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Guests and Ghosts

Guest bloggers ... ghostwriters ... It's like Forest's box of chocolates - you never know what you're going to get!
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Beautiful daughter, please remember that I love you!

This post originally appeared on Our Journey with Anxiety and Autism


Exactly 16 weeks ago Kendall came home with a letter that made me cry. It was a letter I was never prepared to read as a parent let alone from my eight year old. I have spent the last four months making sure this little angel knows that she is loved. I have tried to teach her that loving herself is the most important lesson she can learn. I tried to let her know that once she finds love with herself the important friends in her life will surface. Words I live by for myself, but by no means a concept I understood at eight years old. I tried to sit down and write about this so many times, but couldn’t put into words what I was trying to say.

Daughter letter

“When I feel bully I wish that I chould die”. Those were the words I read over and over again. They never got easier to read and they still are impossible for me to understand. I thought I had been doing everything right to make sure my children knew that they were loved. The thing is, the bulk of their days are spent away from me. They are spent at school, camp, extended day, and other activities with kids who don’t share the same joy and love for my child. Kendall can come home and be sassy with me and yell at me and she knows at the end of it I will hug her and still love her. Those big reactions don’t always work well with other kids though, and there is no guarantee they will want to continue to be her friend.

Before you get angry and wonder what eight year olds are bullying her or if we have involved the school I want you to know that we don’t think any of the behaviors from her friends were intentional. And to answer the other piece of your internal monologue, yes we involved the school.

Through our processing with her we don’t think anyone was intentionally being mean to Kendall to see her hurting. We have discovered more so through all of this that she lacks confidence and coping skills. Blessing or curse she inherited my big heart and with a big heart comes a lot of emotions. Sometimes those emotions become too much to handle and for Kendall that typically means a big reaction. A reaction that makes other kids not want to play with her because they can’t understand why she is upset. Or she can have a reaction that makes her simply be mean to other kids because she lacks the appropriate skills on how to cope when she is feeling discouraged. This is not to say that at some point she hasn’t been teased or left out of a group, but that is to be expected to some extent in elementary school and it would be unfair to label another child as a bully at this point and time based on the information we have from her.

Daughter smile

When I first read this letter I wanted to know immediately who was making her feel bullied and she couldn’t tell me. She didn’t fully understand the word bully, but to her feeling left out of any group or situation to her was being bullied. Some days she would be best friends with a group of girls and other days she would at odds with them. Although I don’t remember this starting in second grade for me, unfortunately these friendship behaviors are normal developmental stages. In speaking with her teachers she would get angry with her friends for getting picked for something she wanted or for choosing a different activity than she suggested. She didn’t like not getting her way and it was causing her to fight with her peers.

There was a larger issue than bullying in the letter though and I had to then ask the difficult question, what did death mean to her? Her answer showed many of us that she didn’t fully understand the impact of that statement. However, the follow-up statements of wanting to runaway when she was feeling sad were equally concerning.

I have spent the last four months watching her every move. Processing her day with her. Asking probing questions of her. I am loving her without coddling her. I am crying in a different room from her so she doesn’t see me hurting and she sees what strength looks like. I sneak in her room and sit by her bedside every night after she falls asleep just to watch her be at peace.

Mother daughter

Photo by Kim Lyn Photography


She apologized for writing the letter. I applauded her for writing it. I made sure her teachers were applauding her for writing it too. What strength it took this little girl to put into words her struggles. She demonstrated that she has the ability to learn coping strategies and writing is one of those. She now has a journal at home and school that she is encouraged to use for both happy and sad days.

We have her seeing someone now, her “feelings doctor” as she likes to call her. She comes out of the sessions beaming and excited for what they are going to work on the following week. She is learning the difference between a big problem and a little problem. She is learning to take a deep breath. She is learning how to be a kid even with a mind that doesn’t ever stop worrying.

She is far from cured as emotional development is a lengthy process, but I need to make sure she keeps talking, keeps writing, keeps communicating her struggles so she never feels alone with her family. Thank you to everyone who has reached out to us already. She definitely feels the love and we have been trying to encourage her to embrace those near and far who want her to succeed.

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LuLa Who?

I know you, my stylish friends, are well aware of LuLaRoe... or maybe some of you aren't? Either way, I would like to discuss the addiction that is LuLaRoe. This company is probably best known for their leggings that come in all kinds of prints, although they do have quite a variety of other clothing styles. Believe it or not, I only just recently found out about and started buying from LuLaRoe boutiques. And guess what?!? I don't own a single pair of their leggings! I'm not really a legging person, but I do love their pencil skirts, which in LuLaRoe speak is the Cassie Skirt. Here's a few of mine and how I style them.

LuLaRoe Cassie

I have quite a collection of Cassies. For a pencil skirt, they fit really well and have enough stretch so that you don't feel like you have to take tiny baby steps when walking in them. Because I've been there...trying to walk in a pencil skirt that's too tight... it's not cute.

Since I am new to the wonderful world of LuLaRoe I asked a friend who sells the clothing to give me her input on the clothing line, what her favorite style is... etc. I am also linking to her LuLaRoe Facebook page, in case you are an addict like me and like to see what everyone has in their boutiques...because unicorns!!!!

Here's Tiffany. You can find her LuLaRoe page at LuLaRoeTiffanyLupo (Facebook). This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

“My name is Tiffany I'm a wife and a mother to 3 beautiful children all under the age of 5. My life is definitely beautiful chaos at times and I love it !! I have always been into fashion and clothes but once I became a mom I felt like I barely had time to get ready let alone dress myself up! I found myself wearing yoga pants probably 6 days of the week then I tried on my first pair of LuLaRoe leggings and I fell in love , not only were they comfortable but they were cute !! I then went from one pair of leggings to well,,, a lot then I started to fall in love with all their clothes !!! I then decided I should be a consultant and help other women feel beautiful! LuLaRoe's clothing are made for all women of all ages and sizes !! There is something for everyone! Whether you wear a bold print or a solid !

My personal favorite is the Julia dress, I wear it as a dress in the spring and summer and in the winter I tuck it under and wear it with leggings and boots!!! Let me help you find some clothes to make you feel comfortable and beautiful!

You are beautiful for you are fearfully and wonderfully made . Psalms 139:14”

When I mentioned to Tiffany that I didn't have any styles other than the Cassie, she offered to set up a personal shopping day so that I could try on different LuLaRoe styles. And, can I say, we had the MOST fun. It was also great “research”. I tried on all of the styles that she had in my size, and while I still really love the Cassie skirts, I now know that I'm a Julia fan too!

Julia dress

The truth is that I fell in love with Julia. The versatility comes in handy, and I like the idea of changing the length of it to suit the season and your outfit. Feels like I'm getting more for my money, am I right?!?!? Here's the same Julia dress folded under into a tunic and paired with their leggings (yes I actually bought the leggings too!) Never say never.

Julia leggins

Julia pink

Another Julia dress! This one matched the pink in my hair! And look at my face! So funny. I totally bought this one. So cute! She also had a few Cassie skirts that I just had to have. We had a beautifully warm February day to take these photos, and now, after the recent cold snap, I'm dreaming of warmer days!!!

tank top

jean jacket

Apparently, there are a LOT of different ways to wear LuLaRoe clothing. I really had no idea. I really recommend going to a LuLaRoe pop up because the ladies who sell the clothing really know their stuff! Tiffany showed me how to tie this Irma tee a few different ways. This one is a size bigger then my normal, so I was able to experiment with how to style it. The stretchy material of this one helped too. I ended up buying it, because, hello!!! It matches my hair!!!!!!

Irma tee

And, while all the clothing was beautiful and very comfy, I didn't love everything that I tried on. Here are the things that I didn't buy. That being said, I loved the Sarah Cardigan; I just want to hold out for a solid colored one. The top grey colored tee is an Irma, and the bottom green one is a perfect tee. I liked the Irma knotted; I thought it was a cute idea, but my wallet told me no. LOL.


I can certainly see, now, how people get addicted to this clothing. And I have expanded my collection quite a bit since this shopping... errr “research” day. Please head over to my personal blog for more on LuLaRoe. I also feature another one of my friends’ LuLaRoe pages, so you’ll want to add her to your “must see” list.


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Don’t Discount Secondhand

Today I want to talk about one of my favorite things: buying secondhand. Now, don't be afraid, I know there's sometimes a negative connotation associated with buying secondhand. What would you say if I told you, that 80% of my wardrobe is secondhand? No really, #truth. The majority of my wardrobe is secondhand. If you think about it, it's not that crazy. Ok, well, my obsession with impractical shoes borders on crazy, but that's a story for another day. Moving on...

We all clean out our closets and then donate what no longer fits, or we just aren't wearing anymore. I've donated clothes that are perfectly fine, are still in style and have barely been worn; they just didn't work for me anymore. I'm here to tell you, to yell it off the rooftops, give secondhand a chance! All right, so it does require a bit of patience, time and a few helpful tips. But that's why you have me!

There are a few different ways to shop secondhand. Locally, of course there are thrift stores (I tend to stalk, er, visit Goodwill frequently) and other resale shops like clothes mentor. There are also online stores like ThredUp that sell secondhand clothing. Today, I’ like to talk about ThredUp, because honestly, it's my favorite. ThredUp is an online secondhand store that sells women's clothing, shoes and even kids’ clothing all well below retail value. On any given day, you might find this on my doorstep:

thred up box

It's so happy sitting there..the polka dot box, the happy colors! It's happy mail!

But seriously, my husband thinks I'm a bit crazy regarding my love affair of ThredUp. I use their app, and it's very easy to navigate. So easy it's dangerous! Make sure you filter it by your sizes, and I always check the new arrivals and the shoes section. Also, be sure to read the description and check the condition of the item. ThredUp is really good at telling you if there are any issues with the condition of the item. I usually only buy things that say “new with tags” or “like brand new”.


( This cardigan is my all-time favorite and it's from ThredUP!)

I can neither confirm nor deny that I currently have a cart full of more stuff for my “research”...hopefully the box comes when hubby isn't here, wink wink. Back to the important stuff...when you are adding things to your cart, keep in mind that they won't stay there. ThredUp has a time limit on items in your cart, I haven't figured out exactly how long it is, but I think you get 18-24hours. Once you order, and your box comes, you have two weeks to decide if you want to keep it. Try everything on, but if you decide to return things, they have to be returned in original condition to get a refund. Returns are easily done online; you can even print your own label. They offer different options for returns and I always choose the “return for store credit” option because it's free shipping. And who am I kidding, I spend the store credit as soon as I get it, so it's a win-win.



(These dresses and my favorite jacket came from ThredUp!!)

Now you know about my secret love affair with ThredUP, go see what treasures await you. Just don't shop my size...ok?!? Also, head over to my personal blog to read more about shopping secondhand locally and see a few more of my favorite secondhand outfits!

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A Short Rant on Twin Day

twin dayI do love twins! Just not Twin Day!

So we’re in the thick of it again at my child’s middle school: Spirit Week. I forget each year that this horror is approaching until a Monday morning—and it’s always the kind of Monday where I’ve either overslept or my cat has thrown up all over the kitchen floor-- and my son announces that he needs a crazy hat, or perhaps hair dye; or is it sports jersey or funny socks day?

He’s never quite sure of what he needs, only that the fate of the free world hangs on his appropriate attire, so one of us has to pull up the school website and try to find what’s what and then panic when we realize we don’t have or can’t find the necessary items to fulfill the day’s requirements. And then it’s 5 minutes before his bus is due to arrive and mass panic followed by a mad dash out the door ensues.

But worse than all these “fun days” (fun for everyone but the parents who have to scramble to find the necessary components to show that their kid has spirit), is the dreaded Twin Day. Every year this one seems to make an appearance in the line-up and every year I wonder, “Why?”

Why give kids an opportunity to exclude or snub each other? Why make them find that onespecialfriend to synch up with and match outfits? If a day could be specifically designed to promote anxiety and the feeling of being left out, I can’t think of a better one than Twin Day. The shy kid, the new kid, the awkward kid—can they find anyone to be their twin? Are the schools trying to make these kids feel bad about themselves and their social capital? If not, what are they trying to do?

Even your run-of-the mill kid who has a good number of friends can have trouble with Twin Day. In the past my son has forgotten to coordinate with a friend and ended up twin-less and sad due to being a typically disorganized boy. My daughter has had issues with this day, too. She was part of tight trio in fourth grade. The relationships between the three girls ebbed and flowed that year and as Twin Day approached, she was definitely number 3. The other two decided to be twins and she was excluded. That is, until one of the other moms got wind of what was going on and declared that they would be triplets. Save!

So let me make a modest proposal. Let’s spirit the heck out of Spirit Week. Sure, it’s a little crazy, trying to find the right components to make up an outfit, but it’s basically a good kind of crazy. Not the bad-feeling-in-the-pit-of-your-stomach kind of crazy when your child realizes they have no twin, or is forced by the day’s structure to pick only one good friend and leave another out. I think we can all agree that school (and life) is stressful enough without that kind of pressure!

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It's Stylish to Plan Ahead

If there's one question that I get asked a lot it's “Can I have a snack?” Oh, no wait, that's the question my kids ask me all the time... I need to switch on the adult conversation mode. Adults frequently ask me “How do you manage to get dressed every morning and look so nice?” I get why they ask; having two young kids at home who have to be shuttled around and told only about a million times to put on actual clothes and to use actual (not pretend) soap when washing their hands, it can be hard to focus on yourself. Let's not even talk about having to do anything before having coffee. I thought I'd share with you what I do to lessen the craziness of my mornings. It’s pretty simple: I plan out all of my outfits.

Now, don't get me wrong, normally I can’t plan my way out of a cardboard box, so planning anything doesn't really come naturally to me. I think I'm missing that gene. But, regardless, I decided when I started my style journey, that I needed a way to streamline getting ready in the mornings so that I wouldn't fall back on my unstylish ways.

Here's what I do, I check my style groups style challenge list, shout out to my OOTD ladies (find “outfit of the day” group on Facebook), and every week or two I pull clothes that I want to wear and that might work for the style challenge for that day. I make a pretty big mess of clothing when I do this; seriously, it looks like a bomb went off in my closet and threw clothes all over the bedroom. It's a process...and that’s fine. My husband thinks I'm a little cray cray... but that’s fine, too. I spend maybe an hour, sometimes less, trying on all of the outfits and making necessary adjustments. I also take photos, because sometimes, an outfit looks ok in the mirror, but when I take a picture it's like “What in the heck is this?” And away it goes.

outfit planningMy outfit planning mess, half of it anyway…don't look in my bathroom


In all seriousness though, if I didn't plan my outfits, I honestly don't think that I could get it together in the mornings. There are days, though, that I look at what I had planned and I'm just not feeling it. It's kinda like when you REALLY want a chocolate sundae but the only thing you have in the house is strawberry ice's still ice cream but it's just not the RIGHT ice cream. It's so unsatisfying. So, for those mornings, I have a back-up outfit. Yup, here's me the “Not so great at planning” lady saying I actually plan a few extra back up outfits for the days when I hate everything! This helps tremendously, and calms my frustration when an unsatisfactory outfit pops up.

backupMy most recent back-up outfit saved the day!

Ok, so, how do I keep everything organized after I've decided on each outfit? I hang every piece of the outfit up together in my closet. I have a dedicated area in my closet for my planned outfits. But I quickly realized that I had a hard time remembering which outfit was for which day, so I made labels with the days of the week! It reminds me of those underpants that have days of the week on them...not that I still have those or anything!

hangersIt looks a little messy, but I promise it's legit!

Can you even believe that I thought of this? Who am I?!? Typed and everything! And, if I happen to have two outfits (like a dress for church then an after-church outfit) I just loop the string with the label over both hangers! Fantastic!

Take it from me, when mornings are already so hectic and crazy, it's easiest to take one thing out of the equation. Planning outfits will help make mornings a little more tolerable and a lot more stylish :)

To read more from me please check out my blog at

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Pouches' Community Corner

Be KIND at Home and Abroad

pouches cartoon

This month, Pouches highlights two community events and one international aid opportunity for families to support. 

On October 13, there will be a Kindness Day pancake breakfast at Spotsylvania Towne Centre. On the 20th, the Happy and Healthy Kids Fair is at the Children's Museum Fredericksburg.

Also in October, Pouches is preparing for a trip to Ecuador to bring used orthotics and prosthetics to people in need in that country.