Tuesday, November 24, 2015

It appears I was a little too ambitious to take on blogging every day. Taking a break for the holidays and I'll be back!

Saturday, November 21, 2015


 Too tired to write again. Or rather, I procrastinated until I was too tired. 

More to come later...

Friday, November 20, 2015

A day late for Throwback Thursday

I am tired. I still like blogging every day, just don't have the energy today. Earlier today my friend Nicole was posting baby pictures of her sons and it made me nostalgic. I don't have any real baby pics handy, but look at these pictures. It was a superhero-art project kind of day.

L's cheeks! C's glasses! Goodness, I love these two. 

Thursday, November 19, 2015


It was a good thing I had a post scheduled yesterday, because it turned out to be a busy afternoon. I picked up both kids, made dinner, and then suddenly realized L and I needed to leave in 10 minutes for his first basketball practice. There was no time to eat the stew first so I had him take a snack in the car; and, since he is a 4th-grade boy, he had no trouble downing some peanut butter crackers.

Justin got home right before we left. While he got ready for church, C finished her homework, ate dinner (she didn't want the stew and I was not up to putting the parental foot down, but she mentioned a healthy combination of foods she wanted to eat, so whatever) and got ready to go to church with him. I'm glad I have a super-responsible firstborn; it does make life easier.

After L's practice we didn't have time to go to church (besides, I'm sure they would not have appreciated me bringing him in such a sweaty state). He had a coupon for a free small Slurpee from 7-11, so we got that, went home to eat stew, and then I went to Office Depot to print a picture for C's language arts project. Luckily it's only around the corner, because I wasted a trip. I hadn't realized it was a picture of a book cover and therefore subject to copyright restrictions. They had emailed me after I emailed them the picture, but I hadn't checked my email. Lessons learned.

It was my fault anyway, since I had decided not to go to the shop today, which is where we print things. C wasn't upset; she decided to do without it and get the project turned in early. (Her freehand drawings are impressive enough, in her mother's totally unbiased opinion. I'll have to take a picture when she gets it back; it's an ABC book with words describing the book she'd read.) She's had a busy week, with tests and projects plus her regular homework, because the teachers are trying to get everything done before the break. She's looking forward to a well-deserved holiday: a week of relaxing!

I went back to the house and did some reading with L. He is enjoying reading more, and taking on more challenging books. His class has named him "Mr. Vocabulary" because he is so quick to point out words they are learning (the teacher encourages him to do this, and he jumped at the challenge.) He's always loved math the most, so it's cool to see him taking after me in some way.

Justin and C didn't get home till about 9:20 since the choir (they practice on certain Wednesdays) had to learn about the new sound system. I'm sure she enjoyed the extra time to talk to her friends. But neither kid complained about going to bed: an unexpected benefit of sports! L is definitely not used to being that active in the evenings, so he was tired. After Thanksgiving, his team will have two practices a week, and one is on Thursday nights--and C's games are on Thursdays. So: Justin and I will take turns with each kid. His games are on Saturdays, but luckily she only has one more Saturday tournament.

It makes me very thankful that I have a more flexible schedule now. And that's the news from our house.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015


Tuesday began with rain (after storming all night), the kind of day on which you'd like to stay in comfy clothes and curl up on the couch. But I had worked from home (and relaxed some, too) the day before, and so I had to get dressed in real-world clothes and drive to work. (I had intended to go to the gym, but a gloomy, rainy day is not a good time to resume a habit I'd just as soon not have to resume. So I did some stretches, took a shower, and called it good.)

I decided to wear my plaid top from this Stitch Fix. I love the fall colors in it, but it's still light enough that I don't get too warm. Today I wore white stretch jeans and brown knee-high boots, because that is a thing that is now done: wearing white pants with "transitional" items is okay for fall. If Audrey from Putting Me Together (my favorite real-world style blog) does it, then it's fine by me.

The outfit needed something, though, so I pulled out a necklace made of wooden yellow beads. I liked the look. The cheerful color was exactly what I needed on a rainy day. See:

Oops, it was crooked.
For some reason I started thinking about the origin of this necklace. I bought it secondhand, from a woman I barely knew. Her daughter joined the Girl Scout troop my daughter had belonged to for several years; this mom and her kids attended meetings for around a year before the family moved away, but our daughters weren't in the same age group. That was one reason we didn't get to know each other.

The other reason is that I didn't like her very much. She wasn't friendly. She spent the whole time thumbing her phone or talking with one other mom. Her name was literally Pollyanna and she was blonde. (I never liked those sappy books or the Hayley Mills movie and I guess she didn't either, because she went by Polly.) If you talked to her for any length of time, she would be sure to mention her master's degree.

Perhaps most telling, I didn't like her because even though she had many children (four? five? See, I can't even keep up with them--how did she?) and a demanding job, she always looked poised and put together. I have fewer children and I never feel polished, at least not like that. She knew what looked good on her, and she wore this color of yellow quite a bit.

I may not have wanted to be friends with her, but when she mentioned to the group that she was selling some clothes before they moved, I said sure, I'd like to look at them. We were about the same size and I knew they'd be good quality (read: originally expensive). She brought a huge pile of clothes to the next meeting and I looked through them, selecting quite a few things because she was selling them so cheap.

"Where are you moving?" I asked, making small talk.

Then she told me they were moving to China to become missionaries. That's why she was selling the clothes--because she couldn't take them all with her.

You could have knocked me over with a feather. That really was the last thing I expected from this sleek, affluent woman with the Louis Vuitton bag (which presumably she was taking with her because she definitely didn't offer to sell it to me).

I thought how brave they were to take such a huge step, with four or five young children in tow (seriously, it is bugging me that I can't remember how many there were. These are the useless details I get fixated on.) They had been preparing for over a year, studying the language. Now the time had come to make the move to a place on the other side of the world.

It was brave, and optimistic. To move to a foreign country and believe that everything would work out and the challenges would be worth it. I didn't know any of this; but I could have, if I had gotten to know her before her last week in the USA.

I've since donated most of the clothes, but this necklace has stayed with me. I wear it when I need to be reminded of sunshine, and that we could all use a little of a Pollyanna perspective.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

What to do after the end of the world

I'm writing this on Monday evening. Until now, I've had no trouble thinking of topics to write about. I still have a few ideas, but I'm tired and sad because the world is awful and it took almost no time at all to politicize a tragedy. So the best I can do is share the words of the amazing writer Anne Lamott, which she posted on her Facebook page soon after the news of the attacks on Paris. (This was a time when FB was NOT "of the devil," as I like to joke.) She offers no pat answers but some comfort and hope.

For now, I can hold on to these small glimmers of hope. And I'm making an apple crisp for dessert--
which I almost never do--that we can eat with ice cream because sometimes comfort food is in order.

I wish there was a website we could turn to called, "What it means, What is True, and What to do." Lots of very tense religious people are going to insist that their Scripture answers all these questions.

That's nice.

Lots of them will try to hustle us into joining them in Vengeance World. As that had just been so helpful before, right?

So where do we even begin today? What do we do when it feels like we are all doomed, and the future will only be worse, and we can't remember anything that ever helped us come through? From high school philosophy, I remember that Francis Bacon wrote, "'What is Truth?' asked jesting Pilate, and would not stay for an answer." It seemed the ultimate truth, at sixteen years old.

But I think we can do better than that. We have shards of truth, and we can gather them up, bits of broken mosaic tile that shine.

We know that this is a very dangerous place, that we are an extremely vulnerable species, that Cain is still killing Abel.

We know that "Why" is not a useful question; and "Figure it out" is not a good slogan.

We know that the poor, the innocent, babies and the very old, always bear the brunt.

So where do we find grace and light? If you mean right now, the answer is Nowhere. It's like after a child dies. Grace always does bat last, and the light always overcomes the darkness--always, historically. But not necessarily later the same day, or tomorrow, after lunch. Wendell Berry told me 25 years ago, in Advent, the darkest shortest days of winter, "It gets darker and darker and darker, and then Jesus is born." But it is only November 13! It gets even darker.

What is the answer? Gandhi is almost always the answer. Jesus's love for the poor and refugees is the answer. Adding a bit of light and warmth to these cold dark days doesn't hurt. Candles are beautiful and bring a soup├žon of solace to our souls. People living on the streets could really use your old blankets and jackets.

Grace will always show up in the helpers, as Mr. Rogers' mother used to tell him in times of tragedy. But today, right now, if you have a nice bumper sticker that explains or makes sense of what happens in Paris, it's probably best if you keep that to yourself. It is definitely best that you not share it with me. It will cause me to get a tic in my eye and will guarantee that the next time I see you, I will run for my cute little life. Everyone in his or her right mind will. So how do we even know truth, in the midst of b.s. and lies?

What is true for me is that the shootings at Sandy Hook were the actual end of the world, evil or at least the most extreme mental illness made visible. There were no answers that day, the next day, the day after that. Well, you could go to certain web sites and Twitter posts, and I will not name names, and be told how stupid you were not to see that there was only one appreciate truth. Reload! But again, that was not helpful. What was helpful was that we stuck together in our horror, grief, anxiety and cluelessness. We grieved, we feared, we despaired, and raged, prayed; we reached out for any help at all; and these were appropriate responses. I am going to recommend that we do that today, and tomorrow. Wounds and trauma revealed were healed; eventually. Some of us couldn't eat at all, someone of us binged, some of us couldn't turn off the TV, some of us couldn't turn it on. Those were all appropriate. We felt like shit, and let some time pass, talked and stuck together. And day by day, we came through.

Talking and sticking together was the answer. It honest to God was. We were gentler, more patient and kind with each other. If people are patient and kind, that's a lot. It means something of the spirit is at work. For me, that is grace made visible. It doesn't come immediately, and it doesn't come naturally. What comes naturally is, Shoot the mo-fos. So when we could, after Sandy Hook, we paused, breathed, sighed, gasped at the rising numbers. Nothing changed legally, not one word, but we came through. Hearts were healed, imperfectly. People walked, lived fully, and even danced again, after bad psychic fractures that did not heal quite right, and that still hurt some days.

We will again, but it takes time. I so hate this! Hate this, hate this, hate this, and do not agree to this, but have no alternative, because it is Truth: it will take time. Today, we try to keep the patient comfortable--ourselves, our beloved, the poor.

We're at the beginning of human and personal evolution. Whole parts of the world don't even think women are people.

So after an appropriate time of being stunned, in despair, we show up. Maybe we ask God for help. We do the next right thing. We buy or cook a bunch of food for the local homeless. We return phone calls, library books, smiles. We make eye contact with others, and we go to the market and flirt with old or scary unusual people who seem lonely. This is a blessed sacrament. Tom Weston taught me decades ago that in the face of human tragedy, we go around the neighborhood and pick up litter, even though there will be more tomorrow. It is another blessed sacraments. We take the action and the insight will follow: that we are basically powerless, but we are not helpless.

I have no answers but know one last thing that is true: More will be revealed. And that what is true is that all is change. Things are much wilder, weirder, richer, and more profound than I am comfortable with. The paradox is that in the reality of this, we discover that in the smallest moments of amazement, at our own crabby stamina, at kindness, to lonely people who worry us, and attention, at weeping willow turning from green to gold to red, and amazement, we will be saved.

P.S. The apple crisp was delicious and it made my family happy. And I bought extra nonperishables to donate to the food drive at L's school. And I contacted a friend who's grieving a death and made plans to get together.

One small gesture at a time to combat despair. One candle at a time to light the darkness. 

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Stitch Fix #3 Review

Hey everybody! My third Stitch Fix came on Friday and I am so excited to show you what I got. As one of my friends said when her box came, "It's like Christmas!" And it really is, to have a talented stylist choose items for you...it feels like Santa knew exactly what you wanted. In my case (and I've read others' similar comments), my stylist often chooses pieces I wouldn't have known to choose. So far she's been overwhelmingly right. It reminds me of going to Nordstrom and picking out some items to try on while the saleswoman did the same. I didn't like anything I had picked and liked almost everything she pulled. So you see, sometimes it's best to get professional help!

If you’re not familiar with Stitch Fix, it’s an online styling service for women. (If you are familiar with it, you can skip the next three paragraphs.) You create a FREE online style profile and whenever you are ready, you can schedule your first fix. For a $20 styling fee, you will be matched with a personal stylist who will review your style profile and hand-pick 5 items just for you! The items are shipped to your home so you can try them on with clothes and accessories that you already own so you can decide if they're right for you.

To check out, just log into your Stitch Fix account and leave feedback for each item. Keep the items you love and return everything else in the pre-paid shipping envelope that is included in your fix. The service costs only $20 per fix, which covers shipping, returns and your stylist’s services. If you choose to keep any items from your fix, the $20 cost is automatically deducted from the price of your clothes and if you keep EVERYTHING from your fix, you automatically save 25% on your entire fix. This amazing service is easy, fun, and perfect for busy women who don’t have time to shop.

Stitch Fix allows you to set how often you receive a fix; I've chosen to receive one every other month. However, you can schedule one as often or as seldom as you choose.

This post contains affiliate links, including my referral link to Stitch Fix. I receive a small commission each time someone signs up for Stitch Fix, which I use to offset the costs of my own fixes. If you enjoy the content and are considering signing up for Stitch Fix, I would greatly appreciate it if you sign up using any of the links in this blog post. Thanks! Now that I’ve filled you in on how Stitch Fix works, let’s dive in to this month’s fix!

Obligatory disclaimer: please excuse the limp hair and worn-off makeup. We took these pics right after I woke up from a nap, so I was feeling rested but didn't take into account that I didn't look as polished as I had a few hours earlier when I went to church. Luckily, the clothes were not the problem. But also, as my husband took my picture, I felt super awkward with my "poses."  I would love to have a bigger mirror in my bed/bathroom and also better light for photography. Oh well!

First up were the Yuli Lace Cap Sleeve Blouse ($68) from Pixley and the Jordyn Bootcut Pant ($88) from Liverpool. My awesome stylist Kiersten totally listened to what I asked for and carefully studied the Pinterest board I've shared with her. I had pinned several lace tops and asked for one; the ones I pinned are white or cream (and I still would like one of those) but this black top is super cute. The little cap sleeves are pretty and end at a good place on my arms so they don't look too thick; and the neckline has a small edge of sheer black chiffon which is a cute detail although you can't see it in this picture. I also liked that it zips almost all the way down the back to make it easy to put on, which is a plus since the lace doesn't have any stretch.

One note: the top doesn't have a lining at all so a cami or tank underneath is a must. I used a black one here (I get mine from Old Navy) but Justin mentioned I could probably use white underneath for a different look. I liked using a tank that was slightly longer than the top for some coverage in the back.

Obviously this top will go with all kinds of things, including jeans and heeled boots for a date night, and when it's chilly I will put a jacket on top. It's also going to be great in the spring and summer. Multiple seasons = worth the cost!

Since I was trying on the Jordyn Bootcut Pants anyway, I just put them on with the top, which I think makes it office appropriate (well, maybe not my office, which gets covered in sawdust on a regular basis, but good for a client meeting offsite). I was excited but a little dubious about these pants. I had asked Kiersten for some bootcut jeans or pants to try and she delivered. However, I thought they might be a little too small when I took them out of the box. Luckily, I was wrong! The pants are a lovely dark heather gray and the length was perfect for me (I'm 5'2"). I can wear my black ankle boots (I think the heels are about 2 1/2") or flats, which is fine since I don't wear high heels very much. My favorite thing about these pants is that they don't have a zipper. Instead, they have a wide waistband that holds in anything that needs to be held in but still feels comfortable, a lot like yoga pants (LOVE). The fabric has enough stretch that it hugs my curves, but not in a hootchie mama way. (Do people still say "hootchie mama?")

Here's a picture of the outfit with a waterfall cardigan from my first fix since I'm trying to develop my remixing skills. So far a lot of the pieces Kiersten sends me work with previous items; I feel like she really is keeping the previous fixes in mind as she chooses things for me. Sometimes she even mentions how to add in something from a previous fix, plus I have the picture cards for inspirations. This cardigan is super soft so I loved wearing it with these pants, but I will definitely add color with a top or scarf when I wear this outfit.

The next piece to consider was the Adalia Striped Blanket Scarf by Echo ($38.00). My initial reaction was, "Wow, this is a HUGE scarf," and I am a small person, so I wasn't sure it would work even though I had asked Kiersten for a blanket scarf to try. Plus, the ones I pinned all had color in the plaid, like so:
Then my daughter touched the scarf from the fix and fell in love with its softness, so I had to try it. This is the way the style card suggested to wear it--easy enough. But there are a ton of other ways. The scarf really is soft, but I need more color. I'm also not convinced that I even need a scarf this big. I can get hot really easily now that I'm 40, and I'd hate to pay this much for a scarf that makes me feel smothered. I broke the news to C that she would have to say goodbye to this scarf.
Next I tried on the Moni Geo Print & Camisole Blouse ($58.00) by 41Hawthorne. I had pinned this exact blouse so I was excited to try it. The off-white cami that comes with it is totally separate, which I liked because I have been known to get trapped in a blouse that has an inner attached layer. I really like the cheerful print and especially the bronze metal studs on the front and the sleeves. That's one of my favorite things about Stitch Fix: the pieces have little details that make them more special than you usually see at, say, Target or Old Navy. It's these things--along with the stylist-considered fit for my style and figure--that make me willing to pay more than I normally would.

Once I saw the photos of me in this top, however, I was not as enthusiastic. It doesn't seem to lie right in the front (the other pic was even worse). I'm not trying to pretend I have a perfectly flat stomach, but I swear the lace top didn't make my midsection bulge out like this one did. I didn't see a problem in person, but the camera doesn't lie, right? Plus, I already do have a (solid) orange tunic top. If this one had been more flattering, I'd keep it; but since it isn't, it will go back. 

Finally I saved my potential favorite for last: the Lex Textured Floral Knit Fit & Flare Dress ($74.00) by Brixon Ivy. I had pinned a skirt in the same fabric (which is a maroon and blue print that looks like brocade but is much softer) and Kiersten said she hadn't been able to find the skirt but sent this instead. Honestly, I'm glad she did. A dress is sooooo much easier than separate pieces. No worrying about whether to tuck or not, and how the waistband, etc. fits. The dress is super soft and stretchy in a "fit and flare" style which is super flattering to my slightly pear-shaped figure by balancing out my hips and emphasizing my small waist. When I saw this picture, I said, "Wow, I look very...va-va-va-voom." My husband agrees so that's great.I think Kiersten is right that it will look great during the holidays both for slightly dressy and more casual events (I don't need a fancy dress for holiday parties this year).

I added a black cardigan as the style card suggested which instantly made the dress more casual, especially if I add tights with the ankle boots. I also tried the navy knit blazer from my last fix which looked awesome for a business meeting. I'd probably wear knee-high boots with that. Sorry I don't have any pictures for those last two; my photographer had gone on strike.

 So there you have it! Here is the official tally of Stitch Fix #3:
  •  Yuli Lace Cap Sleeve Blouse ($68) from Pixley - KEEP
  • Jordyn Bootcut Pant ($88) from Liverpool - KEEP
  • Adalia Striped Blanket Scarf by Echo ($38.00) - RETURN KEEP
  • Moni Geo Print & Camisole Blouse ($58.00) by 41Hawthorne -RETURN KEEP
  • Lex Textured Floral Knit Fit & Flare Dress ($74.00) by Brixon Ivy - KEEP
UPDATE: When I did the math, it was more affordable to keep everything with the 25% discount than to send anything back. So my daughter can share the scarf (I like it better as a shawl; it's big enough!) and I will try the blouse again with a more supportive cami. 
Again, if you are interested in trying Stitch Fix, you can sign up and cancel at any time if you decide it's not for you. If you do decide to try it, please consider using the link below to sign up so I can get a small commission.

Alison's Stitch Fix Referral Link

I think I might schedule a fix after Christmas (using Christmas money, woot!) so I can start wearing the items sooner than Jan. 15, so stay tuned!

If you have any questions, feel free to ask in the comments here (you can comment anonymously), on Facebook, or send me an email at hairlinefracture at gmail dot com or PM me on FB.

What do you think about the items in this fix? Did I decide correctly what to keep and what to return? 

I tried to link up to Maria's Stitch Fix link-up post where there are several other bloggers sharing what they got in their fixes. I don't know if mine got on the page but regardless, you might enjoy looking at more clothes!