Friday, August 29, 2008

Mamas on Parade


Before I gave birth, I prided myself in my extensive wardrobe.  Now, I certainly wasn�t lucky wealthy enough to wear Chanel or Dior , but I did wear Banana Republi c, Ann Taylor, and J. Crew.  Clothes were important to me.  Clothes were one of the ways I expressed who I was (or at least who the stores thought I was that season).  These days, as a stay at home mom, I find myself wearing White House Black Market less and less and Old Navy more and more.  Not that there is anything wrong with Old Navy, but there is something wrong with the fact that I don�t even wear Old Navy jeans and blouses.  No, I wear Old Navy sweatpants and *gasp* pajama pants most days.

Of course, this leaves me wondering if I�m the only slacker stay-at-home mom out there.  Is it just that I personally don�t put in the effort when other moms do?  Are there really stay-at-home moms that bother with the decent clothes, make up, and earrings everyday?  I mean, I try.  Every morning, I find myself once again in my closet petting my beautiful clothes.  Some mornings I�ll even slip on a favorite Loft top only to find myself quickly hanging it back up and reaching for my sweats thinking to myself that if Linus wiped his booger-y nose on that blouse, it would cost $12 to dry clean.  That�s my excuse anyway� dry cleaning bills.  In truth, I think my wardrobe choice has more to do with my state of mind then laundering costs.  If the only people who are going to see what I have on today are my husband and my one year old, why should I bother getting all gussied up?

Today, though, I bothered.  I had some place to go.   Linus and I were meeting up with some friends for the regular Wednesday morning sing along out at the Southpoint Pottery Barn Kids.  I absolutely couldn�t show up at Southpoint wearing pajama pants and a tank top.  Southpoint is for parading and this time I couldn�t just worry about Linus�s wardrobe, I had to worry about mine.  I can�t even tell you how long I stood there in my closet staring at those clothes wondering what would look good enough but still be comfortable enough to wrestle Linus into his carseat and come out still looking okay.  I eventually settled on one of my favorite Loft tops in black that shows nary a wrinkle and I paired it with my skinny-day (not skinny) jeans from the Buckle.  I hesitated between wearing my usual flip-flops or bothering with another more sophisticated shoe eventually settling on the old stand-by flops since it was pouring rain and whatever shoes I wore would end up saturated. 

I donned my clothes, even bothering with a simple black bracelet, grabbed Linus (always the fashion icon), and headed for the door.  Forgetting that I hadn�t yet restocked the diaper bag, I set Linus down and dashed back to his room for a diaper and a bib and spoon and a sippy cup and a� That�s when the discomfort began.  I was beginning to sweat with all that hurried supply gathering and my jeans began to feel a bit too tight.  Ignoring my discomfort, I grabbed Linus, the diaper bag, and my now tepid Starbucks and headed out the door.  Wrestling my keys out of my too tight pocket, I nearly drop Linus before managing to unlock the door.  I try to toss the bag into the front seat while setting my Starbucks cup on the roof of the car when Linus reaches for my bracelet he�s just noticed, knocking the Starbucks out of my hand, all over the car, and into a waiting puddle.  Sweat begins pooling in the small of my back.  I dump the bag onto the floorboard, wrestle Linus into his carseat, recover my now empty cup, start the car, and crank the air conditioner. 

Arriving at Southpoint, feeling cooler, I slide Linus into my Nest sling and head inside.  As we sit waiting for the sing-along to begin, I look around.  All the moms look lovely with pretty cashmere cardigans, 7 for All Mankind jeans, perfectly coordinated jewelry, and colorful rain boots.  Grateful that I took the time to put on make-up, I can�t help wondering if all the moms in the room look this good every day or if, like me, a trip out to a sing-along amounts to a special occasion.  I�m hoping it�s the former, but either way, I�m thinking I should probably try to make more of an effort on a daily basis if for nothing else than the water weight I�ll lose in sweat while wrestling with Linus.

Crossposted at My Sweet Babboo. In addition to being a fashion disaster, Abby is the mama of a one year old who also blogs at her personal mommy blog, My Sweet Babboo.

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Thursday, August 28, 2008

To Jon-Jon or Not to Jon-Jon

I would love to have a jon-jon baby. You know? The cute little boys in the shortalls or longalls that have the band of embroidery across the chest? Gingham in all different colors with little buttons on the shoulders? I love those.

I thought I would be a jon-jon mom.

This morning, Christopher and I went by the Divine Consign sale. As a new mom, I had registered to preview the sale early this morning, and I'm glad I did. There were already several moms there with their babies strapped on, ready to find some bargains.

It wasn't your typical consignment sale. There were jon-jon's upon jon-jon's just waiting to go home with me for a fraction of their original prices. Kelly, who started Divine Consign, also gets overstocks from some companies, so some of the items were new with tags. It's a great sale, and is going on today and tomorrow until 2:00 PM (August 28-29).

What I found myself picking up though? Were the striped Zutano rompers in funky colors with matching hats.

I passed up jon-jon after jon-jon, admiring their cuteness, but wondering about their practicality. Plus, did I really want my little boy to always look like he was on the fast track for Prep?

I learned a little bit about myself this morning. My ridiculous boot collection? The funky tights in my drawer? All the quirk that used to make up my wardrobe? I liked it. I like a little quirk.

Looks like Christopher is going to be a little more funky and a little less preppy.

Except for the Christmas picture. Embroidered Santas all the way. I never would have guessed.

An original Triangle Mamas post. Marty blogs about that boot collection at Don't Take the Repeats.

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Monday, August 25, 2008

I Knew the Where, but Not the How

I grew up in Mississippi. Jackson to be exact. Although I have fond memories and a strong love for the place, it was certainly not where I wanted to spend the rest of my life.

I wanted somewhere bigger, with broader perspective and more opportunity, but I wanted to stay in the south. Add in the possibly now embarrassing fact that I also wanted to be the next Edie Brickell and you have the short version of how I got to the Triangle.

It was 1998 and I had been married almost a year. My then husband had really wanted to move somewhere out of the south. Los Angeles or New York were his top picks if I remember correctly. But we didn't have any money or jobs. I wasn't willing to go that far without anything at all. At least in the south I would still have my accent.

Getting out of Mississippi turned into quite the mass exodus. By the end of the first year, there were  about 10 of us with some connection to each other who had made the move from Mississippi to the Triangle. The ones we left behind accused us of having no sense of community. They might have been right, but I'm still glad to have made the move.

Chapel Hill was the place to be for up and coming bands. I just knew if we could get here, that I could meet the right people and make it, not big, but decent sized. In a way, that was true.

The thing is, I have had more success and opportunities here as a musician, but not in the way I had planned. Sure, I played in numerous bands. I have had my share of good gigs (I loved playing at The Cave) and gigs from hell (I did not love playing at the Ale House in front of a big screen TV showing a hockey game). I pretty much got it out of my system and am left with a steady gig playing and singing with Bill Leslie. Finally, music my parents like. You can almost hear my mother's sigh of relief coming straight through the internet and out of your speakers.

I always knew that I would love living in the Triangle, and I do. A new marriage, an even newer baby, and an impending move to another area of the Triangle, and I'm so glad it's all happening here. It's a completely different life than I anticipated here, but isn't that half the fun of life? The surprise of it all?

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Friday, August 22, 2008

Coming Home

many Triangle-ites, I am not actually from here.  I am a �transplant� - a Yankee, no less.  And it�s taken me a long time to feel like my roots have taken to the North Carolina clay.   For the first few years, I kept asking my husband and myself, �How did we get here?�

Again, like many other transplants who come to the area for the education, the job, or the singles� scene, we came for the job (my job that is).   Eleven years ago, we were living in Lexington while my husband attended the University of Kentucky.  We had discussed different �life-after-graduate-school� scenarios and the subject of coming to the Research Triangle Park kept coming up.  Since my husband is a scientist and my job is health care related, the Triangle was marked as one the few areas that would likely support both our careers.  It still seemed so far off in the future to me � something that we might do some day.  So I was somewhat surprised the day that he came home with a job posting for me in our future hometown.  Knowing that openings in my field of specialty are few and far between, we knew I had to go for it.  So I did and I got the job.  The future suddenly became the present.

I remember the day that I left Lexington and all the doubts and sadness that came with that leaving.  Our one car was packed with everything that I thought I might need in the next couple of months.  It was raining, an appropriate backdrop for how I was feeling.  My husband was to stay behind to finish his degree and sell our house.  I would go to North Carolina to start work and find us a place to live.  I would be on my own for the first time ever.  He stood on our front stoop, next to my best friend and our cat.  They looked the same as I felt -so sad, so lonely.  I drove away from my first home, my husband, my housemate.  I drove alone through the rain into my future.

The driving part felt good, actually.  Driving past all the sites I wished we had explored more:  down I75, past Berea, past Knoxville, down 40, across the Smokies in Autumn � beautiful even in the rain and even though 40 was still only one lane a year after Hurricane Fran, a stay-over in Asheville and then onto Durham.

Two months later, I made the trip again - this time, in a moving truck with my husband and the cat. There would be no going back. It was New Year�s Day, the start of a new year, new life and new home.  But for the next few years, we would reluctantly call this place home.  Home was back north where our folks lived, where we grew up.  Home was Lexington, KY � the place we started our married lives together, where we bought our first house.  We lived in North Carolina, but it was not home, not yet.

For a long time, I only knew the area between our house and the hospital.  We didn�t go out much.  We were too old for the college bar scene and since we didn�t have kids, we didn�t fit into that crowd either.  We didn�t really fit in anywhere.  A nurse I worked with at the hospital told me once, �This is a hard place to get to know.  It will take you about five years.�  I was shocked at the time but it turns out she was right.  Five years later, our oldest son started preschool and we finally found our people, our community.  We finally knew people who had children our son�s age, who were expecting another child like we were.  Having a child opened up a new world for us � I started going places with our son and learned my way around town.  I started to meet people we would call friends.  I learned what a great place the Triangle is to raise a family. 

On our last trip up north to visit family, I realized that when we spoke of North Carolina, we finally called it home.  When we drove back and crossed the border from Virginia, I read the sign out loud, �Welcome to North Carolina.�  I looked into the backseat and said to our restless children, �Look, we�re almost home guys.�  It took along time, but we have roots here.  The Triangle is home.  And I can�t imagine living anywhere else.

This post is original to Triangle Mamas.  Susie lives in Durham with her husband and three sons.  She keeps a personal blog titled At Home With Me. 

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Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Journey Across the Mississippi

Before I met my husband, I hadn't even traveled farther East than Kansas City.  It's not that I hadn�t traveled, but being a teacher�s kid, the funds for real traveling just weren�t there.  Summer vacations for my family consisted of boulder viewings or the much preferred Kansas Museum of History (at least 5 times). 

That all changed when I met my husband.  I knew he was the one for me when unlike any man before him he offered insisted that I have dessert.  Who wouldn�t fall for a guy like that?  Problem was, he had just taken a job in North Carolina. 

And so, my barely used suitcase was officially broken in and little over a year later, I found myself newly married and bawling my way past St. Louis, over the Mississippi, and into North Carolina.  I was leaving behind my entire family and striking out on my own.

Our possessions were few� a couch, a 19 inch television (To this day, my husband insists he married me for my t.v.),  and a $35 dining table, but we had love in our hearts not to mention that fearless youthful optimism.  We began a life here in North Carolina over 7 years ago leaving behind our entire support network.  I�ll admit we�ve had our difficulties (like moving that couch up two flights of stairs or having a baby with no grandparents within driving distance), but through it all we�ve clung to each other.  And today, the Triangle has become a place we�re proud to call home.

An original Triangle Mamas post.  Abby lives in Durham and is the proud mama of a one year old boy.  Her personal mommy blog is My Sweet Babboo.

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Saturday, August 16, 2008

My peeps

Moms need friends who are moms. Not exclusively of course, but we need other moms in our lives to talk to, to learn from, to support and be supported.

I've been having a hard time finding these moms in real life.

As much as I love Raleigh, I have to admit, I have never found a social niche as a woman. Ever since I gave up the nightlife, playing in bands and frequenting open mics, I haven't really had a "go to group." Now, as a mother in Raleigh, I find myself often on the sidelines, not able to jump in a conversation without tripping over my mouth and falling on my own words. I rarely see babies in slings while I'm out, and I almost never see nursing mothers out in public. It's been a little lonely.

At the pool last week, I ran into a mother from our Music Together class. The mother of the shaker thrower. She was very nice, introducing me to her friends and actually including me in some of the conversation. I remained slightly interested until one of her friends actually referred to a neighbor of theirs as a "total nerd," and bemoaned the fact that they would have to invite this nerd to their Bunko game.

I don't even know what Bunko is. I do, however, know what a nerd is, and I'm quite certain that I fit that definition to a tee in their world. That fact? Does not make me sad.

Today, Christopher and I struck out for A Family, A Fair at Bond Park in Cary. La Leche League of Cary was sponsoring the event as a fundraiser and in conjunction with World Breastfeeding Week.

One of the first people I saw was Julie, my doula. I don't think she could tell that I almost cried as I hugged her. I saw Jessica, my childbirth instructor, and then I saw Stephanie, who took Christopher's newborn portraits. Jamie, my postpartum doula, was at the Hypnobirthing table, and Kara was sharing a table with her mother-in-law who just so happens to be one of my favorite people in the whole world.

I don't consider myself a lactavist. I have attended a La Leche League meeting once a month since Christopher's birth except for June and July when we were out of town. But I'm not very crunchy. I'm not certainly not soggy, but I'm not crunchy. It never occurred to me that I would fit in with the LLL crowd.

But today? Two hours flew by and I had smiled, laughed, and talked more than I have in months. Every conversation I had, be it with someone I already knew or a total stranger, was comfortable. Slings were more prevalent than strollers. It was easy to eat a lunch with no dairy because the caterers were vegan. And obviously, there were nursing mothers feeding their children all over.

I called my momma on the way home. I told her that I felt like I had found my people. I was only partially kidding.

It felt good to fit in somewhere. Really good.

To top it all up, I came home with an awesome nursing shirt, a new UV Moby wrap, and a Medela Swing pump from the silent auction. Bonus.

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Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Welcome to Triangle Mamas


We hear that word over and over again. Bloggers, Mommybloggers in particular, create community.

It's true. There are friends to be made, stories to be shared, issues to be debated, people to be supported, all right at your fingertips. The click of a mouse can bring you close to someone you've physically never met.

There is something about connecting locally too, though, that I have missed. I want to be able to read what other mamas in the Triangle are doing. While there are some great websites already that connect women through forums and are sponsored by larger companies, there isn't anywhere I've found that we can come together and share our stories.

I want to hear about the little girl at the butterfly house who wouldn't stop staring at your 2 year old until he finally kicked her in the shins.

I want to hear about the Durham Bulls game and if your kids loved Wool E. Bull or were terrified of him.

I want to hear about the pediatrician at White Oak Pediatrics who is older than dirt and could care less if you breastfeed. Oh wait, that's my story.

So I share this space with you. If you live in the Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill area and want to write here, please contact me. If you live here and just want to read, please leave us a comment every now and then. If you don't live anywhere near here, you are welcome to stay and be a part of our community virtually.

The Triangle is a lovely place to live and raise a family.

Let's talk about it.

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