Stories of Our Boys http://storiesofourboys.com Stories from a mom of 4 boys, to make you laugh & encourage you in your faith. Thu, 17 Aug 2017 16:07:28 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.8.1 http://storiesofourboys.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/blogchalkbutton-75x75.png Stories of Our Boys http://storiesofourboys.com 32 32 78942211 Stitch Fix: Yea or Nay? http://storiesofourboys.com/2017/08/16/stitch-fix-yea-or-nay/ http://storiesofourboys.com/2017/08/16/stitch-fix-yea-or-nay/#comments Wed, 16 Aug 2017 16:20:56 +0000 http://storiesofourboys.com/?p=10616   ***Disclosure: This post does contain Stitch Fix ad links. If your purchase through these links, I do receive compensation. However, all the clothes were purchased from my own pocket, and opinions are my own.*** “Stitch Fix, yea or nay?” was a question I posed to my blog’s Facebook page a month ago. Before I even tried it out, I wanted

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Stitch Fix: Yea or Nay? Full review and explanation of how Stitch Fix works.

 

***Disclosure: This post does contain Stitch Fix ad links. If your purchase through these links, I do receive compensation. However, all the clothes were purchased from my own pocket, and opinions are my own.***

Stitch Fix, yea or nay?” was a question I posed to my blog’s Facebook page a month ago. Before I even tried it out, I wanted to hear some feedback to know if I should bother. Most everyone seemed to think I should go for it, but I was warned that it’s not super thrifty.

For a few years now, I’ve heard my sister-in-law as well as my friend Hillary talk about how much they like Stitch Fix. I’ve seen my favorite blogger, Crystal Paine, do unboxing videos from her Stitch Fix shipments.

So what is Stitch Fix exactly?

It’s a service that provides you 5 new clothing or accessory items in each box through the mail. Each item is hand-selected for you personally by a Stitch Fix stylist. You decide how often you get the box. You can choose just once, every few weeks, every couple of months, quarterly, etc.

Clothes are something I LOVE, but I never actually signed up because I was afraid it would be a gigantic money pit.

Also, since I do love clothes and shopping, I didn’t feel like I needed someone to do my shopping for me.

You know what I mean?

How can we know they will choose affordably cute clothes and not just tease us with beautiful clothing that we cannot even afford and have to send back anyway??

Well, wonder no longer. I’m going to give you more information here than even Stitch Fix probably wants me to give you, so you can make an informed decision.

Disclosure #2: I need to invest in better lighting for my photos, so I can wash out my wrinkles and freckles…

First, let me tell you about the Process.

When you sign up, you go to Stitchfix.com, and you answer questions about your body type, clothing needs, and your style. Truthfully, I enjoyed this part because for some reason I enjoy answering questions about myself and my clothing.

Answer as HONESTLY as you possibly can!!! Telling them you wear a 10 when you actually need a 12 will help no one. This is not a fantasy questionnaire. hehehe! I’m only saying this because these are the things I had to tell MYSELF when I was answering these questions.

There are about 25-50 questions, but they are all multiple choice, so no need to panic. Halfway through, I realized I should take screenshots for you to know what to expect:

Multiple choice preference questions

This was so fun. Rate these outfit groups! ….I strongly dislike that orange dress.

Love these!!

I started out with the “occasional update”, but I downgraded to “quarterly top-off” because I bought so much from this last one.

One time only!

You can’t see it in the above photo, but there is also an option to get a one-time box.

Tell them more about you!

They give you an option to tell your stylist more about yourself. Use this!!! I was very specific. I told her I needed more tops, that I love trouser-style pants, and I even got specific on the fact that having 4 babies left me with a pooch. Therefore, please no spandex-tops. Ha!! I even specified that I wear a smaller size shirt if it is super blousy or peasant style.

Also, include your Pinterest profile name if you have one!! You can go on Pinterest and create a board of clothes you like—any clothes at all that you like. It gives them an idea of your taste.

My stylist, Becca, not only viewed my Pinterest boards, but she actually referenced them in the note.

This was my note from my stylist:

So much attention to detail. I was blown away.

 

FEES!!!!

Okay, let’s talk about the fees. Am I saying there is a service fee? Yes, I am. It’s $20. That’s  part of what kept me from signing up for forever!!!

But if only I had known! If you keep any of the clothes Stitch Fix sends you, they deduct the $20 from that item. Ohhhh!!! See, I did not know that.

My First Shipment

If you want to see the full unboxing of my first shipment, here’s the Facebook Live video, but I’m also going to write out everything you need to know below. You won’t miss any information by skipping the video. (I know what it’s like to be reading in public without headphones!!)

 

The first thing you see in your box is this envelope with this note.

Don’t skip the note. (Like I did.) This note includes your message from your stylist and your style suggestions. The envelope also includes the prices of each item, as well as how much your total will be after your discount(s) are applied.

These were my outfit suggestions:

The item in the middle of each block is the item you receive. The items off to the sides are styling suggestions.

The teal top is what I got. Accouterments to the left and right are suggestions.

Suggestions to go with black pants…..I think I know what to do with black pants…but for the fashion challenged, this is actually super helpful.

The elephant top—love this!

casual black dress

There was also a pair of earrings, which I will show you below (keep going).

Did I like everything I got in my box?

….Well, actually I did! It was a home run, but I did not expect that. Please don’t expect that you will love everything you get in every box. There’s no way.

My box was full of beautiful clothes that I would have bought for myself if I had found them at Kohl’s. Totally.

But did they fit??

Believe it or not……

Okay, not my best dress photo, but how sweet is he? I couldn’t leave this one out.

These are the super cute earrings, which by the way, match the teal top that was also in my box.

This outfit will be cute with flats, heels, or boots! I’m wearing THREE of my Fix items here: the earrings, the shirt, and the pants.

And my FAVORITE part….

 

This elephant shirt!!!! Love!!!

Okay, yes, it all looks awesome, sure, but…

How much did all of this cost???

In MY opinion, their prices are inflated to pay the shipping and the stylists. There is no shipping charge on top of what you pay, but there is still sales tax.

Was it affordable??? It was moderately affordable to me.

I could have gotten just the elephant shirt for $48, minus the $20, so $28.

Both shirts were $48 a piece, more than I usually pay.

The dress was actually reasonably priced, in my opinion. $68 is reasonable for a dress. If you were only buying the dress from this box, it would be only $48.

The earrings were $28. $10 to $20 would have been more exciting.

Like I mentioned before, you are also paying for the service.

The only item I felt was way over-priced was the pants, at $88, I was like “Whaaa???”

Oh!!! One more thing about the prices!!

When you answer those initial sign-up questions on StitchFix.com, they ask you your price range. I marked “as cheap as possible” for everything EXCEPT for pants. That may be why my trousers cost more. It’s important to me to have high quality pants. I can’t explain it.

So how did I choose what to get?

I could have bought 3 of these Stitch Fix items for $104, but that’s not including the dress. Finding dresses that fit me well is difficult, so I wanted to get the dress. That would have put me at $172.

4 for $172 (no pants)

or all 5 for only $190 (including the pants)…...You can see why I chose to just buy it all! 

If you buy everything in your box, you get a 25% discount plus your $20 styling fee off.

I did the math, dispersing the discounts in my head where I so desired…

That made it like I was getting the tops for $38/piece, the earrings for $28, the dress for $68, and the pants for $18…..the way I did the math!! Ha!! You could distribute the dollars however you want. I did it that way because if I sent anything back, it would have been the pants.

 

…So Stitch Fix? Yea or Nay???

I’m going to have to go with “Yea!!!”, BUT since I bought all of it this time, I had to move my next Fix further out. It was super simple to switch from “every other month” to “quarterly”.

This will be a special, quarterly treat that I will be looking forward to.

What about you? Do you need help choosing new outfits? Want to give it a whirl?

Click on the photo below to give it a trial run. Let me know how it goes!! Already tried Stitch Fix? Comment below to tell us what you thought!



 

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Sending Our Son to War in the Beginning of the War on Terrorism http://storiesofourboys.com/2017/08/13/sending-our-son-to-war-in-the-beginning-of-the-war-on-terrorism/ http://storiesofourboys.com/2017/08/13/sending-our-son-to-war-in-the-beginning-of-the-war-on-terrorism/#comments Sun, 13 Aug 2017 20:52:42 +0000 http://storiesofourboys.com/?p=10599   *****Alan’s mother, Donna, aka Nonna, is here today to share with us a speech she gave at her church in 2004, when Alan returned from his first deployment to Iraq. This is part of the series, The Real Army Wives, appearing every Monday on storiesofourboys.com.***** When Alan accepted the ROTC scholarship after his second year in college, we knew

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Army sister, mom, & wife the 1st Christmas Alan was in Iraq, 2003. Our t-shirts have the 4th ID logo and read “Ho Ho Hooah!”

 

*****Alan’s mother, Donna, aka Nonna, is here today to share with us a speech she gave at her church in 2004, when Alan returned from his first deployment to Iraq. This is part of the series, The Real Army Wives, appearing every Monday on storiesofourboys.com.*****

When Alan accepted the ROTC scholarship after his second year in college, we knew that someday he might have to go to war, but war was not in sight at that time and the next war would probably be over fast because of all the technology. His decision to sign up was stressful for all of us, but he had really prayed about it. Alan felt like he owed it to his country, was fit and able to serve, and could use the army as his mission field.

Now how could we argue with all that? We were very proud of him and supported his decision. My husband, David’s, daddy had retired as a Lt. Col. and was gung-ho Army, as well as our nephew who is an Army Major. I had an uncle who had died in Vietnam so our family has always understood how important the military is to us. We have always been patriotic and thankful to God to be Americans.

Alan was a college senior on 9-11 and we all knew what that meant. That’s when we became even more aware of world events.

When Alan was commissioned upon graduation, he promised to support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; to bear true faith and allegiance to the same. He took the obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion, and would well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office upon which he was about to enter…so help him God.

Now when you hear your son take that oath, it really touches you. We were so proud of him.

Sending our son to war in the beginning of the war on terrorism #armymom

Sending Our Son to War

When he received orders for Iraq, they were for February, 2003.

He and April had only been with the 4th ID at Ft. Hood since the middle of January. Remember all the fuss with Turkey about whether or not our troops could pass through there to enter Iraq? Well, this went on for several weeks so their deployment date kept changing.

saying good-bye to Alan at the airport in Killeen–or was it Austin?–Texas, 2003

We talked on the phone with him several times a week. He was packed and ready to go at a moment’s notice. David and I flew out there the end of February for a weekend. Alan’s duffle bags, gas mask, chemical suit, etc. were all in the hall-we just had to walk around them. Alan was ready to go. Like he said, it was like practicing football week after week and waiting for your chance to play and prove what you could do.

He wanted to just go, do it, and come back. It was so hard to leave them at the airport that trip. It helped us so much to know that April was there for him.

I guess the worst part was the waiting for that call to say he was gone.

Our TV pretty much stayed on the news trying to hear something about when they would leave and what they would find when they got there. It was like, well, the sooner they leave, get there, do the job, then the sooner he can come home and things get back to normal.

Then the call came…

Sunday night, March 30. April stayed with him at the gym until early morning, then called us after he left. They had been together for 3 ½ months…that is a short honeymoon. She wanted to stay at Ft. Hood in their house. After all, his deployment was only for 4-6 months.

We anxiously waited for news, phone calls, and/or letters. Letters took 3-4 weeks each way at first.

Alan in Iraq, with the standard camera of the times…

I just kept thinking about what it must have been like for mothers during the previous wars when they did not hear anything for months or even years!

Every time the news said 4th ID was involved in an incident, then we were really glued to the TV and the internet. David found some internet sites with very up-to-date news and he checked them often day and night.

If we heard about a death or injury in the 4th ID, we were quite anxious, especially if the phone rang.

April had told us that she would call immediately if she ever had a report of injury or a condolence call. Now that was nerve-racking.

Then you hear “Three soldiers from the 4th ID were killed this morning in an IED attack near Tikrit.” That was where Alan was. With the news like it is now, we would hear of incidents right away, hours before families had been contacted. We would try to plan so one of us was near the phone until names were released.

David spent many nights sleeping on the floor in the den in front of the TV listening for news updates. There were days when I would leave for school (teaching middle school) and David (self-employed) would stay on the internet, in front of the TV, and by the phone to hear names released. Then he would call me at school to let me know that it was not Alan. Once that sank in, then we mourned for the families of the lost.

This went on for the whole year. Yes, that 4-6 month deployment turned into 12 months.

The first 7 months Alan did not have email or regular phone service. He could only call occasionally on a line relayed through a military station to a stateside military installation and then patched through to us. There was a bad voice delay and service was usually cut off suddenly.

April was great about calling us right after his calls to her. This was so comforting to know that at that moment, at least, he was safe. She would also email us copies of his letters-minus the mushy stuff- as soon as she got them. That was such a comfort for us- she was wonderful.

A family member, Major Jay Nelson, took the time to explain to Nonna how the whole structure of the Army works. 4th Infantry Division is divided into brigades, which are divided into battalions, which are divided into companies, and so on…

The first 6 months were extremely hard, but then David and I talked about our real feelings with each other. We knew God had blessed us with 2 wonderful children and a daughter-in-law who were all strong Christians.

We had reared Alan the best we could. He was doing his duty and what he wanted to do. We were secure in the fact that God could take care of him over there. We couldn’t, and no amount of our worrying could, but God could. And if God saw in His plan for Alan not to come home, Alan would be with Him, we would see him in eternity one day, and God would give us strength to handle it.

That is when we really turned our worrying over to God and really placed Alan in God’s hands.

We were still scared, but God helped us handle it. We could really tell a difference in our stress levels, still high, but lower than before, and easier to function every day.

It meant so much for our church family and friends to express concern for Alan, appreciation for his service for us as Americans, and your prayer support.

So many even sent him cards, letters, and/or packages. These meant as much to us as to him- and that was a lot! Alan really appreciated letters and packages from everyone. He especially appreciated hearing from those that were not family, as he just expected to hear from family.

I remember him mentioning when he called one time about how upsetting the news could be over there. When the troops would hear politicians against the war and saw polls against the war, it really hurt them to think that Americans back home were not behind them. They took it very much to heart.

The news mainly seemed to cover the bad things over there. Alan wished the news would show more of what was really happening. They never showed how much we were improving things for the Iraqi people, nor how appreciative the Iraqis were of our help.

His return was delayed for days too. He could not tell us exactly when he would leave Iraq.

Flights had to be secret for security reasons. It was another exciting time just waiting for him to let April know he was in “the States.” Finally, she called and said he was in Delaware.  Alan would be in Ft. Hood in a few hours.

Was that ever exciting!!!!

April called us when his plane flew over their house and touched down on the runway. Then she talked to us as she was driving to the gym. Then Alan called for just a minute when they walked in the house.

I can’t really describe the relief.

The tears flowed, revealing just how uptight we had been. Just talking to him and knowing that he was in his house, with April, and nobody was shooting at him or trying to blow him up was enough. Lots of people could not believe that we did not fly out there right away. But remember, they had only had 3 ½ months together and we did not want to intrude. We knew she was taking really good care of him for us.

No matter how you feel about the war on terror, please don’t hurt the soldiers and their families, even unintentionally, by what you say. Remember, these men and women volunteered to fight to protect our country. They are willing to give their lives if necessary to protect us.

We are so proud of Alan. They don’t make the decisions about where they are sent. It really hurts them and their families when people say we shouldn’t be there without adding “But I appreciate and support the troops.” Remember, they are fighting to protect us, here in Roanoke, from terrorism.

Fighting over there may prevent fighting in our front yards. Some have even given their lives for us. I appreciate every soldier, both now and in the past, and their families who wait at home.

We are proud of Alan and how he has chosen to live his life.

We will be here to support him and his family through it all. Thank you so much for your prayers and support. As Alan reminds us, please don’t forget to continue praying for those who are still in harm’s way, as well as their families.

To those families who have sacrificed loved ones and to all here today who have served in our Armed Forces, I want to say “Thank you” from the bottom of my heart.

Sending Our Son to War in the Beginning of the War on Terrorism

DaddyO and Nonna are now retired. They spend their time taking care of their puppy, visiting family, working word puzzles, reading, teaching Sunday School, visiting their 6 grandchildren, and all sorts of things. They have now been military parents for 15 years and have sent their son to Iraq twice and Afghanistan once.

 

Thanks so much for sharing your story, Nonna! I loved reading the story from a different perspective.

Next week the story continues of handling life alone in Texas, once my husband was gone to Iraq. A new installment of the Real Army Wives series goes up every Monday morning, sometimes even Sunday night! Thanks for following along!

To read last week’s chapter, click here.

 

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Good-bye Summer http://storiesofourboys.com/2017/08/09/good-bye-to-the-summer-i-packed-with-too-many-activities/ http://storiesofourboys.com/2017/08/09/good-bye-to-the-summer-i-packed-with-too-many-activities/#comments Wed, 09 Aug 2017 12:56:21 +0000 http://storiesofourboys.com/?p=10549 Only 1 more day until school starts back!!!  Yay!!!! Y’all, I might have overdone it this summer. Hmmm, Israel, Washington, D.C., trips back and forth to my parents’ as well as Alan’s parents’ house, camps, and the beach!!??? Who does that? It was wonderful, and yet it was also like eating way too much at an all-you-can-eat donut buffet. I

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Only 1 more day until school starts back!!!  Yay!!!!

Y’all, I might have overdone it this summer. Hmmm, Israel, Washington, D.C., trips back and forth to my parents’ as well as Alan’s parents’ house, camps, and the beach!!???

Who does that?

It was wonderful, and yet it was also like eating way too much at an all-you-can-eat donut buffet.

I definitely over-packed this summer with fun activities.

Lesson learned. Schedule more down time. Of course, next summer is a moving summer, so all bets are off for that one.

Daniel with his Vacation Bible School goo.

Good-bye, somewhat-dear summer.

You’ve actually over stayed your welcome. It’s time for fall to arrive. You were a well-behaved summer, the most exciting summer I can remember. There was so much rain that the temps stayed out of the 100s. Thank the Lord for that. We will remember you fondly.

But I need regular life to become more…well, regular…again. So please take a coat with you as you go because last year winter never showed up for work, so it sort of felt like you never truly left us. We’re hoping that won’t happen this year. I happen to like winter.

Goodbye dear summer, thank you for reminding me how much work referee-ing 4 youngsters all day long is when it’s raining outside every blessed day. I do love reminders, but really it is time for you to go.  You really must be leaving. Australia is waiting for you.

All right, hon, you go get cooled off now. Send us some of that rain this winter in the form of snow.

Shut the door, and lock it. I over planned this summer, and I need it to end now.

School supplies are purchased, Open House was last night, and the big day is so close I can taste it.

We received an email the other day saying that the first two days of school will only be half-days, so no school lunch will be provided. I still have to feed them lunch. But I’m not going to let that kind of negativity drag me down, y’all. I bet if I leave ’em up there until 3 with granola bars in their backpack they will just think I got confused……

Kidding. I’m kidding. I will behave.

In all seriousness, we DID have an incredibly fun summer with no mishaps that I can recall. That in and of itself is enough to make anyone thankful. Plus, we went on about  3 different vacations. Amazing.

Yes, this summer actually was quite Disney like.

Here are a few photos of the highlights:

Still one of my favorite places in the world: Destin

Jesus hugging a soldier statue, at a church in Destin.

Some of you will be proud to know that Joshua always makes sure we go to church while on vacation.

 

This is the first time we let them stay up late enough to watch the movie at the pool. It’s always 8:30 before the movie starts, so that it will be dark, and in the past we always had babies.

 

Us in Jerusalem. Wait. Jerusalem? What am I whining about? Best summer ever!!!!

 

Alan’s cousin married one of the most beautiful brides I’ve ever seen, and their wedding was in this incredible building that used to be a Catholic Church.

We danced!

Nonna and DaddyO took the kids back to the hotel around 9, and Alan and I stayed out dancing until 10 or so!!! There should be more weddings. It was so fun to be dancing. More people need to get married and hire a deejay, and then invite us so we can dance.

They danced too.

Also, we taught the boys the YMCA song/dance on this trip.

my clingy sweetheart John David…This boy defines clingy.

By the way, those are the BEST high heels ever. I’ve had them since 2007. I wore them when I walked down the aisle at Amy’s wedding, 9 months pregnant. These are my official wedding shoes.

Just think, in 2001 this was a family of 4.

Washington, D.C. was a bittersweet trip because it made us miss D.C. all over again!!

Hanging with our friends at the Lincoln Memorial

Caleb has studied this giant Megalodon mouth for YEARS, and we finally got to see it in person. *Dreams coming true*

A beautiful day for touring the National Mall

The Capitol

Caleb’s birthday lunch at McDonald’s. Yeah. We’re fancy.

We gave Caleb his choice of places to go on his birthday in D.C. He chose our old neighborhood pool.

Birthday supper at Dairy Queen.

Caleb’s favorite birthday gift…..a Star Wars space ship to build. Anyone who knows Caleb knows he’s a hard core Lego fan.

Movie time with my boys that day my back didn’t work.

It looked this awesome for an hour….and then the strawberry juices ran, and strawberries started sliding off the cake. I just can’t make pretty food!!

The Ultimate Bubble Bath

Family Game Time

Nonna and Aunt Janet took the boys to see the Noah’s Ark replica.

…..and the Corvette Museum

Meanwhile, Sam’s started selling MY FAVORITE gluten-free bread. All other store-bought versions are disgusting. I love THIS stuff.

a house that Caleb built

Hard at work to earn money for a Nintendo Switch. It may take them a while, but they are off to a good start.

 

Yes, okay, this might have been the best summer ever. While I cherish the memories, I have now regressed to “Oh it’s raining, and it’s the last day of summer….Just watch t.v. all day…Yeah, sure, play 3DS too.”

So it’s definitely time to go back to school. Some of the boys were even wishing school was starting back today! Me too, y’all. Me too.

There is a time for everything,

and a season for every activity under the heavens:

2a time to be born and a time to die,

 

a time to plant and a time to uproot,

 

3a time to kill and a time to heal,

 

a time to tear down and a time to build,

 

4a time to weep and a time to laugh,

 

a time to mourn and a time to dance,

 

     Ecclesiastes 3:1-4

 

 

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