Thursday, September 18, 2014

Box-of-the-Month Club Review: Gwynnie Bee and Bluum

In an attempt to get work done I'm falling down the rabbit hole of the internet as I wait for iOS8 to figure itself out because I'm tired. I'm more tired lately than I have been because although Asher consistently wakes up at 6 a.m. every morning, I can't seem to get in a habit of going to bed early in order to accommodate such an early arising. Then again, we did just move houses and I did just spend the past two weeks sick (cough cough, hack hack), and I can't seem to figure out these mysterious hives that have plagued me for more than two months now.

But yipeee! There are glimmers of hope in the cloud of exhaustion and coffee-fueled mornings in the form of ... subscription box-of-the-month clubs! You may or may not recall that I used to work for a gluten-free box-of-the-month club several years ago, but it looks like these boxes have not lost their steam. The market wants variety, it wants to try before you buy, it wants to examine quality, taste, experience before going all in. 

I'll be honest, it's an amazing world we live in when you can order something for minimal cost, wear it as much as you want, and then buy or return. It's like a revolving closet. When it comes to food boxes, the ability to sample something before buying an industrial-size box at CostCo is brilliant. 

I'm currently subscribing to the first-month-free trial for Gwynnie Bee, which is a plus-size clothing subscription box, and the amazing folks at Bluum, goodies for mommy and baby, sent me a box to try out. 

The Bluum box starts at $20.99 and sends goodies for mommy and baby from pregnancy through preschool. The great thing about this box is that it's customized for your baby's age, which means you won't get any toys or treats that Little Timmy can't use for the next year. There are a bunch of stellar plans (monthly, three months, six months, a year), and there's always free shipping. 

By and large I was happy with the box, although the treat that came in (dried snap peas) was not kosher, so unfortunately we couldn't use/eat those. There were two items in the box geared toward the pacifier crowd (a pacifier carrier to attach to a buggy or bag and a fuzzy worm to attach to a pacifier), which also didn't help us because -- lucky for us -- Ash never took to a pacifier or thumb sucking. The Dr. Seuss bowl was a treat after my husband's own heart, and the book was absolutely adorable. Ash took his first own solo bath last night (with me in the room, of course) and absolutely loved chewing on the bath temperature ducky. I also have to offer up mad props for the really clean, colorful packaging. It's nice to know what your'e getting the moment you see the box in your post!

As for Gwynnie Bee, I couldn't have been more happy to find this box. There are a lot of really stellar clothing subscription boxes, but finding one that caters to the plus-size crowd is next to impossible. Oddly enough, even plus-size thrift stores/consignment shops has become quite the rage here in Denver.

How does it work? You subscribe to Gwynnie Bee in one of three ways: get three items of clothing per month, two per month, or one per month. It's a bit pricey, so the one-month free is a genius idea that will tell you whether it's going to be "worth it" or not for you. You fill up your online closet with selections from their bounty of brands, sizes, and styles, and the clothing curators at Gwynnie Bee will package and send your clothes out depending on your subscription. Then, you can wear the clothing item as much as you want or send it back if it doesn't fit and they'll keep sending clothes out to you with free shipping and free returns. 

Talk about a dream closet, right?!

Of the six articles of clothing they've sent my way so far, only one has really fit well and looked good. It's not a great ratio, but the one that fits/looks great is totally worth the process. They've also been really great about swapping out clothes quickly when something arrived damaged. Will I continue paying the $79/month for a three-garment plan? I'm still not sure. It's a great way to try out a ton of different plus-size clothing brands in one easy go, but even with the discounts on purchasing the clothing prices are pretty steep. Designer plus-size clothing is crazy expensive for reasons I just don't understand. 

Do you have a favorite subscription box? Have you been able to find any food-based boxes that cater to the kosher crowd? 

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

The Hardest Thing About Being a Working Mom?

It has to be this.



I watched this and was both so happy and so sad at the same time. Happy because my little boy is getting so big at nearly 9 months old and because his dad was around to watch him take his first unguided steps (albeit holding on to something), but sad because I missed this moment in his development and growth.

Being a working mother sucks sometimes. My baby boy is getting so big.

How do you cope?

Sunday, August 31, 2014

It's Elul and the King is in the Field


The King is in the field, and I'm in Nebraska. There are, of course, plenty of fields here and on the derech (way) to and from Colorado. This monthly trip has become old hat for us, with our Shabbats spent in Omaha becoming a normal part of our lives. There is so much going on, so many emotions floating about. 

The Ba'al Shem Tov said that from Rosh Chodesh Elul (the first of the month) through Rosh HaShanah, "the King is in the field," prepared to listen, accept, and hear our prayers completely and wholly. 

Jews the world over are called upon to recite Tehillim (Psalm) 27 during this month as a segulah (something that changes your path or luck). Although the true source is unknown, the theory behind this custom is that it can reverse even the most set-in-stone heavenly decrees. 

Within Tehillim 27 is a refrain that has been a potent part of my life since I started this blog, as it was once in the header of this blog years and years ago. 

Hear (listen to) my voice, HaShem, when I call; 
be gracious to me, and answer me (7). 

It's easy to feel like our prayers are disappearing into an ether of unanswerable silence. Whether for a simple night of rest after so many sleepless sleeps with a baby at my side or for guidance, patience, and peace after experiencing the threat of forces trying to destroy my life, my spirit, my marriage —  the month of Elul is a time for all prayers. It is a time for impassioned pleas and tearful attempts at vocalizing the pain that this world brings to the soul. The King is in the field, waiting, just waiting to hear voices of repentance. 

When I light Shabbat candles every week, I have a regiment of things I say. I thank HaShem for so many things and then begin my pleas. Requests for guidance, patience, parnassah, work, and a path to be a good Jew. 

Teach me your way, HaShem (11). 

That's also part of the same Psalm. Every year I suddenly remember that this Psalm is my weekly prayer said by the light of the Shabbat candles. The important thing that I frequently forget, however, is also found here:
HaShem is the stronghold of my life, 
from who should I be afraid (1). 

And this, perhaps, is the most important lesson in the entirety of Psalm 27. I can ask, ask, ask and pray, pray, pray and repent all I want, but if I don't believe and trust that HaShem will protect me and provide me strength and never give me something I can't handle, then all is lost. And it's the first line in the Psalm! But my greatest fault and downfall in life is to forget that I'm not in control, that there is so much bigger and more powerful than I am. That I cannot control everything. That sometimes, I have to relent, repent, and remember that any fear I have is because I've forgotten who is responsible for everything. 

I just need to hear the shofar. Just once, and I hope my soul will remember. Traveling is hard when it comes to this time of year. Perhaps we should have brought our own shofar ... 

How do you remember — even in the hardest, most trying moments — that HaShem is your rock and strength? How do you personalize such an ethereal concept? 


Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Taking Submissions: Top Judaism Rumors and Conversion Myths

Do you have a pet peeve when it comes to rumors about Judaism? Do the "hole in a sheet" or "Jews have horns" myths drive you absolutely nuts? Share your favorite rumors about Judaism with me in the comments!

Also, if there are myths about conversion to Judaism and Jewish converts, share those, too. I'm working on a few articles for About.com, and I want to pick your brain (it's called crowdsourcing, because you, my readers, are amazing).

Want to check out some of my recent articles? Here you go:
Ready? Set? Submit your pet peeves and kvetch at me!

Monday, August 25, 2014

Still Sitting in the Catbird Seat

Back in January, when Ash was just a wee bean, I wrote about the deliciously awesome Catbird Baby carrier I'd been sent for review. With our dip into babywearing, we were exploring Moby-style wraps, Mei Teis, and Baby Bjorn-style carriers. In case you need a refresher on why "catbird" is the perfect terminology for any schlepped-about baby:
According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the first recorded usage occurred in a 1942 humorous short story by James Thurber titled "The Catbird Seat," which features a character, Mrs. Barrows, who likes to use the phrase. Another character, Joey Hart, explains that Mrs. Barrows must have picked up the expression from Red Barber, a baseball broadcaster, and that to Barber "sitting in the catbird seat" meant "'sitting pretty,' like a batter with three balls and no strikes on him."
It was Catbird's mei tei that I initially fell in love with when Ash was small, but as time went on and we became more mobile, the pikkolo became (and still is) my go-to carrier.

Here's Ash at four months after our trip
to the U.S. and before our move to
the U.S.He is loving his carrier because
he can see everything and every one!
When we first visited the U.S. back in February before we made the decision to move, we struggled to pack lightly when it came to baby carriers. Mr. T was fond of the moby-style wrap we'd concocted, while I was using a ring sling. While in the U.S., we even picked up an additional ring sling to replace the one I'd been borrowing, but Mr. T stuck to the stretchy wrap that I just couldn't master.

Almost the moment we got back to Israel, I feel like Ash wasn't perceptive to the ring sling, so I needed an alternative. I finally got to give the pikkolo from Catbird a try, and I haven't looked back.

When we made the move to the U.S. in April, it made life a breeze in the airport when we packed the stroller full of our carry-ons. With no space for Ash in the overflowing stroller, he rode in the Catbird seat! It's amazing how comfortable he was in it and how easy it is to get on and adjust when I'm by myself.

The most surprising thing I've found about having the Catbird pikkolo as a consistency is that Ash knows the carrier. If he's kvetching and whining in the car and losing it when we park and I get out, he calms down and gets excited the moment he sees me putting on the carrier. When he was very little, I used to call it his "special Asher chair," and he now knows that it's his special spot to see everything going on and he brightens up and calms down immediately. Talk about a baby making a positive association!

Do you have a favorite carrier? What do you like about it? Have you changed carriers as your child's needs and size have changed?