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Gardening

And look at those wellies! Cute.

Being a stay-at-home mom doesn’t grant you all the free time in the world but there is a certain amount of flexibility in some of our schedules that does create occasional gaps where we don’t even know what to do with ourselves. And I don’t know about you, but my go-to things to pass the time aren’t necessarily all that great for me. Online shopping, daytime TV watching, and stuffing my face, in about that order, are what immediately come to mind.

These things aren’t very productive but on the same token, cramming relatively unimportant chores and errands into every last unscheduled minute of your day isn’t exactly healthy either. Seriously, unless it REALLY bothers you, cleaning the dust and grease off the top of the fridge can wait until moving day LIKE IT USUALLY DOES.

The best hobbies for moms at home should offer a balance of “me time” and productivity. Here are a few criteria you should consider when selecting your new favorite pastime:

1. Use Your Skills

If you already have special talents like a grasp on music, a great sense of taste and smell, or a knack for fixing things, think about how you can use these attributes to their full potential. If this pep talk sounds familiar, it’s the same conversation you may have had in high school or college with a guidance counselor. And back then while you might have been terrified to choose a single career path to follow for the next 40-50 years, this is a much better time in your life where you can focus on “projects” rather than grand plans for the future. You finally have the luxury of dabbling, so fucking go for it.

2. Learn Something

Hobbies are indeed most rewarding when you can learn new tricks and in this information age, learning has never been easier. You may not have the extra cash or hours in your day for a guitar lesson but YouTube has you covered! On demand and always for free, Internet learning is the answer. However if you do have the means, in-person classes will get you out of the house and socializing, making them totally worth it.

3. Think Practical

This is where the productive part comes in. You will get the most bang out of your buck by choosing a hobby you can put to good use for your home and family. Gardening will beautify your yard and feed everyone. And if your husband is anything like mine, sewing will keep him from looking like a hobo because god forbid he have to buy new pants.

4. Soothe Your Soul

If you are desperately in need of some R&R but still feel guilty even thinking about a spa day, it can be hard to enjoy time that is truly for yourself. I encourage any hard-working mom to try and work through those emotions but in the meantime, your hobby should definitely be a relaxing one. If you feel too challenged or overwhelmed, put it aside for another time and pick up something that comes a little more naturally. Personally I haven’t tried knitting but it must be relaxing if I see at least two people doing it in every single 12-step meeting I have ever attended. Seriously.

5. Must Be Sustainable

If your hobby is cheap, year-round, and easily accessible, you will most likely stick with it and cultivate a beautiful friendship. Hobbies really are like people. Sometimes it takes time to warm up to them. I have known people to suddenly get really into football and then at the season’s end they’re all sadface. Then they try to get into something else but nothing compares…noTHING compares…to youuuuuu. And now you totally have to download that song.

A complete list of my hobbies:

Singing (currently with a Red Hot Chili Peppers cover band that is as of yet unnamed but my vote is on Freakapotamus)

Guitar (although I am very, very bad at it)

Paleo baking

Sewing

What are some of your hobbies and why are they important?

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Pink wool skirt

I’ve been seeing a lot of posh pink looks on the fall runways. As much as I love the whole Jackie O thing, I have never been a fan of pink on myself. If given the opportunity to create a pink outfit for one of my creamier friends, however, I would jump at the chance!

I thought this simple pink wool skirt from J.Crew was the perfect example of the tailored yet ultra-femme trend. Not to mention, a staple piece like this is an investment just because it is so versatile and timeless.

For The Office

A basic blouse in either a neutral or light pink shade and a great pair of heels are all you need to make your mark at work. This collar necklace from INPINK is a fabulous added touch.

For The Outing

What’s more chic for fall than a statement sweater paired with a wool skirt? Playing off the geometrical pattern in the top, I went for accessories and shoes that had their own architectural flair. It’s an easy and comfortable yet bold look.

Self defense class

Good form. BAD outfit.

For those of us moms who are married or in a long-term relationship, it hasn’t been “all about you” for quite some time but man, is there nothing like having a baby to drive that point home. I really feel like this was the the fire under my ass that got me to register for self-defense classes. Not to mention I live in Oakland which, as much as I love it, is not the safest city in the U.S. (aaaactually, it’s the third most dangerous out of cities with a population between 100,000 and 499,000. Eep).

When I started my Googling for local self-defense classes, a lot of martial arts popped up–krav maga, karate, kick boxing, etc. All of these sound pretty sexy to me, especially krav maga which is getting trendier by the second in the “hot girl” community. I think they are finally getting tired of the leering and Israeli street fighting sounds a little scarier than karate.

Anyhoo, tempted as I was to take on a martial art, it became apparent those classes spend A LOT of time on technique, precision, and conditioning before they even get down to what you should do if approached by an attacker.

Perfect example: My instructor told me to sweep his leg after stomping his foot and breaking out of a choke hold. My instinct was to swing my leg from the hip and take out his knee with my shin. Bad idea. MMA fighters have the luxury of ultra-strong shins from kicking the bag all day. It not only builds muscle, it creates tiny fractures in the bone that heal and harden over time. So basically my unconditioned shins could snap like twigs if I tried this in real life. By hammering his knee with the bottom of my foot, I magically skip months of bag kicking and still bring down my attacker. This is the real difference between self-defense and martial arts. We don’t have a lifetime to prepare for shit to go down.

My self-defense class is based in Brazilian jiu-jitsu but it is very basic. Blocking, kicking, gaining leverage, these are all very un-fancy concepts. Still, I of course felt pumped after the first lesson. But my adrenaline immediately made me scared.

I feel blessed to have a very “shit happens” attitude about life in general. It also literally keeps me sane as a parent. And anything that gives me an illusion of control immediately frightens me. Because deep down, like all people, I like control. My subconscious begs to be in the driver seat for all situations. But self defense is not a guarantee against victimization. It merely increases the odds, however marginally, that you may walk away from a potentially very fucked up situation. So that’s my final reminder to you. Take the class. Cross your fingers. Shit happens.

Plus size overalls

Sorry all. A family-wide stomach bug that took me out of commission for four whole days has completely derailed my blogulousness and outfit-putting-together abilities for that matter. However, in sickness and in health, I always have my eye out for trends and one in particular that is seriously inspiring me…to vomit…is the sudden and inexplicable comeback of fucking overalls. Why. Seriously, why.

I’m not going to lie by telling you my first thought about plus size overalls wasn’t how utterly unflattering they could potentially be. Fit and flatter are still pretty important to me personally. But for the most part, I agree and live by this quote which I found from my pal Plus Size Panda:

“when it comes to dressing myself, i live by a very simple principle. i am fat, therefore, i look fat in everything; consequently, i can wear anything.” -Kim Selling

So yeah, I can wear anything but guess what–I STILL don’t want to wear fucking overalls. That’s how bad this situation is. I will wear a pink, shapeless, billowing jeweled tunic that in all honesty makes me look like Kirby if Kirby were a pimp but I won’t wear overalls. What I think is the real problem is maaaaaaybe overalls is where the line has to be drawn on the late 80s/early 90s fashion revival. Perhaps we have finally found the limit. Any further and you’ll be seeing Zubaz back on the streets. And not just in an ironic way.

 

Baby Carriers

Do you normally sport cutesy owls? Why start now?

So I used to call this section of the blog FTM (full-time mom) tips when someone asked me what tips I could possibly have for female-to-male transgenders. And while I think some fabulous MTFs might appreciate some of my fashion tips, I got nothing (but love) for the FTMs, sorry. Hence, I am now going with the classic SAHM (stay-at-home mom) title.

Anyway…

If you don’t already have a baby carrier and are thinking of getting one, first off you should know that if your babe digs it, carriers are pretty boss. There are definitely benefits to hitting the streets with a stroller but baby carriers are perfect for quick trips and more crowded places like public transit or restaurants.

Once you choose a type you’d like to try (whether you decide on rocking the Ring Sling, Moby, Ergo, or Kiddo Cocoon), another important choice follows–color and style. Remember, YOU are wearing this thing, not your baby. In fact, depending on which one you go with, you might just keep it on after taking baby out of it since it might be easier than putting it back on again. By this logic…

A carrier is a fashion accessory. Shop for it like one!

If you normally like to wear cartoon owls or graphic cherry blossom trees, then by all means go with that style–whatever works for you. However, you can also find some pretty wicked prints or you can stick with the classically chic solid black (both of which can provide fantastic camouflage from spills, spits, and poops). Above all, find something that you not only think is aesthetically cute, but something that fits your fashion. It may hold your baby but it reps you!

Red Lipstick

If you’ve ever watched What Not To Wear, you probably remember the “five-minute face” part of the makeover. It’s definitely necessary to have a simple, natural-look makeup regiment for more everyday situations. But really, all a five-minute face does is make you not look like you’re running on four hours sleep and only crawling out of the house on a diaper run. Frazzled, rainy, overtired days really bum me out and a dose of fabulous is all the more needed. This is why sunglasses and red lipstick are one of my favorite pick-me-ups.

I actually picked up this tip after a pin-up class with the lovely Bettina May. You don’t need to fiddle with mascara and highlighting pencil when you have a big dark pair of chic sunglasses. I know it seems like hiding but you bought those shades because they make you look like a rock star. Your eyes being naked underneath shouldn’t make a difference! And a red lip goes with EV. RY. THING.

However, I do recommend consulting a professional to find the right red for you. Pop into a Sephora and let them match you with the perfect shade for your skin tone. Trust me, it makes a difference. They may even be able to recommend daytime and evening reds, if you want some variety.

What is your signature red lipstick shade?

Old Navy activewear

Sometimes I feel like I’m “puttin’ on” when I put on real workout clothes. I am clearly not an athlete, I don’t have even have a strict workout schedule (obvi since I have an infant), and do brisk walks around Lake Merritt with a jogging stroller even count as an actual workout? I always feel like one of the real joggers I pass on the street will suddenly stop, point, and scream at me like a bodysnatcher.

Bodysnatchers

But whatever! I sweat. I need wicking fabrics. And while I’m at it, they might as well be cute because they are expensive. Becoming a mom is really making me determined to not use all the available excuses to look craptastic. If I only get to leave the house once a day and that one time is a “workout,” I’m making it count. You’d be surprised the difference it makes! Seriously, it beats my foundation-stained sweats and an old t-shirt.

What I’m Wearing:
Old Navy Activewear shirt, bra, and leggings
Nike Air Max 90s
 
 

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Rockaholic dry shampoo

If you have resisted using dry shampoo thus far, there is no better time than becoming a new mom to knock that shit off. Seriously, dry shampoo was amazing before I had a baby and now it’s a fucking lifeline.

More and more women are washing their hair less and less. Washing every day can make your hair even greasier by rinsing away essential oils that your scalp then works overtime to replace. If you didn’t know that, you’re welcome. However it does take time for your hair to become balanced after cutting down washes so using dry shampoo will definitely help you not look like you dipped your dome in Vaseline. You know, just for lolz.

But we all know the REAL reason for using dry shampoo is how much babies just love to gobble up your shower time. They must really like the smell of morning breath and butt because I know my kid doesn’t seem to give a crap about what I’m doing unless I’m, god forbid, trying not to look like a Garbage Pale Kid before I leave the house. It’s as if he knows he is forced to wear shapeless, unflattering clothes which he usually barfs and craps on and he’s just trying to get even.

By the way, I love Rockaholic dry shampoo by Tigi which has a pleasant but subtle smell and no waxy residue like a lot of dry shampoos tend to do. I also recommend Redken’s dry shampoo which literally has no smell at all, which is great if you are trying to de-grease the man in your life.

 

 

Mom and stroller

If SHE could do it, so can you.

First off, I have to clarify my usage of the term “full-time mom.” Whether you have a paying job, whether that job is 20, 40, or even 60 hours a week, we are all full-time moms. However if calling myself a stay-at-home mom even remotely subconsciously suggests to me that I should stay in my house, on my couch, in my sweats any more than I absolutely need to, then I just can’t use the term. We all know that getting out of the house with a baby can be a tall order. Some days it takes me all I’ve got to get it done and the whole time in my head, I am kicking, screaming, and shitting my pants as much as my kid is. Nevertheless, I still advise you to

Get The Fuck Out Of Your House

Like most things in motherhood, this too gets easier the more you do it. Every time you and baby bon voyage together, you learn how he copes in different settings at different times of day. You also quickly learn that over-packing will not help you avoid disaster, only strategy will and you can’t get that without practice.

As for motivation to get out, some days you will plain and simple not have it. Aside from it being a tad difficult, there tend to be limited actual reasons for me to leave the house. Walks are usually reason enough but like all good-for-you things, it gets old. So my favorite thing to do on the reg is

Mall Trips

Like many compulsive people, my first ideas when trying to find something to do often involve eating and shopping. Even though I tragically cannot afford all the clothes in the fucking universe as much as I can’t afford the extra calories of eating at Hot Dog On A Stick everyday just like in my dirtiest fantasies, I still really like taking a stroll through the mall. One, window shopping is a great way to take some style notes and get inspired to “shop” through my own closet when I get home. Two, you can easily walk a mile or two in a long, leisurely circle through the mall which is fabulous when the weather sucks. And three, Panda Express has low calorie options. Can’t go wrong.