Work. Wardrobe. Winter.

Today was a day in which our very unlovely front ‘garden’ lived up to its very apt nickname of The Somme. Buckets of mud slip-sliding across chewed up turf really set the scene for a sortie in to Chaddy, along with a baby really quite cross about being strapped down in her chariot.

Alice is 8 months old. She commando crawls, she high fives, she feeds herself, she understands her name and ‘up’ and ‘Dadda’ and ‘tickle’, and plays peekaboo in various forms. Delightful as she is, every achievement and milestone is a reminder that I have to go back to work. Some days I feel a bit misty-eyed about speaking with adults, having a coffee and using my brain all without the constant physical wrangling and half-diverted attention necessitated by motherhood, but other days I plot and scheme about how to stay home with my munchy-munchkin forever (but also how to earn exactly the same income as if I were working full-time. Too much to ask?).

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I think we look a little alike here!

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Not the most flattering angle, or the best styled hair (either of us) – but the giggles were superb!

Today, a grim and rainy Friday where I had absolutely nothing to do except trawl the bright shiny shops, epitomised this push-me, pull-you existence. Nowhere to be and nothing to do except window shop, drink coffee and chat to Alice – I will definitely be a SAHM forever! Distracting a screeching child in changerooms, leaving shops with items unpurchased to avoid a meltdown, walking and walking and walking once she was asleep just to keep her down despite having no more change for coffee and having missed lunch hours ago – I will definitely go back to work!

A half-formed idea of buying some new work clothes pushed me into shops I haven’t visited for quite some time. Post-honeymoon, our house purchase and renovation (and the daily takeaway and alcohol that accompanied it) and pregnancy meant that my work wardrobe undertook rapid and massive changes, and although I have shamefully reverted to regularly wearing some tops I wore whilst pregnant, I refuse to return to work in my horrible Target pregnancy pants. Despite the terror that a full-length changeroom mirror now elicits in me I thought some nice new things might take some of the sting out of the mental countdown I’ve now begun until I have to obey the alarm clock and cram myself on to a train before sitting static all day, away from my baby and without the cheeky option of a quick bit of ‘Location Location Location’ in the afternoon. But that requires trying things on.

Let’s just say that while I tra-la-la-ed my way through pregnancy convinced that my compact bump reflected minimal weight gain, my body was sneakily and steadily spiriting away every single surplus calorie and distributing it in places I wouldn’t notice while I was focussed on my belly. And let’s just also say that post-pregnancy the 500 or so extra calories a day that breastfeeding burns have not even brought to me break-even point. Hence, my horror of mirrors and terror of trousers.

Anyway, I found two tops, a cardigan and a pair of 7/8 pants which will work well with what still fits me from Ye Olde Days, along with some clothes that have been shared between my sister and I over several years. Along with some shiny shoes and practical flats, these will do for the two days a week I will return to work from October to January, and the three days thereafter.

I’m ready to work, almost. I’m not ready to leave her. However even being able to turn these thoughts over in my mind is a reflection of the privilege of being able to stay home for a whole year, thanks to a generous maternity leave policy, the Paid Parental Leave scheme, and a steady income. Work seems like just yesterday but a different country.

The countdown’s on. So much to get ready – most of it mental. But some of it materialistic.

Today:

We went to Chadstone to pick up a repaired necklace, and had a look through shops for clothes. You really didn’t like being stuck in changerooms! You had one breastfeed, a snack and a play before falling asleep. It was a good day to be inside and you enjoyed sitting up like a big girl in your pram and watching everything around you.

We are waiting for Ellie’s baby who was due five days ago and Heloise’s son who was due yesterday. We have recently welcomed Stacey and Jarrod’s Gabrielle Rose and Sarah and Dre’s Grace Ilaria (continuing the naming similarities!).

I’ve stopped recording your sleeps but after a rough patch due to teeth you are settling more easily, around 9:30pm, and waking around 8am with perhaps one or two quick resettles in the evening as you roll over (sometimes you’re not even awake), and usually one feed overnight.

At 8 months, Alice:

  • Weighs about 10kg and is about 72cm long.
  • Wears 0 clothes but is edging in to some 1s for width.
  • Has 7 teeth – 4 on top and 3 underneath. Teething has been marked only by disrupted sleep (what’s new?!). She teethed 7 teeth in 10 weeks!
  • Started solids at exactly 6 months and is a little dynamo. She has tried absolutely everything put in front of her and even though not much of it makes it to her tummy, she investigates and explores and enjoys it all. She likes to use a spoon herself and won’t let anyone feed her. Still can’t sip from any kind of cup though!
  • Has Mumma’s mouth, nose and chin; Dadda’s eyes, eyebrows, forehead and face shape.
  • Has started to grow more hair.
  • Has started swimming lessons with Dadda and mothers’ group and is getting braver in the water.
  • Can commando crawl and does lots of rocking on all fours. She has been sitting for quite a long time and is really quite speedy as she wriggles around.
  • Is a happy and giggling baby. She now knows what it means when something is taken away from her though and seems set to be a good whinger.
  • Is practicing spending more time with Grandma and Grandpa.
  • Loves singing and has a definite sing-song voice of her own.
  • Babbles a lot and is starting to say Da-da more to Dadda.
  • Understands her name, ‘up’, ‘tickle’, ‘boobie’ (no surprise), and we think ‘Dadda’.
  • Shakes her head to ‘nononono’. She high fives, is learning to wave, and has just started handing me her spoon when I say ‘more’.
  • Is not yet pulling to standing but hasn’t really had much opportunity.
  • Likes a late bed time, but also sleeping in.
  • Is still called Allie by Grandma, and Honeybun, Bunny, Munchkin, Munchy and mostly Bubba.

After eight months, Mummy and Daddy:

  • Just think Alice is delightful and are so proud of her.
  • Are getting more sleep. A solid night is a thing of distant memory.
  • Are looking forward to their wedding anniversary dinner but have booked a restaurant very close by in case of another emergency return call!
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Oh no she didn’t.

Oh yes she did.

When she actually just popped out to Big W to get a stray security tag removed from a boring breastfeeding singlet.

Jason Wu for Melissa ‘Jean’ in navy.

Linky . See how it looks like grosgrain?

Actually quite a lot more nude than beige in real life.

And if The Bunny turns out to be a girl, she’s getting a pair of these ASAP:

Two weddings and a baby bump.

I’m at that age, and have been for some time, where weddings are a frequent occurrence in our social calendar. I have two weddings coming up, a week apart, with the same group of friends – and I’ll be 36 and 37 weeks pregnant respectively at each.

Sartorial challenge accepted!

I think that each wedding will be quite different in style – Wedding #1 will be a modern, stylish, formal affair, whereas Wedding #2 will be a low-key, offbeat, relaxed event. And as the guests at one will be many of the guests of the other, I can’t get away with one dress with different accessories!

Option 1 below is a satin knee-length dress from Ripe Maternity. I have tried one one and it was … ok. I felt pretty dowdy but I’m not sure how much of that was the dress and how much was me. A plus would be that I could also wear it to a wedding in February with the same people and easily breastfeed, so I think that one repeat wear amongst the same crowd would be ok. At $180 it’s reasonably priced too, but I wasn’t so keen on squidging into a size XL!

Option 2 is a dress from Two Birds Bridesmaids, which is where my bridesmaids’ dresses were from and I just loved them. I’d probably get versatile knee-length black. They can be wrapped many different ways and worn with a bandeau underneath. The plus here is that they are not specifically maternity wear, although they are preg-friendly, so could happily be re-worn as a LBD for many years. However, they are the most expensive of all the options at $340.

Option #3 is a similar idea to the Two Birds Dress – a multi-wrap LBD. This one has gold backing, but doesn’t come with a bandeau so the back exposure factor is high. It’s about $200 which is cheaper than the Two Birds dresses. Jessica Alba likes it though …

Option #4 is the classic cocktail dress. I’m not really a fan of high necklines on me as they don’t suit my decolletage (ie: boobs) but this one is quite cute. At $230 I’m not sure I would want a dress that covers up my best and sometimes only assets!

Option #5 might be too hot if it’s a summery day, and I don’t think that the length is flattering, but I like the print and think it could be re-used. It’s also a cheapie at $100-ish. On the other hand, I suspect it could look frumpy in real life.

Option #6 is a lovely cut but only comes in this cobalt and at over $200 I think it’s too much to invest in such a shocking colour!

Crave Grecian dress from QueenBee Maternity.

I’m not sure what I’ll land on; I have dropped my days to 4 a week and only have 5 weeks of work left so there will be plenty of time for sorties to the shops (although many of these are online so postage time needs to be factored in). I suspect that Wedding #2 might be best served by a non-maternity summer maxi, which could be easily sourced with minimal effort and lots of choice. For Wedding #1 I am very tempted by a Two Birds dress for future usage purposes but might need to do some swift talking about the cost-per-wear principle!

As for accessories, shoes will be whatever fits and whatever I can bear to wear for an extended period of time! Some sparkly flat sandals will probably be the go. For Wedding #1, the more formal event, I’ll crack out the rocks and wear my NTRHR, and diamond pendant and diamond drop earrings, both my own wedding jewellery. Worn jewels are alive jewels! For Wedding #2 I think I can look for more fun and out-there stuff, and will probably have a good sniff around Lovisa for some bright and cheerful accessories. I wonder if these neons are too much?! I like 5 and 15 but 2 might be pushing it!

Operation Pick-Me-Up: outerwear

One of the challenges of pregnancy for me has been finding clothes that are work-appropriate, comfortable, stylish, and that are not so loose and baggy that they disguise the bump too well and make me look just a bit porky. I don’t think that I can honestly say that I’ve achieved a work wardrobe that achieves all of these things; while I have been fond of my range of long-sleeved lycra-mix tops from Ripe Maternity, I have been frustrated and despairing over the limited range of work pants. Two identical pairs of el crappo black pants from Target and a billowing pair of grey stripey ones from Ripe have tided me over but I have never felt that they flattered me or looked smart. In fact I have frequently felt like a clown.

Thank heavens for those tops! But all good things must come to an end and those five tops have been on weekly rotation for a number of months now, and while they are still going strong quality-wise, I am hopelessly bored by them and am looking forward to spring being sprung and getting in to something brighter and lighter.

I started my search at Ripe again and although the spring catalogue looks promising, there was little in store to tempt me. I was looking for tops that would do some or all of a number of things: take me through the rapid expansion of the third trimester; be appropriate for the post-birth period; and hopefully be breastfeeding-friendly. What frustrated me about the Ripe nursing selection was that they were mostly lycra-mix, clingy and fitted, which is fine when you have a nice firm bump out in front but less so once that bump has deflated.

I realised that post-birth it will be high summer and I will be unfit, well above fighting weight, probably quite soft and wobbly around the middle, requiring ready access to my boobs, and above all needing to avoid wasting time feeling self-conscious about the aforementioned factors so that I can focus on the Bunny. I needed a selection of loose, flowing tops with front access.

(I did pick up this singlet in navy/white and grey/white stripes from Ripe though for an all-in-one singlet nursing top:)

I ventured into Sussan on a rare lunchtime out of the office knowing that the clothes there tend to be generously-sized (bump city) and lean towards the style I was looking for.

Bonanza! I walked out with:

This scalloped lace singlet doesn’t give boob access and probably won’t accommodate a full-term bump, but it’s quite cute and post-birth the heavier front will provide some helpful texture.

This top is a bit more peasanty that I’d usually go for but I’m a sucker for navy and its boobage access is excellent.

This T-shirt isn’t feeding-friendly but it’s loose, comfy, non-crush and it also comes in an emerald that might be coming home soon.

I also bought another peasant-style top in a white and emerald Ikat print with tiny little pompoms on the hem, like the white one below. Although I’m a fan of loose tops I didn’t think that the more tribal print was typically ‘me’, although Buzz thought it was exactly like what I’d normally choose which makes me think that my style is interpreted somewhat differently from what I think it is. Hey ho.

I was pleased with how easily I found a number of tops and even if they’re not what I’d usually go for, they tick all the most important boxes for the next few months. There were in fact even more things that I think deserve another look, and I’ll go back for the second run soon. I feel quite relieved that with the sun shining more and my belly about to enter a rapid growth phase, I have some new things to make me feel like I match the weather.

Guess.

One of the most frustrating things about being a vegan who does not reject materialism, consumerism, and Satan and all his wordly goods is that I have effectively barred myself from just about every good quality shoe and bag ever made. Even where there are better quality non-animal materials available I just can’t imagine Chanel deciding to do a 2.55 in PVC (although if you’re reading, Karl, there is a market out there – mostly me – and I commit to buying at least one a year).

I give myself a fair bit of latitude when it comes to shoes, wallets and bags – if I see something I like in a non-disgusting material I don’t tend to quibble too much, because it’s not like I have many options. And it’s not enough to just buy something functional – I have an EnviroSax and some trainers for that – I want to have something nice. I want something stylish. I want something I’m happy to be seen with. And I don’t want it to look like an el cheapo piece of tacky rubbish.

Over the last few years I’ve bought a few Guess handbags when they’ve fitted the bill. Many I’ve seen are absurd and gaudy and covered in blingy over-decoration, but there’s also a strong line in more restrained and grown-up bags too. They’re also made fairly well for what they are, using sturdy materials and so far I haven’t had any construction disasters.

All of this is meant to introduce the idea that in a small addendum to Operation Pick-Me-Up I bought a new handbag.

Funnily enough, it breaks many of my ‘rules’ around handbags: it’s deeper than it is wide, which usually leads to rummaging in the depths for everything that’s sunk to the bottom; it’s narrower at the top than the bottom, which reduces internal capacity and makes sticking one’s arm in to undertake said rummaging quite uncomfortable; and it’s black, a colour I have very much rejected in handbags for the last ten years or so. I just thought it was too boring.

But I really really like it, and it has the cutest lining. I think that against the odds, we’ll make it.

The ‘Nixa’ range also has a couple of other variations that I really like, a box satchel with fantastic folded-in edges, and a framed small/evening bag that I would love to take home except that I think that my opportunities to actually use an evening bag over the next few years will be limited.

I quite like the green colourway as well, and love the structured edges.

The lining is adorable!

I was also tempted by this patent hobo but sanity prevailed.

Buzz asked if I bought a black bag to go with my new black sunglasses. He’s quite perceptive. But I’m not ruling out that little framed bag either.

Update: Operation Pick-Me-Up

Update on the weekend’s purchases made under Operation Pick-Me-Up:

1. The Grown face wash is lovely and looks very nice indeed on the vanity. I’ve been using it to rinse my face in the morning, which is about as much effort as I can muster. Only the tiniest bit is required – the frothing action is commendable given the lack of Sodium Laureth Sulphate (or is it Lauryl?). Verdict: Win.

2. The A’kin facial scrub is a bit weird – it smells as funny as ‘jojo and corn’ would suggest and the actual exfoliant bits are few and far between. I’ve been using it as a face wash/makeup remover in the shower, which is most convenient. However it isn’t making me feel spesh as I’m too busy concentrating on its odd smell. I’ll use it up then replace it with something from Sukin I think. Verdict: Fail.

3. The L’Oreal EverSleek conditioner and serum are the business. I haven’t had a single morning of my usual ’80s rockstar perm gone wrong’ hair since I’ve been using it. The ‘do is still quite frightful first thing, but nowhere near as laughable. Verdict: Win.

4. I don’t think I mentioned buying this, but I finally remembered to get a barrel brush for blow-drying my hair. I gave it a go on Sunday and I think it’s my technique rather than the brush that’s at fault. – I’m really a GHD girl. Verdict: More Practice Required; Still Under Review.

5. The Chanel sunnies are winners-plus, even though I’ve been scrounging for opportunities to put them on in this weather. I am really pleased with their sun-shading abilities, face-comfort, and general feeling of swishness. Verdict: Mega Win.

So did the shopping make me feel like I had the energy to spend a bit more time on myself? I think so. I still haven’t mani-pedi-ed, cleaned my jewellery or gone for a walk, but I have made an appointment at the hairdresser, remembered to shave my legs before seeing my musculo-skeletal therapist, have returned to using eyeliner, and all-around Saturday was a hugely productive day* and that in and of itself makes me feel pretty darn good.

Shopping FTW.

 

* ALL of our moving boxes are now unpacked; our bookshelves are securely in situ and have books on them; the nursery has made great progress with a pretty display Expedit and only one thing being stored in there; everything that belongs in the study is now in the study; I folded and put away two weeks of washing; and as mentioned we are now returned to a state of modesty in our bathroom with the installation of a blind)