Wednesday, August 27, 2014

In Which I Plan on Asking for Your Fashion Advice and Make the Decision Myself in the Process

How's that for a long post title?

No really, I started a draft yesterday (now two days ago) of our homeschool goals for this year.  And I know I still need to finish up my Why I Worked series.  And I have all these thoughts swirling around in my head about not going back to work this school year.  But micro-naps have been my downfall (what is UP with that, babies?) and there is a chocolate milkshake calling my name, so here's a mini-post for you.

Mary Claire is crying RIGHT. NOW.  But she's been in her crib for less than an hour, so let's see if she falls back asleep if I ignore her.  That's right, I haven't even had my milkshake yet and I am posting this for YOU!

Next day: She was up for good.  So was Elizabeth.  And both SUPER-grumpy (duh, short naps...), so I gave up on the post but DID bribe them with tortilla chips so that I could have a milkshake, so it wasn't all a loss.

Oh, and I started writing this while the ice cream was softening on the counter, so I had to do something, right?

Stop it with the italics, crazy-face.  I will, RIGHT NOW!

I needed a dress to wear to a wedding.  My formal-ish maternity dresses are all way too hot for this time of year, so I scoured all my usual maternity haunts and didn't find anything I liked that wasn't also like, $200.  So I scoured Amazon and found some serious gems that I ruled out, but happened upon these two which were from a reputable brand AND meant for post-partum as well.  Normally "nursing-wear" is not something I buy, because it makes nursing into more of an ordeal than it should be, but I'd heard good things about Japanese Weekend clothes, and these were WAY cheaper than the website prices with free returns, so what did I have to lose?


Japanese Weekend Women's Maternity During and After Tipped Nursing Dress, Navy/Lavender, X-Small




"I'll try them on, take pictures, and let the internet decide!" I thought.


But dress #1 was a big fat bust for me - would work better on someone with a trimmer figure, but sizing up would have made the chest waaaaaaay too baggy for me.


Plus I would have needed maternity Spanx.  No thank you.


Dress #2 was more promising, but the convertible straps confused me...


I would have needed to figure out a strapless bra situation, and it's been YEARS since I wore one of those.  Yikes.  This was the front-runner in my mind, until I remembered that I might *actually* have a non-maternity dress in my closet that could work:


Not the most flattering picture, but there's room for a belly!  And it's not jersey, so it looks dressier than the others!


I wore it for a wedding last summer when I was obviously not pregnant, and it was a little too big then, so it's kind of perfect now!


So here I was asking for your advice, but I made the decision myself.  Both dresses are going back, and my closet wins!  Sorry to ignore your wise advice ;)

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Saturday Morning Music Video: Behind the Scenes

"7 more fans and I'll do a lip sync for Kelly!" I thought.  

"Long shot!  It takes forever to get facebook likes!" I thought...

Well, apparently bribing with boy bands is the way to go :P

So thanks for that!

Actually, it was fun - we had kind of a blast (except for the crying, but even that wasn't exactly out of the ordinary)!


He still has his facial hair today - he tells me it can't be washed off, it can only come off on its own.  Yet something tells me his face will magically be clean before Mass tomorrow...


She's the only one who DIDN'T want facial hair, but her dancing made up for it.


She did NOT like this whole "wearing jeans" thing, but she begged for a mustache...

Photo: Three guesses who was the first one to start crying during our lip sync...

"I DON'T KNOW WHAT TO DO!!!" She sobbed, probably for about 50% of the video...

Intrigued? Want to cheer yourself up with some awkward pregnant dancing and amazing baby dancing?

Give it a watch, and click "like" over on YouTube!  It's a contest or something, but I'm not sure that there are actually prizes...


Friday, August 22, 2014

Boy Bands, Little House, Social Media, and More {7 Quick Takes}

--1--

Okay, so the facebook page currently has 196 likes - so close to 200! If you can help get the "likes" up to 200 by 1 PM today, I'll join the lip synch battle party over at Kelly's (I'm thinking Backstreet Boys with costumes - totally raiding the husband's closet for this, since me + kids = correct numbers). 

Because don't you want to see me, John Paul, Cecilia, Elizabeth, and Mary Claire all dancing on camera for as long as possible? Yeah, it'd be epic.  Go click that little "like" button and validate me a little on social media, ok?

Why 1 pm? Because that gives me a chance to raid the storage room during nap time for appropriate clothing for everyone without all four kids saying things like, "WHAT IS THAT SAW???" or "IS THAT A CHRISTMAS PRESENT???"


Source

You better believe I'm already planning outfits and facial hair...
Edit: Okay, you win!  I didn't expect to reach the magic number that quickly...  So we're taking the morning to prep for a post-nap recording session!  I think we all know how to motivate the mom crowd now: Boy bands!!!

--2--

Are you on twitter? I'm just starting to embrace it a little more, what with the fast-paced yet short & sweet updates.  Who should I be following? Come say hi and keep me company every crazy day!


--3--

We're in the middle of On the Banks of Plum Creek right now and the kids are totally immersed in that world...  It's adorable!

We built a lego house, and John Paul put the roof on top and said it was their dugout house and I realized he's so right!!!  Elizabeth added the tower of flowers...


Right now the biggest fight in the house is that Mary Claire keeps saying Elizabeth is Pa and Elizabeth says she's Laura.  Cecilia is Mary because she says she has golden hair (even though her hair is darker than the twins').  And apparently nobody wants to be Baby Carrie, even though at this point in the series Carrie is like, 3 years old or something...  Baby Carrie is played by a VERY small baby doll.

I don't think you've ever heard anything as cute as Mary Claire talking about "Ma! And Pa! And Lauwa! And Mawwy! And Baby Cawwie!"

Elizabeth calls her Baby Carrot.  It's one of her favorite jokes (that and "Cupcake poop") and yeah, it's hilarious every time.


But look!  All four playing together!  Peacefully!  Cecilia's holding "Mary" and "Laura" in her hands, and "Ma" is lying down in front of the door to the house, obviously.

--4--

Cecilia keeps making their wagon and setting up a "bed" in it so that they can travel from Indian country to Minnesota.  Then she freaks out when the twins mess it up, which is about every 30 seconds...  But I finally convinced her to let them join in and she and Elizabeth lay like this for quite a while - it was adorable!


"Mom, can I keep da chairs like dis?"
"For a little while, I guess..."
"Why not for da rest of my life???"

#3yearoldproblems

--5--

Speaking of 3-year-old problems, she also tells me she wants to go to heaven NOW.  "I just love Jesus and Aslan and Prince Caspian so much dat I want to grow UP in heaven!!!"

But she tells me she doesn't want to have her ears pierced in heaven or have anyone prick her with a needle.  Think she's safe there.

--6--

We're road tripping to Michigan, Indiana, and Illinois soon - got any ideas for how to keep the twins entertained in the car sans DVD player?  John Paul and Cecilia will be awesome and I've got sticker books and activities galore for them, but the twins still can't DO sticker books really, and they eat crayons and color wonder markers, and Mary Claire is terrible in the car all the time anyway...  

I'm thinking I'll run to the dollar store and get some board books and order some dinosaur stuff off of Amazon since Mary Claire's obsessed.  And dig out some of the noisy obnoxious toys that we hid away long ago because they're the worst...

But what else? What books on CD are awesome that I should get from the library?  We've got the Chronicles of Narnia on CD so those will hopefully keep them happy but I think I need more than that...  Help!

--7--

Okay, off to spend the morning introducing the kids to the wonder that is BSB!  Go check out more takes at Conversion Diary!

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Twice vs. ThredUP - Which One is for Me?

I've been meaning to write about this for a while, since I started shopping at both these online consignment stores.  People are always asking, "What's the difference? Which one should I use? I really like one, should I try the other?"  So here are my thoughts on the matter:

Shirt: ThredUP
Skirt: Twice

Long story short, they're better for different purposes.

Trying to find great dressy clothes or work duds?  Twice is perfect for you!

Looking for children's clothing or maternity clothing? ThredUP is really your only option of the two.

Dress: ThredUP

Let me give you a little rundown of the similarities and differences:

Tech:

Both have mobile apps, but ThredUP's doesn't really do it for me right now (you can't sort by maternity, and it's overly cumbersome to figure out how to filter).  Twice's actually works awesome, and you can get credit or a high-value coupon if you download their app.  One benefit of ThredUP's app is that you can do free returns (for now), and return shipping is one of my major drawbacks to shopping there.

Skirt: ThredUP

Twice's website is superior, in my opinion. Generally faster, easier to sort and search, and (most importantly) they list measurements for their clothing items.  This REALLY helps the shopping process, because not every brand is equal across the board for sizes - an Ann Taylor size 4 skirt from 2009 may have a 28-inch waist, but a 2013 might have a 30-inch waist, and it's really helpful to be able to see the size discrepancies so you know what you're getting.

Dress and cardigan: Twice

ThredUP's site would be VASTLY improved if there were any way of filtering OUT the "slightly flawed" items.  I know they're cheaper, but I just really don't want to buy them for myself, and there seem to be SO many on there lately that it's hard to wade through the extremely high amounts of damaged goods in order to find what I'm looking for.

Dress and belt: ThredUP

Buying:

Twice only sells women's clothes in standard sizing.  I heard they were working on a handbag store, but haven't seen any evidence of that yet.  No accessories, either.

Skirt and jacket: Twice

ThredUP, on the other hand, sells children's clothes, maternity clothes, plus-sized clothes, accessories, shoes, AND handbags.  I find this really useful when I'm close to the free shipping minimum, because I can add a belt or a scarf, or even something for the kids!

Dress and belt: ThredUP

Both have frequent coupons, free shipping minimums ($50 for ThredUP, $49 for Twice), and are great ways to build up your wardrobe quickly without breaking the bank!  But Twice's shipping is MUCH faster, although their average prices are higher.

Returns:

Twice wins here, hands-down.  Free returns, free return shipping, and if you don't hit the free shipping minimum and want to return an item, your shipping is refunded too.  I've heard they're considering adding a $1/item return fee so that they can lower prices on the site across the board, and I'm supportive of this idea - I think it's worth it for less expensive clothes, and I'm fine with being charged a little for the convenience of shopping without leaving the house!

ThredUP charges return shipping and the process takes a loooooong time - it's really only worth ordering items you're not sure about if you're ordering a LOT, because otherwise return shipping could basically make any refund worthless.

Shirt and belt: ThredUP

Selling:

I've sold to both sites, and Twice is the winner here too.  They processed my bags MUCH more quickly, payed a higher price for the items, and give a bonus commission if you choose to take your pay in credit rather than cashing out.

ThredUP takes FOREVER to process bags, pays very low prices for the items they do accept, and tends to accept less than many I've talked to would expect.  Considering how quickly they've sold some of the items of mine they've bought (and how much they're selling them for), I'm surprised I was compensated so little for them.  They send you an email when an item of yours sells, which is kind of fun.  I'd send things to Twice over ThredUP, or try consigning them or selling on eBay.

Customer service:

Both respond very quickly to inquiries - I had an issue with a dress I bought from ThredUP arriving with a slight discoloration.  I took a picture and emailed them, and they immediately credited me the difference in price for marking the item down to "tiny flaw."

Similarly, I had an issue with a Twice coupon and they immediately responded to my email inquiries and credit my account with the difference.

Products:

I adore ThredUP for their selection of clothes for kids.  Cecilia is VERY picky about what she wears - mostly jersey dresses and elastic-waist skirts, which are often rather expensive and hard to find in stores.  With ThredUP, I was able to build her a spring wardrobe for a VERY low price.  I prefer consignment stores and consignment sales because prices are generally lower, but it's not always possible to get out of the house for something like that.  I also really like that I can often find coordinating outfits for the twins through their website, which I don't like doing when I'm paying new prices, but for their prices, I think it's sometimes worth it for the cuteness!

And if you know exactly what you're looking for, you can get some serious gems (like my chambray shirt pictured above, and my very favorite brown belt).

On the other hand, ThredUP sells a lot of lower-quality brands and slightly damaged goods that are annoying to sift through.

Twice, on the other hand, accepts only higher-end brands, so you know you're generally getting a high-quality product.  I prefer the browsing experience because they're pickier about what they accept, so there's not as much that's out of style or poor quality.

But if you know what to look for, you can combine your best finds from BOTH sites and be an all-around winner!

Dress: Twice
Belt: ThredUP

Does that answer your questions? Do you have any other questions for me?  I'd love to help you out!

If you're interested in signing up for either of these sites, you can get $20 in ThredUP credit for signing up using my referral link (only until September 15, then it goes back down to $10 signup bonus) or $10 in Twice credit for signing up using my referral link.

Oh, and go check out Mandi's review of Twice!  Lots more details there :)

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Random Sunday Ramblings {and WIWS}


Yesterday was a full, full day - peach picking and playing at a friend's house (in their awesome creek but mostly with the baby's toys because, you know, that's what matters!), then off to a party and a long, tearful drive home...  So of course, after that active day the kids would sleep in, right?

Ha. 


We attempted a family picture (really need to get a tripod one of these days) and ended up with the majority of the pictures featuring Mary Claire with a peach crammed in her mouth and John Paul with his face in his calculator...


I love this shirt - one of my few maternity purchases, but it's gonna work great postpartum too because it's flowy and buttons - 6 different prints here!
Elizabeth finally came out of hiding (the moon was in the sky, which was VERY exciting from her) and Mary Claire took the peach out of her mouth, but John Paul was more interested in spelling words on his calculator than anything else, since he had decided he was DONE picking peaches.


Just for fun, here we are at the same orchard last year - look at those hairless babies!


That being said, the kids are actually almost getting useful at fruit picking!  The big kids each picked a few pounds in their bags before they got tired of carrying them, and the babies didn't run away and mostly just picked up peaches off the ground and took a few bites before discarding them for another more exciting peach, also from the ground...  It's a LOT easier to pick peaches when you're not wearing a baby on your back, did you know?

John Paul took naughty to a new level this morning at Mass when he decided (while reading a book about saints) to make pronouncements like, "I want to be a pagan!" and "I want to join an anti-Papal party!" and "I want to be like Alessandro!" (from Maria Goretti's story)...  I don't understand that kid at. all.  

So I'm thinking I'll be joining Mary starting Tuesday...  


Did I ever update you on the kimono?  I like it a lot - I don't think it's the most flattering article of clothing, but it's really nice for layering because it provides coverage without making me ridiculously hot, a VERY important clothing trait!  So I wore that with a new (like, actually NEW) maternity dress from thredUP and suddenly realized that I'm in the 3rd trimester (hello, 28 weeks!) and can't really expect NOT to look enormous in pictures...  Not that I feel even a little bit enormous, but there's just no flattering angle at this point!

And if we're talking pregnancy and you're wondering, I'm feeling surprisingly good!  I think that after the twin pregnancy, this one feels sooooo much easier, so the fact that I can still roll over at night, still lie on my back, still DO normal things like cooking and dishes and maybe sometimes laundry (but let's be honest, not a lot) is still rather astonishing to me!  Baby boy is still nameless, and will likely be nameless on the blog until birth because, well, if we ever decide we may very well end up changing our minds!

And I've got the lovely glucose test on Tuesday sooo...  I've been reading horrible stuff about that nasty Glucola lately, and I'm wondering if I can just bring my own alternative to the doctor's office and convince them that fresh-squeezed orange juice would be a better solution?  To be fair, I eat a fair amount of junk so I don't know that I'm that concerned about the corn syrup, but it gives me SUCH bad heartburn and I already get terrible heartburn...

Oh!  And while we're talking about nothing in particular, we finally took the twins for their 18-month checkup (when they were 21 months old...) and they're TOTALLY in the middle of the pack on the growth charts, both for height and weight!  This is really exciting, because for a looooong time Elizabeth was just barely hanging on to like, the 3rd percentile...  Mary Claire still beats her by about a pound, but they're both the exact same height.

And then I realized that they were probably putting them on the 18-month growth charts even though they're 21 months, soooo maybe I shouldn't be too proud ;)

Linking up with Fine Linen & Purple if WIWS gets posted today.

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