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Gracious ladies: more than a shop in Wimberley

Here’s a secret about me: I THINK SURPRISES ARE FUN. 

I just didn’t expect to be surprised.

The last time I was so caught off guard was our engagement. The most recent surprise? This past Saturday. 

OJ and I had been to a NON-SHOWER PLAYDATE already that morning, and I thought I was just dropping by to see two friends, L&C, for a little bit before heading home.


[CAR!] Since we moved here, I have been involved with my local MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) group and Tall M has been a big part of why I enjoy it so much. Tall M is “retiring” from MOPS but not before hosting a playdate for me and another mom who has been in the same small group for the last two years and due within the same week (and also having a baby girl). Tall M is a Queen Crafter who doesn’t seem to mind small children pulling out every toy from every corner–a perfect playdate host.  

[OKAY GAME ON] They plotted, planned and SURPRISED. It took me a moment to process. How cool L&C put these different women from my life all together.

I texted T: “IT WAS A SURPRISE SHOWER!” Even he didn’t know. As L&C said, “we didn’t even need him.”

So a sweet little gathering with FRESH, HOT BEIGNETS and some gifts of sweet little girl clothes–shopping for little girls clothes is FUN and I am happy to give anyone the opportunity.

The smartest gift: a “BIG BROTHER” little doll for OJ. He hasn’t left it aside or slept one wink without it. And I LOVE that J (who may well share a birthday with Little Miss) came dressed in pink for the party.

L&C, and one happy proud pregnant lucky momma.

Photo credits: #1 shopper at Gracious Ladies in Wimberley, and L’s oldest daughter 


Maternity shopping dilemma

Here is a secret about me: I HATE BABY SHOWERS.

Or I dislike them very strongly.

They just seem WRONG. Rather than expecting the “45+ things you MUST have on your baby registry” as an invaluable human right, manage your own mischief. And you probably don’t need a lot of it anyway.

I really didn’t want a baby shower when I was pregnant with OJ. Really. Did. Not.

With a second child, the circumstances are obviously different. I do have some wishes (the things I know I want this time, the things you might need for two kids, and the girly girl things) to supplement what I’ve fished out of the closet (crib, car seat, boppy) but there is no registry, no shower, not even a sprinkle. Besides, I’ve basically killed Nesting 2.0 and (think) I have everything sorted.

So, please, in no way read this post as a cry for help–that would make me terribly uncomfortable. This is me, exposing the INJUSTICE of preparing for a baby, the maternity shopping dilemma. 

1. Maternity clothes

I did pull out my old maternity clothes that were stored in the closet, but that was a fruitless activity. My daily life, the climate, and body size are totally different from my first pregnancy. Therefore, most of my maternity clothes went to to be sold. I had nice maternity work clothes that I didn’t think would sell well here, so I thought an online retailer like swap might have a wider appeal. I’ve sold everything but one item.

What I did not anticipate was the difficulty in finding new clothes for me to wear. For a long time I was wearing clothes that were not meant for pregnant bodies. Part of this is my own fault–I refused to go into a store like MOTHERHOOD MATERNITY. That place makes me want to vomit everywhere.

But it’s also the retailers that made it impossible and here’s where I am talking truth to power.

  • GAP: I relied on you so heavily my first pregnancy. Now you have moved all of your maternity sales to online only. That is pretty inconvenient because 1) I strongly dislike your website and 2) shopping for maternity stuff isn’t easy and as a result, the likelihood that I am going to have to return is HIGH. But to makes matters WORSE, you restrict the return of some (or most) items to “by mail only” which means I am paying for the return shipment. In the (sanitized) words of Cee-Lo, FORGET YOU.
  • ATLOFT: You started maternity about the time I was pregnant the first time, so I was keen (for a hot minute) to shop the second time around. Your stuff is banana republic expensive. You have the same website designer as GAP. And share the same shitty return policy (NOT a problem because I am not buying your stuff).

  • TARGET: You confused me by moving your maternity section to the baby section and it took me a long time to figure it out, but it’s a small selection with white pants (not pregnancy practical or seasonally appropriate), denim shorts (the last thing I want) and crocheted necklines (showing my super-fashionable bra). I ordered some swimsuits from but they went straight back to the store because my boobs would never fit into the halter top cut.
  • H&M: I was not rewarded for driving to the big H&M which carries the MAMA stuff. There’s hardly anything in store and it was not seasonally appropriate. Your online options are wider and price point is pretty awesome, and at least I can return for free in store. Which I did. Because everything looked terrible on me.

See above: shopping for maternity stuff isn’t easy. And I’m not even getting into underwear.

2. Gear 

Buying the large and expensive items used is much more wallet-friendly than buying new. However it also means that EBAY or other “by mail” options are out of the question. So what are the used, large item, local buying options? CRAP.

  • Craigslist: we used it a lot in DC, but we lived in a building with a lobby and a doorman where buyers were not coming to our front door. Also, on average, the quality of items on craigslist here is pretty sub-par.
  • Facebook marketplace: jury is still out. I keep my Facebook Profile 2.0 pretty low key so I’m not really inclined to buy/sell with strangers via social media (yeah it doesn’t make me feel any more secure).
  • Facebook trading groups: this one really gets under my skin and gives you a snapshot of this community. My request for the AH Trading-Children’s Boutique has been “pending” for months on end now. Really? Really. I have things that I would both sell and like to buy. I’ve messaged the administrators. Still pending. That is a big, fat, super fail the Spiderman (“with great power comes great responsibility”) test.

3. It’s not all Debbie Downer Dilemma–how I FINALLY found success  

The struggles are annoying and overwhelming when there is a ticking time bomb in your belly, but at least I’ve managed it myself. Here’s how I have come out on the other side.

Maternity clothes 

After a lot of run around, I took my anti-nausea medicine and finally went in to Motherhood Maternity. After three visits, I’m happy with the three shirts and two pairs of shorts I now own and basically wear everyday. I bought a swimsuit from amazon. It covers EVERYTHING. It feels like a low point, but it also feels like my clothes fit my body, which is a nice change.

Gear: the things I know I want this time, like a new nursery chair 

Last time we bought a recliner from IKEA. It fit our needs then, but what I didn’t realize is the seat is so deep it’s difficult to get out of with a baby in your arms.

So I’ve been on a quest for a new chair. It’s been endless. Rocker? Glider? Chair and a half? To ottoman or not to ottoman? But dropping $1,000 on a Pottery Barn chair–out of the question. And buying used from AH Trading-Children’s Boutique not an option. GRRR.

So having exhausted myself and all options, I’ve made a purchase, using my Target Red Card which gets me free shipping and 5% back and I had a gift card from my Listen to Your Mother friends, which was a big help. So this is on the way.

There are no reviews to go with it, so who knows what I’m getting myself into. One way to find out. And then YOU KNOW there will be a review posted.

Gear: the things you might need for two kids, like a double stroller 

Purchasing a double stroller is a real triumph about which I would like to brag here for a moment. First time around, we got the Bumbleride Indie. I love this stroller. But buying a new Bumbleride Indie Twin seems pretty insane.

So to the USED listings we stroll.

Bumbleride strollers are not as ubiquitous as other strollers so there are very few listings for used, Bumbleride, double strollers. We had seen one here in here–but it sold. We were also looking in all of the other major metropolitan areas–willing to make a long car ride to collect our purchase. Also, maybe it is more likely to be in other metropolitan areas than here. We saw another listing in the DFW–but they never responded.

Feeling like this was a fruitless search after a couple of days, DURING NAPTIME (I always find trouble during naptime), I found a craigslist posting for a Bumbleride Indie Twin stroller outside of Houston. It posted the day before. And it was my color choice–even BETTER (the new colors are kinda ugly).

I contacted the seller to find out if the stroller was still available and if so, here is my offer (you HAVE to negotiate, people). She said yes it’s available and yes she accepts my offer. WHAT. LUCK!!!

So I started making arrangements to drive to Houston ASAP to collect the stroller, but B next door intervened and encouraged me to think of a different plan. DIFFERENT PLAN! I AM GOING TO LOSE OUT ON GETTING THIS STROLLER AND MOMMA NEEDS A STROLLER.

But maybe she had a point–32 weeks pregnant and driving three hours there and three hours back, during evening rush hour and late into the night, to say nothing of trying to figure out what to do with OJ, might not be the smartest plan.

After mulling it over for a while, I thought to ask my other neighbor P.C. if her family in Houston is in “said city”. She said 100% chance. WHAT. LUCK!!!

Over the course of that afternoon, we orchestrated a plan where I would pay the seller by paypal, the seller would drop the stroller at P.C.’s in-laws house that VERY evening (only 10 minutes away from her!) and then P.C. & Co would bring the stroller back after visiting “said city” that VERY weekend. WHAT. LUCK!!!

P.C.’s 80-year-old MIL texted me that night after it was delivered to say the stroller was clean and in great condition (as I suspected from the photos) and the seller’s daughters were precious in their dresses and hair-bows. I’ll never meet the seller because of the six degrees of Kevin Bacon situation going on, but I am so lucky that we connected and that she was willing to work with me and my crazy plan. In the midst of many emails, I told her we wanted to upgrade to the Indie Twin because we have the single rider stroller and love it–she said her older daughter has outgrown the Indie Twin and they are downsizing to just the single stroller. It’s like the universe of proud Bumbleride owners in harmony.

OJ LOVES our new double stroller–he has picked his side and tells us the other side is for “little baby sister”. He loves to climb in and just sit. So that was A BIG WIN.

Side note: I know now that in 2014 I should have insisted on the car seat adapter that allows you to clip the car seat into the stroller but I didn’t foresee that need back then, and maybe it wasn’t a need because of our city lifestyle. But I digress. Now that we are here, and there is another baby in the picture, I was dead certain on getting the car seat adapter. After our Indie Twin arrived, I ordered the car seat adapter (at a $40 price tag with $10 shipping you jack wagons!). It arrived and I clipped it onto our stroller. Then I popped the car seat on. And couldn’t get it off. Well maybe what you pay for in shipping you get back in amazing customer service. I emailed, they called, we talked, I sent them a video, they sent me back another video and VOILA! the car seat came off (THANK GOD–T would have had a FIELD DAY with that). I am fully complete.

Gear: and the girly girl things

I’ve let myself have fun here without much reservation–new changing pad cover, new burp cloths, a new blanket or two, but I am just going to leave this here…


She may not have a name yet, but she will be outfitted in the sweetest prints. SWOON.


Pinch me, please

Pinch me, please, this is too good to be true.

No, not that. But yes, it is salt. “I made a MESS, and I am playing with THE SALT!”


No–pinch me please because HOLY BANANAS BATMAN, (undisclosed employer) announced their new paternity leave policy today, which goes into effect July 1 (BRILLIANT TIMING) and includes 12 weeks of paid paternity leave before we even have to think about using any vacation days. The new leave policy includes 20 weeks for mothers.

Y’all. This is HUGE for us.

I am so excited to have a baby girl this July for so many reasons but I also remember how tough those early days and months were for me with OJ. So I’ll be honest that there has been a very real and nagging thought in the back of my mind about how in the hell am I going to make it through early days and months with a newborn AND a two-year-old, when I have a husband who needs to be at work, no family close by, and in the midst of summer which affords few options for regular structure for two year olds, and the best thing to do is hang at the pool (postpartum? Hell no).

Well my friends, what a difference a day makes.

Now my “biggest problem” is how is OJ going to cope when Dad goes back to work, in OCTOBER, AFTER 12 WEEKS OF PAID PATERNITY LEAVE.

Yes, there is still a newborn in the mix but at least now we are evenly matched up, which makes Mommy feel A MILLION times better. In fact–it’s almost better that his paternity leave will be during the summer when OJ has no place to be–they will get their time together in gold. OJ is going to LOVE all of his Daddy time.

So Mom and OJ are four enthusiastic thumbs up about the new policy. The new baby is probably sucking her thumb (which she can do now at 20 weeks), but she is going to love the “Disney Cruise style” welcome. Now we just need Dad on board.

I know it is hard to get excited (much less care) about someone else’s leave policy when the only leave policy that matters is your own (in case it is not obvious: I am psyched about our new leave policy). That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be informed.

(Aside–did anyone else want to SPIT NAILS after watching Norah O’Donnell’s segment on Kellyanne Conway during this week’s CBS Sunday Morning program?! V-O-M. Lemme just say “Kellyanne” is NOT on our list of names for baby girl).

Here is a word from Richard Reeves, Senior Fellow and Co-Director of the Center on Children and Families (titles listed in appropriate order, TYVM) at my previous employer (the one where I worked for baby number one, used STD, exhausted all of my vacation days and was back at work at twelve weeks) on family leave…

Paid leave for fathers, too, please

Reeves, who is British (of course), notes that policymaking needs to catch up and men may need a little nudge, so take note of this Fortune 500 getting the memo and consider yourself nudged, my love.

OJ was born in a baby boom nine months after a winter with many snow days–who wants to bet it all on black that there will be another baby boom in nine months at (undisclosed employer)?

n.b.: at the start of the new year, we enacted a new policy of our own here at Tottering Hall, which is to replace particular names, words, and locational phrases, including replacing the name of my husband’s employer with the phrase, “(undisclosed employer)”. In this case, it’s really awkward but c’est la internet life.