My Week in Style: SHEIN x Coachella

So I admittedly have always had a hankering to make it to Coachella, and yet in the 7 years we lived in LA I never made the trek. To add even more salt to my wound, this year my awesome Fashion Mamas tribe is hosting their first “Mama Mirage” Coachella event, sponsored by Havaianas (cue sad face). Because I never like to wallow in my own sorrow, I figured what better way than to pay it forward to all my lovely followers. I’ve partnered with SheIn to send 2 lucky persons to Coachella – including airfare and hotel! The winners will also receive makeovers by some of hottest influencers for the entire weekend – seriously how cool is that??

Click here for more details & check out my “If I were going to Coachella” SheIn look below – because mama’s too old for a crochet crop-top and cut-offs 😉

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Here are some important rules:

1) Download the SheIn App & create an account

2) Follow on Instagram & Facebook @sheinofficial

3) Like one of the posts below and leave your “SheIn user name” in the comments

https://www.instagram.com/p/BSAQyqOjGTU/

Or https://www.facebook.com/SheInside/photos/a.383950494978094.93127.380039845369159/1581342001905598/?type=3&theater

4) Repost our “Ultimate Coachella” post with #sheincoachella, tag both @sheinofficial and one friend you will take to Coachella.

The Winner will be randomly selected from everyone who has completed all 4 steps. The prize package includes 2 Coachella General Admissions wristbands, airfare for 2 and 2 nights accommodations. The Winner will be announced during SHEIN LIVE on 3/30 at 6PM PDT. So make sure you download the SHEIN APP and tune in. Good luck! *Must be at least 18 years of age to enter.

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photo cred: Marlo Carroll Photography

Shop the Look:

SheIn, Blue Vertical Striped Flower Embroidery Dip Hem Blouse

Liz Lange for Target, Maternity Over the Belly White Jean Shorts

Toms, Red Strappy Wedge Espadrille Sandal (old, no longer available – similar here and here)

Stila Cosmetics, Stay All Day Liquid Lipstick in Amalfi

Mom Jean Confessions: #WomInspired

In honor of The Second Shift’s #WomInspired campaign, I thought I would share my own story of empowerment and the very special professional role model I had that led me to a happier place as a woman, a mother, and a professional. The importance of women lifting each other up and serving as positive role models and mentors to those around us cannot be overstated. I was fortunate enough to work alongside Tracy Seng in my nearly five years at Los Angeles Magazine – someone who inspired my career, and has always supported those around her to follow their own path.

Over three years ago, I was just like any new mom struggling to fit all the pieces together. My boss at the time, even though she hated being called “boss” (so I endearingly called her “girl boss” or “boss friend”), was leading a very talented and diverse marketing team at Los Angeles Magazine. Tracy was one of those bosses whose door was literally always open, and who never once made you feel like your personal life and well-being was any less important than the professional role you played on her team. She was also the first to share her own struggles balancing life and work, which only made her all the more human and easier to talk to when push came to shove. I can still remember the first time I went to her, desperate to figure out how I was going to manage a full-time job and the overwhelming new feeling of being away from my baby. Even though she never had kids of her own, her compassion and empathy never made you feel like she didn’t relate or know how hard of a life-change you were going through. She always made a point to bring out the positive sides of any situation – saying how fortunate we were to work on an amazing team and actually enjoy the work we did. It was true, and more importantly she understood the need for flexibility in my schedule which was not something any of us anticipate before having children. But what was even more admirable about her role as a mentor, was that she also never discounted the individual passions that each of her team members held. For me, it was my blog. Instead of being threatened by the time it could take away from my work, I’ll never forget when she told me to never let go of what I’m passionate about. On a personal level, it meant the world to me to not have to feel like I had to hide what I also loved doing: writing and styling. On a professional level, looking back on it now, it’s probably the single most important thing a boss can do to support her team. It not only ensures your people stay happy, but it also enhances the work that they do because you’re fostering employees who are more enriched and diverse.

It had been two years of trying to settle into my new role as a mom, and figuring out how I was going to balance a career on top of all that. It definitely wasn’t an easy road, and I had more existential breakdowns in my “bosses” office than I’d like to admit, but one thing was for sure – Tracy always made me see the value of my work and the potential that I had, even when you feel like being a mom drains you of all your energy and drive. I still didn’t have all the answers, but something inside of me told me I had to be true to myself and more importantly to my role model who had been there for me from day one. As much as I wanted to push on and live up to every expectation she had for me, I knew in my heart something was pulling me in the opposite direction. So we talked about it and I told her how my husband and I were thinking of moving back home to Houston, and that I needed to figure out another way to get my life back in balance. It was the hardest thing I’ve had to do, because I felt like I was letting her down. She of course put on a strong front for me, and in later conversations told me that sometimes when we aren’t supposed to go down a certain path, the door stays shut so tight and that way we know we’ve made the right choice. In the months since our move from LA, I’ve found a peace that I didn’t even realize existed. Yes, life is still throwing curve-balls at us, but I’m settling into a place where I can now work from home and have more time to devote to my blog. My son and I have more of a bond now than I could have ever imagined, which I never once take for granted – especially since we’ll be welcoming a daughter into our family in August.

I look back now on the past three years and can’t believe how fast time has flown, and how much I’ve learned along the way. So much of that I have Tracy, my mentor and “boss friend,” to thank for. She keeps rolling with the punches and living up to her own standards every day, and I hope she knows how many lives she’s touched along the way.

My Week in Style: Bump Update

 

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What a week! Our family got hit hard with the stomach flu (sans mom, phew, and because who else is gonna take care of everybody??). Fortunately we are on the mend, but our dryer literally went kaput from me forcing it to do laundry for 6 days straight (so much poo…sorry, tmi).

The hubs also just got back from work travel, and was able to take some time off to go with me to our big 18 week anatomy scan/ultrasound. This appointment is always the most anticipated because the baby actually looks less like skeletor, and more like an actual baby. Plus, they send you home with those cool 3D ultrasound pics. Ok, I’ll admit, they pretty much look like a big glob of clay. But at least my babies like to strike a pose for the camera – Garrett and little miss both had their arms back behind their heads like “just chillaxin.”

Since people are always so curious to hear how this pregnancy is going, I’ve compiled a fun “bump update” below 🙂 Also, I’ve gotten so many compliments on this Old Navy yellow floral dress since I bought it. It’s not maternity, and it’s sold out online (I’ve linked to a few similar below). You should still be able to score it in stores – and it’s only $38!

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18 Week Bump Update:

How do I feel?

I’ve actually been feeling great. I’ve had very little nausea and just recently dealing with pregnancy congestion – or that could just be the ten thousand pounds of pollen being dumped on us in Houston right now.

Any weird cravings?

Hmm, not really weird so much as total cliche – I am obsessed with these HEB dill pickles. Oh yeah, and let’s just say – the fact that I’m in the land of Blue Bell is a godsend this time around. To all my out-of-TX followers, I take pity on you that you will never taste the sweet, sweet goodness that is Blue Bell ice cream.

Have you told Garrett yet?

If by “told” you mean “confessed when we were put on the spot at our local fro-yo joint” – then yes, we told him. The kid is too smart for his own good, so we were pretty silly for thinking he hadn’t picked up on what literally everyone was talking about around him. He’s so excited and keeps saying “hi baby” to my belly, and when we ask him what we should name his baby sister, he says “Gary” or “Giggett” – which the latter happens to be what we used to call him when he couldn’t say his own name. Um, maybe not, big guy.

What has been your go-to maternity wardrobe?

In the beginning, (and who are we kidding, pretty much every other day still), I do a combo of black leggings and long cotton tees. My favorite leggings and jeans are actually from Target. I stocked up on some cute tops from Old Navy, and dresses from H&M/ASOS. I really try and get the most out of my existing wardrobe, since most of what I wear is pretty lose anyway. And who has the money to buy a whole new closet?? However, I do have some fun brand collabs coming your way soon – so stay tuned for more bump style 🙂

How have you been sleeping?

This is my mom’s favorite question to ask me – I think it’s because she raised me and knows how incredibly valuable I hold my sleep. Like, some people get “hangry.” No, I get “slangry” – sleep deprived Cammeo = angry Cammeo. For the most part, I’ve been sleeping better with my Snoogle pillow I had when I was preggers with Garrett. But like many moms know – your sleep largely depends on whether or not a certain toddler can stay put in his own bed all night 😉

Have you felt the baby kick yet?

I was just telling the doctor at my appointment that I hadn’t really felt any movement yet, which the ultrasound tech was shocked to hear considering baby girl was doing flips and wiggles all over the screen. She warned me that I’d be definitely feeling them soon, and I literally felt my first kicks Friday evening! I don’t know why, but up until you can feel them move – it’s like you don’t fully believe you’re pregnant. Or maybe that’s just me being a paranoid weirdo.

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photo cred: Marlo Carroll Photography

Shop the Look:

Old Navy, Printed Ruffle-Hem Shirt Dress non-maternity (similar here, here and here)

Vince Camuto from Marshalls, Nude Ankle-Strap Sandal (you can also find them here and here)

Mom Jean Confessions: Are You Girl Enough?

So it’s been a few weeks since we broke the news that we’re expecting a girl, and I thought it would be fun to share what first went through my mind when I found out. I still can’t believe that nowadays they can do a simple blood test as early as 10 weeks to reveal the gender, and a friend of mine told me that they literally just call you up and tell you what it is. Well she wasn’t lying, and when the nurse asked if I was ready to know all I kept thinking was “oh I already know it’s a boy.” Well, not so much. When I heard her say “girl” my first reaction was, “Really??” Then, I had to ask how accurate it was because I knew Grant would want to know, and she reassured me everything is pointing to a girl. So of course I got all teary-eyed as I called my mom to tell her, failing miserably at trying to keep cool swinging my 3 year old at the park. I then got so excited because I’d been devising a plan to surprise Grant with balloons and girly looking desserts when he got home from work. When he walked through the door it was that classic look all those dads on the Youtube videos have when their sneaky wives film their reactions – at first it’s shock, and then just the sweetest look of contentment. I sent a pic to Grant’s family and they all said it looked as if he were blushing 🙂

But after all the excitement settled, my mind then started to race with all kinds of questions. So I enlisted the help of some of my fellow mommy friends with girls, to see what went through their heads when they first learned they were having a daughter. And here’s where we landed:

  • What in the world am I going to do with a girl? All I’ve known how to talk about for the past three years has been trucks, monster trucks, firetrucks, garbage trucks – ok, you get the idea. Will I even remember what I liked playing with as a little girl and will she even want to do those same things? The general consensus though among all my fellow mommy friends is “Girls are so much fun to dress!” Well, given that I’ve already bought three outfits, one headband, ten pairs of socks, two bonnets, and a pink hooded towel – I’ll go out on a limb and say they’re right.
  • Is she gonna be a girl version of Grant/Garrett? I know it seems like a silly thought, but a friend of mine who had a girl first, remembered thinking if she would be a mini me or look like a female version of her father (as first children tend to look like dad). I have another friend who has two girls and she agreed that her first born looks like hubs (they call her baby James), but that their second seems to look more like her. The suspense is killing me people.
  • “Will Garrett miss out on not having a brother?” A friend of mine who had a 17 month old boy when her daughter was born, said she felt a tinge of disappointment. They thought another boy would be so great growing up being so close in age. But then she also felt thrilled to have a girl, to have one of each, and to know she has a big brother that will always be looking out for her. I will say that the big brother/little sister bond that I had growing up is so special too, and I can’t wait to see what an awesome big brother Garrett will be. He’s already going around announcing “I have a baby sister coming!” and loves to hug and kiss my belly (which kills me, in a good way).
  • Will I know how to do her hair and all the sweet girly things my mom did with me? My mom was the queen of school-shopping excursions, hour long picture day crimped hair/sponge-roller sessions, girl scout cookie/camping/troop volunteering, and the list goes on and on. I do know that she thought I was gonna be a boy, cause after having my two brothers it’s just what you expect, and she survived. So I have that going for me.
  • “Am I going to be just like my mom?” Now I promise I mean this in the nicest way possible, and she gave me so many wonderful examples on how to be a mom. It’s just only natural to wonder how my relationship with my daughter will be any different from how my mom related to me. I do know that I want her to talk to me, since I always struggled with being open with my mom. I guess you really can’t answer this, because every daughter’s personality is different. So we shall see.
  • And finally the kicker – “Am I even girl enough to have a girl?” Ok, just hear me out on this because I know you’re all thinking – you are the girliest girl I know. Wrong! Yes, I have girly tendencies, but for the most part I’m more of a guys-girl. I grew up with brothers and was super close to my dad who taught me about cars, how to play sports, and who I borrowed rugby shirts from instead of dresses from my mom’s closet. I even talked to a friend of mine who felt the same way, because she was that girl who had no idea how to do make-up, played golf in college, and just in general wasn’t the girliest of girls. And yet, here she is, a two-time mom of girls. It’s almost like there’s this new generation of moms who are defining the way they raise their daughters to experience both sides of the spectrum, and I’m excited to see what’s to come for mine.

p.s. We had the best time during our little family photo session, and my lovely friend Marlo offered to also snap some maternity shots for me. See how I styled one dress four ways with some simple accessorizing.

 

 

 

Shop the Looks:

Marshalls, Lila Rose Bodycon Dress non-maternity (similar here, here and here)

Marshalls, Me Jane Long Vest (similar here, here and here)

Crossroads Trading Co, Vintage Faux Fur Vest (similar here, here and here)

Saks Fifth Ave, Ale by Alessandra Hat (similar here, here and here)

H&M, Scarf (similar here and here)

Zara, Denim Jacket old/no longer available (similar here and here)

All Saints, Ankle boots old/no longer available (similar herehere and here)

Forever21, Chain Tassel Layered Choker

Mom Jean Confessions: #MyReelMoment

I don’t normally use my blog to write about the past, and more specifically the struggles I went through coping with my dad passing away from cancer. But when sharing something so personal means helping contribute to a very worthy cause, I couldn’t help but want to be a part of the #MyReelMoment campaign that’s bringing awareness to the disabled community of Houston. I have been blown away by the inclusive community here in Houston, and when Jillian from Cup of Charisma told me she’s now working with ReelAbilities, a free Houston-wide film & arts festival to promote inclusion and celebrate people with disabilities, I jumped at the opportunity to get involved.

Not many people know what I went through in the coming months after my father’s passing, and not because they didn’t care – because I did what I always do, and kept all my emotions in. I watched my mother grieving openly and comfortably sharing her emotions, and believe me, there were times when I wished so hard that I could do the same. Instead, I was given a unique opportunity to put my life in perspective, and that’s just what I did. A close friend, and pretty much my adopted big sister, told me about how she was planning on volunteering at SIRE, a therapeutic equestrian center in Houston that specializes in horsemanship as way to improve the quality of life for people with special needs and disabilities. I was intrigued because for one, my father was a champion show-jumper and I had him to thank for my love of horses. I also started to think that maybe helping someone else who was going through their own personal struggles on a daily basis, on a much larger scale then myself, would help to put things back in perspective for me. And I was right – thanks to a little girl with cerebral palsy. Every week, I would show up and volunteer as a side-walker (someone who provides physical and verbal support) during her therapy riding lesson. And every week, she would amaze me with her whit, perseverance, and just general positive outlook on life. There were times when I would watch her back seize up from being unaccustomed to the position of riding a horse. Every time, I’d catch her and she would say “I’m ok, I’m ok” and push herself upright again – this would go on sometimes multiple times throughout a ride. I would just look at her and think, if she can do this, I can do this. This life that seems so hard and unfair and not worth living at times. But yet, here she was, confined to a wheel chair probably for the rest of her life, and all she could talk about was how excited she was to be there, and literally would bust my chops almost the whole ride about silly stuff: how she’d met a cute boy at school (she was about middle school age) and wanted to know if I had a boyfriend (I had just met Grant). I even watched her older sister and would think how hard it must be for this little girl to not ever get to do the same things in life as her. But I was wrong, because this little girl wasn’t going to let any disability hold her back from doing what she loved. She’d surprise me with stories about going through cheerleading tryouts with her sister and actually making the team. I felt so silly for not considering cheerleading to be something she could even pursue. It made me so proud. It was also exactly what I needed to hear.

As the months went on, and as my volunteering sessions came to a close, I came to realize how dependent I had become on this young girl who I was having to say goodbye to. But I wasn’t ready. I wasn’t ready to go back to being bitter about life – I needed her around to remind me every week that each day was a blessing no matter how difficult at times. But as I hugged her for the last time and told her mom how thankful I was to have met her little girl, I felt as if I was walking away a different person. A person who felt she had nothing to feel sorry for herself about. A person who was given a chance to appreciate life in a whole new light. A person who now had experienced first hand what the disabled community really is – a community of people just living their lives one day at a time, just like all of us and who deserve the right to be seen as equals and given the same opportunities for inclusion in all that life has to offer. These are the same core values ReelAbilities strives for, and if one girl can do the amazing things she proved to me, just think what potential a whole community has.

If you have a similar story to share please feel free using #MyReelMoment, and if you’re in the Houston area – check out reelabilitieshouston.org to register for free tickets to their upcoming events this month. Hope to see you there!

Jan. 30-March 31: ReelArt: The Art of Celebration (an art gallery with works created by artists living with disabilities)
Feb 14 – A Short Preview of the Festival with the Houston Ballet 
Feb. 16 – ReelPeople: UP Abilities (a lineup of thought leaders speaking on mental and physical disabilities and topics of inclusion)
Feb. 19-23 – ReelAbilities Film Festival (see site for more details)
Feb. 23 – ReelMusic: An All-Inclusive Jazz and Blues Jam

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New Year, New Us!

Now that my superstitious mind has waited long enough, I’m finally ready to announce the big news. I’m pregnant! Yep, the Murray’s will be welcoming another little tyke into our family August 1st (but I’m thinking it’s gonna be a July baby, given that Garrett came early and this one’s measuring a whole week bigger already!). Aaaand, wait for it – it’s aaaaaaa….GIRL!

We have waited what feels like forever (a year to be exact), to be blessed with another baby and the timing of it kinda blew both our minds. We found out the news a couple of days before Thanksgiving – a week before Grant started his new job and right before moving into our new house. I woke up super early and surprised a very groggy, half-asleep husband with two pink lines staring him in the face. We hugged and took a fuzzy selfie with our still asleep toddler, as I whispered to him “you have no idea how much your life is about to change.” Like all moms, I felt a sudden twinge of guilt and sadness for him. I knew he’d be so excited to be a big brother, but I also knew that having to get used to splitting his mommy-time with a baby will just be an adjustment that comes with the territory.

Then came the exciting part – telling family! I of course called my mom first, and she screamed, and cried, and said she knew I was going to have some news for her when she moved back to Houston. Moms seem to always know these things. Since we were spending Thanksgiving dinner at Grant’s sister’s house – I had this whole plan on how I wanted to tell them. We’d be sitting at the table, someone would say to going around and talk about what we’re thankful for, and I would drop the news on them. Er, not exactly. It went more like – I declined a glass of wine, Grant’s sister cornered me in the kitchen asking me if there was a “reason” I wasn’t drinking, and then shrieks ensued as I turned fifty shades of red.

Needless to say it’s been a pretty fun start to our 2017, and if you were paying attention in my 2016 recap, you might have picked up on the clues 😉 Since I’m excited to finally be able to reveal my quickly growing bump – we (and I use “we” very loosely) decided to commemorate our announcement with a family photo sesh. Baby girl is 13 weeks here, and I’m turning 15 weeks on Tuesday. Stay tuned for my next post after my 16-week check-up, and my thoughts on what went through my head when we found out we were having a girl. I promise there will be some cute bump style coming your way too!

{All photos by my sweet friend Marlo at Marlo Carroll Photography}

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Shop the Look:

Marshalls, Lila Rose Bodycon Dress non-maternity (similar here, here and here)

Zara, Denim Jacket old/no longer available (similar here and here)

All Saints, Ankle boots old/no longer available (similar herehere and here)

Forever21, Chain Tassel Layered Choker

The Day I Almost Lost Him

By now, if you are brave enough to follow my sometimes senseless ramblings on social media, you probably saw a more serious side this week. It started off with a doctor’s visit for my son to figure out why he’s been struggling with some type of cough/wheezing situation for the past month or so. I shared how I was at my wit’s end as he fought us tooth and nail to take his steroid meds – which in the end I figured out the syringe and candy/popsicle chaser did the trick…along with the opportunity to profess to daddy afterwards “I took my medicine and it was GROSS!” He’s still scared to death of the inhaler/aero chamber contraption – oh and don’t even get me started on the nebulizer (just ask the nurse about that one, if they ever invite us back). But so far, the meds alone have gotten rid of the cough, so I’m hopeful he’ll be getting a clean bill of health at his follow-up visit, and it’s not something more serious.

All that aside, and what really happened this week that shook me to the core, was a call at 9am on Wednesday from my husband saying “I have some bad news.” He was calling me from an ambulance taking him to Clear Lake Regional Hospital, because he had been in a car accident. He just kept saying “I have no idea what happened, I just can’t remember.” We tossed around the notion of him falling asleep at the wheel, or possibly just zoning out like you do sometimes when deep in thought. But what just didn’t add up is when he told me his pick-up truck had slammed into the back of an 18-wheeler. He still has no idea where it came from, and all he remembers are the airbags deploying. Even as another car rear-ended him causing his truck to spin around into oncoming traffic on I-45, all he could think of was A) There’s no way I’m going to not get hit again and live through this, and B) I don’t remember how I even hit that diesel truck. After two CT-scans and a few x-rays, the ER doctor confirmed he’d only suffered a muscle strain in his neck. He ruled out a seizure and told Grant that the memory lapse had to be from head trauma. It still only settled our nerves slightly, but I headed back home with an extremely nauseous husband who turned stark white as the nurse pulled quite possibly the largest needle I’d ever seen out of his arm. That honestly was the worst part for him, which is saying a lot considering.

In the days that followed, there was a definite sense of gratefulness that hung around us from the moment we kissed goodnight, to the moment we woke up in each others arms. It is true what they say though about all the ways you recount your last moments with the person before an accident. Did we kiss? Did I even tell him goodbye? Turns out, Garrett had woken up in the night which had me tossing and turning for hours after that, and I had just managed to get back to sleep right when Grant’s alarm started to go off. So that morning was the very rare occasion that I didn’t even attempt to wake up to kiss him goodbye before work. I do remember him leaning down and whispering that he was leaving for work, and all I could do was lay there. It was the first thing I thought of when I heard the news later that morning, and I couldn’t even allow myself to complete the thought of how I really would have felt had it been a much different outcome. He had left that morning without so much as a muttered goodbye from either Garrett or me, and it was as if God just couldn’t allow that to be our last goodbye.

Similar to how my dad was when it came to grave situations – we didn’t allow the gloom and doom of what “could have happened” to bring us down. Instead, anytime we felt those thoughts enter our minds in conversation, we’d joke about how we have “God and Dodge” to thank. I know it’s not right to say you’re thankful for something like this happening, but I will say that when you feel like you’ve been given a second chance to be a better wife – it’s a very humbling notion that I can’t wait to spend the rest of my life paying back the man upstairs for.

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Mom Jean Confessions: Leap Year

Everyone knows 2016 was a crapshoot. I don’t think I know one single person who couldn’t wait for it to be over. So as I was mulling over just how to put into words what this year meant for us, it dawned on me – 2016 was a leap year. Now try and follow me here. A leap year, in both the literal and metaphorical sense, means to correct drift. So if you think about it – all 2016 was meant to do was get us back in synch and help us find our true North. I don’t know about you, but the older I get and the more complicated life is – it only seems harder and harder to follow my internal compass. But 2016 was a year for reflecting and looking inward, whether I wanted to or not. Many of you have read my initial recap of this year that I wrote back in Sept. Well a lot, and I mean A LOT, has happened since then.

In October, our son turned three. Which may not seem like such a huge deal – but suddenly all those warnings about “ohhh it’s not the terrible twos, it’s the terrible threes” – came true. Now I’m not one to go on and on about the injustices of motherhood, cuz quite frankly, it shouldn’t be news to anyone that being a parent is hard. And I chose it, so why whine about it, right? I simply must say that it truly is a humbling experience. I mean, how often in life do you get to be thrown into a completely new situation that comes with no real training (prenatal classes don’t count), and has no promise for what the end outcome will be? There’s no degree or diploma that a group of older moms gives to you after you complete two years of service. There’s only this wonderful, innocent, trusting individual that God has entrusted you with, and they are the only ones that truly govern the way life is from here on out. I don’t mean to sound like I let my child rule my life – I just mean to express just how one simple thing like turning a year older for them, impacts a whole family dynamic. It was like overnight we found ourselves in a whole new ball game. There would be times that we’d look at each other and think – is this normal, do we just let him get it out and see what tomorrow brings? And then other times it was like we were handed the ball with 10 seconds left in the game, and if we didn’t handle this the right way – that was the end of the season for us. But for the most part, what we’ve learned is balance. Balance between how we react (or don’t react in most cases), and teaching our son, who knows exactly what buttons to push to make both of our heads spin, how to balance his own emotions. It hasn’t been easy, trust us, but we’ll get there. Before we know it he’ll be turning another year older, bringing on a whole new set of challenges and victories.

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In November, we closed on our first house. It was the fixer upper we’d been searching for, even ever since we lived in LA. Crazy how things happen, and this might be the craziest of all for us to date. Grant and his dad had been talking about fixing up and flipping houses for over a year now, but it wasn’t until a one-story HUD foreclosure in Clear Lake popped up on our radar that it become a reality. We contacted the local realtor who helped us place a bid online, and we waited nearly a week to find out that HUD accepted our offer but only as a back-up. Well for whatever reason, weeks go by and Grant decided to randomly look through the listings from that same realtor, and the house was back on the market. We still have no idea to this day what happened – did the other offer fall through, was there something majorly wrong with the house and they backed out? (we later learned that the latter hunch wasn’t that far off). Anyway, we put another bid on the house (even lower this time), and in HUD terms that I won’t bother to bore you with, they accepted. We pretty much couldn’t believe it – we were about to be homeowners. We, who have bounced around from apartment to apartment since college and since we met 12 years ago – were about to have the home we always dreamed about. But that’s about where the fairy tale ends. Not to sound ungrateful, because trust me we will forever be that. But if you have adopted as unhealthy of an addiction as we have to all the HGTV shows about flipping homes – you probably can guess what happened next. After days/weeks of sleuth-like investigating (and intel from some very insightful neighbors), we learned that the house hadn’t actually been lived in for six years. Um, what? Which meant that all the utility meters had been removed, which meant us calling around to the city of Houston, along with the local gas, electric, and water services to try and coordinate what could possibly be the residential gaggle of the century. The plumbing ended up not being as big of a deal as we thought, other than the fact that the pool had been neglected for six years and was now a veritable swamp that our neighbors informed us was like the frog plague before HUD came and boarded it up. What actually ended up baffling even “my father-in-law the hero” and 5+ electricians – was the wackodoo wiring that some apparent novice had installed throughout the house, causing lights in one room to switch off lights in a bathroom halfway down the hallway, and wires so crossed (literally) it took over a month to get it sorted out – and we’re still finding random issues. But alas, we’re all moved in and Garrett is loving the new house with all the space in the world to run around. We also lucked into the neighbors of the century who are the sweetest couple from Baylor (I think that’s as close to Chip and Joanna as we’re gonna get), and Garrett adores playing with their two little girls. The wife and I hit it off, and she’s even introduced me to her fellow mommy tribe, which as a new mom, you need more than anything. Our plan is to tackle the house project-by-project, which we happen to really be loving. It’s a good thing, cuz renovating an entire house while living in it is not for the faint at heart. I promise to get my act together and organize all my random before/after photos, so that I can start a series of blog posts for all you fixer upper lovers out there.

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In November, Grant started a new job. The job, in fact. The job that he had more or less gone back to grad school for seven years ago. The job that inadvertently fell in his lap at the beginning of the year, and then got snatched away all too soon a few months later. The job that made us finally pull the trigger and move back to Houston, not knowing if it would actually one day lead to the job – but it did. Taking that leap was not easy for my husband or me, but after a whole summer of networking and countless conversations – he finally got a start date after Thanksgiving. I don’t have to tell you how the irony of that timing was not lost on us. We could not have been more thankful, and it didn’t take us long at all to settle into our new routine. As for my job front – I’m still trying to work through all the logistics of starting a new business. Cammeo Head to Toe Styling officially soft launched on the blog – you can check out the announcement here. I even ordered business cards and had my first closet makeover client with a couple more in the pipeline 🙂 Since I also want to leverage my digital marketing experience, but from a remote work environment – I’ve been talking with companies I’ve found through The Second Shift and PowerToFly about various opportunities. So stay tuned and keep your fingers crossed!

In the midst of toddler tantrums, house demands, and new routines – we are allowing ourselves a minute to pause and celebrate a very long year come to a close. While we may not have started out knowing it was going to be a “leap year”, I can’t possibly think of a better way to encompass all we’ve been through. We may have drifted, but our sails are set due North. Lord only knows what 2017 will bring…

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Top 5 Pins of the Week: On a Pedestal

Ever since we bought our little fixer upper (ok, and pretty much months before then), I keep dreaming about all the farmhouse décor I can’t wait to get my hands on. I’m currently commissioning my father-in-law, a.k.a the master carpenter, to build us a pedestal stand for a round table that’s been in my hub’s family since, well, lord knows how long. But somewhere in between apartment moves in Houston, NY, LA, & back now to Houston – the poor thing lost its legs. I like to imagine they were picked up off the sidewalk by some wide-eyed creative in NY, who was just itching to fasten them to some makeshift table as their prized (and only) piece of furniture. But I digress.

I’ve also pined (hehe, get it) over a banquet-style breakfast nook for as long as I can remember. I don’t know if it’s just my general love to eat in a booth (seriously, if a restaurant doesn’t have dining booths, it goes down a few notches in my book), or if I just like imagining my family all cozied up together sipping hot cocoa. Either way, I’ve already found the perfect spot for it in the new house, and have dropped subtle/not-so-subtle hints to my FIL who is now becoming familiar with my love of Pinterest. BTW, if you’re not already following me, check out my new board – farmhouse modern – and feast your eyes on my top five “pedestal table/breakfast nook” designs below. Feel free to chime in on your favorite in the comments!

 

 

CH2T Covets: Holiday Edition

I’m excited this year to finally be doing a Holiday Edition of CH2T Covets! Since I know outfits don’t just throw themselves together, I’ve listed some tips below to help guide some of your style and gifting choices for the holiday season upon us.

I’ve also featured my most recent addition to the CH2T accessories family – an uber cool JORD wood watch that I’ve paired with a Thanksgiving, Holiday party, and Christmas look. And you’re in luck my friends because I’ve partnered with JORD to offer y’all a Holiday Giveaway. Every person who enters will be instantly emailed a $25 e-gift code to use on their site! So check it out, and don’t be tardy for the party 😉

 

Thanksgiving Comfy:

1) JORD Wood Watches Fieldrest Series, Dark Sandalwood

I’ve never been one for gaudy or girly accessories, but have always felt like a classic timepiece can truly pull an outfit together. So when I found this JORD watch, I fell in love with the sleek style and dark sandalwood that I knew would be the perfect compliment to the holiday looks I paired it with below. I tend to wear my watches more like a bracelet, and I like how the band is a little larger without being too bulky. It also has a scratch resistant mineral glass face, which gives you the benefits of a sapphire crystal without the pricetag. Plus it’s key when you’re running around with a toddler all day!

2) Calvin Klein/TJ Maxx, Long-Sleeve Plaid Shirt (birthday gift, similar here, here and here)

I think it’s fair to say that plaid is like the sartorial anthem for the holidays. So I recommend investing in some lightweight ones that are comfy enough to wear all day cooking/eating/sleeping (which I will be doing all three) on Thanksgiving. I was just gifted this Calvin Klein blouse by my sister-in-law for my birthday, and the best part is it’s super soft cotton and tunic shape that helps hide all that turkey and stuffing 🙂

3) Kenneth Cole, High-Waisted Frayed Denim (bought from outlet, similar here) & Guess, Black Suede Pumps (old, similar here)

I’m so over low-waisted jeans – just say “no” to crack! I started off buying these Kenneth Cole ones for the frayed look, but fell doubly in love when I realized they were a flattering high-waist fit. I prefer a cut that’s more skinny (can’t quite get into the wide-leg frayed look just yet), to show off those killer heels. Heels on Thanksgiving, why not?

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Holiday Party in Style:

1) Via Spiga/Nordstrom Rack, Beline Over-the-Knee Boot

It was only a matter of time until I felt the undeniable need to possess a pair of over-the-knee boots. This fall season’s styles are by far my most favorite, with varying shades of gray suede being my absolute fave. When I set my eyes on these Via Spiga boots a mere two weeks before my birthday last month – the hubs snatched them up when I wasn’t looking and I couldn’t be happier with them. How perfect would they be for all those fun holiday parties coming up? Be prepared to stand out – in a good way 🙂

2) Banana Republic Factory at Houston Premium Outlets, Cowl Neck Sweater (similar here and here) & Corduroy Mini Skirt

Even though moving back to Texas pretty much means saying bye-bye to all my chunky sweaters for all but 2 days out of the year – I couldn’t resist this Banana Republic cowl neck long sweater. I’d been mentally planning all my fall outfits around said new OTK boots, and one such look was the chunky sweater + mini skirt combo. I just loved the plum/raisin color of this corduroy mini, and knew it would pair perfectly with neutrals. Done and done.

3) Adrienne Vittadini/Marshalls, Charging Wallet/Wristlet Clutch (birthday gift, similar here and here)

Gone are the days of me cursing my phone for not holding a charge. When I came across this charging wallet at Marshalls, I just thought to myself – genius. Fashionable and functional is the name of the game when you’re a mom, and I love the gray pebble leather which makes it versatile with black or brown. It’s also perfect as a wristlet clutch to compliment that killer holiday look, all the while making sure you don’t miss out on all those Instagrammable moments.

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Christmastime is Here:

1) Ralph Lauren/Marshalls, Skinny Leather Pant (clearance, similar here, here, here and here)

So by now you’ve probably heard about the great POD fiasco this summer, where nearly half my wardrobe got stolen. Of course it couldn’t have been all my junky t-shirts and pajamas – noooo it had to be my favorite leather leggings and dressy clothes. Ever since then, I’ve made a mental note of the key wardrobe essentials that needed to be replaced and keep a watchful eye out anytime I’m browsing the shops. And hey, I love H&M as much as the next girl, but the hubs and I agreed it makes the most sense to invest a little bit more on these pieces that I know I’m going to wear time and time again. So as I flippantly tossed each article of clothing aside on the Marshalls clearance rack one day, I did a hard stop when I felt the high-quality leather of a pair of leggings. I about choked when I saw the label. No way was I about to score a pair of Ralph Lauren leather pants at 80% off. Yes way, and you better believe I held onto those like I’d just found the holy grail.

2) Cynthia Rowley/Marshalls, Merino Wool Pointelle Sweater (similar here and here)

You know when you find the perfect pair of pants/skirt, then go to try them on and realize you don’t have the right top on? Tell me I’m not the only one who sifts around the racks to find the just-right-perfect top, or sweater in this case, to give yourself the full dressing room experience. The only problem is, about 99% of the time I end up falling in love with the “interim” top and have to get it. Good thing this one wasn’t too much of a splurge, and how could I deny it in all its drapey gloriousness?

3) All Saints/Bloomingdales, Ankle Boot (no longer available, similar herehere and here)

If there’s one wardrobe staple I recommend to all my clients/friends – it’s the ankle boot. I don’t foresee this one going away for a while and I pray to the fashion gods that it doesn’t. You can wear it with jeans rolled up, sweater dresses, pencil skirts, and my personal favorite – leather leggings 🙂 So getchya a pair!

p.s. A little monkey woke up from his nap at the tail end of our shoot, so I bribed him with a sucker and snagged a few shots for your viewing pleasure 😉

 

 

This post was sponsored by JORD Wood Watches

Wooden Wristwatch

Links à la Mode, November 17th

SPONSOR: Amazon’s Shopbop, Ganni, Flight 001 Accessories, Gift Guide, P.E NATION, JADE Swim, Marion Parke, Bell Sleeve Tops, Camera Bags, Shearling Boots, Men’s Aer