This is 35.

Today is my birthday and reason enough to do a 'real' blog post, as in actually writing about a topic that is not just a monthly update on Porter or a quarterly Day in the Life. The topic? ME. It is my blog after all and today I am thirty-five years old, a milestone birthday of sorts. And it has me feeling rather introspective.

Other milestone birthdays: I remember my twenty-first birthday in a very blurry, digital-camera-at-the-bar-for-incriminating-photos way. I am truly so thankful that my college days came well before Facebook and social media in general, although I do still have photo prints somewhere to record the debauchery. It was an awesome birthday. I remember my thirtieth birthday as a less than awesome milestone since I had just found out I was miscarrying my second pregnancy the day before my birthday. Turning thirty meant growing up in a serious way, learning first-hand that life is not fair and crappy things happen. I know I felt rather 'old' on my thirtieth birthday because it seemed like my body was failing me by losing that baby, and then the subsequent prolonged/horrible miscarriage process.

Now, five years later, I have more respect for my physical body. I don't really feel 'old' despite my semi-permanent furrowed brow lines. My laugh lines. My glasses. My ever-multiplying gray hairs. My mom bod with post-pregnancy/nursing boobs (sad sad sad) and an extra flat booty. Those are the negatives, but you know what? I'm healthy, my body is strong, and it's allowed me to grow three amazing children. To hold them, to carry them, to feed them. It allows me to run, to train for races, to walk without pain---things that I cherish when I see what many of my patients endure every day. I am not sick. My body is full of life and energy and it allows me to live. I get to hug my loved ones and laugh and create those laugh lines over and over again. Isn't that pretty amazing? My body doesn't look like the 25 year old version anymore, but at 35 I'm starting to fully embrace the idea that growing older is a privilege, not a burden.

Well, I'd still like to have the wrinkle-free skin of my twenties and my D cup perky nursing boobs, but my vanity is lessening with maturity, I swear.

Exhibit A of the three hoodlums that once shared my body:
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More than the physical changes, I am keenly aware that thirty-five year old Julia is infinitely happier and more settled than twenty-five year old Julia. If I really step back from the daily grind, I am overcome with the realization that this life is absolutely all I ever wanted it to be when I was younger. I wanted to be married to Nate since I met him at age twenty. I dreamed of having 2-3 awesome kids with him, working at a fulfilling career,  owning a nice house, laughing with supportive friends, and soaking in our healthy and incredibly involved parents. My life is nowhere near perfect but it's absolutely charmed, and I do not take a second of it for granted.

Even when it's difficult to maintain composure when our three precious children are melting down in unison, even when I'm exhausted beyond measure after emotionally draining patients combined with plenty of solo-parenting, or feeling depleted and lacking patience because I'm simply stretching myself way too thin. Even when things are 'tough' I understand that my life is still incredibly blessed. Perspective is a wonderful part of growing older and I feel like this is just the proverbial tip of the iceberg when it comes to self-awareness and realization.

Exhibits B and C:
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So the naive Julia of yesteryear would probably think thirty-five is 'old'. But really, it seems like life is just beginning, because it feels like we are beginning a new chapter. Closing out the baby phase and coming to terms with our family being complete is still a bit of a mess in my head. It's been such a definitive time for me---having babies, nursing babies, being a mom to small kids. Oh, how I wish I was one of those women who feels 100% content with being done. I'm not sure I will ever be there (even if we had a fourth) but I'm sure my feelings will evolve over time. There is so much fun to be had in this next chapter, so many experiences waiting to be had. Older kids are wonderful, something I'm learning with time, too.

My main guy, I'd for sure have one more with him if he was even 1% on board.
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This is thirty five: perspective. Embarking on the next chapter of life. Rediscovering myself aside from my beloved title of 'mother'. Remembering how wonderful sleep can be, including nights when we go to bed at 8:30pm and sleep without interruptions until 7:00am. Wiping tears from my eyes when I hear about another friend who has lost a child, or one who is caring for a sick parent. Pushing aside the anxieties that say, 'this could all be gone in a second, the bottom could drop out at anytime.' Swallowing a lump in my throat when I hear three lovely children giggling and hugging and playing together nicely. Proceeding with big emotions; ones of gratitude and frustration, worry and contentedness.

I am more than my age. I'm more than 'Nate's wife', or the T+C+P's mom. I have many roles and, God-willing, plenty ahead of me in the next thirty five years. If this sounds like I'm having a mid-life crisis, I'm really not. I'm just feeling extra deep and thoughtful today. When I asked Truman if he thought thirty-five was young or old, he considered the question and then said, 'Youngish old.'

Cheers to being youngish old, friends.

(My crew, after our first family 5k. We ran as a part of Team Kellan, for organ donation, last weekend. These are my people and I'm one lucky lady.)
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These Are the Days of Our Lives | Spring 2016

Clear the calendar for today, you have twenty-one days in their lives to read!

1. Non Sequitur Chica | Illinois

2. New From Alameda | Minnesota

3. Introduced You To It | Chengdu, China

4. Life As I Know It | Minnesota

5. Peanut Butter Sandwich | Wisconsin
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6. Sweet Turtle Soup | Florida

7. LunaChick Runs | Wisconsin

8. Climbing Mama | Washington

9. Bach to Reality | Wisconsin

10. Live Inside my Bubble | Minnesota

11. Pep&Zest | Illinois

12. Piece of Our Life | Georgia

13. Cocktails and Carseats | Wisconsin

14. C'est Law Vie | California

15. A Gurley Gurl | Texas

16. The Mama Duck Blog | North Carolina

17. Elefantitas Alegres | Texas

18. Rae and Johnny | Canada

19. Payette Pigtails | Colorado

20. Just Another Day in Paradise | Kansas

21. Growing Up Maine | Maine

22. My Life in Transition | Wisconsin

Porter at Twenty-One Months

Gah, I'm late with this update, and I know you were all worried when 4/11 passed without a post about Porter-P. Alas, I am a slave to the concept of equal documentation between children and there will only be three more monthly posts after this one. Because at age two, I stop doing them and THEN WHAT?? What will drive me to blog at all after my baby doesn't need my rambling voice to recap his monthly happenings anymore? Wah.

So old and distinguished, probably can read his own blog posts already.  :)

Porter thinks he is a big kid lately. He refuses to sit in a booster seat and now sits in a regular chair at the dinner table, even though his little chin barely reaches the plate. No matter, since he sits still for approximately five minutes to eat then says 'down' and is over it. I can't decide if he is a good eater or not---I don't think he is all that adventurous as he knows what he likes and rarely deviates from it, no matter how many other options I'll put on his plate. His favorites are yogurt, pizza, bread crusts with mayonnaise on them (so random, such a third kid thing), PBJ, and chips. Porter loves 'dips' and will scream for them more than most other food types. Well, cookies and M&Ms are his ultimate favorites in life, and if I make my M&M cookies he will try to pick out the candies first and then will eat the rest of the crumbs. He knows what he wants, this is for certain.

So happy on the swings!
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Loves selfies, duh.
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He seems super long and lean like he's lost his baby belly, but I know that compared to 2-3 year old Porter this guy is still 'chubby'. But he's really thinned out and is running constantly, eating very little it seems, so no wonder he doesn't seem gigantic and fat anymore! He comfortably wears size 24 month clothes, 2T seems a little big, and 18 months are usually too short but he could squeeze into them if needed. And I'm pretty sure last summer he was wearing 12-18 month clothes so as I pull out his warmer weather clothes, some of them still fit from last year! This is absurd and usually doesn't happen with my kids until they are much older and wearing clothes for longer than one season.

Long and lean!
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Toddler body proportions slay me.
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Hi, big kid!
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The biggest obsession for Porter is definitely trains, and specifically all of the Thomas trains. He will name them now, pointing to them in a book and on TV and in 'real life' with our toy trains that are scattered across every inch of our house. I believe his favorites are 'Diesel 10' which he calls 'Ten', Spencer which sounds like 'Pen-durrrr', and Gordon. 'Gord' is still the bees knees around here but this month brought the ability to name 20 or so trains. Also he will request to watch Thomas and will actually sit down and watch a full episode without getting distracted. He will play with the three train tracks we have set up in the basement for a solid 10-15 minutes before calling for help. I love watching his little mind at work when playing with trains and I hope it continues! For we have many-a-Thomas shirts for the 2T-3T size little boy.

At Easter church service, double fisting the trains of course.
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Can handle his Kindle with the best of them, usually picks Thomas or Daniel and watches it without interaction! Julia, the mom to one child, would have NEVER approved of this milestone but Julia, the mom to three kids, is super excited about this.
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Ports is still a good sleeper, going down around 7:30 and sleeping until at least 7:00. Sometimes he will go through a phase of waking up earlier around 6:00 but thankfully that hasn't lasted more than a week or so. Also he still naps for 2-3 hours in the afternoon and really despises being woken up to get his brother at school. Porter needs to sleep with one giant Snoopy blanket, about three Aiden and Anais blankets, his duckie, 3-4 trains, and a billion stuffed animals. And two books. Then he makes me carry down all of those blankets with us after he wakes up, because sometimes he'll make a pile of blankets in a random place and will just lay face-down on them.

Loves him some duckie, filthy, filthy duckie.
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Snuggles before a bed, a newish part of the routine that I looooooooove.
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He's a goofy dude who loves to get a laugh, especially when they come from the mouths of his siblings. He'll pretend to be a dog and say 'woof woof' and pant, then he'll crawl around and scratch at my legs. Hilarious to CC and Truman, of course. And speaking of animals, Porter is truly obsessed with all animals and definitely at a perfect age for the zoo. His mind is blown when we see any ducks or geese and seeing bears at the zoo was probably the highlight of his entire month. He wouldn't stop telling everyone about the 'bay-ah' and then he would go on a tirade about every other animal we saw, and what they were doing (high! birdie! head! wa-wa! monkey! ooh-ooh-aah-aah! mump (jump!) ) The list goes on but let it be known that we have an animal and a train lover on our hands. Also a talker---Porter is still crazy verbal and it's awesome to hear him communicate mostly understandable thoughts!

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What else about my little dude? He still loves his mommy and gets a little picky about who is going to help him do things. He usually says 'no, mama!' if someone else tries to help get him down off a chair or change his diaper. The last one is super fun for me. I've been telling Nate he needs to remember what it's like to change a disgusting diaper but *funny* how Porter just won't allow it :/

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He's really into saying 'bye' to everything. 'Bye, wa-wa! Bye, plane! Bye, duckie! Bye da-da!' It's my favorite, even when he says goodbye to his privates as I replace his diaper. Also, he wants to be naked all of the time and sprints away from me when I'm changing him, just to feel the breeze on his skin or possibly because he likes to have me chase him down.

I also chase him around Costco, pictured here.
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My favorite Porter activity is when he rides his sister's hot pink tricycle. We finally got him a helmet so he can ride the tricycle and also ride in the Burley with Cecelia on family bike rides (key!). I foresee many afternoons playing in our backyard this summer and as long as P doesn't wander off to explore the woods (he does have a tendency to follow birds), it's going to be a great time with this growing babe.

I mean....
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We had a good Easter with Porter this year, but egg dyeing was not the most pleasant.
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And yet, it's such a treat to watch our little caboose grow into himself. We are all pretty smitten with Porter and the feeling can be mutual. He can also hold his own and will purposefully push Truman and Cecelia's buttons, so I hardly have to worry about our little 'baby' of the family. In fact, Nate and I think he is going to be the toughest and wildest one of the bunch! Hold me.
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We love you so much, Porter-P. This month and every month, words fail me to describe how amazing you are!

Stitch Fix #6 | Birthday Box Edition

I haven't scheduled a fix since the last one I received on New Years Eve, and now that the weather is (sort of) turning into non-sweater weather, I figured it was time for a few new pieces. Also, I see many of you have been using my referral link, and I'm so grateful you are fueling my love for pretty clothes in a box mailed to my doorstep!

For this fix, I requested Kelley again, because she really seemed to catch on to my sense of style (which I don't think is *that* hard to nail, if it's long and colorful I will probably like it!). My note to Kelley said, 'I'm going out to dinner and drinks with a big group of friends for my 35th birthday at the end of the month, so I'd love something to wear for that night. It's still cool here, highs in the 40s, so nothing too summery just yet. I love a casual, comfortable look for everyday style.'

My fix arrive two days early, and of course I peeked online before I opened my box. But Kelley sent the most personalized note I've received thus far, and it made me smile. She said she spent time on my blog, Instagram, Pinterest, and Flickr accounts and learned that we share the same anniversary. So obviously we are meant to be (Hi, Kelley!).

When I first opened the box I noticed it was full of a LOT of blue, a color I like but don't always pick from the rack first. I noticed she sent me shoes now that Stitch Fix is offering them, and also a scarf as an accessory. Normally I like to stick to tops but yeah, that gets kind of repetitive after awhile.


The most I've ever kept from a fix is two items per box. This? Might be my first 4/5, but I'd love some opinions before I send the loner back (or maybe not? Or maybe I'll keep three things, I can't decide).

Stitch Fix #6

1. Diba Delmara Embellished Lace Up Sandals | $60
First thought when I pulled these out? I like the sparkle! And what in the heck am I doing to do with those long strings? Oh, no, gladiator sandals? I am not trendy enough for these, but I'll try them on anyway.
Diba Delmara Embellished Lace Up Sandals $60
I couldn't decide how to tie the strings, if I should keep them all bunched up around my ankle or if I was supposed to make them lace all the way up my calf. But upon scouring Pinterest, I found this pin and I do actually like this style more than I thought I did. The problem is that the strap part seems to be too small and might need to be back further on the widest part of my foot? I don't really know, will have to try them on again tomorrow. Also, time for a freaking pedicure, Julia! Geesh. In my defense, we are still not quite to sandal weather, so much like shaving in the winter when we try to hibernate in Wisconsin, pedicures aren't a top priority.

VERDICT: return (probably). Let me know your thoughts, fashionistas.

2. Gilli Jessie Maxi Dress | $74
Gilli Jessie Maxi Dress $74
Kelley thought this should be my birthday dinner outfit, and I do like maxi dresses in general. The price tag is a little bit worrisome and immediately I had to ask myself if I could find a similar maxi from Old Navy for 1/4th of the price. Hmmmm.
Gilli Jessie Maxi Dress $74
But trying it on did make me feel more excited about this dress. For one, it's stretchy and extremely comfortable. I can wear a regular bra with it, which is always a huge plus for me, and it's also quite long.
Gilli Jessie Maxi Dress $74
I think the neckline is very flattering on me and I like the navy color. Lots of pros for this dress, no cons other than the price. But now that I think of it, I have three other maxi dresses, all from Old Navy. One is sort of falling apart and the others I bought as 'nursing friendly' dresses right after Porter was born. This means that they are both really huge in the chest and don't flatter me anymore. I think this Gilli dress is much more flattering and NOT falling apart right now, so I'm leaning towards keeping it.

VERDICT: a keeper

3. Octavia Garland Floral Print Infinity Scarf | $28
Octavia Garland Floral Print Infinity Scarf $28
Kelley said she saw many floral scarves on Pinterest, and sure enough---I am infinity scarf obsessed, and I love florals. She wanted me to pair the scarf with the maxi dress, so I did and I loved this look even more than the dress without it!
Octavia Garland Floral Print Infinity Scarf $28
I don't know that I *need* another scarf but this one is lightweight and should work through spring and probably into summer for a bit. Kelley mentioned pairing both the scarf and the maxi dress with a cardigan I kept from my very first fix last July, but I didn't like that look as much. Too much material, too matronly or something. Great color combo but too much going on with fabrics around my torso. Right?

all together

VERDICT: keeping the scarf

4. Brixon Ivy Jarred Lace Detail Cap Sleeve Blouse | $68
Brixon Ivy Jarred Lace Detail Cap Sleeve Blouse $68
When I saw this top, I had to double check my Pinterest board to see if I had pinned it. I haven't, but I see it pop up on Pinterest and the Facebook group all of the time, and I've always loved the lace. Kelley said she was worried it would be too short, so I figured it would be boxy on me, but I think I love it?
Brixon Ivy Jarred Lace Detail Cap Sleeve Blouse $68

Brixon Ivy Jarred Lace Detail Cap Sleeve Blouse $68
The back is so pretty and I like the top with a long necklace, go figure. I'm slightly perplexed about bra selection with this top, though. I despise strapless bras and actually don't even own any that fit me right at this point. I am wearing a racer back bra here that is a dark green color, hoping it might blend in well with the see through lace. I also tried a nude regular strap bra and thought that looked worse. Also, Cecelia took the next two pictures for me. Nailed it! She is three years old, and my camera is bigger than her face, so this was an experience.
Brixon Ivy Jarred Lace Detail Cap Sleeve Blouse $68
It's not a tunic by any means, but the length seems appropriate and I love how it's flowy but not totally shapeless. I think it looks great with the jeans I'll show you next, and also with black pants. Perhaps *this* will be my birthday dinner outfit instead of the maxi?

VERDICT: keeping

5. Just Black Adorra Skinny Jean | $88
Just Black Adorra Skinny Jean $88
I saw Kelley sent me jeans and was bummed because I bought two new pairs a few months ago that I wear all of the time. BUT these are super dark washed, definitely darker than any others I own right now. And they aren't weirdly faded in spots so they seem a lot more dressy than my other go-to denim. When I tried them on I literally felt like I was wearing a pair of stretchy leggings. I love denim with stretch, it's the only way I can tolerate jeans because I love actual leggings so much.
Just Black Adorra Skinny Jean $88
They are long enough, tight but not restrictive, and seem really grown up with the uniform darker wash. I don't love the price tag but I know most name brand jeans are at least $90 if not more, and I still have a soft spot in my heart for my high-end denim I bought before we were married. And THOSE babies were closer to $200, even ten years ago (and I still wear them, but most are quite flared/bootcut). So there you go, my justification for the price of these jeans. Because the fit is amazing, it's just the cost that has me freezing up a bit.
Just Black Adorra Skinny Jean $88
Best shot we got of the length, and Cecelia said, 'No head though, I didn't see your head.' Artsy, my girl!
Brixon Ivy Jarred Lace Detail Cap-Sleeve Blouse $68

VERDICT: probably keeping

So with a 4/5 box, that means I am super close to getting the 25% discount they award you if you keep all five items. And if I did my math correctly, it will actually be more expensive to buy the four items I really like without the extra discount, than it would be to just keep the shoes. I would pay $20 more to keep the sandals at this point!

Then I think maybe I shouldn't keep the maxi dress either. It's cute and flattering but is it really worth $74 (or $56 after the discount, assuming I keep all five items)?

The more I stare at these pictures, the more I really love the Brixton Ivy top and the jeans. The maxi dress and scarf are great, especially together, but I probably wouldn't hate myself forever if I sent them back.

This is definitely the most wishy-washy I've been with a Stitch Fix post so far! Probably because I'm writing it the same day that I got my box and I'm tired. Help a sister out, what do I keep?? And as always, here is my referral link if you want to try this for yourself.
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