Beauty Will Save the World

Beauty Will Save the World

Reading this article by Humane Pursuits, and recent conversations with my self-employed motion designer husband have emboldened me to call myself and others to action: As Catholics, I firmly believe that we have to step up our game in the realm of beauty.

I know that I personally overvalue efficiency – why would I spend more on something when I can get something that works just as well for less? Because beauty will save the world. My husband works in beauty, in creating. My dependence on the success of his business has opened my eyes to the negative effects of my own short-term, function-oriented vision. If someone is willing to do a job he is trying to get for half the price and half the quality, many clients go with the cheaper. And who suffers, besides my family obviously? I would argue: everyone. Their company suffers, because even if they can’t really tell the difference between the two styles of product, the audience will notice that one has the it factor, and the other doesn’t. And the world suffers. It tells artists to stop making beautiful work because it is not wanted. No one shares crappy commercials on Facebook. But some of the most watched videos on YouTube are commercials that touch our hearts, inspire something within us, call us to something greater. Obviously, we need to be practical and prudent, but I would argue that beauty is a factor as important in our decision-making as function and cost. Otherwise, we begin to use and abuse things without orienting them to God, and we are tempted to begin to use people as well.

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Maternity clothes when you have HG

Maternity clothes when you have HG

I am 6 months pregnant and not yet sick of the three items of clothing in my closet. That’s a good sign!

Everyone is different, but my pregnancies involving hyperemesis gravidarum complicate many things, one of which being my style. I know that sounds low on the list when I’m practically homebound anyway due to HG, but for my mental health, I need beauty. And my collection of baggy t-shirts paired with no pants and the extra Tinkerbell mumu from the kids clearance section was not cutting it.

You see, HG for me means not being able to handle pressure on my abdomen or chest. I can’t wear bras, or pants, or skirts, or dresses with elastic below the bust, or underwear that cover everything. TMI for some, but for moms who can relate, we need to hear that we are not alone! In the first trimester, I can’t shower without vomiting because of the water pressure on my chest and back. It’s a good thing I’m hot blooded and only like a sheet anyway because pulling a blanket over my belly makes me physically sick. So where does that leave my inner fashionista?

Dying on the side of the road.

Then comes this season’s off-the-shoulder peasant dress to the rescue! Normally, I wouldn’t wear these things. Off-the-shoulder means gets-messed-up-everytime-I-move-my -arms. And peasant really doesn’t fit into my clean and classic vibe. But, let me tell you, after months of pantlessness and Tinkerbell, I feel like a freaking super model in the three dresses I own! Thank you, Target!

One is denim with a flutter top that gives an extra layer to cover my non-bra-ed chest. That hem and the one on the bottom are unfinished, so that’s some fun fringiness for ya.

The other two are the same style as each other but have different patterns. Tjey don’t have the ruffle up top to hide my au natural shape, but they are made to look embroidered  so the detailing is distracting. The print is the plastic-y kind that peels off after too many washes (ask me how I know), but they don’t look too bad yet. One in black with a white design and and the other in maroon with white and pink. 

The further along in the pregnancy I get, the shorter my dresses become, but as those with HG know, when you’re​ puking out of your nose in the bushes of the Costco parking lot from your wheelchair, modesty gains a temporarily lower value and a meaning more open to interpretation.

I also have a beautiful, spaghetti strap maxi from Motherhood Maternity in a navy blue with blush, burnt orange, and green exotic flowers. That fabric, though, has no give, and only lasts half way through the second trimester. But at least it coincided with winter for me so my legs were covered!

The underpants that have brought me such joy I got from Amazon for Valentine’s Day. My husband is a true romantic. I picked the non-lacey basics in grey, black, and neutral. There is a band inside, but only in the back to keep them from slipping down so no pressure on my belly. I got a medium just in case, but if I had to order again, would try my normal small.

There you have it. Literally three dresses and some underpants. Talk about a minimalist wardrobe!

What to wear while breastfeeding

What to wear while breastfeeding

Agggghhhhhh!!!!!!!!

I have been wearing the same three dresses for 6 months (that’s not true, I wore that fugly mumu from the clearance section for the first trimester) and my beauty-loving soul is starving to death.

But the end is in sight! And what do I have to look forward to? It’s not my fav, but it’s better than this!

Some women love nursing. All their baby weight goes into making literal awesome sauce for the munchkins. I love nursing too, but my figure doesn’t benefit in the same way. I hold onto those extra pounds no matter my eating/workout regimen until we cut out the momma milk altogether, and then they melt away!

That leaves me with loose fitting clothes to hide said extra baggage, whereas my non-pregnant/nursing self wears legitimately only waist-defining items.

And some people might like cleavage, but to me it’s just a nuisance. When I’m nursing, I double in size, and I have to consequently double up on my sports bras if I want to jog or dance. Anything that doesn’t have a high neckline, has a too low neckline. Models and some people in real life don’t look too strange showing cleavage, but I feel absolutely exposed. And HUGE. And veiny. And not sexy.

What does that mean for me? That advice to grab a v or cowel neck top for nursing doesn’t cut it. And a scoop neck will give you a scoop of something! Wear a scarf you say? Obviously you don’t live in southern California in the summer time.

Ok. It has to be loosely structured, with a high neckline, in a lightweight material, that won’t show leaks or stains (so solid prints – my air – are mostly out, as are many lightweight fabrics)… What can I wear?

I’ve got four boxy, casual shirts and three short sleeve blouses that I wear with maternity shorts or pants (and no photography skills, so you’ve got to use your imagination). One tee in light blue, a leaf-printed one, a white guy with thin black horizontal stripes, and a white peasant top with navy blue embroidery. A royal blue blouse with subtle, flutter sleeves and two patterned Merona buys are my up-my-game, I was once in the career world too, tops. These I pair with a nursing camisole from undercover mama that attaches​ to my bra so I only have to deal with one set of straps instead of two. I’m not a huge fan of the double layering thing simply because it’s hot, but it provides dec coverage and isn’t ugly. Let’s top that off with one nursing dress in light grey from Dote Studio with a scalloped hem hiding my chest of plenty that gets worn to every Sunday Mass, every wedding, and every date night for the next year.

I’ve got my eye on a nautical, little number from Seraphine with cap sleeves, blue and white stripes, and appears to be linen. It is a dress designed for nursing, so I have high hopes. But don’t buy it before my birthday because if they are sold out I’m​ gonna be pissed.

I hear the advice all the time that you don’t need to buy nursing clothes, you can just wear regular clothes and make it work.

I call bull. We make it work because we have to, but I’d much prefer something designed to not flash the world, that takes into account my still present baby bump, my rather prominent and rather leaky chest, and the Bunsen burner often strapped to my hormonal, heat-flashing body. Even if it’s only for a year. Even if I might not wear it again. Even if it’s a chunk of change we could have put towards student  loans. Because, I’m not in the future. I’m here and now.

And right now, I want to feed my baby and feel beautiful.

Minimalist WardrobeWHAAAAAT

Minimalist WardrobeWHAAAAAT

We are three days into February now, which means that, for those of us in sunny San Diego, winter is over. Although the nights still chill, this is the time of year that I can’t stand to wear my dark, wintry colors anymore. During the colder months, I get into a funk – the good kind – where color makes me gag and I instinctively reach for blacks, greys (grays, greys –  I can never decide which I like better), and olive greens. The thought of a coral or teal slipping into my outfit makes me mentally anxious and physically uncomfortable. Maybe it’s just a sign of a weak will, a poor ability to overcome my initial reaction, but don’t you sometimes face a situation that makes you literally cringe and turn away? An awkward scene in a tv show where you blush and hide under the blanket in embarrassed for the character, a food that you normally like but for some reason looks disgusting to you in that instant and you know if you eat it you will vomit, or a Sam moment a la Garden State where you just have to move your body because you were starting to feel a little too blah? Maybe the last one is just an undiagnosed case of Restless Leg Syndrome, but our bodies and our minds are freakily connected, and once my body senses the release of Jack Frost’s grip, I don’t even want to look at my winter wardrobe other than to put it away.

An unfortunate turn of events has taken place in my life, however; the combination of the season’s change, our imminent move to a new apartment (T minus 4 days!), and the recent flooding of my laptop screen with minimalist wardrobe ideas, plus a body that will shortly go from housing two persons to one-and-a-feeder is pulling my heart strings in all sorts of directions. How I want to de-clutter! How I want to simplify! Un-fancy, you are torturing me! I’d love to have one box for each season. OK, that’s 4. Buuuuuuuut, I’m pregnant. Meaning two boxes for each season. 4+4=8. And then there’s nursing. 4+4+4=12. I know you can and should overlap each “wardrobe capsule”, so each season/state of maternity won’t take up a whole box, but – and maybe it’s my pregnancy brain – this is overwhelming. And messes with my selective OCD (Who wants different sized boxes?! No one! That’s who!). What’s more, all my maternity clothes are dark colors! What am I supposed to wear right now?!? I’M GOING CRAZY!!

So last night found me on my floor with piles of clothes, hangers, and boxes threatening to consume me and with only some tape and a Sharpie to defend myself. I put all of my clothes except for two outfits (Why wear a new outfit every day when you don’t leave the house? Thank you, Spain; from you, I have learned much) into boxes. I then proceeded to ineffectively, though well-intentionedly, labeled said boxes with names like “winter/early maternity/maybe nursing.” Hopefully, my state of mind will be a little more clear on Sunday while unpacking.

goodbye winter clothes, goodbye apartment, goodbye boxes
Goodbye, winter clothes. Goodbye, apartment. Goodbye, boxes. Wow, I need to learn some photography skillz or this blog is gonna be boooooring.

Or I could just remind myself that our new closet has a lot of hanger space and no room for boxes, so I’m just gonna need to hang it all up anyway.

That would save me a headache.