My Baby is Five, and I’m Back Alive

9 Aug

My youngest turns 5 a week from today which set me to thinking – not about her, but about ME.  You see, I’m realizing right as she’s turning five, that I’ve finally gotten back to a decent place.  Not amazing. I mean amazing is rarely possible for any Mom, or any living human being, right?  But decent.  Less insane.  Most always happy.   Sometimes even balanced.  Sometimes even amazing!

Five years later, I’ve gotten back to a decent place for both my mind and my body.  And I wondered if I’m not so alone, if this is actually fairly normal: that it takes years – sometimes half a decade!!! – after you finish your “birthing of babies” – to get yourself back.

For my mind, this is a really recent thing, as in over this Summer.  I joked with people, but I wasn’t joking, that since my youngest was born, August 2008, I’d read exactly one book.  Blink.  By Malcolm Gladwell.  Because it was really short.  Truth.

But I had a goal this summer to get back to reading.  I started slow, literally reading my 8 year old’s books, first Waiting for the Magic (darling), then Wonder (hugely moving).  Then I moved on to one that had been collecting dust on my nightstand for years – Memory Keeper’s Daughter.  Good, but so depressing it kind of ticked me off I picked it to get me back in the reading game.  I am proud to say I just finished Gone Girl, which was awesome, but unsettling.  And I have Lean In up next, so I too can get irritated by Sheryl Sandberg and complain that yes, you can have it all, if you have a big bank account and nannies.  We’ll see what I think!

So I feel like my mind is finally turned back on beyond what I *have* to think about each day with family and work.  I’ve found time for recreational reading, critical to my mind being back!

As for my body, I’ve been working harder and longer at this, guilted into it by my Mom who pointed out that, after 40, your bones degrade, etc., etc.  But it’s still been a slow trudge back.  Last year, 2012, I was so very proud to complete 80 Jazzercise classes, really not even twice a week, but huge for someone who’d previously done nothing.

This year, it’s still August and I’m about to top 100 classes!

Jazzercise was a very doable, welcoming environment for me to get back in shape.   See my post on Confessions of a 40 year old Jazzerciser.  I’m in the best shape I’ve been since Spring Break senior year in college when I lived on pretzels and diet coke to prepare for a week in a bikini in the Bahamas.   (other than, of course, as you other mother’s remember, those rare fleeting months after losing the baby weight, but before you stop nursing when you still stretch out your bra, but not the backseat of your jeans – ohhhh to be in a perpetual state of breastfeeding calorie burn……but I digress……….)

So again, with my baby on the brink of her 5th birthday, I realized my body is back in decent shape and my mind is back to reading once and awhile, and I feel pretty good!  Happy 5th birthday to ME! I’m BACK!

……Now, if only I could eat more vegetables, kick diet coke, stop swearing, learn to speak Spanish, sell more stripedshirts and get rid of the weird outer layer of fuzz in my hair I’ve had since my oldest was born in 2004 (seriously, anyone else with the halo of fuzz?), this decent place would become an amazing place most of the time. For now, I’ll happily take decent.

How about you, how long after kids did it take you to be back?

College Football’s Most Engaged Fans Are……

23 Jul

Michigan striped shirt for women, kidsMy dear friends at TicketCity (great company, great folks and also Austin based) just put out data on the most engaged fans in college football, based on several factors from the 2012 seasons (excluding bowl games).  TicketCity aggregated up factors like all game attendance, home game attendance, ticket prices, stadium capacity filled at home, Facebook and Twitter following, all at different weights.

LOVE THIS and I was dying to see the list, so I figured you might be too (and of course, because this is stripedshirt’s blog, we will include what colors we have for you to stripe up!)

1 Michigan (maize and blue)

2 LSU (purple and white)

3 Alabama (red and white)

4 Ohio State (red and gray)

5 A&M (maroon and gray)

6 Nebraska (red and white)

7 Oklahoma (red and white)

8 Texas (orange and white)

9 Georgia (red and black)

10 Florida (blue and orange)

11 Penn State (navy and white)

12 South Carolina (red and black)

13 Iowa (yellow and white)

14 USC (cardinal and gold)

15 Oregon (green and white)

16 Michigan State (green and white)

17 Tennessee (orange and white)

18 Wisconsin (red and white)

19 Auburn (blue and orange)

20 Clemson (orange and white)

21 West Virginia (blue and gold)

22 Florida State (garnet and gold)

23 Missouri (yellow and white)

24 Arkansas (red and white)

25 Virginia Tech (don’t have)

 

Also interesting nuggets from TicketCity data:

  • Michigan has highest home stadium attendance with 112,000+!!!! The Wolverines have led the country in attendance for 15 consecutive seasons.   Yet, its been 16 years since the Maize and blue have won a national championship.
  • Alabama has the most expensive tickets with an average of $163 per ticket. (that’s a LOT of Tide – ouch).
  • Oregon fills its stadium the most.  Go Duck fans.
  • Florida is king on Facebook with over 1M fans.
  • Michigan has the most Twitter followers, but only 150,000 so seems all schools could get a little more Twitter game going!

My musings:

  • It took until #14 for a non SEC, Big 10, Big 12 team to show up!
  • In this survey, among deep rivals, Michigan beats Ohio State.  LSU beats Alabama. Oklahoma beats Texas.
  • #3 takes on #25 at the official Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game, Sat Aug 31, Alabama v. Virginia Tech.
  • Sad, but not surprised to see my beloved – and beleaguered – Boston College Eagles completely missing.
  • But, interestingly, also missing is Notre Dame.  Bet this doesn’t make those arrogant Irish very happy!

All in all, pretty interesting stuff – thanks TicketCity!  If you want to see everything: http://www.ticketcity.com/helpful-links/news-articles/college-footballs-most-engaged-fans.html.

Here we go 2013 Season College Football!  Can’t wait!  Stripe up now for your favorite team!

 

 

Happy 15th Birthday Vineyard Vines, My stripedshirt Inspiration

4 Jul

stripedshirt color combinations

 

Today is not just 4th of July, the day we celebrate America, our Independence and all that.  It’s also the anniversary of my favorite brand, my inspiration: Vineyard Vines.

And, if I’m right, today is their 15th anniversary.    This is a company I’ve admired since they began, and I like and wear the clothing for more reasons than just its sheer cuteness.  That whale is a representative of the wearer.  Meaning, when I wear Vineyard Vines it kind of says I love Martha’s Vineyard, of course, but really the entire Cape Cad area, Massachusetts, East Coast, all things preppy, classic, timeless.

Vineyard Vines is a brand that IS my style and represents my personality.  It is an extension of me.  As good, special, unique clothing should be, and stripedshirt is trying to be.  Preppy.  Classic.  Timeless.

Doesn’t hurt that the story of the founders is pretty cool too.  Two brothers, Shep and Ian Murray, got tired of the NYC business scene and cut and ran December 1997.  By July 4, 1998, they had a Jeep full of patterned ties they were personally pedaling around Martha’s Vineyard.  The brothers are still involved now, but have grown the brand from coveted items you’d see in specialty shops and boutiques in beach towns to 25 – and growing – of their own stores  and a great online site, and fun blog.  Their photos capture the spirit of their clothes, and often are real live Vineyard Viners.

Shep and Ian say:  You can still make a living doing something you love with people you like. You just have to give two weeks notice.

I did that myself, when I quit a long and happy career in PR April 30, 2010 and started stripedshirt.  From my day one, I had Vineyard Vines in my mind as my business role model, my inspiration.  Course, the fact that they were at $60 Million in 2007, less than 10 years in business, is a little intimidating.  I don’t think stripedshirt will be as big as Vineyard Vines, but I surely hope we are as happy as they seem to be, from that first tie sale their day one July 4, 1998 to 15 years later, July 4 2013!

Happy 15th, Shep and Ian.  You inspire me, and many!

 

NBA Finals: Stripe Up for Your Favorite Basketball Team

6 May

Women and kid black and gray stripes for the Spurs

 

Well, my sweet Celtics couldn’t get ‘er done, and I fear after the heart break of losing Ray Allen last year (to the dreaded Miami Hate – I mean Heat – no less), it’ll only get worse.  Odds are, KG and Paul Pierce won’t be back next season either.  Sobs.  But I’ll power on, and move my cheers to the other team of great old men:  San Antonio.  Go Spurs Go!  Tonight!  There’s still a lot of basketball left until June 20. Yes, June 20.

And whether you are for the Spurs, or one of the other 7 remaining teams, or mourning for the Celtics, we got your NBA colors!  Stripe up now to support your favorite team:
Chicago v. Miami - red and black v. red and black

San Antonio v. Golden State black and gray v. blue and yellow

Indiana v. New York - blue and yellow v. blue and orange

Oklahoma City v. Memphisblue and orange v. blue and yellow

We have John Henry to thank – or blame – for Sweet Caroline at Sox games

25 Apr

 

With all the focus on my beloved Boston the past 10 days, and a huge boost to spirits with a surprise visit last week from Neil Diamond himself, singing at Fenway, middle of the 8th, I had to figure out, where, how, WHY did Sweet Caroline become part of the Red Sox legend and lore?

Turns out, it wasn’t so long ago.  A woman named Amy Tobey decided ballpark music from 1998 to 2004.  Knowing Sweet Caroline was played at other sporting events, she added it to the rotation, and over time it became a bit superstitious.  If the team was ahead, it would be played somewhere between the 7th and 9th innings, IF Amy thought the team was going to win.

When John Henry and co took over the team in 2002, they made it official, to be played middle of the 8th, every home game.

Think what you will of the song and of Sox leadership, but did you know, Henry grew up a Cardinals fan, and put the Sox deal together after selling the Marlins? He and Werner, Harrington and Lucchino’s express goal was breaking the curse of the bambino.

Just 2 years later, that amazing 2004 World Series had the Sox beating who- the Cardinals, his childhood team – to bring home our first World Series in 86 years.  Last year, of course, marked 100 years for Fenway, and for the past 15 Sweet Caroline has been part of the amazing franchise so many of us love so dearly.

BTW, sales of Sweet Caroline (which came out in 1969 and was written about Caroline Kennedy) are up nearly 600% since the bombing.  Seriously.  Sweet Neil is giving proceeds from sales to bombing victims.

However you feel about the song, me thinks its not going anywhere, especially not after the past week!  And I think that’s SO GOOD, SO GOOD SO GOOD!

 

RIP Lilly Pulitzer, a stripedshirt inspiration

7 Apr

 

I was so sad to read today that Lilly Pulitzer died, at 81 years young, after a brief illness.

She – and her company – has been a favorite of mine for all my life, but also a stripedshirt inspiration for four reasons:

First, her preppy fashions are timeless. They are also bright and fun.  Life is too short to wear black!

Second, Lilly does “mommy and me” so well with adorable matching dresses, tops, bathing suits.  We are hopefully doing the same, giving Moms and kids a super cute way to dress alike.

Third, Lilly also started her brand from a focus group of one: herself.  Her signature shift was first designed in 1959 or 60 (she herself couldn’t recall) as a uniform for her work at a juice stand.  The bright colors and bold cotton patterns hid juice stains.

Finally, accidentally falling into fashion via a juice stand uniform gives me hope!  Lilly wasn’t fashion or runway trained, she wasn’t a designer.  She started something she personally liked, and that others liked too, and grew it into a hugely successful business and a timeless brand I love and aspire to for stripedshirt!

RIP Lilly.

 

Mom and kiddos in red and blue striped shirts

Happy Birthday Breton Stripe!

27 Mar

This is re-run from a blog post I did a year ago today. What I didn’t share then, that I think is super cool, is my own birthday is the day after the birthday of the Breton stripe! I was destined to live a striped life! :)

***********

Today, March 27, marks the “birth” of the beautiful Breton stripe. Those smart Frenchies made the iconic navy and white striped knit shirt the official uniform for all navy seamen in Brittany. This became official in the March 27, 1858 Act of France.

And so, today, HAPPY BIRTHDAY to my beloved navy and white Breton stripes!

You have been worn by so many, and inspired so many other stripes, including http://stripedshirt.com/. To celebrate the birthday, today only, March 27, 25% off any of our 15 color combination stripedshirts, including the navy and white Breton inspired stripedshirt. Just enter “Breton” at the code at check out.

Now is an ideal time to get your navy and white, or any colors, to stripe it up for Spring and Summer!

Merci, France, and Bon Anniversaire Breton Stripes!

 

navy-and-white-stripesWoman and kids in navy and white stripes, breton stripe inspired shirts

SWEET STRIPED SIXTEEN

25 Mar

 

As always, the tourney has had some surprises – a credit union??? (FGCU) – and lots of fun! After first 2 rounds, we are down to our sweet 16, a great group to STRIPE UP FOR!  I’m still cheering for my Buckeyes, go Ohio State!  But wow to that Iowa State match up, I wish the Cyclones could advance too.  4 Big 10 teams move forward – that’s huge!

My favorite player of the tourney?  No, not OSU’s Aaron Craft.  Rather the JOLLY GIANT of Miami, #42, Reggie Johnson.  Google him.  This football linebacker is downright adorable on the court.

Whoever your favorite of the sweet sixteen, get a stripedshirt to show their colors at http://stripedshirt.com/

Arizona – red and blue

Duke – royal and white

FGCU – royal and white

Florida – orange and blue

Indiana – red and white

Kansas – royal and white

LaSalle – blue and gold

Louisville – red and black

Marquette – blue and gold

Miami – green and white

Michigan – maize and blue

Michigan State – green and white

Ohio State – red and gray

Oregon – green and white

Syracuse – orange and blue

Wichita State – yellow and white

MARCH MADNESS!!!!

18 Mar

You know what’s complete madness?  Even more than Kentucky not making the cuts?

Not a single school from Texas in the tourney.

Not good, Tejas!  But makes me cheer for Ohio State even louder, I guess. And, whether the Buckeyes, or 64 other teams, odds are, stripedshirt has your team’s colors.  So get some stripes now so you can show your colors from now until April 8 for the NCAA college hoops championship in Atlanta. Enjoy the madness! Go Bucks!
Final AP Top 25 pre-Tourney:

  1. Gonzaga – red and blue
  2. Louisville – red and black
  3. Kansas – royal and white
  4. Indiana – red and white
  5. Miami (FL) – green and orange, don’t have yet
  6. Duke – royal and white
  7. Ohio State – red and gray
  8. Georgetown – navy and white
  9. Michigan State – green and white
  10. New Mexico – red and white
  11. Michigan – maize and blue
  12. Kansas St – purple and white
  13. Saint Louis – royal and white
  14. Florida – blue and orange
  15. Marquette – blue and gold
  16. Syracuse – blue and orange
  17. Oklahoma State – orange and white
  18. Wisconsin – red and white
  19. Memphis – royal and white
  20. Pittsburgh – blue and gold
  21. Arizona – red and blue
  22. Creighton – royal and white
  23. Notre Dame – blue and gold
  24. UCLA – light blue and yellow – don’t have yet
  25. Oregon – green and white

striped shirts for women, kids and babies for Buckeye fans

Surprises in Stripes

22 Feb

Doc McStuffins wears purple & white stripesolivia the pig wears red and white stripesPhineas wears orange and white stripes

 

Three years ago today, I took a huge leap and started stripedshirt. I consider it the first official day of business because it was the day I registered the URL of the brand I’d dreamt about for a decade prior.  I didn’t have first shirts for another 9 months so I mark the anniversary of stripedshirt around that time, Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving.  (and yes, as a mom of 2, the significance of starting a company and delivering first product 9 months later is not lost on me) Over these 3 years, I have learned so much, a PR gal trying to dig into the fashion, apparel, retail, ecommerce worlds.  Holy cow.

The adventure has been a blast, and getting this old dog to learn new tricks (after 18 years of public relations) has been such a boost of energy in my life.

I still deeply believe in the focus of stripedshirt:  giving women, kids and babies fun shirts to wear to support their favorite team, school, cause or holiday. I still believe stripedshirt is fan-wear for those of us who just want our colors to show our spirit, not a big logo or a guy’s name in a shirt build for a man.

But, along the way, I’ve had what I call Surprises in Stripes that I thought I’d share here at three years into the life of stripedshirt:

People just like stripes.  Especially the ladies.  So many of my purchases are just women looking for a cute stripedshirt.  It seems red and white stripes, in particular, are very hard to find, in a cute, affordable version. (this goes for several men too, complaining they cannot find a good red and white stripedshirt and why don’t I make a version for guys?)

Mommy and me dressing alike extends way beyond Lilly Pulitzer.  Moms want to dress like their kiddos, and at least up to a certain age (8 years old and counting for me), kids like it too!  I’ve had many matchy striped days with my girls since this all began and it is cute and sweet.

Beyond just the Mom and kiddo combos, stripedshirts are great for keeping a group together! I found this out by chance, taking 4 little girls to Sea World one Christmas break right after I got my first shirts.  We all striped up and I never lost them and they always knew where I was too.  Fantastic!  I’ve since seen families going to Disney in stripes, Girl Scout troops in stripes, Family reunions or photos, girl’s weekends or bachelorette parties.  A group of stripes, even if several different color combos, is quite a fun – and recognizable – statement.

The lead up to Halloween is my biggest rush of the year.  Not back to school and start of football season, not March Madness, not Christmas.  Halloween. This bummed me out at first, people buying my shirts for their costumes.  But now, my hope is, they get a stripedshirt to be Waldo or Freddy Krueger or Olivia the Pig or Phineas (not Ferb) or Harry Potter or a French Sailor or whatever and they love the shirt way more than just 1 day of the year. (I hope!)

And finally, I had no idea what a fan-base Doc McStuffins has with the 2 to 6 year old set!  After red and white, my biggest seller by far is kids’ sizes of purple and white.    And I’ve tested the theory, most are for kids who want to dress like their favorite new Disney Character.  The Doc IS IN stripes!

One last Surprise in Stripes over these past 3 years – the sweet, amazing support I’ve gotten. I had hoped for it, but you never know how people will react to what you are up to.  People I know and people I don’t have been so supportive, sharing kind feedback and cheering me on.  There is still absolutely no more exciting moment for me than to see a “stripedshirt in the wild” – worn in public on someone I know, or better who I don’t, and that the wearer really, genuinely likes the shirt! YEAH!

Here’s to many more years of stripedshirt, and many more Surprises in Stripes!

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