Lovelies, I'm sure by now you've heard of Stitch Fix, right? Well, we haven't tried it yet, which is why I am so thrilled to introduce you to our new guest blogger! Jen is a friend of mine from college and she's going to be blogging all about her Stitch Fix've actually seen Jen on here before, in a way, as years ago we featured her beloved dad's woodworking on a very new Lovely at Your Side! Jen will be here once a month, as we get to help her pick out what to keep, and what to send back...take it away, Jen!

I first heard about Stitch Fix from a friend’s post on Facebook, and then I saw it pop up a few more times on my Facebook sidebar -- apparently retargeted marketing works on me because I signed up and created a profile!

I’m not a fashionista and I don’t always have time to make it to the mall, so I loved the idea of receiving a package every month with five items of clothing picked out with my style in mind. It’s like a fine-tuned version of Birchbox with items that will last longer than a single use. Overall, it seemed like a neat idea and I figured the most I had to lose was $20 (which then could be used as a credit towards a purchase)!

My first Stitch Fix package arrived at the end of June, and I loved the fabric, color and cut of each individual piece in my style package, but nothing fit! The jeans were too long, two of the shirts were way too baggy and the one tank I really loved didn’t fit my budget. I ultimately kept the scarf because a) I liked it a lot and b) I had $20 from the stylist fee in credit to put toward it.

After sending 4 out of the 5 items back to Stitchfix, I left a thorough review for each item and adjusted my profile. I scheduled my next fix to arrive at the end of July. I mentioned in my personal note that I was looking for items of clothing that could be worn at BBQs, beaches and general summer time activities. I added: “No pants, but I’m in the market for a good pair of shorts.” And then on July 21, 2014 my second Stitch Fix arrived on the front porch!

I really enjoy the first look. I think Stitch Fix does a nice job of packaging their clothes and presenting them in a personal way with a note from the stylist and inspiration cards.

Here are the items I received in my July 2014 Stitch Fix:

1. Brody Cargo Shot by Sanctuary: $68

I liked the cut, the fabric and the pockets! I would have kept these if they hadn’t been a size too small. If I could have one Stitch Fix wish, it would be the ability to return an item and go up/down a size.

2. Christine Strapless Diagonal Striped Maxi Dress by Laila Jayde: $98

When I pulled this out of the box it had everything I love in a maxi dress -- a basic pattern, limited colors, and a flowy skirt. I couldn’t wait to try it on, however, I quickly realized it did not work with my body type. The elastic around the waist was much tighter than the rest of the dress. The skirt cascaded and billowed with too much fabric below the elastic.

3. Alison Sleeveless Colorblock Dress by Pixley: $68

I was so excited when I read the personal note from Natalia, my stylist, because she included the Pixley colorblock dress because she saw it on my “Style Board” on Pinterest. I thought: “Yay! They use my input!” However, I didn’t consider the fit and cut for my body type when I pinned the picture of the dress on a mannequin. It was a size too small and did nothing for my curvy body!

4. Lyla Crochet Panel Dot Print Tank by Collective Concepts: $58
I’m on the fence about this item because I own nothing like it in my current wardrobe. I love the color and the crochet details on the side, but I’m not sure how often I would wear it. What do you think?

5. Kahlo Embroidered Racerback Tank by Le Sample: $48

LOVE IT! The Kahlo Tank was on the very top of the box when I opened it and I immediately fell in love with the yellow embroidered details. When I tried it on, I was so happy that it fit and that it was comfortable. I can’t wait to wear this to my next BBQ!

Overall, StitchFix has my style down! In one way or another, I love almost every item they send my way. My next step is to use the lessons learned and tweak my profile to better represent my body type.

Here are some of the lessons I learned and plan to apply for my next Stitch Fix:
  • Pin Myself! I plan on pinning a few pictures of myself in Stitch Fix items so the stylist can see my body shape and have something in addition to my weight, height and dress size. 
  • Pin Carefully! I need to be more descriptive in the text of my pins. I plan to state exactly what I like or don’t like about specific clothing items. Both times the stylists used Pinterest to get to know my likes and dislikes. 
  • Details details details! Leave feedback on every item of clothing before closing out the order. I did this last time and it seemed like they listened, so I plan on doing this again. Also, include details on what you’d like to see or not see in future fixes! They gave me two dresses and a pair or shorts because I mentioned how much I loved wearing them in the summer. 

Let me know what you think! And if you’re interested in receiving a Stitch Fix, sign up and start a profile. I’d love to hear what you think about your future fixes! 

Thanks for reading!

Hi friends! Are you all ready for this weekend? I'm super excited because I've been planning my lovely Melissa's bachelorette day and it's tomorrow! I can't believe I've known her for over 10 years...she doesn't know where we're going, so I can't tell here, but I will next week! (PS. This was the post before MY bachelorette! Wow, time flies.)

Have a long week? Need a good laugh? These links made this mama crack up this week! 

What made you laugh this week?

busy mom
When Mater.ial, a new independent fashion company, contacted me to see if I wanted to try out one of their shirts, I have to say, I was a bit skeptical. I mean, I don't normally wear too many graphic items, but I really loved a few things about Mater.ial, so I decided to give it a go. First off, it's a sister run company, Mater.ial is owned by, and all graphics are designed by sisters Lauren and Jacqueline Matera. The sisters had the novel idea to create clothing which could be worn by the busy mom (Lauren, mom of three!), or the party girl (Jackie!). I loved that their clothing could be worn by women leading such versatile lifestyles, so I decided to take them up on their offer and had them send me a shirt for a "busy mom" such as myself.

The shirt came in two days, and was packaged beautifully. On first touch I loved the tank top they sent; it was super soft, and cut perfectly for a new mom. It was fitted on top, but gave a little extra fabric below to cover that post-baby belly (muffin top!). The upside down crown was vintage looking and less trendy and flashy than I thought it would be. I wanted to take my new shirt for a spin, so one morning when getting ready for Music Together class, I put together a fun outfit with my new tank. I paired it with my skinny black jeans, and a chambray shirt, as well as my Adrina Croc flats and my navy and white diaper bag (which doubles as my bag, too).

The shirt was so comfortable and easy to  wear. I loved that Weston couldn't pull down the front, like he does on other tanks, and I also loved the tank style in the back. True confession: I wore the tank the next day too, and paired it with a neon orange sports bra! It was cute.

I'm happy to report that Mater.ial is indeed a wonderful brand for every woman; the clothing is well-made, easy to wear, and most importantly, easy to style!

Thanks, ladies, I love the shirt!

When I was a little girl, my mother used to take us into Locust Valley and let us wander through the most gorgeous toy shop: G. Willikers Gifts. It was almost magical, with all the toys and gifts carefully curated and tempting to the touch. Now that I'm a mom, I'm excited to bring my son to G. Willikers and let him pick out some special presents (his first birthday is so soon!). Having been around for more than 30 years, G. Willikers is a Long Island staple and a must-visit for any out-of-towner.

Can't get over there now? You can shop their inventory online now!

G. Willikers is having a very cool giveaway that I wanted to share with you all: by simply entering your email address, you can enter to win a totally rad VW Bus Camper Tent. What kid wouldn't love to play in that?

PS. I'm thinking of picking up this adorable trumpet for Weston!

Visiting Long Island? You can find G. Willikers at 22 Forest Avenue, Locust Valley, NY 11560 (Store Hours: Mon-Sat 10-6; Sun 11-3). And, don't forget to follow them on Twitter and Facebook!

Recently, I was approached by a fellow new mama about becoming part of the campaign for raising awareness of mesothelioma, a rare cancer. I was sort of taken aback by her asking for help, since what does a new mom have to do with meso, anyway? But, Heather's story was eye-opening for me. At 36 years old, just three months after having her daughter, Heather was diagnosed with pleural mesothelioma; she was given 15 months to live. My heart broke upon hearing that. I can't imagine looking at my 3 month old and thinking I wouldn't be there to see them grow up! However, Heather battled the disease, losing a lung in the process, and is doing fantastic now! 

Like the rockstar she is, Heather is now devoting her life to teaching people about mesothelioma. This summer, she asked a bunch of bloggers to "take a moment for meso" and educate all of their readers about the cancer. I was more than happy to help, as we're big fans here of telling stories about strong cancer survivors

Do you know what mesothelioma is? I didn't know much, to be honest. I did know that it was related to asbestos exposure, and that's indeed true...but, what I didn't really realize is that asbestos is still not banned in the United States, and it is possible to experience second-hand asbestos exposure by touching clothing or items that have asbestos fibers on them....also, no amount of asbestos is safe, and sometimes the symptoms don't show up for thirty to sixty years! Yikes. Scarily enough, about 3000 people every year are diagnosed with mesothelioma, but it's pretty hard to diagnose sometimes because it closely resembles other respiratory problems. What's even more frightening to think about, is that exposure to asbestos can happen...anywhere. Schools, buildings, offices. It can flake off, and become airborne, and then anyone can breathe it in. 

Heather, and the Meso community, wanted to get these facts out there so that if someone you love is showing respiratory distress, perhaps ask the doctor about meso! I didn't know much about this cancer, so I hope by sharing some information, we can help spread the knowledge and help others. 

For more information, check out Heather's blog, or the Mesothelioma information site. 

Photo by Hart & Sol Photo

There are so many aspects about new parenthood which people tell you about; you heed advice from all corners of the world. However, there's one piece about having a baby which, I'm assuming to save you from the anticipation, people just don't talk about enough: how having a baby will change your relationship with your partner. Having a baby is world-changing, period. It's all consuming. It's like a tornado lands on your heart and sometimes you can hardly breathe. There are moments of total joy and bliss, and moments of amazing fear and worry. Moments of complete and utter frustration, and moments of peace and gratefulness. It's a rocky journey, especially those dreaded three months. 

It hasn't been the easiest year, or so. Between all the fears of pregnancy, the diabetes, a new baby, my emotions, long's been tough, as it is for most new parents. But, he's been my constant source of strength. His belief in my decision making, mothering, and big life decisions, have been my rock and helped me feel a little less insane on during those totally not sane days. 

Eric amazes me on a daily basis. His knowledge of music, let alone his ability to sit down and compose gorgeous, soul-shaking songs, his love for his, and my, family, his optimism. In the last five years, he has grown up, before my eyes, and I am so proud of the man he is. But, what amazes me most of all about Eric is how he has dealt with all of these changes and growth.

Relationships ebb and flow; there are times of utter bliss, and times of utter annoyance. Throwing a new baby into the mix makes all the highs higher, and all the lows lower. In those first few months, sometimes you worry that your rock-solid team is falling apart, because you feel like you're falling apart. On top of all that, bringing a new baby into your life brings amazing amounts of growth and maturing. It has been such a joy watching Eric morph from someone who rarely held a baby into a confident, funny, wise father. 

One of the reasons I was always so glad I met Eric when I did was because we were relatively young when we met (in our mid-20s), and I love the idea of growing up with someone. Three years ago, on this day, as we stood before our family and friends, and Jenny married us, she said in our ceremony:

Marriage is the incubator of love, the protected environment in which a love that is personal and touching and real can grow and, as a consequence of that growth, develop in us our highest capabilities as loving human beings. We are each still and always growing, and when we marry, we promise not only our own growth, but also our willingness to witness and withstand the ongoing growth of another human being. That is because in marrying we promise to love not only as we feel right now, but also as we intend to feel. 

And, that's exactly how I still feel. Being married to Eric, with his strength and love behind me all the time, has allowed me to grow as a woman, as a mother, and find my voice as a writer, which is something I've always wanted to do. He has given me a safe place to explore my dreams and take risks. I hope I'm always his safe place, too.

The lyric on the photo (which is from our wedding; it's the cake topper my step-father made for us!), is from a Gordon Lightfoot song, Go My Way, which was the first song Eric put on the first mix CD he ever made me. I knew, when I listened to that song, that he was signing on to be my co-captain for life, and I still feel so grateful every day that I get to navigate the sunny and stormy seas of life with him. 

Photo by Hart&Sol Photography

It's no secret that being a working mom is hard. However, there's an element to being a working mother which no one discusses: bravery. There are little moments of bravery every day; leaving your child in someone else's hands, being brave enough to believe you are making the right decision to work, and the bravery it takes to ask for what you need, in order to make your life manageable as a mom in the work force.

Recently, in the news, Obama has spoken at length about family-friendly workplaces,

"Take flexibility -- the ability to take a few hours off for a school play or to work from home when your kid is sick. Most workers want it, but not enough of them have it -- even though studies show that flexibility makes workers happier and helps companies lower turnover and raise productivity. Take paid family leave. Many jobs don't offer adequate leave to care for a new baby or an ailing parent, so workers can't afford to be there when their families need them the most. And the United States is the only developed country in the world without paid maternity leave.

Flexibility is key there. If we know anything about having young children and babies, it's that there is no standard, everything has to be flexible. Every child is different, every family is different. Being the mother of a young child means that your life has to be flexible, which of course, is incredibly hard when you're a working mother in the work-force. However, when something doesn't work for your family, it takes a lot of bravery to ask for help. I'm sharing my story because I was brave, and I want all working mothers out there to know it is your right to ask for the flexibility you need in raising your family. If we cannot be there for our children, than what's the point?

When you love your job, speaking up about anything can always be a little nerve wracking. You don't want to rock the boat, or worse. You just want to be understood. Upon my yearly meeting with the new headmaster of the school this year, I explained that I would not be able to do overnight field trips next year, for a few reasons. One, is that Eric is traveling more for work, and it can sometimes be a last minute trip; I didn't want the school to book me on a trip only to have me cancel last minute! When you have an upper school faculty of under ten, it's hard to find other people to fill your spot. Also: the simple fact that I'd only have a little one year old next year. A one year old whom I adore and don't want to leave for three or four nights. He still needs me. And, I don't want to leave him. He's just a baby. I explained all of this in my meeting, and described that with Eric's work schedule it would just be incredibly difficult to manage. I was told "duly noted." I really didn't think much of it after that meeting, as in the past, any teachers with young children were excused from the overnight trips, no questions asked.

My annual contract came in the mail and the overnight trips were still in the contract. I assumed this was a simple oversight, as it was in my contract this year, but I didn't go on the trips because Weston was only a few months old. So, I was brave and scheduled a meeting with the headmaster. I went in to the meeting to discuss the "oversight" and another issue: that on Thursdays I could not do 4:00 bus duty, but I was more than happy to do 3:00 bus duty (on any day of the week). I've done 4:00 Thursday bus duty since my first year at the school and had never asked for any changes before this. Again, I really didn't think this would be an issue.

I calmly brought up the two contractual issues, and his response was quite shocking to me. He explained that it was not an oversight at all, but that he indeed remembered our discussion, but in fact chose to keep the trips in my contract. I was told that the overnight trips would be staying in my contract because if my husband was home to watch Weston, than I was expected to go. I was told I had "expectations" to fulfill and that he understood my "situation," but that if I could go, I would be going. Furthermore, I was told that I was also expected to do 4:00 bus duty, and if no one could fill that position and help me out, than that was it...oh well. Too bad. I was really taken aback. Where was the flexibility? Where was the family friendly work environment?

How many nights did I spend after hours, making dinner, holding my baby, and talking to students' parents on my home telephone about advisor issues? How many afternoons did I stay late at school because a student needed me? How many classes did I cover for colleagues whom were sick or had to run out to take care of their kids? I've been a flexible, helpful where was my flexibility? It's funny, upon finding out I was leaving the school, I had colleagues approach me and ask me how much money I had asked for; I'd look at them strangely and say, "Money? I didn't ask for money, I asked for an hour on Thursdays and to not go on an overnight trip next year." I was simply asking for a little time with my baby. I had spent countless hours in school, with other people's children, and all I wanted was the understanding that I couldn't be away from my child for a few nights, and that 4:00 bus duty would have me home way too late. To say that I was shocked by his responses is an understatement. For an educational institution that boasts their family values, I felt like my family values were being swept under the table. 

When I walked into that meeting, in which I thought everything would be cleared up, I was intent on signing my contract for the next school year. I never thought that my simple desires would be denied, thus making my work/life balance even more difficult to deal with. However, I left that meeting knowing that I could not return to school. My son is my priority, and asking a teacher to leave her one year old because it is "expected" of her is not the game I choose to be playing. I have expectations, and my son expects me in that rocking chair at eight o'clock every night, so that is where I choose to be. The whole situation is unbelievably disheartening. I have spent 17 years of my life at that school (9 as a student, 6 as a teacher), and have devoted every fiber of myself to making sure my students left those ivy walls as moral, strong, and educated Latin scholars. But, alas, as we know, these things happen, and I shouldn't really be surprised, should I? Sometimes life throws curve balls at you exactly when you need them, and the trick isn't to hit them out of the park, the trick is to make the play which is right for you. 

So, be brave. As the school says, "Speak Up!" Being brave isn't about going into battle knowing you are going to win; being brave is about not knowing the answer, but deciding to go to battle for what you need anyway. Being a new mother is a un-nerving time, but you're still the strong, educated, tough lady you always were, you just have a baby on your hip this time around. Be brave to ask for what you want, because even if you don't get what you need, you're going to learn a great lesson about those around you. 

When I was a little girl, I remember sitting on my parents bed, with a notebook and pencil. I couldn't really write well, but I was making up stories. I recalled my fiction to my mother, something along the lines of, "there was a little girl who wanted a cookie, but her mean mother said no!" My mother laughed and said, "Is this a true story?" to which I replied, "I take a little bit from here and there..." I've always loved telling stories, and sharing my personal stories. I'm an open book (if you couldn't tell) about pretty much most things in my life. I've always been a writer; journals, essays, short stories, even some not-completed novels. However, I've always put it on the back burner. When the Rookie Moms hired me to write for them, it changed my mindset (and life) in so many ways. Hey, I can do this! I thought to myself. And thus, the next chapter of my life began. I'm now a contributing writer for three websites, as well as writing here, and on many other amazing blogs and websites. It's a small start, but I'm determined to get my voice into the world...and maybe someday, actually make my dream of writing a book come true (working title: Always Keep Tampons in the Diaper Bag.)

Finally, with the help of Jenny and Molly Leon Photography, my writing has it's own little corner of the universe. I love the simplicity of my new website, and how clean it looks! Don't worry, I'll still be posting all my blog entries here, the new website is simply just a landing page for all my links. A modern day resume, have you. I'm so excited to be writing and sharing my stories, so this website is the culmination of many years of words floating around in my head, finally being written down on paper.

Now, here's were I would love your help! One of the most important aspects of being a writer in this modern age is getting your work out there on the internet. So, I have a proposition to make: if you help me get my words into the universe, you will be entered to win a $25 Barnes and Noble Gift Card! Need a good book this summer? Here's your chance to download (or you know, buy in print) some great beach reads! Entering is so simple, and there's many ways to put your name in the virtual bucket!

How simple is it to enter? Check out my writing, choose an article (or two!) which tickles your fancy, and go Tweet it, post it, blog it, Facebook it, IG it...that's it! Check out the widget below for the official entry form:

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