Thursday, November 13, 2014

Schoola: #HolidaysR4 Giving Back to Education

There are certain things that strike right at my heart. Squishy bulldog faces. Discount children's clothing. Educational philanthropy. I've learned that I can fulfill two out of these three joys with Schoola

You may have recently read about Schoola, a Bay Area start-up, in a recent San Francisco Chronicle feature. Schoola sells donated name-brand children's clothing at discounted prices and donates $2 of every $5 of the proceeds back to schools. You donate the clothes, you get to choose which school receives the proceeds. Buy without remorse and know that almost half of the proceeds will benefit today's youth.

What a perfect option for shopping as we approach the holidays! Schoola has asked me to consider what I think the holidays are for and I believe that their mission sums up exactly what I love about the holidays. In fact, I'll break it out into hashtags for you:

#HolidaysR4...Dressing up your kids for lifelong memories through perfect holiday photos without breaking the bank.

#HolidaysR4...Giving back to your local community and embracing the true spirit of the holidays.

Want to try to win some Schoola cash? Use the hashtag #HolidaysR4 to Tweet or Facebook your own holiday moments. Schoola will randomly choose entries to win one of three $25 gift cards to Schoola. Enter as many memories as you want before November 16 to win!

Don't forget to visit Schoola to look for fantastic holiday clothes. There are Baby Gap holiday dresses for under $6 and boys holiday sweaters from Gymboree for $4! My readers get 25% off your first purchase with the code TRYSCHOOLA at checkout.

Check out Schoola! It is consignment online with a philanthropic twist.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Halloween 2014: Minnie and Her Mini


Yeah, I know. I said I was going to phone it in this year. But when it comes to Halloween, I can't resist getting in on the action. I thought back to my own childhood and realized some of my happiest memories involve dressing up on Halloween. I want to instill that same sense of fun and imagination in my kids.

Since I played Cookie Mommy to Keagan's Cookie Monster back when he was a baby, I decided to tag along with Sutton's Minnie Mouse this year.


And you know what? It was the easiest costume ever. A black turtleneck dress, black leggings, black boots, a red necklace and some headband ears that I brought back from a recent trip to Disneyland. I threw on some fake eyelashes and used liquid eyeliner for my eyes and nose. MAC Viva Glam I is my go-to red lip stick. I lined only 3/4 of my mouth, outside of my natural lines to give a cartoon-ish style to my lips. I used white Halloween paint for light contours on the nose and lips. Ta-da! Mrs. Mouse was ready to go on a Trick-or-Treating extravaganza.



Oh, Halloween. You get me every time. And I love it.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Halloween 2014: I'm Phoning It In This Year

I love Halloween. It is a love that boggles my husband's mind. When I get pumped up about wigs and makeup, there is no stopping my Google searches and my vintage store scouring for the perfect compliments to my costume.

But you know what I love more than Halloween? Sleep. I love sleep. And I don't seem to get much of it these days, between two toddling kids that hate to go to bed and love to wake up at 5 a.m. and working full-time. I had big plans to do an elaborate costume this year, but instead, I've decided to phone it in and catch up on sleep instead. Sure, I'll get into the spirit tomorrow with some sort of get-up. But it will be nothing like what I've committed to in the past.

So, today, in honor of the energy and enthusiasm I know I have buried deep inside my sleep-deprived brain, I bring back two of my favorite costumes from journey into motherhood.

The Bride (and Son) of Frankenstein

Man, I was proud of this costume. I still can't believe that at 29 weeks pregnant, I had this much ambition. And here I am complaining that I can't muster the energy. I'm so ashamed. I was particularly pleased with my makeup.

Last year's challenge was as follows: how do I manage carrying around a 3 week old baby and not miss a minute of my son's first real foray into Trick-or-Treating, while still staying in the spirit of the day? Boom - girls on fire. One night of cutting out construction paper flames and pinning them to my Ergo, followed by 20 minutes of clipping in fake hair and putting on makeup. Easiest costume ever...

Hmmm, maybe I just inspired myself to get off my lazy butt and make a costume happen tomorrow. I'll let you know on Monday whether I went for the gold or simply ate all my son's Snickers from the sidelines.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Let's Really Talk About Metastatic Breast Cancer

This month, we are inundated with pink - pink ribbons, pink football uniforms, pink coffee mugs. I even saw some pink tweezers being sold all in the effort to raise money and awareness for breast cancer research. I'm not going to argue that the blast of pink isn't effective for raising awareness for a devastating disease - it absolutely is. I'm also not going to debate how funds are raised for this truly important cause - the money is desperately needed. What I will take issue with is that all this pink covers up what should be shining through: it's the faces of the beautiful women who are battling breast cancer every day and in particular, those that have stage IV breast cancer. So today, I highlight one woman who has touched my life as a friend and as a METAvivor. What is a METAvivor? Read on.

(Photo: Jennie Grimes)

Meet Jennie Grimes. Isn't she gorgeous? I will tell you that this is a beauty that runs deep to her generous and thoughtful soul and through her big, engaging laugh. Jennie has been diagnosed with stage IV metastatic breast cancer and has been battling back for the last four years. She has been through variations of chemo. She has become an expert on barf bags. She rocks the port in her chest for easier chemo intake. She has lost her hair through treatment (though in my opinion, her new look only goes to further highlight her bright blue eyes and her contagious smile). And through it all, she has documented her journey in her blog, projecting positivity and perspective that every person in this world should emote, emulate and cling to on a daily basis. She is a gifted writer and a person to be profoundly admired. I could sing her praises for days, months, years, but to get a true sense of this phenomenal woman, I highly encourage you to read her blog in its entirety: Putting The Grrrrr In Grimes.

And as she has self-proclaimed, she is a METAvivor., an organization dedicated to the specific fight of women and men living with stage IV metastatic breast cancer, defines a METAvivor as "a thriving community of people living against the odds every day, fighting for the research that could save our lives." In her blog post titled, four, Jennie asks for four things. You can read her post to count them off, but let me emphasize a few important points here.

Only 2% of money raised in cancer research goes towards metastatic disease research; most of the funding goes towards early detection and prevention. While early detection and prevention can and does save lives, the statistics are that 30% of those detected will develop metastatic breast cancer. More money needs to be dedicated to metastatic cancer research so that one day, it too can be considered "preventative".

Please donate to! This is an organization that gives 100% of your donation to metastatic cancer research. In the spirit of "four", won't you consider giving the price of your daily latte, just $4, or perhaps $14, or $40 or whatever you are compelled to give to make a difference in this fight.

Share Jennie's post, four, on your social media channels. Whether it is Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Google + or just telling your friends in person to check out Jennie's blog, let's not escape this month of Breast Cancer Awareness without spreading the perspective of someone who is truly living it, every day and every month.

Give yourself a hug. That's right. Jennie wants you to hug yourself because that is who she is. She spreads sunshine, sparkles and glitter where ever she goes. Literally. I opened a card from her once and a pile of glitter fell on my lap. She has cancer-kicking bedazzled cowboy boots and she's been known to rock a tiara during the royal wedding. To quote Jennie:

"Through all of the ups and downs, losses and gains over the past years– the lesson I have truly learned in living a life well-lived…is making a difference. Leaving this world a little better than you found.  And sprinkling love and goodness along the way.  Sprinkle on, xoxo"

For this woman who gives back so much to the world, I ask that all of you give back to her and other METAvivors by spreading real awareness, not just the color pink.

(Photo: Jennie Grimes)

Monday, October 27, 2014

Review: Boden Activewear - Fashion and Function!


When Boden contacted me to review their new Activewear line, my response was: "Perfect timing!" After two kids who are now both walking, my last excuse keeping me from working out is that I don't have any new running gear. I've signed up for a 10K in November and I have a sweet new outfit to sport while I train. I love the dynamic pattern and the leg lengthening stripe down the side.


I'm not joking when I say that this is the most comfortable gear I've ever worn. With most work out gear I own, I face two common issues - shirts that ride up over my belly button and the length of the pants. With Boden Activewear, I had a perfect fit.

In my jog around the neighborhood, the shirt stayed put. It has a built-in bra, though busty gals can easily double up with a sports bra. I'm comfortably wearing a racer back bra in this photo. And the leggings actually go to my ankles! The ankle zippers are tight and the material is thick and very high quality. Plus, there is a hidden zipper on the back just below the waistband that opens to a large pocket. If you need to carry a key, cash or even a cell phone, it provides the perfect space.


The Run Faster Sweatshirt is going to see heavy rotation this fall, from my training runs to my weekend jaunts out to get coffee. Like the pants, it has a thick, heavy feel that is perfect for warming up against the fall wind. One of my favorite things about this jacket and the entire line is that it is sized 2-18, rather than your typical S-M-L offerings, which can be hard to fit. I am wearing my current true size and the fit is spectacular.


And guess what? You can pick up your own gear at 15% off between now and November 9! Just use the promo code YOGA at checkout when you visit Boden Activewear. I enthusiastically recommend this line. It is priced right - the same that you would pay for Nike or Adidas - and you know you are buying a quality product for the long-term in a fashion-forward style. If you aren't into patterns, Boden is adding basic black to the collection in a few short weeks, so stay tuned!

Thank you, Boden, for letting me try out your gear!

Disclosure: Boden hooked me up with this fantastic gear, but the opinions expressed are my own and totally legit. I love this line!

Monday, October 20, 2014

Pumpkin Patch Play Time




Gingham and plaid - your go-to prints for Pumpkin Patch photos.

Button up: Banana Republic
Jeans: Old Navy
Oxfords: Naturalizers

Pumpkin patch photos are obligatory this time of year. You see them all over your Facebook feed and populating the blogs, with hues of orange, yellow and green popping on your screen. I'm no different. I succumb to the madness and the happiness of the whole scene. We are a funny bunch in California, though. I looked around the little patch we chose this past weekend and saw all of the patrons dresssed in jeans, sweaters and long sleeves in 75 degree heat. Let's just pretend it is fall, OK?

It is on moments like these where I realize that I've dressed up for the day, I've done my hair in something other than a ponytail and I've put on makeup. In other words, it is a momentous day. I realize, I should take outfit photos! I hand the camera over to my husband and tell him to quickly and awkwardly snap away while the rest of the public wonders why I'm standing there alone and posing.

I've fallen out of the "outfit of the day posts" for a number of reasons. First, I don't have the time to stop and snap some photos. My day begins at 5 AM when my daughter wakes and ends at 7:30 PM when my son goes to bed. By 7:30 PM, there is a solid chance I'm already in my pajamas. Second, I'm in a bit of a clothes funk. I've been trying to lose all my baby weight and I'm getting close to my end goal. Everything piece of clothing I own is either way too tight or way too big. I'm looking at the picture I posted above and as cute as I felt that day, I'm now wondering how I survived drowning in that shirt.

My new plan is to post outfit photos maybe twice a month, when I'm feeling super cute or if I have a purpose in sharing a specific item. Then again, maybe it is better to demonstrate reality - that sometimes, you just have to put on a button up and some jeans and call it a day, and that is totally OK and, in most cases, preferable to chasing the latest trends. I'll work on walking that fine line while I enjoy the moment with my sweet family.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Clear Mind, Happy Heart


Breathing deep and letting go feels a bit more soothing when you are in front of lapping waves and giggling children. After a hard couple of weeks mourning the passing of our sweet Turbo, a change of scenery was welcome. Everything in the house, despite my vacuuming, Febreezing, and tidying, seemed to remind me of our loss. I needed some respite from the norm.

We headed to Aptos, CA, to stay for a night with my in-laws, who were renting a house just steps from the beach. The ocean has such a calming effect on me - even my daughter's white noise machine is tuned to "ocean." Keagan galloped along the shore where the waves sloshed at his ankles, squealing in delight. Sutton tasted at least three handfuls of sand before figuring out that there was no meal to be had here. Kevin stood on guard as Keagan tested his bravery against the waves and the undertow of low tide. I breathed in the salty air, marveling at the pelicans fishing with huge, swooping dives in the break past the waves, and pointing out the occasional sea lion body surfing just yards before me.




On day two, we took lots of long walks down the beach. Sutton is testing out her newly discovered language - some of which is comprised of real words, such as "baby", "wa-wa" and "uh-oh" and some of which simply sounds like what she is trying to imply through tone and inflection - by pointing at things and going, "Es saaa?" (meaning, what's that?) Birds, houses, trees and cars were all points of curiosity and excitement.

But it was my excitement that was peaked when from the window of our place, we saw a pod of dolphins surfacing just past the break in the waves. I took off at light speed to the beach. With my feet in the wet sand and the waves hitting my toes, I watched their fins curve up and down as they streaked along the coast line. It may sound corny, but seeing them made me have this feeling of relief, as though they represented that there are still good, pure things in the world. I could have watched them all day and took great pleasure in pointing out their presence to my son.

When we left, I felt relaxed and peaceful. Kevin made the offhand comment, "Turbo would have loved this place." I nodded and smiled. This was the first time that I didn't well up at the mention of his name and instead, made jokes about how we would have gotten soaked when we would inevitably have had to fish him out of the water.

Nothing like the beach to give you a clear head and a happy heart.