Teacher Appreciation Door Sign

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Really happy with the way this came out…love the fun, bright feel and texture of different pieces of cardstock. The rainbow: lots of various circle punches glued to mimic a rainbow shape. For the flowers, I wanted imperfect circles to help connect the top of the sign with the bottom. For the grass, I had the boys help cut pieces and glue them on. The me & my BIG ideas big alpha stickers were the perfect finishing touch. The last of the kiddos will sign the cloud tomorrow morning ❤


Stitch Fix: I May Never Step Foot in a Store Again

A few of my very wise and fashion savvy mommy homies have shared the wonders of Stitch Fix. Intrigued, I decided I had to try it myself. I almost always have both boys in tow which makes shopping rank up there next to pulling teeth. Having stayed home for five years, and recently re-entering the workforce a couple years ago, I have several different wardrobes in several different sizes…most of which are out of date or poorly fitting. Enter the wonder that is Stitch Fix.

You fill out a style profile. Set up a delivery date. And a cute little polka dot box arrives at your doorstep with handpicked clothes just for you. You can try them on at home. Without your little ones threatening to open the dressing room door or peeking their little heads underneath or hearing them YELL your size our for the entire store to hear. Mommy friendly, shopping genius for the fashion challenged like myself.

IMG_8432Part of the reason I was especially intrigued by this opportunity was the chance to step out of my clothing comfort zone. Read: purchase items that aren’t thrown in the cart at Target or Costco. Or my staple Gap trousers for work. The only problem with stepping out of my fashion comfort zone is that it then presents the challenge of how to wear or style. Stitch Fix provides you with a styling card with various outfit possibilities. Thankyouverymuch. I loved the little hand written note, I had noted that I have an IMPOSSIBLE time finding pants, especially after starting CrossFit. It meant a lot that the stylist took that into consideration…

IMG_8431In this months box:

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1. Just Black- Adora Skinny Jeans: I actually laughed as I pulled these out of the box. I thought for SURE there was no way I was going to fit all of me into these tiny little skinny jeans. Apprehensively, I stepped inside and pulled…and they fit. Overwhelmed with shock, I turned to the mirror and was surprised to like them. To be completely honest, I am slightly concerned that the back hem is working a little too hard and fear they may be too small. I have never worn anything so fitted. Or this shade of gray. But thanks to a quick Facebook post, my friends have convinced me to try these bad boys…KEEP.

2. Under Skies- Milan Lace Print Back Pleat Top: I loved this out of the box but wasn’t a fan of it on. It was boxy and shapeless, and made me feel schlepy. RETURN.

3. Ezra- Rothwell Chevron Strip Split Neck Blouse: I actually squealed when I saw this top. LOVED it. And then I put it on. Not so much. Disappointed. I really wanted to love this top. RETURN.

4. 41Hawthorn- Ivy Solid Tab Sleeve V-Neck Blouse: I actually really liked this one. If it had been a little less expensive, I would have kept it, but at $68 I have too many similar shirts to justify this purchase. RETURN.

5. 41 Hawthorn- Abrianna Longsleeve Cardigan: I love open, flouncy cardigans and own enough to prove it. However, this one was a little thin and a little big for my liking. LOVED the color though. RETURN.

You pay an initial $20 styling fee which is then credited towards your purchase if you decide to keep any items. If you decide to keep all five items you get 25% off the entire box. While I am only keeping one item, I am still extremely happy with Stitch Fix and look forward to my next box. You fill out an online survey following your purchase in hopes of narrowing down your style a bit more. I am hoping my next box brings more color and shape. All items that don’t work out for you are simply placed in a pre-paid priority shipping bag and dropped off at the USPS. I can do that. Even with kiddos in tow.

For now, I am left with new gray jeans. A HUGE step out of my typically dark-colored bottoms. I happen to have the suggested items from the style card. Look out…heh. I shall sit and bend gingerly until I am confident those back seams can handle me.

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Fashion blogger, I am not. However, I am more determined to shop my closet and add new pieces to help me break my yoga pant addiction. And add more color to my wardrobe. If you are interested in trying Stitch Fix you can try via this referral link: HERE.

If you try it, let me know what you think and what you get!!


60 Day Closet Challenge

I have been on a de-cluttering and organizing spree around our house. It started with the pantry and kitchen. We moved into this house December of 2006 and I was embarrassed to have found items from 2005 in our pantry, clearly well past their expiration date.

I figured it was time to take on my closet.

Not just a passing purge of obvious unworns and outdated pieces.

A true overhaul. An honest separation of items that are worn and those that are just taking up space. A closer examination of the goods in my closet reveals multiple wardrobes: college remnants in case I lose the equivalent of a small person’s worth of weight, pre-baby work clothes that would also require massive weight loss, pregnancy clothes, post pregnancy clothes, ten lifetime’s worth of yoga pants, and current work wear.

It was time to realize that no matter how far I run, how much weight I lift, how many salads I eat…I will never wear a 7.5 shoe again. Everrrr. Do you lose weight in your feet?

It was also time to realize that I am continually buying things…and never wearing them. Despite the plethora of items in my closet, I am sure I likely wear about a third of them. At best.

SO, about two weeks ago I decided to challenge myself to a “60 Day Closet Challenge“: shop ONLY from my closet for 60 days. No outside clothing purchases. Accessory purchases only if need be. First order of business, donate and purge all items that are multiple sizes too small or haven’t been worn in the last few years. Embarrassingly, there were quite a few things that fell into this category.

The challenge is twofold for me. On one hand, I’ll see what I truly wear and hopefully reach for things I would normally overlook. I will then purge/donate/clear out the items not worn. It will also force me to finally breakdown and bust out of my yoga wearing, unflattering, schlepy mom clothes. Daily photos will be a waaaaaake up call.

CASE IN POINT:

I often purchase cute pieces because I tell myself THIS will be the year I step up my game, take pride in my appearance, yada yada yada…

IMG_4817But the reality is that I fall back into my comfort pieces. Pants I’ve had for years. They are mostly black, misshapen, miserably faded, but ridiculously comfortable. Hat. Comfy sneakers. How incredibly humbling to see this photo staring back at me, but it is the truth and daily reality:

IMG_4787I found myself re-entering the work world this year for the first time in five years after having stayed home with the boys. The last five years sparked what has now become a pretty bountiful collection of yoga gear, t-shirts, drawstring pants, and hats. I have enjoyed shopping for work clothes again and having a “reason” to really get dressed. More so, a reason that “forces” me to get dressed.

I hope to document my journey over the next 60 days honestly, often schlepy, but hopefully the outcome is wardrobe wisdom. Hopefully, I learn about the pieces I really use and those I may need. Hopefully, I learn to balance my work days with the days I stay at home with Jake so it’s not THIS- my work wear the over the last few days:

dress4And then THIS, what I am currently wearing:

IMG_4808But rather a happy, stylish medium. I am not a fashionista, nor do I admit to being one. I am just a mama who wants to be smarter about her clothing purchases, USE what I’ve got, and attempt to wean myself from my yoga pant wearing obsession. Wish me luck…


A Home Reading Station and Literacy Journal

The one big thing Ty’s kindergarten teacher asked us to do at home with him was read. Nightly. And keep track of the books finished. I wanted to do a little something more…so, I set up a Reading Station:

The contents: books that will be rotated/changed monthly, Ty’s reading chart that is to be handed end at the end of each month, a literacy journal, and a timer: it gives a five-minute warning and turns red when time is up, it has been a lifesaver in our house. The visual cues make it easy for Tyson to do this independently if needed.

The literacy journal is made up of fun bits and pieces spied on Pinterest. I love the idea of having him draw pictures to represent major pieces of the story or serve as a synopsis of his take on what we read:

First entry. So far, so good…he LOVES explaining, in GREAT five year-old detail (read: never-ending) his pictures. I am hoping in the near future, he can write a one sentence description himself. A good goal to work towards…

We’ll keep his monthly class sheet nearby so that we don’t lose it and he can color in the train cars himself:

I found these fantastic drawing prompts online: here and plan to use them as well:

Since it is currently our one and only “homework” assignment, we’ll keep the station in our family room where the books and journal are easily accessible for Tyson and the family:

And Tyson LOVED picking out his favorite washi tape colors and prints to personalize his journal. Working on the cover…


Still TRI-ing…

When I signed up for the sprint tri in July, I had planned out the training months in advance: swim one day a week, run three days, and bike one or two…all while the boys were both in school three mornings a week. In my head, the plan was flawless. Then, as it always seems to happen, the plans changed and a part-time teaching position fell in my lap. As a result, I have officially traded in the yoga pants for work wear, my car/house office for a classroom, and…training for working.

The sight still makes me giddy. I absolutely love being back in the classroom and back in a school setting: teaching kids who LISTEN and having co-workers who love to talk about things other than Legos and Batman…

I survived my first full week back to work, Ty’s first full week of kindergarten, and Jake’s first week back at preschool. As we search for a new normal in our house, the first thing to go was my former workout/training routine. I desperately hope to get some of it back. And fear I will be the last person to cross the finish line in a few weeks. We now have FOUR entirely different school schedules, soccer, basketball, and swimming to keep track of. I realize there are phone apps that can do this, but I need to write things out, see them visually, and I love all paper products. Each person has a specific color. I have two boards that will be rotated and a small spiral calendar I keep nearby to plan further in advance. Items that need immediate attention, signatures, and/or checks are clipped to the board. Ty’s school picture form currently hangs, ready to be signed:

I wish we had a wall to devote to a family work station but we don’t. The calendar sits on our kitchen counter where it is clearly visible. On our fridge, I have one clip for Jake’s important papers/schedules/etc. and one for Tyson. Their morning routine/chore charts, which have proven invaluable hang below. For longer term papers/notes, each child has a folder in a standing organizer next to the big calendar on our kitchen calendar:

Thanks to Pinterest, our snack bin has evolved since this photo but it has made making lunches and packing a snack a breeze. For Tyson, I pack his snack in the front pocket of his backpack and leave his lunch separate in the big zipper portion of his backpack. That way, I don’t have to worry about him eating his lunch at snack time on the days he stays later at after school care:

And I have been getting used to being at the gym at different times. Different times = different classes. I am doing my best to squeeze in at least one spin class and a couple runs a week…I haven’t seen a pool in weeks. I am trying to adjust my overall outlook and approach for the tri. My goal is simply to finish. Have fun. Not drown. Complete the bike portion with my bike intact.

Searching for a new normal and hoping new routines fall into place. For now, still tri-ing…and wishing I had signed up for a fall half instead. I am determined to stick with the tri training but am already disappointed that I am not going to be anywhere near the kind of shape I had previously hoped.


The Day I Conquered My Fear of The Whole Chicken…

I don’t think I am a terrible cook. I am most definitely NOT a fearless cook. I am good at following directions, the teacher in me still lives on. I am the kind of cook who follows a recipe EXACTLY.

When it comes to meats, I don’t venture out of those falling into the plob-able category. Otherwise known as meats packaged in such a way as to be plopped into a pan, crock pot, cooking contraption without being touched. By me. With bare hands. We eat a lot of boneless, skinless chicken breasts, ground turkey, lean ground beef…

And then I started reading The Kitchen Counter Cooking School: How a Few Simple Lessons Transformed Ten Culinary Novices into Fearless Home Cooks by Kathleen Flinn.

And I was inspired to conquer a lifetime long fear: the whole chicken.

Laugh if you must, but there is something about touching a whole chicken, CLEANING a whole chicken, giblets…that totally skeeves me out. A lot. But I figured it was time. I have paced my culinary kitchen endeavors throughout my marriage to where roasting a whole chicken would be a big day. And a new milestone, elevating me to a new culinary status.

Armed with a recipe, I shopped for the goods. Picked up my soon-to-be nemesis and prepared for battle:

“Are those gardening gloves?” Oh, no she didn’t.

Oh, yes I did.

I broke out my apron, because isn’t it like a super hero’s cape, infused with magic and super power traits? Meant to protect me from bodily harm from a fowl experience gone foul.

I prepped the garlic. Cut the lemons. Had everything ready to go and started to read the recipe:

“Remove the chicken giblets. Rinse the chicken inside and out. Remove any excess fat and leftover pin feathers and pat the outside dry.”

HOLD THE PHONE. FEATHERS?!@#

I quickly re-evaluated: I could drive to Costco in about ten minutes, spend a third as much on a rotisserie chicken, PLOP that bad boy on a platter and no one would be the wiser. No giblets. No FEATHERS.

Intent on conquering the fear and showing my boys I could be all apron-y and cook-y in the kitchen, I powered through. Nearly lost my lunch. The feeling and textures and cavities…were NASTY. No lie.

But I did it.

Me: 1, Chicken: 0. This day could also be known as the day I broke the hand washing world record…

 I jacked up some of the skin removing the bacon half way through roasting. Another yuck, touching bacon. Blech.

I was crazy proud of this damn chicken. Hence, the numerous photos. Proof.

The house smelled amazing. The husband LOVED it and was shocked. I am certain he didn’t really believe I had cooked it myself. Yet further proof of my culinary pacing success, heh. Just imagine if I had done this years ago, I’d be stuck cleaning and de-nasty-fying chickens on a much more regular basis.

Whole chicken: roasted, eaten, in the books. Holla.

Big day.


Kid Shoe Shopping: How I Roll…

Shoe shopping with both boys: a necessity that ranks on the “fun scale” right up there with having a tooth pulled or going to the DMV. Jake no longer willingly sits in the stroller and is strong enough to will himself as straight as a board rendering all my attempts to get him into a stroller useless. He wants to walk. Promises to hold my hand. Ty doesn’t want to go. At all. I have usually broken a sweat before even attempting to make the journey from the car into the store…

Once in the store, it’s a lot of “please don’t touch that”, “no, not those shoes”, “how about THESE shoes”, “you’ll LOVE these shoes, just try them on”, “just sit for one minute”, “please let the lady measure your foot, just put one foot here”, “no, HERE”, “just one MINUTE”, “no, no, no…”

SO, one day it occurred to me to cut out the challenge. Save myself some trouble…

THIS, is how I now go shoe shopping with the boys. Gloriously, quietly, EFFICIENTLY alone…with their paper-cut-out equivalent. I trace their feet, cut them out, write the date on the back, and throw them in my wallet, in case I come across a steal of a deal or find myself with the chance to escape to the shoe store solo. The paper feet don’t complain. They don’t whine. They don’t tell me they want to go home. They sit, quietly. In my wallet.

And it saves me from having to play the “what size shoes does he wear, I can just return them” game.

A rare stroke of mommy genius that has been priceless in the make-things-easier category…