Fix #18

This last month I've been doing a massive purge of clothes. I've hauled more bags of clothes to the local nuns than they'll probably ever know what to do with. A good closet cleaning is always nice. But, it's also left me with a gaping hole and a stark reminder that I'm pretty low on clothes these days.

I bumped up my Stitch Fix request this month by a few weeks. I asked stylist Raquel for neutral colors, sweaters that are cozy, oversized, but not too bulky or heavy; a tall order, considering sweaters, by nature are generally designed for cold weather. I also asked for a pair of jeans that could be a staple in my everyday wear.

Did we ever question whether Raquel would deliver? Nope. Not for a second.

To the threads.

I couldn't tell her no when she asked to be in the photo. I mean, jammies plus boots equals amazing.
I need another pair of jeans like I need a hole in the head. But, I love the fit. These seem a little more cropped than the rest of the jeans I own, which I'm currently digging. I love the color - it's a touch lighter than a few pairs I own, and a smidge darker than a few others. So, it totally makes these different. Also. These didn't slide down off my butt, or get too stretchy after a bit of wear. I just couldn't send these back. To the dresser drawer these went!

Cream. Lace. Zipper detail. BOAT NECK. Holy buckets, just jump on a hanger and get in my closet already. I'm also a huge fan of how lightweight this top is. Apparently we're never going to get winter (highs in the 80s all week). So, this is gives the perfect festive look without sweating gallons while wearing it.

Verdict :: Kept Both

I'm really on the fence with this one. The zipper detail on the sleeves is adorable, I love that touch of character. And, I think I like the color, it's unlike anything I have in the closet. In these pictures I *think* the fit looks good. I just can't decide. HELP!!


Oh. My. Gosh. This is next level soft. I'm pretty sure it's made of clouds and fairy dust and whimsical silk. And, I like the color of this. But. It's shorter than I'd like, and feel it's pretty plain, borderline boring (considering the price of $58). I feel it hits me totally wrong on my waist, and makes my hips look wider than they need to and gives me a very boxy look. If this was more oversized and longer I'd be keeping this, no questions asked.

Verdict :: Returned

This sweater is pretty much everything wrapped into one delightful piece. Go ahead and give me all the things black - I'm currently on a very muted palate (as far as my clothes are concerned), so the black color makes my heart sing. The cowl neck is amazing and doesn't make it look like my top is trying to eat my neck. The slits on the sides make for just the right amount of sexy. And the lightweight fabric means I'm not sweating my face off. Let's also pay homage to the front POCKETS!

Verdict :: Kept

Please, please, please, give me your input. I'm sending back pieces soon, and need to know, DO I KEEP THAT KENSIE PULLOVER?? Should I send something else back? HELP!!

Now. The best news! If you've considered Stitch Fix, but just couldn't quite pull the trigger. NOW IS THE TIME TO DO IT! If you sign up now and request a fix (just click this highlighted portion) your first styling fee is waived! Go ahead. Do it. You know you want to!!


Perfect Gifts With Mpix

I received product in exchange for a review. All opinions are honest and my own.
Let's talk Christmas gifts.

Typically, Scott is the type of guy who wants for nothing, asks for nothing, and is completely happy with what he already has. Except for the months of November and December. I noticed in the last four weeks Scott has bought so many things for himself (which is rare the other 11 months out of the year) that I've thought, "That would have made such a good gift!" I even suggested to him to STOP shopping for himself so I could put a few gifts under the tree for him.

Then there are our parents. Year after year we ask for gift ideas, and year after year we get the same replies, "We don't need anything. We don't want anything."

This makes for really challenging gift giving. And, I really don't want to give gifts that sit and collect dust, or ultimately make their way to a trash can.

I'm positive that this year I've come up with some gifts that hold a lot of sentiment, won't create clutter, and will be looked upon year after year with fondness.

For as long as I've been alive giving Christmas ornaments is a tradition my family has held, and one tradition I intend to keep. So, each year I look for the perfect ornament to give family members, grandparents and husband included.

This year Mpix came to the rescue with ornaments for the whole family. A metal ornament with our family photo from our session this Fall, and our names and year are right on the ornament. There is no way I could have found anything better in a brick and mortar store.

As for Scott I wanted to give something he could use to spruce up his desk at work.

The last time I visited his office there were a few hand drawn pictures from Marcus, but other than that, his space was pretty barren. I thought a metal print, from Mpix, with a collection of photos from this year's family session would brighten things up a bit.

Mpix also spurred me to think ahead with Thank Yous. For each gift we receive writing a thank you note is absolutely mandatory. For the first time ever, I placed an order for personalized Thank You cards. I love that we will be able to send out photos of our family that didn't quite make the holiday card this year. I'm pretty sure personalized thank you notes are going to become another tradition we implement.

If it weren't for all the fabulous options from Mpix, I might still be sitting here trying to figure out what to get for the most difficult gift recipients. And, let's just hope those recipients decided not to read today's post...

I'd love to know what some of your best gift ideas are - specifically for spouses and grandparents. Let me know by dropping a line in the comments!

Lastly. If you're new to Mpix, when you sign up for an Mpix account you will receive $10 off your order of $25 or more.


The Hap Hap Happiest Place

Move over Museum of Ice Cream. The Happy Place is in town, and this girl is h.a.p.p.y.!!

While I loved ice cream treats in four different rooms, and jumping into a huge pool of sprinkles, I'm going out on a limb to say the Happy Place has my heart. Because it's just so damn HAPPY!

Never mind it's an Instagram paradise - we'll even look past the horrible lighting in almost all of the rooms - it seems (to me) it was a bit more interactive than the MOIC. Happy Place had things you could touch, climb up, spin in, and dance on - we did a LOT of dancing. The three delicious, sugar-filled treats were added bonuses to all the fun.

I was really apprehensive as to how Marcus would like the experience. He and I have vastly different ideas of fun. But as we made our way through the 13 different rooms it was the absolute best to see him light up, let loose, dance his heart out, and have a grand old time. As expected, Julia ran wild, shook her booty and smiled and giggled the entire time, too.

So, here's the photo dump. Editing could semi-salvage some rooms, forgive the photos even a magic fairy couldn't save. But, I had to include them all because I don't want to forget a thing.

As we entered I literally squealed with delight.

We started with the candy room. M & Ms as the breakfast appetizer? WHY NOT.
The massive high heels made of yellow candies.

And, I'm still trying to figure out what that green, palm tree, snake, Lochness monster, thingy is. 

If you're happy and you know it, clap your hands! 

One of the few things in the whole place we weren't supposed to touch, a massive XO. Naturally, Julia started CLIMBING it. Oops.

Four mini-rooms lead to the kids getting along, a serious pose, and a dip in a yellow tub filled with yellow balls, surrounded by yellow rubber duckies. 

Just a little trippy.
Marcus' face is priceless. Julia looks like she's about to bust out the choreography to Dirty Dancing's, I Had The Time of My Life. 

We also jumped into a pot of gold at the end of a rainbow, made confetti angels (the cousin to snow angels), and danced around in a giant globe that blew confetti around and made Julia's dress fly up, Marilyn Monroe style. 

As our experience ended Marcus turned to me and said, "Mom! That was SO! MUCH! FUN!" I couldn't keep from beaming. Seems there are some things we agree on when it comes to fun. 

The next day Marcus asked me, "Mom, remember the Happy Place?" Like I forgot. "It was awesome. Think we could go again?" Well, tickle me pink. I'm pretty sure I immediately put a call into Santa for tickets for a second run at the place....


Bathroom Talk

Potty training. While not the most glamorous parenting topic (but really, which parenting topic *is*?), it's a pretty big milestone. Biding adieu to diapers is an epic thing - at least in my mind. Raise your hand if you agree.
So. Julia. A few months ago it was clear she was aware of her diaper situation. She'd let me know if she was wet or dirty. It even escalated to the point where she would climb into her changing table and tell me she needed a new diaper. That seemed to be a pretty solid sign that she was ready for a little bathroom training. Turns out, nope. We half-heartedly gave the training a shot, and it was apparent that she was not into my idea in the slightest.
I waited a few weeks to make the second attempt. Still a bit of a fail. We incorporated potty books to our daily read routine (she loves Big Girl Panties, by the way) and watched a few shows dedicated to potty training (hey, Daniel Tiger and Nina Needs to Go). It was apparent potty training was going to be done on Julia's time, not mine. It was also clear Julia was not having any part of the actual potty.  When I trained Marcus I just got one of those little potty inserts, placed it on the toilet, and he was set. I swore I'd never use one of those little mini potties because they fully gross me out. 
After I had had enough of listening to Julia demand diaper changes from her changing table I marched out to Target, my pride tucked deep inside my diaper bag, and bought one of those stupid, bright pink Minnie Mouse potties that shouts "HOORAY!" when you "flush."

Wouldn't you know it, Julia thought that damn potty was the neatest thing ever, and slowly but surely she started to use it for its intended purposes. 
There was a sticker reward chart in use for a few days, but it seemed Marcus was more excited about the stickers than Julia. So, we nixed that pretty fast (one less thing to have to remember or deal with). And, with this go around we haven't really used food/candy bribes (which I'm pretty sure we did with Marcus in the beginning stages of potty training with him). 
While I make no claims that Julia is 100% potty trained, I do have to say within the past three weeks, things have been getting progressively better and going pretty smoothly. I tote that horrendous Minnie potty with us whenever we go anyplace, but Julia refuses to actually use it in our vehicle. She also has a hard time using real toilets, but there have been a handful of occasions while we're out and  about that she has used the real deal. Insert all the shouts and cheers of joy what that happens. 
For naps and overnight we still put Julia in a diaper. However, she's consistently been waking up dry.
And, just this weekend Julia woke at 2:30am, shouting from her crib, "Mommy!! I have to go potty!" I typically loathe the middle of night wake ups (because they're usually pointless and just an excuse for me to come into her room), but for that one I'll make an exception. 
I'm sure, while I'm over here patting my back I'll be rewarded with pee-soaked pants at some point today. But, I have to say, it's been really, really,  REALLY nice not changing diapers. 
Fingers and toes crossed we can overcome the obstacle of the real toilet because I'd really like to go, well, anywhere without that Minnie potty chilling on the back floorboards of my car.  


A Caleigh Bird Portrait + Giveaway

After coming up for air from the Black Friday deals, the Small Shop Saturday spending, and the food and shopping hangover Sunday, I felt today was the perfect time to share something that will hold a lot more sentiment for a lot longer than the hottest deals running this week. (Though, if you stick around till the end, I do have a pretty solid Cyber Monday deal...) 

A few weeks ago I had the good fortune to work with Caleigh Bird Art for a custom pencil drawn portrait of Marcus and Julia. While I have stacks of books filled with photos of kids, a few canvas prints, and a handful of actual photos, a hand-drawn portrait is something that wasn't in our collection. I wasn't sure what to expect of a pencil drawn portrait. I mean, I can draw a good stick figure with the best of them. But, anyone willing to add  detail, dimension, depth... I'm all about that.

Caleigh was so sweet and held my hand through the process. She browsed my Instagram photos and noticed that most of my pictures of the kids are full body, and usually from a distance. She recommended doing a little searching through my photos for a closer shot of the kids. After digging, and sending a handful of photos over to Caleigh, this was ultimately the photo from which she worked:
Less than a week after sending my photo over Caleigh emailed and said to be on the lookout for my portrait. Before I knew it, I was anxiously opening a package I knew held my very first custom portrait. When I pulled the portrait out I audibly gasped.

Everything I had hoped the portrait would be, it was. And more. The details of Marcus' eyelashes, the wisps of Julia's hair, the tenderness of one very fleeting moment, it was all there. It was real, and raw, and gave me goosebumps.

After doing a little reading up on Caleigh I quickly learned why I was blown away by her work: a Bachelors Degree in Studio Art from the College of Charleston; a Masters in Studio Arts at USC in Columbia, SC; time spent studying painting at the Istituto Michelangelo in Florence, Italy, and Studio Escalier in Argenton-Chateau, France. Caleigh is the real deal, and her work speaks volumes to her training.

I fell in love with her work so much that I almost immediately placed my portrait in a frame, and promptly commissioned her to do a few more pieces for me. Those should be arriving in the mail any day. And knowing what I know now, I cannot wait to see the finished products.

Do yourself a favor today. Pull out your favorite portrait, head on over to Caleigh's Custom Fine Art Portraits, send that favorite photo to Caleigh, and see what magic she can do. I promise you'll get goosebumps, too.

Back to the Cyber Monday deal I mentioned earlier...
TODAY ONLY: Caleigh is offering 20% off your total purchase until 12 Midnight (Hawaiian time). 
Use code: TGIVE17 at checkout
Be sure to get your orders in by December 12th so Caleigh can ensure the portraits get to you in time for the holidays!

AND! Because Caleigh is the best, she is giving one lucky winner a free 9x13 custom portrait of 1-2 people. To enter, be sure to head over to Instagram to enter


An Airshow

Popping in real quick to let the masses (hi, Mom!) know we're still alive and kicking, and do a round of "What We Did One Weekend."

Two weeks ago we had a single Saturday afternoon where our calendar was blank. There had been promos floating around social media for an airshow not far from us. I suggested we pile in the car and give it a go. Full disclosure: I had no idea what to expect of this thing, and typically these type of events don't exactly peg our family's excitement meter.

That said...

We were all blown away by how cool this event actually turned out to be. Scott was perhaps the most excited of us all.

There were aircrafts of all sorts and sizes. The most impressive of all was this C-17, which we were able to tour. If you've never been inside one, spoiler alert, it's massive, and gray, and used to transport big military things. Don't ask me specifics, because #civilian. What I do know is it was a beast, and I'm pretty sure complimentary snacks aren't served inflight.
Naturally, there were smaller military aircraft we were able to check out, as well.
Let's take a moment to breakdown Marcus' outfit.
The farm hat paired with rain boots. Where I'm from those boots are oh-so reminiscent of what we lovingly refer to as sh!t kickers.
Marcus looks like I plucked him right out of a corn field and plopped him on an airstrip.  #midwestisbest #iowanforlife
A few planes allowed cockpit entry, which Marcus found to be pretty awesome.
There were a few not-so-traditional forms of flight to view as well.
Hang-glider? Thanks, but no thanks. I need something with proper landing gear. And heat. And engines. And a licensed pilot.

All throughout the day fly overs happened with frequency, which constantly had us looking to the sky to see what formation or craft was above.

Food trucks were out in full force. The fat kid in me was sooooo tempted to just plant roots at the truck selling baked goods. I fought the forces and went with a seaweed sushi wrap (it's basically a sushi burrito).

And then there was this cute little truck that had nothing to do with planes, but made for a nice seat and an obvious photo op.

But, the highlight of the afternoon was the opportunity to PAINT an airplane.
A small donation allowed kids an opportunity to paint a portion of a plane.
There is an entire mission behind painting this Cessna called SafeLaunch. I'm not at all versed on SafeLaunch, so I won't go into specifics, but it was a really cool experience for everyone (to read more about the mission, as well as see if the plane will be at an event near you, click on the link above), and if there's ever an airshow near us with a plane to paint, we'll most certainly be there.

Even though Julia isn't pictured much, that little hellion had a grand old time, too. With each and every plane we passed she would exclaim, "WOAH! That's a HUGE one!" And, desperately tried to keep up with Marcus as he ran from plane to plane.

Till next year's airshow. Maybe by then we can convince Marcus that the helicopter rides being offered is something we must do.