Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Bag lady with a breast pump

In not-breaking news that you've heard a million times before: being a pumping, working mom is not easy.

Exhibit A: The bag that follows me around everywhere I go. (LL Bean, natch.)

Exhibit B: What I look like from afar - a bag lady. A bag lady in J.Crew, but still.

Exhibit C: The mess I haul across our office and into the "pump room" twice a day, every day (this photo taken while attached to the pump, of course).

Exhibit D: The amount of water I need to drink daily in order to pump effectively. (My pump room is also the water room, conveniently.)

And then there's the noise. This article puts it perfectly: Shouldn't the breast pump be as elegant as an iPhone and as quiet as a Prius by now? Why, yes it should. I feel like I will hear this thing echoing in my brain for the rest of my days. So, perhaps, will my coworkers.

I continue to feel grateful that I'm even able to pump at all, I do - breastfeeding has been fairly simple for me and I have a supportive office. I know that many women would love the chance to do what I am currently complaining about. The crux is that as a career woman, I've fought for the chance to be at important meetings, to be on-call, to be a decision-maker. And I am... except for when I can't be due to pumping. And that conflict is difficult for me.

Some days, I literally have to schedule my entire workday around being able to pump. Today I was supposed to have three off-site meetings, scattered throughout the day. At first glance, there was no time to go back to my office at all in between meetings. Could I pump on-site? Drive and park somewhere, then try to pump in the car? I'd have to carry my pump bag to a fairly important local government building - how annoying and weird would that be in the meeting? Not to mention, I can't drink my 50-gallon water requirement on the go like that. I ended up doing something I don't like to do, but will when I have to: I rearranged my schedule, moving my first two meetings to alternate days. I also made transportation decisions based solely on not having to carry the pump bug to the afternoon biggie with the suits. And so it goes. This isn't just me, either - every pumping working mom makes these decisions every single day.

On the home front, Hazel's eating more food every day and has lessened up ever so slightly, occasionally, on the milk she needs while I'm gone. Not enough to really change my pump schedule, but it makes me wonder where we might be headed. Some days my pumping goal is nine months - nine months in, nine months out, nice and clean. Most other days it's a year. Some days I think I can go longer. Bag lady or bust.

The bottom line here, for all of us juggling work responsibilities and hungry breastfed babies, is that there's no single right answer. We're all doing our best and making the choices that are right for us. My battle isn't really between the reality of my days and a common consensus, it's between the reality of my days and what my heart wants. I don't know what my end date will be - I think I'll know when I'm ready, though, and I've promised myself to be kind to my heart no matter how long I last.

Monday, June 9, 2014

This and that

Because I posted about cute office clothes last week, allow me to introduce some other occasional workwear:

So hot, right?

The past two weeks have been nuts at work. And then Friday came, and by day's end I was breathing fresh air again. Noisy, crazy construction-site air, but it was glorious.

We caught up on some much-needed sleep this weekend. My work stress has been coinciding with Miss H's refusal to sleep anywhere but our bed, but this weekend she decided that maaaaaaaaybe her crib was sort of cool after all. I mean, duh! Our little droolface (thanks top two teeth!) has been so tired that it was great to see her get the kind of rest I know she needs. And wow did we need it too. (PS this photo makes me want to hug her through the screen.)

We toured an open house this weekend that has our wheels turning in a major way regarding future renovations. These would be future future renovations, not even on the current horizon, but they'd be major, and I'm sort of excited thinking about them. I love conspiring about house projects with T - we're pretty good at conspiring together. In the meantime, we're finally tearing down our crazy backyard next month! More on that and some garden prettiness soon.

The most important element of the weekend though? Without a doubt, using the stroller to its fullest potential.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Work closet faves

I haven't bought many new clothes since packing away my maternity stuff - rediscovering old favorites has been fun. You know, "I forgot about this!" and also transitioning from stuff not fitting to one day, look at that - it zipped. (Note to self - get back to working out post-vacay so that sentence doesn't haunt me.) Six months post-delivery, I can say that skirts and dresses are definitely more my friend than pants. These three items have been getting heavy rotation at the office, and also heavy compliments! Go get 'em while they're on sale.

Anthro Montagne Pencil Skirt
This graphic skirt looks fantastic with a simple black top and strappy sandals - gets a compliment literally every time I put it on.
Boden Modern Pencil Skirt
The "petal shower" floral works with white, navy, or chambray really well. It's springy without being overly sweet. Strappy nude sandals and you're done.
Anthro Teahouse Dress
I have the red (actually more of a coral), which I'd worn without mention a couple of times pre-vacation. Post-vacation with a tan, though, strangers stopped me at lunch to ask where I got it. Love the sleeve detail on this, and the cut is uber-flattering.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

An Eastern Market weeknight

Yesterday I was having a day. When I left work, I was in a crappy mood and needed to buy ingredients for dinner. One of my friends from high school was in town and coming over to catch up, and there was barely any food in the house. I hit up Eastern Market on the way home without a plan but with a crashing headache, hoping to pull it all together.

Here's the thing about Eastern Market: when we were house-shopping, we literally drew a circle around it on a map to guide us on our hunt. We saw the market then as the heart of where we wanted to be in DC, and now that we're here, it really is the center of our neighborhood lives. We pop in after work regularly for dinner items and we visit at least once a weekend to stroll the flea market and buy food for the week. It's where we see neighbors and buy things we both need and don't need - from vegetables to handmade baby toys.

My first stop was the flower lady. Her flowers are overpriced, but they're also gorgeous and serve as an instant mood-check for me, always. Plus, the peonies on my table from our garden really needed to be replaced. I chatted with her about what she was selling - she had some fun fuzzy yellow ones I'd never seen before and already forgot the name of - and picked up some hydrangeas and irises. Next stop: the pasta counter. We adore buying fresh pasta there (perhaps a little too much, actually), and I was thinking of doing a couple of their delicious ravioli on a plate alongside a spring vegetable and grilled meat. I went with large, savory mushroom ravioli that could be dressed simply with a little brown butter. Yum. The cheese counter is across from the fresh pasta - brilliant placement, really. I needed more parm and wanted a snacking cheese to have out with olives while we cooked, so I sampled two manchegos and had them slice a hunk for me to take home. Now for meat. We ate so much fish on vacation that I've been in withdrawal ever since, but I couldn't remember if my friend Jen was a seafood fan. I skipped the seafood counter (which I always love visiting if only to ooh and aah at the pretty fish!), and went over to pork instead. Pork tenderloin is delicious and simple to throw on the grill - done. 

On Tuesdays the outdoor hall at Eastern Market is lined with Amish farmers who come down from Pennsylvania, and walking by them, arms full of flowers and bag bursting with food, my furrowed brow was definitely gone. The accents, the clothes, the politeness... hard not to smile. After chatting with the cutest little guy in his big black hat, I bought his family's asparagus, strawberries, and his grandmother's pound cake. Done.

Here's the magic of a shopping experience like that: I took my time, but it didn't take long. I had pleasant conversations with five different vendors. I smiled at local dogs and babies. I felt lighter with each new item I put in my bag. I got home and hugged an adorable baby of my own, welcomed an old friend to our home, cooked a simple dinner, and enjoyed it over great company, with the worries of the day behind me.

I'm not saying Eastern Market is magic, but it sure is a magical way of ending a harried workday. Living here, living out the romantic idea we had so many years ago of the urban family life we wanted... some days I can't believe my luck.

Monday, June 2, 2014

Hazel's Nursery!

It was so fun seeing Hazel's nursery on 100 Layer Cakelet while we were on vacation! The funny thing about the feature is that it actually only showed half the room - here's the entire room, plus all the fun details! Let's start from the beginning. Remember my inspiration board?

I knew I wanted Hazel's nursery to be bright, cheerful, and feminine. If you've been reading along for any length of time you know that a girly-girl pastel nursery isn't my cup of tea. I began with two primary inspiration points - Albert Hadley's "Fireworks" wallpaper and Thimblepress' fantastic US map of state flowers. I'd almost given up on the wallpaper when a friend found it, but it ended up being too pricey for me to justify. I considered doing just one wall instead, but I really wanted the room to be surrounded in pattern. That's when I started searching for stencils and eventually settled on Cutting Edge Stencil's Sari Paisley pattern. We refreshed the room with bright white, then matched the red of the old rocking chair for the stencil pattern (we also painted an old Ikea Expedit the same red). (We're still perfectly happy with a rocking chair instead of a pricey glider, by the way.)

Settling on the fabric was another biggie in the room. Zoe Pearn’s “Sweetest Thing” fabric line for Riley Blake had everything I was looking for in a fabric collection - sweet, feminine prints with bright colors that never veered too saccharine. The fabrics really helped set the tone for the room and soften the stenciling. The final touches came in the pops of color in the room's artwork and accessories - little finds from some of my favorite presses and shops.

We couldn't be happier with how the room turned out. For a small space like this, it's as functional as it is cute. We rely heavily on basket storage and everything really does have a place. Now on to the photos... with a big 'ol source list at the end.

(All photos taken by Amanda Young)

Crib: Jenny Lind
Yellow Moroccan Pouf: Tazi Designs
Rocking Chair: Vintage
Rug: Safavieh
Gallery Top Left (Shine Bright): The Wheatfield on Etsy
Gallery Top Middle (City Living): Laura Amiss on Etsy
Gallery Top Right (More than you Know): Raw Art Letterpress on Etsy
Gallery Bottom Left (DC map): Meredith Pannett Designs on Etsy
Gallery Bottom Middle (Free to be Me): Rosy Hues on Etsy
Gallery Bottom Right (Let Us Lie in the Sun): Sarah Trumbauer on Etsy
Sheets, Crib Skirt, Changing Pad Cover: Modified Tot on Etsy (Zoe Pearn’s “Sweetest Thing” fabric line for Riley Blake)
Quilt: The Red Pistachio on Etsy (Zoe Pearn’s “Sweetest Thing” fabric line for Riley Blake)
Pillows: Happy Little Cottage on Etsy (Zoe Pearn’s “Sweetest Thing” fabric line for Riley Blake)
Curtains: Serena & Lily
Curtain Tieback: Willows Grace on Etsy
Stuffed Whale: Gift
Stuffed Cat: Walnut Animal Society
Throw: Gift
Turquoise Basket: Serena & Lily
Stuffed Pig: Land of Nod
State Flower Map: Thimblepress
Yellow Baskets: Container Store
White Baskets: Land of Nod
Red Bookcase: Ikea (painted to match red of wall + chair)
Alphabet Print: One Canoe Two Letterpress
Hazel Embroidery Loop: King Soleil on Etsy
White Bookcase: Ikea
Bunting: Happy Little Cottage on Etsy (Zoe Pearn’s “Sweetest Thing” fabric line for Riley Blake)
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