Tuesday, April 28, 2015

the one about turning it around

I have started and stopped this post a dozen times by now. It has been difficult to find the words and the courage to type this all out, but I feel strongly that other mothers need to read this, so I'm going to be brave and speak from the heart. Like I do.

Now first, for a title.

The one about…the time I thought about leaving my kids home alone so I could get some space.
(too CPS-worthy?)

The one about…the day of 5 million tears.
(too dramatic?)

The one about…why I suck at life.
(too vague?)

Nevermind. I'll do the title at the end.

Most of you know, I "stay home" with my three small daughters, ages 5, 2, and 6 months. I put "stay home" in quotes because I don't know the last time I actually "stayed home" for an entire day with my children. There are always errands to run, appointments to be late for, and activities to get to. Many days, I feel like I spent the majority of my day in my van. So maybe it is more appropriate to say that I am a "stay in my van" mother.

Shit, now if that's not glamorous.

But, it is what I wanted. I desperately wanted it. I needed to be able to spend this time with my children when I was working full-time, and I am blessed to be able to do it.

To all of the mothers reading this who work a full-time job outside the home, away from your kids all day, I already know what you're thinking.

Great. A post about how she had a "tough day" with her kids. I wish I could have the luxury of a "tough day" with my kids. Good Lord, get a grip and show some gratitude that you get to spend all day with your children, even if it is in your dumb van. 

Please, before you hit the red X at the top of the screen and Google strong cocktail recipes…just hear me out.

No matter what you call your daytime occupation, we are all mothers, and we all have the capacity to love our children more than life itself…and to absolutely lose our minds at a moment's notice.

(Now, if you can't relate to that statement, go ahead and hit the red X and drink your cocktail)

So, about a week ago, it was a rainy day, which meant my children were basically crawling up the walls like monkeys in a zoo, frantically foraging the house for the next meal, and blinking their big, bored eyeballs at me as if to ask when the Disney parade would be marching through because this Play Doh ain't cuttin it, Lady.

It was the perfect storm (see what I did there?). Can't play outside on the new swing set that was to be my saving grace from indoor boredom. Too crummy to really get out and about because, well, have you tried getting 3 small children from your vehicle to a store/museum/restaurant…in the rain? ALL of our toys are just SO old and SO boring and SO already played with. Won't let them just stare at a TV all day because I'm still a contender for the Meanest Mom Ever award.

Cue the crying, tantrums, arguing, and just general chaos. Also, cue the resounding chorus, "Oh, enjoy these days! These are the best times of your life!"

Oh, the joy.

As I was standing in my living room amidst My Little Pony debris and Barbie shrapnel, my oldest screaming because she had squirted perfume in her eyeball, I contemplated leaving. There, I said it. I contemplated getting in my van and circling the block or the state and just getting some air.

Some space.

Some peace.

BUT I DIDN'T, OKAY.

I DID NOT LEAVE MY CHILDREN UNATTENDED.

I know that I would never, ever do that.

But I'm not going to lie that it sounded like a decent idea at the time.

So, I did what any grown woman would do.

I cried.

Boy, did I cry.

And then, when I thought I was done, I called my husband at work to cry some more.

I think for the first five minutes, all I did was yell one, long sentence. And when I took a breath, I sobbed hysterically.

He was silent.

But it was a comforting silence.

A familiar silence…because this wasn't my first time melting into a puddle of disaster, and it wasn't his first time cleaning it up.

He let me do my thing, and when I came up for air, he gave me the oxygen mask.

He reassured me.

He calmed me.

He loved me when I was borderline unlovable.

He gave me just what I needed so that I could end the day so much better than it began.

"You're doing a good job, Babe."

"Some days are just more difficult than others."

"No, our children don't need counseling."

"I love you."

A few (hundred thousand) deep breaths later, and I was able to look my children in the (bored) eyeballs and restart the day. I took it easy on myself and put in a movie (or 2 or 7).

And by taking it easy on myself, I took it easy on them, too.

Not every (or any) day is going to look like a Pin-worthy picture. I've got to remember that.

When he got home that night, we talked about the events of the day, and I blubbered through my tears, "I bet I am the only mom who ever felt like running away."

He smiled and said, "I bet millions of moms feel like running away sometimes."

And that's when I started to write this post…because there might be another Mama somewhere, drowning in dirty diapers and perfume-inflicted eye injuries, feeling on the brink of insanity, and the last thing you need to feel is alone.

It doesn't mean you don't love your children. In fact, I feel it means quite the opposite.

You love them so much that you want only the best, only the most awesome, only the most wonderful days and memories and Mama for them, and when the reality doesn't meet the expectation, you feel like you failed.

You didn't fail.

Even if you got in your van and thought about driving to Hawaii, you still didn't fail.
(You may have failed geography class, but…)

You need to hear what I needed to hear.

You're doing a good job.

Some days are just more difficult than others.

No, your children (probably) don't need counseling.

The van.

The day.

You just need to turn it around.





Wednesday, April 8, 2015

the one about selling

I have never been good with change.

Some people live for it…others hide from it. I'm kind of in the middle. While I welcome new experiences, my stomach still balls up in knots when I think about actually committing to them. And I think that's pretty normal.

So when I recently found myself signing the acceptance of an offer on our first home in Indianapolis, I had tears in my eyes.

We haven't even lived in this home for four years now. It has seen a few rounds of renters, and we decided it was best if we simply try to sell it and part ways. When we listed it with a realtor, I didn't expect to have an offer on the table within 24 hours.

I figured I would have more time to get annoyed with the selling process…to watch the weeks and perhaps months go by without offers…to keep checking our bank account to see if we could handle two mortgage payments. I figured by then, I would just be so ready to see it go that I would just put a "FREE, COME AND GET IT" sign in the yard and walk away.

So I wasn't ready for 24 hours later, here's an offer that you should accept. And I certainly wasn't ready for the flood of emotions I would be feeling…everything from sadness to peace to anger?Somehow, I had envisioned it differently. I pictured Luke coming in with the offer, and both of us joyfully signing away this first home and hugging and giggling and high-fiving and clinking wine glasses together.

I never pictured laboring over a full-price offer. I never pictured regretting my signature when it was still wet enough to be smudged. I never pictured debating and discussing and even raising our voices over the sale of a home we haven't set foot into in years.

But see? This was our first home. I remember going to the Open House and falling in love right around 7 years ago this time of year. I remember writing the offer in a McDonald's with our realtor, and putting down our earnest money, and waiting for the call. I remember signing all the papers at closing, and being handed the keys and thinking, "I can't believe we did it." 

I remember picking paint for each room. I remember dreaming of upgrades and parties and babies and the Christmas tree.

Our realtor told us (me) to remove the emotion from the house. Which is the most ridiculous statement ever. HOW does one do that? Remove the emotion?

How do I remove the emotion from the house when I remember so vividly walking out of the bathroom to tell Luke I was pregnant for the first time…only to lay on the floor of our bedroom weeks later in a ball of tears upon learning we had miscarried that child? How do I remove the emotion from the house when it was in that yard that our family planted a cherry tree in memory of that baby we never got to hold?





And how do I remove the emotion from the house when I remember jumping on our bed a hundred times because I knew when Luke got home that night, I'd be telling him I was pregnant again. Remove the emotion from painting the guest room into a nursery? From bringing a newborn through the front door? From the path we wore in the carpet from the midnight and 2 a.m. and 4 a.m. pacing with a fussy baby?

Remove the emotion from the house where friends and family piled into the living room for bridal showers and baby showers and bachelorette parties and Christmas parties and football games and eventually the first birthday of our first baby girl?

Remove the emotion from the house where we tried our first home improvement projects? Where we thought painting the kitchen cabinets would be a quick and easy thing to do and laying tile in the bathrooms led to cracking and replacing an entire toilet.

The realtor sees carpet that needs replaced and old appliances. I see carpet that has been slept on, worn in, and played on. My daughter walked her first steps across that carpet, pushing a little shopping cart.

I see appliances that burned lots of cookies and chicken before I learned how to cook. Before I made that special dinner for Luke on the night I told him I was pregnant with Noelle. Before I chilled obscenely shaped Jell-o shots for my friend's bachelorette party in that refrigerator.

But the house is selling. Too small and located too far away for our needs, we were never going to live there again anyway. We are now playing the hurry up and wait game, and if all goes according to plan, they will be pulling my clingy, white-knuckled hands off the porch railing in no time.

And if I could tell the new owners one thing, I would say not to repaint the master bedroom. The foggy gray color looks beautiful on an overcast day. I would say that the Christmas tree works best by the back patio door. I would also say that the bar in the walk-in closet likes to fall down if it gets over-loaded and it will scare the shit out of you when it does. And I would say that one year, we put all new Christmas lights on the giant evergreen out front, and if you haven't already sliced the cord with the lawn mower, you should definitely plug that in.

That was more than one thing.

But one more thing.

Please don't cut down the cherry tree.



I guess I'm not a remove the emotion kinda gal.


Monday, April 6, 2015

the one about my third stitch fix experience

In case you don't know by now…I LOVE Stitch Fix.

Like, really love it.

And I love it even more because my last shipment was a total success, meaning I kept all 5 items!

Don't know what Stitch Fix is? You can check out my first two reviews here and here for more information!

I decided to take actual photos of my items this time, since I love them so much. I'm also going to go through the pricing and how to save a little money on your fixes!

Just for a little background info… I set my price settings at "the cheaper the better" for everything except bottoms and dresses. I am willing to pay just a little more for those items.

I also haven't ever made specific requests for items that Stitch Fix posts on Instagram, Facebook, or Pinterest. I know some people do that in their notes to their stylists, but I think that leads to disappointment if they don't receive the items, and I like to have pretty low expectations. I enjoy being surprised!

1. Skies are Blue Topanga Crochet Detail Flutter Sleeve Blouse



Love: The romantic, feminine feel of this top! I also love the lace details and that it feels like a tank top, yet it isn't a tank top (because hi underarm jiggle!). I am also a sucker for white, ivory, off-white, etc. 

Don't Love: My girls will have this thing painted in chocolate finger prints in no time…so I will save it for a date night or other special occasion like a solo trip to Target.

2. Market & Spruce Xander Short Sleeve Woven Back Sweatshirt



Love: Easy going fit, loose and flowy. I adore that peach sheer fabric in the back. This shirt feels very casual without being sloppy. (It's wrinkled because I wore it yesterday!)

Don't Love: It is just a tad boxy, which can make me look fat, pregnant, or both…but overall it's not unflattering. 

3. Octavia Henry Birds on Branch Infinity Scarf



Love: The minty color and the birds! This scarf is HUGE! The stylist thought it could double as a nursing cover, and it definitely could! It is very light weight and airy.

Don't Love: What's not to love?

4. Gilli Koko Maxi Dress


Love: The royal/navy blue color! The stylist chose this for the deep V neck, which is easy to nurse in. This is a stretch-jersey material, so it is very easy and comfortable to wear, but can also be dressed up nicely. 

Don't Love: The price was steep for a rather plain dress. I could find something similar at Target for less money, but there's a reason I ended up purchasing it anyway. More on that later. 

5. Dear John Finnegan Roll Cuff Chino Short



Love: The navy/white pinstripe! I also loved the length…not too long, not too short. They are very comfortable and will help me look pulled together in the hot summer months. Since I won't be 7 months pregnant on bed rest this summer, I will have actually wear clothes instead of a tank top and underwear. Damn.

Don't Love: Really, nothing! At first, I was annoyed that I received shorts because I don't enjoy showing my legs off, but they were very flattering and a great pick for me. 

Now that you've seen the clothes, you might actually want to know the cost of this box. The total price of all the items before any discounts was $252. I know, I KNOW. That averages to around $50 per piece (some were less like the scarf, others were more like the dress). If that seems too salty for your budget, I am with you, because it was for mine, too.

HOWever, there were some discounts to apply, which helped the cause. First, I had $75 of credit thanks to you sweet people who have signed up using my referral link. Thank you! However, that is not a perk exclusive to me. You can get $25 credit when a person uses your referral link (Stitch Fix gives you one when you get your first fix) to sign up AND schedule a fix. You don't get the credit until the person's set actually ships.

So, if you would like to sign up, you can use my link (wink wink), and then Stitch Fix will give you your own link once you schedule your fix. THEN, share that link with your mom who will surely want to sign up, your sister, your best friend, your cousin, your aunt, etc, and basically FORCE them to schedule fixes, too! That right there is $100 in credit! You can also share your link on Facebook to help your cause. It's worth a shot, right?

My box was $252, then my $75 credit was applied, and then because I was keeping all 5 items, an additional 25% was taken off ($58), which made my box $119. This averages between $20-$25 per piece, which is very affordable in my book! I know that I have paid more than that for a shirt or dress at Target.

I mentioned earlier that I considered not buying the blue dress because it was pretty pricey for what it was ($74). Had I not kept the blue dress, I would have not gotten the 25% off discount for buying all 5 items, and my total would have been $104. So, for $15 more, I could get the blue maxi dress.

As you can tell, I am a huge fan of Stitch Fix, and I think busy women of all kinds will find something enjoyable about the experience! Do you know they now offer maternity and petite sizes? It almost makes me want to get pregnant again...

Give it a whirl! Use my referral link, which gets me $25 credit! My next fix comes in June. I'm anxious to see what they will send me for Summer!

Oh, and if you want to know where to snag my awesome white, plastic hanger… it's Target.