A Decade

When you’re engaged, or a newlywed, everyone tells you that the first year of marriage is the hardest. I am here to tell you that this is bullshit.

EVERY year of marriage is going to be hard, in some way. Once you get past that first year, you don’t say, phew, okay! The hard part is over now! We made it through a whole YEAR.

I love my husband dearly, which should be obvious since we’ve been married for ten years today. But that doesn’t go without saying that we have been through some STUFF.

In our first year of marriage, we lived apart for a few months before finally ending up in the same state because of various Army related commitments. Adam finished three difficult Army schools before we had even been married a full year. Then we moved.

In our second year of marriage, we moved again. And I struggled to find meaningful employment in a state where I didn’t know anyone and wasn’t even sure what I wanted to be when I grew up. I clung to the few Army wives I barely knew, and some of them are now my best and closest friends.

During our third year of marriage, we couldn’t celebrate an anniversary because Adam was in Afghanistan. I don’t even remember if we talked on the phone that day. Probably? I bought and sold a house completely on my own. I somehow managed to keep the place standing too.

In our fourth year of marriage, we moved. Again. And we had a blast living just outside of our nation’s capital. Actually, maybe that year wasn’t so hard. πŸ˜‰Β  Except maybe trying to find parking anywhere we couldn’t take public transportation.

But as we approached our fifth anniversary and entered our fifth year of marriage, we decided as a couple that our time in the Army was done. And so began the discussions of what next? Where next? And so we moved…AGAIN. And again I struggled to find meaningful employment, to find my place in our new community.

During our sixth year of marriage, I was pregnant with Ethan. And that was one of the most exciting and also scariest times of our marriage. We were about to become PARENTS. Who decided that was okay?? Weren’t we still just kids ourselves? How were we going to do this?

Year seven came with the struggles of learning to raise a child. We were sleep deprived and short tempered and stressed out. But oh so grateful we had been given the blessing of a healthy and thriving baby.

During the eighth year of our marriage, we moved….AGAIN. We made a decision to move to the fifth state we’d live in together as a married couple. Adam was one of a handful of people in a brand new field office his company was opening in this area. There were risks but also rewards.

During our ninth year of marriage, I lost a ton of weight. I became a more confident person and I hope, a better wife and mom. Ethan grew and changed so much every day. We were constantly wondering if we were making the right decisions as parents. That is a worry that will never go away.

Now we’re on the cusp of year ten. A decade. In this day and age, I feel like we’ve accomplished something. So many people take marriage vows for granted, or don’t believe it’s as serious of a commitment as it is.

No marriage is perfect. Everything is going to be hard sometimes. But if you’ve got the right person by your side, that’s what makes all the difference. Because you go from a newlywed couple to a team, a partnership. You’ve got each other’s back. You learn to roll with the punches, because, oh, there will be punches. And above all, you love each other. You respect each other. And you make each other’s days worth living.

Happy tenth anniversary, Adam. Here’s to the next decade.

Then and Now:

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Parenting an Allergic Child

One day last week, Ethan and I were out running errands and I happened to overhear a conversation between two men who were trying to decide on snacks for a kid’s sports team party or some other such event. The one had selected some kind of treat with peanut butter in it, but then decided to put it back because he wasn’t sure about allergies. The second man made a comment like “yeah, peanut allergies, they’re just rampant now, it wasn’t like that when we were growing up.” To which the first one responded with an eye roll, “I know, it’s like those gluten free people, they’re everywhere.”

I’m sorry, excuse me?

I can’t remember if I’ve ever mentioned this on the blog before, but Ethan has a severe peanut allergy. We discovered it when he was a year old. After he ingested probably less than a teaspoon of peanut butter, less than an hour later we were in the emergency room, being hustled into a resuscitation room with bells sounding and about 5 different medical personnel swarming us. To get scientific for a minute, in a normal non-allergic person, when tested, the level of peanut IgE (immunoglobin antibody) should measure at less than 0.35 ku/L. The last three times that Ethan has been tested, his has measured at greater than 100 ku/L.One hundred. No decimal point.

So yeah. He’s allergic. He’s not going to grow out of it. He didn’t choose this. Neither did Adam and I. We didn’t choose to have to read labels constantly, or be the parent at every play date or party asking what something was made with because it could potentially kill our son. We didn’t choose to have to carry an EpiPen with us at all times and have to actually practice stabbing a needle into a squish ball in the allergist’s office while your three year old son looks on. We didn’t choose the constant worry and anxiety that’s looming as grade school looms closer and closer and we won’t be able to control what he’s being exposed to at every minute.

So it was kind of disturbing to hear a total stranger, an adult, compare your child’s potentially deadly allergy with “those gluten free people.” And listen, I mean absolutely no disrespect to people who suffer from celiac disease. I completely understand what it’s like to have to avoid certain foods, not for myself, but for my son. Being gluten free can also be a choice and isn’t necessarily just for people with celiac disease. I get that as well.

All I’m asking is, if you’re a parent or even if you’re not, please understand that life-threatening allergies are NOT a lifestyle choice. I’m not cutting nuts out of Ethan’s diet like other people choose to cut out wheat or dairy. If that’s what you choose to do, that’s fine and I’m not judging. But don’t lump kids who were born with allergies into the same group. Like I said above: he would never have chosen this, and nor would we.

Β 

Nina Garcia Quarterly Box Review

As I stated in my previous post, I was due to receive my Quarterly gift box curated by the one and only Nina Garcia. It arrived on Saturday and oh my gosh, was I excited! This was a Christmas gift from my mom and I’ve been anxiously waiting for three months to see what kind of goodies Nina would send. If you’ve forgotten what Quarterly is or didn’t read the post where I mentioned it, here is a quote from their website answering, so what exactly is Quarterly?

Quarterly is a new way to connect with the people you follow and find interesting. We spend so much of our lives connecting with people online that we forget the value of tangible interactions that happen in the real world. Quarterly wants to bridge that gap by allowing anyone to subscribe to influential curators and receive physical items in the mail from them. It’s like a magazine, but instead of receiving words on a page, our subscribers receive actual items that tell a compelling story crafted by the curator.

Most people who sign up for the service sign up on a recurring basis and receive curated boxes every 3 months (or every quarter, because duh, QUARTERLY). This was a one-off box for me because my mom purchased it as a gift. The cost per box varies depending on the curator; in this case, Nina’s box cost $100.

I was so shocked at how HEAVY the box was when it arrived, so I knew there must be some good stuff in there. When you open the box, the first thing on top is the letter from Nina explaining what each item is and why she chose it.

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Also, each item comes individually wrapped in her special tissue paper, so it was like I was opening 15 separate little gifts, and who doesn’t love opening presents?!

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Here is the haul once I opened everything up; I’ll post separate pictures of each thing with a description, so this post will be kind of long but I hope you enjoy reading it!

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The first thing on the list was the MUY COOL tee shirt you see draped over the box there. Nina partnered with the brand SPENGLISH to design this tee. I have never heard of them but I looked at their site and they have some pretty neat tee shirts and their brand seems really cool. I might pair this under a black blazer with some jeans on days when I need to feel muy cool, lol.

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The next two things on the list were pieces of jewelry. One was a shark tooth necklace made by jewelry designer Sara Beltran and the other was a gold bangle from C Wonder. Both of these pieces are nice, but are a little too dainty for my personal style. I tend towards bigger, chunky statement necklaces and bracelets when I do wear jewelry. The bangle I might pair with other bracelets but I’m not sure when I’d wear the necklace.

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The next item was something specially created for the subscribers of Nina’s box, and it’s an OPI nail polish called “Greenade by NG”. Now, I have recently started becoming bolder with my nail choices and this is the boldest of all—this is REALLY green. I might need to try this on my toes first!

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Nina also included several skin care products in this box. First we have Revive’s moisturizing renewal serum and then a full size bottle of philosophy’s “time in a bottle” serum. As someone who has basically ignored any sort of anti-aging regimen, I feel like this is Nina’s way of telling me that I’m not getting any younger and it’s time to take better care of my skin. I am really excited about these two products!

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Another item I was excited about is the adorable floral printed wallet from Charming Charlie. We actually have a CC in our mall but I’ve never gone in because I rarely find myself shopping for accessories. My current wallet is a boring old black Coach one that I picked up at an outlet almost three years ago, so I’m happy to start using this one for spring!

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In the “smelly stuff” section of the box (lol), we have a perfume sample by Tom Ford called Jasmin Rouge and a luxury soap from Lafco. Lafco also carries candles and shave products for men in addition to soaps. I don’t wear perfume ever because the majority of it tends to give me migraines. I do like how Jasmin Rouge smells and it doesn’t seem super strong, but I’m wary of trying it for fear of a headache. The Lafco soap smells AMAZING and is made from a 100% vegetable base and with no chemical preservatives.

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The next item, I couldn’t believe was actually part of this box. It is the Laura Mercier “Bonne Mine” compact, and it by itself is half of the cost of one Quarterly shipment. I mean, the contents of this entire box are worth WAY more than $100, so I (and my mom as the gift giver!) got our money’s worth. This compact is amazing, it’s full of beautiful neutrals and include a bronzer, highlighters, and cheek colors. I can’t wait to start using this!

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The last two items (technically three, I guess) items kind of fall into the “home” category. They include a small pocket notebook and ballpoint pen and a fantastic frame from the Jonathan Adler home collection for JC Penney. Nina is the “resident style voice” at JCP and she’s been tweeting and Instagramming some great pics of the new home collection. I LOVE this frame and already put a picture in it and have it displayed in our living room.

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Oh and of course, included was the latest issue of Marie Claire magazine. the spring style issue. πŸ™‚

I have to say, I wasn’t sure what to expect from this gift, but when my mom asked for Christmas ideas for me, I thought, why not? I’ve always loved Nina’s taste on Project Runway, and she sent out some really cool things in her first box. This was way more than I was expecting based on what I saw from her first subscription! I don’t know that I’d necessarily sign up for a yearly subscription, but I would love to try this again and see what she sends maybe for fall or winter. Two thumbs way up!

March Updates!

Hi! Wow, I can’t believe it’s been almost a month since I posted anything. We have been crazy busy over here on our end and I feel like I haven’t had a free second to really sit down at the laptop and talk. We are all desperately wishing for spring over here. I think I fell into a little bit of an end of winter funk for the past few weeks or so. Adam’s been traveling a lot for work and Ethan’s going in and out of the “terrible 3s” these days. But we’re all healthy and well, so life is good!

The basement project has been chugging along too! We had a bit of a delay at the end of week two going into week three because the sheets of drywall were too big to fit down the basement stairs. So there was some scrambling to figure out how to make that work but the drywall hanging is DONE and we’re ready to start trim work soon. Here are some updated pics that I took this morning:

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We are so thrilled with the progress and can’t wait to see it continue to come together with paint and trim and flooring. We went last week and chose the carpet for the room and the tile for in the bathroom. The third picture from the top is going to be really neat when it’s finished, we’re having some built in storage put in (kind of like we have in our living room here) that will include a drinks refrigerator! The shower is currently the only thing we’ve got installed in the bathroom, we’re still waiting on the toilet and vanity and countertop. It’s been really fun watching the transformation.

Also, coming soon, a post that I think you guys will think is really fun. Have any of you heard of Quarterly? It’s an online subscription service that sends curated packages from different cultural icons. I heard about this website back in the fall because I follow Nina Garcia, creative director of Marie Claire magazine and Project Runway judge extraordinaire, on Twitter. She is one of the people who puts together the quarterly box subscriptions and I decided I wanted to see what she’d put in a box. So when my mom asked for my Christmas list, a Nina curated box was at the top. My box shipped on Friday and I should be receiving it this week!

And lastly, if you’re looking for some bracket fun OTHER than basketball, make sure you head over to my friend Brenna’s blog for her Annual March Madness celebrity boyfriend bracket. This is the third year running and it’s a blast every year.

I hope all of you are well and ready for spring. Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

Basement Finishing–Week One

We’re at the end of the first week of basement finishing, and I thought I’d share some pics of the progress! So far almost all of the framing of the walls has been done and will be finished today and the plumber started work on the bathroom yesterday and will continue that today. Here are some before pics:

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For the sake of ease, the pics above are known to us as quadrants 1, 2, 3 and 4. Q1 will be a large open play space for Ethan, Q2 will be walled off and continued to be used as storage, Q3 will eventually have seating and a TV area and Q4 will be walled off and made into a full bathroom.

These are some pics of what’s happened this week so far.

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We’ve got some walls framed up all over. It’s hard to see in the top of these two pics, but the wall on the very far left side of the pic will have a door in it so we can access our storage.

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This pic is of Q4 which is the pic from up top that had the basketball hoop in it. This is going to be the bathroom. The walls are mostly framed and the hole in the floor will be where the drain for the shower is going to go.

So far I’m pleased with the progress, the two carpenters worked their butts off and got the framing done in basically a day and a half. According to our contractor, we should have the electrician here on Monday to get all the wiring done. Week one= success!

Stitch Fix Review!

You guys may remember I posted about a month ago re: online personal shopping and styling services. Well, I am so excited to tell you about my very first “Fix” from Stitch Fix!

To recap: sign up for the service, take personal style quiz, pay $20 “styling fee”, get box of goodies!

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So I opened up my box and found the following items: a necklace, a dress, a maxi skirt and two tops. So far, so good. You also get a little note from your stylist and a guide to the pieces she selected with ideas for how to wear each one:

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The first thing I checked out was the Bay to Baubles Rachel Layered Chevron Bib, because it was right on top and OOH SHINY THINGS. This is a really great necklace, and I’ve actually been needing a gold kind of statement piece of jewelry. I decided right away that I wanted to keep it. The price is $28.

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Also, disclaimer: I have no photos of me in the clothes because my hair was a fright and I had no makeup on. Sorry not sorry. And I realize the pics I took may kind of suck but please refer back to the pic above the necklace for reference hahaha.

The next thing I pulled out was the 19 Cooper Cathleen Split-Neck Tulip Sleeved Blouse. I knew before I even tried it on that this piece was a no. I am not comfortable in tops with short or cap sleeves. I’d prefer an elbow length or 3/4 sleeve. Also, it had these gathers at the shoulders that I wasn’t a fan of. It was the only piece I got in the whole box that I didn’t feel was completely my style. It kind of felt old-lady–sorry if you got this piece in a Fix and loved it LOL. This top is $68 and is also dry-clean only.

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I decided to try on the other top next, because it looked more up my alley. It was the Pink Martini Fulton V-Neck Short-Sleeve Knit Shirt. I actually really loved this top. The sleeve length is perfect for me, the knit is comfortable and I really loved the coral color. I hesitated on this piece for a long time before decided to send it back. Why did I decide that? The price. This top is also $68 and to me, I just couldn’t justify spending that on a plain knit top that, while cute, didn’t look or feel like anything special that would make it worth that.

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The next piece I tried on was the Lily Chloe Chevron Striped Maxi Skirt. I. LOVE. THIS. SKIRT. I am super excited that this piece was in my Fix. It fit perfectly and is so flattering. I can’t wait to pair it with some fun bright tops and belts for spring. I will say, the price of this piece is normally way more than I’d spend ($88) BUT, I know I will be able to wear it with so many things and also, I had style credits to burn (more on that later) so I went ahead and said yes to this skirt. KEEPER!

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The last thing I tried was the most disappointing thing in the box. It was the Renee C Enrique French Terry Fit & Flare Dress. I saw the dress on the little style card first before I even unwrapped all the pieces and let out an audible “ooh!” I thought it would look so cute with a blazer and booties.

Now, when I filled out my style profile, I gave my dress size as 12/Large, pretty much to accommodate my bust. When I pulled this dress out, I just knew there was NO WAY. It looked like it was made for a 12 year old. I did manage to get it on but my bust couldn’t breathe and it was WAY too short. I don’t know if this particular brand just runs really small, or maybe it was a juniors’ size vs misses or what. The other pieces were perfectly fine as far as fit went, so this was disappointing.

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So out of five pieces, I was pleased with the style of four of them which I think is pretty good for my first fix. I mentioned above that I fel okay with buying the skirt because of style credits. That’s thanks to two of YOU! I posted my referral link to Facebook, which is https://www.stitchfix.com/referral/3391503, and two people signed up for and received Fixes, which meant $50 total ($25 per person) was credited to my account. So thank you, whoever you are! (Stitch Fix didn’t tell me.)

My total for the two pieces was $116, so after subtracting the $20 styling fee (which I already paid when it shipped) and the $50 credit, I ended up paying $46 for the necklace and skirt! Awesome! The other three pieces will go into the pre-paid envelope included in my package and be sent back within three days, as per Stitch Fix guidelines.

I will definitely be trying the service again. If you would like to try it too, here is that referral link again: https://www.stitchfix.com/referral/3391503. If you don’t like what you’re sent, hey, you tried something new and are only out 20 bucks. I don’t think that’s too bad of a deal. πŸ™‚

Throwback Thursday: BSC Style Reboot

They’re baaaaack! After a months long hiatus of BSC recaps, I am proud to kick off the 2014 versions with a book that is timely, not only because of the weather but because the winter Olympic games start tonight. I present to you:

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Yes, it’s everyone’s favorite Winter Vacation! The premise of this book: every year, the students of SMS are invited to go to this ski resort in Vermont like, free of charge, I guess? I can’t really figure out why the people who own this resort would let hordes of kids invade every winter when it’s prime skiing time but whatevs. Anyway, as is the hallmark of every Super Special, the girls are all keeping a diary and in this case, it’s for Logan, whose parents had the nerve to drag his family to Aruba for a vacation instead.

Oh and also this trip is apparently mandatory for all the students. I think that’s kind of effed up, but then again, I don’t run a fake school set in Connecticut in the 80s. And during the trip, the students are holding something called the “Winter War”, where they compete in random winter themed competitions. OH and of course, because they’re babysitters, they have to get all involved with this group of elementary school kids whose bus crashed on the way to the resort. But that part was dumb. So let’s get into what is going on with each girl.

KRISTY: Is of course, of COURSE, in charge of the entire freaking WW. Like not just a captain of one of the teams but in charge of coordinating all the competitions. Why this is an 8th graders responsibility while she’s on vacation, I don’t know. But she’s predictably Kristy and uber competitive and is snarky with Claudia, blah blah blah. And she gets so crazy that she basically forces some guy into the cross country skiing contest and he breaks his ankle. Typical Thomas.

CLAUDIA: In this book, we hear for the one and only time in the series that Claudia is “practically a champion skier.” Wait, what? That does not jive at all with the whole “Claud’s an artist, she’s not athletic” shit we’ve been fed. Anyway, she falls in LUV with this hot ski instructor who is giving her private lessons, only to later find out that he is of course married with adorable children. Seriously, Claud, you’re 13. Her secondary plot is that she’s the judge of the snow sculpture (or scluptur, as she probably spells it) contest and is bummed because she can’t enter. And of course picks a winner from her own team, pissing off Kristy.

MARY ANNE: moons around because Logan isn’t there. And has also taken on the extra credit role of “trip historian” which means she has to spend her vacation researching the town that the resort is in and also the resort itself. So if the school has been going to this place for however many years, how many freaking accounts of the place do they need?? I’m assuming there was a historian every year, no? Anyway, I guess there’s a ghost or something at the lodge but it doesn’t really pan out. Wouldn’t you think good old Dawn would be in charge of sussing out the ghost? Speaking of…

DAWN: is terrible at winter sports. Because remember, she’s from Cali and hates Connecticut winters and all that shit. She blows the ice skating competition and every one makes fun of her and Mary Anne doesn’t even LISTEN because she’s too busy worrying about whatever the hell Logan is doing in Aruba and oh GOD it’s so hard to be DAWN.

STACEY: Meets a boy from one of the other schools visiting and is of course in LUV. Because it’s freaking Stacey and it wouldn’t be a Super Special if she weren’t chasing after some dude. And I think maybe he gives her her first kiss? Or was that Toby in the other beach book? I can’t even keep track. Anyway, LUV.

MAL: is predictably useless. She doesn’t sign up for anything involving the Winter War and instead skulks around with her journal the whole trip, pretending to be Harriet the Spy. And she gets weird because there’s going to be a dance, and it’s Mal, so she thinks boys are aliens. Also she and Jessi are complete spazzes when they first get there because they’re separated by grade and they’ve apparently never been apart from the older BSC girls for five seconds.

JESSI: is in charge of the Talent Night program. And she’s seemingly normal and organized and not a freak about it at first. But then she realizes that OMG she just cannot participate in ANY of the winter war activities because what if she breaks a leg or gets frostbite in her toes and can NEVER dance AGAIN. So that’s annoying. But she lightens up and Talent Night is awesome and goes off without a hitch, so yay for Jessi for being one of the only normal girls on this trip.

Next week, I’ll tackle the trials and tribulations of 8th grade romance when we peek into Mary Anne vs Logan! I thought that would be a fitting Valentine’s Day recap, yes? πŸ˜‰