Inside & Out

Seven Days of Outfits: Finding My Non-Mommy Style

About a month ago, I drove to Portland for some personal business and spent almost an entire day without my children. It wasn’t even twelve hours, but it was probably the longest I’ve been separated from them, and definitely the longest I’ve been separated from Violet. That day, I visited Powell’s City of Books and snapped a picture of myself with Violet’s stuffed puppy, whom I’d brought along as a travel companion:


When I posted this photo on Facebook, a friend commented that I looked “so un-mom like!” This got me thinking about what is “mom-like” and what is “un-mom-like” and what I wear and why I wear it. It was quite an interesting internal conversation, filled with personal revelations. For example: I love jewelry. Not expensive things, not gems, but the cute plastic stuff you see me wearing in the picture. Costume jewelry, if you will. But most of my current friends had never seen me wear jewelry–friends I’ve had for up to four years! Nor had they seen me wear Converse All Stars, which I own in several colors and used to be my go-to shoes. The reasons: 1) People with kids expect you to take your shoes off in their houses, and so it’s easier to wear something you don’t have to lace and tie. 2) My feet grew and widened during pregnancy and so my sneakers are now uncomfortably tight.

I could go on and on, but I’ll spare you. The point is:

I used to enjoy getting dressed, putting on jewelry, and doing my makeup; after having kids, I mostly stopped doing these things.

So I decided, though I’m obviously still a mom and doing my mom things, to spend a week dressing for myself instead of my circumstances. I even pulled clothes out of the garage that I’d thought I might never wear again. Also, as you can see, I dyed my hair. Twice. Here’s how it looked: Continue reading “Seven Days of Outfits: Finding My Non-Mommy Style”

Inside & Out

Happy Birthday, Old Girl.

Today, as we all know, is America’s birthday—happy birthday, old girl!—an occasion we mark with fireworks and parades and outdoor drinking (if we can stand the heat). For our family, it has become tradition to drive to my in-laws’ house in Billings, Montana, and celebrate the fourth with them. Despite the fact that it’s twenty or thirty degrees cooler back home, or the fact that we live in a stretch of unincorporated county where it’s legal to set off fireworks while in the city of Billings it is not, or the fact that this part of America feels quite different from our part of America. Continue reading “Happy Birthday, Old Girl.”

Inside & Out


IMG_20170623_135811Do you doodle? I remember my mom making these elaborate doodles of shapes and flowers and leaves on the margins of whatever paper she found lying around–usually when she was on the phone, I think–and thinking they were incredible, but whenever I would try to doodle I felt kind of silly, like it was a waste of time or effort to draw without really drawing. Well, the other day I was in a fairly stressful situation–I had to wait about an hour to go into a meeting that I’d been anticipating for weeks, maybe months–and so I got out my notebook and started to draw. At first I drew one of my usual comics–myself in a funny version of the current situation–but while I made myself chuckle, it really only served to amplify my nerves. So instead of drawing another comic, I drew a heart. And then a another heart around it. And then I thought, I’ll make this a paisley. And before I knew it, my mind emptied of my current situation and focused entirely on the few square inches of paper upon which I was doodling. Soon enough, I was called into my meeting, and I didn’t feel stressed out at all.

I think this is why adult coloring books are so popular. It gives you something to focus on, something completely meaningless but difficult enough that you have to devote your attention to it. I’ve tried coloring those detailed drawings while watching TV and I always end up outside the lines, even with the sharpest pencil. And mostly, I’ve used adult coloring books or doodles as a way simply to pass the time–my life is not filled with the kind of anticipatory stress I felt the other day–but when I really had something to take my mind off of, boy did doodling work. Next time I can’t sleep because I’m obsessing about something, you can bet I’ll doodle my brains out.

Inside & Out

Long Time, No See

Life is funny, isn’t it? The way it twists and turns. For a while, you’re drawing comics every day, and writing like a maniac, and the next… screech! Stop.


But then, out of nothing, can come a spark. A big bang, if you will, of creativity. Of motivation, maybe. An inexplicable energy source.

Wherever it’s coming from, I’ll take it.

Inside & Out

Handy Housekeeping Hints for the Hopeless Housewife

newscan189I am a horrible housekeeper. My biggest problem: I do not care. I mean, I don’t want to live in squalor or anything, but when the kids dump toys or cereal, it doesn’t bother me. I’ll clean it up eventually and/or the dog will take care of it for me. A sink full of dirty dishes doesn’t bother me; it won’t sit there forever. Worst of all (at least for my housekeeping skills), clutter actually comforts me.

Mostly, this isn’t so problematic. My husband is a bit of a neat freak but I’ve worn him down over the years and if the kids make the kind of mess that will make his head hurt (a floor covered in Lincoln Logs or blocks–large masses of small things seem to be the hardest on him) I generally clean it up before he gets home.

But–my kids are growing up. I want to teach them good habits. So I’ve been scouring the internet for tips on how to become a better housekeeper, or at least to keep a cleaner house. These sites can be a little repetitive, but I think I’ve found some that might just help: Continue reading “Handy Housekeeping Hints for the Hopeless Housewife”