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Home Style: Books, Books, and More Books

We like books.  We have a lot of books.  I am definitely a "thrower" rather than a "keeper" (Dan sometimes gets sad when I immediately chuck cards after reading them...apologies to anyone who was hoping I'd go to the grave with your adorable thank you note) and have negative interest in collections, but we have a special affinity for books around our house.

Before Nat was born, we had a couple of rando bookshelves in what is now his room.  To make way for the crib, we had to move the books out.  We had a big open wall in our living room, and decided to put up 3 side-by-side floor-to-ceiling bookshelves there.  We've loved the look and I think it actually makes the space feel bigger and more organized than just having a huge open wall.  We have vaulted ceilings and beams that go right above the shelves, and I love how it all comes together.

(Uh...ignore the computer and VCR on top - we're doing some reorg up there.)

What home style do you love?

(PS - the bookshelves are from Ikea [via Craigslist], which I generally loathe but these have held up surprisingly well.  The canvas prints on top are from artscow.)

Giveaway Reminder!  Only one more day to enter to win a little boy bow tie!

Pregnancy Style @ 31 Weeks: Pattern Mixing

 Blouse: Downeast; Skirt: Shabby Apple; Earrings: gift from friend; Wedges: Target

It's been a while since I've thrown in much pattern mixing.  Probably because it is TOO. DANG. HOT. (oh, was that me breaking the cardinal social rule of not talking about the weather?)  But I loved this subtle combo - the small pattern on top paired with a neutral color was enough to not make me feel even louder with my huge belly, but still add some extra interest.

Giveaway Reminder!  Only two more days to win an adorable little boy bow tie!  Go enter now!

Linking up with Marionberry Style!


Oh, and we had another cousin-fest this weekend.  So fun.  Nat thinks his cousins are totally hilarious and discovered his undying love for horchata.  It was a good couple of days.
Nat's very serious about his book reading
After my orchestra concert
Everyone needs a bath picture, right?

31 Weeks: Maxi + Tee

Shirt: F21 ages ago; Skirt: made by me; Necklace: gift from cousin from Africa; Sandals: Target

I decided this week that I really wanted a soft and stretchy foldover waist maxi skirt and that I wanted it to be gray.  I could not find one for the life of me that wasn't a million dollars, so I decided to make one.  In haste.  Comfy it is, a great sewing job it is not.  Let's just say it unintentionally volunteered to become a high-low skirt.  Also, the fabric is a leeetle thinner (i.e. see-through) than I realized before taking photos.  Hence the torso shot.

But on the plus side, it feels like I'm wearing nothing at all and when it's hit 100 degrees with 8,000 percent humidity more days this summer than I remember, I count that as a win.

PS - Don't forget to enter the giveaway for an adorable little boy bow tie!

Review + Giveaway: Little Boy Bow Tie (CLOSED)

Bow tie: c/o Little Trendsetters, Shirt: Old Navy; Pants: H&M; Shoes: Saltwaters

I kind of have a thing for little boys in bow ties.  (My husband also has a thing for adult bow ties, but that's another story.)  Kristy over at Little Trendsetters makes some seriously adorable ones and was so sweet to send one my way.

I LOVE the print on this one, and it's very well made.   I also love that the velcro strap on the back is super wide - it makes it really adjustable.  I was worried that the bigger size would be too loose on my rarely-been-on-the-weight-charts 21 month old, but I got it to fit just fine.

And guess what?  It's your lucky day.  Because Kristy is giving one away to a reader, too!  Same style, your choice of size (newborn-2T or 2T-5T).  Here are the requirements:
  • Follow lace, etc. on GFC, Google Reader, via email, etc.
  • Leave a comment and tell me your favorite kid's clothing style (make sure that when you comment your profile is linked to your email or that your email is in the comment...but really just make sure your profile is linked to your email) 
Giveaway ends Wednesday, August 1st at 11:59pm EDT.  (Giveaway Closed.  See the winner here!)

And seriously - can you get enough of this kid?

The Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Finally-Started-Looking-Up Day

Dress: India; Belt: F21; Bag: Zappos: Earrings: Gift from friend; Necklace: H&M; Sandals: Target
I totally love this dress for how cool (no layers required!) and comfortable it is.  Best 100 rupees ever.
And, um, yeah, really long and mostly boring story ahead.  But recorded for no apparent reason other than that it was cathartic to write out, at least.


Last week, we had a few quick and intense thundershowers (that only served to make it even more humid, but that's neither here nor there). Dan bikes into work, and the morning after one of these, his bike tire slipped on some wet grass and he fell, catching himself on his wrist and fracturing it.  It looks about as painful as it sounds.

There were, unfortunately, no orthopedists whatsoever with any appointments until the next day, so we dropped in on one he'd visited before hand they happened to have a cancellation 20 minutes after we arrived - so lucky.  Turns out he had an unstable fracture that required surgery. :(

So Friday morning, we arrived at the hospital at 6am.  My lovely sister, who recently moved back to DC from Spain, stayed overnight at our place so we wouldn't have to drag Nat along.  They checked him in and all and we found out that they wouldn't let me into the operating or recovery rooms, which meant that I'd be waiting around for 3-4 hours, so I decided to make the 7 minute drive home instead.

I'm very rarely driving without Nat, and, needless to say, it's even more rare that it's that early.  For both of these reasons, I never even think about the early-morning HOV requirement on the freeway by our house.  Gah!  I, of course, remembered the second I turned onto the ramp and slowed down, but there was no where for me to go and a cop was waving me up.  I try explaining that I had just dropped off my husband for surgery, I was unusually driving without my baby, and that I'm pregnant, but to no avail.

He then asks for my license and I look over to my purse.  Fail #2 - since I'm almost always with Nat, I usually take my diaper bag, which is where my wallet was, which I forgot at 5:45am.  I explain this and he makes some rude comments and walks back to his car with my registration.  He comes back with 2 citations (one for HOV, one for not having my license) and tells me he's called a tow truck.  A TOW TRUCK??  He tells me I have no license (what?) and that if I don't have someone there to pick up me and drive my car in half an hour, that I'd be towed.  I remember that I still have an out of state license (I know, fail #3) and he berates me for that and then finally checks and tells me that I'm not coming up with a license in any of the 50 states.  At this point, he's explaining the citation and court date to me and I'm asking him if I can please try to get a ride figured out first since the tow truck is coming and he interrupts and just finishes what he's saying.  And gets mad at me and tries telling me I'm telling him stories because he'd written the wrong last name on the citation (the registration is in my mom's name and he wrote my maiden name).  Oh, and he tells me to have my sister pick me up in a cab, which she can't even do since she has Nat with her and I have the car seat.

Anyway, I frantically try calling my neighbors, who don't answer, but my wonderful sister knocks on their door and, bless their hearts, BOTH were home and willing to come rescue me (since I needed one to drive their car and one to drive mine).  In the midst of talking to them, though, not 10 minutes after he had told me one was coming, the tow truck shows up.  I try telling the cop that he'd said I'd have 30 minutes, but he shrugs and tells me that's too bad.  I tell him my friends are leaving and on their way and start begging both him and the tow truck driver for an extra 5 minutes (both completely ignored me).  My amazing friends gave me real-time updates as they got on the freeway, got off the freeway, waited at the light to turn back on, etc. and literally pulled up as they were walking back to hook up my car to the tow truck.  I was a little frantic, to say the least.

Oh, and they'd brought my wallet and I pull out my license and realize...it expired a couple of weeks ago.  Fail #3.  Seriously, it was just a combination of all these random events coming together - driving early for surgery, driving without Nat, driving without license, etc. etc.  I'm seriously not usually such a flake, but Friday just got the best of me.  Ugh.

But the positives? The cop told me they'll probably waive the no license citation if I show up with a new license, so I spent the afternoon having my mom take me to the DMV while she cared for Nat and took Dan his pain meds.  So at least one of us can drive now.  And I got to read a book at the DMV.  And maybe they'll be nice and waive the HOV citation because of the circumstances?  Also, since I was pregnant, which should count for 2 people, anyway?  And the surgery went well.  And my car didn't actually get towed.  And I have really, really amazing family and friends.  The end.

Gingham and Stripes

Shirt: Old Navy; Skirt: Made by me; Shoes/Necklace: F21

Just a few quick, poorly lit shots before heading to the hospital.  Not for me.  For my husband.  Who has to make his second emergency orthopedic surgeon visit in as many months.  It's been that sort of morning.

Why You Should Never, Ever Fly United Airlines

Do you remember eons ago when we took that one incredible, fantastic trip?  (Oh, right, and the travel fashion series I never did because life got really busy?)  Well, we're going to re-visit that a little today.

I'm really into customer service.  I know, who isn't, right?  But I mean not just in the normal, I-like-to-be-treated-well kind of way, but in the I-nerdily-enjoy-studying-it and make it a point to call companies out on it, good or bad.  It was one of my favorite things to research and about which to read case studies in both undergrad and business school.  Yes, I'm one of those.

I don't usually bore others with my nerd-dom.  But every once in a while (and by that, I mean this time) a company does something(s) so egregiously wrong that I cannot, in good conscience, NOT share.

We took our trip on United Airlines and its partner, New Zealand Air.  I'm the first to admit that we flew on miles, so I suppose I'm still grateful we were able to go, but I don't think that excuses them from any of their bad behavior.  I can say with some confidence that I've never encountered an airline that treats its customers more poorly, that has worse processes or attitudes.

The Infant Boarding Pass
We began our trip to New Zealand and Australia by flying from Washington Dulles to San Francisco, and were at the airport well over 2 hours in advance.  In all the times we'd flown with Nat, both domestically and internationally (probably 40+ flights in 11 countries), we'd never once had trouble with an infant boarding pass, even in the remotest airports in Africa.  With United, I am not exaggerating when I say we waited at the ticketing counter for OVER 1.5 hours. The initial agent couldn't figure out how to print an infant boarding pass (although we had purchased an infant lap child ticket and paid all taxes and such when we initially purchased our tickets), so a supervisor came and took over 45 minutes trying to figure it out. He finally printed out some random ticket, which we found out going through security was not valid, but they kindly let us through. The supervisor was beyond rude and unhelpful and flat out lied to us by saying there would be no line at security (we were concerned because it was literally 30 minutes before our departure) - there was no way for him to tell, as the security line is a floor below ticketing. As it turns out, there was a HUGE line, and we had to beg and plead our way to the front in order to RUN to our gate (with our baby), arriving 10 minutes before departure, all through no fault of our own. We arrived at the airport early with a child because we knew that we would want to get some food and have some time to relax and play, and had zero time to do so. We then had to fly with a tired and hungry toddler, being tired and hungry ourselves. The United agents even caused a fuss and claimed they couldn't even give us a courtesy meal on board.

After all this, we found out when we finally got on the flight that our seats weren't together, despite confirming no fewer than 3 times with the ticketing agent, as well as with the initial reservations agent when I booked the flight.  We had to do all sorts of shenanigans to switch. This was with some of the rudest flight attendants I've ever met - they actually rolled their eyes at us on multiple occasions when we asked to switch or asked for something to drink.

Missing Gate Checked Items & Luggage
When we arrived in SFO, we were scheduled to have a short layover before getting on our flight to Auckland on United's partner, Air New Zealand (without question, the best thing about United is that they're partners with ANZ). We had gate checked our stroller and wanted it in the airport. The agents told us that the stroller, along with all our luggage, had been sent to baggage claim, even though we'd specifically said we wanted our luggage checked through to Auckland (and had been assured that it would be), and wanted our stroller back in SFO. We obviously did not have time to exit security and look for our luggage.

Dan tried talking to one extremely unhelpful United agent.  I tried talking to another who was, I kid you not, THE RUDEST person I have ever met in my life. He was not only unhelpful, but mean and sarcastic. He told me it was too bad and that I would probably lose my baggage and that he wouldn't do anything about it. He sarcastically told me to "call President Obama" about my situation and actually walked away from me while I was still in the middle of a sentence.

The saving grace was that the Air New Zealand agents were amazing and wonderful and helpful - the best thing about United is that they're partners with ANZ. ANZ not only located our bags, but ensured our suitcases actually made it onto our international flight. They had more workers at their gate than I've ever seen, all of whom were pleasant and kind and helpful. They even commiserated (one ANZ agent claimed that trying to talk to United was like "talking to a brick wall" - you know it's bad when you have that reputation amongst other airlines).  They had an in-flight concierge who gave us regular updates on the status of our gate checked items while en route.  Amazing.  ANZ really is probably the VERY best airline we've ever flown - they were all incredibly kind and helpful and patient and graciously brought us about a million snacks. :)

Still No Baby Items...
When we arrived in Auckland, we found that while our luggage had arrived, our car seat and stroller hadn't. This was obviously inconvenient as we were immediately renting a car and needed a car seat for Nat. ANZ, thankfully, gave us a loaner car seat and stroller (although Nat hated this particular stroller and the car seat was actually too small - his head was peeking over the top - thank goodness we didn't get in an accident, but we had no other choice). United promised ANZ that they would put our car seat and stroller on the same flight the following morning (Sunday). We were headed out of town for 2 days, but were flying back out of Auckland on Monday morning, so arranged to pick up our car seat and stroller on Monday.

Monday arrived and we got to the airport. We talked to the ANZ baggage folks and found that despite their many attempts on ANZ's part, United had STILL not sent our car seat and stroller. So United had not put them on our flight arriving on Saturday morning, they hadn't put them on the flight on Sunday morning, nor had they put them on the flight that arrived on Monday morning. Three missed chances! We were flying out of Auckland and would be gone a whole week, so we had to use the old, beat up, incorrectly sized stroller/car seat for an entire week.

No Bassinet
Fast forward to our flight home from Sydney to SFO, which was on United. I had confirmed with the reservation agent when booking the flight, I had confirmed when calling in several days before our trip, I had confirmed with the agent at the ticketing counter at check-in that we would ABSOLUTELY be in the bulkhead row in a place where there was a bassinet attachment (I even asked about that in particular, because I know not all bulkhead spots have bassinet attachments - for instance, certain aircraft have side bassinet spots, while some only have them in the middle). When we boarded our flight, we found that while we were in a bulkhead row, we were in the side section; the bassinet attachments were only in the middle on this particular aircraft. We tried asking the couple in the middle if they would switch (we had middle & aisle seats, as did they), but they refused.

The flight attendant told us there were also floor bassinets, & that he would bring us one. Airlines never let adults even lie down on the floor of the aircraft, even in the bulkhead row, so I was surprised by and uncomfortable with this. Even if this was a possibility, he never brought us anything despite our many requests. He also said he would ask someone to switch with us in another cabin, which he also never did. I finally walked back and asked them again, & another agent went into the cabin behind ours and asked them to switch. It was not as comfortable (we were originally in Economy Plus seating), but at least we had the bassinet (a lifesaver, as Nat slept for 9 hours). Three different parties had to switch to get us there, though, when we simply should have been there in the first place. This all finally happened 1.5 hours into the flight, after Nat was asleep and it woke him to move around - frustrating for us and the other passengers.

So we finally switched to seats that had a bassinet attachment, but still had no bassinet brought to us.

We waited in our new seats for 30 minutes (and a baby who had fitfully been trying to sleep for 2 hours of the flight) before Dan finally got up and asked the flight attendants for a bassinet. They were incredibly rude and acted like he was bothering them to no end - perhaps they should have brought us the bassinet in the first place, the whole reason for the seat switch. When Dan went back there, one of the flight attendants actually commented, "Your wife didn't get what she wanted, so she sent the husband?" First, I did finally get the seat we had requested 6+ times, the one we should have had from the beginning. Second, Dan was requesting it because they had clearly forgotten about us AGAIN and we needed the bassinet - the whole reason we were sitting there!  They finally brought us the bassinet (not without attitude) and Nat was finally able to sleep (albeit under the giant, bright screen as United is the only international carrier I've encountered that still doesn't have personal screens in the seat backs).

The flight attendants continued to be incredibly rude on the entire trip. They refused to be helpful at all, kept making obnoxious comments, and would give patronizing and disdainful looks. They also did not have a vegetarian meal for Dan, although we had requested them for both of us.

Checking Bags and An Almost-Missed Flight
We had a 24 hour+ layover in SFO because a flight back to Washington wasn't available on the day of our arrival. We knew this ahead of time, of course, and had made arrangements to stay overnight. We arrived at the airport for our domestic flight from SFO-IAD with plenty of time. We waited in an incredibly long line and tried to check in at the kiosk. The machine kept telling us, however, that we would need to pay for our checked bags - absurd, since we were coming from an international connection. United was well aware that the lengthy layover was because of their availability, and the system should have allowed us to check our bags free of charge, as the agent had assured us it would when we booked our flights. The nice baggage guy told us we had to walk down to another ticketing agent, so we waited in line and finally talked to her. She literally spent 20 minutes looking at her computer and couldn't figure it out and finally informed us that we could no longer check in for our flight because it was too late, and that we'd have to wait for a flight the next day. When I told her it wasn't our fault and that we were there with plenty of time, she sarcastically told me to go talk to the baggage guy who'd told me to come down there (obviously, he couldn't do anything), and dropped our passports and turned away from us.  So because of United's incompetence we were now going to miss our flight? I immediately talked to a supervisor, who, after ANOTHER 20 minutes, managed to manually check us in, although she couldn't check our bags.

Thank goodness our suitcases were carry-on sized, and we could take them through security with us. Imagine if we had big suitcases with tons of liquids? Then what would we have done? The supervisor finally managed to get us checked in, and again had trouble printing an infant boarding pass (what is it with United and not knowing how to do that??). She finally printed out a random pass and wrote "infant" on it. We tried to rush through security, but they wouldn't accept the bogus boarding pass. I had to run out and find the supervisor again, and have her walk over to the security line and confirm that Nat and I could go through. We FINALLY managed to make it through security and had to RUN through the airport - not only with our carry-on baggage, but with ALL of our luggage as we couldn't check any of it. We RAN to the gate carrying all of our stuff and Nat and made it to the gate just as they were about to close the doors.

Contacting United
Overall, I just cannot believe how incompetent United's agents and systems are. Even more, though, I'm disgusted by how RUDE many of the employees were - many of them simply flat-out refused to trouble themselves to do their job and do anything to help us, even if it was because of United's own mistake. The vast majority were lazy, obnoxious, unhelpful, and an utter disgrace to the airline industry.

So, of course, I contacted United and explained my grievances.  What was their response?  An automated reply that took 2 weeks to arrive and that fully acknowledged within that the response was delayed and generic.  It was abundantly clear that they hadn't even taken the time to read my complaints.  Oh - and they sent ONE $100 travel voucher for a future United flight.  Oh, good - so now I can fly United AGAIN and probably still pay more than I would for a flight on another airline!

Look, I know that airline troubles aren't the end of the world.  I know that we are still incredibly fortunate to have gone on such an exotic and incredible trip.  I know that in the grand scheme of things, I should just be grateful to be in a chair in the sky.  Still, there's that part of me that just believes that customer service shouldn't be such a rare gift, and wants to spare you the same frustration.  And if you feel similarly, please share to spare someone else, too.

Coral & Mint & Lime

Shirt: Ann Taylor; Skirt: Shabby Apple; Necklace: H&M; Purse: Thrifted; Shoes: Old Navy

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Is it wrong to say you totally loved one of your own outfits?  Because I loved this one.  The colors are so summery and just make me happy.  And this skirt is basically like wearing pajamas.  It is ridiculously comfortable (although not the highest quality, but I had a gift card).  Not to mention the fact that it has pockets, and is long enough to wear over my belly.  And it's cool.  Which, considering it's been in the 100s for about a million years here, is much appreciated.  I'd call that a skirt success.

Patriotrix, New York & the 4th

Dress: Old Navy; Shirt: Downeast; Sandals: Payless; Belt: Dollar Store; Hat: H&M

Just a couple of pictures snapped on the way to see fireworks yesterday.  There's something about red, white & blue that just gets me.

Also, you know the crazy storm DC had last weekend?  The one with 80 mph winds that knocked out power for MOST people in Arlington for anywhere from a day to 5 in 100 degree temps?  We must be cashing in on some good deed because we somehow managed to plan a trip to NY right during that time.  We heard about it after the fact and found out our power was out for over 36 hours.  In the aforementioned heat.  Yikes.

But not only did we get to escape the misery AND have our fridge food survive due to not being opened, we got to have an absolute blast with family in New York.  This was the first time Nat's seen these cousins (one is 1.5 years older and one is 2 weeks older) since he was two months old, and I cannot describe in words how much fun they had together.  There was dancing and going into the bedroom to see "treasures" and read books (parents not invited - Nat kindly and purposefully shut the door on us multiple times, saying, "bye!") and running in circles shrieking.  The hilarity, it was much.  Also, the chaos.  But mostly the hilarity.  Add to that a little detour to the Jersey shore for some time with a dear friend, a boat, and the beach, and you pretty much have a perfect long weekend.
 Levain Bakery chocolate-covered kisses for Aunt Cindy

Very excited to feed the sheeeeeep!

 Very excited dancing


Tell me this picture does not totally crack you up

 Nat's first motorized boat ride.  It was a little sunny.

Oh, and that 4th?  Morning pancake breakfast with friends, afternoon naps and cooking, 4th celebration, a picnic and fireworks from the PERFECT spot from Iwo Jima, and just being with my two favorite boys.  Oh, and hearing Nat yell, "WHOA!" and "YAAAAAYYYYEEEE!!" all during the show.  Y'all, it was a good day.

Nat kept trying to escape to run through the flower field behind us

Homemade bread, sweet potato burgers, potato salad, roasted corn on the cob, guac, blueberries, veggie toppings, caprese salad, bleu cheese, roasted poblano salsa & chips.  Yes, there were only 3 of us.
The view.  Amazing.

Hope you had a fabulous time, too!