An idea for parents with two cuties in diapers . . .

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This is one of those systems that I’ve figured out right as Mary Tobin’s getting out of diapers . . . I wish I’d done it earlier, so I decided to throw it out here to benefit future generations. Don’t get your hopes up. This probably falls into the same category as using lapel pins for push pins, but I love this kind of stuff.

When selecting diapers, I decided to buy patterns with warm colors (pink, red, orange, yellow) for Mary Tobin and cool colors (purple, blue, green) for Inez. You’d think that the tiny versus large sizes would be enough to easily distinguish between them; but when it’s late at night or you’re frantically reaching into a diaper bag, or someone’s yelling, or you yourself are crying . . . it helps for things to be as clear as possible.

So that’s it! Read on if you care to learn more about what type of diapers we use . . .

The pattern/color selection was on my mind because we get diapers delivered by The Honest Company and they have cute seasonal patterns to choose from. Initially we ordered diapers from somewhere else since my only requirement was that they be delivered instead of me lugging a huge box of diapers as well as a baby up to our apartment, but I tried Honest Company when la princesa battled diaper rash for awhile. Honest Company’s diapers are a bit more expensive, but they’re free of all the questionable, stinky chemicals. So far Inez hasn’t had any diaper rash. If you’re on the market, I recommend them.

Plus, better patterns . . . Mama Rote and I agree that it’s bizarre and disconcerting when Elmo or Mickey’s face is gazing at you from a child’s bottom or crotch . . . maybe that’s just us. (But you could also apply my system there: Elmo for one kid, Mickey for another . . . ??)

Totally seems like it, but this is not a sponsored post. I will give you my referral link though—if you use this link and order from Honest, you can get a few diapers to try for free, and I’ll get some credit and be forever grateful (I believe it’s one of those deals where you need to cancel if you don’t want to continue receiving diaper deliveries).

Might I add for those not currently in the diaper game: a gift card makes a great gift for expecting parents, especially those expecting #2 (or more). For Inez, we had a “Books and Bloomers” shower (bloomers meaning diapers) since we already had the requisite baby gear.

Happy diaper shopping, I guess!

Musical Beds (+ Girls’ Room Inspiration!)

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When my oldest brother Will was yet an only child and Dad was traveling a lot, Mom and Will met Dad at the airport, in the days when you could go all the way to the gate to greet incoming passengers. When Will saw Dad walk out of the jetway, he ran up happily and shouted, “Dad, nobody slept in Mom’s bed last night!”

Mama Rote is not a floozy. They’d been working on getting Will to sleep in his own bed all night. Good job, Brother!

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We’ve just gotten through a similar stage with Mary Tobin. She’s always been a champion sleeper and truly is doing great overall. (Please understand, my mom once told someone that I’m a “sleep nazi”—in other words, my standards are very high. I like to get a ton of sleep, so sue me.) Still, Mary Tobin hit a few bumps as several transitions converged . . . moving, new big girl bed, new baby in the family, a bit of potty training, new understanding of the dark and fear . . . who knows. But—knock on wood—getting into our new house with her new room, shared with sister, has helped a lot. I think things have been quieter partly because she’s scared of waking Inez up. Hallelujah.

Tell me, did you share a room with a sibling growing up? I never did because I was the only girl (read: the princess). But I love the idea and think it will be fantastic for them. At least, looking back I think it will be great, and they’ll have to learn to deal with each other in the mean time.

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Unsure about sharing.

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Getting the girls’ room all ready was also a lesson to me that I actually can be a good mover if I can motivate myself. We focused with laser-like precision on unpacking their room first to give these chickadees as smooth a transition as possible. Thanks to pre-painting and curtain hanging by the grandparents, the room was basically good to go the first night.

As we battle the disarray in every other part of the house, I’ve found myself sitting in the girls’ room whenever possible; it’s so peaceful by comparison.

Regarding decorating choices for their room: I’m doing my best to keep it simple, but it’s a struggle. We’ve got some lovely art in there, including the señorita mexicana and some prints from vintage style Mexican calendars. My new favorite is a piece of beautiful Otomi fabric that I’ve been saving for the right spot since I bought it in Mexico, thanks to mi suegra’s bargaining. I had my prices and my Spanish prepared, but after haltingly exchanging a couple of sentences with the vendor my courage failed, so I sent in the big guns: Mama Ortega.

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Let’s call the diaper pail a modern sculptural piece.

As we left the market in Cholula, she told me that the guy was so excited to sell that piece of fabric, and that his mother and sister had worked on it for five months. ¿¿QUE?? I felt immensely guilty for haggling them down (well, Mama Ortega was my bargaining agent) to such a great price for that amount of work. She quickly assured me that the guy was thrilled to sell it, that he’d go home that night and celebrate with his family, that it was quite a big sum of money for them. Phew. I could’ve dealt with colonial angst for a long time.

I love this wall hanging because it’s so charming and Mexican, but instead of the animal Otomi pattern that’s so hot right now, the flowers look like something that my grandmother could’ve had too. (The flowers are poinsettias, which are from Mexico. Did you know that?)

It doubles as a fantastic backdrop for a Father’s Day photo shoot:

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More on kids’ rooms/nurseries:

  • Examples of how to un-obnoxiously use pink in a little girl’s room. (I should be a headline writer! Clickbait!)
  • Lay Baby Lay is still one of my faves for nursery and general design inspiration. Here’s the post where I went a little nuts going through all her inspiration boards.
  • Finally, I’m [somewhat, half-heartedly] trying to follow Nashville designer Rachel Halvorson’s advice to keep it simple in kids’ rooms. This room she designed for twin girls is so lovely, and as she points out, “If you took out the artwork, and a few accessories, you’d still have a neutral palette to work with. And when they come in with their hot pink superman capes and polka dot beach balls?? There’s your pop of color.”

World Cup Update + Links, or, How not to find a good Mexican restaurant

Friendly friends, our family has moved to a new city! I wanted to officially write it here, in case you’re not paying the closest attention to my instagram feed. Now that it’s on the blog and official, I can move on to some other items of business.

I do want to write a little bit about saying goodbye to DC, and about Inez’ birth story, but I’m learning that blogging waits for no man. . . reminds me of this quote from Annie Dillard: “One of the few things I know about writing is this: spend it all, play it, lose it all, right away, every time. Do not hoard what seems good for a later place in the book, or for another book; give it all, give it now.”

So today we explored Nashville in one of the most important ways, the quest for a go-to Mexican restaurant. The need was urgent since Mexico debuted in the the World Cup today (and won! no thanks to the refs). So the girls put on our Mexican dresses and Israel donned green and red, and we stalked a random strip mall Mexican restaurant by calling ahead to make sure they had TVs, then arriving 20 minutes before their opening time of 11am. At least we amused the Mexicans who worked there and amused/confused the white HVAC repair guys who came in after us for their usual lunch. (What I’m saying is that the atmosphere was not quite as exciting as this.)

And so, some links for you, beginning with ways to get pumped up for the World Cup, moving on to Father’s Day, decorating, life advice. I’ll tie it all together with a picture at the end.

The legendary Maradona warming up with joy. (H/t Dinner A Love Story)

A history of World Cup uniforms and the corresponding women’s hemlines.

John Oliver explains FIFA, and does a killer French accent.

Father’s Day idea (?): manly scented candles. My favorites (in theory) are Memphis Style BBQ, Sawdust, and Santa’s Beard. (H/t John!)

“Germany to Mexico: How America’s source of immigrants has changed over a century.” With a cool map.

I love so much about this cottage featured in Garden & Gun. 

Also from Garden & Gun, a beach chair for Dad to remind him of family vacations to Destin and Gulf Shores. (Sorry these gift ideas aren’t actually in time for anything!)

Making me feel good about hoarding: Style Court’s review of Mary Randolph Carter’s Never Stop to Think . . . Do I Have A Place for This?. “So try not to stifle that childlike curiosity and desire to pick stuff up, Carter says, because at the very least what you gather will likely keep your rooms from looking just like your neighbor’s.”

A refreshing graduation speech: “I hate to be the one to say it, but you probably won’t get there.” Even so, “Stay curious. Keep learning.”

Okay! I’ve gone through all the open tabs on my phone AND computer, and I’ve shared what I wanted to share (left out our electric bill and articles on DIY carpet fresheners . . . you’re welcome). I feel so much better, do you?

And, because you earned it, here it is:

Tornado 75 Home Kyle Rote, 15

(A soccer dad who loves to give life advice. Short shorts. Unrelated to decorating.)

P.S. Two posts about my dad.

Movie Date: Chef

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Email from Mama Rote to the fam:

This afternoon, at Josie and Israel’s recommendation, Kyle and I went to see the movie Chef.

We recommend it highly! It is a father & son/buddy/foodie/travelogue/break up & make up/multicultural story with Jon Favreau, John Leguizamo, Dustin Hoffman, Scarlett Johannson, Sofia Vergara, Robert Downey, Jr. and some good music. We even recommend staying for the credits.

Something good for a rainy afternoon.

XOXO

I thoroughly enjoyed this one! Check it out, but don’t go hungry. 

One Thing To MAKE Your Summer

This ice cream scoop by Cutco is billed as the last one you’ll ever need. My parents have one at their house and I blame it for my nightly scoops of Talenti Double Dark Chocolate Gelato.

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Your dessert prep transforms into pure art as you deftly slice through the ice cream like a German engineer or a beret-clad mid-century sculptor. You’ve got the touch, thanks to the “chrome-plated zinc castings” and the “thermoplastic elastomer.” I don’t know what that means. Mom told me there’s something in the handle that melts the ice cream as you scoop. This prevents any unseemly battles with rock hard ice cream that cause you to slip quickly from perfect hostess into Chris Farley screaming “Lay off me, I’m starving!”

 

As Ferris Bueller says, if you have the means, I highly recommend picking one up. Could be a nice goody for Father’s Day, a housewarming, or a wedding, combined with a couple cute bowls . . .

(I’m an Amazon affiliate, so if you click this link and buy something, I’ll get some pennies . . . thanks if you do! Or just get in touch with your favorite Cutco rep.)

UPDATE! Mama Rote confirms that their scoop was, in fact, a Father’s Day gift from my brother about five years ago. Still going strong, and it gets quite a workout. She says, “If we ever lose this ice cream scoop, Kyle’s going to have to move out. He loves it so much.”

Friday Dance, in the British fashion

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One of my besties from college did (and to my knowledge still does) a celebratory jumping twisting dance each Friday, her ritual to kick off the weekend. In honor of Ansley, I’m shimmying my bloggy shoulders and hips to shake out some random thoughts and links I’ve been toying around with in my mind to share with you.

First, the big news. We are in Memphis, and—this is fantastic—so are Harry and William. They enjoyed barbeque at the Rendezvous last night, and tomorrow will be ushers at their friend’s wedding at the Hunt and Polo Club. (The former location was the site of our rehearsal dinner; the latter my bridesmaids’ luncheon! We are now connected in a mystical and very important way.)

Israel believes the monarchy needs to go, but I kind of love it. Here’s one take on why it’s fun to see pictures of the young royal family (keyword: family): Ashley McGuire’s “This Is Why We’re Obsessed with Will and Kate.” That, and Georgie’s clothes: The Royal Baby Proves All Southerners are Basically Royalty.

Unfortunately for us, though, Kate and George aren’t in Memphis. And in a prime example of southern hospitality, a local “gentlemen’s club” decided to leave William’s name off of their sign that reads “Welcome Prince Harry” because they “didn’t want to create any marital strife.” Pure class.

On the subject of baby clothes in the South, Mama Rote laughed at this post about various levels of smocked clothing at different churches“And here in the South, I would say that there are definite circles of high-smock expectations and low-smock expectations, generally based around the Church you go to. They may not be spoken guidelines, but as soon as you step foot onto the nursery hallway, you can almost smell it in the air – which smock denomination (smocknomination?) your church falls under.” (Ours is certainly “smock-optional.”)

On my bookshelf currently: All Creatures Great and Small by James Herriot, then its sequels All Things Bright and Beautiful and All Things Wise and Wonderful.

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On childhood road trips—in our killer conversion van!—I first listened to James Herriot’s dog and cat stories on cassette tape. Herriot was a veterinarian in the Yorkshire Dales in the English countryside beginning in the 1930s, and his stories are at times funny, heartwarming, and fascinating, and always good. You’ll love his narration and his contagious devotion to the country and its animals. As city-bred Herriot works doggedly to win over the stolid farmers, he’s got to take the triumphs together with the looking foolish—as when he’s called out to a calving in the middle of the night, and realizes as he soaps up his arms that the silent Dalesmen can smell the strong, fruity, feminine scent of the soap he’d only used in desperation, borrowed from his housekeeper. The farmers sniffed, but didn’t say a word.

With his hilarious voice and his images of lambs and calves and green, green grass, Herriot has been the perfect spring reading for me. I’ll be keeping these books around for reading aloud to the family in future years.

Sticking with the English theme, another college friend—not a royal, but a member of my personal aristocracy—will be married this weekend. We studied abroad in England together, and so: Mary Hamner, me best bird, I virtually toast you with a turbo shandy!

Leaving you with some spring-y images from our outdoor painting en plein air session yesterday. (Please infer: we are artsy, worldly, sophisticated . . . if only little Georgie were here for a play date!):

Final question: how can I make some cash off my daughter being a child model? Let me know your thoughts.

Viernes Santo [Good Friday]

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Last year on Good Friday, we were enjoying our last day in Cholula, so I wanted to share some pictures from the amazing procession that town holds every year to commemorate the Stations of the Cross. I don’t have the most accurate information about this tradition; I’ll just tell you about what I saw and share the pictures, which will not do it justice. Sincerely, I tell you, this was one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever seen. I found it incredibly moving.

We woke up early with Mary Tobin and went ahead into the centro (town square) to claim our spot at the hotel restaurant where we’d already brunched twice that week—once to meet up with aunts, uncles, and cousins, and another time so that my mom could eat their chilaquiles. It was the perfect position along the colonnades from which to view the procession we’d heard so much about.

On our walk to breakfast, we saw this on one of the side streets:

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What in the world?

It was a chilly morning, and these people had clearly been there for awhile. After having swept the streets perfectly clean, they were working with huge stencils and buckets of what, upon closer inspection, we discovered were colorful wood chips.

(I love the picture above because of the little boy helping.)

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Further down the road, it appeared, another group of people were working on another section of the street. I was so curious!

We went on to our spot at the restaurant along the colonnade, and had to sneak around this to get there (apparently this section had been done at night or super early that morning):

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By the way, everyone respected the streets once the design had been laid, and didn’t step a foot on them until the procession came through.

We ate breakfast and made it a leisurely one so we could keep our spot and just hang out at our table until lunch time. (Thanks to a determined Abuela and a cute Mary Tobin the waiters were happy to oblige.) After a few bites I dashed out because I wanted to figure out what the deal was with this procession and all the street art. By that time we’d caught a few glimpses of the procession as it wound around the streets a few blocks further out from the centro. So I went around the corner on the opposite end of the colonnade, where we hadn’t passed by earlier, and I saw this:

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Another street full of people working! And on this one, it wasn’t one design repeated with the same stencil and colors, but they were busy with individual squares of separate works of wood chip sacred art—some very intricate and impressive.

(By the way, this was a little funny because the parade had clearly already started and they were racing against the clock. I asked one older lady when the procession was coming, and she answered half an hour. This also marked the peak of my Spanish speaking skills! Like, the best in my entire life! And, considering the day, it may have just been the Holy Spirit.)

Here are some of the designs:

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This was my favorite:

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“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”

Witnessing all of it made me nearly burst with questions: how long have they been doing this? Who decides who decorates which street? Are different parishes responsible for different parts? Is it the same every year? Do the artists jockey for prime real estate? (You could write a great little story or screen play about the old ladies competing with each other . . .) And where do all the wood shavings come from? But, as I wrote about here, there were a lot of Holy Week happenings whose meaning we had no clue about, so by this time I’d decided not to worry about the not knowing, and just enjoy.

I don’t know if you can tell in the pictures how beautiful all this was. I was moved on so many levels (and FYI, I was not pregnant at this time)—all the young and old, men, women, and children, working diligently and carefully, making the streets pristine, creating individual works of art that were powerful alone but breathtaking collectively. They were creating something huge and beautiful, pictures that would exist for half an hour, only to be trampled by the feet of the faithful and carried away in the wind.

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I found the procession itself a little on the kitschy side for an American sensibility, though it was still inspiring to see all the people out for this event. The procession stopped at different spots for each of the 14 stations and read the corresponding scripture passages. (Presumably! Again, I’m sure I didn’t know half of what was going on.)

As I think back on it, the language barrier and the not knowing was actually freeing. In our young family, we have traditions and rituals just starting, and it’s not important (or possible) for Mary Tobin to understand and articulate why we do certain things. And yet she senses that something is special—lighting candles (she LOVES), wearing a new dress for Easter this Sunday. In the first world, intellectual understanding usually trumps the physical, sensory side of worship and faith. But it’s that side of it that teaches us that some beautiful and mysterious celebration is taking place, even when we don’t quite understand.

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I mean, WOW. I’ve never seen anything like it.

We will all be in Memphis this year for Easter, and Mary Tobin will be wearing a new dress, sewn with love by Mama Rote (and in true second child fashion, Inez will wear one of MT’s old ones, once we locate it!). Wherever you are this weekend—geographically or spiritually!— I hope you’ll be be able to slow your racing mind and simply feel the beauty of the celebration.

Venid a mí todos los que estáis trabajados y cargados, y yo os haré descansar. (Mateo 11:28)

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. (Matthew 11:28)

An Outpouring of Support

I appreciate all the encouraging words after my online revelation—not about postpartum depression, but about JEAN JACKETS being back.

(Also sincerely loved hearing others’ thoughts on PPD. Thank you!! Perhaps more on that later.)

Did you know, and I’m sure you did, that jean jackets are IN? I’ve been determined to wear my ol’ J. Crew standard, circa 1998, this spring. If I’m successful, my pack rat tendencies will be dangerously affirmed. Israel and I are having a little feud over it, so I posted a couple instagram pics.

And people were not shy about weighing in. Aside from Israel himself, who helpfully commented, “Debbie Gibson called. She wants her jacket back,” all were in favor of the denim.

My brother sent me this classic:


(There’s no way that’s anything but a gesture of support.)

Mama Rote and Aunt Kace also followed with pictures of Reese Witherspoon and Carrie Ann Inaba.

I may be tired, but this is one project I felt up to tackling. Here’s my inspiration board on Pinterest of jean jacket looks such as these:

There’s no question that I’m right, that jean jackets are more than acceptable for spring 2014. The question for me is whether it’s worth the effort to pull it off. I’d love to reduce my wardrobe to the proverbial 10% that gets worn 90% of the time—only the items that are easy to wear, that I love and feel great in. So this experiment will determine whether the jean jacket becomes a go-to in my closet, or if it will be relegated to the archives at Mama Rote’s house.

(No, getting rid of it is not an option. MT and Inez will thank me for the vintage jacket down the road. Or they’ll use it for a costume. Or they’ll laugh. Their dad is already laughing.)

How do you wear your jean jacket? Please tell me you have one.

P.S. I know it’s painfully obvious, but I’m not a fashion maven, and FYI, this denim jacket renaissance is over two years old. If you’d like to follow a legit fashion blog, check out District of Chic, featuring a DC friend of ours who is both lovely and badass. How does she do it?

P.P.S. Mijin is a fashion icon.

‘Round Here

Remember when I talked about posting more often? Haha. Ha.

Not that you care.

Today, I’ll tell you, the infant stage is not my favorite, though it’s precious. I feel tired. Shocker. Even when my mom visited us for a week and did all the work and the cooking, I still felt tired. While she was here, I was working on a post about sleep routines and tricks . . . not for babies, but for me! I had written a lot of disjointed sentences, and stared at them thinking I’d now be able to reorder and weave them together logically like I’d do when writing a paper in college, but—no good. Lesson: Obviously I wasn’t sleeping as well as I thought and should’ve been napping at that moment.

Anyway, it was nice to look at this picture of Mama Rote and me back in the day:

Christmas mom and baby Josie

which called to mind this picture of Mary Tobin and me from the fall:

which reminded me that this is merely a stage and everyone’s going to grow up.

I had my six week postpartum check up (actually at eight weeks because I failed to make the appointment on time) where the midwife and I talked for awhile about postpartum depression. I was surprised that she said 80% of mothers get it (at some point and to some degree)— it’s wildly undiagnosed and untreated. (From a quick google search, maybe it’s that 80% of moms have baby blues, which goes away two weeks or so after birth. Whatever the case, her point remains.) My assignment on that score was to walk outside in the sunshine for at least half an hour each day to help my Vitamin D levels.

My friend Anna Kate wrote about postpartum depression awhile ago, and I thought I’d chime in too, to help battle the stigma. (Tell the stories!) For me, pregnancy through now—Inez is almost three months old—has felt like one big extended PMS: I cry easily, am extra irritable, have more “down days” than usual, have moments when I really feel like I can’t do it. But I’m never to the point of wanting to harm myself or my family, which is why I think this subject is so tricky, so often undiagnosed and untreated. I know that I’m not feeling 100%, but I don’t know where the line is between normal tiredness and true depression.

Wherever you might be on that spectrum, for anyone feeling down (winter blues! hello!), I thought the acrostic NURSE on the postpartum depression info sheet was helpful:

  • Nutrition (Stop eating garbage. Have a glass of water.)
  • Understanding (Acknowledge how you’re feeling; have supportive people around you.)
  • Rest (Easier said than did.)
  • Spirituality (Take deep breaths; connect to God/your higher power.)
  • Exercise (Ummm, sure.)

So, to sum up, I don’t have answers. The above list won’t solve everything; excellent medications are also available. Talk with someone and try to figure it out. But right now, at least, this gray area is my story and I’m sticking to it.

If you’re blue these days, I’m wishing tons of laughter and endorphins your way! Take care of yourself. xo

Hold the phone.

In a severe case of bad parenting, I’m going to share this with you. Just now I was going through emails and noticed the pictures I sent my mom of Inez at about one month old. This one, with the sweet inquisitive expression, I knew reminded me of someone when I took it. I thought it was an actor from an old movie. photo 1

When I saw the picture again today it hit me. After all, I’d spent a bit of time searching through Pinterest for stills from the movies in yesterday’s post, so it was fresh in my mind. Osgood!

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Osgood Fielding III. He’s got the movie’s best line: “Well, nobody’s perfect.”

Some Like It Hot (1959)

It’s OK! All newborns look like old men! She’s getting cuter and cuter every day. We love you, baby Nessie.