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// Shake It Off

I am 110% obsessed with this song and this video. I just can't get over how adorable Taylor Swift is in this. Plus it's a pretty good message, don't you think? (I know there has been a lot of discussion over whether or not it's racist...) I've caught myself replaying it over and over again, dancing with Linden around the house. I think he likes it, too.

// Things I Love Thursday v.197

I am currently suffering from a gnarly cold and it has been no fun at all. That's why you haven't heard from me much this week. I just know I'm going to pass it Linden's way. (If you have any tips or tricks on how to keep the cold away from him, I'm all ears! I know about the breastfeeding benefits already!) This week's TiLT is short but sweet... seriously though, it's a good one! Enjoy! xo
♥ this. because i love me some costanza. ♥
this opossum pattern is amazing ♥
this guy repainted all of his childhood drawings (!!!) ♥
this series is so great - donut doubles! ♥
♥ i'm not really a ke$ha fan but i'm loving this hair! ♥
this is way too cute ♥
this (and everything) by katie vernon ♥
♥ this cake is gorgeous ♥

What are you loving this week?

// The New Normal

Y'all! I'm wearing real clothes! Sure, my dress is wrinkled, my cardigan is pilled, my hair is both way too greasy and way too dry at the same time (not to mention tangled), and I haven't shaved my legs in well over three weeks... but I'm wearing real clothes! I'm outside! In the sun! There's absolutely nothing about this "outfit" that deserves it's own post on a blog, but I'm dressed! I needed to document it haha! I have been living in nursing bras and loose jersey knit maxi dresses with my hair in a bundled mess on top of my head (even the term "top knot" does it no justice...) It feels weird to put on clothes now and realize that I actually have a waist again. There's a whole lot going on with this post-baby body that I'm not totally loving, but I'm trying to find the little things to celebrate.

The new "normal" of my outfit post isn't really me wearing actual clothes (seriously, it's almost like a fluke these days), but instead it's wearing Linden everywhere. One of the only ways I can get anything done around the house is if he's all squished up in his wrap. Luckily he sleeps really well while being worn, but there have been days where nothing will console him. I'm trying to find peace in the fact that some days I won't even touch my computer or think about opening an email. I've started on some new design projects and I'm being very cautious about how much I take on at once because I simply don't know what each new day holds. Same goes for this little blog... Who knows if I'll get around to writing another post this week? I've made it a priority to give myself the space and time needed to tend to the family, and then juggle the rest of life's responsibilities.

We had our first official "outing" the other day when Mike, Linden and I headed to Murfreesboro to spend the afternoon with his grandma. It was her first time meeting Linden so it was nice to just lounge around for a few hours, catch up, and watch him do adorable things. Toby had a jampacked weekend with both sets of grandparents, so while I know he was sad to miss his Grandma Ginny, he was living it up with nights at the drive-in and days spent in the pool. Can't complain too much, right? After having lunch with Mike's grandma we headed over to The Avenue to do a little errand running and to pop in to see a friend. We headed over to Target in Franklin shortly after and then we hightailed it home. Just a few hours out and about and we were all done for. Luckily Linden did really well and he never got fussy or upset. It feels good to have that first little jaunt out from under our belt and I think I'll feel more at ease taking both kids out together next time. We didn't even leave the house on the following Sunday or Monday though! It was nice to just relax with nowhere to be. Mike had last Monday off from school so it gave us a little extra time to spend together before both he and Toby headed back for full days.

I didn't get a chance to say it here on the blog yet, but thank you all so much for the incredibly sweet comments left on my 2 Weeks with Linden post, my Instagram and Twitter, and in my inbox. I was flooded with so many amazing emails from other moms out there, reassuring me that everything would be a-okay in the end and that this too shall pass. Luckily we had a really amazing weekend with Linden so I'm feeling a bit more chipper these days. It's still hard, don't get me wrong, but I'm not beating myself up over things I perceive as "shortcomings" in motherhood. Linden is happy with a full belly, no matter where it's coming from, and I'm learning how to balance out some work time during his naps. We're moving in the right direction! Though I am looking forward to the end of the month when Mike gets a full week break from school haha I do count down every single minute until he gets home during the day... It's a constant struggle, but one that I'm happy I get to experience at all.

Marshall's dress
Charter School Cardigan
Ipanema sandals
DIY knit wrap

// Rad Gal, Rad Gig: European Au Pair

Hi! I'm Alex and I blog over at Her Wonderful Adventure.  I have been many things in my life: foster kid, ghost story enthusiast, and teacher -- but one of the coolest things I can say about myself is that I spent a year abroad in Sweden as an au pair. 

What an au pair actually does can vary from country to country and household to household.  The sky is usually the limit on where you decide to go, but the basic idea is the same; to help a family with their children and home, usually including teaching the children conversational English.  The term 'nanny' isn't quite accurate; actually the word 'au pair' is loosely translated as 'equal' meaning that the worker is treated as family and not a servant or housekeeper.  Some au pairs just skip the paperwork and work under the table, others go through agencies.  I used a web service called Au Pair World.  (It's free!) 
I got the idea in my head while in a really bad spot in my life -- crumbling relationship, unhappy with my pointless job, taken over by wanderlust.  I saw some agency posting on Craigslist for an au pair and I was like, "What the heck is that? Travel overseas?"  I researched and ran across the site, made a profile, and started contacting families.  It only took a few months before I found my perfect match (no seriously, we skyped and there were fireworks!) and right around Christmas, I made my way to beautiful Sweden for the winter.  I chose Sweden because I've visited before and had friends there, as well as being a little obsessed with the language and culture.  It's the land of the Vikings, of course!!
To be perfectly frank, the first month was ran on pure adrenaline and nerves.  I had never quite been a family member before, only the awkward foster kid, and I was unfamiliar with how families worked.   I did have a ton of experience with kids though, so I just ignored the terrifying feeling of being totally lost, and focused on the wonderful boys I au paired for.  They taught me Swedish relatively quickly, and their adorable broken English is probably one of my favorite things on earth!  After the two month mark things started feeling normal.  We were closer than ever.  The family and I went on outings, spent time sightseeing and showing me the culture, and having lots of 'fika' over delicious coffee while discussing the differences in our countries.  They were disgusted by things like cool-whip and flavored coffee creamer, and I was horrified at the lack of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and cashiers who would bag groceries for me!
The snow began to melt and the days began to get long (REALLY long...sunset at midnight, sunrise at 3am) and before I knew it this life was normal!  Riding the subway to get around, speaking Swedish to store cashiers, taking my shoes off as soon as I entered the house and lots and lots of fika.  A sweet sidenote that I feel I should mention here is that I met my current boyfriend, Henri, shortly after moving to Sweden.  I had no intention of falling in love with a dark-haired Scandinavian hunk, but it happened.  He became a part of our little family as well.  My friends and my boyfriend and my au pair family all took me on amazing adventures: overnight cruises to Finland and Estonia, a long train ride to the arctic circle, the Stockholm archipelago where we had our typical Swedish summer house. 
I was changed so much by Sweden and its culture and people.  The authentic friendships I built, and the genuine family I have over there will never leave the deepest part of my soul.  I actually recently wrote some of the ways Swedish culture itself changed me, but I will say this--no matter where you go as an au pair, you will grow and thrive immensely.  Of course part of that comes from just being away from home which is important for everyone seeking to learn more about themselves.  Another part of it comes from the courage it takes to just plop down in a foreign land where nobody speaks your language or knows the truth about your home.  It's isolating, and being isolated is a great learning experience.  And of course the job itself, caring for and looking after children, is so rewarding, exhausting, and exhilarating there are no words for it!

How to get started

If you'd like to get started on the road to adventure and finding your own overseas family, I personally recommend Au Pair World, just from my own experience.  You can also google local Au Pair agencies, just make sure you do your research on them and if possible interview some au pairs for suggestions and advice.  If you do find a family, always make sure you Skype with them first, and prepare a list of questions (What will my pay be? What chores would you like me to do?  What hours would you anticipate me working?  Can you detail an 'average' day in the household?)  Pick a country you'd like to visit and search for au pair families in that country! 

The people who are searching for au pairs need someone who is comfortable with kids, comfortable with cohabiting in their home, ready and willing to possibly learn a new language and teach each other their own unique culture.  And good au pairs are people who are creative, adventurous, and want something a lot more unique than just a nanny job or a babysitting night every so often. 


Rad Gal, Rad Gig is a new feature on The Clueless Girl's Guide where I invite really neat gals to share their really cool stories. Whether your gig is a full-time job or just a hobby, I want to hear from you! If you think you'd be perfect for Rad Gal, Rad Gig, feel free to get in touch or view the information on the Submissions page! Just submit a short description of what you do and why you think it's rad!

// Things I Love Thursday v.196

this is so true! ♥
these gorgeous sunsets ♥
this hilarious graphic ♥
this gorgeous photo ♥
♥ this is proof that Bob's Burgers is everything!
this reminds me of sand art from when i was little ♥
these incredible graphite drawings (!!!) ♥
this is a dreamy space ♥
this adorable chinchilla ♥
these earrings by pony people ♥

// The new school year is here and this might be helpful for some of you! Top Tips for New Teachers. Anyone else a teacher? Have anything you'd like to add?

// I found this VW Bus bed on The Hunt and I'm a little bit obsessed. How cool is that?! Too bad it's not for sale... Wah! // This Chanel lipstick USB is so neat! // This "My relationship status? Netflix, oreos and sweatpants" sweatshirt is so funny.

// Spruce up your wardrobe for the upcoming season by ordering a Stitch Fix box of your own!

// 34 panoramic photos gone terrifyingly wrong. Oh my gosh this is the best post ever!

// Here are some sneak peeks at Joelle's new apartment! It looks so cozy and romantic!

What are you loving this week?