My First Dance Mom Heartache

"I'll stretch mom, but you're not getting me into Studio D!"

“I’ll stretch mom, but you’re not getting me into Studio D!”

No sooner than I pressed “publish” on this self-congratulatory post about how I’ll respond should my child want to quit a positive activity, then my willful toddler put my theory to the test. 

The very day I made the post, I proudly took my two-and-a-half year old to her second dance class.  We navigated our way through the jam-packed lounge area, lucky to find a vacant bit of floor on which to disrobe.  Lexia was already anxious in this chaotic environment when the door to Studio D thrust open.  A rush of people came flying out and then all the little girls enrolled in toddler Jazz rushed in.  All, that is, but for my 31 month old daughter who clung to me in fear. 

One of the two teachers leading the class spent a few seconds trying to coax Lexia into the room, but quickly (and rightfully) turned her attention back to the class. I asked if I could join Lexia for the beginning of the class, but this was forbidden.  Apparently a mom in the class would open the floodgates to toddler hell causing previously happy dancers to scream for their parents.  The young teacher did say that I could walk Lexia into the class when she was ready to join before tightly closing the studio door. 

As the clock ticked well into the 30 minute class, Lexia remained steadfast in her refusal to participate, crying every time I led her towards the door. Continue reading

Parenting from Experience or Living Vicariously?

My "mini me" getting ready for jazz class.

My “mini me” getting ready for jazz class.

My recent induction to the cult of the dance mom has me pondering the concept of living vicariously through my children.

I confess, dance was a big part of my childhood. Much of my free time was spent choreographing dance routines.  When friends came over, I was the dance teacher.  When older cousin Keri visited, I wanted her to demo her advanced moves.

I started dance young, but my parents didn’t have the means to put me in multiple classes each year like many girls my age.  I was decent dancer, and was once skipped ahead of my age group, but I don’t believe I reached my full potential.  I took exactly one jazz class per year until I was 11 at which time my parents enrolled in ballet as well. 

That year my family moved from central Toronto to its northern suburb. Continuing at my dance school required long, boring bus rides that wore me down. I still remember those long Monday nights (ballet) and exhausting Saturday mornings (jazz). It seemed I spent as much time standing in the cold at bus stops than I did in the studio.  At the end of that dance year, I said I wanted to stop dance.

I’m sure my parents felt relief at this announcement. Not only is dance expensive, but it probably didn’t seen to be bringing their now sullen tween much joy.  But my 11-year-old self made a mistake dropping out of dance; one that I still regret. 

Just a few months later I turned 12 and entered Grade 7.  It was the year I hit puberty, gained 20 pounds, faced bullying, and lost all my confidence. Continue reading

Confessions of a Dance Mom

Litte DancerOkay, admittedly I’m jumping ahead a bit.  My “dance mom” experience consists of exactly one jazz class, which my two-and-a-half year old started on Saturday. We will be putting Lexia in at least two dance classes this year, the above-mentioned recital-focused jazz class and a recreational parent-and-tot class.  If all goes well with jazz, we may sign her up for recital ballet as well.

Despite my fresh initiation, aspects of dance mom culture have already infiltrated my psyche. Here are my newly minted dance mom confessions:

Dressing my daughter up is fun: It doesn’t get more gender stereotypical than this, but dressing Lexia in her new dance gear gave me quite a rush.  You know when you find out you’re having a girl and you imagine all those awesome girly moments you’ll share with your tender little princess? Well this was one of those rare moments (a pleasant break from our usual routine of me yelling no” while she attempts to injure her little sister). 

Dance mom culture can be intimidating:  Okay, it wasn’t Abby Lee Miller intimidating, but there was an air of competition pervading the studio and lingering behind the friendly smiles.  The reception area was bursting with gorgeously groomed cuties who’s moms spared no expense on classes and gear.  I saw several new model Louis Vuitton handbags in the studio, suggesting perhaps these dance moms don’t share my affinity for vintage luxury.    Continue reading

6 Months Going on 6 Years! (Postpartum Update)

6 month oldIt seems my sixth month old baby (who celebrated her “half birthday” yesterday) is in a rush to grow up! Over the last week she has become a crawling expert. Not only does she have the four-legged tango down pat, she moves quickly and crawls over the barriers we futilely use to contain her!

Larissa is literally “off-the-charts” tall.  At just five months old, she measured 70 cm long which, according to the percentile growth chart our doctor uses, is notably above the 95th percentile (a.k.a. the highest curve on the chart)!  This made her, at just one week over five months, the length of an average 9 month old.  And she’s chubby too; no wonder breastfeeding has been wearing me down!

She is adapting quickly to food and looks quite sophisticated sitting in the highchair feeding herself Baby Mum Mums.  She engrossed in her sister’s animated programming, stopping what she’s doing the moment the channel is changed to cartoons. 

Her recent development spurt is happening a bit too fast for me! At this rate, I’ll be enrolling her in Grade 1 by the end of the year!   

Vital Stats

Continue reading

Find the Perfect T-shirt (while shopping with kids)

T-shirtsSometimes all it takes to revive your wardrobe is a fresh infusion of basic tees.  While few purchases are more elemental (some may say boring) than a t-shirt, finding one that compliments your look can be a monumental task.

I’ve been feeling the shortage of fresh, well-fitting tees for a few months.  After pulling down the necklines of my shirts to breastfeed, my once perfectly placed v-necks have stretched out, showing more cleavage than anyone but my five month old needs to see. 

My standby tees are also showing the impact of too many trips through the washing machine.  Motherhood is a dirty job; laundry is in high rotation in this house.  So I was thrilled on a recent shopping trip with both my girls to find five new tees that meet my criteria of clinging to my waist without being too tight on the chest  (they’ll also look great with my new Paige jeans and the in-the-mail vintage Hermes belt I ordered).

Shopping with young kids is a bit like competing in game show; you race against the clock before a child screams or has a diaper explosion. Time is of essence when shopping as a mom; you typically have to make decisions while soothing an infant or chasing a toddler around the store.  Here are a few tips to make finding your perfect tee a bit easier:

  1. Research in advance:  Check out stores’ inventory online and create a hit list of tees to try.  This affords you the luxury of deciding in advance which colors, lengths, prints and prices will work best for you, leaving in-store decision making to fit alone.
  2. Know your perfect fit: Review the most flattering tees in your closet to determine your ideal cuts.  Do you look best in flowing boxy cuts, fitted baby tees, hip-grazing lengths or crop tops? Once you understand the cut you’re looking for, you should be able to determine with about 75% accuracy how a t-shirt will fit you when examining it on the rack.  This will refine your search, reducing the amount of items you need to try on. 
  3. Avoid flimsy fabrics:  No matter how eye-catching the item or great the fit, if the tags, inside stitching or your bra show through fabric, the item will look cheap.  Don’t waste another second on it; just walk away.   
  4. Explore neutral patterns:  Patterns save a basic tee from being a complete bore but they can limit your coordinating options.  If you want a basic tee capable of popping outfits while still being easy to wear, opt for neutral prints and patterns, like polka dots, stripes or a small print in easy-to-match color combos.  A tee like this adds visual interest to your outfit while coordinating with any solid piece as well as many other prints.

Happy shopping!

Continuation of a Style Obsession – Investment Belts

Dolce Belt 1

My latest investment belt.

I can’t seem to shake my current obsession with waist-defining belts. I’ve spent an exorbitant amount of time online hunting down statement-making belts to transform my basic “momiform” into standout outfits. 

I recently wrote about the three ways the right belt can enhance your look.  Today, I’m contemplating when it’s worth forking over extra cash for an “investment” belt.  An investment belt costs a little more (okay, sometimes a lot more) than a comparable lower-quality piece that does that job but doesn’t have the same visual impact or make you feel spectacular.  Higher end  belts are likely to be a good investment IF the belt is of lasting quality and is a classic style you can expect to wear joyfully for years to come. 

Belts are also an appropriate way to add luxury to everyday wear, especially for stay-at-home moms with limited options for dressing up.  A Prada dress won’t be a hit in the playground, but a Prada belt, paired with jeans and a tank, is an appropriate nod to high fashion that is both pragmatic and exciting to wear.   

I am of the entirely self-serving opinion that investment belts are a mom-style must.  Here’s why: Continue reading

Principles of My Mom Style (how motherhood changed the way I dress)

Closet1I’ve been spending an exorbitant amount of time lately thinking about how I dress and shop.

This style hyper-consciousness is partly triggered by getting my figure back after baby number two.  There won’t be a baby number three, so presumably the body I have now will be with me for a few years, opening the door for more enduring investment pieces.

But motherhood has changed my approach to style in other ways too.  While the shortest, tightest dresses in my closet finally fit my body again, they don’t fit my style anymore.  I’m no prude, but anything too revealing now strikes me as tawdry and one dimensional.  Too much leg or cleavage feels beneath me, and not because I’m too modest but because I have better taste.  Fashion’s top icons are seldom overly exposed. 

I’m also contemplating my role in making the world a slightly better place (or at least not overly contributing to it’s demise).  Disposal fashion, which is essentially buying large quantities of inexpensive apparel designed to be tossed after a few seasons, is one of the biggest problems with consumer culture.  The endless production of cheap clothes sucks up precious environmental resources and pumps out carbon emissions. These short-loved items soon get tossed into the garbage and end up in landfills as we replenish our closets with more disposable duds. Continue reading