (I am just so productive at home!) Anyway, today’s to-do list included getting my car washed. We’re leaving my car at the house for my mom to use this weekend (for car seat reasons) and it was beyond time to get it thoroughly cleaned out.

So off I went!

In the wonderful tradition of me, I managed to play out a mini-drama while I was at it.

I pulled into the local car wash chain and surveyed the options, having my first dilemma of the day. You see, I am a pansy when it comes to car related things (again linking to this because it explains everything) and while I knew that the interior of my car really, really needed a thorough cleaning, having it cleaned would also mean dealing with such terrifying tasks as choosing a slot to pull into and interacting with the attendant. In my car! About my car! And exiting my car!! GASP!! So I pulled into the longest line, thinking that would give me plenty of time to mentally debate whether I had the guts to get a full cleaning or not.

To my horror, the occupants of the cars ahead of me either (a) had their shit together enough to know exactly what they wanted or (b) did not have as much anxiety about this purchase as I did. Regardless of which option it was, the line dwindled quickly until it was my turn far too soon and I blurted out the first option – the full cleaning – and pulled away. Whew. Crisis averted. I congratulated myself on navigating that minefield and girded my loins for the real battle: getting my interior cleaned out.

Now, I know – I KNOW – it’s not that big of deal. You find an empty spot, pull into it, hop out, and the rest is taken care of. The problem is that I constantly worry about the unspoken-ness of it all. There are rules, rules which are not stated, and what if I break those rules? What if I’m not supposed to use this spot? What if the attendant that is here isn’t actually the one for my wash? Do I tell someone my car’s here to be cleaned? Do I just wait off to the side? Do I wait inside? Do I take my keys with me?  Plus, being in my vehicle just adds a extra layer of visibility that I’m not up for.

Anyway – geez Belle, is there a point to this story? – I hopped out of my car and staked claim to a nearby bench, firing up the latest game on my phone and that was about when I remembered that I didn’t have any cash on me. Zero cash. No back-up five or random one hanging about. I went through all of the pockets and folds of my wallet – naddah. I did have a solitary gold coin in my car, but that’s it. I lamented to Luffy via text that I was the world’s worst human before realizing that I was sitting right next door to a giant gas station. CASH BACK!! I could get CASH BACK if I bought something.

I hesitated for a minute, paralyzed by fear over leaving my car unattended (what if they got done and I wasn’t there?????) and then literally took off running for the gas station. Grabbing a soda from their fridge, I headed to the front.

“Do you still provide cash back if I pay with a debit card?” I asked the cashier.

“No, but there’s an ATM outside if you’d like,” she helpfully replied and then asked me if I’d still like the soda.

“Sure,” I quipped and explained that I was trying to get cash for a tip for the car wash next door.

I hit up the ATM on my way out, almost blowing the entire transaction because the very first option was to withdraw $200. Which, holy smokes, why is that the very first option? Do people routinely pull $200 in cash out of the gas station ATM’s? Why was the option for a measly $20 way down at the very bottom, behind all sorts of other ridiculous options like $400 or $300? So many questions, but it didn’t matter because I had my cash! I had my twenty dollar bill! I had my tip! ….. Oh, right. My tip. I most certainly did not want to leave $20 as a tip and the gas station wouldn’t break my fresh bill for me.

Whomp whomp.

I walked back to the car wash with my ice cold soda and my crisp twenty and lamented to Luffy – again! more! – that I didn’t have tipping cash. After all that!

It’s times like these where I really sometimes wonder why Luffy puts up with me. And can I claim that I am an intelligent human being when I am routinely befuddled by the most simple of problems? Is overthinking issues an actual problem? Because I think I have it.

Why don’t you buy a pack of gum? Luffy asked me, when I told him the gas station wouldn’t break my twenty because I wasn’t buying anything because I had already bought something. Oh yeah, that would have been a good idea,  said my brain.

Since I was already back on my bench, I yet again debated the decision to abandon my car and head back to the gas station, but I did. I couldn’t let this situation get the best of me, not when I had come so far. So back I went, to get into an even longer line this time, to buy gum. To break my twenty. That I got here just moments ago.

The cashier gave me a confused look when I got to the front but it dawned on her pretty quickly what I was doing.

“My problem solving skills aren’t always the sharpest,” I joked, as I waited for my change.

But! I managed to leave with a five that was more suited for a tip and I got back to the car wash before the attendant was done with my car so I got to avoid those particular disaster scenarios playing out in my head. She finished a couple of minutes after I got back and I was very relieved to be able to hand her my hard-earned tipping cash in exchange for my immaculately cleaned car.

All in all, procuring cash for a tip last minute is an excellent way to pass the time while you wait for your car to be cleaned. 10/10 would recommend.

And for this week’s round of oversharing

DISCLAIMER: It’s been a minute since I lasted veered off into TMI area with you guys and I’m nostalgic for it. Also I’m freaking out. Just a bit. So indulge me please.

So yesterday, I hinted at it:
…especially as my supply has seriously tanked in the past couple of days (is it my period? night weaning? am I pregnant? WHO KNOWS!

(Also relevant reading.) After my period came back, I had another fairly predictable cycle. Woohoo! Obvious ovulation signs, predictable menstruation, a touch long (37 days), but a lot better than most of my previous, un-medicated cycles. Go reproductive system! I thought I was back on track. I’d read, a very long time ago, that having a child can sort of reset your system and that having navigated infertility the first go-round didn’t always mean you would need to for any future children. I kept that hope alive. Last cycle looked pretty good. And then this cycle came.

It’s currently CD47. I haven’t had any strong signs of ovulation at any point. Who knows when my period will arrive. These weeks have felt very similar to this time, when my body kept trying to ovulate but was never successful. So. Probably going to need Clomid to conceive baby number two, no biggie. I went on Amazon and ordered an economy size pack of the cheap pregnancy tests because, as I have said many times, my biggest fear in living with anovulation and infertility is that I will be that woman who gives birth in a bathroom at the movies because I didn’t know I was pregnant. So, yup, back to my old ways of testing every couple of weeks just to make sure. I dusted my hands, mentally, and went about my business.

Then, this week started with lower back cramps. Exactly like a period. Yay! I thought, my period is coming!* Monday evening, though, came and went without the arrival of the crimson wave. Hmm. Tuesday morning dawned and brought with it even more intense backaches and very, very, very light spotting. Hmmmmmmmm. I saw neither hide nor hair of Aunt Flo that day but I was STARVING. All day. I ate. The entire day. Hmmmmmmmmmmmm. And also oh shit. Wednesday dawned with just a slight backache but also brought faint, pink (ewe, sorry) spotting. Once again though, by day’s end, Shark Week had not begun.

Now, it’s today, and I still have not started my period and I still have light cramps and twinges. I am freaking out a bit. Good thing my pregnancy tests were delivered today and await me after work. It’a probably just a hormone thing, but I know peeing on a stick will ease my mind.

*The mark of one who has dealt with infertility. Only us weirdos are ever excited by our periods.

Clutter

So. What do you do with all of the baby stuff when the baby outgrows said stuff?

Because seriously, my house feels like it’s overflowing with newborn/young infant stuff that the dumpling isn’t using anymore.

I’ve already put away his cosleeper (which he never used), his rock ‘n’ play (which we used as a laundry hamper for a while after he transitioned out), his swing, and the car seat base from my car (Luffy is still using his for a while, but we have the convertible seat installed in my car already). I’m eyeing the bouncer and bassinet that are in our room right now. Oh and the frame stroller. Oh and the nursing pillows. And then the infant bucket seat and Luffy’s base. All things I have to find a place for.

It’s fun, in a way, to see all of the things that the dumpling has no use for now. So many of them were a lifesaver when he was a newborn. The rock ‘n’ play was the only way he’d sleep for more than 50 minutes at 3 weeks old. Once he came around to the swing (around 8 weeks old maybe?), it was the best place to ensure a nice long nap. Even as he got older, the swing helped him through his overtired energy at the end of daycare days to get a final nap in. We only stopped using it when he became too distracted by the movement to snooze.

Of course, with plans for a second child at some point, I’ve merely packed all of this stuff away. In closets, under beds, you name it and it likely has a baby-related item stored in it. I’m running out of room. As a person who dislikes clutter, I’m already looking forward to the moment when I can donate it all.

It’s probably just begun, hasn’t it? All you parents of older children are probably out there shaking your heads at me. Bouncers give way to exersaucers which are taken over by walkers and then activity tables and then toys and legos. When does it end?!

Casual Slight

A casual conversation can sometimes reveal so much.

On Monday, I was chatting with the instructor who teaches after me. Having a fairly new baby means that most people start conversations out by asking how he is. So we chatted about how he’s doing and what all he’s learning. She asked me how motherhood was and I truthfully answered that it was great but a lot more than I was prepared for. It’s one thing to know about all of the care that goes into a baby and quite another to actually care for a baby, I told her.

She chuckled at that point and said that her husband was pushing for a baby and she kept trying to put him off, she wasn’t ready yet. Then she made the assumption that I stay at home and I corrected her, saying that I still work full time.

“Oh, where’s he at during the day then? Babysitter?” she asked, setting her music up.

“No, he’s at daycare -” and she interrupted me with, “yeah, I could never do that. That’s why I keep telling my husband no babies!”

And she returned to setting her music and mic up for class. I don’t want to say I walked away stunned or anything, I have more backbone than that, but the conversation stuck with me. What exactly did she mean? Did she think that daycare isn’t adequate? She assumed that I stayed home; did she think less of working mothers? Was this a casual slight against those of us who choose (or are forced by circumstances) to continue working after having babies? Perhaps it came from a dislike of daycare rather than a judgement against working mothers. Whatever the reason, it doesn’t matter. I’d like to think it was simply a tone-deaf statement on her part. She likely just didn’t realize what she was implying with her casual dismissal of my parenting choice.

The real takeaway from this is the lesson to ignore what others have to say and to just do what’s best for you and your family. Daycare literally saves my sanity. While I’d love to hang out with my little dumpling all day – in theory – I really don’t think I’d be as happy as I am now. I’m good at my job, really good. I appreciate being able to use my skills again, to find solutions to problems and to receive acknowledgement of a job well done. Parenting is such a guessing game; Luffy and I are just trying to do our best. I know, with certainty, that if I stayed home with the dumpling I would take each missed nap or all-afternoon meltdown as a personal failure on my part. I can see myself feeling inadequate as a mother and caretaker if my only job was to care for the dumpling and he spent most of the day in tears. Which is completely unfair to myself, considering that he’s a tiny human who is allowed to have bad days and what not. Worse, I can absolutely see myself lashing out at Luffy if he offered a solution to a problem, like he always does because he’s a fixer, because WHAT? DO YOU THINK I’M NOT CAPABLE AT MY JOB? MUST YOU MICROMANAGE ME? Shudder. Definitely not a place I want to go.

So yes, daycare saves my sanity. The time I spend with my little boy is time for us to snuggle and play and help him figure out this whole crawling business. The time I spend at work is time for me to both hone my skills and also focus on myself first (it’s always nice when I can have my lunch whenever I please!). Daycare gives me a break from the monotony and sheer drudgery of caring for an infant. And I really appreciate that.

So cheers to doing what’s best for you! Now if we could only work on keeping our noses out of other people’s decisions, we could tackle world peace next and everyone knows that would solve ALL the problems.