Sunday, 29 January 2012

And speaking of a short 40ish, slightly chubby Bengali woman giving fashion advice

This morning on facebook, my sweet friend Kelly posted something that struck me:

"I'm reading Isabel Allende's The Sum of Our Days. She shares how author Anne Lamott told her that "writer's block" is nonsense, and what happens is that sometimes the well has gone dry and has to be refilled. Where do you go to refill the well?"

It resonated with me because lately my well has been dry. Oh it's not that the kids aren't doing documentary-worth things, or that my life is going splendidly perfect so that I have nothing relatable to share with you.

It's me.

I feel quiet inside, and a little uninspired. And also I've been busy settling into some new routines which I'll talk about later after I've had a chance to process the changes. And then there's this: Every once in a while it hits me that I'm just putting myself out there and suddenly I feel shy. And stupid. I imagine people from high school talking about me. Shaking their heads adding this to the ever growing list of reasons I wasn't popular. And then I realize how stupid that is and shake it off.

At times like this I feel torn too. I think about all the really important personal stuff I rarely write about here, out of fear; out of a need to keep some boundaries. Some of which I think is highly human, common to all of us. Sometimes I read someone else's blog and feel like a fraud. I wish I'd written their beautiful words, come up with their brilliant posts. Then I let my small self curl up in a blanket of envy and write nothing for a few days until I end up on the other side of the dry spell.

I do something I wouldn't have dreamed of in my twenties or thirties. I step completely out of my comfort zone and ask my husband to take a photoshoot of me in some of my work clothes because after I wrote this post, my friend Shannon told me I should post pictures of some of my outfits. Knowing full well that I will cringe at the images because my stomach is flabby and I sometimes feel like the equivalent of the brown Dolly Parton.

Clearly at these times, I also ramble.

Top: Winner's this past summer, Cardi: Suzy Shier three years ago, Faux leather skirt and necklace: thrifted, Shoes: Marissa
I'm not sure what this look on my face is about. Possibly I was cold by this point. Or my feet hurt. If it comes to me I'll let you know.

Blouse and vest: thrifted, Pants: Smart Set, Shoes: Marissa. Child's shoe: Mexx

Sweater: Urban behaviour over five years ago, white sleeveless button down: Suzy Shier ages ago, Skirt: thrifted, Shoes: Le Chateau several years ago

Thursday, 19 January 2012

I'd be dangerous with a full night's sleep

I wish I had been organized enough to snap a picture of Naveen this morning. He looked good enough to eat in this hand-me-down of Deaglan’s, a gift from Uncle Matt for his second birthday – his hair just the right amount of crazy, so that he kind of knew he had it going on. It’s hard to resent him for his nighttime antics when I can barely stand how scrumptious he is during the day.

This was Deaglan on his 2nd birthday

Last night when I finally laid my head down, I whispered a pleading prayer. Please God; I’d even settle for four straight hours. Just four hours. I’ve learned not to be greedy when it comes to sleep. I know there are far worse problems in the world than me not getting enough sleep because I gave birth to little people who prefer the night life.

Full disclosure friends, as it relates to matters of baby sleep, I can only assume I’m doing it all wrong. A few months ago Shaune confirmed this when he stated bluntly: You know what we have here don’t you? We have ourselves a perfect case for Supernanny.

And while my immediate reaction was to defend – insist that the only reason Deaglan had been sleeping with us these past few months was because he’d endured enormous changes, that soon he’d be back to his own bed, and the only reason I still couldn’t bear to let Naveen cry it out was because the last few times I did, he was legitimately sick and in need of me so how could I know for sure – I realized that he was probably right. We likely did need some tough love from a reality TV parenting guru.

Because I’ll be honest, I dread bedtime.

We’re constantly devising ways to get our kids to sleep through the night. Alone in their own beds if possible. However, a few weeks ago when I finally coaxed Deaglan back to his own room, ranting about how cool his race car bed was, pointing out how ecstatic his fish were to see him, his temperature spiked to a scary place so that it was easier to pull him into bed with us, keeping the fever in check.

And Saturday night, defeated from the multiple wake-ups with Naveen all week, Shaune asked me full of hope: Isn’t there an herbal remedy we can give him to help him sleep? Oh I know it’s wrong to wonder if there was a safe way to sedate your child – but we’re exhausted friends!

I laughed and rolled my eyes but made a mental note to Google it later.

Wednesday, 11 January 2012

Fashion blogs to my rescue

I think about my wardrobe a lot. I mean all the time.

Truth is, Monday comes in a hurry and it’s no small task coming up with five outfits for the work week. Five ensembles that make me feel good.
And thin.
Oh and confident
But comfortable too.
Modest, stylish, age-appropriate yet current.

Let me tell you, for me, this is a job in itself.

From the looks of my closet and jam-packed drawers you might think there shouldn’t be a problem. Shaune is of this mind set. He wears a shirt and tie to work every day in the winter and a golf shirt the company provides in the summer. Each morning he chooses from six or seven dress shirts, a dozen or so ties, and always pairs them with black pants. He then slips into his black loafers, company jacket and off he goes.

It’s just not that simple for me.

For one, I like clothes; I like them a lot. Finding an affordable dress in a flattering cut can improve my mood for an entire day. A new scarf gets me downright giddy. And also, I’m not evolved enough in social situations to feel wonderful on the inside even when I’m not happy with how I look on the outside. Don’t get me wrong, at home with the kids, sweats and a tee shirt suit me just fine. I’ve had some of my favourite  compliments on my lounge-wear.

But at work, the dress code is semi-casual. And although people have taken this to the outermost edges of its definition, sometimes to frightening places, I mostly wear dresses, skirts or pants, cardigans and blouses, heels or boots and always earrings, bangles and scarves should they be called for.

Lately though, I started feeling tapped out, wearing the same few items in very mainstream ways. Shopping for new stuff was the only way I could think to add depth to my get-ups but since daycare and before and after school programs are leaving us virtually penniless each month, I turned to the internet.

And it delivered.

I discovered the world of fashion blogs. Did you know there are stylish, savvy young women just giving away this information for free on their blogs? Talking about colour wheels and scarf tying? Posting daily pictures of what they’re wearing, shopping tips and how to take advantage of thrift stores?

Oh glorious day. I finally have a stylist!

But be warned my friends, most of these women are childless and thin. Most have not witnessed first-hand the ruins birthing babies can leave behind. Don't get caught up in Oh I'm not gonna look like that in those pants. Because I'll be honest, I did search for a 40ish, slightly chubby, short Bengali woman offering fashion tips but to my great disappointment came up empty.

Here are a few of my favourite sites.

Wendy's Lookbook - this enviously thin, beautiful woman also created several tutorials on youtube. I just love this one circulating on Pinterest.

Kendie everyday - I found Kendie's blog first. I love her taste and she shops in places even I could afford. And hooray, she also incorporates thrifted items into her outfits.

Good life for less - this lady offers great colour matching advice and I don't mean matchy-matchy.

Feathers and freckles - I am stunned (and inspired) by the amazing pieces this woman finds in thriftstores!

M loves M - I want to hate Mara because she's tall, gorgeous and put together, but I can't help but find her adorable.

9to5 chic - This woman's wardrobe is completely out of my price range but to-die-for nonetheless.

Friday, 6 January 2012

Life lessons 2011 edition

Last night as my feet crunched down on the snow covered sidewalk, the cold air no longer affecting me because I’d reached that point in running where I felt almost invincible, like I could do this all night, I realized Jhumpa Lahiri was right in her short story A choice of accommodations when she said that after the second child the marriage disappears.

Each of you is constantly trying to find time for yourself in the name of self-preservation. Five minutes without the crying. Thirty minutes to zone out to TV. A few stolen moments to read a page or two, maybe write a quick post. Life becomes a series of relays – I’ll chop the vegetables and make the rice, and while you put the stir-fry together I’ll run errands. You start bath time and I’ll do the reading.

And in the midst of it I see that resistance is my enemy.

Instead I practice surrender. I stop asking why. Why on the last day of Naveen’s antibiotics does Deaglan suddenly have a fever? Why on the rare occasion the baby is sleeping through the night does my mind race, leaving me to toss and turn all night long?

I pick two things to get done instead of bemoaning that I never have time to do anything. I celebrate the seemingly inconsequential like finding time to get my eyebrows shaped, organizing a shelf in a cupboard I’d been meaning to get to.

I find peace in laundry, sanity with the vacuum cleaner. I remind myself that this is what there is. That the prayer isn’t please God transport me to an easier time and place, it’s oh hey, I see why this is right and good.

And when the day is long, blind to joy, I stay close to the couch and go easy on myself.

My sister's bird found his way to my shoulder. It was not unlike having a small child constantly attached to you - lovely and irritating at the same time. Oh who am I kidding - it was kind of creepy.

Naveen finally let someone cut the back of his mane. He was sporting a mullet for the last few months. I'm just loving this neck, those ears.

I'm joining my friends Rach and Sara today for Life Lessons.