Friday, March 28, 2014

Seven Quick Takes vol. 84

Back with some breathtaking takes of the seven type - visit Jen for the best!


She's a big fan of always being in my arms.

It was a full week around here, if you consider birthdays and lack of sleep and chaos a definition of "full"!

Our sweet baby turned 1 on the Feast of the Annunciation so it was a very happy and fun-filled feast day for us all. It feels weird that a year can go by and yet feel like a blink of an eye but at the same time you can't remember life without that little one-year-old. I love the time bending paradox of parenthood. 

She loved blowing out the candle. It was adorable.


Almost a smile!

The funny thing about a one year old's birthday is that the day is completely the same as any other day and they have no idea what the fuss is about. So Nora was celebrating with her equal parts of grumpy-ness mixed with happiness mixed with being completely tuckered out by 6:30. Who really needs to celebrate a one year old's birthday is the parents. We're the ones who've made it through that crucially important yet indescribably exhausting first year of getting someone through life. Needless to say, I made use of her excellent choice of days to be born to have a drink and several chocolate cupcakes.


All five together for the first time since Christmas...a small miracle in itself.

In addition to the happiness of making it another year,  when every birthday of every child passes I always feel a generous warmth of gratitude. Whenever I think that I've been given the responsibility of raising precious, wonderful souls it seems absolutely crazy. Does God really know what he's doing? But the reality of the situation is that his help is evident in big ways, everyday. But each birthday it washes over me just a bit more. So it's good there's 5 birthdays a year to reset my gratitude levels.


It was nice to have a birthday during this week as it reverted back to winter around here. Too cold to punt kids out of doors for any amount of time Wednesday, I felt the cold grayness of life surround me and instantly was back in the trauma of winter. I hadn't much sleep either because Nora decided waking up at least 5 times was necessary pre-birthday, so my attitude had so many reasons to plummet. But oh, what a plummet. I wish I could say I combatted it, but really, I just wrote Wednesday off as a blur of bad attitude/bad weather. Yesterday I went to confession, a drive, and now the forecast is supposed to pick up so that means my attitude will too, right?


The Fault in Our Stars took me for a ride this week. I'm not sure if it quite lived up to the hype for me. I always try to read "Young Adult" novels with the mindset of a directionless teen, and by doing so one can see the themes the authors are trying to eek out. The themes they think they're so cleverly not disguising so teenagers don't think they're reading stuff with substance. This book's themes of death, love and eternity had bright spots but then quite a lot of murkiness. I just wonder if many teens who read it come away more or less convinced of the afterlife/love existing beyond our lifetimes. 
But I'll admit I cried a plenty. 


So you've heard about Gwen and Chris's "conscious uncoupling" right? I have no emotional skin in that celebrity couple game, as I think the marriage lasted longer than I expected because as soon as Gwen's "singing career" happened I thought Chris Martin must be slowly being tortured somewhere. 

But here's the thing I find so terribly pretentious like most things Gwyneth -- the idea that by somehow changing the name of something, i.e. divorce, it changes the consequences of the action. Calling divorce something else do not change the fact that a marriage has failed and a family is now broken. A paradox of humanity is that we crave absolutes while believing them unachievable. Marriage is an absolute. We deny it all the time with divorce, cohabitation, same-sex marriage, but the absolute truth of it cannot be changed no matter how much we redefine it or mistreat it. I always find these attempts to change truths so sad, an attempt to change our own failures or own weaknesses into the ultimate good or absolute. I understand that human need to want to change to not admit our failures is a huge driving force. Paradox.


In a Lenten effort to clean out my freezer's we've been having random meals all week by eating whatever I find and heating it up. It's been easy and I feel good getting around to this task I put off for months and months but this morning I found some frozen scones from who know's when, pulled them out took a bite and thought I had just eaten the deepest depths of the oldest, grossest, grimiest, freezer ever. My taste buds haven't yet recovered. I'm the casualty of my own good intentions. But now I know I should probably clean out the freezer more than every Lent.

Hope you all have a sunshine-y weekend!

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Tuesday, March 25, 2014

5 Ridiculous Spring Fashion Trends for Moms

Don't you just love Spring?

I love the change of wardrobe it brings full of colour and changes of fabrics from wools to cottons and of course the glorious feeling that is going out doors without a parka! But this spring I've noticed some disturbing fashion trends that I can't fathom getting on board with for a multitude of practical reasons. Here's my top 5 offenders:

1. White 

White is big this spring, it's everywhere and it looks clean and fresh on all the models....but...
tell me how anyone with children under the age of 30 would wear jeans like these for more than 5 minutes without at least 5 stains?? I've got three boys aged 5 and under who if they saw me wearing these jeans, would make it their personal mission in life to find as much chocolate, dirt, blood, and peanut butter with which to touch my legs.
Sorry, trendy white.

2. Overalls

I don't think anyone who has been pregnant finds these funny. Enough said.

3. Crop Tops

Boy, these are hilarious ammiright?
"Crop tops" -- that are supposed to bare skin between the "waist" and belly button.
These are as cool to a mom as the words "stomach flu" and "glitter".

4. Culottes

I've got 5 kids who I have a hard enough time keeping track of, and I'm fairly confident that I'd lose a couple kids in these pants several times a day.

5. "Mom Jeans"

Noooooo!! We've come so far Fashion, and yet now you're trying to look like those mothers who shunned fashion themselves?! It's some crazy/ironic/hipster idea that has gone horribly, horribly wrong.

Linking up with Hallie, even though these are on the Debbie Downer side of Five Faves...

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Wednesday, March 19, 2014

On Naming Homes

I've always wanted to name our home, but for some reason haven't.

It's a funny, odd little dream I have, very British in nature but I think one that seems like a worthwhile endeavour.

The reason we haven't come up with an official name is because I keep thinking as if this house is temporary - which is crazy. We've been here for seven years and it's the home we've made as a family. The only home our 5(!) children have every known. It's lived up to the definition of "home" so many times over that despite it's falling apart windows, draft-y doors, and lack of square footage it deserves a moniker that expresses it's importance in the history of our lives.

It's the importance of place too, which we always tend to forget as our modern lives feel so global and disconnected from physical locality in general. But place is important, no matter how much we want to feel integrated, worldy, or well-travelled, and it's worthy of a reminder every now and again. The place you build a home and live your life is of great importance to yourself as an individual, your family, your community and culture. It begins at home, the exact four walls you live within. If your four walls happen to be in suburbia and not a fashionable district of your dreams, or a fixer upper heavy on the fixing, or my nondescript modular in the middle of nowhere, it shouldn't be the actual building itself or it's address that make it worthy of a name but the lives it contains.

The romance of this notion plays a part in naming your home as well. It's a delightful romantic thing to do. Like in all the great books we read houses have names like "Green Gables", "Tara", "Longbourne", "Manderley" or "Mansfield Park"  to name a few. They hold and represent a rich literary story that simultaneously creates a perfect picture in your mind. But why have we modern people who aren't characters in novels stopped? Why have we moved away from the romantic notion that our lives no matter how ordinary are still important stories and that our homes are part of the tales?

We'll see how long it takes us to come up with a fitting "Andulsia" or "Top Meadow" for our little home.

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Monday, March 17, 2014

New look around here!

Good Monday Morning and Happy St. Patrick's Day one and all!

I'm just popping in from pulling my kids off the walls from a green overload to share my new look around here. You know me and my complete lack of technological knowledge coupled with my dread of change makes for not much changing around the blog so I called in wonderful professional help. Danielle Burkleo, who has a gift for understanding my mumbo-jumbo, did a wonderful job and I think it turned out just how I pictured it in my mind palace.

That's my news, hopefully they'll be substance tomorrow!

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Friday, March 14, 2014

Seven Quick Takes vol. 83

It's Friday! I hope your reading of these assorted quick takes isn't an act of Friday sacrifice for you, make sure to head to Jen's for more Snoop Dogg.


It's been above zero all week long here! I cannot express how wonderful it has been, being able to let the kids play outside for more than a brief polar-dip-like sprint from house to car. It was actually in the double digits on Wednesday and turned out to be the warmest day since last October. Which prompted the husband to say, "Hey, look! You survived winter!" Have I?? I think I'm still experiencing some post traumatic symptoms because it hasn't sunk in yet. There's just these glimmers of happiness and hope springing up everywhere!


I'm still a huge believer in the idea that if I could be left alone for the first two waking hours of my day I'd be a completely happy and cheerful person for the rest of the day. Or course, it's impossible to carry out to see if this theory is true. Is this only because I'm not a "morning" person? I think if it was then me, being on the night-owl end of the spectrum would feel happy and delightful dealing with my children into the night which most certainly is not the case. So that officially debunks the idea of morning/night owl personalities and being a stay at home mom. You're welcome. The moral of the story is I need more patience, the end.



and this: 

come out this weekend. I have no idea when I'll see either so I don't want to hear anything! But let's all hope they're both as good as I've built them up to be in my mind!


It's hard to believe that Pope Francis was elected a year ago. I was lying on the couch very pregnant throwing trail nuts at the kids who were getting a little too rambunctious for actual lunch as I was putting them off because I wanted to wait for the announcement of who was elected. It was such an exciting moment that nothing can really compare to, something that just doesn't happen often, something you can feel isn't propelled by solely human intentions. 

I was a ridiculous mess of pregnancy hormones and out of control anxiety before Pope Benedict resigned, but once he resigned and the conclave began it was like adding a whole 'nother  level of general panic! I kept telling myself that I couldn't have the baby until after a pope was elected. Why I don't really know, because it wasn't as if the pope was going to deliver my baby or anything, but you know, the thoughts of a pregnant lady! Pope Francis was elected and immediately I felt a level of peace. It was wonderful in a way. I felt like, if God has this whole Pope business taken care of, he'll then have time to help me give birth to this baby. Crazy right? But ten days later, Nora was born and things went really well and my prayers to not die were answered and my crazy levels returned to just plain normal. 

I made the kids stand in front of the tv, they'll thank me for this documentation of history later, I'm sure.

You read Jenny's wonderful post on being in St. Peter's Square last year, right? 


I wish my kids had given up tantruming for Lent.
It's a strange reality that I spend a large chunk of my everyday going from cooling down one person's tantrum to another's. I mean, I bet it would add up. I always go in order from youngest to oldest, and yesterday afternoon Dominic had to scream for about 10 minutes straight about not being able to find his stickers he lost. If you've got an emotional breakdown around here you just gotta get in line.


I've not mentioned children's books in a while, but I really should throw these two out there because my kids have been in love with them for the past two months. Someone dug them out of the library shelf randomly, (you know you hate it when they do that!), but they are great books. Especially in the numbers and alphabet genres which can be so tedious and painful for the adult reader, LMNO Peas and 1-2-3 Peas are winners. These books are cute and clever, and filled with many tiny unique peas that the kids love looking at again and again. Max(2) through Gemma(6) think they're great. Highly recommended! 


So, how's your Lent going? I always forget just how long it feels. I know I'm not doing anything too drastic, but it was a challenging week just sticking to what I set out to do and not letting temptation get me down. Lent is not a call to be miserable! 

I did a great job walking away from Lacey cookies on sale at Costco though, I'm sure that sacrifice was felt through the spiritual landscape. ;)

Happy Weekend, may it be full of warmth and no temptation! 

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Wednesday, March 12, 2014

I Love Agatha Christie and Come, Tell Me How You Live

I can't remember when I first read an Agatha Christie mystery, or which one for that matter, but I do remember the first time I felt completely transported by a novel so quickly I hardly noticed I was entering a world that was both glamorous, dangerous, and teaming with mystery. Agatha Christie's writing was the first I encountered to be completely spellbinding while at the same time so full of real, complex, and entertaining characters. Over the years I think I've read between 20-30 of her novels and have never been disappointed, no matter the setting, the crime, or which of her famous detectives the particular novel featured I always feel as part of her world. She seemed to have an ability like none other at creating perfectly a world with many layers and characters, passions and motivations, and of course crime, effortlessly. She maintained this wonderful skill while never lowering herself to bending the rules or either good crime writing or portraying a world in which right and wrong may be tampered with. She had a keen understanding of human psychology and motivation, but she never let a sympathetic murderer make murder alright.

I recently finished Agatha Christie's travel memoir, Come, Tell Me How You Live, about her time spent with her archeologist husband in the Middle East before the Second World War. It was a perfect time capsule of what life was like in a time one can hardly imagine now. She captures the environment perfectly, she tells humorous stories of herself, husband, and all who help their expedition, she depicts the people of the region honestly and with beauty. The reader comes away with an intense picture of what travel really meant. She may have been a Dame of the Empire, but she certainly wasn't travelling in a five-star fashion.

But I especially loved her candour. Agatha is blunt, opinionated, funny. A girl after my own heart. I can't help but love her even more for knowing that in real life she was more than willing to call a spade a spade, make a joke at her own expense, and use her keen power of observation when meeting new people. I wish we could have met, or at least enjoyed a weekend party at a country house together - no murder necessary!

Come, Tell Me How You Live is a must read for any travel lover no matter your feelings on Agatha Christie, and if you love her famous mysteries it is a special treat to read how she saw the world, and her life.

Visit Housewifespice for more great Wednesday reads!

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Tuesday, March 11, 2014

How NOT to freak out about preparing your child to receive the sacraments

I could swear it was yesterday when I was pregnant with my first born. I vividly remember the months of morning sickness and throwing up on the side of country roads on the way to work, the thirty-some hours of labor, the 12-plus weeks of colic and constant crying; she was a baby only a blink of an eye ago.

And now she'll be 7 in a few months. She's reading, taking care of chores around the house, feeding her baby sister baby food, and using the word "splendid" in conversation. How did this happen?!

I remember those first few months with Gemma, adjusting to being a mother in general and I distinctly remember this cute thought floating around my head: "Well, I'm so glad it's going to be such a long time before I have to start thinking about serious parenting things like school for her, and preparing her for First Reconciliation and First Communion." The jokes now on past me because the years flew by, and now I'm tackling homeschooling and thinking of resources to use in the upcoming months to prepare her to receive those sacraments of initiation.

And preparing your child to receive the sacraments can be intimidating! When we had our children baptized we publicly stated we would instruct our children properly. And the sacraments of penance and the Eucharist are the foundations of our Christian life, the establishment of a channel of grace between ourselves and Jesus. A big deal. How our children understand and foster their own friendship with Christ begins now, as does their foundational understanding of the faith and it's beautiful yet complex theology.

But as with most freak outs, if you focus on what really needs to happen you feel a sense of relief because it's a lot simpler than we think. To prepare our kids for the sacraments really means we give them a basic understanding of how God's grace and love is freely given to us in the gift of the sacraments and why we so desperately need them for the health of our souls. Our faith or knowledge might not be perfect but we can still give our kids so much encouragement, exposure, and prayers that God can do much more than we think possible.

Baby steps accompanied with our children's sweet curiosity and sincere faith will help us along. What also will help greatly, especially if you're preparing a sweetie for their first confession, is Kendra's wonderful guide A Little Book about Confession for ChildrenThis book thoughtfully lays out a solid understanding of confession, as well as perfectly presenting the sacrament in a loving and approachable way to children. I appreciated Kendra's writing style in that she neither talked down to a child or embellished the subject matter with fluffy spiritual language. All the different aspects of penance are presented from how a regular confession helps us grow in holiness, to what saints loved about the sacrament, to a very well done examination of conscience that is perfect for a child's first confession.

Now to convince Kendra to write the First Communion version!

Magnificat, (my kids and I have loved every book I've purchased from Magnificat and I can't recommend their children books enough for their quality presentation of the faith) and Ignatius Press kindly sent me a review copy and a copy to give away! I'd love to give it away as it's sure to help every kid and parent preparing for this important step in their faith life.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Saturday, March 8, 2014

No Way to Earn a Star :: Weekends with Chesterton

I'm still reading the remarkable biography of St. Francis of Assisi by G.K. 

Let me tell you that there is no shortage of immensely quotable wisdom to be found on almost every page. But this short sentence is of singular beauty so I thought I'd share it here this week. 

The quote comes from the chapter where St. Francis's transformation from a regular good person into a saint of towering holiness is discussed. Chesterton's interpretation of holiness is everywhere in this chapter and it is refreshing to read. Among many insights Chesterton feels that there exists a stirring paradox of the truly holy person in that they know that they can in no way give back to God all that they owe, yet will give their lives entirely to him freely and passionately. At the heart of this relationship is gratitude. Gratitude always leads to humility and the knowledge that we deserve none of the wonders God has given to us in abundance. 

The truth of this quote resonates deeply and resets our perspective.

Joining Amongst Lovely Things for Weekends with Chesterton.

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Friday, March 7, 2014

Seven Quick Takes vol. 82

Joining Jen for all the 7 newsy tidbits I can muster. Have you preordered her book yet? I have.


Well, I guess blogging for 7 days in a row didn't magically create a habit. I was hoping that since I had been able to blog for 7 days I'd be magically given the powers of inspiration and effortless writing, as well as time to do it, but alas, no way. 
This week was kind of a blur for some reason even though I can't come up with anything exciting we actually did. I guess I kept people alive? School was done? Laundry folded? Riveting stuff ladies and gentlemen.


A couple weeks ago my husband and I bought ourselves cross country skis. We've never cross country skied before, but since we live in the land of never ending tundra and have nothing but wilderness for miles around we figured it would be the most worthwhile wintertime outdoor activity that we could do at home. Because we all know how easy it is leaving the house in the winter with 5 kids under 7 right? Since the weather for the past couple weeks has been absolutely frigid, yesterday was the first day I ventured forth on my skis with my sister who's been skiing around my parents property for about 5 years. She was trying to be gentle with me and telling me to take it slow. But of course I ended up in a heap twice. I couldn't get up, my sister had to turn around from being about 200 yards ahead of me and pull me up. It was fairly pathetic but I laughed pretty hard. Let's just say my tailbone region is bruised significantly.

I guess I'm not making it into biathlon next olympics. 


It never fails but each and every Ash Wednesday fasting completely kicks my ass. I mean really, one day? How hard can one day of fasting be? I of course was eating amply at meals because I'm still nursing so it wasn't even too difficult, but every five minutes I had to lament the lack of snacks or coffee or sweets. I mean, it's staggering how awful it was and how used I am to having food whenever I want.  Most of the world doesn't have food whenever they want. And a large proportion of the world fasts for much longer periods of time. So it's a humbling day when I can't even do it cheerfully one day a year. There's something romantic in the idea of being able to deny yourself basic satisfactions like food for something greater than yourself. It seems simple enough, but so much more complex once we give it a go. Also; I probably should be fasting more often throughout the year. Maybe one day!


In the vein of Lent, I'm not doing too much with the kids yet. I feel like we're slowing breaking ourselves in, and to the kids we're just explaining Lent - over and over again. Gemma is really concerned about the lack of treats and why Jesus wouldn't want treats. Apparently Gemma thinks Jesus woulda liked to eat treats too, thus, why shouldn't she have her treats? It sorta makes sense, so I keep going around in a circular argument about how when we really love someone we want to do hard things because we love them so much like we love Jesus. I don't know if it's working with her.

Dom is obsessed with "40 days!". He likes to insert this into any conversation he's having. We'll be talking about something we have to do on Saturday and he'll interject "BECAUSE IT'S 40 DAYS TILL EASTER!"

I really loved Sarah's post on Lent with small children. She should come by and do it with my kids when she gets a minute!


Have you seen this great article on a pilates class being done while praying the rosary? I think it's just awesome and would really love to do that. I love pilates and haven't done them in a while, but having pilates and the rosary together-it's the ultimate two birds, one stone! Especially for us moms who have no time for either exercise or prayer. I think I'm going to order the dvd and give it a shot! 


Does banana bread count as a sweet? I'm trying to give up my cookie habit but have a million overripe bananas. 

And how did overripe bananas happen in this house? I can't remember the last time we didn't eat all the bananas. It's a strange anomaly. My kids go through fruit like water. We are in buying fruit at Costco once a week territory and my boys aren't even 6 yet. Seriously, by the time they're teenagers I have this dread that grocery shopping will be my full time job. I may have to move to a city just to get grocery delivery! 


This weekend the weather is supposed to be above zero! I'm going to be out in shorts and a tee shirt gleefully plotting my garden and ignoring the over three feet of snow that has to melt in order to even see the ground. 

And have you joined in the wonderful Lenten photo challenge on Instagram, HolyLens? It's a new Lenten topic each day and you try to capture it somehow in a photo. Basically, I love a challenge that fuels my Instagram love. If you're on the 'gram follow me over here.

Hope everyone has a great weekend!

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Sunday, March 2, 2014

Great Books for Lent and a What I Wore Sunday

It's that time of year again, when Lent rolls around and we have the inclination or urge, or prompting of the Holy Spirit to read something to challenge us spiritually for Lent.

Obviously it's a good practice, St. Benedict was probably never wrong when it came to this type of thing, and I love reading so I really enjoy the practice of picking some type of spiritual book especially for Lent. But I know it can feel a bit intimidating as well, because there's just so much and we don't want to fail or be bored to death or not understand some heavy piece of spiritual writing. We want to feel recharged, or revitalized, or reencounter our prayer life and relationship with God in a new way.

I've come up with some books that I've read myself and which I thought were the most beneficial in one way or another. I'm giving a short description because I think the Holy Spirit will try and grab us if something jumps out at us, and if it something does jump out at you just go for it, what can you lose?!

The Practice of the Presence of God - This is a great foundational book to the life of prayer that I can't say enough about. It is so simple, beautiful, and short but completely revolutionizes the way you see God and prayer.

 Abandonment to Divine Providence - Another wonderful foundational book that I found really helpful in regards to our view of God's will in our lives and how to live as closely to it as possible as well as living in the moment. The writing is a little more difficult, but it is well worth the read because there are treasures on every page. This was also a very influential work to St. Therese of Lisieux.

Story of a Soul: The Autobiography of St. Therese of Lisieux, Third Edition - Again a great read for anyone! St. Therese's philosophy and spirituality really is a game changer for anyone at any stage of their spiritual journey. I have to admit I went into reading this initially a little skeptical, and thought St. Therese would only apply to the very, very seriously spiritual. But not so - a simply amazing book.

Season of Mercy: Lent and Easter - A book of writings by Catherine Doherty on the meaning of Lent leading into the Easter season. Catherine had a very unique yet mystical view of the liturgical seasons and any reading of her writings will add so much to your understanding of Lent in the broader context of the worldwide Church, while at the same time challenging your own heart in many ways. This is also a good introduction to different themes that Catherine wrote much one. Very short, easy to read meditations for a weekly basis if I remember correctly.


Pope Emeritus Benedict wrote so much that there is a huge wealth of his knowledge to read, probably enough to last any of us a lifetime. I've read Journey to Easter: Spiritual Reflections for the Lenten Season, which contained great shorter meditations on Lent specifically. His trilogy on the life of Christ is so insightful and really worth a deep study or 40 days of dedication, more pertinent to Lent is the second book, Jesus of Nazareth: Holy Week: From the Entrance Into Jerusalem To The Resurrection. I'm hoping to get to his writing on female saints Holy Women, a collection of various homilies, talks, and reflections, this Lent.

If you're looking for a more contemporary, yet still very insightful book about prayer, the struggles of faith and friendship I'd highly recommend Love & Salt: A Spiritual Friendship Shared in Letters. It's an amazingly well written book of letters between two friends, one in the process of conversion and the other deepening her Catholic faith. Very Lent-fitting!

This year I'm also reading Lent and Easter Wisdom from G.K. Chesterton because I clearly can't get enough Chesterton. But really, I thought this would be a little lighter and it is a daily devotional which shouldn't take too much out of me, but will hopefully get accomplished everyday. This book comes from a series about Lent and Easter with compilations by tons of amazing saints and spiritual writers, if you've got another favourite you'd like to journey with through Lent this might be a series to look into.

And now for a bonus outfit! 

The temperature when we got to Mass last night was -25 C. On March 1. All ye abandon hope for every wearing a skirt again! Since our old, old church also has an indoor temperature in the single digits it was a chilly Mass. But this is what I mustered!

Can we talk about the half-tucked-in-shirt look for a second? Because I tired it with this outfit and it was a miserable fail. For the record.
I'm also working on not looking so short in photos, but impossible!

Happy Sunday, and visit the rest of the best dressed at FLAP.

And look at that...7 Posts in 7 Days! Major Accomplishment! 

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