Like most new parents, we had grand plans for how “normal” our post-baby life would be. Inspired by our remarkably portable niece, we imagined going places in the evenings, taking her on long excursions during the day, having spontaneous adventures…

Yeah. About that. As it happens, M. very much likes to sleep in her crib, thankyouverymuch, and not really in other places. And I can’t really say I blame her, since the world is a pretty interesting place. But between her preference for sleeping at home and my logistical and emotional need for some semblance of routine from an early date (about which more later), things have looked, well, different than we expected.

But we had one cherished dream for our post-baby life that I’d been unwilling to give up on, even though it’s been on the shelf for a while: taking M. rock climbing with us. D. and I met in a climbing gym more than seven years ago, and through injuries (some serious) and other interruptions, it’s been a major part of our lives (and indeed, has been a part of mine since I started doing it competitively in high school). With precautions and my doctor’s okay, I continued climbing some until I was about 20 weeks pregnant, and I hadn’t been back since then. (D. has been in and out with injuries since then, but has been back a few times since M. was born.)

And then finally, yesterday, it happened. We wrapped up work a little early, picked M. up and headed off to the climbing gym. We alternated playing with the baby and working on boulder problems for a few hours, introducing her to old friends and introducing our muscles to old ways of moving. And when she eventually needed to eat, I found myself leaning against a back wall of the gym, nursing a smiling baby, unable to stop smiling myself.

It wasn’t the greatest night of climbing I’ve ever had. We’re still figuring out the kinks of getting both of us enough climbing time, and my shoes are mindbogglingly tight on my relaxin-stretched feet. Lateral movement on overhangs is… slightly jarring, a searing reminder that I need to keep working on my core strength as my body continues to knit itself back together. But my arms are sore in a euphoria-inducing way, and I felt alive, and alert, and blissfully happy.

But it wasn’t just the pump in my forearms and the thrill of being off the ground that made our night, it really was the experience of being there together. Of getting to feel physically more like my prepregnancy self, sure, but also of getting to feel like the kind of family we’ve always said we wanted to be. The kind who shares the things we love with our daughter, who blends her smoothly into our adult lives (as cute as it is to watch her focus so, so hard on the toys on her exersaucer). I know this may only get harder as she continues hurtling down the path towards being a toddler, which is all the more reason to push myself out of my comfort zone of chaos-avoidance to help us live the kind of life we want to now, before things change again.

Who knows, maybe I’ll have to make an exception to my shopping ban for a new pair of climbing shoes (and to do some research on kid-sized harnesses).

Do you play sports or enjoy outdoor activities with your kids, or have memories of doing so with your own parents?

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{ photographic proof of a night well spent, my #febphotoaday self-portrait }

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{ Focus and wonderment, with a quick detour into Northern Renaissance painting }

{ In a Gerber zip-up sleeper and a Carter’s onesie. Both of which are pink. Sigh. }

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  • Patterned Shirtdress: (Accidental!) Target
  • Teal Cardigan: Caslon via Nordstrom’s, gift from Mom
  • Black Tights: HUE
  • Brown Riding Bots: Franco Sarto via Zappos
  • Belt: Forever21
  • Earrings: Old Navy

Much as being a parent in law school (or in any setting where relatively few people have kids) has its “oooh! Look at the pandas!” moments, my particular experience suggests that pandas might not be so rare. In one three-month span this summer and early fall, five children were welcomed by students from my first-year section (of 120) alone.

This is not at all representative of law students as a whole, or even students at my law school, and I don’t know what was in the water last winter that explains the great Section One Baby Boom of Fall 2011. It’s worth noting that it’s not just our child-rearing habits that seem to be ahead of the curve; a decent number of my classmates were married before beginning law school, and that number has grown over the last 2.5 years. I’d like to think we’re exercising some kind of group defiance against the (bogus but oft-repeated) idea that law school has to entirely kill your personal life and your relationships with anyone outside law school, but that rebellion is probably more in my head than anything else.

We make a strange secret society, our motley crew of zombie parents (frequently indistinguishable from zombie law students of other stripes). Some of us were good friends before we all became parents at around the same time, and some of us have little in common other than that. But amid a whole lot of trying to appear normal, we share our secret Real Lives, passing down leftover newborn diapers and advice about class schedules and back-up child care. Membership comes with its own private rituals and obligations, a strange amalgam of commiseration about sleep schedules and an iron-clad promise to cover if you have to miss class.

Although I planned (or attempted to plan) many aspects of our process-of-becoming-parents (and boy, am I eager to tell you about them!), this was not one of them. Among my friends from college, D. and I were frontier settlers in the land of marriage, and if you’d asked me who I thought would be accompanying us on this journey to the outer space of parenthood, I certainly would not guessed that it would be my law school classmates. It’s turned out to be a wonderful surprise: while there are universal things about parenting that anyone whose done it can tell you, there is a kind of magic, healing bond that comes of experiencing very similar things at very similar times. And while much of the “parent wars” (I won’t say “mommy wars”) rhetoric out there is unhelpful nonsense, it is certainly not false that the way our lives are organized (economically, structurally, logistically) influences how we experience parenting, and that it can be incredibly helpful to have people around you implementing similar models and experiencing similar challenges. I don’t know if you’ve heard this rumor, but the early days of being a new parent can be incredibly lonely, even as they are magical in ways you never could have guessed; it helps to have some hands to guide your metaphoric leap into the great unknown.

I wore this outfit to a lunch with some of our partners in crime/law school parenting; my friend S(3). and I are both home with our kids on Fridays, and often get together for lunch with the babies and sometimes a spouse or another friend from school. His son l. is only six weeks older than baby m., and they aren’t really old enough to meaningfully interact, but they smile at each other sometimes, and we trade off holding babies and burp clothes so nobody has to eat the entire meal one-handed, and we go home relieved that we’ve made it out of the house, that we have Done A Thing Today, Darn It. It has done wonders for everyone’s sanity. This dress (yet another accidental Target find), in all its milk-friendly glory, was forced into early retirement after the fourteenth spit-up incident during the two hours we were out of the house. Thankfully, it seems to have survived the wash, and I look forward to rejoicing in its dot-matrix pattern, its swishy shape, and oh, yes, those fabulous buttons, in many remixes to come (particularly if this warm weather keeps up. Insane!).

There are aspects of our experience that we don’t share, of course, and I’d be remiss if I didn’t note that of these five families, I am the only female parenting student. There are days when this state of being not-just-a-parent-but-a-mother matters more and less, but for these last few weeks and months before we all splinter off to the wide blue yonder, I’m trying to be a lumper rather than a splitter.

All the same, I’ll reserve the right to refer to our Friday lunches as “mom dates.”

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I’ve been struggling with blogger’s block lately. Partially, I’m sure, it’s because I’ve been genuinely busy and have had a lot of Serious Writing to get out the door. I suspect there’s more to it than that, though. I’ve been trying to figure out how to reconcile my (evolving!) blog-mission with my (evolving!) life-mission right now, and I hope you’ll be willing to indulge me just a little … mission creep. It sounds frightening, I know, but I hope it’ll be a step forward in the long run.

I believe (really, a lot!) in the power of our style choices to fashion our selves and deeply influence our experiences. It’s part of why I started this blog: to push myself to think critically about the self I was presenting to the world, and about the ways that outward self did (and sometimes didn’t) jive with the inner reality. To take a little bit more seriously a part of my life that I often didn’t. Or at least, to take it seriously enough to get out of the rut I’d been in as I tried to navigate what I was supposed to be doing as a (slightly) older student in the second half of law school.

And it’s worked, by and large: I’ve pushed my own sartorial boundaries in ways I never would have expected, toppled some serious body image barriers (even while enormously pregnant), made friends in sometimes surprising places, and felt comfortable and confident in my own skin. Along the way, you’ve encouraged, challenged and inspired me, and I hope I’ve done some measure of that for some of you as well. Or at least kept you from feeling like you had to wear 1970s floral smocks for your entire pregnancy.

But while this space is a lot about style, it’s also about identity, both general and specific. Identity in a category: as a woman, in professional life, in academic life, in a region, in a family, as a spouse, as a parent, a thinker, an athlete, a daughter, a friend. My own identity, in my own real set of day-to-day lived experiences actually being all of those things. At once. Not all of which neatly reduce to and find metaphors in what I’m wearing (though it might be neat, just as a thought experiment, if they did).

All of this is really to say, I’m expanding the scope of what you’ll see around here over the coming weeks and months. While I promise not to entirely devolve into posting adorable pictures of my kid (which is fine! As a life choice! Really!), I’ll probably talk a bit more about her and our lives and what I really think about what it’s like to have a baby in law school (some of that specific identity stuff). And I’ll probably have a bit more to say about the broader picture, about professional and academic life, about gender, about working parenthood, too. And maybe even on a good day, some of the things that make up the “spare time” of my life, the extracurricular thoughts and activities that flit in and out of a currently relatively packed existence. Probably, also, there will be some things that are just pretty and enjoyable. I’m not sure precisely how this content will or won’t weave in with outfit posts and some of my ongoing series on personal style development, so I’ll beg your indulgence as I figure out what works best.

As I said, think of it as mission creep, not mission abandonment. This space is and always will be about self-fashioning and the aesthetics and politics of identity, about finding and claiming a spot in transitional times in life, about finding the creativity and joy and self-love for which a serious job should be no excuse. As a result, explicitly style-related content will remain the majority of what you see here. But after more than a year of blogging through a lot of life changes, I’m just testing out a slightly broader lens in examining these kinds of questions. I’m hoping it will give me a chance to push the content you see here a little further in terms of the writing, photography and design, and to provide an outlet for a little bit more of life as I’m living it.

I couldn’t be more thankful for all of you, long- and short-time readers, lurkers, commenters and tweeps, for the way you’ve enriched my days and made what seemed like a slightly zany experiment in stepping out of my comfort zone feel so worthwhile and awesome. I’m looking forward to this new phase, and as always, welcome your thoughts on the kinds of content you’re most interested in, whether via e-mail, comment or 4:00 a.m. tweet.

And who knows, this might even be fun. 

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[You'll have to forgive the terrible pun. It was just lying there. Waiting to happen! And I tripped over it.]

While I’m not officially blacked out today in protest of the proposed anti-piracy legislation known as SOPA (the Stop Online Piracy Act, H.R. 3261), PIPA (the Protect Intellectual Property Act, S. 968), or the “internet blacklist legislation” (depending on whether you’re the House, the Senate, or the Electronic Frontier Foundation), I did want to take a minute on this internet-wide day of action to say a few words. I promise, there won’t be too many, and I also promise that even though there are words like “law” and “compliance” and “rights,” nothing you are about to read constitutes legal advice or creates an attorney-client relationship of any kind or in any way represents anything that even looks like the practice of law. (Not a jedi mind trick, I promise: it really isn’t, and a vague disclaimer is nobody’s friend.)

This post is really aimed at other bloggers, but if you tweet, you update your facebook status, you hang out on google+, you post photos on flickr or instagram, you run a website of any kind, you send content out into the ether of the internet in any form, you’re an internet content provider, and these debates affect you. Not just the people who run the website for the Church of Pirated Content. You. And me. And people who do stuff we care about online.

SOPA/PIPA have been called attempts “to capture a lion that has escaped from the zoo by blasting some kittens with a flamethrower,” but that’s only part of the point. The SOPA/PIPA debate highlights an issue that was already there, lurking within the existing law: bloggers and social media types are (often) internet content providers. And with that great power comes great responsibility: a huge matrix of laws and regulations seek to both regulate us and protect us. Even if Congress does nothing to change current intellectual property law.

So, yes: I wrote my member of Congress, communicating my opposition to SOPA (okay, not so hard: I used to work for him, and I knew he was opposed anyway), and there are a number of great resources out there to help you do that (try these). And whether you support or oppose the legislation, I’d urge you to do the same. But I’d ask a bigger favor of you today, while you’re flipping out when you’re on call in class and can’t look up the cases on wikipedia (or are struggling through a slow part of the afternoon because you can’t do similar research on how titles are inherited by the English aristocracy while watching Downton Abbey, or because you can’t procrastinate on reddit): take a few minutes to educate yourself about your rights—and responsibilities—as an internet content provider, what they are now and how they might change if SOPA/PIPA were enacted.

In disputes with small internet content providers like bloggers and social media types, the “other side” often has a lot of advantages: money, lawyers, conventional media access, shows of overwhelming force. But might doesn’t necessarily make right. You have obligations to play fairly in the great sandbox of the internet, but you also have important rights that are worth knowing about, protecting, and deploying effectively when necessary. And while nobody can do it for you, some great organizations have done their best to get you on your way.

So go forth, friends: boldly, confidently, and, yes, responsibly, and keep making the internet awesome. It wouldn’t be the same without any of you.

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  • Necklace: Gifted
  • Earrings: Mall vendor
  • Grey Cowl-Neck Tee: Filene’s Basement
  • Aubergine Cord Skirt: Thrifted
  • Black Belt: Ann Taylor
  • Red Cardigan: Vintage Michael Kors, mommed
  • Black Tights: HUE
  • Black Boots (finally!): Born “Mallory,” holiday gift from D.

2012? Seriously?

I remember when I was applying to law school (back in the dark ages of the fall of 2008, which is now starting to seem like a really long time ago), D. and I looked at letters inviting me to apply for the Class of 2012, and the date sounded almost futuristic, like some kind of insane fantasy. 2012? That’s when some people think the world is going to end!

And yet, it seems that brave new world has arrived: even though I keep writing checks dated 2011, it is, in fact, January 2012, and my last semester of law school starts in a week. And while I’m not big on new years’ resolutions per se, I’ve definitely got a list on my mind of things I’d like to work on in the coming year:

    1. Make my last semester of school meaningful. I’m unlikely to ever be in school again, and I want to make it count. Separate and apart from my desire not to have “senioritis” affect my grades and jeopardize 2.5 years of hard work, I don’t believe in doing things halfheartedly, particularly not right now, as my time is so limited on all fronts. I still have some (actually, a lot) of big dreams out there and some things I need to be doing to keep them in the realm of possibility, and it’s worth remembering that. Even without the utilitarian aspects, I want to be intellectually engaged and alive to the moment.
    2. Get back to running — injury free. I’ve had so many false starts in my running career, but the physical changes associated with pregnancy, childbirth and recovery give me (a) a lot of healing to do and (b) a chance to start fresh. So for 2012, no big races (nothing longer than 10K), no crazy training plans, just safe, measured progress, and a lot of cross-training.
    3. Go more places with the little one. For a variety of reasons, including a dislike of chaos, I didn’t do a lot of venturing out on the days I was home by myself with Baby m. during the semester. Now that we have a little more help and I’ve picked up the pieces a bit more, I’m hoping I’ll get better at taking her places by myself on my non-working days.
    4. Go more places… without the little one. True confession: D. and I have only been out together without m. twice since she was born…3.5 months ago. Whether it’s going climbing together or just going to see a movie, it’s something we should do more of.
    5. Become a radical completionist. As evidence of my distractability, I can’t even begin to narrate what happened from when I sat down to write this and finally finished it. I have a huge to be filed file and a tendency to look at a task, contemplate it and then put it off, whether it’s postal mail, email, blog stuff, cleaning our house, writing, etc. It’s a lousy habit, and one that would restore hours back into my days and weeks if I could kick it.
    6. Meet my breastfeeding goals, but let them evolve as circumstances require. I didn’t expect that I’d be able to breastfeed, but it’s been a wonderful experience for us in ways I couldn’t have anticipated. It’s also one that’s required some Herculean efforts to make work (about which more later), but which I’m willing to keep doing (in a totally non-judgmental please just do what’s best for your family way!!).
    7. Honor my physical and emotional well-being…and my desire to get back in shape. This is easier said than done, but I’m working on it.
    8. Shop sanely and sustainably. I talked a little bit about this in the context of my commitment to thrifting more in the coming year, but there’s more to it than that: thinking critically about wants and needs, making investments that will last, not plunking down cash for things I don’t love and feel fabulous about.
    9. Be a confident parent and a present partner. Worth it for everyone’s sake. Also some stuff about reducing the amount of clutter in our house — physically and emotionally.

 
Where do you stand on new years resolutions? What are you most looking forward to in 2012?

I should add a brief post-script about this outfit: I have been looking for these boots for ages (thanks, D.!), and they were worth the wait. I still haven’t gotten over my thing about reds and aubergines. This skirt is an exception to the “never thrift things from Target” rule: the fit is iffy, but it’s a good quality garment that seems like it will last a while. Unlike this shirt, which has a spit-up stain the size of Texas on it that refuses to budge. Le sigh…

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Hi friends! We’re off to Boston to spend Christmas with husband D.’s family, and wanted to wish you and your families a very, very happy holiday (whether it’s Christmas proper or, in our case, secular American gift-giving day) season and a wonderful new year! I’ll be checking back in and out over the long weekend, but I’ll mostly be taking a break from my computer to enjoy some quality visiting and relaxing. But, before we go: this week’s Friend Friday questions on holiday memories…

1. Your favorite holiday memory: Husband D.’s family has so many amazing holiday traditions, and it’s been incredible to be a part of his family’s holiday story for all these years, as well as my own. One of my favorite memories is from a few years ago, when we forgot to bring D.’s Christmas stocking back up to Boston with us (after she’d sent it home with us the previous year, so he wouldn’t be lonely at my parents’ place). In less than a day, my MIL had knitted him a new “emergency stocking,” just to make sure he’d have one for Christmas. At the time, I remember thinking that this was a bit extreme (and feeling epically bad about having forgotten the stocking…), but now it’s one of my favorite moments: just a really beautiful, telling story about how much she loves her son, and about how important family is to her.

2. Were you ever a victim of those family Christmas party photo shoots? What do you think about them now?Oh man… My dad, who actually has a very good sense of humor, tends to spend a lot of time around the holidays taking “candid” photos of family members. He has an uncanny knack, though, for trying to take the photo precisely at a break in conversation, so what he tends to end up with are lots and lots of pictures of people looking at him awkwardly.

3. Best Christmas gift you ever gave: Two years ago, I gave husband D. a large-format inkjet printer. It was the first time I’d tried to get him a gadget that I’d heard him talking about for ages, and I remember being inordinately pleased with myself that I had (a) picked out the right one and (b) managed to have it be a total surprise. That was a really great year for gifts, actually: that same year, we gave my MIL a new quilting-capable sewing machine. She’s an extremely accomplished quilter and seamstress, and it was amazing to see how much she appreciated it and all the amazing things she’s made with it.

4. Craziest/funniest holiday family tradition: Every year on Christmas Eve, my mother bakes way, way too many sugar cookies, makes a number of “artistic” colors of icing, and sets the family at work decorating more Christmas cookies than we could ever imagine wanting to eat. Usually this involves the coating of some porous surface or another in food coloring, the scattering of sprinkles and little silver balls and red hots all over the kitchen, and, historically, some comedic territoriality over who gets to decorate the 12” tall giant Santa cookie my mother always makes. Seven years later, people are still talking about D.’s first Christmas with us, when he wrote “this is not a cookie” in icing on a particularly attractive looking cookie. It was yet another indicator that he was going to fit right in.

5. Favorite type of Christmas cookie: According to a very good friend of ours, I have a soft spot for ginger-anything: gingerbread, gingersnaps, etc. I think my favorite only-during-the-holidays cookies are those peanut butter ones with the Hershey’s kisses on them. I never make them at home, but every now and then we run into some at a cookie swap.

What are your favorite holiday traditions? To learn more about Friend Friday, click here.

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25 November 2010
  • Grey Cardigan: Ann Taylor
  • Brown Woven Belt: LOFT
  • Black and Red Patterned Dress: Express
  • Black Tights: HUE
  • Grey Boot Socks: LOFT
  • Brown Riding Boots: Franco Sarto, via Zappos
  • Necklace: David Yurman, gifted

26 November 2010

  • Brown Tweed Sweater: Vintage Ralph Lauren, mommed
  • Necklace: gifted
  • Mustard Tank: Banana Republic
  • Skinny Belt: Ann Taylor
  • Navy Cords: J. Crew, skinnied and hemmed by me
  • Brown Flats: LL Bean
Thanks for indulging my internet absence and delayed comment-responding for the past 48 hours or so as husband D. and I enjoyed a lovely Thanksgiving with my parents, my youngest brothers and my aunt and uncle. We spent Thursday afternoon and evening cooking and enjoying Thanksgiving dinner, and then today did some tourist-y things downtown as part of a relaxed and shopping-free Black Friday (thank you, Kendi!). Thanksgiving is a dress-up affair in my parents house, so I chose from among the more festive items in my capsule wardrobe, trying yet again to remix this dress in another never-before-seen combination. While this version is a bit fussier than my previous effort (or at least, more accessorized), it does pull together the boots and socks into a coherent color story with the rest of the outfit. Why I decided to wear tights and a belt on Thanksgiving, the world may never know, but I was warm and comfortable and felt at least a little bit more like myself than if I had worn, say, yoga pants. Flats were critical on Friday to accommodate the hours of museum walking, and our first snap of real looks-like-winter days meant I wanted to be warm and cozy while we were at it. I love this mustard tank under this brown tweed sweater, and while I realize it was awfully bold to wear skinny pants and a hip-bone-length top on the day after Thanksgiving, I really liked the way this turned out; I felt comfortable and confident and free to enjoy the day with both close and distant relatives without fussing too much about what I was wearing.
Sartorial ramblings aside, I have so much to be thankful for this year, and even though it has been in some ways a difficult fall, it was nice to spend a few days thinking about how deeply, deeply blessed we have been. I’m thankful for our happy, nurturing, wonderful marriage (for 2.5 years yesterday!) and for seven amazing years together. Thankful for our physical and mental health and that of those closest to us. Thankful for the amazing professional and academic opportunities we’ve had recently. Thankful for the friends near and far who engage, challenge, inspire and support us in good times and in not so awesome times. Thankful for you all, my readers I’m coming to know and those I hope to come to know soon, in this wonderful community of style-bloggers; thankful for your feedback and your creativity and your inspiring attitudes and writings and images. In the small ways, and in the not-so-small ways, it really has been a wonderful year, and I’m so, so grateful, even in the moments when I feel like I would rather curse the darkness than turn on the lights.
A very happy Thanksgiving, and a very blessed and happy holiday season to all of you, from our Narrowly Tailored family to yours!
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