It's been over a year since Mom Jeans & Dad Jokes has had a new episode. It was never our intention to stop podcasting completely, but as indicated by the posts I've done so far this year on I/E, our 2016 was something akin to survival mode.
Chris and I both really miss MJ&DJ. We loved making the show together, as it forced us to spend time together at a teeny desk, sharing a microphone, talking and laughing. Our show was raw, our conversations were spontaneous, but it was fun and we had an incredibly receptive and loyal audience.
We don't yet have a plan for MJ&DJ other than just bringing it back from the dead! I think initially we wanted it to be both an active blog and a weekly podcast, but for our relaunch, we're really only going to focus on the once per week podcast where Chris and I banter around a topic + parenting and becoming local date night / family outing experts.
One thing I really enjoyed about Adored Austin is that I covered Austin fashion events, so I was always out and about in my city, forging new connections and making new friends in the blog and fashion communities. I'd like to do something similar with MJ&DJ and suburban married couples and parents. The online space that I've always been interested in is the intersection where Internet connections become meaningful in-person relationships. I have a vision that we can reach a wide (national) audience with our lighthearted podcast and then host local events and do family meet-ups and playdates when we travel (note: we hope to do a San Antonio / Austin trip this year as well as a central California trip, an Indiana trip, and a Washington DC trip).
These are big dreams, and we're only three weeks in to the new year, so who knows how it will all actually shake down. Once a week, though, I'll be sending out an Indiana/Elsewhere newsletter with the latest blog posts, things I'm mulling over, and weird stuff I find online. When MJ&DJ comes back, I'll email y'all. In the meantime, if you'd like me to invade your inbox once / week, feel free to sign up.
Last week I wrote a bit about how my wardrobe, since moving from east Austin to suburban Atlanta went from bright and colorful to more subdued and neutral. In a way, I felt that over the course of the last two years, my personality went from bright and colorful to more subdued, too. I felt that I lost some of my personal style and the joy of getting dressed.
Looking around my home, I see the same thing: lots of black, white, grey, and brown with a sprinkle of gold. My Texas house, in contrast, boasted a cherry red entryway, a sunshine yellow living room, giant red sofas, and an electric teal kitchen.
Things are different here:
My giant red sofas have been banished to the basement and the walls in my house are a very 2014 on trend palette of white, gray, and darker gray. I think homes and wardrobes have became more cozy and less colorful these last few years, and that's okay. I'm just trying to figure out how I can make my home feel more like me.
I was getting ready to type that I feel like I've lost some of my personal style at home, but that's not really true at all. I've never felt like I've had a good grasp on what my personal style is when it comes to my living space. I literally don't have one picture or piece of art hanging up. I don't know what I like, and my lack of decor reflects that.
I am pretty good at figuring out what I don't like (Shiplap. And most things on Fixer Upper. RIP, me, after the Chip and Joanna fans throttle me for this Gaines family blasphemy!), but I'm terrible at pinning down what I really like. I think I like funny taxidermy, but that's not really a design choice insomuch as it's my desire to one day become Gena Rowlands' character from Hope Floats. LIFE GOALS.
One of my 2017 goals is to make my house feel more like a home. I have great furniture (I mean, have you seen my COCOCO Home chesterfield?) but I'm seriously stumped when it comes to furniture arrangement and art placement and "styling". I'm stumped at the step before that: what do I even buy? To help me in my endeavor, I got two design books in the mail today:
DOMINO: YOUR GUIDE TO A STYLISH HOME // I loved the first Domino book, and this book came up as an Amazon recommendation when I purchased The Curated Closet. And because I'm so susceptible to Amazon's power of suggestion, I 1-clicked that right into my mailbox. Two day Prime, baby!
LIVING WITH PATTERN // Then this sneaky book was an Amazon suggestion after I bought the above book. *sigh* Someone really should take away my online shopping privileges past 11 pm. I liked the cover a lot so I bought it. Hopefully I AM judging this book by its cover, because I think it's cover looks cool.
I also own:
STYLED by Emily Henderson // I love her blog and her style, so I bought this book. I think it will come in handy when I get the big stuff taken care of. I really liked her ideas for coffee tables, book shelves, and mantles, but I'm just not there yet. I'm not even close.
DOMINO: THE BOOK OF DECORATING // This made decor really accessible to me and I still refer to it when I am looking at ideas (that I, so far, have not acted upon).
DESIGN MOM // Okay, I don't actually own this one. I aspire to own it, though. I got it from the library and I loved it because it was so darn practical. It helped me to keep decor in perspective; this is a space where my family dwells versus a showcase or catalog. Plus I met Gabrielle at Alt Summit the year I spoke, and I adore her. I should probably buy it so I can refer back to it.
In terms of decor blogs, I regularly read:
EMILY HENDERSON // I love her use of color, her big, practical ideas, and how California cool her style is.
that's it. That's the only decor blog I read.
As I dive into this new adventure, I'd love to hear your suggestions for decor resources. Good design books? Good blogs? Good online stores to peruse? Just someone first make a browser extension that will block shopping when my insomnia hits. Who knows what kind of book or weird thing may show up on my doorstep 48 hours later.
Comment below or find me on Facebook to share your design tips. I'd love to hear them!
Everything you thought you knew about bras is wrong. Ladies, this post is for you. (Not that any men read here, but you never know! Hi, Uncle Bill?)
It's been said that something like 75% - 90% of all women who wear bras are wearing the wrong size bra. That's a crazy high percentage, and since my very first job was at an outlet store specializing in under garments and my job was to measure women to fit in to their optimal bra, I thought that surely I was in the 10% of women who got things right. WRONG. I was taught to measure the circumference of the under bust and then the fullest part of the breasts, then determine the cup size based on the difference between the two numbers. For instance, I thought I was a 36A: I was 36 inches around my under bust and my full bust measured 37 inches. With a difference of just one inch, that meant I had an A cup (two inches of difference would be a B cup, three a C, etc). Incidentally, a quick Google search will show that this (not very accurate!) way is still the most common way that women calculate their bra size.
In September of 2015, I stumbled upon the Reddit sub /abrathatfits. A few months prior, I had finished weening Lucy, and my body was going through some changes. My chest was deflating. Mind you, I have always had very little breast tissue, but after nursing three babies, I was smaller than I had ever been. I was wearing my pre-pregnancy 36A bras but the fit was beginning to feel off. The cup gaped and the band felt too tight. I thought that meant I'd needed to move down a cup size to AA and up a band size to 38. Makes sense, right? Cup seemed too big, move to a smaller cup. Bra seemed too tight, move to a larger band. Just so y'all know, 38AA is a nearly impossible bra size to find because typically women who are that broad have some kind of breast tissue.
To illustrate just how small I had become on top, let me share an embarrassing story:
One night, as Chris and I were hunkered down in bed for the evening and I was starting to drift off, he began rubbing his hand up and down my chest. I assumed this was a clue that he wasn't quite ready for sleep and that he'd like to connect, if you catch what I'm saying. Bless his heart. I gently said, "Oh, honey, I had a rough day. Not tonight, okay?" He was put off. "Which is why I wanted to give you a back rub!" he said. "Oh. My. WORD!" I squealed! HE THOUGHT HE WAS RUBBING MY BACK! Hilarious and awful! So much cringe!
Anyway, this point shows why I thought I should be in an A or AA cup, you see. There was nothing there! It was laughable to think I could ever fill out a B-cup since the A was gaping.
I desperately needed to get new bras, though, so I used this calculator on the sidebar of /abrathatfits. I needed to measure my snug under bust, my super tight under bust, and my full breast from three different positions: standing up, leaning forward, and laying down:
My measurements were:
- snug under: 35''
- super tight under: 30''
- standing, around nipples: 36''
- leaning: 38''
- laying: 36''
The calculator put me at a I'm- shaking- my-head- no- because- this- calculator- must- be- way- off 34D. 34D! I relayed this information to Chris, and he was like, "No. Just no. No way!"
Why were we in disbelief? Well, because you can't trust things on the internet! But more over because we had an idea of what a D cup must look like and my body was not it.
At almost exactly this same time, my friend Nicole went to Nordstrom for a fitting and it was revolutionary for her. So I went that very day and did the same.
The result? Again: 34D. What in the world???!
But then I tried on what would become my go-to bra: the Natori Feathers bra in a 34D. All the heart eye emojis in the world! [P.S. I get mine at Nordstrom Rack for $28 or buy them online at Anthropologie when they're having a megasale. Amazon has a few marked down to $30 from $79]. I could not believe my eyes. It fit! It fit better than my 36A! I never in 100 years would have thought to go down in the band and up in the cup based on the fit issues I was having before.
My clothes started fitting better because my bra was sitting the way it was supposed to and my posture got better because my straps weren't adjusted too tight.
I've since become a Bravangelist, urging women to measure themselves based on the calculator and then go somewhere like Nordstrom for a fitting to try styles best for their breast shape (do not go to Victoria's Secret because they don't carry extended sizes and will only tell you that you fit a size within the range they carry). Most women are wearing a band size that is too large and a cup size that is too small. I learned that very few women actually wear an A cup.
Additionally, a lot of women don't have their bra positioned correctly on their body. The band should be straight across the back and parallel to the floor, boobs should be "scooped and swooped" into the cups fully (including armpit bulge), the gore should sit flush to the sternum, and the straps should not dig in at all. Almost all catalog lingerie models are wearing bras that are too small for them.
We need to let go of our notion of what a cup size should look like. 34D sounded huge to me, and I was the opposite of huge. Did you know that cup size is not static? It's completely relative to the band size. It's easier to show than explain:
These are totally NSFW, but here's what a D and G cup look like in actuality versus in our heads (I was very close to the second photo on the top row). There's a great website called The Bra Band Project that is a small database of what bra sizes look like on women who have been measured properly. Here's 32D. See?
I thought that if I were going to start blogging about clothes again and documenting some of the things I wear, I should make sure my foundations are right. "D" has always been my nickname and I find that it's sort of funny that it's my bra size now, too.
I can't wait to hear what you thought your bra size was compared to what it ended up being according to the calculator or fitting! Feel free to share in the comments or on my Facebook page.
- A Bra That Fits on Reddit // Community dedicated to helping folks find a properly fitting bra
- Bra Size Calculator // Grab a soft measuring tape and determine your band and cup size as well as your "sister sizes"
- Scoop and Swoop // Regardless of breast size, this is the way one should put on a bra to ensure the proper fit
- The Bra Band Project // This site aims to raise awareness about what properly-fitting bra sizes look like, as well as demonstrate the variety of shapes and body types throughout (and within) each size.
- Third Love // one of my favorite bras is from here and they have half cup sizes available and a nifty app that can help you calculate your size [disclaimer: referral link]
- Band to cup infographic // Another way to see how sister sizes work. Also illustrates how cup size is relative to band size.
- More graphics: breast shape chart (I'm VF3/4), examples of different projections and root widths (I'm #4), different styles of bras, types of cleavage, and underwire positioning.
Today's weekend links post is a very special edition that should probably be called "FIVE THINGS YOU SHOULD MAYBE TALK ME OUT OF IF IT'S A TERRIBLE IDEA" or "CAN I ACTUALLY TRUST MY OWN JUDGEMENT HERE?!!!!":
1. LASIK SURGERY // Turns out I'm a candidate. My vision has been the same since age 16, but a few years ago, someone blew cigarette ash in my eye and I got injured and have a bunch of scar tissue bumps under my eyelids. Regular contacts are super uncomfortable to me, and I typically buy dailies as those are the least irritating... but even wearing those feel like I have an eyelash in my eye. Insurance does not cover enough of my daily contacts, but they would cover a portion of laser eye surgery. My vision isn't too horrible (-1.75 in each eye) but in my old age, I can no longer compensate by squinting so I have to wear contacts or glasses to drive or see the screen at church. Glasses aren't great for my lifestyle as I exercise often plus kids. They're always touching my glasses and getting them all fingerprinty. And while I really love my prescription sunglasses, it would be nice to be able to buy any sunglasses off the rack. I've been watching Youtube videos of the procedure and it freaks me the freak out, but man, oh, man, I think it could be a game changer.
2. RODAN + FIELDS // I had a pretty prominent brown spot on my face that my dermatologist gave me a prescription cream for and it lightened up the spot almost all the way. The problem is that I can only use that cream on that one spot for three months because it's so strong. My three months is up. That same ingredient (hydroquinone) in a lower OTC concentration is found in the Reverse line by R+F. I keep trying cheaper creams with hydroquinone, but I'm not seeing the results I'd like, and I'd like to try it on some other much smaller, lighter spots on my face. My friend Katie is in the top 1% of R+F sellers (Lexus level, what-what!), so I don't need a consultant (she's amazing). My question is this: because I'm so cheap and because I think my mom would buy the cream, too, should I just sign up to be a consultant to get it at a cheaper price? I'm really not at all a fan of MLM's, but I'm a big, big fan of saving money and this stuff runs $190 for a two month supply. Ouch!
3. LUXE BIDET TOILET ATTACHMENT // Don't laugh! I don't know how or why Amazon recommended this to me, but I looked at it and its 4100+ five star reviews and I think I need this in my life. Here's an excerpt from my favorite review:
"...the Luxe Bidet Neo 120 has soured me on pooping in bidet-less toilets forever. It's shown me the difference between rubbing peanut butter out of shag carpeting with a paper towel, and that sparkling clean feeling you get right when you step out of the shower."
Plus this could be the best $36.00 I've ever spent in my life! Read these reviews! Need I say more?
4. MICROBLADING // Microblading eyebrows is a form of tattoo artistry where pigment is implanted under your skin with a manual handheld tool instead of a machine. Hair-like strokes mimic natural hairs in your brows and the results last one to two years. I have weird eyebrows with bald spots that I pencil in every single day. I'm going to blame the late 90's and my penchant for getting them waxed into tiny, overarched lines at a Regis salon in the mall for years and year. There's a really good and reputable microblading lady that would give me an incredible deal on her services and follow-up in exchange for helping her set up her Instagram, but do I really want to tattoo MY FACE?! Obviously I kind of do because this made the list! [more info here]
5. BOOK CLUB IN MY NEIGHBORHOOD // I keep mentioning that I'm having a hard time connecting to women in my neighborhood. I live in a large, social, family-oriented neighborhood. I've been here for two years, and I'm certainly a recognizable face at the park and pool and club by now, but I just can't break past the acquaintance level with anyone. I don't know if it's because I don't play tennis, my kids aren't in the public school or I just come off as unfriendly or what. There's a ladies book club that meets monthly that I've always avoided because they tend to choose books I'm not interested in reading, but in the name of making friends, should I just go ahead and do it? This month they're reading It Ends With Us by Colleen Hoover. Should I go or is this a waste of my time and energy?
Eyeballs, face, booty, brows, and books. What do you think, y'all?
I once received a cute print of a cactus that says "introducing the only plant I will never kill".
It's a cute print, it really is, but the reality of that sentiment, at least for me, is way off. Cacti are incredibly easy to kill! I know because I've done it an embarrassing amount of times.
I know they don't need much water, but cactus can die if:
- the soil is too rich
- the pot is too big
- the pot doesn't have proper drainage
- they get too cold
- they don't get enough sunshine
It's not enough to plant a cactus and just leave it be. It still needs care.
When thinking about my New Year's resolution, I ended up coming up with like a billion, but when it came down to it, they could be summed up with one word: THRIVE.
I want to thrive this year. I want my relationships to flourish. I want my writing to improve. I want to use my love of public speaking more often. I want to finish things I start.
I think in 2016 I was focused on survival. My thoughts would be like this:
If I can just make it until Chris gets home so I can get a break...
If I can just get through this school year...
If I can just finish this week...
I can't wait until this fall...
Just 30 more minutes until nap time...
Don't get me wrong: I get survival mode. There are seasons when it's all you can do to keep your head above water, but when that season starts to become your modus operandi, when that season becomes another season, something has got to change.
The difference between surviving and thriving is a big one; survival mode is when you live for your little breaks. The problem comes when those breaks occur less frequently than you'd like. When that happens you feel like chunks of your sanity and happiness are being chipped away. Survival is just waking up with a pulse each morning.
Thriving is living with hope for the longterm future. It's living life proactively instead of reactively. You're not counting on the little breaks to get you through. What gets you through is the extra care you've been given. Maybe you need more care in the friendship and relationship department (you feel lonely in your big pot all alone). Maybe you need to feed your creative side a little more (you need a bit more warmth). Or maybe you've taken on too much and you're drowning (your soil needs better drainage).
I've always been impressed by how cacti survive in what seems to me to be suboptimal conditions. After all, they grow in rocky places and need very little water. But have you ever tried to make a cactus flourish? Have you ever taken one from survival mode to full on thriving mode?
I wrote a post in July of 2015 about my loneliness here in Atlanta:
Every time I see little potted succulence I get a twinge of longing in my heart for Texas and all the friends and places we left behind. I take a deep breath and remind myself of the resilience of cacti-- how they grow in rocky places, how they thrive with very little water, and I remind myself that despite how hard this feels that I WILL bloom where I'm planted. I fight back tears, swallow hard and remember: Austin holds sweet memories but Atlanta has new adventures.
But since then, I have propagated a cactus and my cactus is having cactus babies and the babies are having cactus babies! My cactus, the first one that has ever survived under my care, is not just surviving! It's thriving! And now I see cacti a little differently:
Every time I see little potted succulence I am reminded of their duality: how they're delicate yet resilient. The can survive under adverse conditions, but to really flourish, to really grow well, they need special care. But once they take root, once they know they're nurtured, they do more than survive. They thrive.
I wasn't expecting to have so many readers back on my site after my long blog silence. Hello! I missed you! And if you're new, hi! Nice to meet you.
Now would be a good time to tell you where we all are these days. Let's get (re)acquainted, shall we?
First of all, it is so weird to have a two year old in the house without a younger baby around! Lucy turns three this March, and this year she started preschool (three half days a week) and ballet with big sister Caroline. She is fully potty trained *choir of angels singing the hallelujah chorus* and like a lot of babies of the family, she thrives on attention and is a little bit of a drama queen. She's the class clown, she gives enormous hugs, and she can usually be found in the kitchen begging for a snack and busting a dance move. She loves singing and eating bacon and eggs. It would not surprise me at all if she grew up to be some kind of performer: comedian, singer, actress, dancer? Right now she says she'd like to be a bumblebee when she grows up.
Caroline also started preschool this year for three half days a week (she will likely join us for homeschool next school year). She turned four last October. She is my sweet, artistic wonder. She's quiet, but when she speaks, it's usually something very observant, witty, and creative. She is whip smart, knows all her presidents and is so close to reading. She calls all her friends her best friend (like Mindy Lahiri says, " 'Best friend' isn't a person, it's a tier!") and is still obsessed with cats. She says she wants to be a "Mommy Doctor Ballerina Princess" when she grows up. She no longer wants 100 cats, though. She says she'd like 47.
If Jude were in public school, he'd be in kindergarten. However, since he has an early birthday and turned six in October, in our Classical Conversations community, he sits in with first graders. This was a big year for Jude: he lost his first two teeth, he learned to swim, he learned to ride his bike, and he can read on his own! He played soccer, golf, and basketball, and does a year-round swim team. He even got to swim at Georgia Tech this summer for a big city-wide swim meet, where his little relay team got sixth place in the championships. Proud mama alert! This is our second year homeschooling, and he loves it. He's got a penchant for memorization and a passion for the Bible. He says he'd like to be a pastor when he grows up. He really loves wearing blazers.
I joke that I'm a start-up widow as Chris works long hours at a start-up as a software engineer (shhhh! I no joke had to look at his LinkedIn to see what his official title is, though). Thankfully he really enjoys his challenging job. What I love, though, is that family dinner is really important to him. He makes it home each evening for dinner, and the moment he walks in the door, he's 100% devoted to us. He's still lifting heavy weights and wants to do a lifting competition again this year. I really hope he can one day do our podcast again.
In the words of the great modern philosopher Kylie Jenner, 2016 was indeed the year of realizing stuff. The start of my 2016 was largely dedicated to getting my health in order: I cut gluten and then did a Ketogenic diet to get my thyroid and sugar in check. It worked! I feel so much better and ended up shedding 20 pounds. As for everything else? I over Konmari'd my closet, and I wore yoga pants far more often than I did yoga. I got bangs then promptly grew them out. I let my blog die, then I picked it back up again. Some hard things: Chris and I won't / can't have any more biological children (more on this some other time), I still feel like I haven't connected well with women in my neighborhood, and when did I start peeing my pants a little bit every time I jump in dance class or sneeze hard?! Some great things: we are starting to make good friends at our church, all but two rooms in our house have been painted (just need to do the guest room and Chris' office), and I got a Roomba (yes, this makes the list because I'm allll about it! Maybe more on this some other time, too).
As much as I keep dogging on 2016, it wasn't terrible for us at all. My marriage feels stronger than ever (like we finally hit our groove but also avoided becoming complacent), we vacationed in Florida and California and Texas, and I got to do a little speaking at my church's women's retreat. I've mastered from scratch pizza, I have kept a fiddle leaf fig alive since Mothers' Day, and I made it to 2017 with my sanity and optimism still in tact.
"Oh my word! All my clothes are mom clothes!"
Chris didn't have much sympathy as I screamed this from the inside of our modest shared walk-in closet, but he also did not disagree.
In my year of subtracting things out of my life while trying to get answers to "WHO AM I? AND WHAT AM I DOING?!", my closet took a huge hit. This was a big deal for a thrift store lover and former fashion blogger. I really, really thought I could be a minimalist. When I first moved to Atlanta, I lived out of my suitcase and relied on 20 items for five months. Then I limited myself to 30 items for 90 days and whittled my closet down to a respectable capsule wardrobe. Then last February, I took the biggest plunge: I kind of KonMari'd my belongings (I have to say "kind of" because I didn't get rid of the things I thought I could actually sell for good money. Instead I shoved all that into plastic tubs and shoved all those into the guest room... where they still sit 11 months later. *gulp* I swear I'm going to get it all listed on Poshmark one of these days!).
As I was reading Chasing Slow last week, something Erin wrote deeply resonated with me regarding my closet and my belongings and my last year and all this:
... without grace, pursing the slow life is just as exhausting as pursing the fast one. Without grace, minimalism is another metric for perfection.
[note: Chapter 18 "Patched with Gold" is my favorite!]
Here I was, desperately trying to live with less, but I kept finding that stripping things out of my life wasn't making me feel any better about my life.
And worse! Something that once brought me a lot of simple joy (putting crazy outfits together, thrift store shopping, or wearing fun jewelry), was gone. My animal jewelry was packed away for my daughters' teenage years, and my wardrobe became a dull collection of sensible gray and beige and black and white. I had to wonder: did a bland wardrobe cause me to become a bland version of myself or did a bland version of myself cause my wardrobe to become bland?
So as I stood there in my beige underpants, trying to decide which of the buttons downs I should wear with my high waisted jeans -- the white, the grey, or the black?-- I had an ah-ha moment. By throwing out so much of my stuff, I threw out my progeny. My grandmother, who raised me, had opened a thrift store with the things she had amassed, and my love of treasure hunting had come from her. My mother, who I thought of as one of the most stylish women ever, used to provide me with clothes I couldn't get in my small town in Indiana-- flashier things like floofy skirts and neon leggings and Guess jeans. My love for unique personal style came from her.
I thought I didn't want to have a personal style blog anymore because I had grown tired of what blogging had become: the monetization, the fauxtoshoots, the constant social media upkeep, etc. And maybe that was part of it, yes, but perhaps I didn't want to have a personal style blog anymore because in cleaning out my closet, I had cleaned out all the fun of getting dressed.
I am still the woman who wrote this piece on why I think shopping and thrift store exploring is so great, and I don't know why I tried to silence that part of me for the last year. That changes now. I still need to keep my shopping habits in check and make time to keep a clean house, but I'm done watering myself down. I don't know what this means for me as a blogger or a writer or even as a woman and a friend, but I can't keep editing myself to my own detriment. And, hey! If you're watering yourself down, too, can I urge you to stop it as well?
Since high school yellow has been my favorite color to wear. It's so unexpected and so hard to find the right, bright, lemony -ZING!- of yellow that I like. Three years ago, my friend Nicole, who has synesthesia, said she sees me as yellow (and incidentally another person with synesthesia has told me that!). Nicole also wrote that pantone got it wrong in choosing a sucky shade of green as 2017's color. She sees it as yellow. I'm going to take that as a sign that this is the year that I can add more sunshine to my closet and start getting back some of the joys I kicked out of my life.