Closet Stalk

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With Molly Salvi of Squashblossom Vintage

 

Style Icons?
Anita Pallenberg.  she does the classic south-of-france look flawlessly and is the queen of 60s/70s bohemian chic in my opinion.  i love Georgia O’Keefe’s crisp desert uniform.  Iris Apfel can layer and mix colors like i’ve never seen.  Grace Coddington, Lauren Hutton, Diane Keaton, Keith Richards, and Joan Didion.

Wardrobe staples – what are yours?
vintage bell bottom jeans, worn-in tees, cotton caftans, kimonos, tank tops, high rise skinny jeans.

How about accessories – any favorites?
i wear my gold wedding ring which belonged to my husband’s grandmother and an emerald and gold ring by Scosha that we had made for our 10th anniversary.  there are little birthstones set into the band for both of us as well as our two girls.  if i’m going out I will throw on some big thin hoop earrings and a stack of old Mexican silver bangles.  if i could afford a mess of jangly 14k gold bangles I would never take them off.  I wear lots of hats- old stetsons and rockmounts.

Bare with me on this one but what do you think your shoes say about you?
they’d say i’m lazy, earthy and comfortable.  if it has a buckle or a lace I’m probably not wearing it.

What is your earliest memory associated with clothing / fashion?
i remember going to see Ziegfeld Follies with my folks when i was little- all the feathers and sequins and headdresses were mesmerizing.

What would you say you feel most comfortable in on a daily basis?
at home in the country we are always outside playing in the mud or hiking around in the leaves.  my home uniform is typically Madewell skinny jeans or stretch pants, tall Hunter boots for puddle jumping, a tank top and chunky knit sweater if it’s cool.  if we leave the house it’s vintage bellbottoms and a t-shirt or Indian gauze blouse or a cotton caftan.

Can you recall the last thing you regret buying?
i bought linen overalls at Old Navy a few months ago and they literally fell apart after 5 wears.  i rarely go for “fast fashion” and was reminded why.

What do you wear most often?
what’s comfy!  see above answer.

 

molly

 

As far as “trends” in fashion is concerned to what degree would you say you engage?
hardly at all.  i’ve never had a desire to fit in.

What is one thing that has remained consistent in how you dress?
i’ve been a lover of late 60s/early 70s fashion for as long as i can recall.  comfort is always my first thought when dressing.

One thing that’s changed?
not too much.  now that I’m a mom i’m on the go so much and on the floor and covered in avocado and tangled in tomato vines so I save my nicer pieces for special occasions and stick to easy breezy basics during the day.

Describe to us 21 year old Molly’s weekend out on the town outfit compared to Molly today
i lived in Ireland when i was 21 so i suppose it was bellbottoms with lots of baggy sweaters and boots.  now “out on the town” is a rare luxury so I go all out!  I usually wear one of my Indian gauze maxi dresses or 30’s sheer floral gowns with wooden platforms.

Name one trend you “would never”
super low rise jeans.

Last question. You’re stranded on a (fashionably exotic) desert Island and allowed to bring 6 items with you. What are they?
Ricardo Medina botines, a Pansy bra set, my favorite Stetson hat, my comfiest patched bellbottoms, a beautiful Indian cotton caftan, a gauze blouse… and a big cozy cardigan!

 

above photo via Boots and Pine 

Big Love

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When I was pregnant with my second son, all I worried about was how it would affect my first. I was fairly certain that my second child would mostly be a nuisance – someone who interfered with my relationship with my toddler – and so I hired a nanny, with the plan of having her take care of the baby so that I could be free to spend time with my toddler.

I worried that I wouldn’t love the new baby – not as fiercely as I loved my toddler. “How could I possibly love someone as much as I love my first?” I would ask friends and family members with two or more kids. “Your heart just grows, ” they would say. “It expands. You’ll see.”

I wasn’t convinced.

Meanwhile, my toddler was going through the normal toddler stuff – sleep issues, trouble with transitions, discipline issues – nothing out of the ordinary. But since I was in the last trimester of my pregnancy, I was unable to deal. I let things slide, I relaxed most boundaries and I gave in to nearly every one of his demands. By the time the baby came home with me, my toddler’s behavior had hit the next level of awful.

So there I was, with my very own Wild Thing tromping through the house: screaming through bedtime, deliberately waking the baby, and generally causing havoc. Up until the moment when my toddler would finally pass out in bed, the house felt like a war zone, with my husband, the baby and I under siege. And polar opposite was my sweet, easy, good-natured newborn, all milk-breath sighs and rosebud lips. A gentle sapling trying to weather the stormy stomping of his brother’s antics.

I began to resent the toddler. So much so that I nearly found myself back to having the feelings I had when HE was a newborn. When he was a newborn, I suffered postpartum depression, complete with the irrational thoughts that accompany it, about my baby being evil, or trying to kill me. Luckily, with the help of therapy and medication (and yes, time) that all had passed. So how did I find myself back in that awful place? Was this some strange kind of Second Child Postpartum Depression directed at the firstborn? I also felt a crushing guilt for having let things get this far.

And instead of my heart growing bigger, I felt it shifting some things around. The part that had originally belonged to my toddler had shrunk down and moved over to a little corner, so as to accommodate the enormous portion that my Good Child (the baby) was now occupying.

It is a shocking and terrifying feeling, when the thing that everyone promised would happen doesn’t happen they way they said it would. I was promised some kind of Big Love. A magical love that would expand my heart to envelop both of my children in equal measure. So what was wrong with me, what was so broken in me, that this wasn’t the case at all? That the problem wasn’t an inability to love my newborn, but rather, an inability to love him and my toddler at the same time?

Despite these feelings, I soldiered on, because that is what aBeyond Mom does. I wasn’t feeling the love, not the way I should have, but it didn’t matter. I made sure to have “special alone time” with my toddler, the way I had hoped I would with the help of the nanny. And when my Wild Thing and I were at the park together, or at the carousel, or on a play date, I pined for my baby, the Good Child waiting peacefully for me at home. But over time, as the newborn haze began to fade and I started to get back to my old self, my toddler’s challenges became less challenging.

It is hard to pinpoint exactly when something like this changes, as I picture feelings as little whirlygigs inside a big complicated machine, twisting and turning themselves into just the right positions. So I don’t know when it happened, or if there was one specific thing that changed it all – but one night several months later, I was sitting on our sofa with the baby dozing off in one arm, and my toddler reading quietly in my other. And I felt like, “Yes. My boys. My two boys. I love them so much I could just burst.” Looking back on it all it felt like this: I had been knocked to the ground and buried – unable to fully function – until one day something had cleared the heavy things off of me and I could move freely again and could love fully.

I was finally there. I had that Big Love everyone had been talking about. And it taught me that to be a Beyond Mom, sometimes you have to trust that there are things at work beyond what we think we know. There had been no need for me to panic. No need for guilt and nothing wrong with me to fix. Where I thought my heart had been defective or clogged up in some way, it actually was just moving at its own pace. And I don’t know if I believe that it actually grew, so much as it merely made some room, rearranged things a bit, until everything fell perfectly into place.

 

Alexis Barad-Cutler writes all about “the stuff no one talks about in Mom Group” for various online outlets and on her blog. You can follow this Brooklyn mama of two on InstagramTwitter and Facebook.

Words of Wisdom

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‘We need to understand that there is no formula for how women should lead their lives. That is why we must respect the choices that each woman makes for herself and her family. Every woman deserves the chance to realize her God-given potential.”

20 Questions

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1. First off, what’s the story behind your name? How did you end up Luana?

I’m Italian, I was born in Italy to an Italian mother & Australian father. My parents heard the name and loved it. It’s not too common in Italy and I’ve yet to meet another Luana in Australia.

 

 2. Describe yourself as a child in comparison to your own girls?

I started out a very precocious child, full of stories and drama. I grew up in a small town in Italy and my grandparents had a wholesale alcohol and coffee distribution agency. I used to ride around with my dad & Nonno to the bars and restaurants in the region, I articulated as an adult by 3 years of age. I wanted to be an actress up until I was about 10 but then self awareness came with vigour. I would rather die than get up and preform these days, I have no game. Rio, my eldest daughter is very similar to me (as I am now rather than as a child) which has been a confronting aspect of paternity. Seeing her struggle with things that mirror my struggles breaks my heart. But I try and remember that nothing is written and I can build her to be better equipped than I am. She is a very enigmatic girl, gracious, loving and sensitive. She is so thoughtful and remembers the smallest details. Bowie is a completely different character. Much more like her father – she is joyous, gregarious, naughty but tender with a wild wild temper. She is twenty two months old & still completely a baby. I have a totally different relationship with each of my girls.

 

 3. And then as a 22 year old?

At 22 I was studying Naturopathy & madly in love with my boyfriend, impatient for all my domestic daydreams to be realised. Reid was in no such hurry. I dropped out of my course 3 months before completion and have not regretted it for a moment since. I travelled a lot and worked hard – I’m so thankful for that time.


4. What is one thing you wish you could tell that 22 year old self?

Nothing, I’d let her get there herself.

 

5. What are you enjoying most about your current age?

Everything. I find the humility of ageing so freeing. I used to have big ideals, ideas and opinions but when I hit 30 I conceded that I “know” nothing and my mind needs to be wide open. I’m turned on by the differences between people & want to learn. My 20’s felt like a self indulgent hot whirlwind blur – I feel grounded now, without fret or wild ambition.

I guess part of me once felt that it was anti feminist or anti intellectual to want to be a stay at home mother most of the week but now I think the complete opposite. I’m so grateful for the time with my kids, I know everything else I aspire to will come when it can. Obviously adulting can be a massive bummer sometimes but at least I’m a little more proven.

 

 6. Ideal way to spend a whole day alone

Coffee, flea market, champagne & oysters, writing, sun and a swim.

 

7. What does your morning routine look like?    

A river of coffee and tripping over myself until we have to be presentable. I’m a total mess to be honest – the mum that pulls up to preschool with last nights eye liner smudged and coffee cups spilling out of the car. In the morning my spirit is there but the body is not willing.

 

 8. As for motherhood what would you say has been one of the most unexpected things about it so far?  

What an introspective journey it is. Raising a child is holding a mirror up to the best and worst parts of yourself. All the care and sacrifice involved I was prepared for but the relationship with self has been a confrontation.

 

9. Most rewarding?

Watching the girls build relationships, I’m so proud of the way they interact and engage. Also the way it has solidified my marriage. Reid is a really natural father, he took to it instantly & I fell in love with him all over again.

 

10. What scares you most about raising girls?

Nothing, I feel really up for it. Girls are women – everything I love about women presents in my daughters. I’m so excited to be around that energy. The fears I have for my kids aren’t related to their sex.

 

11. Last time you cried?

I cry all the time, I’m wildly emotional. I cried last week when my husband went away because I wished I was going with him. It was one of those nonsensical mum crisis in which I cry because I can’t dash overseas with my husband at the drop of a hat anymore, knowing fully well that I wouldn’t leave the girls anyway.

 

12. Last hang over?

A while ago and it wasn’t worth it, never is with a couple of toddlers to care for in the morning. Two glasses is my zone.

 

13. What would you say you find most attractive in men?

Authenticity & good hair.

 

14. Most endearing in women?

The same


15. I know you have a fabulous punk edge to you, where does that stem from?

Haha! Punk is freedom to me – of all my shortcomings the one thing I’ve always been is without vanity about my image. Aside from my dearest, I don’t worry about how I’m perceived.


16. What is your wardrobe uniform of late? What pieces are you wearing most often and what brands are you currently loving most?

I wear an Australian label Bassike most, I like their minimal tailoring. Other than that genuine vintage clothing is a vice of mine.

 

17. Last TV show guilty of a binge watch?

Stranger Things – just me & the rest of the world.

 

18. Your writing has become a defining anchor here, what would you say you enjoy most about sharing your work and writing for this audience in particular?

When I want to shake writers block I start reading more, which acts as a giant conversation that I need to be a part of. So I came by House Inhabit because I read blogs in lieu of books while I was in a postpartum brain fade, novels too demanding. I identified with your narrative right away. It felt like an authentic glimpse into the day to day, not to mention you are a great writer. A lot of blogs have a way of peddling a certain lifestyle which is completely boring to me. As soon as you introduced a potluck for The Ma Books I wanted to be involved because the conversations sparked were ones that I love to partake in. I can’t really articulate how much I’ve enjoyed the involvement, it’s been absolutely golden. It all feels real and tangible which is pretty rare online. Some of the submissions are of such high quality, I’m in awe. I genuinely look forward to reading every post & love participating.


19. What are two things readers might be surprised to know about you?

1.Despite my candid writing style, I keep things very close to my chest and it takes a long time to get to know me.
2. I’m almost certain that I have dyslexia, but I’ve made it this far so….

 

20. What is one thing you would love to ask Ina Shry?

So much. But I would love to ask her a boring writer question – How does she write, literally?  Typewriter, computer, pen to paper??

 

 

*Bonus Question
You get to dine with one of your greatest lady idols (living or dead) who do you choose and where do you take them?
No matter how many times I’m asked this question, from a teenager to now the answer has and always will be Patti Patti Patti. Patti Smith is holy to me. There is nothing about her I don’t like. Her writing, her music, her style, her motherhood, her marriage – her very existence makes me feel good about being alive. I would cook for her at my house, I’m a feeder.
>>

Named

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I had kept a list of names in the notes on my phone, as it goes these days- unromantically the opposite of a worn piece of paper – since my last pregnancy, when all the names I swore I’d always loved had left my memory. I liked these notes on an undone story – these names worth remembering. Our list for boys was composed mostly of my husband’s picks, which I had also fallen for. Walter, Cassidy, Cal.  My favorite for a little girl was Iris. It felt so elegant to me. With a little bit of edge where, it wasn’t too precious – to give her a chance to be whoever she is; as a friend of mine put it, so perfectly, when discussing names for baby girls. Years ago my husband had stumbled on the music of the 70’s folk singer Vashti Bunyan. She had a short bout of fame and recorded a handful of songs. One called ‘Iris’s Song For Us’ tied him to the name by way of Positive Association and poetry: I climbed the peaks of glass with you  And walked a world of brass with you  And gladly left the glaring streets To share a bed of grass with you the song began.

It was fall when we found out we were expecting. My belly showed our secret well before those first delicate months were spent. Likewise, I felt immediately unwell. I had been granted easy pregnancies twice before and I grappled with the dimness that comes with constant nausea. A New England winter can be brutal – both in temperature and duration. This one in particular proved hardest to bear. In February my sister lost her husband. The days and weeks that followed were blanketed with an unfathomable, terrible sadness that tested hearts against all reason. In those nights of waking heartache for her, I would feel the tiny new life so well protected inside of me. Unfurling every second. The fragility of things. We had found out somewhere in the twentieth week that we would have a girl and we began to call her Iris. The image of her; a little flower growing slowly towards the light of spring, seemed somehow hopeful in that collective darkness. I was deeply grateful for another sister for my girls. It was a gift that held a beautiful weight for me as I treasured my own so dearly and witnessed, more than ever in that time, the love that binds together siblings. A sister in particular. Irreplaceable to me.

In June, the irises all bloomed at once. I was surprised to see them blossom the whole town over during the same month that she was due. They grew along the roadside in shades of purple spilling out over the guardrails everywhere I drove. Birthday Flowers. Three days past forty weeks at dawn, we headed for the hospital. It was an unfamiliar, up and down labor. Starting and stalling all throughout that long quiet day, spent in the hands of our sweet nurse, Imelda. She was humored by our indecision about a middle name. Her mother and her mother’s mother were Imelda. Her daughter was Imelda too. Imelda Ann, Imelda Mary, Imelda Rose. She had kept to that tradition she said, about all those dear Imelda’s.

Iris is born then, and with little warning. In a matter of a few fierce moments she is here. Our rosy little daughter. Its late afternoon and everyone is laughing – how quickly she came. She is captivating, blue eyes, so brand new. Her features are round and girlish and instantly familiar. She feels like new dreams, like shade dappled memories. Bare feet and long braids, ribbons tied loose behind worn cotton dresses. We had long repeated ‘Marianne’. It was something timeless; all along.

Iris Marianna is named for Summer, Sunlight, Song.