Friday, March 31, 2017

In April, Why Don't You....



Get your taxes done

Visit a makerspace

Make National Secretary's Day special

Take pictures of baby being washed in Grandma's sink

Have your carpets professionally washed

Have High Tea with a friend

Change all your passwords

Build a robot

Wear red shoes

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

March 2016 in Review


New Plans
March was Women's History Month, so in honor of that, several of the month's posts were dedicated to celebrating women, including Links for International Women's Day; Rec Five: Females Leads in Kids' Books; and this month's Dog Eared Page.  And, since I am a woman who's recently entered a new phase of life, I started a new series called Motherhood Musings. Don't worry; this isn't becoming a mommy blog (though, yes, I realize the clothing posts have been light on the ground recently). This series will post every Monday and could cover a wide variety of topics; the only connection is they are somehow about Motherhood. This month's Motherhood Musings included: Breastfeeding Baskets; Babies + Dogs; and Ellis at Two Months. Don't worry about things changing too much though; my two movie post series are still going strong. Both this month's Film Flick and Cinema Style are about the Becall and Peck film Designing Woman.  I also got to share things you could do this month, and things you can do in 15 minutes or less. 


New Finds

Last Native Speaker Creates Dictionary

My Life Right Now

A Good Reminder

Iceland Makes Companies Prove Equal Pay! 

How Finland Teaches Coding

50 Reasons Why to Make Streets More Walkable- A mind blowing read!

A dreamy dress and photoshoot

How to Snore in Other Languages

Modern Life Art

I've loved the Finnish Baby Box program- and now it is in the US! 

Monday, March 27, 2017

Ellis At Two Months

STATS
Ellis is 2 months old! He's 23" ; that's 3" in 60 days! He weighed in at 11 pounds and 4 oz. at this last doctor's appointment (he got shots! Ouch!) 


TEMPERAMENT
Hey Mom-readers (and not-Mom Readers)! How are you doing? Are you like me, tired of everyone telling you about how their baby never cries, sleeps a solid nine hours and can go on vacation to France with nary a hiccup?  Don't worry. I'm not here to tell you that.  I am here to tell you, it is okay if your baby- or any baby- isn't the next incarnation of Buddha; that he doesn't sleep through the night at two weeks; heck, can't handle a trip to the grocery store. You are still good parents and nothing is incurable about your kid. 

Colic, we've discovered is a real thing. So, yeah, you've guessed it, there's a lot of crying and whimpering at our house. Our little Ellis' colic seems to stem from a digestive system that is still getting the hang of things. He's also pretty "high maintenance"  in that he knows what he likes and wants and isn't afraid to tell you about it. However, he is quick to find things funny, and he is so, so alert and incredibly curious. He has been since day one. He wants to be up where he can see things and on the move. When he's not having stomach pains, we've seen lots of smiles; I suspect a pretty funny guy is underneath all the tummy aches.


MILESTONES

Our little dude has a seriously strong neck. He can hold it up on his own for quite a few minutes. He also showing a lot of real, or "social" smiles. Mommy and baby both find it hilarious when Ellis manages to imitate her by sticking out tongues at each other too. He's starting to make some cooing sounds and will sometimes grip things (mostly my hair).  


LIKES
This guy loves his jams. He's a big Beatles fan; his favorite lullaby is "In My Life."  He loves to dance around the room, and, if that isn't possible, will try to move his arms to a beat (So Grandpa says, anyway!)  Ellis demands to be in the thick of things, and always wants to be carried so that he can see what is happening. It has to be walking about too; there is too much to see to stay in one place! Which is just like his daddy was as a baby, according to my mother-in-law. What is that saying about apples and trees? He is pretty friendly and content right now with other people. He wasn't sure of my dad's beard even a few weeks ago, but now seems to find it fascinating! Bath time is now tolerable but tummy time still is not.

EATING

We have been breastfeeding, but the doctor recommended trying formula to help with his stomach. He was taking a bottle up until he reached one month and has refused to since. This past weekend was when we started the hard switch to bottles. Wish us luck! 



SLEEP
Ellis sleeps in his crib now, swaddled. He's not a big fan of being swaddled, but it helps him immensely once he is asleep. Otherwise he will startle awake. His longest stretch of sleeping is usually about four and half hours, right after he is put down for the night. He typically has been fed 2-3 times at night; we shall see how night feeding with a bottle works out! 

MOM UPDATE
As I shared in Ellis' birth story, the labor was really rough on my body. In all honesty, the postpartum recovery was harder than the pregnancy on me physically. I finally feel mostly recovered and have lost all pregnancy weight (more on both of these topics in the coming weeks). Right now though, I'm dealing with insomnia (any tips, new moms?) and migraine headaches. This too shall pass, though, right?

What is upmost on my mind right now, though, is going back to work. My maternity leave ends this week! Things have been a bit stressful about work this year, as there are a lot of upheavals and budget cuts, but  I am excited to see my students again. Ellis will be going to childcare; who will this been harder on (pretty sure it will be me!) I feel so blessed to have had the time off for maternity leave, to get to know this amazing, tiny person and have the time heal. Wish us luck as we enter into these new journeys and Ellis' third month.

Friday, March 24, 2017

Rec Five: Children's Books with Strong Female Characters



Madeline- "They left the house at half past nine/ In two straight lines in rain or shine- /The smallest one was Madeline.” Nearly everyone will find, if they try, that they are able to recite these first few lines of the Madeline books. What makes Madeline so remarkable though isn't her enduring popularity, but that even though she is the smallest, she is still the bravest, saying "pooh pooh" to tigers at the zoo. She is kind, taking in stray dogs and stopping bullies, and a perfect example of what we want as a role model for girls and boys alike.

Oz books - Some people are surprised that that is more than one book about the magical land of Oz, but let me tell you something even more better- all the rest are far, far superior to the first. Part of that is the role that girls and women play in all of the books. L. Frank Baum was himself a suffragist, and purposely made his protagonists girls. Strong, and powerful women were sources of wisdom in his stories; girl rulers were nobel and kind; Dorothy- and other heroine's modeled after her- were plucky and had common sense. In one book even, two armies faced off and all the members of either side were girls! He did this because he felt it was important for women to be represented in literature, and tried to do just that when creating his "American Fairytales."

The Betsy-Tacy series - Another series that deserves far greater recognition than it gets, these books show the daily life of a two girls living in the early 1900s. Though technically fiction, the author, Maud Hart Lovelace, draws quite heavily from her own life to the point where it might be more accurate to say they are fictionalized memoirs. The first book starts when Betsy is five and future novels take her through childhood, high school, and eventually college, marriage and the world beyond. As she ages, the writing becomes more complex, allowing the reader to grow with the series. What I love most about these books is that all the women are individuals (since they are based on real people that is hardly surprising) with complex inner lives, and nearly all of them pursue jobs and dreams outside of the home, with the support of their families.

Eight Cousins and A Rose in Bloom- Louisa May Alcott's Little Women and its sequels are perhaps better known, but I love these two books. In real life Alcott was a feminist; she and her family had been part of the transcendentalist movement. Both of these facts put her in the same social circles as the likes of Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau. The characters in the books likewise espouse many of the same values and even quote some of her friends' works. Yet, it never comes across as preachy. Instead, Rose, other female characters, and the male characters are equally encouraged to make something of themselves, to have a purpose beyond that of leisure and family. Again, these are messages that I find very encouraging to young readers.

Emily of New Moon-  The whole world love's  Lucy Maud Montgomery creation, Anne of Green Gables. This book series is somewhat in the same vein, but here Montgomery draws more closely from her own childhood and young adult experiences as she chronicles the daily life of Emily. Like Montgomery did, Emily longs to be an author, a dream that sometimes put her at odds with society's expectations of women. Emily also deals with deep emotions as she and her friends struggle to find their right paths, a theme that I feel will resonate with readers.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Motherhood Musings: Breastfeeding Basket

I was not a breastfed baby.  So, despite the omnipresence of breastfeeding on any pregnancy forum, it was also not something I had strongly considered.... until my husband brought up that he felt it was important to breastfeed a baby. Please note:this is a hot-button topic to many, but each person has their own reasons for caring for their child as they do, so please refrain from negative commentary on people's choices). Oh, the debates that were had! Questions of health benefits, bonding experiences for both parents, convenience, money, and time all were rehashed. Doctors reassured me that either choice was a good choice- bottle or breastfed, what was important was that the baby was fed. Still, for a variety of reasons, I did in the end, choose to breastfeed. And by the end, I mean, we'd come to that decision only the last three weeks of the pregnancy. Not exactly a plethora of time to read up and find out the right way to do anything. Luckily, I and Ellis took to things easily enough.

Now, as my maternity leave draws to a close at the end of this month, we are switching to bottle and formula (once again, for a variety of reasons unique to our situations, so no commentary on that, please). We can only hope he takes to it as easily.  But before then, I wanted to share with you one tool I found particularly helpful: The breastfeeding basket.


1. Board Books | 2. Diabetic Supplies | 3. Nursing Pads | 4. Notebook | 5. Kleenex | 6. Lotion and Chapstick | 7. Nose bulb | 8. Drink | 9. Extra Burp Cloth. 


1. Board Books - It is never too early to start reading to your child. At this stage though, they can't see much, so don't get too hung up on things. We use about three books in regular rotation. All are simple with high contrast pictures to make it easier for the baby to see. 

2. Diabetic Supplies - Breastfeeding helps me regulate my blood sugar levels, but, since breastfeeding also takes a lot of energy, it is important to have my diabetic supplies close at hand to check on things and react, if needed. 

3. Nursing Pads - Your body is amazing. It is also a bit gross and things can leak. These can help keep your clothes looking great. 

4. Notebook - This can help you remember all those little things, like recording when your baby slept, or sweet moments, like when the baby first smiled. 

5. Kleenex - Your immune system is lower right after giving birth. Be prepared. 

6. Lotion and Chapstick - It is easy to become dehydrated breastfeeding, which can lead to dry skin. Stay ahead of the game here. 

7. Nose bulb - It could be used to clean out baby noses, but we used to to help suck out spit-up. Use for one or the other. Not both because- ew. 

8. Drink - As we said, it is easy to become dehydrated breastfeeding. This nifty straw and cup came from the hospital. It is nicer than a sports bottle because I don't have to lift it up and yet it doesn't spill. 

9. Extra Burp Cloth- babies spit up. Have an extra on hand, so you don't ruin your clothes. 

Not pictured but still important: 

Snacks- I had both a low-carb snack and a snack I could eat if I was becoming hypoglycemic. Breastfeeding takes a lot of energy and quickly changing blood sugar levels are possible. Even if you are not diabetic though, it is good to have snacks as you need to replenish your own energy levels. 

Wallet and Phone- A phone provides communication and entertainment. Especially in the early days, you maybe physically be up to moving around much, so having the world at your finger tips is helpful. Likewise, your wallet has mony, credit cards and your health insurance card. As you get all the paperwork for your baby finished (like, say, ordering birth certificates!), you want these in easy reach. 

Friday, March 17, 2017

Cinema Style: Designing Woman


Designing Woman may be a repackaged version of Woman of the Year... but the plot is besides the point. It is really a film all about the clothes, something Gregory Peck's character comes to understand when the wife he's known all of three days discards her casual wear for, well, this ensemble. As the film's costume designer put it, Lauren Becall had a body made to wear clothes, and that is put to advantage in a number of pencil skirted dresses. A conservative neckline keeps things classy, and the accessories do the rest. Pearl earrings, mink stole and a structured bag complete the look. You have to pretty confident in your style to pull off red-on-red monochromatic look like Becall does here. With confidence as the main accessory, everything else is kept pretty minimal with only a subtle watch added to the ensemble. The focus in on the color. Another wiggle dress is seen, and a swing coat with three quarter sleeves adds enough drama on its own. 

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

10 Productive Things to do in 15 minutes or less


Lay out your clothes

Write several Thank You notes

De-clutter your wallet

Watch a TED Talk video

Update your resume

Toss dinner in the crock pot

Learn a new language with Duolingo

Call, text or email a friend

Get up and stretch, especially if you've been working on the computer all day

Unsubscribe to unwanted emails (try Unroll.Me to help!)

Friday, March 10, 2017

Film Flick: Designing Woman

The story MGM  likes to tell about Designing Woman is that costume designer Helen Rose came up with the idea of making a film about a fashion designer. While this may or may not be true, some accuse it of being a little more closely related the Spencer/Hepburn vehicle Woman of the Year than this costume designer's dream. Certainly, the two films do share some basic plot characteristics.   Both involve an earthy sports writer and an intellectual woman getting married and discovering how little they have in common. But both the details of the story, and the style of the films differ greatly from there.

Mike Hannigan  (Gregory Peck ) meets a Marilla Brown (Lauren Becall) on vacation and ends up in a whirlwind romance and marriage. However, on returning to New York, they discover everything from their social spheres to their daily pursuits, to their bank accounts seem to be opposites. What's already a tense situation becomes more awkward when exes get involved and- oh yeah- the mob.

Furthermore, where Woman of the Year was most definitely 1930s screwball comedy- with witty banter and a fast pace- Designing Woman has all the hallmark signs of 1950s filmmaking. First, it is  filmed in Cinescope with many large, sweeping sets and colorful, decadent  woman's clothes. There is even a literal fashion show in the film. Luckily, Becall's past as a fashion model meant she was made to wear beautiful clothes, and the second leading lady, Dolores Gray, had a body built for evening gowns as well. Designing Woman also has less of the quick banter. Its comedy is more broad and physical, which might not have worked with lesser actors, but Becall and Peck do it tremendously. Another unique conceit of the film Designing Woman is that it is narrated, in turns, by five of the main characters talking directly to the audience. This adds a delicious dichotomy  when what the character are saying doesn't match what they are thinking. It is not, perhaps, as laugh out loud funny as Woman of the Year, but this style brings a charm all its own.

One of the main draws of course, is seeing two of Hollywood's greatest play opposite each other. Gregory Peck is so effortlessly charming, and Becall's sultry voice means she can vacillate between sexy and funny with ease. These two also have chemistry, with some steamy gestures that would have seemed against the Hayes Code were it not for the fact the characters were married. Why they weren't cast as a pairing more often remains a mystery to me! So it is perhaps surprising to learn that James Stewart and Grace Kelly were originally considered for the parts,  but when Kelly became betrothed to Prince Rainier of Monaco, Stewart decided not to take the role.

"She got the Prince, I got the part," Becall is supposed to have said on the matter. In fact, Peck was cast first. He was against type, seeing as he had not really done a comedy since Roman Holiday. Part of the deal was that he got final approval of the choice for leading lady, but then he and  Becall were friendly, so it wasn't much of an issue when she was cast. Both recalled the film fondly, and for Becall filming Designing Woman had a special appeal.Her home life at the time was very stressful since her husband, Humphrey Bogart, was terminally ill. She explained in her biography, that the part of Marrilla, with all the broad physical comedy and yelling dramatics, allowed her an emotional outlet, so that she was able to keep a calm and stable demeanor for her husband and children at home. Perhaps in tribute to her own successful marriage, one of the scenes in Designing Woman has the song "How Little We Know" playing in the background. This is the same song Lauren Becall sang in her first film, To Have and Have Not, where she met and fell in love with Bogart.

It can be hard to be a remake- or even to be thought to be a remake!- as there will always be some who cannot help but compare. However, in my opinion, if such a comparison has to be made, I might prefer this gentler tale of opposites attract. Maybe it is just the clothing that draws me in, maybe it is the charm of Peck and Becall but Designing Woman seems designed to delight! 

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Happy International Women's Day



Happy International Women's Day!

As you probably already know, it is being celebrated in America and in 13 other countries with a general women's strike, or a "Day Without Women." Here are some inspiring posts about the event:

Check out the International Women's Day Website

The Declaration of Sentiments and early women's rights activists in the US

Elana reminds of what we can do, if we must work today

10 Inspiring Quotes for Women's Day

The Statue of Liberty Goes Dark

The issues  women around the world are protesting for


Monday, March 6, 2017

Motherhood Musings: Dogs + Babies

A friend of mine told me that one of the biggest surprises of motherhood was that "my dog became just that- a dog." As evidenced by the very existence of  the phrase "fur-babies," many people feel like pets are their children. And, well,  it's probably fairly obvious from the blog and my instagram account, but if you met me in person, it becomes really apparent really fast that we are Dog People (capitals totally warranted). So one of our main concerns as my pregnancy drew to an end was- how to handle dogs + babies?

Here are some of the tips we followed before the baby was brought home:

  • We let the dogs sniff all of the things the baby would use, especially diapering and bathing supplies. 
  • We spent time in the nursery with the dogs before the baby was born. We laid the ground rules before the baby arrived: No chewing on baby toys. No getting on the nursing glider. This meant there was no change in the rules once baby arrived.
  • We got them familiar with being around wheeled objects, like a stroller.
  • We played them sounds of babies crying (only a few times but still...) 
  • Once the baby was born, we had my in-laws, who were kenneling the dogs, take them a blanket that our baby, Ellis, had been wrapped in. Having that allowed them to be familiar with his smell before even meeting him.  
Since everyone- dogs, babies and everything in between- all got home, there's been some interesting reactions too. Our fox terrier, Stella, was the most curious in all things baby prior to Ellis' arrival, and that proved true afterwards as well. She went from curiosity about whether he was a toy to impatience for him to play with her to being wary of all the crying. Actually, she still loves to give him the "sniff test," but definitely is a bit more disdainful of the baby when he is interrupting her sleeptime with wails! Our other dog, Max, wouldn't even go in the nursery before the baby, but now it is his more usual hang-out spot. He's still mostly indifferent and just wants to stick close to me, but if I'm out of the room and he thinks the baby needs me, he will track me down, for sure! 

I can only imagine there will be new hurdles for us to adjust for as Ellis gets more mobile. What were issues you faced with a dog + baby, and do you have any tips to handle those situations? 



Friday, March 3, 2017

Dog-Eared Page: Age of Innocence




The word had fallen like a bombshell in the pure and tranquil atmosphere of the Archer dining-room. Mrs. Archer raised her delicate eye-brows in the particular curve that signified: "The butler—" and the young man, himself mindful of the bad taste of discussing such intimate matters in public, hastily branched off into an account of his visit to old Mrs. Mingott.

After dinner, according to immemorial custom, Mrs. Archer and Janey trailed their long silk draperies up to the drawing-room, where, while the gentlemen smoked below stairs, they sat beside a Carcel lamp with an engraved globe, facing each other across a rosewood work-table with a green silk bag under it, and stitched at the two ends of a tapestry band of field-flowers destined to adorn an "occasional" chair in the drawing-room of young Mrs. Newland Archer.

While this rite was in progress in the drawing-room, Archer settled Mr. Jackson in an armchair near the fire in the Gothic library and handed him a cigar. Mr. Jackson sank into the armchair with satisfaction, lit his cigar with perfect confidence (it was Newland who bought them), and stretching his thin old ankles to the coals, said: "You say the secretary merely helped her to get away, my dear fellow? Well, he was still helping her a year later, then; for somebody met 'em living at Lausanne together."

Newland reddened. "Living together? Well, why not? Who had the right to make her life over if she hadn't? I'm sick of the hypocrisy that would bury alive a woman of her age if her husband prefers to live with harlots."

He stopped and turned away angrily to light his cigar. "Women ought to be free—as free as we are," he declared, making a discovery of which he was too irritated to measure the terrific consequences.

Mr. Sillerton Jackson stretched his ankles nearer the coals and emitted a sardonic whistle.
-Age of Innocence By Edith Warton 

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

In March, Why Don't You

*Photo via the malalafund.org

Call a friend you haven't spoken to in awhile

Learn a new lullaby

Get Amazon Prime. Its worth it.

 Help someone move

Go to your  6-week check-up!

Do any last minute adjustments to your childcare plans for once maternity leave is over

Join the search for  the missing Declaration of Sentiments from the Senneca Falls Women's Rights Convention (Find out more here)

Take a picture of the baby bathing in Grandma's sink

Update all your passwords

Donate to the Malala Fund and help girls get an education!


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