Thursday, June 7, 2018

Review: Rothy's Flats

I purchased my own pair of Rothy's and decided to review them here on my blog.  Click here for a coupon for $20 on your first pair, and I'll get $20 credit towards new shoes!

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If you're like me, you've been getting hit left and right with targeted ads for pricey flats like Tieks and Rothy's that people are raving about!  I didn't bite on the Tieks, mainly because I go through cheap flats like crazy, because my feet sweat a lot (#truth) and they get smelly.  I don't usually splurge on shoes as a result; I buy $20 Target or Payless shoes and then toss them after a season.

But then I started to notice friends and coworkers wearing Rothy's flats, and I was intrigued.  They raved about how comfortable they were, but the kicker that got me was they were supposedly machine-washable.  That in itself felt like a game-changer for me.  The catch?  The price range is $125-$165, depending on if you go ballet flat, pointed flat, or loafer.

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Unboxing my Rothy's Flats

The only shoes I've ever paid over $100 for were combat boots or running/hiking shoes, something with a ton of function and not a lot of style!  So I was definitely intimidated by the price tag... but after days of waffling about it, I finally took the plunge and ordered their signature ballet flat in the Taupe Heather color, a good neutral to match the most possible outfits!  I also ordered an extra pair of insoles, because of my stinky/sweaty feet thing.

Rothy's Rubber Sole

When my shoes arrived, I got a little bit nervous; they looked narrow!  But once I put them on, I was impressed.  I felt like my feet were in house slippers.  They were as soft and comfortable as TOMS, but way cuter and with a non-slipping rubber sole.  I ordered a 6.5, which is my normal size in flats. Some people have been saying to size up for the pointed toe versions, but I haven't tried those yet.

Extra Insoles and Care Instructions

One complaint I saw in a Buzzfeed review of Rothy's was that you can see some stretch where your toes are.  I find this to be minimally noticeable.  The seamless feature of the shoes makes them so soft and comfortable from the get-go!  I even went on a 1.5-mile walk during the work day in these shoes with NO BLISTERS.  These are basically the only shoe I want to wear this summer that isn't a sandal!  That said, if you require arch support and struggle with the lack thereof in normal flats, you're not getting much more out of these.  You can probably slip your orthotics into them, but these are definitely for folks who wear flats all the time without issues.

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After about a week of 90-degree temps and sweating in my shoes, I decided to wash them.  I took the insoles out and tossed all four pieces into my washing machine on cold, delicate cycle.  I used our everyday detergent because it's what we use even for the baby's laundry: All Free & Clear.  Then I air dried the shoes.  Rothy's flats looked brand-new and kept their shape even after washing!  I found that they mostly dried overnight, too.  The bad smell from my sweat left them easily.  In the future, I may sprinkle in a little scent boost, just to give a little fresh smell to them, since my detergent lacks perfume.  They didn't smell anymore after washing, but I think adding a little scent will keep them smelling fresher for longer.

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Rothy's after washing

When it came to comfort and machine washing, I LOVE my Rothy's!  The sustainability aspect (they're made of recycled materials) is a great bonus.  The only thing I don't like is the price.  I really wish these were $99 instead of $125-$165, because I WANT MORE.

I've already got my sights set on their pointed marigold flats, black loafers, and a red or leopard pair of flats.  I would love to have a half dozen pairs of these to replace all of my cheapo flats.  (Which, in my mind, would cost around the same ONE pair of Jimmy Choos, but it's still hard to justify in my head.)  So I think I may buy one more pair this year, then ask EVERYONE to give me Rothy's giftcards for Christmas.  I don't think I've ever had a pair of flats I've liked so much!

If you're thinking about purchasing Rothy's after reading this review, I'd love for you to get a $20 discount through referral, so I can also get a $20 credit towards my new favorite shoe.  For once, I bought something from an internet ad that was legitimately perfect for me!

Update 6/21/18, The Point Shoe:  I next purchased a pair of Rothy's Point shoes in Marigold, a mustard yellow color.  I ordered a 7 (my Flat round toes are a 6.5) based on some advice from the "Rothy's Addicts" Facebook group. They felt a little too snug on my outer toes, so I exchanged them for a 7.5.  The 7.5 was perfect!  Sometimes they feel a little loose, but they don't slide off my feet.  I've also seen in the group that some of the newer colors are fitting more snug.  Ugh, that is my one gripe about Rothy's...  the quality control by style and color in terms of fit/size seems inconsistent.  I ordered some loafers to try on, so I'll be able to comment on that sizing here too soon.

I purchased my own pair of Rothy's and decided to review them here on my blog.  Click here for a coupon for $20 on your first pair, and I'll get $20 credit towards new shoes!

Monday, June 4, 2018

2018 TSDAR State Conference (& Navigating DAR with a Baby)

This site is not an official NSDAR Web site, and the content contained herein does not necessarily represent the position of the NSDAR. The President General is the official spokesperson on issues that have not been addressed as policy of NSDAR.

In April, the Tennessee Society Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) had their annual State Conference, and once again I served as a page!  I served again as a personal page to our State Regent, the head of Tennessee's DAR.  (If your only reference for the DAR is Gilmore Girls, I have some links to past posts at the bottom of this one in case you're curious!)

I went into more detail about what my conference was like last year, including duties and public speaking, etc.  This year was similar, so check out last year's post for more details on that.  The main difference for me this year?  I was a brand-new mother!

2018 Pages with President General Dillon and State Regent Reynolds

When I tell people that I'm in the DAR, they often tell me they are interested but don't have time for it.  I've come to realize, even more so now with a baby, that EVERYONE is busy, and that balance doesn't exist... Prioritization exists.  You have to do what is important to you, and trim the rest.  For me, community service and fellowship through DAR are a priority, and my husband supports that.  So while it surprised some that I remain as dedicated now that I have an infant, to me it was important to continue the good work I've put my heart into, so that Kenny can see me working hard as a positive role model in our community and country!

State Conference (and Paging) with a Baby
First off, I let my Page Chairman know that I would need an assignment that would allow me to care for Kenny.  I actually managed to have the same assignment as last year, but since I had two other pages working with me, we were tagging in and out of events.  I was straight forward with my State Regent, who knew I was a new mom (she attended my baby shower just months before!) so she was incredibly understanding.  And I think that my need to sneak away to pump actually encouraged my peer pages to take a little R&R time when I tagged back in... healthy behavior for hard-working pages!  One example?  I skipped a breakfast so I could eat breakfast with Mom and baby, making sure she got a break too.  Then I headed downstairs to work and allow my fellow page some free time to shop and enjoy the conference.

Even though our conference is held a few miles from my apartment, I've been booking a hotel room for two nights there for the past couple of years, since I basically work 12+ hours a day.  This year, that was especially necessary!  My Mom came to stay on site with Kenny, and that was perfect.  I would go up to our room to pump throughout the day, see Kenny and Mom, and be just a text message away.  And every time Mom brought Kenny downstairs, the DAR ladies would come up to her and say, "Oh, is this Aubrey's baby?"  I even took Kenny downstairs when I went to vote, and the ladies took turns holding him while I was in line.

I had to get creative when it came to pumping timing... more so for my own comfort than meeting Kenny's needs!  For example, I snuck away after eating in the middle of a formal banquet, and I had my friend text me when the program was starting up.  It was much less complicated than it sounds.  But I figured out a good schedule, and my Apple Watch was AWESOME for receiving texts from both my Mom and my fellow pages without having to pull out my phone while working on the platform!

One of my paging partners, helping me tremendously!

Saying No
I didn't attend all of the meals at State Conference, both to save money and to make time to pump or see Kenny.  This year, I also missed some DAR chapter meetings due to Kenny's birth and childcare.  I said "no" to attending Continental Congress in DC and reprising my attendance at Indiana's State Conference like last year.  I'm hoping to do both next year, with lots of advance planning!

Making It Work
I hired a babysitter one evening so I could make a chapter meeting.  I took Kenny with me to a cemetery dedication.  I took a weekday off work, while Kenny was in daycare, so I could present an award at the state capitol.  All of these things are ways that I've been able to attend DAR events.  And you know what?  Every time I've chosen not to bring Kenny with me, the DAR ladies are disappointed.  If I bring him, they're cooing and playing "pass the baby" to help... or just to get their snuggles in.  I've never gotten dirty looks for bringing him anywhere, and I've been told that if I need to have him at a chapter meeting, he is welcome!  Sometimes I forget that most of the women I know in DAR have children, grandchildren, or nieces/nephews, are school teachers and librarians, lead Children of the American Revolution, or teach Sunday School. They're really supportive of me in every way, and they make it easier to manage!

I brought my pump bag with me, just in case... LOL

2018's State Conference was one to remember, with Kenny being less than 12 weeks old at the time!  But I'm learning how to navigate my role within the DAR, and manage to attend key events and participate actively, by saying no to some things and prioritizing others.

Curious about the DAR?
Read my post on why I joined, information about paginglast year's state conference,
and my trip to the 125th Continental Congress in Washington, D.C.!
Or you can just click here to see all of my DAR posts to date.

Also, because some people have asked me about diversity and the DAR, here is a link to our minority research page which provides guidance and sources for those trying to research African American, Spanish, Jewish, and Native American patriots!

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Adulting after Baby

As I mentioned in my pumping post, I feel completely unqualified to give advice on motherhood, because I've been doing it for just a few months.  But I'm more than willing to share what I've been going through as I've transitioned back to work, navigated motherhood, and more!  #adulting #momlife

I put down a deposit at a daycare center near our apartment when I was 15 weeks pregnant; I hadn't even told my boss yet!  Where we live, if you don't act quickly, you get waitlisted and sometimes have to move from one center to another.  Ever the planner, I scheduled multiple daycare tours the same day that I had an OB/GYN appointment in the middle of the day, and I took a day off work so I wouldn't feel rushed or guilty about stepping away.

What did I look for in a daycare?  Honestly, I just went with my gut, and I only toured places where my coworkers have enrolled their own kids.  Most spots in our area are priced similarly.  I looked for happy babies, cleanliness, convenience to our home, and overall feeling.  I instantly fell in love with our daycare; I actually got a little teary-eyed in one of the infant rooms because it looked so sweet, and that's the same room Kenny is in today!

Nannies, family, and a stay-at-home parent are all options for childcare when one parent works.  But since we're a dual-working household with no family in-state, daycare or a nanny were our options.  I am so pleased with our daycare, as I can see that Kenny is cared for, stimulated, and learning... in just a few weeks we could see his development in positive ways!

Need more toys...

We don't live near family, so having them around for childcare is not an option.  There are apps and websites you can subscribe to in order to find a babysitter, but for me it was super easy... word of mouth!  My coworker gave me the contact info for FOUR of her babysitters, and I was able to look them up on Facebook because they were her friends there.  Having a bona fide recommendation and being able to put a face to a name really helped.  I wanted to attend my DAR meeting on an evening that Dan was at a work event, so I hired a babysitter for three hours.  She was wonderful, and she had no issues getting Kenny down to sleep.  If she had questions, she texted me.

While we've only used a babysitter once so far, just knowing it's an option gives us a feeling of independence and levity.  It costs a pretty penny, but sometimes it's worth calling for help!

Travel without Baby
I went on my first overnight trip for work, and it was smooth sailing!  I gave Dan a couple of weeks advance notice, so he could adjust his work schedule to handle both daycare dropoff and pickup.  Kenny was great, and they seemed to enjoy some quality bonding time!  Dan even sent a photo of them twinning in matching shirts.  I FaceTimed with them before Kenny's bedtime, and Dan made sure to send me plenty of pictures.  Our daycare also sends photos throughout the day, so honestly I didn't go more than a couple of hours without seeing or hearing my sweet baby.

While I was away, I didn't fret or cry... I let myself be me.  I saw old friends, took a hot shower, watched HGTV, and slept like a baby in a king-sized hotel bed.  I took my time getting ready and walked around.  Recharging my batteries like that was perfect, and when I got home, my happy guys were there to greet me.

Picture sent during my work overnight trip

Road Trip with Baby
We had a smooth first road trip with Kenny, 4.5 hours each way.  We chose to depart around Kenny's bedtime, putting him in PJs and feeding him before we hit the road.  He slept the entire way, even when we stopped once for a bathroom break, then slept the rest of the night once we arrived.  My parents already had a pack 'n' play at their house ready for him.  They also had toys and an activity mat (we'd received a second one as a gift) ready to go.  Mom has also picked up items at garage sales, like storage drawers for toys and a booster, so we have less to haul!

On both drives, one of us sat in the backseat in case Kenny woke up.  We had toys and other things ready for him, and on the return trip (which was in the daytime) we also had a bottle prepped so we could feed him while he was buckled in his seat.  We chose to leave when we saw Kenny getting sleepy after eating, and it worked; he woke up about 45 minutes from home.  So we stopped and fed him, and I kept him entertained.  It was smooth sailing, though I know it might be different once he is older and awake more!

Waking up to see Mommy

I'm working on friendship.  I don't get to go to all of the happy hours and things I used to!  Mostly, text messages have been the best.  I tell my friends, leave me a message and I promise I'll text back, even if it's at 4am.  And that has sustained me thus far.  I do see my friends at work and DAR events, and even on maternity leave I'd tote Kenny along and meet for lunches.  I just can't do things at the drop of a hat anymore, and I've had to come to accept that.

I think that Dan and I talk more now than ever, because sharing childcare responsibilities requires it!  I love that I don't have to ask him to do things.  If I'm playing with Kenny, he'll wash bottles for the next day.  If he's taking out the trash, he always checks the diaper pail.  We don't really have assignments for who does what, but it works... we ask one another what needs to get done, what Kenny needs for daycare the next day, whether his laundry needs done.  And since Kenny goes to sleep around 7-8pm, we can usually manage to stay awake at least an hour to talk to one another about our day or just stare at our adorable baby.

We try to do little things for one another.  Dan made sure my first Mother's Day was sweet.  And when I had a business lunch near Dan's work, I popped in and sat with him while he ate his lunch.  It was like 10 minutes, but it was 1-on-1 time and a nice surprise for him.

We also take advantage of our monthly visits with my parents, either when they come to us or when we go to them!  They always push us out the door for a date night, which is usually a nice sit-down dinner and a drink.  We've managed to have a date night once a month ever since Kenny was born, and it's something we intend to continue!  I used to worry about our marital happiness when it came to having a baby, because honestly children aren't always great for marriage (read the statistics!).  But we're really happy right now, and that makes it all easier.

This photo is unrelated to my content.  It's extraneous.

The thing that has helped the most in our daily routine?  Our daycare opens at 6:30am, which is about the time that Dan leaves home for work.  Initially I hesitated to have Dan drop Kenny off, because if I did it, Kenny would have an extra 60-90 minutes at home with me before my commute.  But then I realized, if Dan drops Kenny off, I have time in the morning to make myself breakfast, clean the house, get ready, even work out (once I get back on that horse).  My coworker, mother of four boys, told me, "Don't feel guilty about not getting that extra hour with him; all he was going to do was sit in a bouncer watching you get ready in the morning!"  And she's right.  Guilt absolved!

By having Dan drop Kenny off, and me picking him up, it not only allows us both a chance to interact with his daycare providers, but a chance for me to take care of myself and our home so there isn't as much to do in the evening.  I don't feel like a hot mess at work, and I have more energy for Kenny when I get him at the end of the day, because I've already done dishes, vacuumed, or whatever.  I can also really take my time getting Kenny ready in the morning while Dan gets ready, because I'm relaxed in my pajamas and focused solely on him.

I honestly didn't have very much trouble taking Kenny to daycare, leaving him with a sitter, even going away for an overnight.  I didn't cry, but I did miss him.  The hardest part about going back to work was getting used to staring at a computer screen all day and feeling tired after using my brain all day!  I felt like I got a personal boost once I had help with Kenny's childcare, because suddenly I had more freedom to grab lunch, go shopping, run errands, cook, clean, etc. in my spare moments.  It also makes me feel more motivated to do things with him on the weekends.  I do think it helped that I put Kenny in daycare on a Monday, but started work on that Thursday.  It gave me a few days to pick him up early if I wanted/get prepared for work.  It also meant I only had to survive two days in the office before a weekend break.  I highly recommend it!

Final Thoughts
My sister called me the other day, simply to tell me she was proud of me for the mother I've become.  I think she really expected me to be full-on obsessive and rigid as a parent, because I've always been such a planned and calculated person.  But she said she can tell Kenny is thriving, and that we're doing well with him.  It felt like the best thing I could have heard at that moment in time.  I know that babies can internalize how we are feeling, and even sense when we enter the room.  And I want positive energy only for Kenny, because he's going to battle sickness, teething, growth spurts, and more.  Adulting is hard, and parenting makes it harder.  But we're finding our groove and keeping on!

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