Lovely Simply

Style and Lifestyle in New England

Month: January, 2017

Days with Red

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Last year, I remember thinking that next winter (this winter) would be challenging. The combination of freezing weather, active toddler, and giant dog is not exactly a dream for anyone. Last winter was mild, and it was so easy to just zip Redmond into his snow suit, bundle myself up, and take the whole crew out for a long walk. And that was kind of all he needed for stimulation and excitement…Not so much anymore.

I’m much busier this year with everything than I was last year and am away from Redmond more. We only have three days a week that we are fully together–the rest of the days are partial or half days, so they don’t take as much forethought. But I’ve tried to get creative with my stay-at-home mom days for a few reasons.

Reason one: I actually really, really, really do not like “playing” with kids. I don’t enjoy driving cars around. I don’t like chasing toddlers and having tickle fights and riling them up. I am basically a huge fun sucker, and you pretty much are never going to find me sitting on the ground with my kid while he tells me what to play. Because of that, I make sure to find alternate ways to spend quality time with my son.

Reason two: I’m an extrovert and staying home all day just makes me grumpy, lonely, and sad. Redmond seems to be trending towards extrovert as well, and he likes to be out and about.

Reason three: I want Redmond to be well behaved when in public. If I can rely on him to listen and respond when we are at a restaurant, or in a store, it makes me want to take him to do special things more. My dad always said that he wanted to have children that he could enjoy. And I feel the same way. Practice makes perfect, so I try to give Redmond Public Practice with relative frequency.

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All that being said, I have been trying to be creative with our at-home time as well. So I thought I’d compile a little list of things we do out, and things we do at home. I try to imagine filling Redmond’s little bucket while I fill my own. He needs physical touch, ways to get his energy out, unadulterated attention, and learning experiences. And I need some alone time, a daily work out, and the ability to maintain the household tasks that fulfill me (like cooking.) So, with those things in mind, here are some of the ways we fill our day.

  1. Gym time. I talk about this all the time on here and with my mom friends. To me, it is the “me” time that I need. I attend 4-5 classes a week and then I’ll usually run, or do yoga, or just go to the sauna afterwards. There is a fantastic childcare room that Redmond always enjoys, and I love that he is getting those hours of socialization since he doesn’t go to daycare. My passes pay for two hours of childcare, and I usually take advantage of most of that time.
  2. Shopping dates. This one is pretty basic. And Redmond loves shopping. Nowadays, I often will let him walk next to me if we are just going in for a few things. He oohs and aahs at everything, but usually abides by my “only looking” rule and keeps his hands to himself. Its the best place to practice that skill.
  3. Coffee dates. Nick and I used to eat out quite a bit Pre-baby. Now, we are a bit more careful with our income and keep it to just a few times a month. But I still enjoy the luxurious feeling of being out at a coffee shop, or treating myself (and Redmond) to a pastry. Redmond enjoys the individual attention (since I always put my phone away for these things) and I enjoy eating/drinking something I didn’t make.
  4. Greenhouse outings. A lot of these photos were taken at our local greenhouse which is one of my favorite places around. We go there allllll the time. Lots of space for Redmond to run around, plus there is a friendly cat in residence and a whole bunch of birds. Usually we end up buying a little plant or something, but it is basically free entertainment for the family.
  5. Swim days. My gym has an amazing indoor pool and on mornings or afternoons where I want to take up a few hours, we will hit that up.
  6. Library. Obviously. Nothing new there. We actually rarely take books out…I’m horrible about returning them and we have a ton of our own…but I lead a baby story hour once a week, and we will just hang around playing in the kid area afterwards. And sometimes we visit libraries in fancy towns just to use their fancy toys.
  7. Woods walks. When it isn’t freezing/muddy/icy/raining, we will go to our local woods. Redmond walks on his own and collects things, and I try to keep our dog from running into the wilderness. c557b551-84cc-42e9-a2ca-04ec0d9883932799081f-735f-4852-b7c6-b931ee96384d(I know this photo is blurry, but it so fully encompasses Redmond at the greenhouse.)fe08b300-ee52-4c38-8935-d2fa7863b7a9

When we are at home, I’ve been making an effort to spend time being still with Redmond. I have such a tendency to be always multi-tasking (I am currently typing this with Red squirming on my lap and taking everything out my desk drawers) that I sometimes forget to just be with him. Just me and him. With no distractions. When I have two children, this will be even more difficult, so its a muscle I’m learning to flex now. He loves to read stories, so we read together a few times a day. I don’t enjoy playing with children, but I do love reading to them.

When I am cooking dinner, I pull his little stool up (we have this one from Wildkin) and give him a few things to “help” with. Lately, that has been a jar with a spoon and some things to “stir” up (vegetable peels work great), or a cookie sheet of flour with cookie cutters and spatulas to make shapes with. The mess is easy to clean up, and its worth the peace and quiet I get with him standing beside me at the counter and not begging to be picked up. We do the same thing when we bake together for fun. And I always let him lick the spoon. 7f878796-5c0f-444c-91cc-14237c0b0cab

And of course there is nap time. I know that once our family expands I probably will no longer have the blessed two or so hours of quiet. But for now I treasure them. Just as I try to treasure every day with my little one. Because the hard days will fade away, and I will only remember missing the weight of him on my lap, his arms wrapped around my neck, the way he calls me in the morning when he wakes up in that little sing song voice…And I want to know that I didn’t let the hours escape from me. That I didn’t miss out on his little childhood.

I would love to hear what you all do to keep yourselves happy and sane and your babies content and stimulated! Leave ideas in the comments or on my Instagram (@simply_hannah.joy).

photo 1 details: black and white throw c/o modern burlap// distressed jeans c/o// wooden block toy c/o smiling tree  toys//Redmonds romper c/o Shedo Lane (UV protected)// Redmonds moccasins c/o sweet n’ swag//

photo 2: arrow sheets c/o modern burlap// love quilt c/o Addison Belle

photo 3: my overalls c/o// Redmonds joggers c/o Shedo Lane

(thanks to Cupcake Mag for connecting me with so many small businesses. I love being able to help support these companies)

 

Protect The Skin You’re In

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Get ready for some rambling folks. It does all connect back to this outfit. I promise. Because this dress is made of UPF fabric and protects your skin from the sun. Plus it is as soft as your most luxurious pajamas and it looks cute as all get out. This is one of my favorite outfits that I’ve featured on this blog. It’s from Shedo Lane and it’s only 45$. Which, as my cousin said, is basically free since by wearing it you’re actually making yourself healthier…I like her logic. And now, enter Ramble.

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It seems to be a phenomenon of our society that things that aren’t good for us are always in style. Smoking (back in the day). Tanning. Being overly skinny. You know? And why is being tan beautiful? I have a lot of theories about society and skin– in our country, if you are able to be tan, it means that you are able to afford to go on vacations, spend time relaxing on the beach or at the pool–that you don’t have to WORK all the time to survive. Even if it is subconscious, that’s what it means. Its shown in those ads that say “Look like you just got back from a tropical vacation! Try our tanning beds!” Why do I need to look like I just got back from a tropical vacation? I don’t have the money for that. And I don’t need to trick people into thinking I do to procure their envy or their admiration. Is any of this making sense? What I’m saying is, I’m done. The skin that covers my body is precious. And it happens to be pretty pale. And I am ready to accept that and embrace that and protect that. Because, I really, really, really want to see my grand kids. I really do. And I exercise, and eat well, and get myself checked, and do all the things to ensure that I’ll be here for a while. And I’m going to add ‘protect my skin’ to that list.

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And as far as sunscreen– I am prone to conspiracy theories when it comes to the regular brands (don’t laugh at me. I love a good conspiracy theory. And it isn’t my fault. Its my husbands.) Does anyone know of any super natural ones that work well? Drop it in the comments because I want to upgrade this year.

wrap dress c/o/white clutch  (it came with a set of make up. Love the make up, love the clutch)/ gold choker c/o (fair trade artisan jewelry), black choker, old similar here

The Process of Pruning

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If you follow me on pinterest you will probably have noticed that I’ve been pinning oversized, cozy sweaters like a fiend. Part of my goal for embracing winter this year is to dress appropriately for it. I love wearing dresses, and I used to just keep wearing them straight through the coldest months with tights and then wonder why I was freezing. The reality is…for folks like myself who get cold when it dips below sixty, the deep chill of New England winters requires some classic New England dressing. L. l. Bean exists for a reason guys. We really DO need to layer a turtleneck or flannel underneath our sweaters. Heck, we may layer a turtleneck AND a flannel and then stuff our wool socked feet into Duck Boots before facing the elements. Anyway. All that being said, I have been hard at work stocking up a good collection of chunky sweaters.

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And believe me, the bare ankles displayed in the above photo only transpired because of the freakish bout of fifty degree days we had after a string of sub-zero temps. Because, climate change. Which always makes me itch with nerves when its unseasonably warm,  but then I also am reveling in it and feeling guilty for reveling and vowing to swear off plastic. Its a lot of emotions all at once, folks. Back to sweaters.

I stocked up on five new ones that I am crazy about– the kind of sweaters that go with everything ( like this one)– and subsequently went through my drawers to get rid of as many old ones as I could. Because I had sweaters. They just weren’t wisely bought ones, for the most part. I used to shop a lot more, before Redmond, back when I worked six days a week and it was my way of having “me” time…Which, upon retrospect, was not the best way to “indulge” myself because it led to piles of clothing that I’d wear once or twice and then either give away or just forget about. Since Red’s arrival, its not that I don’t like style….I do like it. Very much. But it DOES have to serve a more practical purpose for me. bb77e4ac-f3c9-4d32-9c0c-93d2e47a0065

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I went through my wardrobe when we moved in October and donated/gave away bags of things that I didn’t need. A reminder that those impulse purchases of pre-baby life were not necessary. And this past weekend I pruned a bit deeper and a bit further. So, here are my new rules for my closet.

  1. Did I wear it last season? (in this case– last winter)
  2. Do I love it?
  3. Does it go with several different outfits? (I have been guilty of buying a skirt that goes great with that ONE top….and nothing else.)
  4. Is it comfortable and easy to wear? (obviously I have some non practical pieces for special occasions but I don’t need a full wardrobe of that stuff)
  5. Is it something that fits my style? (we all have those items that USED to be “so us” but sort of aren’t anymore….)
  6. How many times will I wear it in a season? (if its less than three times, it really isn’t worth keeping.)769163c6-fe3f-4c49-ac18-8563141fcdcf15749d1e-29dd-4a97-89d2-1f47f7154f93

If an item doesn’t meet that criteria, than its out. That being said, I have a pretty big collection of vintage clothing that I don’t plan on getting rid of because I want to be able to give them to my daughter if I ever have one. But otherwise, I’m working hard to maintain these rules for 2017.

As far as what I do with it all, I sometimes sell it at Buffalo Exchange or Consign Trilogy, but typically I either give it away or donate it. I love handing stuff down to my sister and friends because then I get to see my clothing being worn and loved by someone else. 078376e5-42e3-489c-88d9-6ceb639ff8d6-1

The sweaters that I’m wearing in this series of photos have been on repeat since I got them. With leggings, skirts, skinny jeans, boyfriend jeans, over dresses– the whole gambit. And the black bucket bag pictured is another new regular accessory. Its that perfect size where I can just reach my hand into it and fish around to quickly find whatever I need. Have I mentioned that I’m not very organized? Cause I’m not very organized. This style sells out pretty quick (its from Ms. Littles Bag) so jump on it if you love it.

I would love to hear your methods of keeping your closet pruned!

outfit 1 details: frayed jeans c/o  (on sale! and order a size up– the run small)/ long grey sweater– sold out but similar herebucket bag c/o/ adidas/ beanie, old similar here

outfit 2 details: camel coat c/o/ similar sweater/

 

 

The Matter of Weaning

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This is a bit late in coming. Redmond is almost a year and a half old, and he weaned about three months ago. But part of my goal for this year is to get back into more “lifestyle” type posts, and to be honest, although I love style and try to at least put myself together every day, the thing that really occupies most of my time is mothering. I have worked with children since I was thirteen years old. I have a lot of “theories” about raising them…but until you have your own, all of that is just ideas and words. The past few months have been so exciting for me because I can finally put into real practice some of my ideas.

But when it came to breastfeeding, I knew basically nothing. I wrote about my journey a bit last year, but I just remember so vividly spending hours on the internet trying to find something that would encourage me while I was crying over the fact that I was using a nipple shield and that it hurt and that Redmond took an age to finish nursing when he was little.

So first off. We used the nipple shield until we weaned. I had PLENTY of milk (it took me two months to stop producing) and Red got all that he needed. So. If you can’t get your baby off the nipple shield or just don’t want to undergo the trauma of screaming baby while you attempt to shove your boob into babies mouth without the shield, just stop worrying about it. I spent so much time being afraid that people would judge me or think that I “wasn’t doing it right” because of the shield but…you know what? Who cares.

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Anyways. On to the actual topic of this post. I was terrified to wean. I was scared it would turn my happy baby into a terror. I had visions of Redmond pulling at my clothes, trying to wrench my boobs out, and me feeling like a milk machine but also like a mean mama. I wanted to wean when he was ready…but I also wanted to wean when I was ready. I had planned on going longer with Red, but I started wanting to begin trying for another baby and my body wasn’t able to nurse and return to a normal cycle. This is different for everyone…but even when we were only nursing for five minutes a day, I wasn’t getting a period and I figured the only way to get back to normal would be weaning. In November, we had a wedding to go to, and I wanted Redmond to be able  to go to sleep without nursing first so he wouldn’t give his grandparents a hard time while they babysat. I was really dragging my heels, but one night I just didn’t nurse him. He had eaten a big dinner, we had read some books, he snuggled my shoulder, I gave him his sippy cup of water, and laid him down. And he didn’t cry. He just went to sleep. And slept his usual twelve hours. And just like that, we were done. He never asked for it again. He never even hinted that he was interested. Now, maybe Redmond just didn’t care about nursing. Or maybe his intense love for solid food just swayed him away. But since he started on solids at around six months, I nudged Redmond towards being a pretty scheduled eater. We always nursed in the same spot (on the daybed in his room) and nowhere else. Because of that, when we were out and about or in any other room ofthe house he never tried to nurse. And for me, that was important. I loved breastfeeding, but I also liked maintaining my independence. I dropped his nursing sessions slowly– for a long time we were doing three a day– once when he woke up,  before his nap, and  before bed. I gently weaned him off of those first two over a matter of months and stuck with the final nurse until he was almost fifteen months old. And that was that. I didn’t replace the nurses with bottles– he never took them well — I just gave him little snacks or meals. img_3345

I really worried that when we were done nursing, I would desperately miss that snuggle time with Red. But now he actually cuddles me…he loves sitting on my lap for stories. He loves lying in bed with me. Before I lay him down for bed at night, I whisper a prayer into his ear while I hold him, and he nuzzles his head into my neck and it is such a sweet closeness that somehow means more to me…because he is cuddling me for me. Which feels so special. I still miss the essence of breastfeeding– knowing that I am building and nourishing a child–but it makes me look forward to a second infant that much more. And that’s pretty much all I’ve got to say I think. I would LOVE to answer any questions if you’re a new mom just starting out nursing. It was a hard journey for me but so deeply worth it. And I’d love to hear about your journeys as well! And I’m going to stop saying journey. Ok. Happy almost weekend!

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Reds blanket: c/o Audreys Bear