"The most wasted of all days is one without laughter." ~e e cummings

Monday, November 24, 2014

Stitch Fix: A Review

Ohmygod! Ohmygod! Ohmygod!

Look what was in my mailbox this afternoon!


My very first Stitch Fix box. Squeeeee!

I've been thinking of trying Stitch Fix for a while now. It's an online personal shopping service, which, in theory, is right up my alley. I'm not a good clothes-shopper. Mostly, it's because I rarely go into stores other than Target and the grocery store. Also, I'm usually with at least one small child while shopping, for whom dressing rooms become small and boring and escapable quite quickly...usually about halfway into that first pair of jeans. And finally, I suck at shopping for clothes because, when faced with an entire store full of clothing options, I more than likely leave the store with an armful of black, gray, and white t-shirts.

So, for my birthday this year, I decided to put my Birthday Fun Money (which my parents give to me each year with the firm instructions to "Spend this on something for you! Something frivolous! Something fun!") towards my very first Fix. What could be more frivolous than filling out a quick questionnaire online and magically receiving a box full of new clothes?!

For this gray t-shirt girl, not a whole lot.

The online questionnaire was quick and painless. In fact, I wasn't convinced that the little information they asked of me could yield a thorough and accurate style profile, but I was happy to trust the system.

At the last minute (like, last week, when I got the reminder email that my Fix was being assembled), I remembered that I have been wearing my two (ahem, black) cardigans Every. Single. Day. I decided to add a note about my affinity for the librarian staple...you know, just in case my stylist had somehow misinterpreted my style profile and was imagining me to be some edgy hipster or something.

Then. I waited. Until today. (Two days before the day the Fix was scheduled for, by the way! It's like she knows me!)

Taa-Daaaaaahh!


Inside that pretty little package are five, specifically-selected-for-me articles of clothing and/or accessories. You have three days to try on and decide whether or not you want to keep the clothes. If you decide not to keep something, you simply stick it in the self-addressed, postage-paid mailer included in the package and drop it off at the post office. Anything you'd like to keep, you pay for through your Stitch Fix account. If you choose to keep all five articles, a discount of 25% is applied to your total order.

Let's take a peek, shall we?

[So now comes the portion of the program during which we enter my closet and I take selfies while trying on my new clothes. Totally normal blog material.]

The Distressed Boyfriend Jean 
$78


I'm not usually one for cropped jeans. Mostly because of my pencil-thin ankles coupled with my had-three-babies hips. But these? These, I like.

Keep!

 The Open-Draped Knit Cardigan
$68


I mean. LOVE. I'll live in this thing.

Keep!

The Draped Colorblock Cardigan
$68

Okay. First of all, look at this. It's a rectangle. With arms.


And it's burgandy. Burgandy is definitely not black, gray, or white.
I never in a million years would have picked this thing up off a rack.

But...

I like it!

And then...OMG it's like a Snuggie you can wear out in public!


I LOVE this.

Keep!

The V-neck Dolman top
$48


Another no-brainer. Easy and comfy like a t-shirt, but with a shape that says I Give a Damn About My Appearance!

Keep!

The Arrow Pendant Necklace
$28


I'm not a big jewelry person. I wear my wedding bands and tiny silver hoop earrings, and aside from an occasional bracelet, that's it. I see this as a gift...something extra that I wouldn't have bought for myself but that I'll be happy to wear now that I have it.

Keep!

Total: $290

Okay. I don't spend $300 on clothing for me. Ever. My wedding dress cost less than $300.
But...
with the $20 styling fee credit...
and the 25% discount for keeping all five items...

New Total: $202.50
Which is, for me, a reasonable amount of (mostly birthday!) money to spend on five great, high-quality items that will completely round out my wardrobe this season....and will last a lot longer than a cheapy-Target tee.

(Target! I'm kidding! Don't listen to me. I love you and your cheapy tees!!)

Lesson Learned:
This was such a fun birthday present for me. I'll probably get another Fix someday. Maybe in the spring when I'm looking at my closet full of boring white tees....

In the meantime, if you want to try your own Stitch Fix, use my referral code! I'll get the credit and you'll get the karma:

https://www.stitchfix.com/referral/4321363

Happy not shopping!

Sunday, November 16, 2014

35 things

I'm 35 today. I remember when my mom was 35. That's totally, indisputably, mid-30s. That's like, elementary-school-volunteering, minivan-driving, Book-Club-attending, Mom mom.

And I'm completely fine with it. I've surprised myself, over the past two years, by not mourning the end of my Baby Days. I'm embracing the Growing Up of my kids...and myself. Do I feel like a Grown Up? No. Does anyone, ever? Grown ups have it all Figured Out. I've yet to meet anyone, at any age, that claims such confidence. But 35? I ain't mad atcha.

I was watching a 15-year old (I mean, she was probably well into her 20s, but whatever) perform on The Tonight Show the other night and my first thought wasn't Imagine being up on that stage...introduced by Jimmy Fallon...LIVING your dream? 

It was Imagine seeing your baby up on that stage, living HER dream?

I'm a Mom. Bonafide. And I'm loving my mid-30s.

On this, my 35th Birthday, here are 35 Things...all about me. You're welcome.

  1. When I was in high school, my family got a chocolate lab. We named him Moose. When I met Sam, he had a chocolate lab...named Moose. My Moose died on our wedding day. Sam's Moose lived long enough for our boys to know. Molly's the one who would have loved him the most...
  2. ...but we're not getting a puppy. No matter how much Sam practices his "But think of how happy Molly would be!" routine.
  3. I still don't know how to "do my hair" besides pulling it back into a loose, low ponytail. 
  4. Also: make-up? It's powder, mascara, and Chapstick only, leaving those around-the-eye wrinkles for all the world to see.
  5. Ghostbusters is the best movie of all time. 
  6. I read The Sound and the Fury five times during college (twice within six months) and found something new within it's pages each time. And I would if I read it again today...but, oh, that's a bit dense for Quiet Time.
  7. I've had more than a few conversations lately in which I've said, "Gah! People! They are just the worst!" And I meant it. Because, idiots. 
  8. I still carry regret over the way a friendship ended just after college.
  9. Although I express myself best through words, they need to be written. Talking is hard.
  10. But listening isn't. I can listen without judgment. I've become a sounding board for friends and family members, and that is one of my greatest sources of pride.
  11. I can't resist, though, offering advice; even when it's unsolicited. I want to be a problem-solver....even when the problems aren't mine to solve.
  12. I'll eat any vegetable (except mushrooms, if those count as vegetables, which they don't because they're FUNGI) but rarely pick up a piece of fruit unless it's leftover on my kids' plates.
  13. I need to listen to more music. I miss my Radiohead, Beatles, Dylan, Coldplay, and Dave Matthews CDs, but I'm too lazy to upload them to my phone...and when would I listen to an actual CD? 
  14. I want to see the world. Meh. Not really. I want to sit on my couch under my cozy blanket with a glass of wine and let Anthony Bourdain show it to me.
  15. Though I loved my job and excelled at it, I'll never go back to teaching.
  16. My favorite time of day is reading to my kids at bedtime...especially now that my oldest is reading books like the Percy Jackson series. I look forward to Bedtime Reading as much for the snuggling as for the next plot development.
  17. In third grade, we hatched chicken eggs in an incubator in our classroom. Even though my mom had recently had her FIFTH child (and we had at least one cat at home), she said, "Sure, you can bring two of those chicks home with you!" I kept them in our basement bathtub for a few weeks, feeding them crushed Cheerios. When they were big enough to hop out of the tub, we brought them to live at a petting farm. I told my mom I named them Buttercup and Daffodil, but really, I called them Darryl and Randall. (She's learning that along with the rest of you right now.)
  18. If I never set foot in a bar or club again for the rest of my life, I'll be totally okay with that.
  19. Though I know I'm not supposed to (because of the Mommy Wars), I do enjoy a smug sense of satisfaction knowing that I had three unmedicated childbirths. Not because I'm a card-carrying member of the anti-epidural crowd, but because I'm usually such a pathetic cry-baby when it comes to feats of pain-endurance that I'm still kinda shocked I actually did it (three times!).
  20. People who don't "support" gay marriage blow my fucking mind. 
  21. That was the first time I wrote "fucking" on my blog. 
  22. I wear black, white, gray, and sometimes brown. I keep trying to buy colors but they intimidate me.
  23. I designed my own wedding dress (and my mom made it!) because I didn't want something frilly or lacy or fluffy or fancy. The simple, comfy, straight-lined result was elegant and perfect.
  24. I can't eat steak. But I'm not a vegetarian. But I could be.
  25. When I was a teenager, I was with my family at Friendly's Ice Cream Shop. The hot waiter came over to take my order and, in an astonishingly Freudian slip of the tongue, I ordered the Reese's Penis Sundae. I did not recover smoothly.
  26. Instagram is my true social media love.
  27. Sam and I record and binge-watch Aerial America on The Smithsonian Channel because we're cool like that.
  28. Commercials for scary movies make me cry from fear. So no, I don't watch scary movies.
  29. I've written a children's book. And, hopefully, I'll have more to say about that someday soon.
  30. Blogging might be the single best thing I did for my mental health since becoming a mom.
  31. I picture myself as a blonde, though I've been a brunette for over 25 years. It's not because I want to be blonde, but because six of my seven siblings are blondes, so I assume I must be, too.
  32. And speaking of that motley crew: I'm the luckiest person in the world to have the brothers and sisters that I do. Even though they won't let me live down that damn Reese's Penis Sundae slip.
  33. When I was pregnant with Max, I craved Hot Soup (in the middle of a blazing hot summer). To this day, when I eat a bowl of soup, I am mentally and emotionally transported back to that pregnancy. Despite the fact that it was a stressful pregnancy, I still love soup.
  34. When I met Sam, the last thing I was looking for was a serious, long-term relationship. I had just graduated, was living with my girlfriends, and was ready to have some Fun. Sometimes you don't choose the path...it, thankfully, chooses you. I'm just glad I took a chance on that path-I-didn't-think-I-wanted.
  35. Though I thought I knew it all as far back as my 20s, I had not experienced my true depth and range of emotions until I had my children. They bring out both the best in me...and they've seen me at my worst. They're my favorite things in this whole wide world....and, like I sang to them today in the car, loudly, over their many protests: I have loved them for 1,000 years and I'll love them for 1,000 more....so bring on the birthdays!
Lesson Learned:
Now let's eat cake!

Saturday, November 8, 2014

The Scary Mommy Thanksgiving Project

Now that Halloween is behind us, we have officially entered the Very Best Time of the Year. The world is gorgeous right now; painted in yellows, oranges, and reds, set in front of a backdrop of brilliant, endless blue. My birthday is right around the corner (and it's a big one this year, too...35. No longer can I say that I'm [ahem, basically] 30...I am firmly and solidly in my mid-30s now). And of course, Thanksgiving planning is in full-swing with Christmas hot on it's heels behind it. But the spirit of the season is what makes it the best of the year: It is warm and festive and generous and thankful.

Every year we do some variation on the Thankful Tree we made when Evan was three. This year, I found some great, big "silk" leaves at the dollar store with wire stems. They look nice in a vase on our dinner table...


But they look fabulous strung together in a garland, with words of thanks written on each one...


The first night I had them out at dinner, the boys knew exactly what to do. Molly, the little joiner, picked up on the rules of the game pretty quickly.

"I'm thankful for carving pumpkins!" Max immediately shouted.

"I love my cozy bed!" Molly said.

"I'm going to go write mine over there where no one can see," said Evan, ever the Mystery Man.

He came back with a good one: "All of our money to buy food."

It reminded me of a project that I'd wanted to participate in this year: The Scary Mommy Thanksgiving project. For the past three years, Thanksgiving meals have been donated to families who would otherwise have gone without on the holiday. Each year, the program has grown as more families have admitted to needing assistance, and more and more members of the Scary Mommy community have offered donations.

I've considered myself a part of the Scary Mommy community as a reader for several years now, but I've never participated in the Thanksgiving project. We've always chosen to donate locally around the holidays, but also, those families in need? They seem so distant, so faceless...so...on the other side of a computer screen.

This year, Jill Smokler, the mommy behind the wildly successful website, made me a Writer. She's published several pieces of my writing on her website and, in doing so, has helped that little flicker of motivation to write inside of me grow into a full-blown campfire. A kumbaya kind of campfire that is warm, festive, and generous. I'm thankful for this new motivation. I'm grateful for this opportunity. And those families that benefit from this project? They're not so distant. They're not so different. And their need is just as great. And so, we decided to double our giving this year, both to our local food bank and to the Scary Mommy Thanksgiving project. Sitting around the dinner table that night, writing our thankful leaves, we told the kids about our plans to donate; for giving thanks through giving.

"I will, too," Evan immediately said. He ran upstairs to get his wallet.

Max followed closely behind.

When they came downstairs, Max handed me four dollar bills. They had been birthday dollars from his Great MomMom last year, before she passed away. They still had the lollipop stickers that she had stuck on them before putting them inside his birthday card.

Evan had two five-dollar bills: The change from the $10 Lego mini-figure that he broke his beloved $20-bill to purchase.

And my heart, which is already at near-maximum capacity just by beating during this, my favorite time of the year...burst wide open.

"Are you going to cry happy tears, Mommy?" Max asked.

Yes. Yes, I am.

***

You can find out more about the Scary Mommy Thanksgiving project and make your own donation here.

Lesson Learned:
Be kinder than necessary. Give what you can.