Maternity Fashion

Sunday, July 31, 2016

I feel compelled to say immediately  #ThisIsNotAnAnnouncement.

Ok? Ok.

Moving on.

I do maternity fashion by NOT doing maternity fashion. I have a general policy against having clothes that I never wear - spare for a short time. I like my regular clothes and I feel so much more like a regular person if they're not off limits for the better part of a year.

Obviously, this only works if your regular clothes are, or can be made to be, maternity friendly.
Got ya covered!

Here's how I do that.

Pick pieces with adaptable waistlines

I look for empire-waists, flowing lines, elastic waists, or shift dresses that can be easily belted.


Dresses and skirts work really well for maternity until about the 3rd/late 2nd trimesters, and then suddenly everything starts to get a little high on the leg.
My trick for that is to either wear a skirt under a dress to extend the hem or wear a skirt on top of a skirt as a dress!

On the left is short sundress over maxi skirt. I changed this up later in the day by pulling the maxi skirt high enough to act as a tank under the sun dress. I threw a lighter sweater over that and belted. Done!

On the right is a skirt over skirt = dress! This was taken very late after Ballet. Can you tell my toes still hurt?
It's a fun way to get more outfit options out of your closet, and allows you to pair colors and textures from items that would not normally be worn together.

Get the Pieces that *do* need to be maternity

For me, these are maternity yoga pants and dress pants.

Yes, just pants.

The yoga pants are really needed for chiropractor visits towards the end of pregnancy (yea hyper-flexibility....).

Maternity dress pants are awesome - like I wear them when I'm not pregnant. 
They actually lay flat! 
And are comfy! 
They're like PJs you can reasonably wear to meetings!
Most women's dress pants, at least in my price range, are atrociously designed. These stay up, stay closed, and lay right. Win!

I'm pretty anti-maternity jeans. I find denim to be too heavy of a fabric to be held up by spandex alone. I have found a video about how to make your regular jeans into maternity jeans, which I might give a go if I found a type of jeans I really like.


Here was My Sunday Best this week!
Which was really my Saturday best. We did the vigil mass because my husband is running the San Francisco Half Marathon this morning!

Skirt: Amazon (was for a dance costume but works well for everyday too!)
Sweater: Target
Camisole: Thrifted (aka probably used to be my sister's...)
Belt: JCPenney
Not Pictured: Infinity Veil in Charcoal Blue from Veils by Lily

Thanks for following along for Pants-Free July everyone!

I'm going to keep on wearing almost exclusively dresses and skirts. You can follow the hashtag on Facebook and Instagram to see more outfits other people put together this month, and hear how it went.

What I REALLY Talk About

Friday, July 29, 2016

Linking up with This Ain't the Lyceum for 7 Quick Takes.

We have made it to the end of NFP Awareness Week everyone!

If you don't regularly read this blog and you just popped on for this week - I normally don't talk about NFP that much. Sorry. You're welcome to hang on until next year! Here's what I really talk about the rest of the year.



Raising these two little munchkins is my main job. I spend about 13-14 hours actively parenting every day. So I've got some thoughts about it.



We did homeschool preschool with my then 3 year old using 26 Letters to Heaven last year. We're gearing up for PK4 this year using Catholic Heritage Curricula. 

We're still planning on using the Little Lambs program for family catechesis. This year John will be joining me at Berkeley Ballet Theater in the pre-ballet division! 



I returned to ballet training after a good long break and two babies. It's been a fun road. My adult ballet training and bodily abilities post-babies are very different from the way they were before, but I think I'm deciding I like this dancer version of me better. Stretch marks and all.

Sneak peak: I'm taking an adult ballet intensive in a few weeks! Stay tuned for that.



I talk a lot about Catholicism in general. My general schtick is I'm a really middle of the road Catholic - I'm not going to be schismatic, but not trying to be more Catholic than the Pope. 
I'm always seeking a greater understanding of Catholicism and what it means for me personally to be a Catholic woman, wife, and mom. 


Liturgical Living

I love the little traditions that are present for the embracing!
These little things - May Crownings, family rosary, Holy Week observances - are the things that make the flavor of a Catholic childhood.
My 2 year old might not grasp the theology behind it yet, but she will get the feeling that this Catholic thing and it's trappings are important to her and her family.


Family Adventures

I chronicle our family adventures - be they a trip across the bay to Angel Island or all the way to Ireland for a second honeymoon.
I'm a big fan of exploring where you live. I'm big enough of a history nerd to find something interesting about many an odd place.


Fine, one more NFP thing.

My friend Sean Salai, S.J. did this interview with the awesome Simcha Fisher for America Magazine and it's great.

Now I'm done.

Until next year.

Because this is a thing.

How did you like NFP Awareness Week? Sticking around now that you know what I talk about the rest of the year? :)

Vocabulary for a Truer Feminism - Integrating the Whole Person Through NFP

Last day of NFP Week everyone! Thanks for sticking around/visiting for the first time!
Today, for our last NFP story this year, we're meeting Shelley and Ed.

1. Tell us a little about each of you.

Shelley grew up in Arizona in a family that is half-Lebanese and half-Southwestern desert rat. Much to her engineer-parents' chagrin, Shell has always been passionate about writing (and reading). Before earning an MFA in creative writing, she studied Comparative Theology at Boston College.

Ed came into this world in Lincoln, Nebraska, and has spent the past 31 years returning on and off again to his roots. After a childhood in Nebraska, New Mexico, and Colorado, Ed returned to Lincoln to attend the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, where get got very involved in the campus ministry organization FOCUS. Due to these experiences with FOCUS, Ed joined on as a FOCUS missionary for the University of St. Thomas in Houston, TX.

While there, he met Paul, who had been a classmate and friend of Shelley’s while she attended Boston College. Paul and his fiancée, Amanda, invited Shelley and Ed to crash a New Year’s Eve party in Kansas. Though Ed and Shelley only overlapped for a few hours, Shelley often declares that she knew Ed was what she wanted right away, and she’s pursued Ed ever since (thank God for Facebook and cheap long-distance phone calls).

After four years of living a mostly long-distance romance, the two got married in 2012 and have lived in Nebraska and California, where they have focused on getting Ed through graduate school in applied economics. Shelley wins the bread as a writer and editor—and writes both fiction and non-fiction in her tiny amount of free time. They welcomed their son, Theo, to the team in 2015, and the three have been seeking equilibrium ever since.

2. How did you hear about NFP?


As a cradle Catholic who studied theology to better understand what the teachings of my faith meant for my life, I had a long-term understanding of the concept of NFP. Once my friends started practicing the variety of methods, I began looking into the science and theology of it as a hobby.


I think I first heard about NFP at the Catholic student center (Newman Center) at the University of Nebraska. I really didn't know much about it until a few of my Catholic friends started preparing for marriage. Around the same time, my mom began working at the Pope Paul VI Institute in Omaha, Nebraska (home of the Creighton Method’s founder). Once Shell and I started preparing for marriage, I learned a lot at the NFP session.

3. How did you pick a method? 


When we were undergoing marriage prep, we were living in two different places (I was in Tucson, AZ; Ed was in Lincoln, NE). I only had access to Creighton Method teachers, which dictated the decision a bit (though I was also taking my temperature in the mornings to add data to my charts). Since Ed’s mom works for Pope Paul VI Institute, we had a lot of support with the Creighton Method, which also helped solidify the choice.


I did what Shelley wanted to do.

4. What has been your greatest challenge?


Postpartum NFP was very challenging because all of my body’s stability shifted with a baby. We have had less consistency in my charts, which had added stress to our sex-life since we are trying to avoid another pregnancy at the moment.


The greatest challenge, from my perspective, is finding a way to really live out being open to life. We both get frustrated when we'd like to make love but Shell's cycle is either unclear or uncooperative. We're not in a place where we feel we should pursue having another child immediately, but sometimes this means very few days in which we can make love—we have a young baby, after all, and still have the stresses of travel and school and work to address. In this frustration, I think I can forget the openness to life that I'm trying to live.

5. What has been your favorite benefit?


The biggest benefit has been the expansion of my identity as a woman and a feminist. The more I practice the method, the more empowered I feel. Up until I started practicing NFP, I felt as though my body was at odds with my mind and heart and soul—I didn’t want to be defined by my body/sex, especially when the symbol of the female body has so many disparate connotations associated with it. But the more I studied the topic of sexuality and identity and body, the more I got frustrated with liberal Western culture’s silence about the physical activities of women’s reproductive cycles and our concurrent disparagement of hemming in women’s sexuality. How could we both treat the body with so much silence and misunderstanding and then demand that others see women as whole persons worthy of dignity? Or, more personally, how could I ask my employers or my peers or my spouse to treat me as a whole, dignified person with inalienable rights if I shelved or forfeited some of the characteristics (re: ‘fertility’) that made me who I am? Similarly, how could I talk about my right to choose my future pursuits in a society that respects my choices if I simultaneously subordinated all thoughts of my future and my goals to any immediate sexual desires? Artificial birth control struck (and strikes) me as a lie that says we can cordon off a portion of the female identity (her physical reproductive capabilities) while still retaining an inalienable respect for her as a whole, dignified person with the right to choose her own future as a professional, mother, and sexual partner.

I find that the benefit of this family planning method is that it forces practitioners to know and be comfortable with their bodies. Before practicing NFP, I was certainly squeamish about my body’s natural processes—I was much more likely to make a dirty joke about sex rather than to talk about the natural physical and emotional pleasure it entailed. NFP both gave me a language to talk about my body and my sexuality and enabled me to be confident enough to push back against a culture that makes sexuality a possession rather than an outpouring of an integrated person. Suddenly, rather than talk about ‘birth control’ as an expression of feminist empowerment, I could talk about my body in a holistic and frank way, which became legitimately empowering.

In turn, I have had the opportunity to talk with others about their understandings of the female body. The men I talked with often acknowledged their anxiety about talking about my body’s processes and swallowed down their disquiet—which usually led to really healthy and splendid conversations. Frustratingly, the most resistance I continue to face comes from women—especially women who either react to explanations of the female body as ‘gross’ or perceive artificial contraceptives as the only means of bringing about true equality among the sexes. Certainly, there are many more advances that must take place before all women can enjoy the empowering benefits that are foundational to NFP. But what gives me hope that these advances are possible is that the NFPers (male and female) I have encountered are the one whom I have found to comfortably discuss sex, body, and identity in an enlightened way. Rather than shuffle around sex or turn the body into a textbook of vocabulary or symbolism, these individuals make the body and sex and personhood a coherent, integrated subject. Which is—in many ways—my hope for the future.


Shell wrote a lot of great stuff, so I’ll just say that I my favorite benefit from NFP has been the way it has enabled us to authentically embrace our bodies and to speak honestly about children, sex, and our faith.

Thanks for coming along this week! Don't miss the other installments in this series of NFP stories. We'll be back again next year!

A Conscious Choice - NFP in the Family Toolbox

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Today we're meeting Madeline and Joel!
They are an amazing couple who have used NFP to identify, and correct, hormone issues. 

1. Tell us a little about each of you.

I (Madelene) grew up in Salinas, CA, the oldest of six kids in a loving and literary family.  I went to Gonzaga University and graduated in 2005 with a B.A. in English.  I did youth ministry at home and abroad after college, then went on to get my CA teaching credential and taught in Catholic schools for seven years.  I’m currently a stay-at-home mom to our children, Luisa (27 months) and Angelo (14 months).  I love cooking, traveling, and outdoor recreation.

Joel is a native San Diegan, the second of three children.  He graduated from the U.S. Coast Guard Academy in New London, CT with a B.S. in Civil Engineering (and as salutatorian, his doting wife might add).  After serving in Hawai’i, San Diego, and Iraq, he earned a J.D. from the U.C. Berkeley School of Law.  He is a Judge Advocate with the USCG in Alameda, CA.  Joel likes running, cycling, surfing, and perfecting his coffee skills (to his wife’s delight).  We live in Berkeley, CA.

2. How did you hear about NFP?

Joel and I both come from great families, having been baptized and brought up as Catholics from infancy.  We never left behind our faith when we left our homes for college.  Staying Catholic was absolutely a decision for us in young adulthood.  This meant that we were going to throw ourselves into living our faith completely (or, as completely as possible, this side of heaven!).  Fast forward a few years: we started dating and became serious about marriage, and this led to an early commitment to pursuing chastity and, eventually, natural family planning.

Joel had started to piece together what NFP was while in high school; his good buddy had six younger siblings and a very joyful family.  Joel learned about the Church’s teachings to a greater degree in college.  I learned about NFP from my parents when I was eleven.  My mom was pregnant at the time with my fifth sibling, and I wondered why my family had four more kids than just about everyone else’s at my school.  Everyone else’s, that is, except for my sister’s friend’s family, who also had six kids.  Turns out their mom, Sheila, was — and still is — the president of the California Association of Natural Family Planning (CANFP).

3. How did you pick a method?

Picking a method was easy:  having been friends with Sheila for many years, Joel and I asked her for instruction.  CANFP teaches the Creighton method, so that’s what we did.  Built into the Creighton method is the added benefit of NaPro Technology, which tracks my gynecological health history.  Since having our second child, we’ve also added in the use of the ClearBlue Fertility Monitor (used in the Marquette method) as a secondary check for ovulation.

4. What has been your greatest challenge?

Our greatest challenge — while also a tremendous blessing — as been our robust fertility!  Joel and I had a honeymoon pregnancy.  We ended up losing this baby to miscarriage.  Two years later, when our daughter, Luisa, was an infant, we again conceived, to our shock.  Our son was born thirteen months after Luisa.  What started as dismay quickly turned to delight.  We now would want nothing different, but, needless to say, it’s been a wild two years!

5. What has been your favorite benefit?

Our favorite benefit of NFP is the children entrusted to us by God, of course!  They are the light of our lives.  NaPro technology has helped identify the problem of low progesterone in my post-Peak period.  Knowing this has enabled me to receive immediate progesterone supplementation in the first half of my pregnancies, in all likelihood saving my children from miscarriage.  Another huge benefit of NFP is that it begs Joel and me to be communicative about the hopes, dreams, and fears we bring into our life together.  We have tremendous respect for the entire person that our spouse is; we’ve never used the other for selfish gratification.  We’ve learned to be creative in our loving expressions to each other when we desire to delay pregnancy.  Overall, NFP has taught us to trust in God’s sometimes confusing, but always fulfilling, plan for our lives.

Don't miss the other NFP stories posted so far! 

NFP through Miscarriage and Fertility Help - Kaye's Story

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

We're midway through NFP Awareness Week! 
Today we're hearing from Kaye - a young mom who did not have the simplest road through pregnancy and welcoming her (amazingly adorable) daughter.

I am a 26 year old Catholic wife and mother (little girl, 15 months). My husband and I got married the summer after we graduated college, and then moved across the country to start our lives together. Since then we have experienced many adventures - such as living in Germany and having our first child. Like any other couple we have also experienced sadness. During our first year of marriage We experienced the loss of a child (my first pregnancy).

 I bring up the miscarriage because, although we had been taught about NFP during our marriage prep, it was after losing this baby that we began to actively research and employ the practice.

I started seeing a OBGYN who was supportive of natural fertility monitoring and she worked with a Catholic nurse who was a NFP coach. The nurse was an amazing resource and she taught  me a version of NFP called the Creighton method. This method mainly uses the physical fertility signs of the body and has the option of also monitoring temperature (when my husband and I are actively trying to conceive I monitor temperature).

 My greatest challenge was getting out of my head.
NFP has worked so well for us and I have learned the inter-workings of my body so intimately that I constantly knew what part of my cycle I was in and if I was ovulating. This was awesome because my husband and I really wanted to have children, but when it ended up taking us over a year to conceive I started over analyzing everything! And I do mean everything! I would ask myself, "I am doing everything right why isn't this working?". "I know I ovulated what is wrong with me?". And then if there was any change during the final two weeks of my cycle (post ovulatory) I would think that I was for sure pregnant only to be devastated later.

I have gained such an appreciation of how amazingly complex and perfectly designedly fertility is. It has helped me grow in self-love and gratitude for my body.

Don't miss the other NFP stories posted so far! 
Check back the rest of this week for more stories to come.


To read my miscarriage story:

Opening to the Other - The Marital Graces of NFP

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

In continuation of our celebration of real life NFPers during this NFP Awareness Week - meet Rebecca and David!

1. Tell us a little about each of you.

We are Rebecca and David Basile of Richmond, CA.  We met at a teacher training six years ago, each with a son from a broken past.  He taught Phenomenology and Biodynamic Agriculture at Rudolf Steiner college where I came to study Waldorf education.  

David stayed 20 years prior at a Zen Buddhist monastery, then studied sustainable agriculture and beekeeping, and had high dreams of becoming a monk.  I grew up in Louisiana and was a very happy Montessori preschool teacher who went on a quest to expand her early childhood knowledge and turn it into mission work for impoverished families.  

We both grew up in Christian homes, David Catholic and I protestant.  We both were still searching for more.  Catholicism felt like coming home for both of us- it literally swept us off our feet.  David is now a religion teacher at a Salesian High School and I am home with our two new little ones :)

2. How did you hear about NFP?


I wish I could say Natural Family Planning was introduced much earlier in my life.  It only came into my knowledge at age 33 in my RCIA class when I was considering becoming Catholic.  It is pretty basic information about how my body works - it isn't rocket science.  

I guess no one talks about it because birth control has a kind of immediate gratification to it, and so women's fertility and the education surrounding it isn't valued as much.  I found the education deeply spiritual, like I was unlocking a secret door in my own heart.  It is empowering to say the least.


 I also only first heard of it later in life when I was returning to the Church. I saw it as an beautiful and natural practical application of the papal encyclicals I was studying and a course on Catholic Sexual Ethics that I was taking in grad school.

3. How did you pick a method?


Ha- I just googled "Natural Family Planning" and found the most legit looking website!  

I did a little research on other methods and chose John and Sheila Kipling's "Natural Family Planning: The Complete Method" which uses the "Symptom-Thermal Method" and also teaches Ecological Breastfeeding.  Their 150p. manual is available to print online.  Since then, I have learned about SO many other versions of NFP: fancy phone apps, and ovulation-tracking devices.  It is a science that seems to be becoming increasing popular and more readily available to the average user. 

4. What has been your greatest challenge?


I don't really like being so different than others.  I kind of thought of myself as being a liberal and rebellious soul before, but really I was just like everyone else.  Now I am really standing up for something I believe in and no one really gets it.  In fact, it's pretty much a conversation killer.  To those that do engage, it's really hard to differentiate the differences between NFP and other forms of birth control.  
I just wish it appeared as appealing as it is, or the big veil be taken from it- not only to share in the joy with others, but also to share in the benefit it would bring to each of us.

5. What has been your favorite benefit?


The affirmations are never ending.  That two people even come together at all is pretty phenomenal.  We love God and each other, and are saying yes to a life together- that alone makes me pretty giddy.  But what is more is that together we are respecting the natural processes of our bodies.  It doesn't take much time to be in nature and feel overwhelmed with gratitude for God's creation- to care and tend for it- we know this is right.  Why would my body be any different?  The time in marriage, when my body is fertile and we are in love, these are the years we are giving care to the raising up of a family in God's kingdom.  

I cannot believe that this is just "Catholic" or a "choice" kind of a thing.  It isn't that difficult either.  But it is radical, and life changing, and it makes for great conjugal love ;)


 I had been in a long-term non-sacramental relationship previously that, following the unplanned birth of my first child, was very committed to contraception. Sadly, I know very intimately the desire to have more children so easily thwarted by the spousal choice to contracept and I know as well how the absence of the total gift of oneself, one's love, one's fidelity, and one's fruitfulness in the conjugal act slowly tears away at the bonds of intimacy and love. 

Thanks be to God, I also now know how healing and sanctifying is the conjugal act in its fullness in a loving sacramental marriage. Though I had had plenty of "experience", I had never known how wondrous and mysterious sex actually was when done the way God intended. I say mysterious because it really blows my mind away to know that Christ is really present in the bond of our relationship and that this bond and all His love, mercy, and wisdom renews us every time we make love.

In case you missed them, check out our other posted NFP stories.
Keep coming back for more NFP stories throughout this week!

Unequally Yoked: NFP in a Mixed Marriage


Unequally Yoked - NFP in a Mixed Marriage

Monday, July 25, 2016

Welcome to NFP Awareness Week 2016 y'all!

I celebrate this week by letting real life NFP couples tell their stories. 
Today we're meeting Josh & Amanda.

Photographer: Maria Kanevskaya Garcia

1. Tell us a little about each of you.


I am a newlywed, mechatronic engineer, and looking forward to starting a family. I am not Catholic, and don't consider myself religious, but I am supportive of wife's faith. We recently transplanted from Berkeley, CA to Portland, OR, and are exploring all that our new city has to offer.


 I am a new wife, visual artist, and recently "reverted" Catholic, returning to the Church in 2015. I'm able to be a homemaker and focus full-time in the studio making drawings that merge the fascination I discover from drawing dead insects and the beauty I encounter within the Mass. I'm inspired by the "way of beauty" and I want to bring Christ to the culture and to our home.

2. How did you first hear about NFP?


I first heard about NFP from Amanda while she was learning about the Theology of the Body. At the time, we were cohabitating, and Amanda was learning more about her faith, which was cause for a lot of turmoil in how we had been living in the relationship. We got to a turning point where we had to question whether it would be better to go our separate ways, or get married. We wanted to make sure that we weren't just merging into marriage for the wrong reasons. We chose the latter and couldn't be happier. 

We knew we wouldn't be ready to start a family immediately and we also weren't going to use contraception. That is when we started to seriously look at NFP as a way to bridge the gap.


 I heard about NFP by looking into JPII's Theology of the Body and his teachings on women through Endow study groups. At the time, Josh and I had been cohabiting, contracepting, and struggling with the Church's teaching on human sexuality. I had no idea what my God-given dignity was after living with PTSD from past emotional and sexual trauma as a teen. It caused a lot of tension and this was one of the serious obstacles I was entangled with while yearning to be in full communion yet still living in a way that was separating myself from receiving the Blessed Sacrament. 

While we were discerning marriage, there were some heavy moments of recognition that no matter how much I believed I loved Josh, my body without my vows was failing miserably to measure up to the authentic love I wanted to express - it was a painful time as I started to realize I was putting Josh before Jesus. We had been in the dark and oblivious about chastity since the start of our three years together, so when we began to ask those hard questions, NFP thankfully emerged as a sort of light at the end of the tunnel.

Photographer: Maria Kanevskaya Garcia

3. How did you pick a method?


 We went for the Sympto-Thermal method because I like charts, graphs and numbers. It's really amazing to look at the theory of the human body and then be able to see it in action!


Thankfully some kind friends (eh, hem!) were able to recommend a trusted method - SymptoThermal through CCL. They were so awesome to share everything about it with us to help ease our skepticism. The local class was starting up right after we got engaged and we just went for it. It sounded like the most accessible and easy method to learn.

4. What has been your greatest challenge?


The hardest part is keeping self control and abstinence during times when we realize waiting is wiser. There is also a certain amount of trust that you need to have in your spouse. Mistakes can be easy to make and there is some skill required when it comes to reading the charts depending on how conservative you want to be.


Compared to the challenges that I had come from, and through all of the negative consequences of my past sins and mistakes, the regular challenges as we practice NFP are nothing. Or, rather, those typical challenges (abstaining during fertile time if there were legitimate things to wait on before trying to conceive) I actually find healing and validating to our marriage and our ability to fully say yes now. 

My other biggest challenge is trying not to drop the thermometer down the side of the bed every morning!

Photographer: Maria Kanevskaya Garcia

5. What has been your favorite benefit?


 I feel this brings us closer in our marriage. It is one way I can help Amanda heal, knowing I can show her love in ways that respect her dignity. 


 The entire method takes discipline, and in that commitment; our commitment to each other is continually enforced. The little ways it benefits our communication and ability to understand each other intimately is such a benefit. 

My favorite benefit is that our "yes" always means YES and there are no shadows of doubt or fear of being used. We can take the leap together and receive new life as a happy gift rather than a panicked consequence or an overly controlled prescription. 
I like that we have to trust together and put aside our temptation to control. I'm so happy I can actually know, based on simple observation, what my body is doing instead of my fertility being flatlined in attempts to "choose". We have a free choice now.

Stick around the rest of the week for more NFP stories!

Creative Re-wear - The Non-Shopper's Fashion Guide

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Welcome back for more Pants-Free July!

Today I'm focusing on creative ways to re-wear the pieces you already have in your closet. 

Besides crafting a style I'm comfortable wearing - I'm a big fan of finding creative ways to update the pieces I have. My goals fall into three general categories: 

1.  Get elements of trends without getting too fad influenced
2.  Extend the life of older clothes that are wearing down
3. Adapt clothing to any changes in my weight/body shape

Pants-Free July Week 2

The trick with getting elements of trends in your closet is to realize what you already have in there. Fashion trends are so cyclical that a lot of them have probably come back around again.

Next I take an overview look at what trends are out there. I'm looking for silhouettes, recurring colors or patterns, and cuts. I can often adapt pieces to be closer to fashion trends by doing things like changing the hang of a dress by cinching with safety pins inside to change the bodice or along the waist to create a high-low skirt out of an A-line. Adding trendy colors/patterns is easier and cheaper to do by buying a cardigan than a whole dress.

As I mentioned in a previous post, I do not shop for clothes very often - like I still have items from high school that I wear with regularity. But eventually things start to wear down: the elastic degrades, colors fade, and mysterious holes start appearing (seriously, where are they coming from?!)

When elastic necklines wear out, they become skirts! Just pull a shirt over it.
Holes can be covered up with either a tank worn under or a cardigan over.

Pants-Free July Week 3
I'll address this more when we talk maternity fashion next week, but many of us in the childbearing season on life are dealing with the relatively fast ups and downs for weight and body shape.

The best trick I have for dealing with that are super adjustable belts. We're talking the kind that don't even use holes. Like this:
This is my super worn out used-every-week-since-2005 belt. Still going!
When your waist is always changing, change the waist.
I find it can be more helpful to have dresses that are a little big, but are cinchable. That way I can go from everything to a size 10 to a size 6 (that is my real normal range people) and wear the same clothes.
Because I don't own clothes I don't wear. It's a good rule, I find.

And here was My Sunday Best from this week!

Dress: Nordstrom (yea sales + birthday gift card!)
Belt: Came with the dress
Sweater: Target
Shoes: Payless
Not pictured: White Circle Chapel Cap from Veils By Lily.

Finding Your People or "NFP Can Be Really Lonely"

Friday, July 22, 2016

Linking up with This Ain't the Lyceum for 7 Quick Takes.

Next week is another round of NFP Awareness Week!

I'm totally on theme this year,  Yeah!
So often it can feel like you are the only couple in your parish/town/state/world trying to get NFP to work for you. It's tough - but it really doesn't have to be.

I've got some new NFP couples for you to meet. Real people walking this walk.
Check back next week to read their full stories!


photographer: Maria Kanevskaya Garcia

Josh: I am a newlywed, mechatronic engineer, and looking forward to starting a family. I am not Catholic, and don't consider myself religious, but I am supportive of wife's faith. We recently transplanted from Berkeley, CA to Portland, OR, and are exploring all that our new city has to offer.

Amanda: I am a new wife, visual artist, and recently "reverted" Catholic, returning to the Church in 2015. I'm able to be a homemaker and focus full-time in the studio making drawings that merge the fascination I discover from drawing dead insects and the beauty I encounter within the Mass. I'm inspired by the "way of beauty" and I want to bring Christ to the culture and to our home.


We met at a teacher training six years ago with each a son from a broken past.  He taught Phenomenology and Biodynamic Agriculture at Rudolf Steiner College where I came to study Waldorf education.  David stayed 20 years prior at a Zen Buddhist monastery, then studied sustainable agriculture and beekeeping, and had high dreams of becoming a monk.  I grew up in Louisiana and was a very happy Montessori preschool teacher who went on a quest to expand her early childhood knowledge and turn it into mission work for impoverished families.  We both grew up in Christian homes, David Catholic and I protestant.  We both were still searching for more.  Catholicism felt like coming home for both of us- it literally swept us off our feet.  David is now a religion teacher at a Salesian High School and I am home with our two new little ones :)


I am a 26 year old Catholic wife and mother (little girl, 15 months). My husband and I got married the summer after we graduated college and then moved across the country to start our lives together. Since then we have experienced many adventures such as living in Germany and having our first child. Like any other couple we have also experienced sadness. During our first year of marriage We experienced the loss of a child (my first pregnancy).


If you're just dying to read an NFP story RIGHT NOW, go over and get to know Erin and Alex who were awesome enough to let me tell their story when I had only been blogging about a week.
Like 8 days. Thanks y'all!


Here's what is happening with Erin and Alex now:

Our lives have changed quite a bit in the last year! Erin finished her Ph.D. and we moved to Southeastern Idaho for Erin to start her post-doc. This shift in employment for her meant that we could officially change our status from "trying to avoid" to "trying to whatever" (although Erin continues to chart because she loves data)!  We hope to finally start a family soon but are patiently waiting on God's timing. 

In the meantime,we're also listening for any word on how to use our spiritual gifts (or develop new ones!) during our time here in Idaho. There are not many Catholics in this part of Idaho and there's just one parish in our town. There also seems to be a shortage of NFP instructors according to our cursory research, which has definitely caused us to reflect on whether we can help with that. Whatever the next year holds for us, we plan to keep telling others about the many benefits of NFP!


Erin and I were reminiscing this week about how we came to realize we both did NFP. 
Even in our safe, supportive, Catholic circles the subject did not come up. We only figured it out when one of us brought up an article from the Family Foundations magazine the Couple to Couple League publishes.


All of these couples are people I met through either the young adult group at our parish or through Endow.
We will be starting up our newest study in September on the Dignity and Vocation of Women (Mulieris Dignitatum). It focuses on the Anthropological and Theological foundations for women in the Church in a very approachable way. 
AKA. right up my alley!

These groups have been some of the best faith sharing opportunities I've had in my adult life. If there is an Endow group in your area, I really recommend you check them out!

How French of a Parent Am I? - A Review of Bringing Up Bebe

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

I've had a number of requests to read Bringing Up Bebe by Pamela Druckerman. She's an American writer exploring French parenting as she is raising her daughter and twin sons in Paris.

Honestly, I was little sceptical of this book because it had been brought up so often. Fad parenting is way too popular in my area for comfort. But I finally concluded that I had to actually read the book before I judged it, so I would give it a go.
It was a fast and addictive read. I read it in less than a day. Here's where I mesh, and don't, with the French parenting choices portrayed by Druckerman.


Druckerman makes a lot of the French pressure to keep up your looks and not gain too much weight during your pregnancy, and to lose it quickly after birth.
My gut tells me this is something that might vary depending on location and social group - even in France.

I've had a pregnancy where I gained a lot of weight (John) and one where I lost weight (Therese). Neither really had anything to do with the "paying attention" to food that Druckerman says French women do to stay slim.

My emphasis during all pregnancies has been on maintaining strength and flexibility, and eating what I need. (Birth is a marathon, y'all.) I keep as active as I always am, with adaptations as my belly gets bigger. I don't gorge on sweets but I don't deny them either. Never going to be a fan of needing to obsess about food - even in an attempt to be healthy. I've seen too many people go down bad roads that way.


Apparently natural birth is just not a promoted thing in France. It's assumed you'll get an epidural and deliver on your back in a hospital.

I don't know if I can convey the depth of not caring I have for other women choosing to give birth in hospital or birth center or home. I really don't care if you got an epidural or not, and I don't think having a c-section says anything about what kind of mother you are - nor is it some badge of pride to have a med free birth. We're all different people and we're going to need/want different things.

I care about the mom and dad feeling heard, safe, and cared for in the whole birth process. Past that...nope. 

Sorry everyone.

I didn't do well with cliques on the playground as a kid either.


Controversy Time!!

Because I think breastfeeding is a more emotionally charged topic in the US then birth (if that is possible.)

So Bringing Up Bebe says the French barely breastfeed. It's just not a big thing. Druckerman contends that it has to do with mom's need for autonomy. The general expectation is that breastfeeding will not be a long running endeavor.

Breastfeeding in the US is over-hyped, in my opinion. I wish it was an exaggeration to say that failure to breastfeed is seen as a failure to mother in the US, but it's really not.
I think both the French and the Americans do this wrong. There has to be a way to support moms without putting down other moms. We all need to calm down, just feed the babies, and make the choices that work for that mom, that family, and that baby.

Spoiler alert: that's basically how I feel about all parenting choices. 


The French do something called "the pause". You wait a few minutes to respond when you hear baby wake up in the night. It gives them a chance to go back to sleep on their own, and lets you determine if they are really waking up or if baby is just in light dreaming.

I had the same reaction that the French moms did in the book. It wasn't even something I registered as a parenting technique. Once Druckerman laid it out though I had the same "oh yeah, we do that" reaction the French mothers had in the book.

Accidental French-ness!


I've written before about how I don't follow my kids around the park. Druckerman brought up something that some Americans do that really bugs me: narrated play.

I just don't get this one.

It often involves the parent tailing the kid all over the playground speaking in a loud, high-pitched, voice about EVERYTHING the child does, touches, or might see or hear. 
It sounds like an adult re-enacting Caillou. It's terrible. For the sake of all of us, please don't do that at the park. 
At home - fine, whatever - but we're all stuck at the park. Little darling is capable of discovering sand without information about it being squeaked at her. Promise.


This is another place where I somewhat do the French thing because that's just what worked for me. 

I make most of our food from scratch (because it's cheap), and can easily spend 2-3 hours making dinner. There is no way I'm making multiple different dinners for picky eaters. They don't have to eat everything, but they have to try everything.

Often I'm surprised by what they like. Therese can eat an entire bunch of kale if you make them into kale chips, but will just take a single bite if they're sauteed. They LOVE sushi, but dislike chicken nuggets. 
Who saw that coming?

This a photo of the 1 year old eating all the Kale over her Mac and Cheese. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
I don't really do food in courses they way the French do in the book - after spending that long cooking I want OUT of the kitchen. So everyone can learn to deal with eating the food I put out at once.

Totally on board with the French approach to sweets. I'm not a fan of flat out bans on whole food types. Unless there is a significant allergy or health condition involved, I think shunning categories of food breeds unhealthy thought processes relating to eating. 

I don't do moral evaluations of food, and I really don't want my kids to view foods as "good" or "bad". Because they're not. Everything has a proper place in life.


The French are shown in the book to have very clear lines of authority between parents and children. The kids get strong boundaries but they have a lot of choices within those boundaries. But the final authority always rests with the parents.

I've never had a problem being in charge. My family refers to it as "getting your Kirby on" when you need to speak up for yourself or hold ground.

I want my kids to learn how to make good choices, but in order to do that I have to provide some parenting scaffolding (to use an education buzzword.) There ARE dumb choices kids think are great ideas. If they won't be too badly hurt, I let them figure that out on their own. Other times I need to own my authority and say no.

I expect the kids to respect my no, and they generally do. Kids have an amazing capacity to rise to the occasion - the parenting skill lies in observing and determining what is a reasonable expectation.
AKA. I get a lot of use out of my Anthropology degree.

Date Night/Marriage

One of the first lessons we had during marriage prep with our awesome priest was that the marriage should always take priority over the kids. That sounds terrible at first, and is really hard to do in practice, but I see what he was getting at now.

Bringing Up Bebe shows the time after the kids are in bed is now "adult time". French parents are unapologetic about needing that time. 

Without taking time out from being mom and dad, it is oh so easy to lose that base of being wife and husband. We only go out on a date maybe once a month. The other weeks we try to set aside an evening to hang out at home. Our current favorite thing after the kids are down is to bring a big candle and chairs up to the roof of our building. On a clear night, it's a great view of the Bay.

This night it was too windy to get the candle to light, and too foggy to see the bridge, but effort was made!
The book brings up how the French do not expect men and women to be equal at home. I agree and disagree with this one.
The honest truth is women do bear much of the weight when it comes to carrying a child, parenting, and running a home, and there can be a lot of stress on the marriage when things are expected to be perfectly equal. I don't think men are incapable of helping with parenting and housework. I think most can be good at it given the chance to develop the skills.

The women weren't born knowing how to do this either.

Daycare and Working vs. Staying Home

Again, I really don't care people.
I happen to like staying at home and taking care of the kids- this works for me and my family right now. All decisions - be it schooling, parenting, jobs - are all made on a case by case, year by year basis.
I reserve the right to change my mind.

It's not threatening that other people make different choices. Really.


I found the book interesting because I love learning how other people do things (hence the whole being an Anthropology major thing).

Will I change anything based on this book? Probably not. What I would do, I do already. 

It is a fun, and fast, read. I enjoyed it.

It's important to bear in mind with all of these "how people parent in other countries" books is that that parenting style grew out of the needs and history of that place and people. Some of it might work for you, but I shy away from elevating the parenting of another culture as a monolithic better.

It's very tempting to think the grass is greener somewhere else, but it's worth noting where American parenting has some upsides. Many European countries are overwhelmingly homogenous in terms of demographic make up and in parenting style. There is often "The Way" most everyone parents.

I happen to appreciate that we have a wide range of parenting styles in the US. Diversity is a good thing.

Them's the Rules - My Clothing and Modesty Rules

Sunday, July 17, 2016

The whole month of July is Pants Free July around here!

Granted, every day is basically pants-free for me. I normally wear primarily dresses and skirts for reasons discussed here.

I do have some standard rules/guidelines for creating a wardrobe that works for me.
I do care about modesty, but more in a sense of being comfortable vs. an emphasis on men's perception of my clothing. I value not needing to check if my skirt is riding up or top falling open. Ain't nobody got time for that.

Here's Week 1

My basic rules for buying dresses or skirts:

1. Hits at the knee or below
2. Neckline either naturally rests just below collarbone or can be easily closed with a safety pin
3. It has to further the variety of what I already own
4. Comfortable enough to wear all day long
5. Flattering

The knee length rule is because 1) I've found that to be more flattering on my big dancer thighs, and 2) it's the length least likely to fly up in the wind or ride up when putting the baby on my back.

Neckline for the same comfort reason - stays put in my very physically demanding day.

#3 is about spending money wisely. I don't shop often, but when I do it needs to help add to the variety already present. I will replace certain core wardrobe items (more on those shortly) - but, generally, I try and buy things that are very different in pattern, style, or color.

I don't really change base clothing during the day - just add on jewelry, sweater, or scarf to dress up or warm up as needed. My rule of thumb is it needs to be comfortable in the (likely) event I get stuck under a sleeping child. 
(Or at least it used to be likely. I miss having a baby who likes snuggles! Now I got a toddler who is a fan of the two-second hug.)

Now #5 is not something often thought of when selecting modest clothing, but I contend that modest clothing needs to be flattering. The point here is to feel comfortable and confident, and that's just not going to happen for me if it's not flattering.

Core Wardrobe Items!

The core wardrobe items were something I made up when I was traveling a lot in high school to conferences. I needed to carry the minimum of clothes that could give a lot of outfits, appropriate for varying occasions, and professional in appearance.
Those are:

  • Basic Black dress with short sleeves
  • Black and White tank tops (for layering)
  • Black,White, Red cardigans + at least one other color (I seem to bounce around that other color depending on what clothing I'm working with. Coral and Turquoise are my current colors.)
  • Maxi Skirt
  • Black Heels 
  • Black or neutral color flats
  • Neutral color belt
I can get a week's worth of outfits out of this - easily. These are the only things I would potentially replace with an identical item.
Except for the maxi skirt. That would probably get a different color or pattern.
Gotta keep it interesting!

So if I wear skirts and dresses everyday, how do I change it up for Sunday masses?

Basic difference between my daily dress and my Sunday dress are: potential for heels, earrings, for sure makeup (which is a solid maybe every other time), and a veil of some sort when in the Presence of the Eucharist.

It's not strictly necessary to make those changes, but I like making a physical change to prepare for mass. Every mass is a working mass for me - between the kid aerobics at one and singing for the other - making sure I get dressed anyway does a lot for feeling like I actually went to mass.

Here was My Sunday Best for today!

You can't see them well, but earrings are there! The lacy scarf is really my awesome infinity veil from Veils by Lily. (Go for the sewn in clip. Seriously.)

Anyone else have rules for clothing? Don't worry - it's ok not to be this flavor of weird. It's probably better that we not all be Type A.
Next week it's on to creative re-wearing!

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