LuLaRoe Clothing Review Part 2

As if my last post wasn’t long enough, here’s some more information for you if considering Lularoe clothing:

I have purchased…a lot of clothing from shopping VIP groups and multi consultant sales. Don’t tell Simple Guy. Luckily for me I sold some big ticket items from my excess home goods (unwanted gifts and sale rack finds) on eBay for some supplemental income. I feel like a druggie selling my valuables for a dose.

Realizations 

  1. I’m thrilled to report that LuLaRoe Clothing has helped me to be braver with trying out new prints and colors I didn’t try before. Colors like yellow and green I always assumed Asians couldn’t wear. But I learned that as skirts, you definitely can! And if you’re like me in skin tone, try these “taboo” colors in jewel tone rather than camouflage tone, it actually looks fabulous
    Love the variety of colors and patterns but had to sort through the ugly to get to this beauty.
  2. The clothing does seriously rock, but it is pricey. I made a spreadsheet of my purchases, because ahem, there are that many, and realized that my whole yearly budget for clothing is easily met by shopping Lularoe. With limited prints available in my specific sizes, shopping LLR has become borderline addiction for me. Having said that, I think there are some items really worth the price. The Amelia dress, Julia dress and Carly dress are my favorites and worth every penny to me. They have a great fit though the hemlines are longer for me, because I’m short. The Carly is more of a casual dress, so it’s more on the pricey side, but it’s also the latest thing. Another more pricey item that I love is the Maxi skirts. I love them because they feel effortless to me, yet make you feel elegant. I guess that’s the whole appeal of this clothing line. I also feel disappointed shopping on other sites now because it can be very challenging to find modest clothing that is also stylish and affordable. Whereas on LLR, I know everything will fit and be comfortable. For some reason the both stylish-and-modest apparel come at a price. Modcloth and Anthropology are such examples. So the word pricey is debatable.
  3. People are so obsessed with the leggings. Maybe it’s because I’m short and don’t want to draw attention to my legs and maybe because it’s still summer part 2 here in Texas, but the excitement for them wore off for me rather quickly. They are super comfortable. But they are quite warm and honestly, how many pairs do you need? I decided for the fall, that I’d have a few versatile pairs of solid and more unique but not crazy patterns. But then I realized that I shouldn’t keep shopping for leggings that are only worn a part of the year here. At $25, they’re a little steep.
    Yes, I actually commented sold first on this unicorn print of sleeping foxes set. Cute or crazy?
    Again, it’s because of the climate that my current focus of Lularoe Clothing is carly dresses and various skirts because they are short and airy and extremely versatile if carefully selected. If you live in a colder place than Texas you might get a lot of use out of leggings.
  4. Exchanges can be a bust. Most consultants have an exchange only policy which I kind of despise since they only have an online presence. I have loved most of the clothing but I have returned quite a few items for exchanges due to sizing or colors. The problem with exchanging is that the selection you have is limited to the seller only. Imagine buying an item in a store, only when you return the thing you fell out of love with, the store only has a few remnant pieces left of the clearance rack. That is kind of the feeling you get in this process. You shop a huge sale to find the one item you love, only to find out that consultant doesn’t have much else to exchange for. The best thing to do is wait, if you can, for new inventory to arrive, but depending on the exchange policy and your level of patience, you may not have much time to shop around. 
  5. Tees can potentially be a bust too, if ordinary, would be outrageously priced at $35. I admit I’ve bought a few tees which seemed at the time, the right price point because they’re so uniquely cut but beware, some of the plain ones made of recycled material feel cheap to me. The problem for me right now is finding a substitute for Lularoe tops, that cover the butt so they look good with leggings and still are modest with sleeves and high necklines. My usual favorites are failing me in this category. It is incredibly hard to find a similar product, so it’s outrageous in cost, but I guess we still buy them.

I have a huge new stash of modest clothing that makes me feel great. I do still love this brand, the positive image for women and family. So the magical effect of the drug Lularoe has kind of worn off for me but I’m still not fully recovered because I’m still in a few Facebook groups waiting for some more fun and unique items to pop up. Can’t wait for the next sale.

I mean, how can I resist a Carly in a floral?
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LuLaRoe Clothing Review Part 1

I honestly don’t even know how I first heard about LuLaRoe, which just shows the power of social media, getting into our minds and into our lives.

I wanted to share my review since I’m not consultant and not related to one, just wanted to share an honest review. I’m a fan, but with some reservations.

First, why did I look into the clothing ? One of the reason I got into it was for my postpartum body. I’m small and petite, but there’s just the last few baby pounds I just cannot shed and I refuse to diet now because I’m still nursing twin Baby A. I just became very frustrated that I couldn’t wear any of my old clothes. And the excess weight is distributed in the oddest of places. Seriously no dress zipper can zip shut! Guess a twin pregnancy will do that. But let’s face the facts, any pregnancy changes the body as well as the lifestyle one lives when one has three little children at home and no time or energy to workout. This brand is definitely flattering to all women’s body shapes and sizes which is amazing.

First, here are some things I think you should know.

  • It’s best to try on the clothes before browsing on online pop ups, a fancy way of saying online party. I bought a Julia for my first purchase and I liked the fit, but I didn’t love the design. Luckily I lived close to the lady and went to her house for an exchange. She let me write down all my sizes and that has been a huge help. Also, the clothing is designed so you can fit multiple sizes for different looks. A top can be fitted or loose and flowy, depending on your frame.
  • Be extremely critical of the clothing. Please note that almost all Lularoe I have seen is approximately 96% polyester and 4% spandex. We live in the Dallas area where it can get hot. Generally I do not recommend this fabric for extreme heat but it’s just my preference. I can get by most of the year here wearing Lularoe, but I think I will stick to their fabrics that are more airy and light in the summer. Lularoe fabric is anything from cotton like to slinky and silky, so always ask the consultant when you purchase online. I love the Classic tee but a lot of the solid tees are cotton-poly blend, which feels cheap. Recently the new Carly dresses have blends that are softer and lighter. Also the Gracie kids top (I wear size 14), has a great cotton modal blend version. Ask the right questions.
  • Shopping the Lularoe multi consultant sales on Facebook is a good way to familiarize yourself with the good, bad and ugly. Sorry, avid fans, some prints are in my opinion, hideous or old-fashioned. Just one girl’s opinion. Other prints and fabrics are adorable and designer quality. Its like shopping at Ross Dress for Less, where 80% of items are ho hum and others are major finds. In lularoe language, they’re called unicorns, because they are unique and you can never find them in your size. Ask for a close up shot if you are not sure what you are buying. Browse multiple sales to see how items look as they are photographed by multiple people.
  • Speaking of unicorns, it can be extremely frustrating to search and search and search for what you want. Every consultant has received unique items, some are repeats, others very special. This is part of the fun and torture.
  • Be smart. Assess what you need or are looking for and what you’re willing to spend. I laugh while I’m writing this because I’ve totally broken all my rules.
  • Does it spark joy? Be in the right mindset so you can act quickly on an adored item, to buy before someone else does. It’s first post, first serve. You need to devote time and energy to shopping these sales. Best to not be rushed and to window shop as much as you can, to determine if you truly love something or can go without. It’s kind of like that wacky tidying up book from Marie Kondo: hold an item and ask if it sparks joy. And luckily for our wallets, most Lularoe does not! But it’s those few items that really do, that makes this brand so addicting.

My eyes in the last two weeks have been sore with the screen time devoted to finding some Lularoe. I splurged on several items and have learned my lessons:

  • I’ve limited myself to a select few styles that best suit my body type. This type of information can be obtained by finding a local consultant and trying on items for sizing and style.
  • I will also limit my shopping to sales that offer free shipping or from consultants who live in tax free states if possible, to save an extra buck or two.
  • I have also started to save images from a Facebook party during window shopping periods (usually the day before) so that I can give myself time to really consider if I like or even want an item. Sometimes the artificial demand created in a party makes us want to buy something before someone else does, thus creating a frenzy. This fake feeling can really make you go crazy. Yes, people will buy things before you get to them. Get over this reality and move on. Save the photo in Pinterest and keep looking. A lot of times an item I think is unique really is not.
  • Sometimes multi consultant sales are not the right place for you. Working with a few good consultants’ VIP pages, who take good detailed photos, respond to questions quickly and are helpful, will help you to find quality items. And typically most consultants will open new inventory with their VIP page to build customer loyalty but may not carry your size. Many showcase new inventory on Facebook Live and new inventory goes very quickly.
  • Multi consultant sales are are not created equal. The sales have a large variety of clothing so that is where you will most likely be able to find the best selection or a pile of remnant unwanted items. Some groups post photos all at once on the day of the sale, creating chaos. Others allow you time to window shop before a sale goes live. Some people are better business people than others. Encourage the group of consultants to practice good business methods like offering exchanges and free shipping. Shop around for a good group to join.

Consulting?

As for becoming a consultant I would generally not recommend it for most people. Even I was slightly tempted for a while because it would be so cool to get the inventory first. And you would have a little boutique in your house.

But that’s just the problem. Where do you put everything and how do you afford hangers and tags and shipping products?

Some people do well handling MLMs, but most of us do not, and would not succeed. As a consultant you need a lot of inventory to start, which could cost thousands and thousands of dollars out of your own pocket. This is bad business practice,  in my opinion. Why should you as the consultant have to risk the cost of the products? The company’s customer is you the consultant  because they are done with their transaction. Essentially all the business risk is on you.

There are some hideous prints out there and you have no control over what items you get as a consultant. There’s not even a way to buy a gold level package of inventory full of unicorns for an additional fee. So how will you sell these items no one wants or sell the items every other consultant also has? And even the most avid of fans already owns fifty pairs of Lularoe leggings, so why would they buy yours, especially if you only get a handful of unique stuff. I mean, someone may buy the occasional black or gray pair to coordinate outfits, but how many people can and will do that when they already spent money on the pretty top for almost $40?

To keep loyal fans on personal VIP groups, it is best to have fresh new inventory on a weekly basis, so you will continue to invest money back into the business, money of out of your own pocket, unless you have financing readily available to you. Google the breakdown of investment of Lularoe and you will see, it is very difficult to sell every single piece of inventory and the rate of return is poor.

Maybe I’ll do it when I need a hobby.

I love many of their items: the Amelia, Julia, Carly and the Cassie, Madison, and Maxi. I will continue to shop this brand because its image is quite healthy for women, to accept their body shapes and sizes. But I would be realistic about what type of business this actually is. Glad it works for some women out there, but I’m not consulting.

Sizing and fit

Here are my stats for those considering Lularoe for petite sizes, I’m 5’2, 120 lbs. I wear size small in Amelia, Julia, Cassie, Lola and Randy. I wear XXS in Maxi and XXS to XS Carly. Size M for Azure.

I do not recommend Irma and Perfect tees and Lindsay kimonos for petite sized women. These items are huge and large women can wear XXS. So an XXS would swamp women like me. I also prefer the classic tee in XXS over the perfect tee. The perfect looks like a short dress, very wavy and it’s too overwhelming for my body type but nice to pair with leggings.

People consider me an XS at first glance, but I’m really a S in Lularoe which they say is approx. size 6-8. So get yourself fitted.

I love the Amelia and I own two. I sought out one on eBay I really liked and paid the premium for it. I don’t mind, but that’s the price you pay to get what you want without all the hassle. This dress is truly unique with its pockets and is the best dress of the clothing line. I would buy this dress for a party.

Cassie is a very comfortable pencil skirt. Most pencil skirts are super uncomfortable. This one is very comfortable and the fabric of some skirts are very textured, adding some variety to your clothing. I tried them on and love the fit. It’s just I’d rather not be bending down for crawling babies in this skirt. Keep in mind it’s not going to hold big guts in, there’s minimal support.

I like the Maxi (and I’m wearing this one while blogging) because it’s a maxi that works on someone short like me. Usually maxis are extremely long on petite frames. This one in XXS is just perfect on me. So I will mostly be buying maxis as my mom work clothes.

New moms, let’s be kind to ourselves.

I’ve lived in pjs for most of the year; my twins were born in January. Almost 8 months later, I’ve finally realized living in pjs, while necessary some days (you know, those crazy days) is not good for me mentally or emotionally. I need to treat my SAHM role as a job some days: get things done, don’t complain, and keep positive. I often think, “Poor me, I’m so alone and I’m so stressed out and I’m busy all the time,” but in reality this is what God has given me time to do, to quote a fellow mommy blogger. I can feel good about myself, my changing body, and my efforts no matter how small or insignificant to the outside world. I think it will help my children too to see their mom happy and satisfied at home. This brand has allowed me to do that with a type of transitional clothes after pregnancy so I do love the brand despite its weaknesses.

If you have a spare moment, check out Lularoe Clothing as maternity wear. It’s pretty cool. If I find the post, I will add it here.

Qiaohu 巧虎 2016-2017 Preview

Yoyo “Toddler” ban for ages 2-3
Kuaile “Happy” ban for preschoolers ages 3-4

I found these images off the Qiaohu website, for those of you who are interested in seeing what the 幼幼版 (Youyou or yoyo ban) and 快樂版 (kuaile ban) subscription receive each month from September 2016 to August 2017.

Remember the best time to begin the subscription box is at the beginning of each school year, so you get the whole slew of topics and variety without repeating unnecessary content or subject matter.

I mean, the songs can get so annoying,  you really do want fresh material each month. If you subscribe by calendar year, there is a risk you will receive repeat gifts or dvds with similar content or lessons.

Now is the time to subscribe for September!

In a conversation I had with the office, they told me that this year’s Yoyo ban has toys each month which is a new feature, they used to not have so many toys, but everyone who’s been around a 3 year old knows they need imaginative play and a lot of it.

I really wish I could subscribe to both but we are advancing to Kuaile ban this September because my child needs more stories and early literacy rather than imaginative play, which is why there will be less toys and more storybooks in the kuaile ban.

But honestly I can’t wait for my twins to subscribe to Yoyo ban because it’s so much fun to have stories in DVD form and thematic toys that go along with the subject or topic. My child’s language development has really blossomed with the use of these DVDs and imaginative play.

The boxes really do well at addressing needs of the children and their development.

If this information has been helpful, please consider adding me as a referral when you order. My ID is 2600018310. They give out Qiaohu gifts to referrers. My kids will love you forever!

Note: there is a BaoBao ban for babies ages 6 months all the way to grade school, age 8 plus. Check out the site.

Qiaohu 巧虎 August 2016 Preview

Since I’ve received a lot of inquiry into the Qiao hu subscription box, please allow me to preview the latest box’s content. I’ve been really impressed with each box we’ve received. Toys are simple, cute and educational. The DVDS can get annoying on a loop but doesn’t that happen with all kids’ music, toys and interactive fun?

Parent’s user pamphlet 
August activity workbook cover
Stickers from activity workbook

Sample pages
DVD
CD
Special workbook/storybook

It’s  $308 a year, which is about  $25.66 per month. Each month they send a DVD, activity workbook, parent’s user pamphlet and either toy, cd and/or storybook.

 I think it’s totally worth it! (For me, I break down the value this way DVD $10, workbook $10, toy or CD $5-6. Some of the toys are extra special and are worth $10-15—perceived value of course!) The educational value language-wise is worth it to me. And they also cover colors, numbers, shapes, and certain preschooler know-how’s like tidying up and sorting. 

*I would totally appreciate it if you added me as a referral on your order should you choose to subscribe. I’m a fan not an employee. My kids will receive a complimentary gift from Benesse. My Referral ID 2600018310, last name Gene

ASOS Maternity Clothes Review

With the heat and the kids,  I don’t get out much. I do my grocery shopping at 10 pm after two of three have gone to bed. So online shopping has become a very important thing in my life. I need retail therapy as much as any parent with three littles.

Of course Amazon has a place in my shopping world, but so do these new discoveries of online shopping, the first is ASOS.

I was first introduced to ASOS by my adorable, fashionable sister in law, but I wasn’t convinced at first glance. I saw a lot of teeny bopper clothing similar to Forever 21 and I wasn’t buying.

But then one day said sister in law and I were at Target with twin baby b and we saw another girl, an expectant mom, wearing a dress. Okay, maybe it was seeing a dress in person that made me a believer because isn’t that the horror of online shopping, buying something and then getting it realizing that you need a new laptop or a new pair of eyes because you must be colorblind because that thing you bought looks hideous!?!

The girl also told us it was a nursing dress, so as a new mom with my new babies, I had to go check it out.

Fast forward to now, I have that dress and two other maternity or nursing dresses in my closet. I adore ’em.

ASOS is a UK-based brand but they ship to the US and to many countries for FREE and include FREE RETURNS. This is big. This is like having an H&M in my house. I get to try on all the clothes I want and return anything (unused, of course) that I want to.  I love that the maternity line has a lot of modest options. I also love the double layer concept of their maternity dresses.   I also love that they have maternity formal dresses, so if you have a wedding to go to while sporting a bump, you do not have to settle for a frumpy looking dress, you can go and look amazing! I think this would be so cute to wear to such a function:

Cute and comfortable!

The return policy is easy, you reuse the bag your items come in, slip in your order form and can place it in your mailbox for regular postal service to get and ASOS will notify you when they receive it. Just keep in mind that a previous order of mine with a promo code was partially returned and I also lost the sale price of the items, even the ones I kept. Meaning, they will remove the entire discount you received at initial purchase.

Please go check it out. I really think in the next few years, I will phase out almost all my old clothes to ASOS clothing. I love it that much.

 

Confessions of a C-Section Mom

I know there are plenty of doctors out there who will push c-sections on expectant women and it’s not right. Plenty of us can and should have normal deliveries.

The key is to finding an OB-GYN you really trust, to give you sound medical advice and to give you the best shot at a healthy pregnancy and delivery. Easier said than done.

My c-section was scheduled because my baby was breech.

I had a few ultrasounds done throughout my pregnancy by the same sonogram technician who was always grumpy and sour (I know, not the best person to tell pregnancy news to expectant moms, but you know, can’t have everything). My last sonogram a few days before scheduled c, my ultrasound showed the baby flipped but uncharacteristic of this grumpy tech, she went into detail about giving birth to her son, a 9-lb child and how she tore and she had many lingering issues due to a delivery that in her mind should have been a c-section and kindly advised to stick with the c-section.

Yeah, I guess it’s true she could have been paid by the docs to say that to all the women who came into the office. But the way she said it indicated to me she was completely sincere especially when she related to me her own experience. (Later, then my second pregnancy with the twins, she told me she has dealt with back pain for years, ah, ha, that explains the grumpiness. I felt bad for being judgmental. When will I ever learn? )

I had to make a choice and it was a choice most “granola moms” would not support me doing: I chose to proceed with a c-section. The granola moms asked me if anything could be done to prevent me from having a c-section. They asked me if I was being manipulated by my doctor and commented on how evil and money hungry doctors are. I really respectfully disagree with them.

People are very vocal about c-sections. Many old-timers will tell you “Once a c-section, always a c-section” which is not necessarily true anymore. Other more sympathetic old-timers will tell you about their own c-section experiences, which were a lot more risky back in the day than they are now. We know a lot more about c-sections and what risks are involved.

My so-called birth plan went out the window as I had to prepare for surgery instead of delivery.

When my 8 lbs 12 ounce child with a head of 98% percentile size was delivered, I was so grateful that for me, I had made the correct decision.

Recovery was slow and tedious. There were many times I thought I failed as a mother and I took the easy way out. I was also battling other losses in our family’s life, my father in law passed two weeks prior to Baby’s birth unexpectedly. We were in shock.

Time healed these wounds.

For my twins I wanted to try for a VBAC. A lot of people think it’s not possible with twins but it can be done. My old OB retired so I found another in her practice willing to do a VBAC if Twin A was head down and I really think she would have done it for me , except Twin A did not cooperate and and was transverse from Week 32 on. There was actually a lot of movement during the last trimester when they predicted there wouldn’t be. But no matter how the twins moved, they did not get into the correct position. I was due for a repeat C.

This time I was almost completely prepared for the process of getting a c-section and this time it went better than the first time. Healing was faster. The hospital days were a mini vacation and we left the hospital with our boy/girl twins, 6 lbs 1 oz and 5 lbs 8 oz.

In the end I I was just thankful for healthy babies knowing a lot of multiple births have complicated pregnancies, deliveries and post births problems.

Now I view c-sections differently especially since this will probably be my mode of delivery for the rest of my childbearing years. I have accepted this in my life.

Is it ideal? Of course not. Would I wish it on my sisters in law or my daughter? No! Emphatically no. But it happens, so can we remove the stigma associated with cesarean birth? Yes.

People like to talk about how the statistics of c-sections are rising but honestly, I don’t care that I add to that stat. Me and my three beautiful children are not a statistic in my eyes or my husband’s. We’re a growing family. I care not how they were born, just that they are here now, and I thank God for healthy children.

I wish people would be less judgmental about my decisions to have c-section and just realize how blessed we are that we can have medical care necessary for almost each birthing situation.

Qiao Hu 巧虎 and Fortune Cookie Mom

Just wanted to share some of my new discoveries for teaching kids Chinese at home: the QiaoHu subscription for my 3-year old learning Chinese and a neat free printables and teaching ideas site by a mommy blogger in HK.

QiaoHu 巧虎 subscription 

Each month they send a DVD about 25 minutes long, with a variety of songs, rhymes, stories and introduction of toys (included in some of the months) that teach good habits, manner and practices for young kids. We started watching the DVDs we inherited from a church friend, mostly to distract Toddler while I fed the twins but it has been surprisingly educational for him. (Search YouTube for some examples.) He watches almost daily, but he doesn’t get much more screen time, other than a few movies mostly about cars and their truck friends. You know, those ones.

As a example, June 2016’s box the DVD has theme of about categorizing; each activity or song connects to sorting and categorizing. But there is also some Chinese-Taiwanese cultural aspects to it like there is a Tang dynasty poem put to song, which is even difficult content even for me. In the past months they discussed Dragon Boat festival and Chinese New Year etc. Also I saw one once on YouTube for elementary kids about using the special hole-in-the-ground toilets they have in Taiwan, and Toddler will never see that in real life here in America. But it’s kind of interesting to talk about the different cultures and ways of life. The DVD also has a segment about not hitting other kids when playing and how to tell other kids to wait while they’re still playing with a coveted toy.

Each month there’s an activity book or workbook with stickers, with content similar to the DVD with the stories in paper form instead of video form. It’s all in Chinese, so I actually can’t read 100% but I feel like it’s a good practice for me to read because the subject matter is basic.

yoyo

Then some months they have little toys, a little XiaoHua (QiaoHu’s baby sister) to take care of, a pretend cash register that makes sounds etc. Each year’s program has slightly different varieties of toys, some will repeat, others will not.

This is this school year’s toy lineup, just so you can see that some toys will repeat (car, XiaoHua, fishing game):

I began subscribing in June, so I will only get the last few months of the previous 15-16 calendar.

The Qiaohu agents wanted me to advance to the next level for 3 to 4 year olds in September, and at first, I didn’t want to mostly because I only wanted to subscribe to one version per year and thought to obtain one whole year’s worth of materials from Yoyo so I could reuse materials for the twins but I do plan advance him now. If there is new content later,  then I guess I will have to subscribe to two versions, one for Toddler and the other for the Twins.

For new subscribers, I would recommend starting in September so you will not get repeating material, basically getting on their schedule of school year vs calendar year. However, I know my kid has enjoyed having new materials this summer especially since we’re homebound with so many littles and with the Texas heat outside. He’s still learned a lot from each month.

There are materials from infant (baby) up to 5th grade, the subject matter getting more academic as you get more advanced. I plan to use the program as long as Toddler has interest because a friend shared with me some of the materials her kindergartner is using, and I think they are all pretty well made: there’s a talking pen that reads stories and more complex puzzles and games. They introduce Zhuyin, which is good if you plan to use reading materials from Taiwan later on. I’m probably going to use Hanyu Pinyin with Toddler and will just try to use the Zhuyin for my own reading aloud to him.

The subscription costs $308 for 12 months or $168 for 6. It is pricey but it’s a luxury I’m willing to pay for, just because I haven’t found good Chinese language materials that are age appropriate and Toddler is very close to native ability, though we use a ton of Chinglish. I found to continue his progression, he needed materials made specifically for native speakers. Yes, it’s SUPER cheesy and kind of silly but it really is one of the best programs I’ve come across that’s widely available.

Here’s the website, but keep in mind it’s in Chinese for those of you like me who struggle with characters.

I’m super excited to find this as teaching Chinese to my kids is super important to me. Part of the reason why we are seriously considering homeschool is because we can incorporate our faith and the Chinese language and other things important to our family that are not addressed in the public school. A discussion for another day.

If you are interested in subscribing, please message me and I’ll forward you the contact information you need. Let me know if you have any questions.

*I would totally appreciate it if you added me as a referral. My kids will earn a complimentary gift from Benesse. My Referral ID 2600018310

Qiaohu is also known as Shimajiro in Japanese is you are looking for the Japanese equivalent. I found a Tomy Qiaohu car that way.

Fortune Cookie Mom

I came across Fortune Cookie Mom by way of Facebook because she is probably a friend of a friend of a friend. We have a lot in common, both of educator background and advocates of homeschooling.

Since subscribing to her newsletter, I’ve found her free printables really well done. I will definitely be using them in my future homeschool if we choose to go that route or even use the materials for quiet books and rainy day activities. Please go check them out.

Fortune Cookie Mom website:

Fortune Cookie Mom

 

Honest Company City Backpack Everything Tote Diaper Bag Review

Hi, it’s me. Back from incubating and delivering our boy/girl twins via repeat C. Sorry, it’s taken so long, but really I’m not sorry. I’ve been tried to bond, recover and organize a house that is going through serious growing pains. Our 3-bedroom house suddenly went from spacious to very tight with three kids three and under. That’s a story for another day.

I wanted to share with you my recent discoveries, the most exciting one being new diaper bag that I’ve found from an unexpected place—the Honest Company, you know, that company that sells subscription diapers and wipes. I haven’t tried their products yet but when I found their line of diaper bags then I decided I would.

Toddler and I were at the mall on a morning that Grandma was watching the Twins. I know it sounds bad, but it’s feels great to be able to escape them sometimes, it’s just so intense watching twins sometimes.

I went to Nordstrom, which is a store I never shop at because it’s so expensive even though I must admit I heard their return policy is kind of amazing. I guess everyone has his or her weak spot for material goods and Nordstrom bags might be my next weakness.

I returned the bag I bought in store to order online through Honest Company directly because I got a discount buying two bags (a little excessive? My rationale below) as well as trying out their Essentials bundle. I’m still working on testing the products. I went crazy and bought two bags, but if you just need one, you might try Nordstom online, to check out the other colors not available in store like Elephant Gray which is not gray, more khaki.
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One of the main issues I have with my old Petunia Picklebottom boxy backpack is that the backpack straps are so incredibly painful to wear as a backpack. I always wear it as a messenger bag and I have the most sloped shoulders ever. Asian girl shoulders. So it can be extremely annoying having the strap fall off during diaper changes in those gross public bathrooms, during flights, and basically anywhere. The City backpack is extremely comfortable In comparison, which is its most winning feature.

I searched high and low for a diaper backpack to be hands free with my twins. I bought and returned the Vera Bradley one, available on the Vera Bradley website. It’s awesome because it is black exterior, but it’s fabric, a quilted nylon. The biggest pro is that the inside is wipeable vinyl and would be so easy to clean. The mesh pockets I thought were kind of too tight, and not deep enough to hold baby items like bottles or formula dispensers. I also did not like the designated diaper area. Not big enough for diapers for two kids.

The Honest Co. City backpack is an vegan leather exterior, I hate that term, but it is lightweight and wipe clean. The pockets are well thought out. The front one is great for cell phone and keys, though I read on other reviews the iPhone doesn’t fit. This could be a deal breaker for some of you. The second deeper pocket is insulated, which is an awesome feature. You can store food, milk bottles or sippy cups. Just be aware that it’s not going to fit every type of bottle. I have to squeeze my Avent bottles in for a snug fit.

The main compartment has a mommy pocket with a zipper and two open pockets. There are two small elastic side pockets as well. The main compartment is divided into two sections. The back side is best for diapers and wipes because there is a zipper on the back of the backpack, so you can easily access the diapers while still keeping the main zipper of diaper bag closed. Cool cool features.
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As with any backpack, the biggest issue of using it as a diaper bag, is depth, aka digging for things you need. But if you use little bags and the compartments well, then it lessens the digging around. Waste of time! Simple Guy wanted me to use a regular Jansport, but they just don’t work if they don’t have pockets and dividers. This one I feel is really well designed, having just the right amount of pockets.

Thus bag would be plenty big for one baby. It is tight for three kids, but we’re going minimalist, keeping extra diapers and wipes and other random items in the car, etc.

Everything Tote

The second is the Honest Co Everything Tote, which I have been using as a backup bag. Crazy, yes I am. It is a great bag strapped on the stroller. Hands free is a great concept, but a diaper backpack means you have to carry the weight, either that or make your husband carry it all. I have been using the backpack more for quick outings and the tote for more major outings, it’s more spacious than the City backpack.

Yes, I wish the City backpack had a better way to attach to a stroller like an added strap you could clip off, but no. It’s really trying to be a backpack in style, not look Iike a messenger bag backpack.

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The best feature of the tote is the outer zipper pocket that is wipeable similar to the Vera backpack. This works great as a wet bag and I wish the backpack had this feature. The pockets are deep. The bag is kind of heavy by itself, but so is the PB boxy backpack. It is a beast to haul around so I use it on stroller outings. I would rather not carry this around my shoulders.

Why two bags?
Short answer: Because I’m crazy.

Long: With so many little people, I thought I would need to use both at one time, but I have only had to do that on full day outings which don’t happen for me that often anymore with so many littles. The backpack would carry diapers, the other a ton of snacks and water bottles. I will review my use of the bags in a year or so, but they have been great, totally functional for me.

What’s also nice about these bags is that they can be used beyond the diaper years as mom bags. They don’t scream diaper bag. So hopefully they will be used for a while.

After a few months of use:
I am not one of those vegan moms who buy all organic, so I’m not loyal to the brand, but so far the bags have been awesome. I wish they were cheaper, they range from $149-169 MSRP. but I think they are so worth it, given the smart design. Yes, real leather would have been cool, but probably make the bags heavier.

UPDATE: My sis-in-law has a pretty awesome diaper backpack that I wanted to share as a much more affordable option with cute prints. It’s called the Ecosusi Diaper Backpack from Westlife and is available at Amazon for $46.99. Its main con is the lack of capacity for large bottles, but this would be an excellent choice for a breastfed baby who doesn’t need bottles.

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Pottery Barn Kids Crib Bedding Review

I know, I know. You’re thinking, “Oh, she’s one of those snobby moms who dresses her babies in designer clothes and has to have coordinating nursery decor.”

Yeah, I am. Sort of. Not so much for clothing, though I have a soft spot in my heart for Gymboree and Stride Rite.

But crib bedding. It’s one of the things I have decided to splurge on for my son and new arrivals. (Well, luckily for me, my mother-in-law, bought my bedding for child #1, bless her soul!)

It’s kind of like the diaper bag.

It makes such a huge difference to my mood to have a cute bag.

It also has made a huge difference to me to have a cute nursery.

I chose Eric Carle as the theme of my son’s nursery so that it was a gender-neutral option for future babies but I tried to do as minimally as possible, because we lived in a small apartment when he was first born. I didn’t go all out Pinterest-style, with matching rugs, chairs, and wall art. I basically slapped some removable wall stickers on the wall and let the bedding do the rest of the talking. We’re now in a house but the non-master bedrooms are really limited in size, so all-out decorating is kind of out of the picture.

Bedding in my home decor book is huge. Wall art and knick knacks on display are trendy and usually those fads come and go (that’s why DIY wall art is such a great concept.) But you place an embroidered quilt from Pottery Barn in an otherwise empty bedroom, and suddenly the room has a look and personality. Add some blackout curtains (because you have a napping child) and suddenly you’re a designer 🙂

So I emphasize bedding.

I’ve woken up with my baby for 2 1/2 years now (SG does more now that Baby prefers him. Muah haha). Not all of those days have been pretty. Most of those days I’ve been sleep-deprived myself, frustrated from the day before, or just plain grumpy because I’m really not a morning person. At all.

Having Baby’s crib decked out in bright beautiful colors really improves my mood a lot. Not to mention, he (around age 2) realized that the caterpillar was also the same caterpillar in his book and could talk about it. We were both very excited. It’s just always a fun room and feels so inviting. He loves his crib…at least, he’s pretty content to chill there for reasonable amounts of time in the morning.

It’s a happy place to be.

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I feel like anything that improves the mood of a mom, first-time or not, is a great thing and is worth having. When Mom feels good, Baby feels good, because truly, babies and young children really do pick up on your mood so well.

Having said that, I realize most people are on budgets. Pottery Barn Kids is not really budget-friendly, but I will provide some tips for getting some great deals:

  • I only shop the sale rack. In fact that’s also where I got my precious diaper bag. I only shop sale items. I like the other stuff too, I like perusing the catalog they keep sending me but I resist buying anything full priced if I can help it. I had grand schemes for my twin nursery coming up, but then I found the Peter Rabbit nursery bedding on sale here in Dallas and online, so I’m going with the more affordable option that is also gender-neutral. It’s not going to be as hip/modern as I was trying to achieve, but it’s still cute and classic. And if I wasn’t such a coordinated-look snob, I could have got other unmatching crib bedding available online for even cheaper, I just like a matchy look too much.

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  • I use discounted gift cards when I know I have a purchase coming. My favorite is GiftCardBin for Pottery Barn and Williams-Sonoma.
  • I use codes online to score free shipping or 15% off, whichever I think is better. Free shipping codes (FREESHIP) are only valid on certain days, random weekends and holidays. Remember only one code is valid per order, so that is why a code and a discounted gift card combined together provide the best savings.
  • Also I’ve found if you go in store and they don’t have what you are looking for, you can ask for them to order it for you. In my last shopping experience at our local store, they even provided me a discount on my order.
  • Search eBay if you have something in mind. A lot of people have some really great items on deep discount there, just be sure you know what you are getting.
  • Focus on the essentials if money is tight. I just love the quality of the bedding that we’ve used. Some of the crib sheets are organic cotton and I think they’re the best around, they look great wash after wash. I totally think they are worth having. I like the PBK crib bumpers (don’t hate me) but some are really thick and I don’t recommend those. Toddler quilts are super cute, but they’re more of a decorative piece. We just don’t use a lot of bedding in our crib and have used a space heater in the winter. Crib skirts are also optional, and can easily be made using regular fabric. If you’re not the seamstress-type, you can also try just look at places like Target for more affordable options.