Stitch Fix #5: Redemption

If you’ve been following along with my stitch fix journey then you are probably wondering to yourself why this post exists if my last box was such a dud, leaving me to conclude it was the very last one for awhile. Well, Stitchfix reached out to me via email after my last blog post acknowledging that the fixes I was receiving were subpar and not in line with what I was asking for. They generously offered to set me up with one of their top stylists and send another fix, gratis. I hesitantly yet excitedly accepted.

The box arrived on my doorstep as usual and I opened it up to find a sweet note from my new stylist. I looked at the styling card while running around the house attempting to get food on the table and the kids to bed and at brief glace all the items looked black. I thought “God, not again”. Once the babes were asleep I finally sat down with the box and pulled out the items for another mini living room fashion show.

Item #1: 41Hawthorn Trip Longsleeve Colorblock Sweater XS- $58

On the styling card this looked black and gray but when I pulled it out of the box I couldn’t be happier to find that it was actually PURPLE! Purple happens to be my favorite color and one I wish I wore more often.

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The fabric was extremely soft and felt very warm, perfect for the wintery temps we’re experiencing in the DC area.

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I really loved this sweater, from the color and fabric to the tad long sleeves being long enough to tuck my hands into and the tunic length making it perfect to pair with simple black leggings. I was very close to calling  it mine before Bry turned around and vetoed it. Looking at it in pictures I see it doesn’t really do much for my shape (or lack there of). Without my hands on my hips it’s rather loose. But I do absolutely love it and had it been a size smaller, it’d be a permanent staple in my wardrobe.

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Item #2: Pomelo Gerrie Anchor Print Short Sleeve Blouse XS- $34

This was one of the items I found through googling my heart out once I saw what was set to arrive in my fix. I’m not a fan of heavy prints like hearts, animal print and especially anchors. I know it’s really in style it’s just not my style.

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I pulled the shirt out of the box and my heart sank when I felt the polyester blend. I’ll never be able to move in this let alone pick up my kid or bend comfortably. And then Stitch fix worked it’s magic. I tried that baby on and couldn’t believe how comfortable it was.

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The neck, sleeves and hem are all cotton so it’s extremely moveable and easy to lift, run, carry, skip, dance, boogie in. It’s mix of fabrics making it a great piece paired with leggings for casual playdates or skinnies for a night out. The middle is actually a rich cobalt blue that is stunningly beautiful. It’s loose enough to mask cookie bellies without making you appear boxy.

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I immediately fell in love. The price tag was rather nice too. Keep.IMG_7854


Item #3: Sanctuary Jerry Lace Detail Henley Knit Top XS- $58

This was the shirt that first grabbed my attention as it’s totally something I’d pick out for myself. It’s cotton and extremely soft with a velvety lace on the shoulders and down the sides. The top of the back is striped making it extremely unique.

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I loved the lace and stripes. It’s a chocolate brown which is a great color for me. It’s extremely soft. I loved the feel. Stitch fix, you’re on a roll.

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But unfortunately the neck hole is more boat neck which makes bra straps extremely visible and the overall length  of the shirt just hits the bottom of my stomach. If I went to raise my arms my entire mid-drift would be exposed which would be cold and unappealing. Ultimately, I had to part with it due to the fit. But it was a very cute shirt! A little overpriced for a cotton shirt too (for me).

Item #4: Moon Collection Alexander Graphic Knit Drape Front Cardigan XS- $68

I’d actually seen this piece on other bloggers and loved the Aztec print. But I’d also seen the price tag and knew it was a little steep for me for something I could find at Forever 21, so I never mentioned the sweater to my stylists. Imagine my surprise when this total strange included it in my fix. How’d he know?!

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Sorry for the terrible picture quality. My photographer was on his 3rd beer and clearly losing interest. The sweater is really thick which is great for cold weather and extremely comfy which would be perfect for lounging on the couch. And like most Stitch fix pieces, it’s so so sosft. But let’s be honest, I don’t do much lounging anymore and it’d be near impossible to fit an Ergo over this thing. I really loved the print, the colors which were a deep red and navy blue (so cute!) but ultimately the price tag was the deciding factor. And the fact I’d just bought an Aztec cardigan a few weeks ago for $16 that I love.

But this is definitely one of those sweaters that if I didn’t already have one, I’d have bought. The thick fabric and quality material are what cause the price to be a little on the higher side which is worth it in my book.

Item #5: Skies are Blue Lenor Button-Down Pintuck Detail Tank XS- $48

This tank is gorgeous. It’s an emerald green and extremely soft with gorgeous buttoning down the front and lacey shoulders. It’s the perfect dress up or dress down piece.

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It’s very soft and almost cottony which I was not expecting but very much loved. I wanted this shirt so much.

But it was, unfortunately, a little big. This pose didn’t help matter either. What was I doing? Had it been 2 sizes smaller, I’d have bought it up in a heartbeat. It is GORGEOUS! Seriously beautiful. The coloring and details make this shirt.

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I was so happy with this fix. It changed my mind completely about Stitch fix and presented everything I’d been hoping for from the service. I received comfortable, beautiful, unique clothes that w of things I’d pick out myself but also ones that branched me out from what I usually wear. The colors were incredible and included all ones that I don’t have much or any of in my wardrobe. For the first time since I started getting fixes back in July, I sit here at the 3 day mark waiting to check out because I honestly loved every single piece and am hesitant about having returners remorse. Stitch Fix, you’ve outdone yourself. This is how every fix should be!

Sickly

Sorry for the radio silence but we caught a stomach bug over the weekend that left me in a ball on the floor using a takeout soup container as a makeshift puke bucket while Andrew chewed on a tag attached to an electrical cord and Jackson ran around the house terrorizing the dog with a fly swatter. That is, until Andrew woke up from his nap and after downing a bottle promptly up chucked it all over the couch. And my leg. Needless to say it’s been a shit show and were just now crawling ourselves out of the exhaustion and chaos that goes along with abandoning responsibilities for a weekend. Just in time for. Play date today and cookie swap!

I’m off to bake a million cookies but there’s some fun stuff heading this way soon including cookie recipes, life lately update and a new stitch fix review. Yup! Another box arrived. More on that later.

Getting Involved in Group Exercise

In real life, I’m rather shy in new situations where I don’t know anyone. It always takes me some time to warm up, especially when everyone else seems to know one another. For that reason, I avoided group exercise classes for many years. Simply put, I was intimidated. I was intimidated by the fact that the classes seemed close knit and everyone knew everyone else. I was intimidated that everyone was experienced and I would be the beginner, off count and out of step. I thought I’d feel like a sore thumb, sticking out, obviously out of place.

But last year I donned my big girl panties and did the only thing I needed to do to fall in love with group exercise: I stepped into the classroom.

The first class I took, I took with my husband. It was a spin class at a local gym. The instructor asked if anyone was new before the class began and helped me set up my bike. Throughout the 60 minute class he made sure to call out modifications so I could easily tag loony even if I wasn’t ready to fully keep up yet. He made sure to never call me out though but spoke to the group as a whole. I left the class sore from being pushed in way I wouldn’t be able to push myself and energized by the communal atmosphere. And thus, my love for classes was born.

I know many people who feel as I did, intimidated and scared of the unknown. But honestly, group exercise classes are nothing to fear. Everyone was once the newbie and the fitness community has a strange way of banning together like a family by helping each other out. Fitness instructors are some of the most upbeat and inspiring people you’ll ever meet. Their job is to literally help you out. I’ve found that I love taking classes for a few reasons. On days when I’m not feeling the mojo, the community feel of the class pumps me up and energizes me. When I’d otherwise give up and wimp out, the instructor keeps me going. I’m pushed to try new exercises and moves just I wouldn’t otherwise try on my own. The time flies by and I almost always leave a sweaty mess with a giant grin on my face and a pep in my step.

I do recommend a few things for those who want to make their debut into group exercise or even a new-to-you class:

  1. Show up early. That way you have plenty of time before the class starts to ask the instructor or even other classmates what equipment you need, help setting up your station/bike, etc.
  2. Hang out in the middle/back of the room to start. You don’t want to be too far back where you can’t see the instructor but it’s always nice the first time or two that you take a class to have at least one other person in front of you to watch for cues. Odds are the instructor will be doing everything opposite you, as they’ll be facing the class and if you’re as uncoordinated as I am, you’ll want to copy someone facing the same way you are.
  3. Grab weights that are a little lighter than you’re used to. Especially if you’re not sure what moves to expect, you want to be able to complete all of them without hurting yourself. It’s better to get the moves down correctly and not be as challenged, at first, than to be struggling to keep up because your weight is too heavy. And if your weight is too heavy or too light, feel free to swap it out. Don’t be shy!
  4. Make friends and remember, everyone was once the new kid. I make it a point in new to me classes to ask the person near me if they’ve taken the class before. If so, I ask what I need and they’re almost always extremely helpful and friendly. Some will even help you during the class if they’re really experienced. Bonus: you make a new friend and when you’re a SAHM to two 2 and under, adult interaction is sorely needed. Sometimes I forget how to talk in anything other than toddlerese though.
  5. RELAX and have fun! This is YOUR workout. YOUR time. Enjoy it. That’s what it’s all about. Everyone is there to get their own workout in and despite the feeling like every time you mess up a move or get lost in a sequence, no one is staring at you. I promise.

My favorite classes that I highly recommend to newbies:

  1. Bodypump. My love for this class is fierce. I wouldn’t strength train if this class didn’t exist. A 60 minute class full of music that makes the time fly by and every inch of your body ache in the best possible way, the next day.
  2. Spin. Cycling is a great class for beginners. It’s low impact and you have your own bike. It doesn’t require any rhythm and no one can see you, especially since most classes are dimmed.
  3. Bootcamp. I just took this class for the first time last month and man, I’m sore in places I didn’t know you could be sore. So long, mom butt. I hate burpees with a passion but the class changes every week and incorporates different equipment I’d otherwise shy away from (I’m looking at you Bosu ball). Again, a great class that will challenge you in ways you wouldn’t challenge yourself.
  4. Kickboxing. Holy cardio killer. I used to take this class weekly before I got pregnant with Andrew and it literally killed me off, every week. It’s extremely fast paced and I was always out of step and off beat but still had fun and got a killer workout.

I’ve been taking classes regularly for over a year and a half now and I can say they’re an amazing part of my workout routine, especially on the days I don’t have the energy or desire to push myself. They’re the number one reason I own a gym membership at all. I always leave in a great mood, endorphins running high and ready to take on the rest of my day. Even with months of experience under my belt, I still am often out of step and off beat. I still mess up moves, forget a sequence and have to play around with my weight in bodypump. But the truth is, most everyone else messes up at some point too. Even the instructors do it. We’re human and we’re all there to do the same thing: have fun and sweat it out.

If you’ve been debating taking a class, had your eye on beginning group exercise or trying a new to you class, stop waiting and DO IT ALREADY. You won’t regret it and if you do, what’s 45-60 minutes in a lifetime?

Life With Two

When you first think of having a second child, it’s a huge decision. You debate about timing and whether the first child will become jealous or not. If they’re ready for a little brother or sister. You talk finances and the enormity of doubling diapers, wipes, childcare expenses. You look back on the newborn stage of your first bundle of joy with ruby glasses: the sleepness nights didn’t seem so endless, the diaper blowouts weren’t so bad, and the physical challenge of actually bringing the child into the world somehow gets clouded and overshadowed  by the joy of him finally being in your arms.

Those two lines show up on your test, the digital probe reads “Pregnant” and suddenly you’re second guessing everything, wondering “Holy shit, what were we thinking?!”  And that’s just the beginning.

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You spend the next 9 months becoming slower and slower as your body morphs into something vaguely resembling a small planet and your toddler gets faster and faster and begins testing his boundaries. Climbing the stairs becomes an Olympic workout that usually takes 20 minutes and requires full usage of the handrails, especially since said toddler acts as a 30lb weight attached to one of your legs laughing hysterically. The months fly by and before you know it you’re standing in the delivery room, freshly admitted and told on April Fool’s Day that you’re in fact in labor, 4cm dilated and having a baby. No fooling here.

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And then it all comes crashing back. You still have to get this sweet, gigantic, loveable, alien out. 22 hours later he comes quickly into the world and your life begins as a family of four, ready or not.

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Those sleepless nights lead to sleepless weeks as you now have to be up with a toddler at the crack of dawn, whether or not you’ve slept a wink the night before. You inhale any food that you can find, regardless of its expiration date, taste or consistency. You just need food, fast and preferably that can be eaten by shoving your face into it because you have a toddler attached to your right hip and a newborn attached to your left boob, both sitting precariously, threatening to drop at any moment. Showers consist of you lathering up the baby, toddler and whatever parts of yourself you can reach with one hand because you’re holding that adorable infant while the toddler drinks shower water off the floor that he just happily peed on, beaming with pride at pottying by himself. Outings are literal three ring circuses as you attempt to keep both kids clean, happy and fed without breaking anything while pushing a mammoth double stroller around aisles designed for half their size, hair sticking up in every direction, dark circles under your eyes, mismatched shoes, a half dressed toddler attempting to dismantle a manikin and an infant upchucking your freshly created breastmilk all over your last “clean” shirt. You don’t have time, much less, the energy to realize or care that your boob is still half exposed from nursing, your other boob is leaking and both children just took massive poops that are now cropdusting other shoppers.

But as crazy, chaotic and stressful life as a family of four often is, it is filled with so much love and joy. There is never a dull moment in our house and I mean that in the best possible way. There’s always the sound of running feet and laughing children, often amidst endless cartoons and the sound of those same feet escaping over the baby gate. When your kids aren’t threatening to kill one another, the infant pulling out the toddler’s hair that took him 2 entire years to grow or the toddler using the infant as a trampoline, they laugh and play. The love between siblings, even at this age is remarkable, it’s warming and it’s absolutely heart melting. You can see it in their eyes when they see one another. They light up! Their love and bond is deep and undeniable.

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Before Andrew careened into our world I had no idea that I had the capacity to love another child like I loved Jackson. He was my first born, my baby, the little one who made me a mommy. But oh sweet second time mama-to-be’s, there is more room than you ever knew existed. There’s a love that is about to fill you that is greater than anything you could have imagined. And the love you had for your first born, hold on. It’s about to quadruple because watching that now big kid of yours transition from only child to big sibling is the icing on the metaphorical cake. Life couldn’t get sweeter. Unless they would coordinate naps. Or your infant learned to sleep through the night. Or one or both children magically began to wipe their own butts.

It’s a crazy ride. I’m the first to admit it. The time you thought was so nonexistent before is even more so. Sleep is even more of a fictitious term. Mom brain is a very real thing and coffee is an absolute necessity. But it’s worth it. Because in the midst of it all is this incredible little family that you and your partner have created, a siblings bond and lifelong friendship that will be tested but true, and more love and laughter than you could imagine. Your heart will explode with love that words can’t describe and your life will feel more complete than you knew possible.

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A Few of My Favorite Things

Wearing

Gold Sequined Tops

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I saw this one on Thred Up recently and fell in love. So much so that it was in my cart, checked out and on it’s way to my doorstep all before 6am. I think it’s a great item to wear with a pair of skinny jeans for a date night, girls night out or holiday party. Tis the season.

Moving

Hiking

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The leaves, the crisp air, the vastness of space for my crazy toddler to roam without breaking anything. What’s not to love?

Watching

“Chef”

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We haven’t been to the movies since I was pregnant with Jackson but man do we utilize Redbox. Our latest movie binge led us to see “Chef” which turned out to be one of the best movies we’ve ever seen. It was fantastic. Great storyline, great acting, great music and delicious looking food. A definite must see.

Eating

Talenti Gelato

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 We discovered this at our local grocery store a few months back and have been on a mission to try every flavor since. They’re so creamy and delicious! Our favorites so far: Sea Salt Caramel closely followed by the Southern Butter Pecan.

 

Day In The Life

A look into what our Tuesday looked like this week.

Midnight: Andrew starts fussing in the pack n play next to me. After a few minutes he’s still not settling himself, so I check his diaper and he’s soaked. I change him, give him a bottle and he flips back onto his stomach. He keeps fussing and after 20 minutes I give him another bottle. He finishes half, flips again and falls asleep.

2:30am: Andrew’s fussing again. I try to make him cry it out but 15 minutes in, he’s not having it. Another bottle and he’s back down.

5:45am: Andrew’s up for the day. I roll over, smack Bry to wake up to get ready for work, pick up Andrew and head downstairs. Change Andrew, set him up with a bottle and start the coffee.

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6:30am: Eat breakfast. Chug coffee. While feeding Andrew. 4 egg whites, spinach, corn and Frank’s hot sauce with 2 slices of Trader Joe’s sprouted bread and as much Earth Balance as possible. Butter makes the world round go round.

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7am: Get Jackson, change him, try to wrangle him to get a real breakfast but he refuses and steals an apple from the fridge. He eats while Andrew practices crawling. He’s now getting up on all fours!

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7:15am: Dress for the gym, pack our snacks and bags for the morning and head out.

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7:45am: Read Fitness magazine while we drive to drop Bry off at work. Kisses for daddy and we’re on the road again.

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8:15am: Target run for diaper pail liners. I get sidetracked by Christmas PJs but can’t find any I love in the kids sizes (or matching ones for Mommy and Daddy). End the trip with only the one item we went in for. SCORE.

8:45am: Pick Grandma up. She’s joining us at the gym this morning to see how she likes it.

9:15am: Drop Jackson and Andrew at the gym childcare and head to Tuesday morning Bootcamp class. It’s my second time going and I LOVE it.

10:30am: Pick the boys up. Andrew sees me and starts bawling. He’s gotten rather clingy in the last week, poor thing. Jackson greets me with a big smile and “Mama! All done. Bye bye.” I grab an apple.

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10:45am: We stop next door to pick up lunch. Jackson has a hard time sitting still while waiting for the food. I chase him around praying he doesn’t break any of the wine bottles.

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11:15am: Get home. Change both boys and put them down for naps. I head to the computer to work on some projects and eat this Kind bar. It’s delicious! I discovered it at a race expo and can’t get enough.

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Noon: I’ve completely lost track of time. I finally peel myself away and sit down to eat. Just as I do so, I hear both boys downstairs. They’re up.

12:30pm: Finally scarf down lunch (Sushi. A “Boston Roll” which is white rice, shrimp, a mayonnaise based spicy sauce, cucumber, avocado and green onions plus a green salad with peanut dressing) while Andrew eats a rogue spoon he found under the entertainment system and Jackson terrorizes the dog.

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1pm: I finally shower and change.

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1:30pm: Feed Andrew which is a colossal mess as he karate chops at the spoon as I try to feed him.

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2pm: We head out to the zoo.

2:30-4pm: We visit all the animals and play in the leaves. Jackson gets pretty tuckered out. I end up walking the last 1/4mi hill back to the car with Andrew in the Ergo on my front and Jackson on my back. Ouch.

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4pm: Daddy calls as we’re waddling back to the car. He’s off work and on his way back to the shop. We get in the car and head to pick him up. I gobble down a granola bar as I drive.

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5pm: Traffic sucked. We finally get daddy and make the half hour commute home. Both boys explode when Andrew gets woken up by Jackson hitting him in the head with Go Dog Go. I end up crawling into the backseat between them and alternate between all the nursery rhymes I know, praying at least one of them will stop crying.

5:30pm: Finally home. Rush to feed both boys, change them and attempt to throw something edible together to call dinner.

6:15pm: Shovel tacos into my mouth while simultaneously feeding Andrew. Ground turkey, shredded cheese, avocado, salsa and sour cream on corn and whole wheat tortillas. Yum.

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6:30pm: Put Andrew to bed. Sing him songs and kiss him goodnight. Throw on some PJs and grab a handful of almonds and chocolate chips.

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7pm: Sit down to write this post, half asleep. Call it a night. The end!

I Do

I don’t usually use this space to talk about one of the most important, if not the most important, relationship in my life: the one I share with my husband. But after reading an article with 20 marriage advice tips circling on fb, I felt compelled to say something.

The article is wonderful and spot on. I agree with it wholeheartedly.

When I met my husband I was 22 years old. We were both young and carefree. We were both finishing up our last semesters of college. I’d just moved 1000 miles from home to the sunshine state and he was living it up in an apartment in Austin tx he shared with 2 friends. We didn’t yet have jobs or careers, we didn’t have children other than our dogs, we didn’t really have any bills. We were free to make the 700 mile drive to one another every weekend, then turn around and drive back. We were footloose and worry free.

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When we got engaged I moved to Texas where we shared an apartment. We spent weekends hiking and exploring vineyards, camping out in Lost Maples and hiking Gudalupe Mountain. We had the world at our fingertips and no real responsibilities.

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I was 23 when we both graduated, got married and shortly after found out we were expecting Jackson. We decided to move back to DC where we thought jobs would abound for a geography major and criminal justice major. So in 3 months time we went through some of life’s biggest moments, all at once: marriage, pregnancy, college graduation, job searching, cross country move. You can imagine how that affected our relationship. We were still very young, as was our relationship, and during our first year of marriage we struggled a lot with figuring out how to fit our lives together. We struggled with compromising, with forgivenes, with understanding that pregnancy hormones are very real and that marriage isn’t always a fairy tale every moment. Our first year we had more downs then ups and it almost cost us everything. There are times I look back on that year and I cringe. I am truly ashamed of who I was back then, of the petty fights we shared that seemed so monumental, that we ever let little things overshadow the big picture. But that first year, hard as it may have been, thrust us together and into a relationship that instead of shattering at the seams, came together and persevered stronger than ever.

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Our second year of marriage we entered with a sigh of relief. We were older and wiser and had learned so much. We felt relieved to have overcome the first hurdle. We enjoyed our family of 3, soaked up every moment of our little boy and even found time for the two of us, taking dates to go on bike rides and runs. We fought much less as we learned how to communicate better, we loved deeper as we learned to forgive and forget and we became stronger as we realized that perfection is found in the imperfections, in accepting one another for every part of them. We thrived, we laughed, we loved, we lived. And we created another gorgeous little life.

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Our third year of marriage we entered pregnant and with a vivacious toddler. Brys career was in the middle of a huge turning point, my pregnancy with Andrew was all but smooth and we had a lot of financial questions as Bry prepared to quit his job and make a huge career change. In March Bry went through some medical things that truly turned our world upside down. It broke me down, flipped me around and kicked me in the gut. At the same time I was 8 months pregnant experiencing preterm labor and we’d just discovered Andrew might have only one kidney and his surviving one showed Hydronephrosis and might require induction. All this while we were living on savings, both unemployed and still trying to raise a sweet little boy who had no idea what was transpiring. It was a time that easily could have driven us apart. It could have caused fighting and discourse, anger and distance out of fear. But instead it pushed us further together. At each step we looked at one another, kissed and held each other and simply said “we’ve got this”. And we did.

It was the hardest year of our life, but as I remind myself daily, especially in the moments I’m thrust back to some of those times that literally leave me breathless in utter fear, it could be so much worse. No family should have to endure what we’ve had to, but there are many that experience much worse and who aren’t as lucky. We are blessed, we are strong and we have and will always have one another.

This is my long way of saying no one and no relationship is perfect. You don’t marry someone and all the problems dissipate, all the flaws disappear and the marriage is a smooth ride until the end. It will always have it’s ebbs and flows, always have disagreements and arguments, always take work. But that’s what makes a great relationship, growing with one another, truly becoming a team, learning how to balance your individuality with your partnership. And in the end it’ll be worth it all because what you get in return is absolutely beautiful.

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