Feminine, Functional, Modest {Lularoe Review}

LuLaRoe! You've been teasing me on FB for so long and now I can finally know for myself what women mean when they say:  "Aaaah... the butter soft leggings! Must have more!" I like clothes. I like soft clothes. I even like direct marketing because I love supporting small business and buying directly from individuals. So, I was already inclined to like LuLaRoe. All that remained was for me to actually try the clothes for myself. That was easy enough through an online pop-up store and through Megan who gave me the opportunity to review pieces from her shop. And now I am thrilled to share my experience with you.

(Before I go on... I want to invite you to join her online FB pop-up tonight 11/15 at 8:00pm through tomorrow. Coupon code and details at the bottom of this post.)

So... My fashion perspective is heavily influenced by my preference for athletic apparel and pretty skirts. I am an odd mix and confess utter fashion ignorance outside what I find personally appealing. I like modest but flattering, pretty but functional, and the ability to layer. Having said that...

I'm now firmly a fan of LuLaRoe. It's comfortable (like pajama comfortable), functional, feminine, and suites a modest wardrobe. And although my budget is limited, I'm happy with a few pretty items to improve my usually drab daily "uniform." Let me walk you through a few items with comments...

The RANDY shirt and MAXI

Maxi skirts are my all time favorite article of clothing (followed closely by the hoodie) so I made a beeline straight for the LuLaRoe maxi selection. I was not disappointed and would be happy to have a closet full of these. The drape is beautiful. The fit is perfect (and flexible). Many of the patterns and colors are quite pretty and timeless.

Sizing is flexible (attention post-partum moms!!) because of the fabric and broad yoga waist band - perfect for women who tend to go up and down in girth. I could easily wear this maxi through pregnancy beyond. (I am currently 5 months postpartum and in between waistband sizes.) I am a true size small and this maxi is a small. I think my next purchase would be an XS so that I could wear it at a little higher at my true waist for more styling options. But I love it either way.

Maxi with the Randy for a casual feminine look...

The Randy shirt really appeals to the hoodie and t-shirt lover in me while still allowing me some hey-I'm-dressed-in-big-girl-clothes-today dignity. I am not a fancy gal and would live in sweats and sweatshirts if it wasn't a completely pathetic way to advertise vocational joy. Also, my husband prefers that I wear grown up clothes now and then so that's important. 

So the Randy/Maxi pattern completely wins over the girly-girl-comfort-lover in me. Notice the Converse. If it feels like PJ's and running shoes, it's a win. LuLaRoe is a win. 

I would call many of LuLaRoe's pieces "Feminine Casual" because they really dress up the girl without being fussy. But many of the pieces can also be quite dressy and I love that flexibility. I chose simpler colors and patterns but the options are endless. The pics below I will call:

1) "Tying my shoe to showcase the beautiful maxi drape"

2) "Chunky scarf for the win"

3) "LuLa dressed up." This was a post-Mass pic and yes, I know you can't see anything. But notice the back of the head of the very handsome seminarian I happen to know and love? He has nothing at all to do with LuLaRoe but I love him and consequently, this photo.

IRMA shirt and LEGGINGS

As far as LuLaRoe goes, this is a very boring picture. I am not a loud girl so all of the crazy and colorful prints are something I have to work my way into. My idea of adventurous leggings is the pink ones I'm wearing in the picture below. High adventure I tell you! 

The Irma shirt is one of the most comfortable items I have ever worn, especially with the super soft leggings. The arms are more fitted with a soft, roomy body. The tail of the shirt is longer so it covers the behind. 

I have a small frame so I need to wear an XXS Irma. They run BIG. The one above is a size Small and I really love the style and the comfort (so soft!) but I'm going to share this one with size medium daughter since it fits her perfectly. 

So... yes... the leggings. Have you heard them described as "butter" soft? They are. They really are. I want to live in them. FYI... I do not wear leggings in a way that flashes my bum but many LuLaRoe shirt and dress styles cover nicely.

LLR leggings are known for their fun and sought after prints. If you love prints, you're bound to find something! If I ever take a leap out of my comfort zone with patterns, I'm sure that my Instagram friends will be the first to know. But for now... I'm sticking with boring solids.

CARLY dress

I was not sure which one of the darling LuLaRoe dresses to choose for this review and ended up going with the Carly since it seemed to provide great Winter nursing access (with leggings). I first selected a small and ended up exchanging for an XS. My frame was swimming in the small and it was not redeemable even with strategic knots and belts. The design is roomy so even the XS is a bit big for my frame. But... I found some great video tutorials for styling and liked the rosette tie in back in which to gather some of the fabric. See pics below to see how I tied up the "tail" and bring the waist in a bit. If I don't tie it, the back scoops down to my mid calf. Cute on others, not so much on me.

Before I bought this dress, I scoured the internet for an idea of how it fit. It can truly look like a different dress on different people. Check out Bonnie's blog for her review and pics. This dress looks adorable on her and dressy enough to wear to a wedding. I really like the print which changes the whole look.

Again... notice that I picked gray. But my little pink pocket screams "adventure," no?

Since drafting this post, I've also had the opportunity to try the Cassie skirt and the Amelia dress, both of which I love (a shallow kind of love not an agape kind of love, you understand). I'm very happy with some of my wardrobe adjustments and am pondering the idea that a nice piece purchased occasionally through friends is not a bad way to stay updated.

Shop with me tonight! 

I am a hosting a LuLaRoe Facebook Pop-Up with Megan tonight (11/15) starting at 8pm EST which will be open through tomorrow. Use the coupon code: blossomingjoy15 for 15% off!

If you've never shopped on Facebook, it's super simple. Simply join her shop page, be the first to comment "sold" on any item you want to buy, and fill out the linked purchase form. See you there!!

Megan's LuLaRoe Facebook Page
Megan's LuLaRoe Instagram

Posted on November 15, 2016 and filed under Beauty, fashion.

Why I Don't Swear Online {or Anywhere}

A long time ago, in a galaxy far away (okay, about 20 years ago or so), I had a potty mouth. Unashamed and completely habituated to vulgar and stupid speech, I spewed garbage like a trucker... or... like a typical secular youth. 

I was 10 years old the first time I intentionally swore and tried out my new edgy style on some young friends during a family visit. They had always known me to be quiet, shy, and well-behaved so they were a bit shocked; which, of course, was the intended affect.

My bad language progressed from an occasional and purposeful dart thrown at the unsuspecting, to normal, habitual use which too easily replaced decent descriptive language. It was an easy transition to make; first, because it was easier than using more intelligent language and second, because my peer culture was awash in filth and indecency. My choice of words went hand in hand with a descent into the moral decay of secular American youth. 

Fast forward to my young adult metanoia when I gave my mind, body, and soul to Jesus Christ. It was the first time in my life that I really understood, believed, and lived my Catholic faith. I felt free for the first time, alive, and completely consumed by Christ-fire. As the scales fell from my eyes and my heart burned with a convert's passion, I began to throw off the old to put on the new.

In that honeymoon stage of new faith, I was blessed with the gift of clarity about where in my life I had offended God and harmed myself and others. The Holy Spirit acted powerfully on my starving heart and busted open the door as soon as I gave my tiny yes. I went to bed hungry for that Divine Love and rose in the morning alive to His presence. The grace of conversion is powerful! And so, the scales and filth and worldly weights began to fall away quickly...

My defense of abortion fell.
My hatred of the Church fell.
My habitual lying fell.
My blindness to mortal sin fell.
My worldly view of myself and others fell.

I often wish I could go back to that convert honeymoon because it was intensely beautiful... like seeing the sun for the very first time after years underground. Painful yet exquisite. I am grateful to still have a recollection of that time to inspire me to keep my eye on the prize of heaven. True freedom, peace, and joy wait for me there.

But it was a daily struggle to chop away at the old habits and chains and to uncover who I was really made to be. One area that was obviously a problem was my speech habits. No one said "You have to do this to be a good Catholic." It was just something that I knew I had to do for Christ and for my own soul. I became more attentive to my words around my new Christian friends and realized that my crass habits did not match the change that was happening inside. I wanted to honor God, myself, and those who had to politely listen to me. 

‘But now lay you also all away: anger, indignation, malice, blasphemy, filthy talk out of your mouth.’
— Colossians 3:8

So my tongue got a scrubbing...

First, no more OMG.
I no longer dropped God's name into a conversation as if it were a meaningless exclamation point. I kicked this careless phrase to the curb even before I stopped using profanity because it made immediate sense. Besides the super obvious 3rd Commandment, I was falling in love with Him. That relationship made me sensitive to the living beauty His name. At the same time, a holy priest taught me to pray in reparation each time I heard the name of God used carelessly by anyone (including myself): "Lord, have mercy." I was able to replace a bad habit with a good one and that made the transition much easier. (Read more here: Stopping OMG)

Next, no more filthy mouth.
Did my speech reflect what was going on in my soul? How did it impact my witness to others? How did it express my love of Christ? There was no question for me that this change needed to happen but it was one of the hardest daily changes to make. I had trained myself to use those words. They were as common as "hello," "goodbye," and "Taco Bell" on my youthful tongue. I had thought them, whispered them, wrote them, laughed them, screamed them for many years. And after all that, I fought sentence by sentence to purge it all and reclaim my speech for Christ.

Not at all easy. 

Language continues to be a struggle for me. In my stressful moments, certain words march to my tongue like a rebellious mob. I don't get anxious about it... I don't think I'm going to get struck down by a lightening bolt for a misstep... but I am careful to keep them reigned in. On the whole, I have conquered the tendency to slip into that aspect of my old life... into vulgarity that simply isn't consistent with the freedom and joy to which Christ has called me. But it will probably be a lifelong battle.

‘A dispersed and dissipated intellect given to frivolous talk and foul language produces many vices and sins.’
— St. John Damascene

Fortunately, the written word is far easier to control than the spoken word. I have time before I hit publish or send to make a better choice. I have not always taken that moment but I almost always have, and I take care to nourish the desire that keeps me in the fight. 

When I'm writing on this blog or on social media, I am often tempted to use those purged words. It would be SO easy... especially when I want to add strong emphasis... or to appeal to the current trend of edgy cool Catholic moms. But I'm not edgy or cool by nature or by conversion and it more consistent with my personal vocation to abstain from low speech.

It's a matter of courtesy which is an extension of charity.
Of femininity and gentleness, which is so rare.
Of respect for God and for others.  
Of disciplining a tongue that easily harms.
All things which I struggled to understand and learn during my conversion and beyond.

I understand the attraction to writers who are "real" and gritty. It is not always easy to connect with those who seem out of touch, too holy, put-together, or seem uptight and we gravitate to those who don't intimidate or frustrate in those ways. But I am not obligated to please readers, only Christ. 

For me, that means I will never drop an F-bomb on this site. Because even though it might pop up unbidden in my mind, my "real" is that I don't want to swear. My "real" is that I am often ugly on the inside but still fight to keep it reigned it. The most authentic thing I can give you right now is this:

Sometimes I want to swear and I choose not to. That's it. That is who I am. 

This is not a judgment against other bloggers or people you know online. I am not the arbiter of who should and shouldn't swear in the context of their public witness. But this small practice has helped me focus on Christ, grow in virtue, and mature in practical ways; and I enthusiastically recommend it to others as a fruitful discipline. 

I feel in many ways that I am less of a Christian than I was those 20 years ago. The fire seems to die as quickly as it is reignited and it seems like I have to fight harder for virtue even in the little things. But it is often these little things which help remind me of where I have been and where I long to be. I am so often tired. I am so often tempted to bitterness. I often feel old-ish and entitled to my worldly habits.

But He calls me back to innocence. And I will try. 

“I assure you, unless you change and become like little children, you will not enter the kingdom of God.”
— Matthew 18:2
Posted on November 10, 2016 and filed under culture, Faith, Spiritual Life, Womanhood.

Miscellany in Pics {Life is Good}

How about a little update inspired by some recent Instagram pics? Our life isn't particularly exciting but we are blessed with the sweet mundane of our domestic church. For example, I'm tapping out this post while sitting next to my toddler. She has pink eye, is holding her stuffed dog (Jehoshaphat), and is eating her probiotic supplement. Exciting stuff. But I wouldn't trade it....

Professor's first trip home from college seminary. I'll just let this pic tell the whole story. Nothing earth shattering happened during his short visit except that we remembered how much we love him aaand he got to see his baby brother's first tooth. We won't talk about how I broke down into tears as I hugged him goodbye again. 

Okay, I lied. We have been doing exciting things. Can you think of anything more exciting than a book sale??? Break out the Ergo carrier... mama has some shopping to do!

Creepy pic, I know. But it's that time of year again in which I pull all nighters prepping for All Saints' Day. That makes it much more fun, right? Because 40-year old mothers of 8 just love all nighters with yarn. If you are looking for a great DIY beard tutorial, check out this one: Dwarven yarn beard. I would have liked to use some fancy yarn to make a super authentic looking beard, but this white stuff? Was FREE. That is what I call easy decision making. 

My princess cowgirl. Oh, how this girl has stretched my understanding of my motherhood! For all of you parents out there struggling to know how to love your little tigers, I understand. I'm there. Lots of us are. Micaela posted about her struggle today and I've posted about our travel challenge HERE. Surviving and working on thriving. 

But I have to tell you in humility that I've been doing a lot wrong up to now with this one. I am a firm believer in attachment but I am not accustomed to a child with such a high need,  so I was pushing away instead of drawing near. I'm changing that, but with this girl, that means that I don't get much done at all. It means that I don't go out very often with or without the kids. It means moving a mattress onto the floor next to her so that when she wakes up every hour, she knows I'm there and we all actually sleep. It means a different way of life.

When I say yes to that strong need of hers, she is calm and happy. It's a worthwhile investment... for all of us. The picture above is an off day, when all the roses and lavender, and pink in the world can't seem to touch her needs. And it teaches me something... that those things are bandaids... because what she really needs is me. 

Behind the scenes, these boys are often accidentally lighting things on fire or debating football. It all comes together pretty beautifully though. Thanks be to God.

Look what we found on a recent trip to a sporting goods store! This boy is content wherever he is. I pray that he is able to sustain that throughout his life.


In other news not pictured...

  • Sign ups for the November group training session with Fit Catholic Mom are ending this weekend. I know you will be blessed. Please consider investing in your health and wellness. Check it out here: W.I.S.E Gals

You don't need to be perfect or in shape already to start... you just have to have the small flame of desire. I had a huge flare up of health symptoms recently and I was still able to hobble through with Rebecca's encouragement. It's not about physical perfection... it's about giving all to God. In gratitude. In joy. I do hope to see you there.

  • There are some tickets left for the 2017 Arise Retreat with Fr. Nathan Cromly. I attended last year and my soul was just blown up. That sounds bad but it was all good. Read about it here. Pray about attending? It is not free but is worth every penny. More info here: Arise 2017
Posted on October 28, 2016 .