Confessions of a Stay-At-Home Mom

June 29, 2015

Understood.org: A Resource for Parents Of Children With Learning and Attention Issues



School. Is. Out. For. The. SUMMER!

Kids around the nation are rejoicing in the several weeks of freedom they receive each summer from school. Freedom to relax, run, jump, swim, play and sit under the stars watching fireflies light up the sky. It's a time where the pressure of school is temporarily absent, allowing kids to experience the relief and joy of childhood.

While summer is a fantastic time for kids to be kids, it's also the critical time of year that many kids struggle to retain everything they learned from the previous school year. There is a delicate balance parents need to find between relaxation and finding opportunities to learn even on summer break. For kids who have learning and attention issues, this time of year can be particularly challenging, especially if the right resources are not in place.

One in five children struggles with issues related to reading, math, writing, focus, and organization, yet many children with learning and attention issues do not have a diagnosis. The adults in their lives often have a hard time understanding their issues due to misconceptions and a lack of information and resources. As a result, children with learning and attention issues often face both academic and social challenges, such as: 

  • Only 68% of students with learning issues graduate with a regular high school diploma.
  • 55% of students with learning and attention issues have had some type of involvement with the criminal justice system within eight years of leaving high school.

With the diagnosis of learning and attention issues, many parents worry that their children may never succeed in a classroom. Research shows that there is absolutely no connection between learning issues and IQ. When kids have support and the right strategies in place, they can truly thrive in a learning environment.





Understood.org is a free, one-stop, easy-to-use online resource and community designed to help parents of children with learning and attention issues. Whatever stage of the journey you are on as a parent, Understood has the resources you and your child need to succeed. Summer is an important time to make use of resources like Understood, as this non-school season can be especially challenging for kids with learning and attention issues. They have to deal with a change in routine, new social situations and unusual environments.


Some of the resources Understood offers that might especially be helpful in the summer:

  • Events and Outings, which can help kids tackle the unique challenges of being out and about in various social situations. 
  • Daily Expectations can aide parents in creating new routines in your daily summer activities (which we all know can be the difference between surviving or thriving this summer!).
  • You and Your Familya great overall resource that helps families with practical solutions and advice for social, emotional, and behavioral challenges.
  • Through Your Child's Eyes. Not sure what it is like to struggle with learning and attention issues? This insightful section will help you experience life through your child's eyes.

It's helpful to be aware of the signs of learning and attention issues. Being able to pinpoint a child's struggles helps them get the resources they need to thrive. 

To learn more about learning and attention issues, and to see what kind of resources are available to you, head to Understood.org.



June 24, 2015

Stitch Fix: My First Review



I'd been hearing about Stitch Fix for a while now, but I dismissed it because it sounded like some subscription service for people who were more fashionable than me. I understood the general idea that a person paid a monthly fee and got sent clothes to try out. If they liked the clothes, they could buy them. If they didn't, they could send them back. It didn't seem like a service for me, so I wrote it off.

Then more people I knew in real life (IRL!!) shared that they were using Stitch Fix. I became intrigued. I talked to a few of the moms at the bus stop, and they said it took a few tries, but soon they enjoyed the clothes they were sent enough to start purchasing them. One of the moms was wearing this totally cute shirt and she was all, "Yup! Stitch Fix." 

So I was like, "FINE. I'LL TRY IT. BUT ONLY IF THEY SEND ME CUTE STUFF LIKE THAT SHIRT TO WEAR."

Before I committed, I did a little poking around on the Stitch Fix website. I found that my general understanding of how Stitch Fix worked was true - but it's a little more in-depth than I thought. The monthly fee (or, rather, how ever often you choose to get a Stitch Fix box) is $20. This is the stylist fee. Yes, you are assigned a stylist. This is the part that hooked me. I'd actually get someone (albeit virtually) to pick my clothes for me so I don't look like a second grader dressing themselves.

Before I could sign up for my first Stitch Fix box, I took a long "quiz." Stitch Fix asked me questions about myself: my dimensions and the usual sizes that fit me. Then, the questions moved toward preferences. Stitch Fix really wanted to know what I was like: what kind of styles appealed to me, what kind of clothing I liked to wear, what I felt most comfortable in and, most importantly, what kind of price range I was was comfortable with  They would show me pictures of Polyvore-esque outfit sets, and I rated them. 

They really tried to get a feel for how I felt about my own body: did I have certain parts of my body I wanted to accentuate? Not accentuate? By the time I was finished the questionnaire, I felt like Stitch Fix had a pretty good idea of who I was and what my style was about.

I then signed up for my first box, which would arrive containing 5 articles of clothing or accessories, each within the price range I said I was comfortable with. Once it arrived, I would have 3 days to try everything on and decide if I wanted to keep it or send it back. If I wanted to keep the clothing, I would be billed for the amount minus the $20 stylist fee (which would be applied toward the purchase). If I didn't buy anything, the only cost to me was the $20 fee. Since, regardless of whether I bought anything, my stylist worked to figure out those outfits for me!

So,  I waited with bated breath for my Stitch Fix to arrive. 



Which it did today.




And this is what was in my first box:














I love that Stitch Fix added this guide with ideas on how to wear each item.
Because I literally cannot be trusted to come up with that crap on my own. #ForRealz



1. KUT from the Kloth Women's Kate Boot Cut Jean - $78
2. Pixley Deon V-Neck Top, Navy - $44
3. 41Hawthorne Silvio Arrow Print Sleeveless Silk Blouse - $88
4. Loveappella Dixie Crochet Sleeve Dress - $78
5. Market & Spruce Spencer 3/4 Sleeve Striped Dress - $58

I'd say it was a decent selection, most of which appealed to me. Maybe not a home run, but I was prepared for that. I figured that my stylist would need some time to get to know me and my style, and it might take a few tries to get it right. 

Here is how the clothes looked like on me:

I liked the Market & Spruce Spencer 3/4 Sleeve Striped Dress dress, but I didn't love how the front clung to me.
Although looking at the picture, it's not too bad.

Although you can't tell from the picture, the Loveappella Dixie Crochet Sleeve Dress dress was HUGE.
It looked okay on but...

...it was a weird stretchy material. And it felt like I could fit 3 of me inside.

I was digging the cute "open shoulder" feature though.
Rawr! <--- growl="" p="" tiger="">

This is a twofer: Kut From the Kloth Kate Boyfriend Jean AND 41Hawthorne Silvio Arrow Print Sleeveless Silk Blouse.
The jeans were so-so, but I kind of liked the shirt (despite the sleeveless-ness of it.)

Same jeans with Pixley Deon V-Neck Top . This shirt was a little bigger, which was nice.
But I didn't like how it kind of tented out when I turned to the side.

The items were a little above what I'd like to pay for clothes, so I will send back that feedback before my next Stitch Fix comes. Some of the materials weren't my favorite. Also, if I had an area of insecurity about my body, it would be my arms. I'm not sure why - I just am. So, I tend to avoid sleeveless shirts and dresses. I let my stylist know this beforehand, but may reiterate that for the next round. Although I will say, I was digging the shirts and almost didn't mind that they were sleeveless.


Now I need your help:

What pieces in my Stitch Fix did you like? 

Dislike? 
Which looked best? 
Are any worth keeping?  


I'm still a little uncertain about the price tag...


I'll be sure to update you on what I do with my first Stitch Fix (send it all back? Buy a few things?), and I will report back next month when I get my second Stitch Fix box!

Intrigued? If you want to try out Stitch Fix for yourself, head over and get started!



Disclosure: this is a review I took on myself. I was not compensated. I did not work with Stitch Fix to make this happen. I was just really intrigued and decided to share my honest opinion so other people might feel empowered to try (or not try) Stitch Fix out.

June 22, 2015

To the Creators of Disney Pixar's Inside Out



To the Creators of Disney Pixar's Inside Out:

My world has been rocked.

I've been home for about two hours since your movie, Inside Out, ended. And I haven't been able to stop thinking about it. What started out as a tentative (we'll get to that in a minute) movie date with my daughters turned into so, so much more.

You see, I wasn't sure I wanted to bring my girls to the movie. Or any movie, for that matter. Because starting a few years ago, when my oldest was around the age of four, watching movies became dicey. It first happened watching one of the Disney princess movies. We get to the end, and there is my daughter, weeping silent tears. I lean over and hug her, ask her what she thought of the movie. 

And she has a complete. Melt. Down. 

Crying, moaning, thrashing, requesting grandparents. I try to stay calm, and after a while I was able to ferret out that she struggled over the near-death of several characters, as it made her sad. Or anxious. And then when everyone was reunited in the end, it made her happy. In a sad way. For her little 4-year old mind, it was very confusing and completely overwhelming. Since then, most of our movie experiences have had similar results.

My heart goes out to her, and really, I know I am to blame. Because I am a completely emotional person. Overly-emotional. I feel all things things, all the time. I live the life of a secret crier, with a list as long as your arm of things that will bring me to tears. But it's not only sad emotions that I feel so strongly. It's happiness. And discomfort. And anxiety. And fear (because it's totally normally to be completely incapacitated after a stinkbug encounter)

I feel things. And I've passed this blessing (or curse?) down to both of my daughters.

This is why I was tentative going into Inside Out. Because the movie is about emotions. And I may or may not have cried every time I watched one of the trailers. I could only imagine the sobbing mess my girls would be, and did I really want to put them through that? Well, yes. I did. Because Hubby and I know the importance of embracing our emotions, not hiding from them. And sheltering the girls from situations that cause them to feel emotions will do more harm than good. So we decided not long ago to no longer shy away from emotional situations, particularly the opportunity to go to the movies.

After getting our snacks and watching the previews, we settle in for our movie journey. The girls could hardly contain their excitement, and I felt a glimmer of hope that this may be a positive experience. Perhaps the girls might actually learn something about emotions, helping them realize feelings aren't scary things. 

Funnily enough, I think I'm the one who walked away having learned the greater lesson.

From the moment the movie started, my daughters and I were completely drawn in to the story, which centers around 11 year-old Riley. You learn that from the moment she was born, her "Headquarters" were piloted by emotions: Joy, Sadness, Disgust, Fear and Anger. For most of Riley's life, Joy was the leader of the team, giving Riley a very happy childhood. 

But a cross-country move leaves Riley (and her emotions) struggling, especially when Joy and Sadness find themselves separated from Headquarters and lost inside Riley's longterm memory. As Riley tries to come to grips with the emotions she is feeling (as Disgust, Fear and Anger unsuccessful man the ship), Joy and Sadness journey to find their way home.

I loved reading that the writers of Inside Out spent several years making this movie because they were so carefully consulting with psychologists. I was floored by the amount of scientific information the movie offers, and I believe it will actually become a great resources for psychology classes and child therapists. The film creatively covers abstract thought, core memories, subconscious and how emotions and experiences work to build our personalities.



I've always had a vague sense of what goes on inside the human brain. I took psychology classes, and it was part of many discussions in my coursework as a social work major in college. I had a general understanding of my emotions, why I felt them, how I felt them. 

Yet somehow, in the span of 2 hours,  Inside Out helped me (a 33 year old woman) understand my emotions better than any class, textbook or therapist I've ever encountered. 

Thanks to seeing it come alive on screen, I finally understand the way our emotions are with us from birth, but as children we let them take the wheel one emotion at a time. As kids, we feel things in a single way: we are HAPPY, we are SAD, we are ANGRY. But something inevitable happens in our pre-teen years: we grow up

Inside Out captures that uncomfortable transition we face as our emotions become complex. And for the first time I truly appreciated the fact that as we grow, our emotions become dimensional. That we can feel simultaneously happy and sad. And that our emotions are beautiful and necessary to make us whole. 

I feel like I am feeling for the first time, with new lenses with which to experience things. This new awareness makes me appreciate not only my emotions, but my daughter's emotions as well. When they freak out over emotional scenes in movies, I finally understand that one strong emotion is at the wheel, and it's scary. I can now picture Fear or Anger completely freaking out in their Headquarters, and their little minds having no idea how to handle it. My girls need to know that feeling emotions is a beautiful thing, and no emotion is wrong or bad. 

So, thank you, Creators of Inside Out, for giving me a new capacity to parent 

Friends: I can't recommend this movie enough. You need to go see it. 

Now. 

And if you cry, it's a totally beautiful thing.



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