April 17, 2016

The tough update

It's a little late coming, but I wanted to do a quick update about our last visit to U of M since so many have asked us about it. I'm constantly amazed by how many people still care about our family and Meili's progress. We've been at this for over three years now...three years of appointments, therapies and searching for answers. At times it feels like drudgery for us, but the emails, messages and personal interactions remind us that we still have people in our corner.

We had a full day of appointments, beginning at 9am. On the list for the day was a re-evaluation with her pediatric GI, an appointment with the adoption medicine doctor, a follow-up with the child psychologist and then a replacement of her feeding tube (apparently, after several months they are typically replaced anyway, because despite routine cleaning, build-up occurs and they begin to get clogged more often).

Looking a little chunkier


The good news is that Meili gained about 5 pounds during the three months she had been using the feeding tube. Considering we actually were only able to use it about two of those three months because of our previous feeding tube fiascos, we were pretty pleased with that and so was our doctor. On a more practical note, we are happy that her underwear isn't baggy and her pants are finally staying up. It sure makes getting dressed and out the door during the crazy morning routine a lot easier!

Checking to see if the J-tube was still properly placed. We thought it had likely shifted into her stomach, and if that was the case, planned to request a G-tube instead since insertion of G-tubes is typically easier. It hadn't, so we kept the J-tube.
So for now, the plan is to continue using the tube for another three months. If her progress continues at the current rate, we will begin to back the feeds down after our July appointment and see if she will start consuming enough orally to keep up with the growth.

THE OTHER APPOINTMENTS (and the hard part):

We've mentioned before that we are amazed with the doctors at U of M. They work together and collaborate like nothing else we've ever seen. It's so refreshing to see a team of doctors and know that each one you talk to knows exactly what the last one you saw said and did. We trust this team because of their knowledge, expertise and experience, specifically with internationally adopted children. They understand the trajectory you can expect for these kids from hard places. They see it and live it day in and day out. They get it. After four months of working with them, we are finally beginning to get a clearer understanding of Meili's history, traumatic past and her future. We needed them to be straight with us.
And they were.

We were told, that we can expect life-long struggles for our little girl.

In all honesty, we knew that. But it is still so hard to hear someone say it.

Heartbreaking, really.

We've gone through a range of emotions; both of us in different ways. Maybe eventually we'll share some of them. Maybe more about it all. This is why this post took so long to write. How much do you tell everyone...and when?

We wanted to share enough, so that those of you who are in our corner can continue to pray for us, because in spite of all of this, we still believe that our God is able to do immeasurably more than all we can ask or imagine. Please keep praying, not just for us, but for all adoptive families. We truly need and appreciate each petition more than you can know.

January 15, 2016

Third time's a charm??

Apparently, we are either cursed by the feeding-tube fairy or we just have really bad luck. This week was pretty rough on us and little Meili. After a very traumatic placement of the second feeding tube last week, we have had nothing but trouble. It worked well for about 24 hours before we started getting "line clogged" errors from the pump. A good nurse-friend came and helped us get it unclogged and we thought we were in the clear, but it only got worse from there. We began to think it may be kinked inside her stomach, since we really couldn't find any reason for such frequent clogging. By Wednesday night it was error-ing every 15 minutes and since we only run feeds at night, this was making for some very frustrating, sleep-deprived nights for us. 

We went in on Thursday morning to have an x-ray and discovered that, as we had suspected, the tube was coiled in her stomach again and it did appear to have a place where it may have kinked as well. The tube that was placed locally was a completely different kind of tube than U of M had placed, and since the U of M tube worked well (before it got pulled), and because of our horrible experience here,  Miss Meili is back at U of M today getting her third tube placed.

Prayers appreciated that this will be her LAST tube and that it will function correctly and we can get this weight-gain thing back on track!!

January 10, 2016

30 pounds and counting....

It's been a little while since we left U of M, but since several people have asked, I wanted to do a quick update. I meant to do it just a day or two after we were discharged, but life happened and now we're 10 days out. Since then we've actually had a few interesting things happen, so I guess I can just cover them all now.

By December 31, we were at full feeds at U of M and running them only 12 hours/day, which was their goal for when we went home. We had expected them to do additional contrast testing, and even though we and our adoption doctor wanted to have them done, the GI doctor didn't think it was necessary. She was concerned it wouldn't show anything new since we'd only just started feeds, and she didn't want Meili to be exposed to any extra radiation. We admitted that was a valid point. Once we knew there wouldn't be any testing and it was the last day of the year, we pushed to be discharged to avoid spending our entire health insurance deductible on the first day of 2016.

Meili was tired of being in the hospital.

And she was eating well by mouth.

She loved the play room, and the visiting therapy dog, but we were ready to go.

We were discharged on the 31st, and made it home just in time to ring in the new year with some friends. We were exhausted, but it was great to talk to someone besides doctors and nurses. The feeding tube came home with us and will be in for a minimum of 4-6 weeks. We run it 12 hours a day, usually from about 7pm - 7am. 

We've been having Meili sleep in our room so we can hear the pump if there are any issues, and we've learned the hard way what happens when you fill a small child with lots of fluid at night. Between bathroom trips (which we have to help with since she can't carry all the gear), pump alarms and Meili being a very LOUD sleeper, it's almost like having a newborn again!

And I'm still cringing every time I put the formula into the feeding bag. Because of this whole process, I've learned a lot about formula and NJ tubes, including the lack of availability of high-quality nourishing options that don't contain garbage ingredients. Meili's tube is an NJ (Nasal-Jejunum), and unfortunately it would be very difficult to feed a blenderized real-food diet through it, so we're pretty much stuck with the pre-made stuff. Despite my issues with it, adding those extra calories every day has proved to help - as of last Monday she was up almost 2 pounds!

Tomorrow we'll check the gains from week-two, although as far as feeding goes, this certainly wasn't a perfect week for us. We had a bit of an "issue" on Wednesday that resulted in Meili's tube getting pulled out about 6 inches. Jon was right there and instinctively stuck it back in, but to no avail. We did an x-ray and determined that it had been dislodged from the jejunum and was coiled in her stomach.

Not good.

Both our primary care doc here and our doc at U of M advised that if they couldn't maneuver it back into place (which was unlikely) it would need to be pulled and new one inserted, which would mean they would have to put her under again.

So back to the hospital we went, not to U of M but down to Sioux Falls. I don't even know how to describe our experience here, so in the interest of not saying something I'll regret, I'll try to sum it up briefly. The tube knotted in her stomach during the "maneuver" so they brought in two interventional doctors who knew nothing about her past, her history, or really anything that was going on. 

This guy here, is my hero for helping restrain her while she screamed for 90 minutes, while multiple tubes were pulled and inserted over and over again, with no medication, and without putting her under.

I couldn't handle it and hand to step away. It was by far one of our toughest parenting days, and certainly our most difficult medical scenario. We were reminded again why we chose to take our daughter to U of M.

Thankfully, some wonderful nurses were there and felt so bad after the whole ordeal they let Meili go to big prize closet. She's now the proud owner of a lovely American Girl named Grace.

She was starving, having not eaten for 8+ hours and asked for noodles when we were done. Jon commented she could have asked for a car and he would have gotten it for her for all she'd just gone through.

A few noodles did make everything a little better. 

So we're back to "normal" now, trying to get some extra calories in this cutie. Hopefully despite our setback this week, we'll see some gains. In the mean time, we are trying to be very, very careful to make sure that tube stays exactly where it's supposed to!

December 29, 2015

24+ hours in and an AWESOME surprise

Whoever it was that told me to bring my own pillows and blankets from home, thank you! The sleeping arrangements for Mom and Dad are definitely far from ideal, and it's pretty hard to replace a comfortable, familiar pillow! We managed to get decent sleep last night which is better than we were expecting! We also found out today that staying until Saturday is the expected "far" end of our stay. If things continue to go well, only a couple more days may be necessary. It doesn't shorten our time by much, but we'll take what we can get!

It seems like we should be spending the day just trying to pass time, but we do get interrupted every four hours for vitals, every four hours (not the same interval...of course) for feed checks and every 12 hours for lab draws, in addition to rounds by the attending physician, the resident physician and Meili's dietician, and the nurses checking her "output." Even though we're essentially doing nothing, it seems like our room is pretty busy!

We've had some really helpful Child & Family Life advocates as well. In the past my experiences with them weren't so positive because it seemed like they relied solely on shoving an iPad in front of Meili for distraction. The ones we've had here have been much more willing to employ different tactics and, not surprisingly, have been much more successful. Before Meili had anything done yesterday, she and the CFL advocate did a full procedure on Puppy.

Jon has been enjoying the fact the view from our room looks directly at the new Vikings stadium. I will admit, it's uniqueness does make it interesting to look at (for a while ;) ).

Grandma Maggie must've figured out it would be hard to keep a 5 year old entertained for so long and sent us with a present to open every day. Thank you Grandma! They have been really helpful and so far have distracted Meili for well over an hour each time.

She's getting MUCH more used to her tube, which we were told would happen. They say the first 24 hours is pretty rough, but after that it becomes more tolerable. She hasn't complained at all about it today, and even seems to kind of enjoy pushing the whole apparatus around. They also started letting her have apple juice, which has helped the "I'm hungry" issue IMMENSELY.

We also managed to make some use of the Play Room today, and Meili had the whole place to herself which helped us kill a couple hours as well.

But the BEST part of today was definitely our visitors. One of the families that we travelled to China with when we adopted Meili happened to be here in the Cities visiting family for Christmas. Thankfully, they saw our blog post yesterday and contacted us last night. We haven't seen any of the families in person since we left China, so it was a HUGE blessing to be able to spend a couple hours with them and their daughter Omi.

Are they cute, or what?!!

Omi is just a few months younger than Meili, and today was actually her birthday but she brought a gift for Meili so she could share the joy. Meili is in love with her new bear, and the especially with the card Omi made her. She is very protective of it and tells all the nurses "don't touch my card from my friend!" It was so nice for her to have someone to play with for a couple hours, especially someone so special!

Just for fun, here's a little throwback to the last time they were together...

...things have changed, very much for the better!

Thanks Joel, Angela and Omi, for making today so much brighter!

December 28, 2015

The road to U of M

If you've ever had to spend any amount of time delving into medical issues for yourself or one of your children, you are probably aware that there is a certain level of frustration that goes along with it. And when it comes to an adopted child, maybe it's just me, but I feel like the frustration level flies off the charts very quickly.

Several weeks ago, we reached a point with Meili's care providers where we felt like there was nothing more they could do for us. We are well aware that you can't really compare previously institutionalized, internationally adopted children to typical American kids. But we're also aware that despite the challenges adopted kids face, and barring any additional unforeseen issues, there should be a definite progression of development. This is what we seemed to be missing.

After our developmental specialist (who I thought could help us if anyone could) shrugged her shoulders and said "Well, I'm not really sure what to tell you..." for the second appointment in a row, I mentally threw in the towel. Jon and I talked, and we decided we would not see another specialist unless it was one who was familiar with the special needs of post-institutionalized kids. This led us to the University of Minnesota Adoption Medicine clinic. There are a handful of adoption clinics around the country, typically specializing in International Adoption. Since U of M is well-known, highly recommended and closest in proximity, we ended up there.

Our first appointment was the first week of December, and was to consist of a full initial evaluation with a physician, OT and neuropsychologist. Visiting with this team was unlike anything we've ever experienced before. We've never witnessed so many medical professionals working so well together, or visited with so many who just "get" adopted kids. It was a huge relief to visit with a physician who could see, without us trying to persuade her, what the issues were. And most of all, to find a team who was proactive in trying to figure them out.

Immediately at the initial evaluation, Meili's lack of weight gain (and other not-so-great GI symptoms) became a prime issue. Even though that wasn't why we were there, they asked us to stay an extra day for additional gastrointestinal testing, explaining that she likely can't develop cognitively or mentally if she's not making progress physically. Without going into too much detail, the result of the testing was somewhat inconclusive, but did show an enlarged portion of the intestine (duodenum) directly below the stomach. After consulting with several other specialists, it was suggested that we might be dealing with a lack of visceral fat surrounding the arteries and vessels in the abdominal area. This can cause those arteries and the spine to push into the intestine, causing blockages. Some of the medical terms we've been hearing are things like "mechanical intestinal blockage," and "superior mesenteric artery syndrome."

If this IS the issue, the "cure" is for Meili to gain fat. It can be surgically corrected, but going that route would result in a difficult, major surgery. Fast forward to today - all the specialists agreed that the best course of action was to begin tube-feedings to monitor calorie consumption and promote fat and muscle growth. While this feels somewhat like a slap-in-the-face to me as a mom who has been trying for months if not YEARS to fill Meili with as much high-quality nutrition as I possibly could, we feel like continuing with this plan is our best option at this point.

This morning Meili had an NJ (nasal-jujenum) tube inserted and we began feedings this afternoon. We will stay in the hospital for a few days to monitor electrolytes and other levels to make sure her body is tolerating high caloric feeds before we are allowed to go home. Once home the plan is to continue feeds and weighing-in every week with our regular pediatrician to make sure we are continuing to make progress.

Our biggest fear is that we'll get to the end of this process and come up empty handed. We were told that it is likely that this is the issue, but also that they don't find results for lack of growth in about 40% of children. So in the mean time, we're just here, going through the motions and trusting that these doctors, who we were so impressed with at the beginning, are doing the right thing for our little Meili.

September 22, 2015

How to afford an international adoption: Part 3 - What it REALLY costs to adopt from China

Can we just take a moment here and mourn the loss of summer? It's September in South Dakota which means we're in the bewitching season that's called Autumn, but actually should be called "introduction-to-winter." Those of you who love Fall (along with those of us who love Summer) live in the wrong part of the country, because here the Fall season is basically a 2-3 week period of time where the temperature goes from a daily average of 80 to 20 in an unexplainable feat of nature.

Thank you Jesus, that this week it's miraculously still 80 and I haven't yet had to start wondering why I live here and begin plans to migrate South.

And once Fall comes around, we get back on the crazy train. I mean, we keep a schedule in the summer, but it begins with "let the children sleep as long as possible." This year we didn't do ANY scheduled activities, and you know what? Best decision ever. My kids slept and read books and played outside and went to the pool. And when anyone complained about being bored, I pointed them to the list of "100 Things To Do" that we made in June, made them pick one and after two or three times of that, the little Einsteins figured it out. I have always told them it is not my job to entertain them and we run around like crazies during the school year; why would I want to do that to myself in the summer? I am not super-mom. I plan to not raise narcissists. Therefore in the summer, it's not about you, dear children. It's about some rest and relaxation for your mama, so she doesn't begin to lose her mind before the age of 40.

Sleeping in the grass. 
Turns out my girls LOVE to cook. Especially with friends. 
Oh yeah, they had water fights too!

But since it is officially Autumn, I figured it would be a good time to make use of the more scheduled, structured lifestyle that having kids in public school affords and try to squeeze in some of the things that were neglected over the summer. Like finishing posts I started say, in November of last year.

When we were researching adoptions, we found it was really difficult to get a good grasp on the actual costs. Of course we saw statistics on websites and forums and people always gave some ballpark number that usually came out to around $30,000. And that's helpful to a degree, but something a little more specific was what I was looking for. Like is "about $30,000" ever possibly $27,000? Or is it more like $33,000? Because now we're talking about a $6,000 difference and that's huge when you're an average, middle-class family.

My reasons for posting this are two-fold:
1. So that anyone considering China adoption can have an idea of what to really expect. I'll also include a timeline for that same purpose.
2. So that people can begin to understand why it's so expensive. (There ARE actual reasons for the costs. It's not to just prevent people from adopting!).

My reason for posting this is not:
1. To brag about our ability to afford the costs. Because as we've already established here, that that was ALL God.

Because we are not at liberty to post exact fees that we paid to our agency, and because those fees vary so much from agency to agency, those numbers will be somewhat approximated, but shouldn't affect the overall grand total. Also note that our experience is now almost four years old, so some fees will be outdated. Additionally, many fees vary based on agency, provider, or state and time of year travel occurs.

November 2011:
$550 - formal application
$70 - drug testing
$20 - fingerprints
$125 - training

December 2011 - February 2012:
$125 - training
$116 - home study mileage
$36 - fingerprints
$150 - psychological evaluation

April 2012:
$4400 - United States adoption fees
$4300 - home study fees

May - June 2012:
$41 - birth certificates
$15 - marriage and birth certificate state authentication
$33 - shipping for authentication
$55 - South Dakota Secretary of State authentication
$1150 - CCAA (dossier fees paid to China)
$220 - courier fees for visas
$300 - dossier translation fees
$434 - dossier authentication fees
$15 - training

(no payments made July - September)

October 2012:
$1000 - referral fee
$45 - training
$4000 - post-placement fees (reporting, documentation, visits, etc for 5 years post-adoption)
$500 - Children's Hospital of Philadelphia referral review (optional)
$280 - child's visa and courier fee
$24 - Supplement 3 shipping
$360 - Supplement 3

Current total prior to travel: $18,364

February 2013:
$3200 - Two round trip tickets to China
$970 - One one-way ticket from China (for Meili)
$280 - Seat upgrades (optional, but highly recommended if you are tall!)
$4000 - in-country travel costs (flights from Bejing, to Nanjing, to Guangzhou and car/bus travel within provinces and to Hong Kong, drivers, and guides)
$5700 - orphanage donation (our "thank you" for their "care" of our child)
$2000 - legal fees in China
$420 - seat upgrades for return flights (optional)

Grand Total: $34,934

I'm forever thankful that the "grand total" is not due all at the same time and that we had those 16 months to prepare, research and pray and watch the Lord provide. The amount effort that goes into preparing documents like a home study is huge for a social worker, and while it seems crazy, it's necessary for the integrity of the agency and safety of adopted children. It's my hope that this breakdown is informative, not overwhelming, and helpful to someone who can't find it elsewhere. If you missed the first two posts on affording international adoption, they can be found here (part 1) and here (part 2).

August 23, 2015

How to resolve (Kids + School + Chores + Activities = Mayhem)

It's that time again! The time of year that all kids dread and parents rejoice - back-to-school season. Is this really an occasion to celebrate? We say we're ready for them to go back (because we're stressed and our kids are craving structure, are bored at home, or whatever), when in reality the structure and scheduling of all the new activities and responsibilities leaves us just as drained as kids who are whining for the 400 millionth time about being bored.

(Personally, taking all my kids to Wal-Mart (yes, it has to be Wal-Mart because even though we live in a town of 30,000 people we are not cool enough to have a Target *insert sob here*) at 10:00AM on a Tuesday, which apparently was the date and time that everyone else in town decided to school shopping, resulted in enough stress to last me well into October).

During the previous school year, we implemented a few small changes to make life a little easier. The following is a guest post from my better (and much more technical) half:

(please note that this post assumes your kids have their own devices or access to a computer)

Last school year, I noticed that each day Virginia would stress about all the things the kids needed to do after school:
  • Clean out lunch boxes
  • Do homework
  • Practice piano
  • Get ready for gymnastics
  • the list goes on.... and on....
It seemed like she had to continuously remind them to do this, do that. So, I came up with a way to reduce some of the stress on Virginia. Each of our kids have a device of some sort, whether it be an iPod, Android tablet, or even access to a computer. I used a tool called IFTTT (If this, then that). 

IFTTT is a free tool that you can sign up for which will watch for things to happen in many of your environments, or simply perform an action on a schedule. What I did is create an IFTTT account to add specific chores to a list on my kids devices on specific days. For example;

  • Monday-Friday
    • Remind kids to empty their lunch boxes from their backpack and put them away
    • Put away any items on the steps that are yours (Virginia often places the kids items that need to be dealt with on the steps)
    • Complete homework
    • Have mom & dad sign off on school papers
  • Monday, Wednesday, & Friday
    • Kid 1: Practice piano
    • Kids 2 & 3: Practice gymnastics
  • Tuesday
    • Kid 1: Gather items for soccer practice
  • Thursday
    • Kids 2 & 3: Get ready for gymnastics
  • Any day
    • If we receive an email from the teacher about kids homework, add item to the specific kids list so they are reminded
This is a small sampling, but you get the idea. Which 'list' application did you use for the kids, you ask?  I selected Trello for it's cross device usability & it's integration capabilities with IFTTT. Trello gives you the ability to create boards with lists. I created a board for each kid, with two lists in each board; ToDo & Done. When they finished a chore, they could simply drag it from the ToDo column to the Done column.

I've included seven steps below to get you up and running, quickly.


Step 1: Create a Trello Account
If you don't already have a Trello account, go to www.Trello.com an create an account for you, the parent.

Step 2: Create a board for each kid
Click the + sign in the top left corner and select Create Board

For the title, enter the name of your child.

Click Create

Step 3: Add the two lists to each board
On the left hand side of the screen in Trello, locate your newly created board and click on it.  Once selected, you will see your board with the option to create lists.

 Create the ToDo list by entering 'ToDo' in the 'Add a list...' field and click Save.

Create the Done list the same way.

Once you've done this for each kid, you are done with the Trello portion of the setup.

Step 4: Create an IFTTT Account
If you don't already have an IFTTT account, go to www.ifttt.com an create an account.

Step 5: Create a recipes to place an items onto a list
This is where you can use your imagination to add items to your kids ToDo lists.  I'll walk you through one of the examples above:  Place an item on a board at a certain time of day, Monday through Friday

    • Select My Recipes at the top of the screen, then select Create a Recipe
    • You'll be presented with a large If this then that.  Click on this.

    • After selecting this, you'll be presented with all kinds of inputs that can trigger an event to create an item in the list.  Search for date.
    • Select the Date & Time object.
    • Next, select the Every day of the week at button
    • Complete the form, selecting the time of day and days of week to trigger, then click Create
    • Next, select that 
    • Search for Trello and select the Trello object

    • Click on the Create a card button
    • Fill out the form, selecting the board and entering the name of the list where you'd like the new task to be placed
    • Click Create Recipe
    • Once created, the trigger is activated and will execute at the selected time.

Step 6: Install Trello on your child's device
All you have left to do now is to install the mobile Trello app on your child's device and login with your username and email.  When they get home from school, they can go to their board and take a look at the things that they need to do.

Step 7: Dream up other recipes
Like I mentioned earlier, you can set up all kinds of triggers to create items in your lists.  I even set up Siri so Virginia could say a command and it would trigger an event to add what she said to the list.  Go, be creative!


If you've been looking for a better way to take care of those repetitive tasks, I hope this has helped.  If you create other recipes that you like, please comment and let me know about it!

January 22, 2015

Stitch Fix #4: Why haven't you tried this yet!?

Admitting how much I've been enjoying the Stitch Fix online styling service is kind of like coming out of the closet for me. I drive a minivan. I have four kids. I work at a church. I'm cheap.
There's absolutely nothing about me that screams style.

I think that might be why I enjoy it so much. It makes me feel fancy. (Apparently, I'm easily amused)

Fix #4 was my favorite one yet. I'll tell you why in a minute.

People keep telling me, "I'd love to try it, but I'd never spend that much on clothes."
I get it. Each piece individually is more than I'd usually spend too, unless it was something that I was ready to die on a hill for and never live without.

But here's the deal. The experience is just fun. There's a $20 initial investment for the styling service (which goes toward your purchase if you buy something). It's worth the $20 price tag just to have the fun of enjoying items picked out just for you, and delivered to your doorstep for you to try on and mix & match in the privacy of your own home. So if you try it and love it, and share it with even one friend, Stitch Fix gives you credit.

I managed to rack up a decent amount of credit, and everything I've kept in my previous fixes has been FREE. FREE ya'll! If I divide the initial investment by the number of item's I've kept, I'm at about $9 each. That's my kind of pricing!

And, Stitch Fix is getting pretty good at styling me, so that definitely adds to the fun-factor.
Here's how to make it work well for you: Last month, I ran across this blog from a Stitch Fix pro about how to get the best Fix possible. Using my Pinterest boards, I got very specific about things I liked and didn't like and the way I left feedback. This fix was a ton of fun, and scored me one of my absolute favorite pieces so far.

So seriously....what are you waiting for!? If you're ready to try it, check out the linked blog above and update your Pinterest boards. Then, request a fix (and use my link if you're so inclined :) ) --- https://www.stitchfix.com/referral/3372263

On to my last fix!

Fortunately, I didn't have to take my own photos this time. We've lived in our new place for 5 months, and somehow Jon didn't think to convert the corner of the unfinished basement into a photo studio until a couple weeks ago. As terribly uncomfortable as it is for me to pose for him to "practice," it's worse to try to shoot photos of myself with my phone. These are at least a little better than my awkwardly shot selfies.

The first item was the Leah Paisley Print Scarf  by Octavia.
This was it. This is the PERFECT scarf for me. I adore paisley. I adore all those colors. I'm always, always freezing, so I adore scarves. I knew before I even put this on, it was a keeper.

Plus, I have like 100 other things I can wear it with.

The price on this was $28. (But used credit to purchase). I've already worn it like ten times, so I'm pretty sure this one was worth the investment.

The second piece was Jake Slim Bootcut Jean by Just Black
All I have to say about this is, don't request a Fix right after Christmas.

These were great jeans, but the fact that I couldn't get them buttoned posed a problem. I don't hold back during Christmas, and it showed in the weeks following! They'd probably work fine now, but I just couldn't justify purchasing them if I wasn't sure they'd fit in the near future.

The Noriega Boat Neck Knit Top by Tart was super comfy. It was made of a really smooth and slinky fabric that laid really nicely.

While I liked this shirt, it didn't "wow" me and it was just a tad short in the front. I can tell Stitch Fix is trying to send me longer cut items, but I'm well aware of how difficult it is to find ones that work so I can't blame them too much when they're just half an inch too short.

As much as I love polka dots, the Farley Swiss Dot Ruffle Front Blouse by Skies are Blue just wasn't my style. I hate ruffles. I failed to mention that in my profile. That will be corrected. NO.MORE.RUFFLES.

I was skeptical about this last item, because it looked like a plain, dull, black shirt. But I always try everything on, and it turned out this Queensland Dolman Jersey Top by Market & Spruce was a winner! I think it was made of the same super-comfy fabric as the boat neck top, but the length was good this time. Plus, hubby loved it, and it goes with my favorite crazy-pants - I always need more opportunities to wear my crazy-pants ;)
The price on this one was $48, which again is more than I'd ever pay normally, but when paying with credit, was totally worth it. And it will be a great basic piece that will go well with several other things I own.

I made some changes to my Pinterest board and left specific notes for my stylist after this fix, and another one is already on it's way, so we'll see how they did!

Ready to try it?