It was Second Hand First

Image by David & Sarah, Shirt via ThredUP

Image by David & Sarah, Shirt via ThredUP

 It's late summer and our non-air conditioned home is sweltering. Herm had an evening work appointment and wouldn't be home for some time. For both his sake and mine, Carson and I headed to Victor for an evening shopping at the mall.

I already know what shopping with a toddler can be like, but I convince myself that this time it'll be completely different. Carson will be on his absolutely best behavior; he'll hold my hand as we stroll through stores; he'll listen when I ask him to wait for me as I try a few things on; the water fountains and Lego store will intrigue him, but when I gently remind him it's time to keep on going, he will oblige and follow close behind.

Oh the perfect picture I painted in my mind.

As we step into the entrance at Macy's, already things begin to sour -- a foreshadowing of what is to come.

Carson rushes ahead of me, darting around a clothing rack, suddenly out of sight. When I catch up to him he is standing near an eyeless mannequin, holding its now unattached hand. He was a bit too enthusiastic with his hand shake, or so it appeared.

We stroll by the Lego store, which happens to be near the fountain. I gently prod Carson on, and his eyes, like the fountains, begin a show of water-works.

I'm on a mission, doesn't he understand? I cannot be deterred.

You see, I was given a $100 gift card to my all-time favorite store, Madewell. This never happened before, and I want time to carefully make a decision. I want time to fit things on and slowly select colors. Legos, to my nearly two year old, are much more important than having a mom who cares about looking good and wearing nice clothes.

When we finally step foot into our destination store, I feel a bit of angst rise up within me. I push it down, convincing myself we will be okay. I select five things I want to take into the fitting room with me, all the while my Carson is unfolding the perfectly folded stack of vintage-fit tees, which had been arranged in color ordered on a low table, but no longer are.

A beautiful sales associate, wearing the latest releases from this wonderful store, her makeup and hair perfect, asked if I needed help with anything. Was my state of frustration this obvious or was she simply doing her job?

We some how managed to make it to the dressing rooms. Good thing too, because the store would have looked like a small tornado wandered through had it taken us any longer to get there. But curtains for doors. HELLO! What is this world coming to? I thought architects and interior designers were maybe smarter than that. As these thoughts pass through my mind, my small child darts through the curtain and back out into the store. The jeans I was trying to try on aren't completely on. But my child and his well being are more important to me that any ounce of dignity I wish I could save. That is, if there is anything left to save. He hadn't made it far, and I think I went mostly unnoticed as I swiftly made my way back into the fitting room.

I slip back into my jeans, and we leave, completely empty handed and with a $100 gift card still tucked away, unspent. I try not to make eye contact with Miss Perfectly-Dressed, the friendly sales clerk.

The story did end well eventually. Herm went with Carson and I to the mall a few weeks later, and while I tried things on, he chaperoned the small escapee. The gift card purchased my very first pair of Madewell jeans -- worth every pretty penny they cost.

It was just a few short weeks later when I discovered ThredUP, an online second hand clothing store, via a friends referral. It was also around this time that our prayers for another baby were answered. In the months that followed I didn't have to go to the mall, toddler in tow, to buy maternity clothes. I went online. I was able to get brands I like at a fraction of the cost. They arrived packaged beautifully, often in like-new condition.

I was hooked. Still am, in fact.

Wool Cocoon Sweater c/o ThredUP, Madewell Jeans via ThredUP

Anthropologie Buffalo Check Tunic via ThredUP

Wrap, linen tee and sweater, all ThredUP

I've scored many deals for my kids, my favorite brands being Zara and BabyGap, and my entire wardrobe got an overhaul too, with labels I wouldn't normally allow myself to invest in at full retail price -- such as Madewell (jeans for $30 versus $125. Yes! It's true!) Anthropologie, J. Crew, and Free People -- because after pregnancy many of my things weren't fitting quite right.

I've had friends ask how I'm able to find things on there; it is overwhelming, the amount of items you need to search through. My simple tips are: Download and use the app for shopping, and apply size and brand filters, so that you aren't seeing items that won't fit or you wouldn't typically wear anyhow. And finally, be persistent and specific in your searching. You have about 24 hours for an item to be held in your shopping cart before it goes back into the store again, so don't delay if you do find something you absolutely love.

And that's how it all began, folks, my love affair with second hand shopping... online, and without kids trailing me. From now on, its always #SecondHandFirst.

ThredUP sponsored this post (thank you!), and they are generously offering 50% off Free People items to all first-time customers with the code FREEPEOPLE50. Discount up to $50.

Happy shopping!

Blouse via ThredUP


Dainty Dawn + a Giveaway

NOTE: We have a winner! A big congratulations to Crystal Miller! To all of the rest of you who entered, thank you for participating. I love having you here.

Have you ever started browsing Etsy with the intent of finding a fun and affordable gift to give one of your girl friends (or maybe to give yourself), only to get lost in the black hole of beautiful, hand-created, homemade goodness?

Yeah, I've been there too. Too often, in fact.

Today though, I'm here to help you out a bit and give you a suggestion: Check out Dainty Dawn Create. Alaina, the shop owner and creator, gifted me a generous collection of her pieces: rings, earrings, and bracelets. She recently opened a shop on Etsy, and I'm excited to help spread the word!

I was, of course, drawn to the bracelets when I first opened the package. The black one is made from lava rock and works as an oil diffuser.  Don't mind me... but I will probably be smelling like a walking lavender plant from here on out.

And those rain drop earrings are darling!

But, what I truly didn't except to love as much as I do was the Marble Rose Gold Ring. I've been married for 4.5 years, and in that time I've never worn rings aside from my wedding bands. After just one evening out with that ring, though, I think I am officially okay with the idea of wearing rings in addition to my bands. YOLO, right? (For my readers born before 1996 - that stands for You Only Live Once. You're welcome.)

Like I said, Alaina was extremely generous to me, and I would like to pass that on in the form of a giveaway!

The rules are simple: Click over to Alaina's Etsy Shop, browse her pieces and leave a comment in this post (or on the Facebook link) with the piece you like best. That's it!

The winner will be selected at random on Wednesday, January 25th, and announced here.

Up for grabs are these lovely pieces: the Small Gold Marble Bracelet, a White Confetti Druzy Ring,
and Aquamarine Druzy Earrings.

Best of Luck!

P.S. You can follow Dainty Dawn on Instagram as well to keep close tabs on new items and learn more about Alaina and her fun shop!



Reading: The Jesus Storybook Bible by Sally Lloyd-Jones.

I don't know what you think about most kids storybook Bibles, but honestly, a lot of them feel dry and dull and shallow, if you ask me. I get bored reading them, which might also translate into my kid's attention not being captured. (Then again, maybe not. Have you ever been begged to read and reread the Dick and Jane books?)

I want my children to grow up knowing truth from the Bible. I don't want it to be watered down. I don't want gory details to be left out completely. I don't want the Veggie Tales version to be the only version they know.

I read to them directly from the scriptures and Carson and I are also working on memorizing certain passages. But sometimes, just like their Momma, it takes a story version to make something stick to memory.

Recently I heard about The Jesus Storybook Bible, and after seeing it in person, Herm and I decided we would gift it to Carson for Christmas. It's got beautiful, whimsical illustrations. Each story has details that a lot of other storybook versions I've read left out and it's got a bit of humor in it too, which I love. Every story always points to Christ, the center of God's wonderful, redemptive plan.

Carson absolutely loves this book, and asks for Herm or myself to read a story, or five, to him every night before bed. Since Christmas he's been talking about Noah and the ark, about Jonah being swallowed by a fish, about a giant named Goliath... These stories, and even the scripture passages we are working on memorizing, are becoming real to him because of this book.

I highly recommend this book. Every family with young kids should have a copy.

Loving: The slower, more relaxed weeks right after the Holidays.

It's rather ironic, because truly, my life is not busy. I'm home most days with my kids. Our week nights are spent together as a family, with the exception of Wednesday night, when we are with our Care Group from church. Weekends we often host friends or sometimes travel. I'm always doing something -- never bored or lacking projects, often even wishing for a few more hours in each day, but schedules and agendas aren't a huge part of life for us.

Over the Holidays however, there is a pressure I feel, mostly self-inflicted, from the events and gatherings and festivities and traveling. From Thanksgiving through New Years, every year, life feels intense, and if I'm not careful to keep myself in check, stress becomes a part of activities that should be joy-filled.

But Christmas is over and January, with the cold and snow and long days at home, has seemed to relax all of us again. I've been realizing lately that there is a pressure I put on myself all the time, where I measure my worth by how much I am able to accomplish in each day. Having two young kids can change things, and subconsciously I was putting pressure on them too. It resulted in bad attitudes all around, mine being the worst.

I'm being more intentional this month, to stop what I'm so often focused on --the daily tasks, of laundry and cleaning and cooking, that no matter how many times I do them, they'll never truly be done-- and spend more time playing or reading or going on coffee dates or library outing with my kids. We're only a few weeks in, but so far it's been good. For all of us.

Dreaming: Of a few upcoming trips we have for 2017. Tickets aren't booked yet, and I know time has a way of changing things, but at this point it looks like I'll be able to cross number eighteen, Visit a New Country, off the 25 Before 26 birthday bucket list! (I hate excess usage of exclamation points. Doesn't that defeat the purpose? But in this case, I almost made an exception, thinking that one really isn't enough to convey the excitement I get whenever I'm boarding a plane bound for a brand new destination.)

Wishing: For this necklace from Noonday Collection. It's one of those statement pieces that I think would go with everything. A teal blouse, an olive sweater, stripes, neutrals, colors. Everything. And it's on sale!

At times I really miss those days of being an Ambassador for Noonday. It wasn't a mistake to leave, I know that. The timing of signing up, then becoming pregnant and having a baby wasn't great, so stepping away was a good choice. But still, the community of women I got to know, and the company as a whole... you couldn't get much better than that. I still love my Noonday.

Thinking About: What new dish I should try, in order to be able to cross number eight, Try a New Dish, off the list. Last time I made Jamaican Patties. They were quite tasty. This time though, I'm not sure what I want to try. Rules of the game: It's got to be something I never made  before with ingredients new to me. Any suggestions, foodie friends?

Listening To: Noel by Lauren Daigle. Christmas is long gone, but this song won't be going anywhere. It's powerful.

Watching: With fascination as Carson is discovering the world around him. We can't go anywhere without him asking me what certain road signs mean, or what letters and numbers are on receipts. He'll point out the recycle symbol on every cardboard box he can find, and he loves to let me know my name is actually Sarah. Today as we were driving he casually mentioned that this is the way we go to Pennsylvania when we're visiting cousins. And yes, it was a section of road we don't travel often... unless, we're going to Pennsylvania to visit cousins.

Trying: To master a headstand. (Yes, I'm really working on crossing things off that list I've mentioned far too many times in this post.) Today I got myself up to position successfully. I'm thankful, though, for that wall behind me, otherwise I would have tumbled completely over. Balance isn't quite what it should be yet. Also, my neck is rather sore. Most likely that, too, is a sign I'm not doing something right. Perseverance. And a massage. Both are things I need to keep going. 

What about you? I would love to hear about things that are currently going on in your life!


23. Reread a book by Janette Oke

I'm slowly but surely working on that birthday bucket list. It seems, though, that everything I am working on are things that cannot be wrapped up in a day.

For instance, I'm fasting from social media every Sunday for three months. I'm over half way finished with that goal already, but really, until it is accomplished there is nothing more I can say about it.... well, except to make a public confession: I completely forgot about the fast on Christmas Day, which happened to fall on Sunday. Which also happened to be a day we were traveling from Pa where we spent time with family, back home to NY. I may have used Instagram to pass time while in the back seat of our truck, stuck in between two car seats, one which held a little boy who kept asking I tell him another George story. George use to be my pet name for Carson -- because, like Curious George, he is a good like Tyke, but always very curious -- until one day he told me his name is Carson, not George and asked I never call him George again. So now I just tell him stories about a boy named George, who, ironically, does everything Carson does. Carson LOVES these silly stories, and sometimes it about drives me crazy, repeating them over and over again.

I'm kind of bunny-trailing. Back to the social media fast. Monday morning as the sun was rising it dawned on me that the day before was Sunday. Yeah. Oops. I suppose I should be making up for that mistake by skipping Instagram for an entire week day.

Then there is Bible memorization with Carson, which is a slow go. He's got Psalm 23 down pat, but in the shrillest, squeakiest voice, the sort that grates on every mom's nerves. We haven't started on the Christmas story from Luke 2 or even the Lord's Prayer yet. We need some WD40 for that voice first.

 Mastering a headstand? I'm still rather shaky at it. And there so many other things that I didn't even start thinking about.

Over the weekend, though, I did accomplish something I can finally cross off. If I'm not crossing at least something off every now and then, I feel like I might lose momentum.

I re-read the Love Comes Softly book by Janette Oke.

I use to hate reading. Despised it. Until, one day, when I was perhaps twelve or thirteen, my mom introduced me to the Love Comes Softly series.

I remember those stories came alive to me, and after that I could barely put books down, often reading well past midnight, even on week nights, simply because I had to know what would happen to the characters who suddenly felt like real-life friends.

Revisiting the first book in that series was rather fun.

It was a bit juvenile, there is no doubt about that. And twelve years later, the characters no longer felt like real-life friends. They talked in a country slang that rather annoyed me, and coffee was mentioned so often I almost mistook them for hipsters instead of Pioneers on the prairie lands of the Midwest. Nonetheless, I still truly enjoyed the book, but not for the story line as much as for the memory of myself as a young girl, one who thoroughly hated reading... or so I thought -- until my mom handed my the first book of the series, which opened my eyes to a whole world to be discovered, nestled in the shelves of our quiet small town library in the form of "boring" books.

Now, years later, I am constantly reading. I often try to read books that I know will challenge me to grow stronger mentally or spiritually or even physically. Or books written by people who hold different beliefs than I so I can learn about others cultures and values. Or books on how to write well or inspire creativity. Even books about a little monkey named Curious George.

Janette Oke is no longer my favorite author, but there was a sort of magic in her work. Magic which made a young girl fall in love with words. And because of that, it was completely worth revisiting the title which turned me into the avid reader and kind of, sort of, writer I am today...

"The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you'll go." -Dr. Suess


She Resolved to Love Herself, Frizzy Hair and All. (What Happened Next Will Probably Not Astound You.)

There was something freeing about 2016. It was, after all, the year I began to (sort of) fully embrace fullness. 

It was the year I accepted my hair, realizing it will never be smooth or sleek or even curling-iron-curly. But will always be full bodied, always voluminous, often frizzy, never flat. I bought products to enhance those traits, all from the way too expensive but works better than anything else I've found Deva line, products touting Set it Free and Hair in Heaven!

It was the year I picked up the tweezers less and less, wishing I had never picked it up in the first place, to begin the regrowth process on brows that use to be vogue, waxed pencil thin, harsh, but are now so outdated they practically scream early 2000s. I bought products to remedy that too, filling in my misdeeds with ANASTASIA Brow Powder and pomade to give me the currently coveted Boy Brow. My dad would be horrified if I came around with a tattoo, but does microblading even count? I'm imagining if he knew some tattoos come in the form of really realistic looking eyebrows, he might even consider it for his ever so slowly but still surely receding hairline. We could get our first tattoos together... we never actually made it on a skydiving date before I got married and had kids. This suddenly seems like the safer, I'll be home in time to make dinner dear, sort of option.  (Moment of transparency: A few stray brows managed to find their way down to my chin. The tweezers hasn't completely retired.)

It was the year I accepted my legs will never be flamingo-long, but penguins, though one never gushes over their legs, are cute too.

This acceptance of things I can't or don't even need to change, may have been induced by the coming of age. Twenty-five has always been so much closer to thirty than twenty-four will ever be. 

And I'm married, only striving to impress one man now. He makes it easy, I know he preferences. I even listed a pair of comfortable Madewell pants in my Instagram shop, selling them even though I still liked them, simply because I knew he didn't. If that's not heartfelt love, tell me what is? I hope the lucky girl who got them has a husband who appreciates pajama style bottoms that are meant for dressier occasions.

2017, I thought to myself, is going to be the best year yet. It's going to be the year I start being me, and stop worrying so much about what doesn't matter... like smooth, silky hair, and perfect brows and clothes that flatter. 

Ironically, the very first day of 2017 landed, smack, on a Sunday.

I picked out my outfit: a black pencil skirt, oversized red sweater, black tights, and heeled leather booties. The whole look would be pulled together with the only glamorous thing I own, a sparkling statement necklace. 

It was 2017, I concluded. The year I won't spend every Sunday afternoon standing in front of the hanging mirror, putting together horrible outfit combinations that look fine to me any other day of the week. 

I glanced in the mirror, determined it would be a one shot, no more outfits needed, sort of night. 


The proportions were off, I looked like an old fashioned school teacher in those silly tights, and that pencil skirt certainly wasn't elongating penguin legs. Nothing was working.

My husband, the only man I'm striving to impress, gave me a few suggestions. But body-con dresses are never church worthy. Take me on a date, I cry, and then maybe I'll wear that silly thing. Whatever he likes about that dress I will never understand. 

I tried my only maxi skirt. It didn't work either. The last time I tried to wear it, I hung it back up, deciding it too would be listed on Instagram, but this time because I was the one not so fond of it. Back it went, to the sell-when-I-get-around-to-it stack.

Black jeans. That's my Sunday night uniform. Why didn't I think of those in the first place? I would have saved myself hassle. But yes, turns out those Madewell black jeans truly weren't made well. I discovered that on the eve of Christmas Eve, when sitting cross-legged on the living floor at my husband's Amish grandparent's place I glanced down. Skin was showing were skin, when wearing jeans, should never be showing. 

So there I am, still standing in my room, yanking things from the closet and throwing them on, only to throw them off again. 

Well, it looks better than your last outfit, he said, when I finally came out, ready or not, 'cause it's time to go. He dislikes maxi skirts and dresses even more than I do. 

I sort of impressed him, I guess, in my olive pants and white button up.

2017, we are only on day two of you, and already I've broken resolutions to be okay with myself. I'm going to go shopping for some nice church clothes, or, more than likely, just a pair of black jeans to get me through another year of Sunday nights. 

I'm not giving up, though. I've got my tweezers handy for those migrating brow hairs, but otherwise, I'm going to work on my fully embrace who I really am.