Those who ‘know me-know me’ would say (1) glasses, (2) nosering, and (3) black. This is me on a day-to-day basis, yes, but although the most common to see on me, I’m most grateful for a few other things worn in my home this year.

1. Jamberries 

I’m not big into personal aesthetics these days. It’s not even a matter of the children-first model which forces its way in the door when you live with three smallish people. Rather, it’s a matter of my prioritizing my life. Nails, makeup, and hair? They just don’t even make the list.

Enter: plot twist

A near-and-dear friend of mine, Michel, started selling Jamberries, these prettified nail wraps that smack of my sorority days long passed. However, and this is the huge however: the eclectic weirdo in me who likes things like red lipstick some days, green glasses legs, and bright shoes wanted those nails and thought Daina, my thirteen-year-old who has maybe the world’s largest collection of blue nail polishes, would like them, too, and maybe would be lured away from Minecraft and into my deep conversation lair.

I learned that the password into her heart was two words: Doctor Who. And it just so happened that Michel could get me Doctor Who wraps which made Daina want to check the mail every five hours.

I loved wearing these things this year because each time we put them on, Daina and I spent lots of time together. I know this is the opposite of what the selling point should be: Oh, they’re a snap! So fast and easy to apply! Just a cinch! <winky smiley face> But those things are less important to me when I want to spend some bonding time with my biggest, quietest kiddo.

There’s the potential that the closest we get in height, the farthest apart we’ll be in other ways, and I’m willing to fight it. Even if it means doing my nails.

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2. The swimsuit I put on at the end of summer

I haven’t owned shorts since the nineties, yet on an odd whim, I bought and wore a swimsuit, the first I’d worn in over ten years, to the beach with my kids in August. I’d decided that however mortifying it would be to try on and wear the swimsuit in the broadest of day lights, I still wanted in that water with my children more. So, I did it. And no one yelled at me or laughed at me. And I lived.

[Brave act not pictured. I’m no martyr.]

3. Babies and Help for Babies (and Mamas)

This year I wore my third and last baby lots. This is Evangeline on my back before she realized her independent streak and revolted.

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But holding my babies close are joys laced with reverence and a deeply sincere awareness that not everyone gets to do the same.

Since moving into my thirties, I’ve become far more acquainted with many friends and family members’ stories of infertility and grief, either through miscarriage or another infant loss, than I ever was in my twenties. You just don’t realize sometimes the struggle others are going through to conceive or to have a pregnancy go full term, and it makes sense I’d be the last person some would want to be around: me, who popped an accidental baby out at nineteen, and me, who most recently accessorizes in odd years with spit up on my shoulder. If I were them, I’d avoid me, too. I’m the worst.

But it was also the worst to find out some stories years later and even others years later after ‘rainbow babies’ had been born.

I’m endlessly grateful for some women in my life who have been so uniquely willing and open to share their difficult stories of infant loss, as these are the hardest stories to tell. My friend Tiffany, minister and author of the Fully Alive blog, which documents the experience of healing after the loss of her daughter, Josephine Ava, a day after her birth, tells an incredible story of faith and redemption in the midst of such pain.

Tiffany’s own story has enabled to her connect and to help countless other women with similar experiences. She has sent, too, far more than words their way.

She coordinated a diaper-making day for people in her church to sew cloth diapers sized for premature babies and micropremies who had passed away and a duplicate one to send home with the family who had lost the child–both comforts from one who has been on that same journey to others just beginning it.

She began making glittery jewelry, too, in Josie’s memory, selling earrings, necklaces, and rings to raise funds for The Mother and Child Survival Advance program. Here is Daina wearing her pair in memory of Josie.

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The gifts I’m grateful for wearing today run the gamut, but they’re all tied to people, and maybe it’s those people I’m more thankful for than anything. I wear their stories daily.


Need a little more?

Gift 1: If you scrolled to the bottom to see how to get Daina’s fancy Doctor Who nails (oh, predictable you), know that Michel has the hookup here.

Gift 2: Here’s your Life Bonus Points Extra Credit Homework for the day, three body-image articles I loved this year:

Gift 3: Learn more about Tiffany’s incredible story and her projects to support those suffering from infant loss here.

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