Sunday, April 30, 2017

welcoming all the babies with basic invite

In the last 6 months, about 14 million of my closest friends and family members announced that they are pregnant.
14 million might be an exaggeration, but it was a ton of people! It seemed right after another my friends said, "guess what! I'm pregnant!" It was pretty crazy, but tis the season I guess!
I'm so happy for all my friends and my sister (!!) who are pregnant. We aren't looking to have kids any time soon but sometimes you just want a baby to cuddle, and soon enough I will have my pick!
My favorite thing to do is celebrate with my friends. I love throwing parties for any reason. It's how I describe myself. "I'm Riley, I like to plan parties." 
Lately, there has been a lull! No one getting married, no reason to really throw a party. Now, all of the sudden, there is a bunch of new babies coming and so many reasons to throw a shower! I'm in my freakin element and planning all the showers! I can't wait to share them here as they happen.
To begin with, I am a firm believer in sending out physical invitations. I think it just shows that you put the extra touch in and people are way, way more likely to show up if they have a real invite instead of just something in their inbox.
(invites blurred out as to prevent any unwelcome guests.. aka creeps on the internet haha)

These invites are AMAZING! I was not expecting them to be holographic, but the gold is so cool! They feel extremely expensive, on really nice paper.
I ordered these from Basic Invite and am so impressed. First of all, they are like one of the few people who will send you a sample of your actual invitation before they print all of them. This is huge! I actually had a big error on my wedding announcement that we would have caught if we had an actual sample printed before.
I also like that you can change the color of any part of the invite online so you can see it right there. I originally wanted the grey in the invite above to be more of a blue since Mallory is having a boy, but when I did it online I was like, "k, this is not cute!" Luckily I could see it online before I ordered. Lastly, they have 40 different colors of envelopes that you do not have to lick and therefore, Basic Invite wins. Check them out for modern birth announcements, personalized graduation announcements, wedding and save the date cards, simple baby shower invitations and first birthday invites.

Have a good week!
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Friday, April 28, 2017

be the good

Good morning! 

Today I want to talk about something that's been on my mind for the last month or so. It revolves around what we are doing in my classroom right now and how it's taught me all about perspective. We are learning about the Civil War in my history classes. I used to think the Civil War was so boring but this is the first year I have gotten really into it. We talk about the events leading up to the CW, what happened after, the nightmare that is the Reconstruction era, etc etc. The whole time I feel like I have been telling my students, "You think the 2016 election was contentious, you should have been there for the election of 1860!!!" and, "You think right now is bad? We had MILITARY DISTRICTS a la Hunger Games in the south because things were such a mess!"
 People in the 1800s were scared that their life would change dramatically, uncertain about the future, having drama about who was in office, etc. There were a lot of people who just didn't want to worry about politics, wanted to focus on their daily lives and then they had a war in their backyard. Things were really bad and scary! 
As we have been talking about the Civil War, and really all of history, I have realized that things have always been scary and uncertain in US History. Always.  (Except for the Era of Good Feelings....but that was only like ten years.) 

So what has made the US have good moments? People standing up. Individuals making a difference and finding other individuals who are also making a difference and getting together. I know my students are not going to remember the different battles of the Civil War or who certain people were and why they were important, and honestly I don't even care. What I do hope is that they come out of my class realizing that they can make a difference just by doing little things every day that most people don't do. For example, writing your representatives or educating yourself about something in the government and telling others about it. Going to a rally or writing about the issues you feel strongly about online. 

 Even though things seem particularly bad right now, I think that things are maybe no worse off than they have been in the past, and we have made huge advancements despite all of the hard times and people feeling scared and unsure. All it takes is for individuals to be the good, and we'll be fine.

This shirt is from Cents of Style (are you seeing a theme in my clothes lately? I just love their brand and all their clothes.) They have a ton of different graphic tees from their "Be Series" and they are on sale for $15.96 with free shipping right now!!!! The code is BESTORY and it's valid 4/28-4/30, so order soon! Also, they aren't like certain sites were you get good deals but then it takes months to ship. It will be to you F A S T! 

Have a good weekend!
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Tuesday, April 25, 2017

being brave

Good morning!
This top is from Cents of Style, so is the skirt actually, but the top is in the A Fresh Cut Spring collection. The top has embroidery that says, "brave". Aside from it being an insanely comfy sweater,   I love the embroidery on it as a reminder to be brave daily. 
So in honor of being brave, I wanted to publish a post that has been in my drafts for a while. 
I have been meaning to write this post for about a year....but it makes me nervous but also I think it's important to talk about!
I have anxiety. I have had it ever since I was little, anyone in my family can attest to this, and I still struggle with it today!
 I hate talking about this only because I feel like people blow you off because it seems like everyone has anxiety these days. There is an epidemic, it seems, of mental illness and I think people get very apathetic about it because it's so common. I can see how it can be annoying because yes, a ton of people have anxiety/mental illness but it doesn't make it less real. The reason that a lot of people are talking about their mental illness is because the culture has changed and it's more acceptable for people to talk about it, which is great in my opinion! The more open people are the more likely people will implement a positive change. But the influx of people talking about this has made some others skeptical about who actually has a mental illness and who doesn't. My opinion is unless we are doctors or pyschologists, it's not our job to diagnose people, or not diagnose people or whatever. As always, I believe it's our job to be kind humans to people having a tough time in life.

Anxiety is one of the biggest parts of my life. I worry about everything, even stupid things, constantly and it drives everyone in my life absolutely crazy. 
In High School, I thought it was normal because one of my best friends acted the same way that I did (she also has anxiety we know now). It wasn't until the summer of my sophmore year that I started to have daily anxiety/panic attacks that would tire me out so much that I would have to sleep it off for hours and hours and would also leave me so I couldn't breathe. That was when I decided to admit that this wasn't normal and that I needed help. I took medicine for a bit but it made me so apathetic about everything that I couldn't stand myself, so I stopped. I have been using other ways to deal and that has seemed to work. Getting married actually helped a lot because it gave me someone that I could share my anxieties with, which makes me more quick to realize that my worries are irrational. If you want to talk more about what I do daily then we can talk one on one! :) 

Though it can be easy to want to avoid tasks that scare me or make me anxious, I have decided I don't want to be a person who hides from life. With Mark's help, I have had to make conscious daily decisions that anxiety can't control me. Some days are better than others (booking our trip to Europe was a big anxiety inducer for me, but I am working through it and feeling really good about the trip now) but I feel okay about where things are with me day to day!

Anxiety has taught me to be more loving to other people because you really never know that they could be fighting an internal battle every day. Cliche? Yes. True? Yes. It's made me really connect with so many of my students. A lot of them have anxiety, and for good reasons. They have so much pressure being put on them. One of my 8th graders is already practicing filling out college applications, they are only 13! Their lives are stressful and they have physical and mental ramifications from that. So it has actually been a really positive outcome from this whole thing. 

I am who I am, I don't think I would take away my anxiety if I had the choice because I feel like the ways I have struggled with it have made me a stronger, better person, as with any trial.

Thanks to Cents of Style for sponsoring this post. Check out their Fresh Cut Spring collection, they have tons of cute things that celebrate all sizes!
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Monday, April 24, 2017

an easter miracle

I want to really level with you guys and share an Easter miracle that happened. I'm still not quite over the surprise and #blessings of it all. 
Let's rewind to a few weeks before Easter. We were trying to figure out our plans with our families. I was in a group message with my family and we planned out that we were going to do a BBQ! My sister asked everyone to bring something. People were responding with, "I'll bring fruit" "I'll bring soda" etc. 
I didn't care about any of that, I was waiting on one response. From my Mom. She would make or break my Easter plans.
Then I saw it. "Collette is typing..."
My phone pinged. This was it.

"Pasta. Salad"

NOOO! I cried. I thrashed. I screamed.

My Mom was not bringing funeral potatoes to Easter dinner.

The world got a little dimmer that day.

I went through the whole five stages of grief. I spent a few days in denial. I kept thinking my Mom had to be kidding. She would certainly show up with a pan of sweet, sweet golden goodness. As it got closer I realized that she meant business. 
I started to get angry, throwing casserole dishes in the road to take my anger out. 
I was pleading with the big guy upstairs that if he just gave me funeral potatoes, I would actually listen in Sunday School.
Depression was the worst of it. I couldn't even look at a french fry without bursting into tears.
I don't know that I made it to acceptance. I was still in a serious pit when I showed up to Easter dinner. I dished myself up a side of pasta salad, resigned to this mediocre life. 
Then the doorbell rang, and in with the pouring light came my cousin. What was in her hands? Casserole dish. Tin foil.

Could it be? My heart skipped a beat. 
She set her dish on the table and slowly pulled back the tin foil. 
Cornflakes beaming, cheese drizzling.
I was in total shock, I might have passed out, I don't really remember. It's all a blur.
People were congratulating me. I think Mark was crying. It was a beautiful day.

So thankful for my Easter miracle. It will be a year I always remember.

This was my Easter outfit this year! I don't care how old I am, I will always be excited to get new Easter gear. This skirt is from Cents of Style. I think that a quarter of my closet is from them because they actually have a really cute plus size section. I also feel like I owe them infinitely for all the pictures I take in front of their wall. This is from their line "A Fresh Cut Spring" and I got a few things from it!  I love this appliqué sweater, this lace up sweater and this embroidered jumpsuit.

Thanks to Sadie Banks Photography for these pictures, even though I'm the whitest I have ever been!! Haha! 

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Friday, April 14, 2017

san francisco day 4

We were flying out this day so we had a minimum amount of time to squeeze in some last minute things. I was also very ready to be home and eat a head of lettuce. Haha! We pulled a typical tourist move and thought the Full House house was one of the Painted isn't.  While the Painted Ladies are in the opening of the show, it isn't used for the exterior of the house. 

But here is the actual house! Bugged they painted the door green because the red looks way better, IMO.

Then we went to China Town. It was 10 AM at this point and a lot was closed, but we waited in this line for dim sum and dumplings and took it back to the hotel for an early lunch before we had to leave. Oh guys, this food made us all SO sick. We were still hungry so we tried to walk to a close taco place but our stomachs could not handle it. Mark says it's because we are a bunch of white girls and that could be very true, but nevertheless we all wanted to barf and every time I think about the food I get queasy. 
We felt like we had to get to the airport very early since San Francisco's airport is much bigger than SLC's, but because it is so much bigger they are way, way more organized and we were through security and everything in less than two minutes. So we had a three hour wait at the airport, but I didn't mind at all. I love people watching at the airport, we used to do it in high school just for fun! 

Overall, San Francisco was very fun and beautiful. We were the luckiest with amazing weather, no rain or fog any of the days we went. Everyone was so nice to us with the exception of the waiter from the Fog Harbor place. However, the city did not strike me in a magical way like Boston did when I first went almost six years ago! It made me realize how I really do love Boston...haha! I had different images of San Francisco in my head of being like a blogger's paradise with colorful walls and murals everywhere and while that's true in certain spots, it's definitely not true of the whole city. You definitely cannot beat the views, the weather and the ocean!

Thanks for having us! 

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Wednesday, April 12, 2017

san francisco day 3

Monday we woke up early because we had tickets to ALCATRAZ! Even though it's really cliche, it was my favorite thing of the trip. I wasn't really expecting much of it, but it was great. 
We got to the marina and boarded the ferry. It was another perfect day, we had great views of the Bay Bridge on the way over there. We were the first tour of the day, which I definitely recommend because there was less people. You could tell when the later tours came because it was nosier, more crowded and just not as good.
 Some interesting things that I didn't know, Alcatraz started as a Civil War fort because the Confederates wanted California for the gold! We are starting our Civil War unit when we get back from Spring Break, so I just loved that info. Then either after the Civil War or after the prison closed (I can't remember the exact details) Native Americans took Alcatraz in protest for the United States violating land treaties. They held it for a little over a year, that is why you see so much graffiti. 
The prison closed because it was so expensive to run. 

Anyway, so you have the option of an audio tour and I would highly recommend. It was very well done, with voice overs from actual prisoners. It was creepy as crap with the sound affects and other stuff, I cannot imagine touring it at night!!!! I had heebie jeebies several times. 
The prisoners had the best views of the city and the bridges, so that was probably a type of torture in itself. Another interesting fact, the guards and their families (like, young children) lived on the island. My students love the book Al Capone Does My Shirts about a little kid (with autism) who lives on the island, but it actually happened. It's pretty nuts. 

The whole thing was just very interesting and creepy and I loved it. I took my headphones off at one point and it was silent because everyone was on their headphones. That was a really awesome feeling.

They encouraged people to go in the isolation cell (had a solid metal door unlike this one) and I was like...hard pass. You can't even see your own hand in front of your face in there.

My favorite part was the gallery of pictures from the day they closed Alcatraz. They were amazing.

We spent about two hours at Alcatraz then headed back to the mainland. We walked to a place called CodMother's that served fish and chips for lunch. It was good, but I was feeling kind of gross from all the treats and stuff so I didn't enjoy it as much as the others in the group.

After lunch, we headed to Coit Tower which was recommended to us by many people. We paid $8 to take an elevator to the top and although it was pretty, it was really hard to get a good view of the city because you can only look out these small windows and it was pretty crowded. We later heard from locals that the Top of the Mark is much better for the views of the city. 

This trip made me realize I'm selling my big camera. It's constantly blurry. 

After being a bit grumpy that we paid $8 for a one minute elevator ride....we went home and took a nap. Haha! It was much needed too.
After we woke up, we were craving ice cream so we went back to Ghiradelli Square. We had one that had brownies in it and it was delicious.
Oh look, another blurry picture!

After our ice cream fill, we headed to Baker Beach, the beach we couldn't go to the day before. This is the funniest moment of the trip and a moment I will remember forever just because of the pure shock of the whole thing. We were walking down the beach, as close to the bridge as we could get.  I was looking down at the sand as to not step on anything weird and one of my friends made a weird noise, so I looked up and right in front of me were two naked men! It took five seconds before my brain registered exactly what I was seeing and when I realized I screamed, swore, and turned around so fast. We were trying to figure out if it was a nude beach or if these guys were just being creeps. I really wanted a picture, so we kept walking and one of the naked guys kept coming closer and we hurried and took a picture and got the heck out of there. It was very annoying because the guy was purposefully trying to get in people's pictures, like he came behind one of my friends and stretched right behind her while I was trying to take her picture. Like, express yourself all you want but don't be a...dick? (pun intended?) about it.. 
There is a naked man about five feet to my left and I'm trying not to feel weird about it

We got into the parking lot and I was just so surprised and annoyed that it ruined our time at the beach, so I was being a little salty....but every minute that passed it seemed to get more and more funny and less irritating.
We decided to head to dinner at this point, we went to sushi. I won't even tell you the name because it was not great sushi and I wouldn't recommend it to anyone. After sushi we headed back to Pier 39 area to see if we could get some oysters. While my friends were eating oysters, I was being creeped out by the clear violations of health codes and the homeless man who was getting beer everywhere! Yay big cities! Haha. Actually, I saw a Lush and ran right into it to buy a bath bomb so I could relax that night. 
Another very touristy thing but these steps were actual piano key things! I mean they had a sensor that played piano sounds so...we did a mini workout by running up and down them.

We hung out at Pier 39, I got some biscoff at the biscoff store and ran into my student teaching cooperating teacher, smallest world. Because we ate sushi and it had been five minutes, we were hungry again so we had another bread bowl and I had the best Dr Pepper I have had in a long time. 
Then we went home and I had a luxurious bath with my bath bomb and went to sleep!

I was going to squeeze day 4 into here, but I have written a lot already so I will save that for my last post!
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Monday, April 10, 2017

teeth whitening, bad and good experiences [GIVEAWAY]

A few years ago, my Mom got me professional teeth whitening for my birthday. It was the best present ever! I was so excited. I'm really self conscious about my smile because it's super gummy, I just have big gums! I actually considered surgery to lessen my gums but I'm really happy I didn't, I would have had horse teeth if I had. Anyway, for quite a while I had been self conscious about the color of my teeth, and I just really wanted an amazing and vibrant smile. So this was like the best present ever! 
I scheduled my appointment and went in alone. The worker didn't really tell me what exactly was happening, she just told me there were three rounds. She put this huge device to keep my lips from touching the bleach, it also prevented me from standing, put the bleach on and left the room.
About ten minutes later, I started feeling a burning and stinging sensation that grew from uncomfortable to excruciating. I was screaming as best as I could for help but no one heard me. I had tears running down my face because of the pain, and yet I sat there for another 25 minutes before the lady came back in. She asked me if I wanted to continue my session, not even concerned about how frantic I was. I immediately asked her to take my mouth guard out and I left, sobbing so hard that my Mom had to come get me. My gums turned a bright white because she hadn't been careful about where she put the bleach.  My teeth were so sensitive after that it was unbearable to eat or drink anything that wasn't luke warm, and my teeth are still sensitive today.
It was a horrible experience, and only recently have I felt okay enough to do at home whitening like white strips, which is what I have used for the past few years. I haven't had any problems, but my teeth also haven't been as white as they had that one session where hell literally exploded in my mouth. I also drink more soda since then and the soda stained my teeth, not as badly as coffee or tobacco does, so I'm lucky, but still. So I have been looking for other solutions to whiten my teeth at home. I saw a bunch of bloggers talking about Smile Brilliant and I started scoping out their website, thinking this may be the solution for me.
You may have seen Smile Brilliant around the internets, but basically it's an at home teeth whitening system that is a little more involved than white strips. The first thing they send you is some Playdoh looking substance to make a tray at home. They conveniently send you a packing slip that you mail back the impressions in and within a week, you have your custom whitening trays
It was really weird seeing my teeth perfectly made into a tray! Haha.

 So, to use, you first put the desensitizing gel in the custom tray and keep it on for about 15 minutes. This step was hugely important to me because I have sensitive teeth ever since that horrible experience, (seriously, my teeth have never been the same) so the gel was super important. I would not teeth whiten without it again.
Then, you put in the whitening gel. I would usually put mine on about 45 minutes before I went to bed as I went throughout my nightly routine. 
I saw results after one use. They sent me about five syringes of each kind of gel and I got 4-5 uses out of each syringe. I actually haven't even completely finished using the syringes. I do it about twice a week. I obviously have seen more results as I use it more often. 
Smile Brilliant is a great at home teeth whitening system that will get you better results than a whitening strip and is cheaper and less intense than going to a professional. 
If you have any more questions, they have a FAQ page on their website which answers questions about the desensitizing gel, the whitening gel, custom fitted trays, etc. 
Here are my before pictures... (yes I'm cringing, I have crooked teeth about seven years of braces, I've accepted it!)

annnnd here are my afters!

Looking at these pictures side by side it amazes me how much of a difference there really is!
I would recommend this if you are looking for a great at home teeth whitening system that gives you both instant results and results over time.
If you would like 5% off your system, use the coupon code rileyjoblog5
I'm giving a $139 store credit to Smile Brilliant! This giveaway is open to UK, Australia, Canada and USA residents! It runs for two weeks.
You can earn extra entries on my Instagram! Head over there to check it out. 
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