40 Before Forty Update: No. 06

6. Complete my Sarah Fielke Block of the Month 2017 quilt top…and then put it all together.

I’m nowhere close to having this quilt done, but I have completed the third month of the pattern! Behold!

Sarah Fielke Block of the Month 2017–Third Month Completed

I’m happy with the colors. And, it’s such a relief, because I’m not necessarily the best with putting colors and prints together. Month 2 and 3 had a lot of hand stitching in the form of needle turn applique. That thin dark blue border was machine stitched. Because my sewing machine doesn’t live out in the open, it is an occasion when it comes out. I try to only break it out when I know I have enough time to tackle my current project, plus something on my “to-sew” list.

So, when I stitched on the border, I also stitched loops of ribbon onto my kids’ towels.

Ribbon loop sewn onto a towel for hanging convenience.

I saw this on the Internet a year or two or three ago and mentally cataloged the idea. I put some semi-permanent hooks onto their bedroom doors. It’s such an easy solution. Bonus: because they’re just towels, I didn’t have to fuss over ribbon or thread colors. What I had was what I used. Function over form!

Now, I’m working on Month 4 of the block of the month pattern. There are a lot of little pieces I have to cut out. Everything is machine stitched, too. We’ll see if I can get all the stitching done in one sitting–I’ll keep you posted!

Baby Name Regrets

Bringing Up Bebe by Pamela Druckerman

Baby names and regret? Yikes. I’m not sure I would have ever thought it was possible to regret—or at least have second thoughts—about your baby’s name, but Pamela Druckerman discusses in her book Bringing Up Bébé her inner turmoil after naming her twins (boys, fraternal).

We settle on Joel—whom we’ll only ever call Joey—and Leo, who defies all attempts at nicknames. …Amazingly, I still find time to be neurotic. I’m obsessed with the idea that we’ve given the boys the wrong names, and that I should go back to the town hall and switch them. I spend my few leisure minutes ruminating on this. …Before the little ceremony [circumcision], I confess to the mohel that I fear I’ve given the boys the wrong names and that I may need to switch them. He doesn’t offer me any spiritual advice. But being French, he explains that the bureaucracy I’d need to go through to do this would be a labyrinthine and excruciating. Somehow this information, plus the consecration of the circumcisions, erases my doubt. After the ceremony, I never worry about their names again.

Now that I reread this passage, I don’t know whether Druckerman means she wanted to flip flop her twins’ names (Joey becomes Leo and Leo becomes Joey) or if she means she wanted to give them completely different names. I can find the humor in the situation: the self-admitted neurotic nature of this obsession. Been there and done that postpartum!

I can’t help to wonder, though, have any other parents regretted or had second thoughts on the name they gave their baby? What would you do about it—change it legally, call them by a nickname? Would you ever admit it? Do you have a “friend” who has experienced this? (Wink!)

Cocooning After a Layoff: Ways to Calmly and Confidently Figure Out Your Next Steps


Today is the first anniversary of my second layoff. That’s right, second. Let me do the math for you: I’ve been laid off from the only 2 copywriter positions I’ve held in my copywriting career. Yup. It happens.

I’ve been through that awkward moment twice, but in completely different ways. The first time, I was the only person selected from my team to be let go. It was a Friday afternoon and I was called down to HR. I was blindsided. Only a few months prior, I had been called down by the same person, but I was informed that I was getting a raise. I was 3 months into a 30-year mortgage. But, despite having some negative feelings (worry, embarrassment, confusion), I felt gratitude for my company. Everyone—from my manager and HR to colleagues—were gracious and helpful.

The second time was what I would expect: a meeting invite sent the day before. A woman with a title that started with a ‘C’ and ended with an ‘O’ running the meeting. I got suspicious when I asked what brought her into town (she worked at a different location) and she said she just really wanted to be there for the meeting. I got the hint. She wasn’t doing a tour like others had. This layoff was just as worrisome. I had an 8-month old baby (and a 2-year old) and as if figuring out how to manage a familiar job with a baby wasn’t hard enough, I didn’t know how I was going to figure out a new job with my young family.

For my second layoff, I applied lessons I learned from the first and pushed them further. Now, I have a list of tips I recommend to others who find themselves in similar situations. For the record, I officially call this list, “Cocooning After a Layoff: Ways to Calmly and Confidently Figure Out Your Next Steps.” Let’s get started!

Pause. Take a breather and sleep on it before hastily posting about it on social media. Emotions will be running high and you may be tempted to write something negative. Also, at least dust off your resume before posting. We all know that you’re more likely to get hired through some connection—a connection on social media, perhaps. When you make your announcement and someone replies with an opportunity, you want to be able to strike with your shiny resume.

Reflect. Take time to journal and discover where you’ve been and where you are now. This will help you figure out where you want to go. You may reveal new passions or realize you have more strengths than those already on your resume. Bonus: Ask a friend or colleague what they think your strengths are. Getting an outside, positive perspective is a boost to your resume and self-esteem.

Record. Write down any personal truths you may uncover, like your willingness to relocate. Relocation was a possibility with my second layoff, but despite my wandering past, I quickly realized I am happy in my current town. Remember that any truths you write down are true for now. They may not have been true 5 years ago and may end up being untrue in 5 years, but it’s essential to have a grasp on what your reality is right now.

Check your gut. Notice situations or tasks that make your stomach churn or put a big grin on your face. These are mileposts to where you are going. Follow the big grins and try to avoid the stomach churns.

Talk to people. Past co-workers. People who interviewed you in the past, but didn’t end up hiring you (it works!). Cold email people you admire. Find people like you. I found it helpful to talk with women who had been in my shoes: mom of 2 young kids. People tend to be very generous with their time and every person I’ve ever talked to during my periods of unemployment has given me valuable insight.

Continually say “Thank you.” Gratitude makes you feel great while strengthening and creating connections. All those people you talk to? Thank them. Even a “thank you” via email works. But, go beyond the people who explicitly helped you and thank people who are doing their thing and inspire you. I did a lot of “catching up” last year. I found my high school English teacher whose teaching was very influential (hello, I majored in English!) and sent her a message. I wrote the guy who sat next to me in seminar at portfolio school doodling funny things. I even sent “fan mail”—emails to people I didn’t know, but whose work I love. This was fun. And, being unemployed, looking for a job can be (at times) dreadful. Taking the time to thank others boosted my mood.

From my own experience, layoffs are scary and can be disheartening. Just when you think you’re getting into the groove of things, your world is turned upside down. I’ve been fortunate to be able to push my career in a new direction each time. I got to write about one of my passions (fashion) after my first layoff. The second time, my work schedule went from being flexible, to VERY flexible, which was exactly what I was looking for. Make the most of your situation and cocoon—you just may find yourself better off than you were.

Baby Naming: Happy Names According to Penny Marshall’s Mom


I read Penny Marshall’s (whose full name is actually Carole Penny Marshall) memoir, My Mother Was Nuts a few years back. Her explanation of her and her siblings’ names caught my attention:

If you notice, our names all have double letters and end in a Y. Pronouncing them, as my mother once explained, made you smile. Gar-REE. Ron-KNEE. Pen-KNEE. They were happy names, she said. Other names, such as Susan, Paula, and Katherine, were flat. To her, they were sad names. ‘And Penny,’ my mother wrote in my baby book, ‘is always ready for a hardy laugh.’

When it came to naming her own daughter, Penny Marshall landed on Tracy, the name of a girl she had liked from camp. “Tracy was a happy name, as my mother would have said,” Penny writes.

I’ll admit, this stuck with me. For my own children, I tended to lean towards heritage names, but I’m also drawn to emotive names. Out of the two options I uttered to my husband right before my son’s birth, we ended up using the happier of the two names. To me, it just makes sense to have a happy name.

How about you? Does Penny Marshall’s mom’s reasoning make sense to you? Would you choose a name for your baby just because it sounded happy?

Name Mix-Ups

Name tag required.

Did your mom yell out your siblings’ names before she got to yours? (Do YOU list out all of your children’s names before getting to the right one?) Ends up, we’re not losing our minds. This article from NPR explains why our brains scramble names. (We keep our loved ones’ names in the same “brain folder!”) This probably explains why when I was in elementary school I called my teachers “mom” at least once a year. Oops! But, my teachers were great!

When naming baby #2, #3…#100, you may worry about choosing a name that sounds too similar to your older children’s names. I say, don’t sweat it! You’re going to mix their names up anyway! Haha!

Are you expecting? Congratulations! If you need help figuring out how to go about the difficult task of picking a name for your baby, check out my guide, Choosing the Most Perfect Name for Your Baby: Demystifying the Naming Process & Honoring Your Heart.*

*Of course I earn money with each purchase of my guide, because I wrote it! But, this is my passion project and unless it gets Oprah-level attention, I won’t be retiring any time soon. I appreciate your support and I hope that my guide helps you select the most perfect name for your baby!