A few good things

It's been a nice week around here, for the most part. Teething + separation anxiety + trying lots of new food = some rather trying moments with the bébé, shall we say, but all is very well for the most part! Amelie is a bundle of fun (when she's not yelling at me) and only gets more so. We've worked out that she's usually in a good mood if she's out and about, so we're getting out of the house a lot – yay for the mostly nice weather we've been having! 

Coffee at Elisabeth in Kingsland. This place does desserts and they look phenomenal – very keen to return for a treat one day!

Coffee at Elisabeth in Kingsland. This place does desserts and they look phenomenal – very keen to return for a treat one day!

These two are becoming best friends and it's so lovely to watch.

These two are becoming best friends and it's so lovely to watch.

These gorgeous persimmon twigs are from our local florist, Jasmine Flora Design, who always has the most amazing flowers.

These gorgeous persimmon twigs are from our local florist, Jasmine Flora Design, who always has the most amazing flowers.

Playing with family in the sun in Parua Bay.

Playing with family in the sun in Parua Bay.

Bought this the other day and now my house smells amazing – it's the Parakeets and Pearls home fragrance.

Bought this the other day and now my house smells amazing – it's the Parakeets and Pearls home fragrance.

I read this interesting piece on the end of capitalism the other day. The whole idea that capitalism may not survive alongside new technology is so interesting to me; it means some big changes for policy (and technology maybe)? The intersection of new technology and policy is where my main interests lie, so it was particularly relevant to me, but it's a very good read regardless. I'm looking forward to checking out the book.

In other technology/art news, this made me laugh and laugh. The changing world does seem to inspire some great art. Did anyone else find the idea of Simon Denny's piece at the Venice Biennale a couple of years ago quite amazing?

Finally, if you're in Auckland the Metro Top 50 Restaurants list came out recently (aka the Bible). So nice to see some new places on the list! It's been rather stagnant the last few years. It does mean that I've now only been to a shameful 17 out of 50 though – I would say I will work on that but the baby means it's not as easy as it once was. Nevertheless, I paid a visit to Pasta e Cuore the other night and it was magnificent. Can highly recommend! 

The balance

Hello! Hope you all had a good Easter weekend. Mine was lovely – I had an assignment due on the Monday, so spent quite a lot of it studying, but managed to fit in some fun around the study. We were in Mangawhai with friends, and on Sunday we drove up to my parents' gorgeous new place in Parua Bay – a small village by the sea in the Whangarei Heads. They are (finally) living their rural dream and are very happy. It's wonderful to see.

Parua Bay.

Parua Bay.

Playing at Grandma and Granddad's new house on Easter Sunday.

Playing at Grandma and Granddad's new house on Easter Sunday.

 

The drive up to Parua Bay was the scene of a Very Serious Conversation between H1 and me. It was a good conversation, but it wasn't easy. The topic was hard, and kind of stupid. It was a conversation that surely all couples sometimes have, especially when they've got small children. It was about the Balance.

My study is quite intense, even though I only do it part-time. I'm working on my Master of Public Policy. Once I have that I want to go on to do my doctorate, so I work extremely hard at it – I find getting an A kind of devastates me these days, because it means I didn't do well enough to earn an A+. I'm absolutely too hard on myself, but knowing that doesn't make it any easier to change. I'm just not happy unless I know I'm doing my absolute best, and this is my future career. I want to make sure I excel.

Added to the study is Amelie, obviously. Not just Amelie but Amelie and H1. My little family means the world to me, and I'm never happier than when the three of us are together. Weekend mornings make my heart sing. Amelie comes into bed with us and has her milk while we have our coffee, then we play for a little while before all getting up to start our day. It's the greatest. I refuse to let it be compromised. I refuse to let my family be compromised, really.

These two! Love this little family of mine so much.

These two! Love this little family of mine so much.

Finally, there's work – not yet, but soon. I really like my current career – sometimes I even love it – but it's not my forever career (it definitely feeds into it, though – it's far from wasted!) I know I can do more, be more, earn more with it. The question is, do I really want to?

Looking at everything in my life, I know I can't do justice to it all. I won't compromise my family, and I don't want to compromise my study, and the future career that hangs on it. So now I'm trying to work out if I have it in me to ease up on my current career. It doesn't sit well with me, but of the three priorities I have, it's the lowest right now.

This is a difficult thing for me. As I said earlier, I'm just not happy unless I know I'm doing my absolute best. Compromising one thing, by its very nature, is not doing my absolute best. But it seems better than failing at three things.

The more I think about this, and the more I try to work out what's right for our family, the more systemic I realise these problems are. One of my friends will soon also be returning to work from maternity leave. She'd like to go back part-time, but she'd also like a new job, ideally. And you know what? Professional part-time jobs don't exist. They just don't. 

I wonder how much talent is being wasted because of this? And how many people are missing out on things they'd really like to do – career-wise and family-wise. It hasn't escaped my attention that this is all about me having time for my family, and doesn't talk about H1 having time for the same family. There are two reasons for that; my study, which sucks up a lot of time, and because it's just not viable for him to work less than full-time. We need his income. It sucks, and it's not fair, but it's just how it is.

I'm still working on all of this, and I don't have any answers yet, but I think the only thing to do is going to be to compromise. Which is hard, but not the hardest. At least I have these choices to make, right?!

How do you make it work? What works for your families? Whose career is being compromised (if anyone's is)?

P.S. Have not forgotten the capsule, and have stuck to it every day since the beginning of April! It's simplifying things no end and I'm really enjoying it. An update post is coming – remember that assignment I mentioned? It kind of took everything else out, but hey, that's how it goes. Looking forward to sharing an update with you!

Planning the autumn capsule

We're three days into April, so the question is...am I capsuling?

Yes, I certainly am.

I downloaded Un-Fancy's wardrobe planner to help me with my decision-making and found it really useful. It's really hard to look at everything you own and decide what you're going to wear for the next couple of months. Her planner makes it a much clearer process.

One of my favourite looks - a plain shirt with jeans and a light scarf.

One of my favourite looks - a plain shirt with jeans and a light scarf.

Some sections I found really easy to answer (special occasions I need to consider? None! I'm sure the occasional evening out or social event will occur but apart from a baby shower for my sister-in-law, it's all pretty quiet) but some needed a lot more thought – like the word association. Here's the list of words I associate with my preferred style:

  • Classic
  • Neutral
  • Simple
  • Stylish
  • Well-made
  • Subtle interest
  • Quietly expensive

I circled simple, stylish, well-made and subtle interest as my favourites. These ones leapt out at me and felt right. Classic and neutral felt a little 'old' and not quite right. Quietly expensive is an interesting one. I don't think clothes have to be expensive to be nice or look good, and we all know expensive isn't synonymous with ethical or well-made, but most of my favourite pieces were on the expensive side, for what they are. And many of those pieces are old but still going strong. However, I think well-made sums it up better. It doesn't matter what it costs if it's well-made (I mean, budget notwithstanding, of course!).

An ethical, made-in-NZ top.

An ethical, made-in-NZ top.

I haven't included the word ethical, even though it speaks strongly to me. Right now my wardrobe is not particularly ethical – I've put no real effort into it along the way. To me, however, well-made is a good jumping-off point to ethical thinking – something that lasts a long time is better for our environment, and is also likely to be made in a more sustainable and fair manner (although again, that's not a perfect correlation).

In terms of other discoveries about myself, I learned that I really like my jeans, I don't really do colour at all these days, and I now feel id with clothes that are tight around my tummy (thanks pregnancy!). I have bought too many pairs of shoes that I don't like wearing because they're too big around the back of my feet and my feet fall out of them. I have narrow feet and I have to keep that in mind – no matter how much I like the shoes in the shop. When I like  something I'll wear it to death. I prefer the interest in my clothes to come from cut, not colour or pattern. That said, I'm a total stripe-a-holic.

My worn-to-death black dress. I know – no baby in this picture! She was in good hands. 

My worn-to-death black dress. I know – no baby in this picture! She was in good hands. 

I started wearing my capsule on 1 April, while we were on holiday in Hawkes Bay. So far so good...although both Hawkes Bay and Auckland are still very warm. That might be difficult to work with and if I need to, I will introduce some shorts as well, because sweat for the sake of principle doesn't seem worth it.

And where are the details of this capsule? They're coming! I'm still pulling it all together but I am close...and feeling pretty good about where I am, quite frankly. I think this is going to be fun...

 

I'm a better mummy on Mondays

When I've had some time to myself over the weekend, and even some time where I can be in the house but mentally check out, because H1's got it.

H1 and Amelie after work on Friday.

H1 and Amelie after work on Friday.

When I've enjoyed the time my little family gets to spend together, just the three of us.

When I've got university to look forward to that afternoon.

I've just enjoyed one of those perfect weekends – enough going on that I don't feel like I'm missing out on anything, but quiet enough that I end it feeling relaxed. Somehow we managed to see friends, family, get in lots of time just for our small family, spontaneously wander a cool design store, drink coffee, drink beer and still laze around in bed for hours on Sunday morning with Amelie, the cat, more coffee and the best hot cross buns ever. I even got my hair done, and H1 was able to watch the Formula 1. It was one of those weekends that reminded us why we live in the city, and re-energised our excitement for our future.

Amelie and Cuper on Sunday morning. She adores him. He is less sure.

Amelie and Cuper on Sunday morning. She adores him. He is less sure.

And that carried over, and I looked at Amelie this morning and thought 'I'm a better mummy on Mondays.' I'm an awesome mother everyday, of course, but when I'm refreshed from the weekend, and I'm reminded of all the things that make up 'me' – alongside mother – I'm better. 

Moral of the story? More of all of it. More time for me, more family time, more spontaneity, more perfect weekends. Hey, more weekends generally (re-structuring the working week doesn't seem too hard). It makes me better, and knowing I'm being better for my family is a pretty amazing feeling.

Hope you all enjoyed just as great a weekend, whatever that looks like for you. On with the week!

Time to capsule?

Time to capsule?

Capsule image via Pinterest/Modern French blog

H1 and I each have set monthly budgets for all our personal expenses – coffees, lunches, clothes, etc. Thanks to presently being a one-income family, those budgets are smaller than usual, and thanks to a few purchases earlier this year that were made to try to reduce my feelings of new-mum frumpiness, my budget in particular is seriously depleted for the next couple of months.

Of course, budgets don’t always align with desires. All the autumn and winter clothes are coming into stores and I want most of them – this despite having a wardrobe full of really nice clothes. I haven’t even worn most of them for a couple of years, being pregnant last year and all.  But looking at them doesn’t excite me, or make me feel any less frumpy (yes, it’s still a thing. More on that later). I also have a few constraints in place. Budget, of course, but I’m also still breastfeeding four times a day, so anything I wear needs to work with that. And sadly clichéd as it is, I have a small baby, so everything I wear needs to be easily washable. Dryclean-only clothes don’t make sense for me right now.

All of which makes me feel that a capsule could be the answer to my problems ("problems", that is. Trust me, I know).

Everybody knows the basic idea behind a capsule, so I won't offend you by recapping that. In my case, I've found inspiration through the well-dressed Caroline of Un-Fancy, and her dedication towards capsules – which is less a literal dedication and more of a soft approach towards an undoubtedly good idea. She suggests 37 pieces for three months, excluding underwear, pyjamas and workout gear. And she uses the capsule itself, along with the experience over those months, to identify true gaps in her wardrobe and then – and only then – buys to fill those gaps.

Image via Un-Fancy

Image via Un-Fancy

All of this sounds pretty reasonable to me. I'm only going to do two months though, as we're away for most of June in the northern hemisphere (e.g. completely different weather). Due to this I'm probably going to allow myself fewer than 37 pieces. But otherwise, it's on. April and May will be experimental capsule months, with no buying anything new. No clothes, no accessories, no shoes, no jewellery...time will see whether this makes me feel more or less frumpy. Hopefully the latter, obviously, but at the very least it will be an interesting experience!