3 weeks ago
July Q&A: Relationships, Clean Beauty, Life, and Motherhood
Time for a July Q&A. Sharing requested links and answering your questions about relationships, life, and and parenting.
How are you doing?
Thank you to everyone who asked a version of this question. Every month seems to feel better at this point, so I’d say I’m doing really well – a lot less anxious than I was last year. Worrying a lot less and feeling generally lighter. I feel really ready to get back into a workout routine and just need to learn to enjoy at-home workouts. It’s been so nice to spend time outside, to finally see (some) friends after a pretty lonely and isolated year.
Part of me is figuring out a new normal, but it feels really good. I can finally take better care of myself and am really enjoying having more time with the girls. Naturally, there are some ups and downs. Clinic days happen once a month and I’m always in a weird place after. So grateful that Margot is doing well and amazed at where we are, while being painfully aware that too many other families are going through this nightmare. It’s just not really possible to spend time on the pediatric oncology floor and not open your eyes to what really matters. But my girls are one and three! They’re both doing so well. Kate is such a little love muffin and I am really excited to see who she’s going to become from 1-2 – this was such a fun stage with Margot, and I love seeing our girls together. Margot is amazing. She’s my hero.
What is your leadership style like?
This is actually the first time I’ve been asked this one. I am a democratic / participative leader – I always valued everyone’s opinions and really wanted my team to feel like they had balance and were respected. More of the “could you try” vs “get this to me by the end of the day” – I’d feel so out of my element being that boss. Looking back, being a boss isn’t something I ever really wanted to do and I don’t know that I enjoyed it. I loved my team but did not love being one of the people they reported to. I didn’t hate it, but did not thrive in that role. I read a few articles on this and it turns out, it’s very common for leaders to realize that they no longer want to be a boss, and aren’t sure they ever really wanted that role in the first place. That is me. I love inspiring women, sharing stories, and collaborating, but being a boss/leader isn’t my thing.
Any tips on how to end a friendship that is no longer happy, healthy, or helpful?
I’m sorry you’re dealing with this! So this might not be the “right” way to do things, but if the relationship is not in a place where things are good and you’re speaking regularly, and it does not seem like things will get better, I’d just end communication. Friendships change. There are people I was friends with years ago that I don’t really talk to anymore – we grew apart and that is ok. I wish them the best and would be happy to hear from them. But when things are no longer happy or healthy, that’s another story. You do not owe this person anything if they’re not treating you well or are being unsupportive. If you find them reaching out, I’d just be honest in the most respectful way possible. I think I’ve only once had to ask someone not to contact me again after this person got really nasty – other friendships have just sort of faded. Does that help?
Hi! Love the white bowls you used for your peach and burrata salad.
Hi! And thank you. They’re vintage. I bought a mix on ebay, poshmark, and replacements.com.
How do you keep your relationship strong?
We’ve definitely had moments where we didn’t feel strong this year, but the key is being a team and trying to take care of each other. Going through one of the hardest things a couple can go through will rock your world, and we both rallied for Margot, but processed and coped so, so differently. My anxiety got the best of me, and when that happened, it was so important to continue to communicate through it. I worry about everything, want to talk through all my feelings, and like to prepare for and think about (ok, worry) about every potential outcome. Conor is the opposite, which is exactly what I need at the end of the day. We’ve had our disagreements like all couples, and when we do, we give ourselves a few hours then talk through them. Ask for help, but do it nicely and don’t make it urgent if it isn’t (something I had to work on). If you both try to make things easier for each other, you’re both going to feel valued, loved, and cared-for. And don’t forget to take time to connect with your partner, even when things are hard. That is what works for us.
Advice on how to deal with a coworker who has created a power struggle?
That is so tough. I don’t know the circumstances but try not to engage. Let it go if you can and if things are really complicated, I’d talk to your boss or HR if at all possible.
I struggle with how I spend my child-free time. Help?
What is child-free time? Ha. This is an eternal struggle for mothers everywhere. When I was working full-time, I only had any sort of help while I worked. Plans after work were non existent since I was already away from Margot all day – there was zero balance. Weekends were also spent with Margot, and I couldn’t really make plans most of the time since Conor is a realtor and often works weekends. It’s so hard! I didn’t have child-free time from March 2020 – April 2021. I’m still with the girls a lot, but am able to take a break for an occasional manicure, am finally starting to work out again, and that is when I work, too. It’s nice to take a break and do something you enjoy like gardening or even just getting out to run an errand. Sometimes, it’s nice to be super-productive. I do not time-block my schedule though, but if I know I have an hour, will usually choose something to tackle. Don’t forget to just sit and relax, too.
Eating healthy in a stressful time?
Another eternal struggle. I try to stock up on basic veggies and have some grilled chicken and avocado so I can throw a quick salad together. Do the same with healthy snacks: cassava chips, veggies and hummus or guac, an apple, rX bar etc. Have healthy version of the things you love. Frozen fruit or popsicles instead of ice cream. These are amazing and don’t have any added sugar. Some days call for pizza and that’s ok, but I find that when I eat better, I feel better and am less sluggish. If I’m on the go, I’ll pick up a sweetgreen salad.
The best advice for a soon to be first time mom?
There is no such thing as the perfect mother, that mom on instagram isn’t doing a better job than you are, you don’t need to do it all, and don’t forget to ask for help. You’re going to be ok.
Where did you get your striped chairs?
They’re from Serena and Lily.
Favorite clean beauty products?
I need to work on some new blog posts since I’m now two years into using clean beauty products and have discovered some new ones along the way. Most of my favorites are linked in my shop.
Favorite clean hair products?
I shared all of my favorite clean hair products in this post.
Any gift ideas for a friend who likes design?
Beauty product you can’t live without?
I’m sure I’d survive without any of these but my most-used products are:
Is Olive and June nail polish really worth the hype?
I’m not sure how much hype there is but I really like it. It’s clean and stays on for a long time unless you’re Margot. And I love the colors. I used GH today.
Favorite postpartum jeans for new moms?
I did not wear jeans for months and months. My girls were born late June and early July, so it was hot, and I gained a good 40 lbs with both (maybe 45?) so nothing fit. Considering that I didn’t start wearing jeans until the fall, madewell high rise are super stretchy and flattering. I also love my AGOLDE high rise jeans. They’re stiff but if you buy the right size, they are the most flattering. A splurge but well worth it.
What refrigerator do you have?
We didn’t purchase it since our kitchen was done when we moved in, but it looks almost identical to this one.
Single and 29. Buying my first condo this summer. Any design tips/advice?
Congrats!! So exciting. I’d have a list of all the projects you want to do and things you want to buy, and start saving for each one. Have a plan if you’re not furnishing a room at once, because it’s not fun when you buy a couch then don’t know what chair you want when you’re ready. It’s a process! When I decorated my first place (I did not own it) I furnished it really slowly. My dresser was a TV stand for a while, and I went months without a coffee table, but it was fine (and exciting). I’d rather wait and get the right pieces, so it happened over the course of a year. Start a Pinterest board, follow designers you love on instagram, and get inspired. And save/budget. We waited about a year and-a-half before redoing our bathrooms and budgeted for the project.
Favorite investment purse or tote?
Purses are something I’ve given so little thought to over the last year. I probably use my Goyard ( I have it in black) more than anything. It holds the girls basic essentials, is durable, and looks great with almost everything. A major investment, I bought it in Paris the weekend of our wedding.
For a smaller bag, I really like the Celine micro belt bag, but this is beautiful and serves the same purpose.
Ten year anniversary gift ideas?
Travel or a big house purchase/update. We always love Italy but Portugal and Argentina were incredible, too. Conor and I will always choose travel but since we couldn’t this year, we bought a few things for the house. Art, a new bed, or amazing vintage piece?
How do you like your black dining cabinets?
So I love the look and do recommend them, but the fingerprints might annoy someone. Haven’t quite figured out how to (really) clean them butI am very type A and mostly don’t notice them. I just wouldn’t want to not bring that up in case that might be a dealbreaker for someone else.
Do you have a necklace with your girls names or initials?
I do. My favorite is the maya brenner since it’s so easy to wear. Need to add a K.
Can you share a little about the decision making process around playdates right now?
Of course. Keep in mind our circumstances are different than most, but I think I’d be pretty careful either way since babies and toddlers cannot be vaccinated. We have two sets of friends we feel safe seeing inside since both families are being as cautious as we are. I ask our oncologist where we are at with the pandemic and what her recommendations are once a month (every time we see her). Any time something comes up, I email our oncology nurse.
Following the CDC is tricky for us because the site clearly states that if you are at risk, you should talk to your doctor, so we can’t really go off that, but I like to know what everyone’s doing. Sorry, I’m rambling. So, we have done some outdoor playdates. Our ballet pod is masked even though it’s outside and all parents are vaccinated. If Margot wants to run around with our friends kids (and if the parents are vaccinated) we are ok with playdates outside, but were advised (by our doc) to put masks on the kids if they are sitting next to each other for 10 min, which never really happens.
Do you have a system for storing Margot’s clothes for Kate?
I do! I have a bunch of bins in our basement and label them by size. I didn’t know what I’d be having when Margot was little but figured it was best to save everything, so it really worked out when the girls were nine days short of being exactly two years apart. So right now, there’s a 18-24 month box, 24 month, and so on. I also store old toys with the same system, and actually have a lot of small toys that would be a choking hazard for Kate stored away until she stops shoving everything in her mouth.
Do your girls play with all of their toys?
Of course not. Not every toy is going to be a hit, so I donate what they don’t use. Rotating toys out helps a lot. I’ll share more about my whole system soon.
Thoughts on how Margot’s diagnosis will effect Kate over the years?
If Kate were older, I’d be putting a lot of time and energy into helping her process all of this, but because she’s so young and will turn two one month before Margot is done with treatment, I don’t think it will negatively impact her. We’re so, so lucky that life feels normal right now – there are 5 not so great days every 3 months, so really, it’s best-case. Most of our hospital stays happened before Kate was born, so I never had to spend more than a night away from her. The one night I was away, I rushed home to put her to bed before returning to the hospital.
We’ll have follow-up labs for years after that and will always be honest with the girls (in an age appropriate way) about what Margot went through, but once we’re done next July, there’s no more medicine, so I really can’t see this being part of our day-to-day lives beyond my continuing to fundraise and bringing toys to our hospital. We are extremely mindful with the language we use, and will have to adjust as they get older. If anything, I think both girls will have appreciation for life, for how much we love them, and for how special they are.
Where did you go for beach time for Margot’s birthday?
We actually went to North avenue beach which is usually really crowded, but walked south past Castaways (the big boat), and volleyball nets to a much quieter area. There were two people maybe 30 feet away.
Did you ever get Kate to nap? Struggling with my 2 month old.
Newborns are so hard and in case you need to hear it, you’re doing a great job. I know this is hard to hear but Kate wasn’t a great napper until around 6 months. I eventually learned to just let go and most of her good naps those first few months took place in a solly strapped to y body. Night sleep has been magical since 4.5 months and I’d take that over naps any day, so we were always really grateful. There is hope, but some babies just struggle until they learn to link their sleep cycles. It’s totally normal. If you need some extra help, I highly recommend Michele of Peaceful Littles.
Did you use the SNOO with Kate? And do you recommend it?
We used it with both girls and I through the experience, learned how truly different all babies are. The SNOO is not a magical solution for all. We loved it for Margot the first month or so, but it didn’t do much after that. Kate did so well (we rented it) the first 4 months. It’s definitely worth renting.
Parenting books/experts you have found helpful? Love your focus on kindness.
This answer might not be helpful, but I have read one book on pregnancy and zero books on parenthood. I’ve spent enough time around children and have worked through my own feelings, so I know the importance of letting someone else validate their feelings. When Margot was diagnosed, I spoke with child life, and our specialist recommended a private child life specialist who was so helpful with the best ways to communicate with Margot. We had a handful of sessions with her, and she’s helped a lot. I think a lot of it was honestly instinct. My feelings weren’t really validated when I was a child, so I let my girls feel their feelings and I always validate them. We talk through everything, so much that Margot now knows if she’s worked up, she can take a deep breath and will ask for “a moment on the couch.”
The focus on kindness started when I was pregnant. It was my goal to raise children who above everything, are kind. I want to hear that my daughters are the ones who include the new kid. Who not only accept others who are different, but who know being different is what makes us special. Margot and I were on a walk recently and saw a rainbow flag. We’ve talked about how some kids have two moms, two dads, one of each, or one parent. How sometimes men marry men and sometimes women marry women. I was quoting Daniel Tiger and said “and that’s ok’ and in the proudest mom moment ever, Margot said “no, it’s good!” and I almost cried. Love her so.
I highly recommend these books.
Just share your heart. Talk about how we treat others. Show your children by how you treat them. I do really like Dr. Becky but don’t live by everything she says. Two good friends recommended siblings without rivalry but I’m hesitant to buy a new book when I haven’t read the ones I already have.