Friday, July 31, 2015

The Romper Post

I said I'd do it if I hit 500 likes on Facebook by the end of the month. It was a long shot. But apparently you all wanted rompers, because somehow we hit 500+ with several days to spare!

So I did it. My friend Dorothy met me at the mall once all our kids were in bed and we hit up H&M to find all the rompers. And right when I was waiting for her in front of the store, who should pass by but a grown woman wearing a romper. It's a thing, whether we like it or not.

I wanted to do Forever 21 also, but the mall closed at 9 and there was only time for one store :(

Anyway, if you want a blast from the past, visit H&M and marvel at all the neon, crop tops, Blossom-style floral dresses, and Fresh Prince-style prints. I really thought those styles wouldn't come back but here they are, like it or not. (There's actually a lot of really good, really cute stuff also! But a lot of crazy along with it...)

I think you can ALL applaud Dorothy for coming and helping find these rompers, because there are QUITE a few I wouldn't have noticed if she hadn't grabbed them for me! Many look suspiciously like dresses on the racks... 

But what I found after trying on 14 rompers in a row is that they are A LOT HARDER to get on than dresses. I kept seeing tricky closures (HOW am I going to button that thing up the back? Or tighten the straps and tie it in the back? NOT GOING TO HAPPEN.) and thinking, "Oh, I'll just pull it over my head!"

Only to realize that wait, there are leg holes so I CAN'T pull it over my head.

The nerve.

Sadly, none were as lovely as this beauty that I posted on the facebook page, and I think the lesson I took from all of this is... I'm too short, squat, and chubby for rompers.


Look at me, I'm not even going to try editing or cropping these pictures for you! And I only just noticed that random piece of trash on the floor of the fitting room...

See that drawstring? The theme of these rompers seems to be that they must have dropped waists. Which doesn't so much work if that accentuates your pudgy "I've had 5 kids" belly that won't seem to go away...


This one was actually easy to get on, but resembled pajamas so very much that I concluded it must actually BE pajamas.


Imagine if I had accidentally passed by THIS beauty! But no, Dorothy, good friend that she is, spotted it a mile away! I think we can all agree that nobody should be allowed to wear THAT.


Okay this one actually... Was not so bad! Incredibly comfortable, pockets, length would have worked with heels - the waist was even at a fairly appropriate spot on me! But not nursing-friendly, so a no-go.


Somebody designed this print. On purpose.


On the plus side, if you're really short like me the short shorts aren't quite so tiny on you!


I mean... In this one I could camouflage myself amidst red roses in the white snow?


This one... Well, it made me feel like Hugh Heffner. Not in a good way. But also kind of like I was wearing one-piece scrubs? The pink & teal animal print was so, so strange. But it has pockets, so that's something? You can even buy your OWN online!


The dropped waist. The gut. So wrong.


Tapered legs. Uh uh. Best way to accentuate a larger midsection, I guess?


I'm also REALLY hoping that this one is pajamas, because if I ever saw anybody wearing that in public I would assume we were actually at a sleepover and I just hadn't noticed yet. It made me feel like Strong Sad.


This hat is actually fabulous and I got it. Because my head is *slightly* larger than average, and they actually HAD a larger size and it fit! So you see, the trip wasn't a total bust!

But the shortalls. We found MULTIPLE styles. I suppose they're perfect for my new lifestyle? And nursing friendly... But yeah, no.


Not gonna lie, I looked kind of awesome in this one (okay, not in the picture, but it fit in all the right places) and somebody who is not me could absolutely pull it off. I'm thinking young, tall, skinny, artsy professional? 


Sumo romper. Why your crotch gotta be so low?


So the romper search was not the most successful in terms of finding a reasonable romper that a grown woman could wear as actual clothing. BUT this terrifying crocodile necklace made up for it. How's THAT for a statement piece?

And now I'm going to make a lofty promise that if I hit 1000 followers by the end of August, I'll do another romper roundup post! I can make this promise because I know it won't happen, so I'm safe ;)

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

That Time We Bought A Farm

Years and years ago, after my older siblings moved out of the house, I was in college and engaged, and my little brother had graduated from high school, my parents sold our childhood home and moved to the middle of nowhere. Their dream for years had been to live in a house where if the grass got too long, the neighbors wouldn't call the police (ours ACTUALLY DID!). They wanted more land, but there was no way to afford that in the DC area, and my mom absolutely hated her job. But our educations were so important to them that they stuck it out in a high-pressure, high-traffic, high-priced area until my little brother graduated from high school, at which point they were out of there!

We thought they were crazy.

I visited and do you want to know what I could hear from my window to wake me up in the morning?

COWS. MOOING.

What the heck WAS this? Who would want to live in a place with no sidewalks, MILES from the nearest mall, where people actually wore overalls, no shoes, and bloodstained undershirts to go grocery shopping (at least, it looked a lot like blood).

My parents were so happy. And Andrew and I discussed how ridiculous this was, how we would never live somewhere so inconvenient, somewhere so far from the highest-ranked schools in America where our kids would obviously thrive, somewhere with more livestock than people...

Then, years later, we bought our first house. A perfect house, just the right size for our growing family, with a beautiful yard perfect for a small garden and a swing set, convenient to Andrew's work, right in the middle of the bustle of suburban living, walking distance to a frozen yogurt shop, grocery store, and several restaurants. It was perfect, maybe our forever home.

But there was a tug. Little conversations about how nice it would be to have a little more room for the garden. Wishes that zoning didn't prevent us from having chickens in this county (even though our yard, for this area, is HUGE). Complaints about the traffic. The decision to homeschool, which means we wouldn't even be using these amazing public schools we stayed in the area for. Maybe someday, maybe 5 or 10 years down the road, we'd be in a position to move a little farther away from the city, have a house on some land, raise chickens and teach the kids to work the land and care for the abundant gifts with which He has blessed us.

Then my dad died unexpectedly. My mom, having spent years of her life tending to him in his many chronic illnesses, no longer felt like she had much of a purpose. Suddenly it occurred to us... Would it be crazy if, 2 or 3 years down the road, maybe a little sooner than we planned, we DID this moving thing? And she lived with us?

And it made sense. And everything started falling into place, and that sense of peace settled over everything with all these decisions and prayers, but there was still no timeline, no urgency. Our wishes and desires for a house were many - a certain location, a certain amount of usable land, a separate guest house for my mom so that she could have her own space. There wasn't anywhere that fit the bill, but we like to make a hobby out of real estate browsing, so we looked every few weeks to see if anything popped up online.

And then one day, I changed the search terms by one bedroom and there it was.


A renovated 19th century farm house. On more land than we thought we would find, with a guest house right behind it. Fruit trees on the property, plenty of outbuildings, flat sunny land for a huge garden, a porch, and for significantly less than we thought we'd be paying.

It was perfect. We drove the hour+ as soon as possible to go view the house, the land, the pond at the back of the cleared space, the guest house where my mom would be living. It wasn't immaculate, there was a fair amount of work that needed to be done, but it was right.

So we made our offer, had it accepted, had closing delayed (and delayed. and delayed. and delayed again. But finally closed today!) and starting doing all sorts of research on backyard chickens, wood stoves, fruit trees, septic systems (St. Courtney, pray for us!), and planting a way bigger garden than we've ever been able to plant at our current home.

It's smaller than our place right now, and we're hoping eventually to build on an addition because 3 bedrooms for 7 people (and who knows how many more in the future) is a little tight, but for now we're going to make it work. And I'm so, so, so excited! We all are!

I don't know how much I'll be blogging in the midst of packing and moving and settling in and planting and doing our first *real* year of homeschooling - I won't promise anything because I might fall off the face of the earth (although I can pretty much guarantee I'll still be around on instagram), and I might just go on as if nothing has changed because generally blogging refreshes me and gives me energy. We'll see. But at the very least, this isn't exactly going to be "a blog for my mom" anymore, since my mom is going to be living life with us. 

So pray for us, would you? While we pack, purge, figure out how to get all three girls to actually *sleep* if they're in the same bedroom together, and move to a new town and a new church. And if you've got a suggestion for a new blog name, hit me up!

And to be completely clear, I suppose it's not *technically* a farm. But there are plenty of outbuildings and a barn and a ton of land, so maybe someday it WILL be a farm! But there are cows across the street and ponies next door, so we'll get to look at plenty of animals before getting any of our own.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Stitch Fix #4 - Finally!

After my very cranky previous Stitch Fix post, one of their senior stylists got back to me and offered to style my most recent fix if I gave them one more try (otherwise I could have a refund, but since I had used referral credit to get the fix, there would still have been unused credit sitting in my account). 

And the fix? 

Oh, it was perfect. She got me. The best thing was, a lot of these were things that are just my style but that I wouldn't have picked out for myself because I'm just not that daring... 

Now, I'm going to be annoying because I don't have any details for the clothes - the kids tore up the styling cards and Andrew recycled the packing slip so... All I remember is that everything was between $44 and $58, some was hand-wash (but apparently that doesn't really matter, and washing on delicate or hand washing with this soap is no problem!), and some was machine washable. 

Anyway, I was pretty psyched to try stuff on, so I tossed Peter in his high chair with cheerios because he's Mr. Clingy these days (please please please be teething please please please because otherwise I don't know WHAT it is!!!) and tried things on as quickly as I could while pulling faces at him, hence the awkward poses:


I love sleeveless button-downs, and this was so nice and drapey! I loooooved the print, but the material wasn't my favorite - I can't remember, it was either polyester or rayon, and there were threads pulling at the seams and I have a tendency to pick at those so I knew I would probably ruin it before long...

Verdict: No.

Similar items: 


This mixed print top was really cute (polka dots on the back, which I thought was really fun), but very see-through in the front. I can do somewhat sheer, but this was pretty obvious, which I wasn't a fan of.

Verdict: No.


Montgomery Cross Front Knit Top: $48

This one was a little out of my comfort zone because it's definitely on the clingy side, but the ruching really hides the tummy and it's soooo easy nurse in! It doesn't look great in this picture, but it's pretty slimming as well, and I really liked the print.

Verdict: Yes.


I had seen this top on another review and really liked it, so I was excited that my stylist sent it! The fabric was nice and thick and I liked the style a lot, but it fit strangely at the armholes (you can see some of the gapping in the picture below) so I decided against it.


Verdict: No.


I was really excited for this skirt! The length was perfect, silhouette was great, fit was good but... It looked too much like a skirt I had *just* bought on my own!

Verdict: No.

Want to shop some similar looks? I rounded some up that I found around the internet:

Will I try it again?

At this point I'm out of credit - if somebody signs up through my link and gets a Fix sent to them, I get $25 of credit so I'll definitely try it again if that happens, because then I wouldn't be losing the $20 styling fee if nothing works out. Would I spend my own money at the risk of nothing working again? Probably not. I've figured out what works for my body & season in life, and if I'm patient and shop around I can find better quality at better prices than Stitch Fix can send. 

Who SHOULD use it?

I know women who don't like to shop! I think that if spending hours browsing online trying to find something that might work sounds horrible to you, Stitch Fix might be a good idea. 

If you have NO clue what looks good on your body, Stitch Fix might be a good idea. 

If you really like the idea of receiving a surprise package every month (or however often you want to receive one, you can even just get one and be done!), Stitch Fix might be a good idea.

If you don't have time to shop for yourself and can figure out how to make current trends work for you, Stitch Fix might be a good idea.

Interested? 

If you found this post helpful, I'd love it if you used my referral code if you're planning on scheduling a fix for yourself! That way I can bring you more posts just like this!

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Eyelet, Chambray, & Corn Starch {WIWS}


Skirt: Gap
Shirt: J.Crew via ThredUP
Belt: Banana Republic via ThredUP
Shoes: DSW

PS ThredUP is currently offering $20 for new customers if you sign up through my link, plus 20% off orders above $100, and free returns & free shipping over $70. They've really improved their site lately, making it possible to eliminate items with tiny flaws from your searches, and they've started adding measurements and washing instructions to some of the clothing. So if you haven't tried it, now would be a really good time!

Oh friends. I could sing the praises of this skirt (on sale! 40% off!) forever. (And the shirt too, but it's old and you've seen it. Well, I suppose you saw the skirt on Friday too, but what can I say? I'm a week behind on my WIWS posts...)

But you're not looking at the skirt, are you?

Instead we have Cecilia with "Mickey Mouse ears" and Mary Claire pretending to chug from John Paul's chalice.


My life. Right here. Minus all the boys, that is...

Mass this morning wasn't our best, wasn't our worst. The girls both desperately needed to use the potty but were able to wait until the homily (sorry Father, John Paul chose front-and-center and we had to make a very unceremonious exit and entrance). 

And Mary Claire was personally offended every time the congregation beat her to saying any response or prayer. 

"No, ME!!! *pause* AND WITH YO SPIWIT!!!"

But she had pigtails so at least she looked cute while she hollered at everybody?


When we got home from Mass, John Paul got everything out for a corn starch goop science experiment. "Wait until the twins are napping so they don't make a mess!"

Obedience is not his strong suit.


I'm still trying to get it out of all the cracks and crevices in the table. On the plus side, it doesn't stain clothes? Mary Claire and Elizabeth were eating it by the spoonful and dripping it all over themselves.


Because what's more delicious than powdery white sludge?

Linking up with Fine Linen & Purple for What I Wore Sunday!

Friday, July 24, 2015

Winos, Perfect Skirts, and Cucumbers {7QT}

--1--

I heard suspicious sounds in the kitchen on Monday and found John Paul on the counter, corkscrew in hand, with the foil off a bottle of wine.

He denies that he was trying to open it, but I kind of doubt it... Maybe he needed it to say Mass properly?

The worst part? It was Merlot.

Come on, kid! You've got to have better taste than that!

In my defense, we only had Merlot so that we could make sangria with it. We do NOT drink it. Yuck. Dry red wine only over here!

--2--

A couple weeks ago I posted about some sale items at Gap that I had ordered and in case you were wondering how they turned out, here's how!


This eyelet midi skirt is amazing (and comes in black, also). I'm wear a size small petite and the length is perfect - it's available in regular and tall also. The price was awesome (40% off when I bought it, so less than $25 for a really well-made, fully-lined skirt with pockets) and I think it's going to be a favorite for a LONG time.


I sized up on this eyelet sweater and probably didn't need to - I'm wearing a medium but I love the drape and dolman sleeves, although it's hard to see in this picture. Definitely fits on the boxy side, but that's on purpose. Keeping this one and I anticipate wearing it a lot this fall, winter, and spring.


I got this v-neck linen tee in two colors and really like it so far - it's soft, the drape is perfect, and it breathes really well. I'm not certain it's the type of piece that will last a long time, but on sale it was pretty inexpensive so if it only lasts a year I won't mind too much. Definitely on the see-through side, so needs to be layered but I always wear tank tops underneath my shirts anyway so that's not an issue for me.


I was so close to loving this side-zip boatneck tee - really nice fabric, love the color, but the zippers on the side were just not falling ride with the width of my hips. I sized up to a medium for this one and think it would fit someone with more of an apple or straight shape a lot better. 


I was hopeful that this fluid tunic would be able to replace a top I have that really should have been retired ages ago... But it was too thin a fabric for what I wanted, and I think the fit would be much better for someone who's pregnant. So pregnant mamas, go for it! The price is definitely right. Not for me, though.


This slouchy dolman sweater was also one I had high hopes for, but it ended up hitting right at the thickest part of my waist and was VERY unflattering.

So that's that! Definitely check out the other skirts they have though - there are some really beautiful pieces and they keep having pretty big sales going on.

--3--

In baby news, Peter's pulling up on everything. Of course.


--4--

John Paul and Cecilia had a BLAST with his birthday Kiwi Crate (and we're all really looking forward to the next 5 months of the subscription, thanks to Andrew's awesome dad and his wife!) and we enjoyed the lemon-limeade that we made with the recipe (Andrew and I spiked ours. Shh...).


It kept them quiet for 2 hours during naptime. I don't think you can put a price on that.

--5--

Oh and more naptime quiet tips? I'm getting so high tech, I got this bluetooth speaker for a pretty hefty discount on Amazon Prime Day and the big kids have been listening to library audio books on it in their room while I control the audio from the living room - no more messing with the chapters and losing their place! 

--6--

We planted English Cucumbers this year and I ADORE them. So sweet, tender skin, fewer seeds than regular cucumbers. I'm going to plant a million next year, I could eat them all day and so could the kids!


--7--

Sadly it looks like last week's push for more Facebook likes has reached its peak - stuck at 453 (it *was* 454 but I shared an old NFP post and lost one), so I guess the romper post isn't happening. Oh well! Thanks to everyone who liked & shared - there's a week left in July to hit 500 but I'm not holding out hope so I guess you'll just have to imagine me in a bunch of rompers 😜




Thursday, July 23, 2015

Birthday Balloons and Mass Celebrations {PHFR}

{pretty}

The sum total of the decorations I made for John Paul's birthday party this past weekend:


The bunting is still up, and will likely be up for a while because it's just so cute and festive!


The balloons started deflating the next morning and the whole thing got dismantled by John Paul... But it was fun while it lasted!

{funny}



Both on the day of his birthday and at his birthday party a few days later, he blew out his candle before we finished singing to him and then laughed as if it were the funniest joke EVER!



Which, of course, made it pretty darned funny.

Also, how do you like that fancy cake plate? I call it "the cardboard Costco box it came in" - we're fancy around here.

{happy/real}


A friend found him a chalice for his birthday and saying Mass is WAY more impressive when you're using a fancy chalice and not a green plastic cup.


You like the fancy vestments? Fleece, baby. No-sew. Maybe some day I'll make him nice ones, but these are working great for now!


Right now he doesn't want to be a priest, though. But he's 6, so he's got time to discern ;)


It was a private Mass - Cecilia pulled her chair right up to the altar and told me, "This is just a very, very small Mass and I have the only chair and it's a *special* chair" and since she's the one who set up the altar and prepared everything, we'll let her have that.


Mason jar cruets. For the hipster priest.

Linking up with Like Mother, Like Daughter for Pretty, Happy, Funny, Real!

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Home Music Resources: Songbooks and CDs {Music Education at Home}



There are a million songbooks and CDs out there - so many that there's no way for me to try them all! But when it comes to basic songs kids should know and ways to learn them, here are some of my favorite songbooks and CDs right now:


Wee Sing America - I haven't listened to *every* Wee Sing CD (and there are quite a few!), but I'm a big fan of the series! The singing on the CD is a decent quality, with a variety of adult and children's voices and *real* instrumental arrangements (not horrible midi accompaniments). Particularly on this CD, the variety is terrific and these are songs that American children *should* be learning. Patriotic songs and folk songs are a HUGE part of our heritage, and this resource is great for teaching you AND your kids songs from our country's history!



We Sing and Listen (Also available through Seton) - we picked this up on a whim at a homeschool conference last year and it's so great! The songs are arranged in order of the liturgical year, and there are quite a few secular staples as well as sacred pieces in the book. Some of the songs are clearly made up just for the book, so there are a few that are just HILARIOUS in how contrived they are, which I think adds to the charm (Old Mr. Turkey is our absolute favorite).



We Sing and Chant (Also available through Seton) - This is the second book in this series, which expands upon We Sing and Listen and adds some more complex songs. We're just starting to explore this one, but it's also a really good resource.



Book of Canons - We have an older edition of this book, but it is FULL of wonderful canons & rounds that you can sing as a family. There are lots of sacred ones, many folk songs, and the difficulty range varies greatly. Most kids won't be ready to sing in a round until they're older (my 6-year-old is *just* getting the hang of it, and he's on the early side), but you can sing these in unison to develop a familiarity with them until your kids are ready to sing on their own.

All of these books by John Feierabend (he's a big deal in early childhood music) are GREAT, as well.


I got these Kindermusik books as a hand-me-down from another music teacher - there are several songbooks (I think 4 total?) that are very short, but full of fun rhymes and songs that are some of our favorites right now! Normally I think this is a songbook that is included with a Kindermusik program if you sign up for one, and I highly recommend their classes if there are any near you and you can afford them! We did a similar program when John Paul was a baby and it gave me a huge arsenal of songs and rhymes and games to play with the kids. If you can find these books, they're great! But I can't seem to find any except a few used on Amazon...

When it comes to CDs alone, we really enjoy the CDs that the Benedictines put out - there's a variety of songs in parts and plain chant and hymns, which is nice to familiarize kids with hymns they might be singing at Mass and with the Marian Antiphons for each season. They've got CDs for LentEaster, Advent, and one devoted to Mary and one to Angels & Saints.

I'd love to hear your suggestions - any favorites?

In case you missed the first two posts in this series, here they are:

Music Education... At Home? - Why it's important to make an effort to expose your kids to a variety of music. Developmental music aptitude, explained!

Singing With Kids - Some simple tips to help you sing with your kids and help them sing with you!


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