Wear To Where {Family Pictures or Tour your City}

I’m participating in the Wear to Where Tour with my friend Katy, who blogs at Wild and Wanderful.
If you are visiting from the link up today, Welcome and thanks for stopping by.

Where does a part time stay at home mama go when she wants a quiet minute to herself? The answer for me is Target, but I’m rarely dressed up when I hit Target by myself. Most times its after morning drop off and I’m in a variation of my pajamas. And why would I bother to blog about that? Well, actually I have been known to do so, but not this time. Today I’m sharing a new outfit of the day that worked for family pictures, will work for date night, and would absolutely work for that time you just want to look like something other than a “mombie” when you go out for coffee and a little quiet time.

These pictures were taken by the fantastic and talented team at Laura Hernandez Photography. Recently Laura was joined by her equally talented daughter Rachel, and their business has taken off. Rightfully so when you see these pictures. I’m lucky that this talented photographer is family! How cute are we, The Hubbs and I? I love that Laura gets The Hubbs to pose like this. We laugh so much during these photo sessions, because this isn’t us at all. We aren't this kind of couple, but when the time comes we have to much fun. Here he was telling me how unnatural it is to walk and hold someone this close at the same time. He’s a champ every year when we do these pictures! He get’s an even bigger laugh when Laura snaps some head shots for this blog! 

A little peek at Laura's magic!

My original prompt for this post was to tour your city, like a restaurant or museum, and I had every intention of doing that. Time got away from me however and with the chance to have some professional pictures taken for this post I jumped at the chance. In a way, I did tour a city. Laura took us on a walking tour of my former hometown. We took pictures right in front of the courthouse, and I walked the downtown streets of what was once home for the first time in probably twenty years! Some things have changed so much, and yet some are still the same. It took everything I had not to walk into Beverly's Fabrics, one of my all time favorites in Downtown Salinas.

Laura Hernandez Photography

On this day, I wasn’t rocking anything super fancy or out of my comfort zone. I’m in some extra comfy jeggings from Kohl’s, they are in the Juniors Department, and are the softest and most comfortable jeggings I have ever owned. The best part is that you can dress them up or down, depending on your mood. Trust me when I tell you they look equally good with a hoodie and Uggs. The top is new from Old Navy and again is both fancy or casual, depending how you wear it. My boots were a great clearance buy last year after Christmas at Target. This outfit was perfect for pictures and the ride home to Fresno. I even wore it to the neighbors house to watch the UFC fight (what an upset!). I’d wear this outfit again for a girls night out, for a date with The Hubbs, or to school for a Holiday Program or awards ceremony. It is officially on my list of outfits to rotate this season, especially if I add in a blazer or heavy sweater coat.

What do you think? Is this something that you could wear out and about, without looking like you tried too hard? Don't be surprised if I show up on the blog in this outfit of the day again!

Don't forget to check out the giveaway HERE!!

Confessions of a Home Gym Addict

I'm participating in Wear to Wear with my friend Katy, who blogs at Wild and Wanderful!
If you are visiting from the link up, welcome and thanks for stopping by!

I'm a person who has a gym membership but never goes to the gym. That doesn't mean that I don't work out... Sometimes. Most mornings you can find me in the comfort of my own home, before the kids get up, in my living room, getting in my morning work out. The best thing about working out at home is that you really can wear your pajamas to work out. I'll be honest, I don't spend a lot of money on workout clothes. For a short time I had a sweet love affair with Fabletics. From time to time I will buy work out clothes on clearance at Target or Old Navy. Not much effort goes into what I wear at my home gym, but some mornings, especially if my neighbor wants to go running, I will put in a bit of effort.

One of my favorite things to wear, now that it's actually Fall in California, are leggings. Usually you'll find me in black or grey, but at Elevate Conference in May, these fantastic leopard print babies (similar pair here) were in my swag bag!

Leggings, Workout tank, pullover, running shoes. This is how you will find me at my Home Gym. Some mornings I'll do a little Jillian (if I have a death wish). If I have it available "On Demand", I'll try out some yoga. My favorite workouts are short and to the point, because I don't like to work out or waste any time! Yeah, I'm that kind of girl. The great part is that this outfit is also acceptable at school drop off in the morning, and at Starbucks! I can't lose.

Are you one of those people who are devoted to your Home Gym? Leave me some comments on what work outs or DVDs you use. I'm always looking for new material. And be sure to check out the giveaway on Katy's blog!

Find more sweet leggings like my leopard print pair at Agnes and Dora!

4 Gifts 2015 {Want}

Did you know that there are just six weeks until Christmas? Are you as freaked out as I am? You would think since I'm a retail warrior, and have been setting Christmas ornaments out since October that I'd have a better handle on things. The truth is I don't even have a plan mapped out. I don't even have a list. That's why when my friend Alyson asked if I'd like to join her "4 Gifts" series again this year I jumped at the chance. It's the only way I'm really going to buckle down and think about gifts for my family this year. Plus it's a great way to prioritize what we really want versus what we really need.

 4 Gifts Christmas Blogging Series 2015

Not familiar with "4 Gifts"? It's basically about buckling down and getting the gifts that the people in your life really want. There are four categories: want, need, wear, read. The idea is to buy your family members one item that fits into each category. Last year I really tried to stick with this, and I did pay attention to what my girls really wanted. I was also able to focus on what they really needed, and how to incorporate that into gifts. The "need, wear, and read", is usually pretty simple, but the want is where I tend to go overboard. Participating in this link up will help me focus on what to buy and hopefully help me curb my spending. Which is really what gets me into trouble every year.

So what do the Crutchfields really want this year?

This year my both my girls are obsessed with Shopkins. If you have no idea what I'm talking about, take a moment and thank your stars. Shopkins are these tiny figurines of food, accessories, and kitchen appliances. They have lunch counter sets, shoe store sets, and the highly sought after ice cream truck/bus. This bus has been the talk of this town for months. They each are getting one from Santa, because this mom emailed Santa ages ago about this item.

Caitlin wants the new Text Cool bracelet maker. Do any of you remember that really cool label maker from the 80s? Where you punched the letters out onto plastic that had adhesive on the back? Well I do, and this Text Cool bracelet maker is basically the same idea. But instead of primary colored plastic, you have really cool neon and glitter plastic to make bracelets on. Caitlin promised if Santa delivers one of these she will make me a bracelet that says "#blogger". How on earth can I resist that? Also, I'm pretty sure I'm going to use this bracelet maker more than she will.

Mackenzie decided months ago that she wants the Chocolate Pen. The chocolate is this really fun candy maker, that is basically a pen you can fill with melted chocolate and draw edible pictures on wax paper. I mean really? Who wouldn't want that. I realize that she is five, but I'm pretty sure Mackenzie can handle a Chocolate Pen!

All the Hubbs really wants for Christmas is a clean house. I'm not kidding you. If he could come home to a clean house, every day in December, his Christmas wishes will have come true!

Me? Well there area a few things I want this year, but the one that sticks out the most is this Sunburst Stacking ring from Lisa Leonard. Not only is the ring perfectly dainty, the story behind the ring just got me. This is the quote that you can find on her sight,

"Do you know that feeling; when you're walking through a dark time and you're wondering if hope or joy are even possible? Your heart is grieving. And then you feel it--just a hint of light. The smallest ray of hope. And you hold onto it as tightly as you can".

When I read that my heart almost stopped. I've felt exactly that. All those years ago when I was struggling with motherhood, and then one day there was just this little break in the clouds and I could feel that all was not lost. I really need to get this ring into my life. There is also a sterling silver design as well, if gold just isn't your thing.

That's it for our "wants" this year. Make sure to follow along with us, there are 10 or so bloggers participating this year and we all have great lists of wants, needs, wears and reads. Hopefully our lists can take some of the stress off you, and make your Christmas shopping a little easier.

And because we are a crazy group of bloggers, there's a giveaway too! The giveaway will go on for the next 4 weeks and each week you'll have more chances to enter. Be sure to scroll down and enter for your chance to win! Come back next week when we tackle "Need" in the "4 Gifts" series. 

Christmas Giveaway!

$165 Target Gift Card  ||  $25 World Market Gift Card  ||  Lace Arm Warmers - Forgotten Cotton  ||  Personalized Cutting Board (9x12") - Laserworkz  ||  Gypsy Dreamcatcher Necklace - Gypsies Box Jewelry  ||  $30 Credit for Keep Collective with Kassie  ||  Adult Coloring Book - This Girl's Doodles

Looking in the Mirror {WIWW}

I hate the scale. My entire life I feel like I've been at battle with the bathroom scale. In high school and college I used to weigh backward so I didn't have to see the number. I had read that trick in one of my magazines, it was some article about the journey to self acceptance. Back then I read every article and every book that could anyway make me like myself better. In my mind I was never blond enough. I was never thin enough. I was always loud and obnoxious so I could always be the "funny" one. I had acne. I had glasses. I used to perm my hair. The battle with the scale eventually turned into the battle with the mirror. The mirror doesn't lie. Ever.

So much of that daily battle changed around my last year in college. I found confidence, I found a guy who actually like me, all of me. I was working in my field, I was graduating with my degree. I was on top of the world. Sure, I noticed when waistbands got tighter, I still recognized the jiggle of my thighs in a swimsuit, and I still made note of my belly, that was never as flat as the other girls. By then, at twenty three or twenty four, I didn't care as much. Still, the scale and the mirror were never on my side.

I'll admit I felt gorgeous on my wedding day. I had spent the previous six weeks dieting and exercising. In every pictures I'm happy and glowing, and my make up was flawless. I loved my wedding dress that fit so perfectly, how it hugged each curve just right. I love how I looked my thinnest ever. Unfortunately I spent the following seven days eating and drinking my way through Hawaii. And so the battle continued.

When I got pregnant, after the sickness went away, I spent my days eating ice cream and peanut butter cups. I loved those months when I didn't care about calories or fat grams. I knew the pounds wouldn't fall off right away, but I didn't think they would take as long as they did. I battled with the scale some more, but by the time Caitlin was a year, I was at a size I could handle. One pant and dress size bigger than I was in college and my wedding day. I thought that was pretty good. I felt like I could be that size forever and really accept it. I did accept it, for a few years until I became pregnant again.

The second time around I was very okay with eating my way through another pregnancy. I was okay knowing that when I left the hospital I was going to look like I was still pregnant. I was even okay knowing that I would be wearing my maternity jeans for another six months. Did I really care? They were the most comfortable jeans on earth! This time, after Mackenzie was born, I had some major complications. In the end, I left the hospital very weak, and by the time I was getting ready for a doctors appointment a week later, my regular jeans fit. I'll admit, I felt very triumphant. I wanted everyone to know that I was already back in my jeans. Take that second baby weight. Little did I know that that weight loss was just the beginning.

In the year and a half after Mac was born, I was extremely sick. I have food allergies anyway, but soon I was eating nothing but eggs and gluten free waffles. After Mac's second Christmas I went to see a specialist in Northern California because I was down to 110 pounds. Not only that, but my hair was falling out and nothing I ate seemed to stick. What I found out was that my food allergies went beyond Gluten and Wheat, and when it was all said and done I had to majorly overhaul my diet. I cut out all grains, caffeine and sugar. How do you even "mom" without caffeine? It was rough, I tell you, but I felt a lot better.

That was almost three years ago, and for two of those years, the weight seemed to steady. In the first year I gained back five pounds, which I accepted. However over the last two years I've gained ten more. Ten. That has been harder to accept. Those new jeans I had to buy after Mac had to go in our Goodwill pile, along with shirts and dresses. Today most of my clothes fit, but they are uncomfortable and don't fit like they used to. I spent the entire summer working out most days, for at least a half hour, running at night or in the morning with neighbors and there was little change. I'm sure I could have cut more (natural) carbs out of my diet, but seriously... I did not want to cut out any summer fruit or Larabars. Those are like my only treats!

Last month was The Hubbs class reunion. He was really excited about it, and to tell the truth I was too. I don't know many people he went to school with, but a night out was something that we needed. Date night plus a reason to get really dressed up and do both hair and make up sounded like a treat. My biggest concern was what to wear, considering I don't buy fancy clothes anymore. I had a few dresses in my closet and so I decided that I would try them on. However when I took them out of the closet I thought they looked dated. And let's be honest they were. One dress was from a friends wedding twelve years ago and the second was from the first year The Hubbs and I were married, ten years ago. I felt like I needed something that was more up to date with the trends. Black pants, black blouse, wedges, you get the picture. That plan was scraped days before the class reunion when I got what ever cold crud Mac had. I was too tired to shop. I went to one store and threw in the towel. I wasn't even sure I'd make it to the reunion with the way I was feeling.

I woke up the morning of the reunion feeling better. I thought about running to the mall to find something to wear, but I just didn't have the energy. Instead I shopped my closet and tried on the two dresses I had originally pulled out. With shoes and everything I modeled them for the peanut gallery (my family). The girls like both dresses, they didn't really have a strong opinion. I preferred a jade green dress that looks like a wrap around style but it isn't. It fit a little looser, and so I felt more comfortable. The Hubbs on the other hand liked the black dress with the leafy pattern (picture to follow). It wasn't my favorite and was a little tight in the problem areas. But he kept insisting on the black dress, even suggesting I go out and get a new pair of shoes since I felt the ones I had didn't really work with the dress. I really didn't like the black dress, I just knew it was going to highlight all my trouble zones. I was worried that I would be so uncomfortable that it would make me fidget all night. Still, The Hubbs insisted that it was the one. Fine. I found my beloved Spanx and hoped for the best.

I have to admit. It didn't look as bad as I had thought. I actually got a ton of cat calls on Instagram (thank you Instagram followers, love ya!), and my kids were super impressed with the high heels and curled hair. For the most part I wasn't uncomfortable at all that night. I wasn't pulling at my dress, I ignored those little bulges around my middle. The only time I complained was at midnight when my feet couldn't take those shoes any longer. I guess that's what happens when you practically live in Toms. The thing is, this dress served me up some truth that night. When I was talking to a sorority sister, who graduated high school with the Hubbs, she mentioned that she like my dress and asked me if it was new. I laughed and explained that this was probably the last fancy dress I bought for my best friends wedding twelve years ago. She looked me dead in the eye and said, "I wish something still fit me from twelve years ago".

Truth bomb, my friends. Boom.

I've spent almost an entire year worried about my weight. I stopped posting #ootd (outfit of the day, for you non bloggers) photos to Instagram because I was embarrassed that I wasn't as small as I was two years ago. I started to see every flaw, every bulge, every laugh line when I looked in the mirror. I forgot what it was like to actually like my reflection. Every time I looked in the mirror, all I could see where missed opportunities and the Paleo treats I was indulging. I couldn't see past any of those things.

The morning after the reunion I posted this lovely picture to Instagram, because I had a new truth in my heart about myself. Twelve years ago I was pretty happy with myself. I'm sure I worried about things like extra calories and those extra five pounds that have plagued me my entire life, but I remember when I wore that dress to that wedding all those years ago, and I was happy. I was confident. I think I was roughly the same weight I am now. I was healthy back then too. It was before babies and sleep deprivation. Before the postpartum  hemorrhage and the crazy insane "elimination diet". Twelve years ago The Hubbs thought I was one sexy mofo, and if I'm being honest he still does, as evidenced by the boob grabs multiple times a day. There is nothing wrong with this size, it's just one I have to get reacquainted with. Every day I reintroduce myself to this body, and every day, she forgives me a little more for hating her for so long.

I've written post after post about trying to find my confidence again. I know my abs will never be flat, I've accepted that now. My thighs may jiggle for eternity, and they have no gap. I may always carry an extra five pounds around. Does it really matter? I spent so much of my life wanting to be skinny, as if that was a sure sign of my ultimate success. But being Skinny isn't going to write my book. Skinny isn't going to be the best mother to my kids. Skinny doesn't enjoy Hulu and DVR programs as much as I do. In my life Skinny isn't a friend or a foe, and finally she's no longer an end goal. In my life Healthy is the happier kinder friend, who occasionally throws chocolate my way, and lets me be lazy on Sundays.

Today, looking in the mirror isn't so bad. I remind myself of the little victories, like fitting in a dress that I wore twelve years ago, or not being so sick it's a struggle to get out of bed and take care of my kids. I'm trying to look in the mirror everyday and be at peace with the person smiling back at me. To document those #ootd, even when my jeans are too tight, even with the angles are all wrong. This is my truth. This is who I am, and for the love of God, at thirty seven, shouldn't I just love it already?

The Silver Lining {My Summer as a Cliche Part Three}

Part One Here
Part Two Here

Before I started writing this post, I went back and read my post for the New Year. I vividly remember the place I was in all those months ago, and I wanted to see how I did. I didn't remember much of it to be honest, but I did recognize the underlying theme. I wanted to have resolve. I used a picture at the top of that post with this quote:

"Resolve to let go of everything
that isn't make your life better, sweeter, or richer,
so you can make room for everything that does".

How many times do we really go back and read our resolutions? How many times do we have forward progress to show that we held on to those words that were so sweet and rich with life in January? I never do. I rarely go back and read my life affirming January posts, because honestly most times they are a let down. This year, I was surprised. I found myself answering that specific call to action. I found myself on the other side of that prayer and mantra. It didn't matter that I had quit two jobs in less than three months time, I had found room for all the things that made life sweeter. Even better, I had finally invited them in.

Since realizing that I was living cliches, I'm so glad that I was able to land on a Silver Lining. All my dark clouds of the past year held a silver lining, but I didn't know it. To find it, I had to trust myself. I had to trust my heart, and I had to listen to my gut when it said, try this instead. I found that quitting two jobs was a very teachable moment. The lessons I learned weren't as simple as, "I can do hard things". The lessons learned were more along the lines of, "I can do something". Something about those times when I'm unhappy or sad or angry. I can take action. I can learn new things about myself. I can step off that impossibly high and scary step and fall. Falling sometimes flat on my face, but realizing it's the getting up that matters. It's finding that silver lining no matter what.

There were moments of panic. Moments where I just knew my decisions were going to catch up to me. Moments when I had to explain to my friends and family why I was or wasn't working. I was embarrassed for weeks because I always thought I'd be smarter about things. That I would have done more research before quitting one job and jumping into another. I let that embarrassment blind me to the fact that I was actually doing what I had been dreaming of doing. I was actually living those sweet moments that brought happiness instead of intense anxiety. I was right where I needed to be. Soon that reddening embarrassment faded. And what was left was me, and I had to get reacquainted.

I found that the silver linings were the answered prayers of spending summer days with my daughters. Being home at night to put them to bed. Spending entire Saturdays doing nothing and everything. Silver linings in the form of saying yes to Girl Scout events and family birthday parties, being able to make random trips to the fro-yo shop with the neighbors. Silver linings that appeared as Target trips and cupcake baking and late night movies in mommy's bed. Silver linings that made me realize that I didn't want to miss these moments anymore.

Those silver linings served as perfect lessons in what I "can do". I learned that I can quit. Be it a job or something else. I can say the words I quit, and the world does not end. I can change my circumstances. I can change them to make me happier or to help my family. I can change the circumstances surrounding any event in my life as I see fit. I can and deserve to be happy. That it's within me to ask for those things that make me happy. Realizing I have the power to do what makes me happy, which is a pretty powerful lesson. I learned that I can leap with out looking, that I can let go of what if and just fall. I can say yes to something that scares me so badly, and pushes me to the outer limits of my comfort zone. I can let it go, let it be, and just wait and see. Let life work out for the best. Trust that I've made a good decision. I've learned that I can go back to the beginning, I can start over, and I can move forward.

The best part, now that I know I can... I will.

In January I wanted to let go of all of those things that didn't make my life sweeter. Six months later I took a little journey of self discovery and lived life as a cliche. I'm not sorry that I did. Good or bad, leaving one job for another served a greater purpose in my life. It allowed me to make room for what makes my life sweeter. It helped me find my silver linings. Taking that leap of faith pushed me to open my heart and my mind to falling and failing, and finding out that I can get a new lease on life.

As long as I'm willing to look for it.