Posted by: littlebitofparadise | June 13, 2012

Fashion Forward…or Backward?

Update: I wrote this post eons ago, but when Kendra of the blog Catholic All Year announced that she was doing a “Great Purse Dump Linkup” I figured I should resurrect this post since I’ve already done a purse dump for y’all, and that’s probably enough purse dumping for one blog…Catching Fire, tampons and all. 

I should also add that the faux leather “anti diaper bag” I wrote about below died a slow, painful, toddler-gooped-on death and is either still hanging on a rack at Goodwill, or has found it’s way to the local dump. When Rett was born I splurged and purchased a Beijo diaper bag and I am in love with it. I bought mine off of Craigslist – the lady received two Beijo’s at her baby shower so I was able to snag her second one for a tiny fraction of the full price. My favorite feature is the zip-down leather changing pad on the back side of the bag. 


As I was piling my kiddos in and out of the car during errands last week, something struck me as rather odd: my shoulder was aching. I guess the odd part wasn’t that it was aching, but the fact it wasn’t aching from putting my toddler in and out of shopping carts or from carrying my chunky monkey baby and his car seat in and out of stores. Strangely enough my shoulder seemed to hurt from carrying around my handbag.

Hmmm…maybe I haven’t cleaned this thing out in a while?

I have to admit I’m rather proud of the fact I’m a mom who carries around a handbag during errands, rather than a diaper bag. Don’t get my wrong, I absolutely love my Eddie Bauer diaper bag that a very dear friend gave me as a shower gift when I was expecting Mark. It’s sturdy, spacious, and has the right amount of compartments and pockets for everything I need when toting around bear cubs. But the simple fact of the matter is, it’s not stylish; it’s not feminine; it’s not cute.

So, when Mark was about 7 months old, I went to TJ Maxx, as all die-hard Maxxinistas do, in search of an anti-diaper-bag diaper bag (you know, a handbag big enough to fit oodles of diapers, wipes, bibs, pacifiers, baby toys, teething rings, snacks, and who knows what else my babies seem to need on any given outing day, but one that masks it all in a fashion-forward extra-large handbag of sorts).

After rejecting almost every handbag I found at TJ’s as “not big enough”, I finally found this bad boy on the clearance rack:


In my defense it looks better in real life than in this pic, but long story short, it seemed perfect for my competing desires to look cute and tote sufficient baby gear.

I’ve used this handbag ever since.

So when the ol’ shoulder started getting sore this week, I decided to dump the entire contents of my bag on the kitchen counter to see what the matter could be. I was rather surprised to discover how much stuff I’d been carrying around. So I took inventory. (Yep, that’s right, I made a list).

Ah hem:

  • Magazine recipe clippings
  • Sippy cup half full (have no idea how long it’s been there or what’s in it. Don’t judge.)
  • Applesauce snack cup
  • 4 fruit leathers
  • 3 fruit leather empty wrappers
  • Hair clip
  • Too many scrunchies and bobby pins to count
  • Bottle of Purell
  • Purell wipes
  • Kleenex packet
  • Plastic table covers for kids
  • Zip lock full of Chick Fil A Coupons
  • Teething ring
  • Catching Fire (That’s right. Because mothers of two babies have lots of time to read in public while they’re out running errands.)
  • 6 pads
  • 3 tampons (And no, I don’t even have my period.)
  • 2 diapers
  • Wipes container
  • 3 lip glosses
  • 2 pairs of sunglasses
  • 2 chapsticks
  • Costco coupon booklet
  • Pacifier clip
  • 3 pacifiers
  • Wallet – weighing in at about 89 lbs.
  • Coupon organizer wallet
  • Toddler’s camo hat
  • 62 lbs. of receipts

Hello, black hole in my life.


Obviously my Maxxinista idea wasn’t working very well. I spent the next several days wondering how I could make this mommyhood dilemma work better. Do I need a bigger handbag? A smaller one? One with more compartments inside? One with fewer compartments? Should I go back to carrying a small purse AND a diaper bag? Do I need to resort back to using the diaper bag as my purse?

Such was the angst of a SAHM with dos bambinos. However, I’m happy to report that it was short lived! The answer to my dilemma hit me like a ton of bricks during the final hymn at Sunday Mass this past weekend.

My family sat directly behind a husband and wife who have seven (yes S-E-V-E-N) little boys. We often sit close to this family at Mass, and I’m always appreciative of how put-together the mother is. She wears adorable fashion-conscious clothes, she always seems to have the perfect accessories and shoes to match her outfit, and her hair is only ever out of place when her toddler (he’s about 2 months older than my Mark) ruffles it up during Mass. To put it mildly, I’m in awe of her. Truly, I’d like to take her to Starbucks and take notes.

Anyway, as I stood up to sing the final hymn on Sunday, I happened to glance down on her pew seat and caught a glimpse of her handbag. BOTH of them.

You see, this Mama had a bag similar to mine (a bit larger and cuter) that served as her “diaper bag”. Inside I could see the diapers, sippy cup, wipes case, etc. But what I also saw in that split second was that she also had a small PURSE inside the larger handbag. From what I could see it was as equally fashion-forward as her larger handbag, but it was clear the smaller one contained her personal items, separating it from the diaper bag chaos in the rest of the bag.

BINGO. I’d found the answer to fashion-frantic mothers of babies and toddlers: carry TWO handbags when you have kids, so that it’ll keep your stuff and their stuff separated. AND, when you get the luxury of a trip out of the house without kids, all you have to do is grab the smaller handbag out of the “faux diaper bag” and wah-lah: you’re good to go.

Shortly before I became engaged to MacGyver, he spent a month in Florence, Italy, taking a required class for his master’s degree. My “trip present” upon his return was this adorable bag from the Gucci store in Florence. I treasure this bag, both because it’s from the birthplace of Gucci, but also because it’s a special memory of one of the happiest summers of my whole life. I haven’t had the chance to use it since I had babies.


Guess what’s going inside the anti-diaper bag this week? Can’t help it – I’m thrilled!


  1. A bunch of gals seem to have the purse in a purse thing going. I might have to do that. Thanks for linking up!

    • Thanks for hosting Kendra! Looking forward to reading through your linkup this week. And your handbags are adorable.

  2. That is a brilliant idea! I need to hop on this ‘bag within a bag’ bandwagon! And yeah, 62 lbs of receipts sounds about right in my experience!

  3. I keep planning to do this (I did it with my first two kids)…and then I keep forgetting/putting it off because I’m afraid to buy a purse I hate. Weird.

  4. This is an incredibly brilliant idea!

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