Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Little Girl's Clothes (AKA my 401K)

Amelie with her cousin Wilder wearing The Proper Peony

Two very dear grandmother friends asked me where I buy Amelie's clothes. The dirty truth is that I buy most of them from friends. I'm sure your city has a "Facebook Mom Page" where you post something like "Florence Eiseman jumper 2T $15" and someone comments, venmo or paypal's you and then they grab it off your porch. It's like drug dealing but way way  more satisfying. *I have never dealt drugs. I have been doing this for almost 3 years now. When Amelie was little I would load the kids up at 6am (my kids wake up early), give ford his iPad, Amelie a pacifier and drive all over this city doing my "porch pickups". I looked something like this:

I also shop off my friend's Instagram pages. I have become good friends with people I follow on Instagram who have kids exactly a year older (I'm looking at you Morgan) and now they sometimes just message me what they are getting ready to sell to let me have first dibs.

BST (Buy Sell Trade) boards on facebook are another favorite. BST boards and Instagram are Tinder for Moms that love clothing. I'm serious. If a Mom is posting clothes that line up size/season/taste for me I'm definitely swiping right. I literally have a group of girlfriends in Rock Hill that I met this way. Love you RH girls!

Social Media for kids shopping is AMAZING. Kids grow so fast and there are very few companies I will pay retail for. So my other favorite sources for kids clothes are these!

Hands down one of my favorites. I splurge on these once or twice a year and try to buy the rest off the "boards". This blue tulip dress will stay in Amelie's forever box and their holiday dresses are perfection.

I met Mollie when I offered to take pictures of her daughter's birthday party. Her brand is local to Charlotte! And I can never say no to a buffalo check.

Leda's beautiful clothes are exquisitely classic and perfect for dressing babies and kids. And somehow we are related! (isn't everyone from Louisiana cousins somehow?) Her Pima rompers are the perfect baby gift too!

Pixie Lily Holly Daygown

Little English
Another boutique favorite and this dress is a MUST have for this Fall. The shirt is attached!

And this...I mean stop it.

A jumper and bathing suit favorite in our house. I had to get the long sleeve style of this dress since Fuchs = Fox!

LaRoque Mini
One of a kind outfits from an adorable store in South Carolina!

I mean look at this dress for back to school!

Inlet Smocked Clothing Company
These ladies are out of Murrell's Inlet and  I'm kicking myself for not ordering this dress

Bella Bliss
Love their jumpers and they have a great boy selection as well. I think our little Swiss Amelie needs this outfit!

Instagram stores (for Florence Eiseman, Squiggles, Viva la Fete, etc)
One of the best ways to buy clothing is truly on Instagram. I know that sounds insane but I never go "shopping" anymore. Several stores even call each season to see if there is anything I need (which makes me feel insanely important). Carousel in Columbia is a favorite as well as MCall's, Shop Loozie Loo, Banbury Cross,  Spinout Kids, etc! Here are some of their Instagram pics:

And the little English Dress I fell in love with through McCall's IG

Instagram Brands: Cecil and Lou, Smockingbird

I never get to see my friend Abby so I always make sure I attend her S/G trunk show. Last year I purchased my favorite dress for Amelie, this Fox Dress. They have great pieces and aren't too expensive. When the kids were younger that have great brother/sister matches.

Play Clothes
Kids and school are tough on clothes. I don't send Amelie in anything that I love and Ford at this age only wears Under Armour. I don't know how they cornered the market for boys 5+ but his Adidas and Nike were just not good enough. I am very thankful I can find most of that used. A woman here in Charlotte even invited me over to dig through her bins and bins of UA. We are set for a few years. Companies I like for play clothes are

Hanna Andersson 
Beautiful bright play dresses and some of my favorite pajamas!

Dad, I think Amelie needs this. I mean....since you haven't taken me duck hunting yet.

Fauxden (Fake Boden on Amazon)

Old Navy/Gap/Target
Katie Quinn Organics Fox Dress at Target...why isn't this in a 3T!

If you are a local in Charlotte one of my favorite consignment stores is The Argyle Alligator. Casie Carpenter played on the Blondes vs Brunettes team to End Alz so I will support all of her business endeavors. Here are some items she has in the shop now!

 What are your favorite brands for little girls? Happy Shopping!
PS: Amelie is a 3T. Wink Wink

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

I Was a Stranger

I have held off writing about this day. It shocked me it came so quickly and I don't think I really have absorbed how it felt.

Our trip to Asheville for the Fourth of July was interrupted by a stomach bug so I made the trip by myself since I needed to bring Dad a load to take to the beach for us.

That Sunday Dad and I took BB coffee like we always do. She was parked in the main auditorium listening to the Sunday Gospel singers. I don't like visiting her in there because she gets distracted by other people she recognizes and wants to scoot over to them. 

I walked over to her first and she looked up and with a blank look in her eyes said "I love you". She says this to everyone so at first I figured she was being polite and not being loud. Her typical response is to start smiling, then laughing and then crying from happiness when she sees me.

We wheeled her over to the corner and she saw Dad and her eyes lit up. She didn't take her eyes off of him. It began to occur to me that she did not know I was Katharine, her daughter. Her daughter she carried for 9 months (early baby). That she had an emergency C-section with because placental abruption. Who told her all of her crazy teenage secrets. Who she drove to ballet and tap every Saturday morning for 8 years. Who she screamed "Smoke em Smoltz" during my serve at my tennis matches. Who she snuck into summer camp and brought pizza to. Who she went to Lilith Fair with and shared underage margaritas.  

She didn't know me.

She kept looking at Dad and listening to him and taking sips (through a straw) of her Starbucks. I looked at Dad and under my breath and said "She doesn't know". And he said of course she does! BB, this is your daughter, this is Katharine, your little girl.

Nothing. She turned her gaze back to him. 

It was like I wasn't there.

He tried again, hopelessly looking for a reaction. BB, this is Kat, she came to see you, your little girl. You are her Mommy....

She looked back at my face, then my necklace, and went back to looking at him. 

I held it together because I didn't want to upset her. She didn't even look in my direction the rest of our visit.

Once we passed the double doors into the waiting room I broke down into sobs. Dad just held me and cried along with me. 

I was gone to her.

For those of you that will say, "but she knows who you are in her heart." That is nice. It really is. And I know when she dies she will get her memories back and I will be her daughter again. 

But on this day, I was a stranger. And I cannot begin to describe how that felt.

I came home and Ford overheard me talking to Max about it. The next day in the car he started crying and said Mommy, if you get Alzheimer's will you forget me? I don't want you to forget me!

I was speechless and tried to reassure him I wouldn't get ALZ. But that is a lie. I cannot guarantee that. There is no cure, no prevention, only promises of exercise and a healthy diet to try to keep this monster at bay.

Please donate here so that future generations of sons and daughters do not have to be strangers to their parents.

Monday, June 19, 2017


I can't remember if I have written this post before. I apologize if I have. I could claim early ALZ but I'm hoping (and praying) it's just stress and mommy brain.

Long story short....I have low self esteem. It wasn't helped in school by kids that made fun of my massive forehead, fat knees, or gymnast figure. I was well liked because I was funny and irreverent....but I was not well loved by my peers.

I remember a co-worker (at my gift wrapping High School job) did my make-up and straightened my hair for the Asheville Junior Assembly Winter Party (I was secretary as a Senior). People were shocked I wasn't totally unattractive. An X-boyfriend from High School asked me to dance, my lifetime crush kissed me on the cheek, it was fabulous.

But like I said, people liked me for my humor and personality...not my looks. That does something to a girl. Especially when middle school girls locked me in their attic during a slumber party b/c I wasn't cool. And then called me on a Swatch phone to tell me I wasn't welcome at the popular table anymore. Those years were horrible. And one of the few details my Mom remembered before she lost all her memories. She remembered the names of the girls that called me that day until a few years ago. I have never cried so hard.

The depression has haunted and followed me into adulthood. It was officially diagnosed in College when I thought I would again be the well-liked smart girl. Um....UNC had LOTS of those girls. And unfortunately I based my opinion of myself on what BOYS thought of me. Stupid. (Hindsight is 20/20)

I battled it in College and went on an Outward Bound Course in Mexico. Two weeks of Sea Kayaking in Baja California brings about some deep soul searching. I bottomed out the semester after that and then posted a 4.0 GPA and one of my happiest semesters after that. How? I wrote off all the boys and found good study partners (Tri Delt Anne, you were a savior)

I am now 37 and faced with this horrible adversary again. I cannot regain my former figure no matter how hard I try. I know anti-depressants make you gain weight (WTF) but I have been trying my hardest to lose it. That, coupled with the stresses of motherhood, working, and a dying mother....well you can imagine it is hard to eat kale when I just want to pour cheese on my face and have a Pinot chaser.

I know a lot of you won't understand this world. This place you listen to Fields of Gold by Sting or Midnight by Coldplay and sob. It sounds like a scene with Jared Leto from "My So Called Life" but depression is something that takes hold of you and you can't shake. It is crippling. It handicaps the most able of minds. My best protection is exercise and the damned antidepressants that make me fat.

I write this for others that are going through the same. As Robin Williams said (something along the lines of), the brightest lights sometimes have the darkest lives. I turn myself "on" at parties and social events but truth be told right now I just want to be in bed. I have to credit HSM Core for being a huge mood lifter and to social media for some of the friends I have made recently that check in on me.

Depression is a beast. It overtakes you like Asthma and you are left breathless and helpless against it's powers. It has been my adversary longer than Duke. I am stronger because of it and I know I can defeat it. I just need time. And understanding.

If you know of someone battling a mental health disorder reach out to them today. Tell them you love them. Tell them that even though you cannot fathom what they are going through that you are there for whatever they need. I have been blessed with friends like this and I attribute them to my ability to write about this today.

I also want to thank my parents for being so open minded. I could tell them anything, any feeling, and they would validate it and listen intently. They never cast aside my feelings. They were, and partially still are, the best. I think that is one of the harder aspects of losing one's mother. She could tell me what parenting young children while working is like.

(Yes, I am fine. Don't mean to scare anyone. Just wanted to write an authentic representation of what depression is like. I have a fabulous therapist, fantastic drugs, adorable children, and an incredible village.)

Thursday, June 15, 2017

The Funeral Bag*

*Before you judge what I am going to type on this post, please understand this is how I react to stress. In fact, my Aunt Kathleen that died this September had a funeral binder that went over every aspect of dying so that your family members knew exactly what you wanted. (I cannot locate the particular one she had but here is one called "If I croak". Not kidding)

BB is in the end stages of Alzheimer's. She could speak in March, she cannot now. She could eat birthday cake in May, she cannot swallow very well now. These are facts. They absolutely SUCK. But this is the reality we are dealing with. And my approach to a situation like this is to prepare. I write this post mainly for myself but hopefully it will resonate with others in this same position.

I am the person that starts packing for the beach a month out. I get this from my father. (Dad this is ALL your fault). I designate the dining room table to be "Beach Central" and start collecting things we want to bring in there. That same Aunt Kathleen used to bring a Uhaul to the house they rented in Litchfield. She would rearrange the entire house. It's in my blood.

Ever since the phone call I received in December 2014 that Mom had fallen down the stairs and was in a pool of blood, well I have been on alert. I missed that call because I was taking a shower at 11pm, a thing nursing mothers do because their free time is so sparse. I had 8 missed calls from my father. I am now glued to my phone. And I would be lying if I said that I didn't wince every time I see his number.

Preparation gives me peace. It gives me some aspect of control back over this horrible situation. And for a control freak....that's a win. If I have outfits prepared, a rough draft of an obituary, an idea of catering costs, flower ordering...etc...I can sleep better. My therapist says this is insane, and I totally agree, but try telling that to my mind and heart.

I just remember that when I had my Hospital Bag packed I felt ready. Ready for a baby that came three weeks early. I was obviously not ready for everything motherhood would throw at me or the delivery of Ford and Amelie, but having that bag packed by the mudroom door gave me a sense of peace.

I am lucky that I have another mother in my life, Alice Myer, that can help me with all of this. We have grown up at the same Church and she will know all the correct people to contact. (Dad will too but I want him on the deck listening to Bob Marley).

I want to know what I should wear, my kids should wear. Do I get my stepson to travel to Asheville for this? Do little kids wear black? I'll probably need a sitter for the week just to be an extra set of  hands. Do we wear black? Green was Mom's favorite color. Parking at my parents' house will be a b*tch. I already know the bartender (Love you Tracey). I've already read the bereavement policy at work. I'm assuming we will need Jessie May's biscuits and a caterer of some sort. And again...already concerned about parking. Then when it is time to place her in the Barlow tomb in New Orleans (and the garth at All Souls) do we all fly down? Boozy lunch at Galatoire's and a small service at the Cemetery? I have no idea how to do this. All of my grandparents died before I was two so death of immediate family members is very new to me.

I know it is morbid as hell, but this is how I work. I want a binder, I need an arsenal. I'm a doer, a bullet point princess.

If you have any tips for this phase of life (Or a gorgeous black dress) please email me or comment.