The Style Is In The Bag

Giveaway Post on Mommy Miracles

It is hard being in your twenties and hearing people say that you don’t really “come into yourself” until you’re thirty and beyond. That’s especially hard to hear when you got yourself married and three kids before the big 3-0 hit – like maybe I couldn’t possibly know that I want to be married or have kids yet… Like, perhaps I’m not old enough to make deliberate family-building decisions in my twenties. I mean, of course I don’t believe this, but when you hear people lauding their thirties as the time when everything became clear to them, I can’t help but wonder what all these major life choices I made in my twenties will amount to.

I’m not yet thirty, so I can’t really speak with any authority re: finding one’s self in their thirties, but at 29, I do feel like I’m starting to see glimpses of this mid-life clarity that I’ve heard women allude to. Of course, this isn’t leading me to question my choice of husband or wonder whether I really want to be a mom. Instead, it feels like the individual that I am is coming into focus a little more. It is comforting to know that I am unlikely to wake up in February of 2016 regretting the previous 30 years of decisions. At the same time, it is exciting to be discovering myself even amidst this season of life where it is so easy to lose oneself in the diapers and sleepless nights and kindergarten registrations and nightly home-cooked meals.

I never thought I had a “style”. Ever. I suppose thinking back there were a few things that I grabbed on to and claimed as my own – in middle school I started layering necklaces and bracelets and would wear the biggest, loudest earrings I could find. While my neck is no longer adorned with six necklaces at a time, I can’t leave the house without one on. And yes, I still think bigger is better when it comes to earrings. I also gravitated towards Converse Chuck Taylor All Star shoes in high school. Could I really claim that style as my own, or was it an image I was trying to aspire to? Who cares?! Now, I’m a 29 year old woman who doesn’t love buying shoes but loves having a pair of Converse and a pair of running sneakers at the front door at all times. Regardless of how it started, that’s my style now, and I’m claiming it, proudly.

I’m over trying to be stylish. I’m over trying to achieve a certain look that I see in other people. I just have such a hard time buying things for myself that I can’t maintain any sort of style apart from jeans and a plain tee. If that’s my style, so be it. Man. I like being okay with me. I like discovering the me that I’m okay with. Someday, when the kids are a little older and my weight doesn’t fluctuate so much between being pregnant and being a runner, I’ll find the time and the money to flesh out the things I like and some sort of style – one that makes room for Converse and big earrings – will emerge.

But for now? It is hard to spend enough to bring that image of myself into reality.

I was recently issued a challenge by RetailMeNot.ca to see how much I could save using their site. I’m all for saving. But this kind of saving isn’t the avoid-buying-something-for-yourself-at-all-costs kind of saving. This is the kind where you have to spend to save. I’m not good at that. Can I get an “Amen!” to Mom-Guilt? What did I want? What do we need? Shopping gives me anxiety.

And then I saw it. A bag. Not just any bag: a purse. And not just any purse: a designer purse. I fell in love. I’m actually pretty good at not falling in love with things that are ridiculously expensive. I learned long ago to guard my heart from things that I want but know I can’t have. But it is oh-so-much harder when this something that you would normally never let your heart fall for is actually on sale. 57% off, to be exact. Compared to $278, that $119 looks pretty measly in comparison. Except that, you know, $119 isn’t actually measly and a Kate Spade bag isn’t exactly a need.

Kate Spade Purse on Sale | Retail Me Not | Mommy Miracles

Maybe it is because I’m nearing my thirties and coming into myself, or whatever. Maybe it is because I’m a blogger and I was supposed to write about this experience. Whatever the reason, I started thinking about why I liked this bag. Was I trying to impress anyone? No. Quite honestly, I’m the type of person who doesn’t want to flaunt a designer purse around. I’ll be apologizing for it constantly: “But I got it on sale! And I had a gift card!” So why did I want it? Was I trying to be someone that I’m not? Maybe – just maybe – this non-stylish girl actually has a style.

We joke around a lot at my house about how often I dress the baby in stripes. Often, both he and I are wearing stripes. On good days, I have everyone in the family wearing a striped shirt. Even my iPhone is striped (in a Kate Spade case for that matter). Like the constant presence of necklaces, the big earrings, and the canvas sneaks, stripes seems to be something I gravitate towards. Dare I say, it’s my style?

I got the purse. It is in the mail. I’m looking forward to having this accessory that I really like for no other reason than I just do. This is me, people. Stripes. Black Chucks. Big earrings. Ponytails. Nails done. And all it took was a coupon site, a challenge, and a 57% off purse to realize that it is okay for me to embrace this look I seem to have created for myself.

About that challenge? I was told to spend $250 and see how much I could save through RetailMeNot.ca. I saved $159 on the purse and had plenty left over to get my husband a pretty cool Father’s Day gift (shhh). Not only did RetailMeNot.ca alert me to the sale at Kate Spade and the online store where I purchased the gifts for Father’s Day, but it also provided me with a coupon code for the latter as well. At this second retailer, I got two items for 60% off for a total savings of $45 plus I saved an additional 20% on the whole order with a coupon code which saved me an additional $8.59. Between both purchases, I spent a total of $208.94 while saving $212.59 and all I got out of it was a designer purse and a Father’s Day gift.

RetailMeNot.ca wants to give a $100 Visa gift card to one of my Canadian readers to help you save too! To win, just fill out the giveaway app below. Giveaway closes on Monday, June 8th.

 

RetailMeNot.ca provided me with a $250 gift card to complete their challenge. I found out about the Kate Spade sale and the sale & coupon code from Think Geek through RetailMeNot.ca. The experience written about is entirely my own.

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When The Stars Fall

Giveaway Post on Mommy Miracles

In a house full of sports, figure skating is mine. Well, that and running. But let’s focus on the figure skating for a moment. I have come to enjoy watching football and golf and I even started cheering for a once-hated hockey team. I go to toddler soccer practice and stand on the sidelines. I spend hours in cold rinks. I jump in the pool weekly with a tentative three-year-old. I actually surprise myself with how involved in sports I am these days after a lifetime of completely avoiding them.

But I have kind of always liked figure skating. Not actually doing the figure skating of course. My five-year-old is already a better skater than I am. But, I love watching it. Growing up, I’d look forward to watching figure skating during The Olympics and would even watch it at other times too. My sister and I would slide with our sock feet along the linoleum floor making up routines, emulating the twirls and jumps we’d see on tv.

Ready for #jergensstarsonice. This year with the whole family!

A photo posted by Laura O’Rourke (@lauralorourke) on

This is the third year that I have had the opportunity to go see Stars on Ice. Two years ago I went with a friend, and it was great. Last year I brought my eldest son, and he loved it. This year, I took the whole family. I assumed everything would go swimmingly. Cameron did awesome at the event last year, and I knew that Gavin would rather come with us than be left behind. The baby would be a baby – which means he’s pretty portable and manageable wherever we go. I was really looking forward to it.

We ended up leaving early. The kids were whining and crying and asking to go home. They were all over me. They wouldn’t sit, wouldn’t watch, wouldn’t enjoy the music. They were stubbornly not allowing themselves to enjoy the evening. The night I was so looking forward to had been ruined.

Before we ended up deciding to cut our losses and call it a night, I managed to see a few performances. They were amazing, especially the first group number, which always manages to get the crowd engaged. Soon after, Kurt Browning came onto the ice and it was announced that this was his 25th year with Stars on Ice. A voice over of Kurt Browning’s voice flooded the arena as he talked about his mentors and the meaning of the song and choreography he had chosen for this performance. It was powerful. It was touching.

In the middle of this ice dance, Kurt Browning came crashing to the ice.

He was fine. He played to the audiece and the audience ate it up. He got up, gave us a knowing look, and then kept skating. He performed beautifully, though not flawlessly, and he was applauded whole-heartedly. The audience forgave instantly. He is Kurt Browning, for goodness sakes. A figure skating star. We love him. He’s amazing.

Kurt Browning Stars on Ice 2015 | Mommy Miracles

I drove towards home that night thinking about that fall. I so didn’t want to be bitter at my children that we had to leave, but I really wanted to be at the Stars on Ice show. I didn’t want to leave. I was upset. But my kids had crashed.

Why do we forgive so easily a crash that comes after 25 years of experience and practice, but not give grace to the crashes that hit these little rising stars who don’t have the benefit of years of practice or experience?

The night before the Stars on Ice show, my husband needed to stay late at work. We ended up picking a colleague and him up after 9pm and we didn’t get home until 10:30. My kids didn’t get the chance to have a good night’s sleep before what we knew would be a late night out together. We had changed the routine on them. Even Kurt Browning with his 25 years of experience doesn’t expect to go out on the ice and perform without practicing his routine over and over.

As parents, we expect big things from our children, and that’s important. But when they fall – when they crash – it is okay to extend grace, reach out a hand, and wait for their feet to steady underneath them again. It is okay to change plans, leave events, and get kids back on routine. We can watch kids crash and still applaud them because we love them so much. They are our rising stars.

While our night at Stars on Ice didn’t go swimmingly like I expected, I suppose it is fair to say that things did go skatingly


I am so grateful that Kao Canada provided me with the opportunity to go see Stars on Ice again this year. They also sent me a Jergens Skincare gift basket which includes some of their newest products. Jergens has also provided me with one gift basket to give away to a reader! Please fill out the giveaway below to be entered to win. The giveaway is open to residents of Canada only and will close on Thursday, May 28th.

Jergens gift basket Giveaway | Mommy Miraces

Kao Canada provided the Jergens Skincare basket and tickets to Stars on Ice. All opinion and stories are my own and have not been influenced.

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She Never Needed to be Perfect

My Mom didn’t have it all together when I was a kid. It sounds like a terrible thing to say, especially considering all the guilt I know she carries from that time. While I reassure her about how lucky I am to have her as my mother, and I am lucky, those positive things aren’t what I want to remember these days while I am stuck in the trenches of my own season of motherhood.

Every day I struggle. My house is a mess. My kids know how to get on all my nerves. I am exhausted. My to-do list app sends a notification that it is too full to accomplish it all today. Tell me about it. I am cloaked in guilt and feelings of inadequacy. I am desperate to find other mamas who struggle, to remind myself that this hard is normal.

Instead, I find that we’re holed up in our houses, experiencing our shortcomings silently. We make sure our well-filtered photos blur out the messy floors in the background. We share our triumphs in 140 characters. We spend our days looking through pins to push ourselves to be better, the result of which only makes us feel worse. We have fabricated a world for ourselves where motherhood is bleached and beautiful and maybe even easy.

I can’t help feeling like I’m not measuring up.

In the past five years, my own Mom has become a Nana six times over. She is nothing short of amazing. I have seen her clean my entire house while somehow managing to get my kids to happily help. This particular babysitting stint ended with a clean house, happy kids, and dinner in the oven. She did more in a few hours than I can accomplish in a few days. To my kids, she is a wonderful Nana. To me, my Mom is magical. What she does can’t be done – at least not by me.

She Never Needed to be Perfect | Mommy Miracles

If I remember back through the fuzzy timeline of the past, my memories of childhood with my Mom situates us in a clean house. The beds were made and the kitchen never had a dirty dish. The floors were clean and the toys were put away. There was always a homemade meal on the table at dinnertime.

Those memories are all true, but they don’t tell the whole story. When I focus in on each element, my own Nana comes into view. We lived across the street from my grandparents, and I remember Nana coming over to the house to clean it while my Mom was at work. That homemade dinner was usually on my Nana’s dining room table. At ten-years-old, I naively thought this was a wonderful arrangement, but I’m certain it left my own mother feeling inadequate.

When I try to remember how my Mom handled motherhood then, I recall episodes of blitz cleaning to get the house ready for company. I remember how I learned to walk quietly so as to not wake her from a nap. I can still feel the mutual anger we had towards each other as I got on her last nerve and she lost her patience.

While my Mom has always been a good mother, she hasn’t always been perfect. I’m grateful for that. My memories are the only images of motherhood that can’t ever be illustrated with perfectly pinnable pictures. My mother demonstrated how hard this season of life is, and I’m glad I have those memories to not feel alone in it. In her imperfection, I find the grace to live through my own inadequacies.

I do look forward to getting those magical grandmother abilities though.

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