We bought a house!

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

If you follow me on Instagram, then you already know... Christmas came early! We bought a house!

I've been waiting 30 loooooong days to make this announcement, but Seth wouldn't let me announce until it was officially official (he's no fun), and since we got the confirmation last night (and the keys!!!), I can finally shout it from the roof tops.

But you guys, let me tell you. I seriously have been feeling every emotion possible. When they first accepted our offer, I wanted to throw up.... in a good way!, if that's possible. Like holy sh*t. We've wanted this for SO LONG. We've been looking for SO LONG. And we finally got what we wanted. How is this even possible? Is this real life? I was so excited and scared at the same time because hello, it is a lot of money. I mean, I get nervous when we buy a new car and this was like wayyyyyy more than that!

So, let me start from the beginning. You might be thinking... hey, didn't you just move? Well, yes, yes we did. And you might remember me making that announcement here. But I never really told you why. Here's why we ended up moving.

The year started off like any other. Mason continued his speech services, he started getting OT through our private insurance, and we planned to enroll him in kindergarten in the fall. We were renting a townhouse in a neighborhood that we loved; however, the elementary school down the street that was our home school wasn't the best. The rating was poor and it just wasn't what I envisioned for Mason. So, come kindergarten registration time, I requested a transfer. I figured it would be easy peasy and we'd get Mason in to the elementary school that my nieces go to. Well, after waiting and waiting and waiting some more, weeeeeeeeks went by and we FINALLY heard back. DENIED. What??? Why? After about a million phone calls, I found out that speech services are impacted state wide (California) and because Mason needs speech in kindergarten, we were denied a transfer. Speech services were for kids where that school was their home school. No transfers allowed of kids who need speech. (Had he not needed speech, I am assuming that we would have gotten the transfer, but who knows, that's not the case for us anyway.) I was devastated. By now it was also past the official start date of kindergarten enrollment and I was freaking out that any school I wanted would already be full. This was around the middle of April maybe? Right around Spring break was when I found out which delayed things too since the schools and school district were all closed for break.

So, we made the decision that any parent would do for their child, we decided to move. Now it may seem drastic, but since we were month to month on our current place, we could technically leave any time. No lease break fee. It seemed like the best and only option (besides private school - which we weren't against, but we have no problem with public school and preferred to go that route if possible) to get Mason what he needed. There was one apartment complex that fed to our niece's school and one that fed to the current school that Mason goes to. We liked our current complex better, so we chose to move there. We signed the lease, officially got papers saying our new address, I enrolled Mason in his school, our 30 day notice was given to our landlords (the best landlords ever, we were sad to leave) at the end of April, and we moved on Memorial Day in May. It was a whirlwind, but we knew it was best.

Mason started kindergarten in August and we've never looked back. We absolutely LOVE his school, his teachers, and I think I am one of the only people that ever say this... we love his IEP team. Honestly, I hope I'm not jinxing anything, but we've been so, SO happy with everything thus far.

Kindergarten post Part 1 // Kindergarten post Part 2

Which brings us to now...ish. We moved in to our apartment back in May and I pretty much have hated every minute, mainly our neighbors. Moving from a townhouse where there are mostly families, who are respectful, to an apartment where people could care less was a HUGE challenge for me. We actually had lived in this complex before we moved to our townhouse back in 2013, but a lot has changed. It's definitely not the same as I remember it. I was bound and determined that we would NOT be renewing our lease come May 2018 and made it my mission to find us a place.

But, having said that, I was being extremely picky. I felt like if I was going to spend that kind of money, that I wanted what I wanted. Our main requirement: it had to be in the same school boundaries since I did not want to change Mason's school. Problem with that? There are like 3 condo complexes in the school boundary lines in our budget. Other problem? Almost nobody is selling houses these days. Or if they do, they go on the market and sell in like 24 hours. The housing market is insane here.

We actually found one in the complex right next to us a few months ago that we put an offer on, but didn't get it. I was really bummed about that one because it was still right across from the school and we could walk to school, and it seemed to be perfect. Everything happens for a reason, right? Well on November 14th, I found out why. Our house came on the market. It was perfect. It is 1,200 square feet, 2 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, a laundry room (!! the things you get excited about as an adult lol), an attached 2 car garage, and best of all... it goes to Mason's current elementary school! I knew we had to go see it immediately and if we liked it, we needed to put in an offer.

The timeline went as follows:
November 14th - we saw it online.
November 15th - we went to see it in person.
November 16th - we put in an offer (this time with a sweet note about our family and why we wanted this house as well as a picture of us - at the recommendation of our agent).
November 17th - the seller's countered with a very slight change.
November 18th - we accepted their counter offer and November 18th we went in to escrow for 30 days.
December 18th - the house was ours! I still can't believe I can say that.

I felt like the time was going by so slowly, but really everyone worked extremely fast to be able to get us in to our new house by Christmas (oh, did I mention that we move Thursday the 21st?). I truly don't know how they did it and I owe SO many people a HUGE thank you for making it all happen over Thanksgiving and right before Christmas.

I truly thought this day would never come. I thought we would rent forever. I never thought we would find something in our budget, in Mason's school zone, that we loved so much.

And there you have it. 2017 sure was a lot more eventful than I anticipated (I didn't think we'd move even once let alone twice), but definitely one of the best years I've had. Mason is thriving in kindergarten, we love his school and his teachers, and we are super excited to start our adventures living in our new house!

Holidays Cards with Shutterfly.

Monday, December 11, 2017

Disclaimer: This post was sponsored by Shutterfly, but, as always, all opinions are 100% my own. #MyShutterfly #sponsored

By now, our holiday card should have arrived in everyone's mailbox, so I feel like I am free to share it on the blog with the rest of the world.

Every year, I look forward to this time of year because (1) I have an excuse to get us all dressed up and have a professional take our picture and (2) I get to choose our holiday cards. Pictures of the three of us are few and far between lately and I was especially excited to have Ali from Ali E Photography take our pictures this year. To see all of our family photos (mainly the ones that didn't make the holiday card), click here. I also LOVE this time of year because I get tons of HAPPY mail in the mail each day. Opening my mail box to find pictures of my friends and their families WAY trumps getting bills in the mail. (Insert all the praise hand emojis!)

This year I decided to go with Shutterfly for our holiday cards because of how excellent their customer service and their products have been in the past. While I haven't actually ordered any cards from them in the past, all of the other products (photo magnets, cell phone cases, etc) have been of excellent quality and I knew their holiday cards would be no different.

I had a hard time narrowing down which photo I wanted to use for the front of our card, but thankfully Shutterfly's "show my photo on every card" option helped me see which one looked best with each design. I also had a hard time narrowing down which card I wanted because they had so many gorgeous ones! From foil to glitter to the number of pictures on the front and/or back and so much more, they really do have it all. Going in, the one thing I did know was that I wanted my cards to be "holiday" themed and not "Christmas" themed. I send cards to friends and family who celebrate Christmas and/or Hanukkah and I wanted my cards to be versatile.

This is the card that I ended up choosing. I, personally, love for our picture to be the center of attention on the card, so I chose a slightly more subdued "happy holidays" theme and chose to only have one photo on the front of the card. A simple pop of red to balance out the blues and greens in our photo and I feel like it is a good mixture of holiday festive while still letting our picture shine. Then I chose a red and white snowflake design for the envelope inserts to really tie the whole thing together.

And because one picture on a holiday card just isn't enough and I HAD to share more of our family photos, I opted to put a few on the back as well paired with a message wishing our friends and family a happy holiday season and a happy new year.

Overall, I really love the quality that you get with these cards. The paper was thick, the photos were crisp, and I felt like I was really getting great quality for my money. While I didn't decide to take advantage of the option this year, I also love that you can create personalized stamps as well as return address labels so you cards fully coordinate. Instead I opted for the option for them to address the envelopes for me (I simply uploaded my address book in to my account) as well as include a return address. (Best. Decision. Ever.) Then I finished the envelopes off with some fun washi tape and some festive stamps that I bought at the post office.

A special thank you to Shutterfly for helping me create such beautiful holiday cards that I am proud to send to our friends and family this year. Hope our friends and family love our cards as much as we do!

Family Photos 2017.

Friday, December 8, 2017

Every year, I look forward to this time of year because I have an excuse to get us all dressed up and have a professional take our picture. Pictures of the three of us are few and far between lately and I was especially excited to have Ali from Ali E Photography take our pictures this year. She is a local photographer turned friend after we met in one of the autism Facebook groups that I'm in. We started chatting, became online friends, met up in real life, became in real life friends, and here we are. I love that she is a fellow autism mama so she totally understood when Mason NEEDED (his request) to take pictures with a certain flower (as you'll see below) and when we needed a little extra help to get him to smile for the camera (read: bribe with M&Ms). She was so patient with us, so professional, and so helpful (I am NO model!) during our session. If anyone lives by me, I highly recommend checking her out.

This year I didn't have as much planning time for our outfits as I would have liked, but that's mainly my own fault. The middle of October was crazy hectic getting ready for my work event, we had the event, and then a few days later we went to Hawaii for a week and a half. Right after we got back, it was time for pictures and I made a mad dash for our closest, pulling out anything that even sort of coordinated, texted a few people to see which outfit choices they liked best, and BAM. Outfits were chosen. Given the time constraints, I'd have to say I did a pretty good job, if I do say so myself.

Please excuse the photo dump, but I couldn't narrow it down any further than this. Yes, these are only SOME of the amazing photos that Ali took for us. I seriously can't wait to get some of these ordered and hung in our house. She captured Mason perfectly. She got such special captures of Mason & I and Seth & Mason. And she got some perfect shots of just Seth and I.

Thank you, Ali, for these pictures that I will cherish forever!

Stitch Fix #19 + Waived Styling Fee Extended!

Thursday, December 7, 2017

This post contains affiliate links but, as always, all opinions are my own. If you use my affiliate link, I may receive a small commission.

I've got some exciting news today! Not only do I have one of my very favorite fixes to share with you today, but I also have the good news that the waived styling fee promo has been extended through the month of January! If you are a new customer, sign up for Stitch Fix, and schedule your very first fix, you can get your styling fee waved. That's right. No $20 styling fee and worrying if you don't like anything then your $20 will be lost. So, if you've been wanting to try Stitch Fix (or been wanting to sign your husband up - that's right, there is Stitch Fix Men!) but you've been on the fence about it, try it, risk free! Click here to get your styling fee waved and schedule your fix!

And, while you're at it, ask Santa for a gift card to help you cover the cost of the items that you're going to want to keep (believe me, you're going to want to keep at least one!). Have a gift card mailed to your home, print it at home and include it with a greeting card, or have the gift card emailed directly to the recipient.

Try your first fix risk free!If you don't know what Stitch Fix is, let me tell you a little about it. Stitch Fix is basically a personal shopping service. First you fill out your online profile by answering some questions about likes/dislikes, style, sizing, price range, etc. Then you can write a note about what you're interested in as well as link a Pinterest style board to help your stylist know what you're looking for and what your style is. Your personal stylist will then gather some items that she thinks you'd like and sends them to you. You try them on in the comfort of your own home and decide what you do and don't want to keep and then you have three days to send back whatever you don't want. Easy peasy! The styling fee is normally $20 per fix, but is being waved for November if you are a new client. Normally if you send back all the items, you lose the $20. If you keep one (or more) items, they deduct the $20 styling fee from your total and you pay the difference. If you keep all five items, they deduct the $20 from the total and you get a 25% discount on all the items. Pretty great! If you're a new customer and you're interested in signing up, if you want to use my referral code then I'll get small credit to my account and will be forever grateful. As for future fixes, you can schedule them for as often or not as you want. You can auto schedule one to come once a month or you can do like I do and just schedule one when you want one. I usually get between 8-10 per year.

On to my fix!

41 Hawthorn | Jaycee Ribbed Hem Knit Top

THIS SHIRT!!! When I saw Desiree get this shirt in her fix a couple months ago, I wanted it. Everything about it is perfection. First of all, LOVE the color. It is like the perfect mix of pinkish cranberry and perfect for winter. It's light weight yet long sleeves which is perfect for Southern California winters where the weather can't decide if it's actually going to be cold or hot. And it is one of the most flattering shirts I've ever owned. I couldn't keep this piece fast enough.

Verdict: KEPT!

RD Style | Mckinley Ribbed Detail Pullover

This was another clear keeper right out of the box. First of all, I LOVE this deep green. It's gorgeous in person and perfect for fall and winter. And then when I tried it on, I loved how flattering it was. I don't know how they did it, but the way the sweater fell when it was on was perfect. I love the detailing on the hem as well as along the shoulder and under arm area. It is also light enough for California winters and thin enough to layer under jackets when it actually does get cold at night.

Verdict : KEPT!

41 Hawthorn | Kenton Ribbed Boatneck Pullover

This is one that I was on the fence about. I love the color gray and I love stripes and I thought the sweater was flattering, but it didn't scream "love" to me like the other two sweaters did. I thought, if I loved the other four items in my box, I'd keep it for the discount, but if not, then I'd send it back. It was cute, but something about the boatneck was throwing me off. Looking back, I do kind of regret sending it back.

Verdict : Kept for the discount and then sold (see below).

Urban Expressions | Valerie Convertible Satchel

Raquel gave me exactly what I asked for with this one and I wanted to love it because I love this style of purse, but there was something about it that I couldn't love. The color was gorgeous. That wasn't the problem. The main problem was that it didn't seem quite big enough inside for me and when I was using the long strap and not the handles, I didn't like how the handles fell, especially on the side that hit my body. Small annoyance, sure, but for the price, I wanted to love it. And I didn't.

Verdict : Kept for the discount and then sold.

Kut from the Kloth | Miles Skinny Jean

If you've been reading my Stitch Fix posts for any amount of time, you know that I'm obsessed with this brand. I seriously ask for KFTK jeans in EVERY fix and Raquel nailed it this time. THESE JEANS. They aren't quite my beloved Kut from the Kloth skinny jeans, but they are pretty amazing! These are actually unlike any other KFTK jeans that I've had because these are high rise. Ordinarily I didn't think I'd like that type of pant, but man is it flattering. They are a dark wash so they are already flattering and slimming, but the high rise pushes it over the top. Yes, $88 is a lot for jeans, but I've already worn these like 7 times since I got them a week and a half ago. #worthit


So, to sum it up, another AMAZING fix from Raquel! Seriously, she is amazing. I love that she reads my blog, sees the pieces on me, and also checks my Pinterest board to see what kind of things I'm liking. While this fix could have easily been a 5/5, I was trying to stay on sooooooomewhat of a budget and not buy the whole thing, so instead I kept my 3 most favorite items and took to the Stitch Fix Buy, Sell, Trade board on Facebook to see if anyone was interested in the 2 items I didn't want to keep so I could "keep" all 5 and get the discount. It worked and the 2 items I didn't want, I was able to sell. I passed on the discount to the buyers, got to keep my favorite items, and everyone was a winner! I should note though... I never do this. This is the first time ever that I've ever kept something just for the discount and sold it. Normally I just keep the items I love and send back the rest. Problem this time was that I REALLY wanted the 3 items I kept and I didn't want to pay $200 for them, so... problem solved :) I don't know how often I'll do that, if it all, but for me, it worked this time.

Interested in getting a fix for yourself? Schedule your first fix for FREE. Your styling fee of $20 will be waved if you sign up for your first fix by January 31, 2018 (new customers only). Click here to schedule your first fix with no styling fee!

Already a Stitch Fix customer? Order a gift card (or better yet, tell Santa to get you one!) to help pay for all the goodies you want to keep from your fixes! Have a gift card mailed to your homeprint it at home and include it with a greeting card, or have the gift card emailed directly to the recipient.

To see all of the items that I've gotten in my fixes, click here.