Working mom for a year

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One year ago today, my maternity leave ended and I went back to work. My little dude was seven weeks old. He was fine, snuggling with the ladies at the daycare we picked, before I had even walked out the door. I returned to work at 8:00am that Monday morning wearing clothes that still didn’t fit right, with an overwhelming feeling of nervousness.

For the past seven weeks I had spent nearly every minute with Oscar. Snuggling him, nursing him and watching him learn before my eyes. Leaving him in the care of other women who themselves are mothers, aunts and grandmothers, calmed my nerves. Returning to work and having my coworkers there to greet me so early in the morning, with a bouquet of flowers and hugs of comfort, was wonderful.

Throughout the past year (and some) I have gone through so many emotions and changes. I’ve learned how to tune out tantrums. I’ve learned how you can love this slobbery, booger covered THING more than anything else in the world. I’ve been more terrified than I have ever been before. More worried. More tired. More loved. More needed.
I’ve spent countless hours alone in a private room pumping milk for Oscar for the next day. I’ve cried, struggled and wondered how the hell I was going to produce enough milk to feed him.
This kid is the best decision I ever made.

Dear baby…

(I wrote this when I was pregnant with Oscar)

I sit here, nearly 21 weeks pregnant (still not gaining weight, but I’m totally showing). Being pregnant so soon after a second-trimester loss is weird. I was pregnant when I would’ve given birth to the first one. I held my breath nearly the entire first 16 weeks until I passed the time we lost the first.

Everytime someone notices I’m pregnant I’m asked if its my first baby. Technically yes, it’s the first one I’ve felt kick. The first one I got to see on a 20-week sonogram and the first one I’ll name. Is it my first pregnancy? No. But technically it’ll be my first child.

That’s the hardest part. No one talk about miscarriages. So many happen before friends and family know. In our case, everyone knew. We had shared the information with the world. So when we were told our baby died, we didn’t know what to do. How do you react? Who do you tell?

Once we were open about it and had our immediate families help spread the news so we didn’t have to, we found out about SO MANY other people who had also lost babies. It was so very sad and comforting to know that we weren’t alone.

In about 19 weeks, I’ll get to meet this baby, hold him/her in my arms, and finally breathe the sigh of relief I’m going to be eagerly waiting to breathe. Until then, I am going to count the moments until I get to 37… 38… 39…40 weeks. ❤

 

Body image blues

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I was at Target and overheard a mother telling her daughter she couldn’t get the romper she wanted because it makes her “look fat.” This child was probably about six and looks like a normal six-year-old. The romper actually looked pretty adorable on her and I think she knew it. She asks her mom if she could “please have it? Because I really like it!” The mom sighed and sent a photo to grandma (she narrated what she was doing). Grandma immediately called and said, “no, she looks fat.” This poor child pouted as she went back into the fitting room.

She’s SIX. She shouldn’t be worried about whether or not she looks fat. She’s already being taught at this young age that her weight will hold her back (in this case from wearing the romper she so loved) and that her weight is something to be valued. Why is body-shaming starting at such a young age?!

In a society where wrinkle creams are being sold to barely twenty-somethings (seriously) and flat stomachs are the standard of beauty, why should this surprise me? Why, of all things in this world, would a mother telling her child she was fat be something that “grinds my gears,” so to speak?

Because it wasn’t true and was completely unnecessary.

There’s already an unbelievable standard of beauty that we all, men and women, face on a daily basis. Tina Fey explained it the best, “Now every girl is expected to have Caucasian blue eyes, full Spanish lips, a classic button nose, hairless Asian skin with a California tan, a Jamaican dance hall ass, long Swedish legs, small Japanese feet, the abs of a lesbian gym owner, the hips of a nine-year-old boy, the arms of Michelle Obama, and doll tits.” I will never be tan, with a size 24 waist, with no hips, killer legs, etc, etc, etc. And I’m fine with that. I’m also 27-years-old, so I’ve had essentially a lifetime to work on my self esteem and self worth. And let me assure you, it’s been a long time coming.

No, my parents never told me I was fat, or ugly, or anything else. They didn’t give me unrealistic expectations. They let me express myself the way I wanted to. When I was a kid my hair started growing and never stopped. I told my mom, at two, that I didn’t want a haircut. So for the next six years, every time she asked, I never wanted a haircut. When I was eight, my hair was past my knees. Yes, my friends, I decided I finally wanted a haircut. So my mother hands me the scissors and I chopped off my braid (and about three feet of hair). It was so liberating! I got to make the choice that I wanted, which was to grow and finally cut my hair.

It was in that moment that I began to feel empowered and in control over my own external looks. Sure, there were many moments where I doubted myself and was made fun of. At age 8, when I was in fourth grade, I was about 4’9″ and wore a women’s size nine shoe. The boys in my grade refused to believe me, going so far as to make me take off my shoes to prove it to them. Also in the same grade, I cut my hair to a new style for me, a bob haircut. I loved it. I’ll never forget the day I went to school and one of the popular boys didn’t recognize me. He walked straight toward me, going “hey, nice haircut!” When I turned and smiled, because I thought he was complimenting me, his face fell so fast and he quickly turned and walked away. My fourth-grade self was very impressionable and hurt by this.

When I was in my 20s, a former coworked used to make comments about what I was wearing every day. She made fun of my Halloween socks, my necklaces,pretty much everything. She told me that I was only worth 1 carat, while she was worth 5. Seriously. Those were words that came out of her mouth.

It has taken me nearly my entire life to be OK with myself, my body and my looks. Much like everyone else in the world, I am insecure and have things I dislike. But I’m working on it. Today, my hair looked good. That’s a step in the right direction.

6

What NOT to wear on an interview

I’ve had to get dressed for my fair share of interviews. I work in a fairly creative field (communications and graphic design) so I’m able to break out of the “MUST WEAR PANTSUITS” model for interviews. I still tend to wear a blazer and either a dress, long pants or a skirt. I suppose I still have a uniform of sorts when going on interviews. I feel regardless of what type of job you’re interviewing for, there are some general rules you should follow about what to wear and what not to wear. Today I’m going to talk about what NOT to wear on an interview. Unless you don’t want the job, then, by all means.

what NOT to wear for an interview

1. If it looks like something you’d wear to prom.

2. If it’s ripped, has holes, or is some kind of denim.

3. Anything short. If you can’t bend over without flashing your panties, save it.

4. General rule- if it’s shorter than an inch above your knees, don’t wear it. Some people are very conservative and that’s not OK in an office environment. (It’s always better to err on the side of caution/conservative until you learn the rules of a specific environment.)

5. Six-inch heels or heels you can’t walk in. Seriously. Just don’t.

6. A wedding dress. I know you want to wear it more than once, but unless you’re working at a wedding dress shop, not a good plan.

7. If it looks like you’re going clubbing or stayed up all night drinking, no.

8. Anything with sheer panels or cutouts. Save that for later.

9. Tops with words or phases on them. It’s great that you love unicorns. But you don’t need your potential employers to know that until you cover your desk with figurines.

10. Anything that resembles lingerie. Unless you’re working as a stripper or a lingerie shop. Then, by all means!

11. Sneakers or flip-flops. Or anything spiked.

Basically you don’t want to look like you’re going to the beach or a party or a wedding. You want to look professional and polished, and it’s possible to do that without sacrificing your own personal style. I usually pick something neutral, like a grey blazer, dark pants, or a black dress. Add something with flair and color, like a printed top or a statement necklace. You want to look comfortable in your outfit and you don’t want to give an interviewer a reason to not invite you back for a second interview. It’s always better to head off to an interview dressed more conservatively. My previous office was casual to the point where the CEO wore sweatpants, except when it came to interviews. If it was an interview day the CEO, directors and managers would dress in suits, dresses, etc. They knew they were presenting themselves as a potential place of employment and also needed to dress the part.

Good luck and let me know if you have any questions.

4

How to dye faded jeans

About two years ago I wrote a funny little DIY about dyeing your clothes. Well, that DIY seems to be very popular and I’ve had lots of questions about other varieties of dyeing. I’m most often asked ” can I dye faded jeans/pants?” The answer is so simple I feel lame for doing it sooner! You only need a few items:

– Faded jeans
– Indigo dye (Rit, Dylon, etc.) You can easily find this in your local Joann’s or other fabric store. Or you can buy it online.
– Salt
– Sink, large pot, bucket
– Washer/dryer

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These are the jeans I’m going to dye. I’ve had them for probably ten years. In that time they’ve faded a lot, to the point where I feel like I’m trying to look straight out of the 90s in them (faded thighs, anyone?). They still fit well and aren’t torn up at all, but I want them to look dark and less… high school-like.

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To fix the problem I picked up some indigo dye, Dylon brand. It seems to be pretty similar to the Rit dye I’ve used before, except Dylon only has instructions for using a pot/sink instead of a washing machine like I’ve used in the past. It’s not totally different, but if you’re uneasy about using dye, here is what I did:

Start with clean jeans. If they’re dirty the dye won’t stick to the fabric (I mean DIRTY like covered in mud, etc. If you’ve worn them once and haven’t washed them yet, they’re probably just fine). Get the jeans wet. I tossed mine in the sink. You want them to be wet, not DRIPPING, but wet.

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In the meantime, put your pot on the stove, with about 5-6 cups of warm-hot water in it, and turn on the burner. It seems little weird, but the hotter the water, the better.
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Add 4 tablespoons of salt to the pot. (The salt helps the dye adhere to the fabric. You can skip this step if you want.)
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Add the powered (or liquid) dye. Using a large spoon (or something else washable) stir the mixture.
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At this point your water should be boiling or nearly boiling, and your jeans are still in the sink, wet. I know it sounds so strange to say “add the jeans to the boiling water” but that’s what you need to do.

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Carefully add your jeans to the mixture, ensuring they are fully submerged. If they’re not, add a little more HOT water and mix.

You want to keep the jeans submerged for at least 10-15 minutes. If possible, you should stir them up and keep the dye moving around, otherwise you may end up with splotches. (This is the big difference between doing them in a pot and doing them in the washer. The washer will automatically agitate them).

After the 15 minute soak, you want to rinse the jeans. I poured the mixture out and put the jeans in the washing machine because our sink is white I didn’t want to chance staining the sink. Two rinse cycles and a dryer ride later and they look brand new again!

dying jeans - Suze Geeks Out

I can’t believe the change. I’ve since worn them and washed them again and haven’t seen any fading. I’m sure they’ll fade like they did before, but hopefully it takes another ten years (and I’m hoping I still fit into them in ten years).

Let me know if you have any questions and happy dyeing!

2

Sugar skull makeup

I decided to try out a new makeup look last night, because I was bored (this is how it always happens). My sister keeps asking me to do a sugar skull, which I’ve never tried before. So armed with only my day-to-day makeup and $1 Halloween makeup from Target, I decided to give it a shot. This is the end result:

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It’s not perfect, I can see things I’d do differently, but it’s not bad for my first try!

11

Be thoughtful when naming your child

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When you’re going to be a parent, there’s nothing more fun than choosing the name your kid will be saddled with until they die, or until they’re old enough to legally change it. While I have no kids and am not planning to name any anytime soon because I keep threatening to name my friends’ baby Princess Consuella Banana Hammock, and they seem to have a problem with that, I do have friends who are planning their baby names. So to help their process I’ve devised some handy guidelines to keep in mind when naming your offspring.

1. When you name your kid after a virtue like Chastity, Destiny, Hope, or Serenity, they’re immediately going to be the opposite.

2. Last names as first names can be fun, unless their name sounds like a law firm. If your kid’s name is going to be Lincoln Harrison Johnson, you should rethink it.

3. Use full names, not nicknames. Sure, Bobby is a cute name for a three-year-old who eats paste, but it’s not cute for a 33-year-old lawyer.

4. Don’t use unusual spellings. We know- you want your kid to be unique! But when you decide to spell “Kyle” phonetically, it makes life harder on everyone, including little Kiell.

5. Try to steer clear of names that seem to pigeonhole your child to a specific lifestyle. Yes, Candi is a great name. For a stripper.

6. Put yourself in your child’s shoes and come up with the six worst names you’ll think they’ll get called on the play ground based on their name. If you can deal with them, chances are they can too. For example: if you name your kid Maxwell or Maxine, they’re going to be called maxi-pad (I’m looking at you, Jessica Simpson!).

7. Don’t just look at your side table or in your purse and pick something out that looks great that you think will make a great kids name. We don’t need another Apple, Blue Ivy, or Pilot Inspektor.

8. Pick a name with a nickname option. All kids want a nickname other than Sport, Bean, or Princess. Give them a name that has one built right in (see also rule 3), but still sounds professional for an adult.

9. Try to steer clear of super popular names. i know, you loved the name Bella before that girl fell in love with a pedophile/sparkly vampire. But do you remember 20 years ago when “Jennifer” was popular and there were 10 Jennifer’s in every classroom? Yeah, that wasn’t any fun.

10. Say the entire name, middle name(s) included, out loud to your partner and to yourself. If it sounds weird or makes you tounge-tied, rethink it. Too much alliteration (Jasmine Jayne Jonas) or first names and last names that are too similar (Billy Williams) can be a little off-putting If it’s weird for you, it’s weirder for others.

*11. Don’t name your kid after a company. Chik-Fil-A doesn’t get naming rights of your first born because you craved their sandwich throughout your pregnancy. Unless they’re giving you $1,000,000. Then, go for it. Just be sure to give your kid a normal middle name like Pickle, so they can pretend their parents aren’t insane.

There you go, my ten eleven tips about how to name your child. If you have more suggestions or hints you think I should add to my list, let me know in the comments below.
And for the record, if I have kids, I will name them Phoebe if it’s a girl, and Phoebo if it’s a boy. (gold star if you know where that’s from!)
(This post is meant as a joke, and was written by request for a friend who’s struggling to name her future baby.)

*edited to add this one. When I said it out loud to my friend, she literally fell down laughing. Seriosuly though, don’t name your kid anything like Avis, Ford, Chalupa or Hot Dog. That’s just mean.

14

DIY: Corkboard

Hello everyone, my sister, Cher, is a DIY-er who loves to try new things. Last time she was here, you saw this earring holder she made. This time she put together a really cool corkboard using a frame and wine corks and I wanted to share it with all of you! So, here it is! (And just in time for Sherry‘s Pinterest Challenge!)

Ung Drill. You heard me right. I have an Ung Drill. It may sound like I’m sporting a large tumor on my face or a wacky haircut, but no. Ung Drill is that ubiquitous snazzy frame from IKEA. You know the one…

I got one… and it sat around for MONTHS. I kept thinking to myself “What the heck am I gonna do with this?” Half a year of dreaming and scheming went by before I decided on framing a giant-sized photo from my brother’s Jamaican wedding….

Which didn’t work at all because the frame was OVAL. No matter which photo, none of them “fit” without some serious (and detrimental) Photoshopping, which totally killed the look I was going for. So then I looked on Pinterest for Pinspiration and found this:

And knew what I had to do. And here’s how I did it. Including massive mistakes and a little breakage.

Step 1: Gather corks. You can either drink 140 bottles of wine (hey, alkie, let’s be BFFs, kay?) and save the corks, or you can wait for your sister to purchase $25 worth of corks online, never use them, give up on a cork project, and you’ll inherit them.

Corks cost: Free! (Thanks to my eBay-loving sis)

Step 2: Lay out your pattern. This was the second-hardest step (see below for the hardest step) because the options are limitless and also because I’m an idiot who picked an oval frame. I knew there would either be some cutting of corks involved or areas where the cork didn’t cover. I settled on a chevron/herringbone/what-the-eff-this-is-below pattern. I still wasn’t sure how I was going to deal with the edges (you can see that the corks overlap the frame below.) but in my usual thorough and OCD-level of planning, I just rushed ahead and assumed I would figure it out as I went or screw up in an incredible manner. Luckily, I managed to do both.

Cost of frame: Free! (b-day gift from sister.)

Step 3. Prepare the frame for painting. I needed to remove the glass from the frame so I could paint without getting the glass all painty. My idea was to attach the corks directly to the glass, in order to have something really sturdy holding them up. The glass was wedged in really tight, so I was really careful to ease it out so I didn’t scratch it…

..or worse. Sh<bleep>t Yeah, that’s the glass, evenly broken in two.

NEW Step 3. Fu¢k Fu¢k Sh<bleep>t. Carefully dispose of broken glass shards.

Step 4. Figure out how to create a sturdy back for the corks now that you’ve broken the glass. Luckily, I’d been on a cleaning spree at work and we had piles (PILES!) of used foam core waiting to be tossed. One of the pieces was used on one side, but in good condition, so I used the cardboard that came with the frame to trace the shape of the fame and cut it to fit. I decided to keep the cardboard on the front of the foam core so when the corks were attached, you wouldn’t see bright white behind them.

Step 5. Prime the frame. I have never painted with spray paint, and had no idea what to use. Luckily, I’m a regular reader of Young House Love, which had just happened to cover spray priming and painting with the “the perfect yellow color.” I like yellow, and I love directions that include pictures, so yeah, let’s roll with that one.

I took the frame outside and used Rust-oleum Universal Satin Paint & Primer in white.  I did three thin coats, spraying constantly from about a foot away. Then, because it was going to rain, I took the frame inside to my bathroom and closed the door and turned the fan on high to remove the STRONG smell and also the off-gassing. I don’t recommend doing this unless you know -like I did- that the fan takes the air outside, instead of recirculating it like some bathroom fans do.

Cost of Primer: $7

Step 6. Paint the frame. This is pretty much the same as the priming, except you can end up looking like a featherless Big Bird if you’re not careful with where you point the nozzle. I used Rust-oleum Paint Plus 2X Ultra Cover Gloss in Sun Yellow. Why? Because it said RIGHT ON THE LABEL that it “Also Bonds to PLASTIC!” and I was really concerned nothing would stay on the frame. Seriously, it was so slippery, I was pretty sure this project would be a major scew-up and I’d have to toss everything (which it pretty much was, but for glass-shattering reasons, not paint reasons. Go figure.).

So I took the frame back outside (it was like 2 days later. I had been busy at work and also forgot that the frame was in my bathroom until I went to take a shower at 6am. Delightful.

Painted three thin and even coats on the frame, various surrounding rocks, and parts of some outdoor furniture that my landlord isn’t really fond of, then toted the frame back inside for its timeout in the bathroom.

Cost of paint: $4

Step 7. Glue corks. I used hot glue because It seemed like a good idea, and I had it on hand. I liked that it hardened quickly, removing the part of the equation where I accidentally kick half of the corks off the frame while they are drying.

I had laid out some of the corks beforehand, simply to ensure the corks made a pattern that was level and too screwy (because when I’m DIYing, there is always some level of screwiness.

Just keep gluing. Just keep gluing. Just keep gluing, gluing, gluing…

I ended up cutting a few corks to fit around the edges. Most were pretty big spaces, at least half a cork’s worth or more. Some of the smaller spaces I left empty.

Step 8. Hang that sucker high and wide! No, that’s curtains. Hang it however you want. Me? I went for the oldie but goodie hanging style of “level.”

To hang, I swore a lot and used anchors since this thing is actually pretty heavy. It’s been up for 3 months now, and is one of my most favorite projects (maybe I like the bell jar more…) to date!

Costs: 
Ung Drill Frame: free! (but would run $29.99 via IKEA)
Corks: free! (but cost Suze $25 on eBay)
Spray primer: $7
Spray paint: $4
Total: $11! (or $65.99)

7

The twisty crown

Today’s hairstyle came about due to the heat (hello 100 degrees!). Carrie requested I do a cool looking braided updo that would’ve required me waking up earlier than I did this morning. We all knew that wasn’t going to happen, so instead I went to my fall-back hairstyle which takes about three minutes to do.

I started with this:
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And ended with this:
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I haven’t found any specific examples of this online before, although I’m sure they exist. I put together a quick photo how-to below, in case you’re curious how this works. My motto is to just twist, keep twisting and pin until it looks OK. It’s a pretty fool-proof hairstyle, although it might take a few tries to figure out where you want to pin the twists.

Here are the side and back views:
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hair how to

8

Twisty fishtail hairstyle

I’ve been experimenting with hairstyles lately, mostly because I’m trying to grow out my bangs and they’re not quite long enough to tuck behind my ears, yet too long to wear as “normal” bangs. Therefore, I’ve been trying to find alternatives to wearing my hair in a ponytail every. single. day. Because that’s what I was doing up until a few weeks ago. Now, thanks to some inspiration pinned on Pinterest and a bucket full of bobby pins, I’m giving my hairstyles an upgrade.

Today’s came from this tutorial.

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I watched the video, realized she doesn’t have bangs, and altered it to fit my own hair. My twist is tighter and I used a bobby pin near the top of the twist, and two near the bottom to secure everything.

My only wish is that my braid was a tad thinner. After leaving for work and wearing it for most of the day I realized I would’ve liked a little more hair in-between the braid and my face, but that’s just personal preference.

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For those interested, my shirt is from Target, necklace was a gift from my sister, and my poor posture is from my father.

This is what I do when I’m playing with me camera:
making faces

And if you weren’t aware, I’m naturally blonde, went back to my roots (pun unintended) and I no longer wear contacts. You’re pretty much up to speed now.