Plus Size Sweatshirt Dress

We are having such a weird Georgia winter. Our “winters” are always super mild to begin with, but the last week in February we had a warm snap and one day it was 83 degrees. The pollen is already out in force because of it. However, this week our temperatures are dipping into the 30s at night and it has me wanting to dress warm and cozy! This plus size sweatshirt dress is a WIN in my opinion! It’s super comfortable, warm, and it covers all the spots you want to be covered.

plus size sweatshirt dress

I randomly found this dress while browsing in one our local Augusta boutiques, My Story. The store primarily carries regular sizes, but they have a small selection of plus size clothes. I really love stopping in occasionally because they carry really unique tops and tunics. Sometimes when I’m shopping in the plus size stores I feel as if I’m going to be wearing the same exact things other plus size girls are wearing (because we don’t have a lot of options!). When I shop at My Story, I know I’m going to find pieces that I won’t see a lot of other girls in.

(No, this isn’t a sponsored post – I just want to give credit where credit is due!)

front view of plus size sweatshirt dress

I paired this dress with black leggings and black suede booties, but I also think it will be super cute paired with bare legs and Converse. The great thing about the material is that it is so lightweight that I can easily transition it into spring.

side view of plus size sweatshirt dress

My FAVORITE part is that it has POCKETS! I don’t know why I get so irrationally excited when a dress has pockets.

Sometimes I feel weird about sharing pictures like this – I mean, this isn’t truly an aspirational type of fashion look. But who cares?! Tickled Peach is for the regular mom – the mom that doesn’t have a ton of time to shop, she doesn’t have a reason to dress to the nines each day, and she just wants to be comfortable while living her life and caring for her family. That’s what this outfit is: cute and comfy. Pick pieces that feel good and MAKE you feel good, you know?

Sadly, I can’t find this dress anywhere, and my local boutique doesn’t have an online store. However, I’ve sourced some other plus size sweatshirt dress options for you!

plsu size sweatshirt dress cinch waist

Old Navy Plus Size Cinched Waist French Terry Dress, $33

They have this same plus size sweatshirt dress in a navy and red striped version that is super cute. Online they have a code for 25% off that automatically applies at checkout, so be sure to check that out if you decide to buy!

dressy plus size sweatshirt dress

Torrid Black French Terry Mesh Inset Ruffled Sweatshirt Dress

This sweatshirt dress is really intriguing – super comfortable, slimming, and dressy? Sign me up, please. And it has ruffles! I mean I’ll buy anything with ruffles. This is $32.98.

Torrid Black Full-Length Premium Leggings, $22.90

I have to mention my leggings – I love, love, love the Torrid leggings. They are truly black, do not fade, do not pill, and they aren’t sheer. I feel comfortable wearing them even with shorter tops (I always cover my behind, though!). I have a few pairs of the full-length leggings, but as a shorty (I’m 5’2) I prefer the Black Cropped Premium Leggings. The cropped leggings hit me right at my ankle. Torrid currently has a sale on leggings – 2 for $30.

What outfits or pieces do you love to wear when it is cold outside?

This post contains affiliate links (Old Navy is the only affiliate link). This means I may make a small commission or percentage of the sale if you click the link or purchase. Thank you for supporting Tickled Peach.

Parenting an ADHD Child: When We Finally Got a Diagnosis

Before I even start this blog post, I want to make sure everyone who reads it knows my intentions. I know in this age of social media and information, it can be easy to assume that sometimes we are sharing too much or too candidly. I’ve struggled over the past three years (since we received Cooper’s diagnosis) with the following questions: should I talk about this? Who should I talk about this with? Is it ok to share this much information about my child? If I do share, will he resent me for it later in his life? How much sharing is too much?

I have spent much time praying over these very questions. I love my child and my family, and I would never want to dishonor him, God, or our family. I very much believe that the struggles we face are at times meant to happen so that we can encourage and help others that walk or will walk in our shoes. I believe God has given me a platform to talk about certain topics, and this is one of them. Jason and I have had many talks about this, and he agrees with and is supportive of me talking about our struggles with parenting.

When I felt certain that this was something both God wanted and my husband was supportive of, I then approached my child, Cooper. He knows that I blog and have social media pages where I discuss my family and our lives. He knows that both his father and I feel that his ADHD and other diagnosis are struggles he is meant to overcome in his life – that these seasons of hard times will lead to a fruitful future. I explained to him my desire to share our daily reality as a family, and in particular the challenges we have faced when dealing with his ADHD. I explained that there are other moms and kids out there that may be in our shoes, and they desperately want to be told they are ok and there are other people just like them in this world. He has given me permission to speak about this. He also knows that if any time in the future he changes his mind, he can tell me and I will stop.

With that said, let’s dive right in…

getting an adhd diagnosis for your child

Is this normal behavior?

Cooper is 8. I begin to be concerned when he was 3. He’s always been a high energy child, and childcare workers have always labeled him “stubborn” and “strong-willed.” He was an only child until he was 4.

Shortly after we moved to Georgia in 2011, I enrolled him in daycare as I was working full time. He initially started in the 2-year-old room, and things went very well. He loved his teachers, he got along well with others, and he even potty trained months ahead of the timeline I had anticipated.

A few months before his third birthday, his teachers mentioned the possibility of moving him into the 3-year-old classroom early. He was in a class with younger children, and they felt developmentally it would be best to make the move. The owner of the daycare was on board, so I agreed. Things began to go downhill shortly after that move.

Every single day thereafter, there was a problem. He didn’t finish his worksheets for the day. He pushed another child. He didn’t sit when he was asked to sit. Honestly, I felt like a lot of that was on his teacher. It was clear to me she and Cooper did not mesh well, and to be fair I didn’t care for her either.

Then I began to be pulled into the owner’s office each day when I could come to pick him up. “He bit someone today.” “He told Miss Susy no.” “He pushed another child.” “He won’t line up with the other children.”

I made many a doctor appointment with his pediatrician, asking for discipline advice. How can I fix this? Our pediatrician suggested his actions were age appropriate and that while I should discipline him when he disobeyed, I should also give him grace for doing what a 3-year-old tends to do.

Eventually, I saw the writing on the wall and began to look at other childcare options. The day I signed the paperwork for another daycare, the owner of his current daycare suggested a meeting and ever so politely kicked my child out. “He is hard to manage,” he said. “Our resources are needed elsewhere,” he said. “Maybe you should look into parenting classes. These things tend to start at home,” he said.

Yep, that last one was WAY over the line.

At this point I began to wonder – was this my parenting? What was I doing wrong? My child didn’t bite at home. He wasn’t overly disobedient. He didn’t push or refuse to share or anything else I felt wasn’t normal 3-year-old behavior.

For the next 5 months, he attended another daycare. They reported no problems, and things were going well at home.

Maybe he’s just transitioning.

In August of 2013, I was 9 months pregnant with my second child and was placed on bedrest for the remainder of my pregnancy. My husband and I decided I would quit my job after my maternity leave and stay at home with my two children. I removed Cooper from full-time daycare and enrolled him in a church Mother’s Day Out program. Beginning in September, he would attend preschool 3 days a week from 9:00 – 1:00.

I had Sullivan in September, and his birth directly coincided with Cooper’s first days of preschool. We all struggled to adjust to me being home full time, a new baby, preschool, and all the other chaos a new birth brings.

His teachers began to tell me of their concerns. He didn’t like to share. He was disruptive. He would stand when others were sitting and sit when others were standing.

The director of the preschool pulled me in numerous time to talk to me. She used the word “strong-willed”. She gave me parenting books to read, resources, encouragement, and support. I would sit in her office and cry, clutching my newborn, wondering what I was doing wrong.

Then Cooper started to bite his classmates. They had a no tolerance policy for biting (which I understand!) and he ended up missing the entire month of December as his break from preschool. Despondent, I decided to just pull him out of the preschool, but the Director called me and suggested bumping him down to 2 days a week and moving him to a new classroom. We tried that change, and he did well. We didn’t have any more episodes of biting and he loved his teacher.

We start to notice problems in his interactions with his peers.

As a new stay at home mom with a newborn, I began to seek out interaction for myself and my children. I joined a Mom’s Club and met a bunch of different moms with children around my son’s age.

It was around this time that I really started to notice Cooper’s hyperactivity. He was what everyone else would describe as “wild.” He was always high energy: whirling in circles, running, yelling, in a rush to play and get things done.

I started to really watch how he interacted with his friends and what I saw scared me. He loved to play with other children, but often his “wild” nature would be overwhelming for other kids. I would see them drift away to play with others or in some cases, they would tell him he needed to be quiet or calm down.

A turning point came for me when I was speaking with a friend about some of my concerns about Cooper. I told her that I worried about his interactions with other kids and that it hurt me to see him be shunned or to have other children not want to play with him. “Yeah,” she said, “my husband doesn’t want {her child} to play with Cooper because he’s too wild.”

That was hard. That was incredibly hard. For me, it was this realization that other people did see my child differently, and that left untreated this could become a bigger problem that would lead to isolation and a lack of friendships in the future.

Houses, we have a problem.

Jason and I made the decision to withdraw him from preschool and have him stay at home with me during his 4K year. He had not done well, it seemed, in 3K and I thought I would try loosely homeschooling and see if that made a difference.

It did not. I had already come to terms with his hyperactivity, but it was at this point that I started to realize that he was not retaining information. We would spend a solid hour a day working on letters: tracing, writing, phonics, etc and that afternoon I would review and he wouldn’t recognize the letter we had worked on all morning. I would spend a full week on a single letter, finally feeling as if I was making progress, only to find out that after a weekend he had no recollection of what we worked on the week prior.

I feel like I was constantly at his pediatrician’s office during this time. “Is this a sick visit?” the receptionist would ask. “No, I just want to talk about his behavior.” During his 4-year-old well check his doctor introduced the idea of ADHD and I resisted it hard. In later visits, he continually urged me to do my own research, look into testing, and consider medication. No, nope, never going to happen.

His 5 year well check came and Cooper was formally diagnosed with ADHD. I still refused to even entertain the idea of medication. “Think about it,” my pediatrician urged. His own son is diagnosed with ADHD, he medicates his child, and I knew his advice did not just come from a medical standpoint but a parenting standpoint. The next few weeks after his appointment was some of the worst we’ve ever experienced behavior wise. He was defiant, his energy levels were through the roof, he refused to do school work, he wasn’t sleeping, and I was ending each day crying because I just wanted what was best for my child and I didn’t know how to give that to him. I finally, in complete desperation, agreed to try medication.

The change in my child was staggering.

Medication was an answer (for us).

I don’t want to mislead you about medication. It is not for everyone. I fully believe some children can live their lives, function, and do well without medication. But others cannot, and my child is one of those others. We can’t do medication breaks. We can’t skip dosages. Medication allows him to live his best life. Cooper 100% agrees with this and will tell you he WANTS to take his medication because in his words “my head is finally quiet.”

Cooper was 5 when we started medication (this is young – but he is an extreme case). He was not yet in school. We started medication in February 2015 and he started school that August. However, one of the biggest “this was the right thing” signs I ever received was Legos. Yes – Legos.

Cooper is obsessed with Legos. That Christmas he had asked for and received tons of Lego sets. He would sit and try to put the sets together, only to give up after a few minutes, often throwing the blocks and crying in frustration because he couldn’t make sense of the directions. Even when he would play creatively, not following instructions, he would give up and move on to something else within minutes.

The day we started medication, he sat down and played with his Legos for 2 hours. He put together several sets following the instructions. He even made a few creations of his own. I can remember that day vividly not because of his accomplishment, but because that was one of the first times he had ever approached me in pure pride of what he had been able to do.

“Mom! Look what I did! I like this medicine! I can put together awesome sets!”

That day we sat down and I reviewed a bunch of letters with him – tracing, writing, phonics – things in the past he had never been able to recall. And he pushed my hand away from the paper and wrote each and every letter on his own, without prompting or instruction because HE REMEMBERED.

That was a day of extreme highs and lows for me as a mother. I can remember sitting outside of his room at the end of the night, weeping, because I was so very proud of my child – and ashamed of myself that I had for so long denied his ADHD and refused to accept medication to treat it.

What were the warning signs of ADHD?

These are warning signs FOR MY CHILD. These are not signs of ADHD across the board. There are different types of ADHD and different signs or symptoms. These were things I noticed that stood out as red flags to me:

  • “Wild” or hyperactivity: I describe this to people as spinning around like a top, because that’s very much Cooper when he’s unmedicated. He will careen around the house, bumping into things, windmilling his arms, exaggerating his moments and voice
  • Yelling: when speaking, he is very loud even in situations where a quieter tone of voice is called for
  • Getting easily frustrated, and overreacting to his frustrations
  • Being overly emotional: meltdowns during times where they were not warranted
  • Impulsive: having a thought or desire and immediately acting upon it, even if he knew it was not right or he would get into trouble
  • When he was younger: biting, pushing, refusing to share
  • Extreme defiance or disobedience
  • Not retaining information
  • Not being able to remember things he just did or said: An example is when I would pick him up from Sunday School and ask what they talked about, he would not be able to tell me.
  • Not progressing or failing academically or developmentally

I’ve been so lucky to have found both a pediatrician and a psychologist who understand, work with, and are supportive of ADHD. I encourage to your seek those relationships out. If you feel your child has ADHD, please find a doctor that has knowledge of ADHD. If you ever go to a doctor that refuses to even discuss treatment options (including mediation – and medication IS NOT ALWAYS the answer) find a new doctor that will support you.

As always, friends, I am here for you if you are going through something similar. I remember all too well those early days of diagnosis and being desperate to get advice from another mom who had been there. I think there are three camps of people: the “let’s not talk about it” (as if it is shameful), the “boys are just wild naturally”, or those that understand that ADHD is a serious problem that can really negatively affect your life and future. I greatly encourage you to do research regarding the risks of untreated ADHD – left untreated, kids who have ADHD are likely to turn to self-harm or suicide in their future. Moms, let’s not let our children be those kids. Our kids are TREASURES – they are unique and special and they have amazing futures in store for them. I’m here for you as you walk the path towards that future.

How to Keep Your Car Clean When Your Kids Are Messy Animals

how to keep your car clean

Kids. Man, they mess things up, don’t they? Don’t get me wrong – I love my kids. They are my world. But before becoming a mom I vastly underestimated the amount of damage a toddler can do to a clean car with a snack cup of goldfish. Am I right? Well, keep reading friends – today I am sharing my tips for how to keep your car clean with kids.

Let’s get started, shall we?

Have a trash receptacle in your car.

Parents, let’s just accept our kids are messy. They are! They just are. Let me tell you what you could find in my van right now: empty Sonic cups, art from church, wrappers to fruit snacks, fruit snacks, the aforementioned goldfish, and probably many, many socks.

One thing I highly recommend is to have some sort of receptacle for trash already in the car. I’ve heard of people using plastic cereal bins and lining them with plastic shopping bags. I’ve heard of people using actual (empty) cereal boxes lined with plastic bags. As for me, I keep a diaper bag dispenser in my car. The bags are small and perfect for collecting the trash my kids seem to accumulate each day.

picture of a diaper bag dispenser
I like this because it is small and fits easily into a cup holder. I can use one bag and then I have more for the many more messes my kids will create in the coming days and weeks.

Every day, have your children spend time gathering any trash, cups, or clothing in your car.

Are my kids the only kids that take off their socks and shoes in the car? It never fails. I give my oldest a trash bag and instruct him to bag anything that needs to be thrown away. My other two children are responsible for taking in shoes, socks, books, backpacks – anything that has gathered in the car but really belongs inside.

Keeping clutter out of your car goes a long way towards the appearance of cleanliness and organization!

Line all cup holders will silicone cupcake liners.

I don’t know why, but dirt just seems to accumulate and gather and multiple in my cup holders. This leads to me spending way too much time scrubbing the cup holders with a toothbrush when I detail my car.

silicone cupcake liners

Who needs to spend time doing that? Not this girl. I line the cup holders with silicone muffin tins and then when I clean my car, I pull them out and run them through the dishwasher.

Keep a container a baby wipes in your car.

baby wipes

Not only can baby wipes clean up immediate messes and spills, but you can easily grab a wipe while sitting in traffic or in car line and wipe down your dash.

Remove odors with vinegar.

We’ve all been there. A rouge sippy cup, a diaper you forgot to throw away, a window you didn’t roll up before the rain can lead to some nasty, unpleasant smells. That’s easy to remedy! Just fill a small bowl with white vinegar and place it in your car overnight. The vinegar will absorb the smell.

Create a car cleaning kit and leave it in your trunk.

leather cleaner

My car cleaning kit contains the following items: a roll of paper towels, a package of baby wipes, grocery plastic bags, Windex, Armour All, and leather conditioner. If I’m out and about and want to go through the car wash, I’m ready to really deep clean my car.

Take the car seats out of your car quarterly.

Not only does crumbs, trash, and dirt collect behind and beneath the car seat, but you also need to clean your car seats periodically. I recommend you check your car seat manual for instructions on cleaning. I personally remove the seat, vacuum out any crumbs or dirt, wipe down the entire surface with a Clorox wipe, and spot treat any stains. If needed, I will remove the car seat cover and wash according to my car seat manufacturer’s instructions. I never wash the straps or submerge the straps in water because it can weaken the fibers.

Psst – have you read my post about How to Get Major Stains Out of Upholstery? I’ve used my “recipe” on car seats, car upholstery, and carpet!

Keep pertinent receipts in a small file folder in your car.

I like to keep all my car-related paperwork in my car. I have a file folder with the following tabs: registration, insurance, oil changes, tires, maintenance. I can easily look and see when I last changed my oil, or access my tire warranty if I get a nail in my tire or have a blow out.

Keep change in an old medication bottle.

I keep a couple of dollars worth of quarters in my car in an old medication bottle. This is useful when I need to fill the air in my tires or I’m headed into Aldi and forgot a quarter!

Create a car kit.

I really can’t stress the importance of this enough. I have a 31 tote bag that contains a first aid kit, jumper cables, a few bottles of water, some protein bars, a blanket, sunscreen, and a change of clothing for each of my children. I leave the bag in my trunk and replace the items in it as they expire.

Have a back up key for your car – or a trusty locksmith!

I’ve learned this the hard way multiple times. Jason has a key to my car, but he works over an hour away. The first time I locked myself out of the car, I had to sit in a church parking lot in the 100 degree weather and wait for him to come and rescue me. The second time, I found a locksmith to help me open my car and he quickly got me on my way. STL Locksmith can help you with all your needs: automotive, residential, commercial. Please check them out!

I hope you found this list of car cleaning and organization hacks helpful. What do you do to make cleaning your car (and keeping it clean) easier?

*This is a sponsored post. All opinions are my own.*

How to Get Major Stains Out of Upholstery

how to get major stains out of upholstery

My kids are major mess makers. It’s true; they just are. I spent approximately 1/3 of their lives thus far being mad about it and then I realized it’s kind of pointless to be upset. They are kids; kids make messes. They are not destructive by any means, but until they are older there will be accidents. There will be stains. There will be mess.

After I came to this realization, I decided that in order to deal I would need 3 things: an awesome vacuum, a carpet cleaner, and a great recipe for how to get major stains out of upholstery.

My vacuum is the Shark Navigator Deluxe Upright Vacuum. We have two, one for upstairs and one for downstairs. It does an excellent job for a fraction of the price of a Dyson.

this is a great vacuumShark Navigator Deluxe Upright Vacuum // $127.99 on Amazon

While we’re on the subject of Shark vacuums, let me mention that they have incredible customer service. One of the prongs popped off the plug of my vacuum this summer. I called customer service and they sent me a brand new vacuum!

The carpet cleaner that we own is the Hoover Carpet Cleaner Max Extract. We’ve owned this particular model for over 12 years. Our original version broke about three years ago, and I replaced it immediately because it is a life saver when you have kids and pets.

this is a great carpet cleanerHoover Carpet Cleaner Max Extract // $213.88 on Amazon

These two items are amazing, but my stain recipe? That is epic, friends. I’ve used it on almost anything – laundry stains, carpets, car upholstery, bathroom scum – it can clean anything. But I especially love it as a upholstery cleaner.

We have this really expensive upholstered chair in our living room. It’s one of the first “nice” or expensive pieces of furniture that Jason and I purchased as a couple. It’s a huge, comfortable chair with an ottoman and I love it. I love to watch TV in it. I love to read books in it. I love cozy movie night, nights in front of a fire… it’s my favorite place to sit and relax in the house.

Well, the problem is that my kids and dog love this chair, too. It was so stained and gross that I used to drape a blanket over it before people would come over. I actually had a carpet cleaning company come out and clean it, for the tidy sum of $100, and it didn’t help at all.

Until my magical stain buster. Stains be gone! Y’all, it is magic.

Enough, enough already! Right? You want me to get on with it.

how to get major stains out of upholstery

Sorry for the poor image quality – I snapped this for an Instastory and it is the only before picture that I have. This chair is in Poppy’s room and it takes a beating. There are water stains, formula stains, spit up, diaper rash cream… and probably other assorted stains I’d rather not think about. I haven’t given it a good cleaning since we got it almost 3 years ago. It was past due! So what did I do? I busted out my tried and true recipe for how to get major stains out of upholstery.

Here are the items you will need.

SUPER STAIN BUSTER/UPHOLSTERY CLEANER RECIPE:

  • Vinegar
  • Hot water
  • BLUE Dawn Dish Soap
  • Optional, for tougher stains: Borax, OxyClean, or Baking Soda
  • Clean sponge with a scrub side

how to get major stains out of upholstery

I like to use a bowl, but you could use a spray bottle.

These measurements are approxiamate. Use more or less depending on the area you are cleaning. The chair above took me two bowls.

Combine 3-4 tablespoons BLUE Dawn Dish Soap and 1/8 cup vinegar to 3 cups HOT water. Use the hottest water you can stand. I honestly eyeball this; I’ve used more and less Dawn and vinegar with good results. Stir to combine and immediately get to work while the water is still hot.

Dip your sponge into the water until it is soaking wet. Move it to your upholstery and begin to saturate your surface. DO NOT POUR THE MIXTURE DIRECTLY ON THE SURFACE. You don’t want to get the middle layer of your cushions wet; we are just thoroughly wetting the surface. I use the soft side to rub in the water so that the fabric is wet, and then I flip over to the scrub side and begin to vigorously work at any stains.

Cover the entire surface – this is key! Often upholstery can sometimes leave water marks, so you want to wet the entire cushion/chair etc so that it will dry evenly without stains.

Let it dry overnight.

how to get major stains out of upholstery

It looks so much better!

Tips:

Depending on the stain you are dealing with, you can add either Borax, OxyClean, or Baking Soda to the water mixture. Borax is a stain figher so I’ll add that if I know it is a tough stain. Baking Soda disinfects and that is helpful for smelly stains, such as urine. OxyClean can get out or lighten dark spots. DO NOT USE ALL THREE TOGETHER. (Thank you to my friend Lindsey for her suggestion on using Borox and Dawn as a paste for stains!)

If you have a truly stubborn stain, make a paste of Borax and Dawn and apply it to the stain. Let it sit for a while, wipe away, and then use the method of cleaning I described above.

The vinegar smell can be off putting to some. Jason is super sensitive to smells and he hates when I use this because of the vinegar smell. Your furniture will smell of vinegar as it is wet, but the smell disapates as it dries.

That’s it! Easy peasy. Let me know if you have any questions.

Links are affiliate links, meaning I may receive a small percentage if you make a purchase.

Mommy & Mini Fashion: Valentine’s Day Edition

I haven’t done a post on plus size fashion lately, so I thought it was time! Read on for Mommy & Mini Fashion: Valentine’s Day Edition!

plus size fashion

plus size fashion

Can we first address the elephant in the room? I feel ridiculous. I am not a model. Still, hoofing it around the undeveloped part of my subdivision turned out to be a lot of fun! Jason was my photographer and I think he did a great job!

Kimono: Torrid $55 USE THIS LINK for 25% OFF /Similar: Amazon $15

White Tank Top: Lane Bryant $30, BOGO 50% Currently / Similar: Target $8 MY FAVORITE TANK TOP!

Jeans: Target $25

Shoes: Amazon $33 I love these shoes SO much.

Necklace: Old, Forever 21 / Similar: Amazon $8

 

plus size fashion

 

plus size fashion

For my hair, I curled with a 1 inch Hot Tools Curling Iron. I used THIS hair wax for a little definition and THIS dry shampoo for volume. I finished with my favorite hairspray, Blo Pro.

plus size fashion

 

plus size fashion

 

plus size fashion

Poppy Grace is wearing Eleanor Rose (not an affiliate link). They do capsule releases, meaning they create dresses for a season or holiday and when they are gone, they are gone. I highly recommend you sign up for their emails and buy as soon as the collection is released. The dresses are not inexpensive ($35 range) but they are SO well made. I size up to get two years of wear, and the dresses can be worn as tops when they get too short (so I really get 3 years of wear with some pieces). The resell value of this brand is also great.

Please let me know if you have questions about any of the pictures of products above! I hope you enjoyed this post on plus size fashion!

Links are affiliate links, meaning I may receive a small commission from your purchase. Thank you for supporting Tickled Peach!

Should You Sell or Rent Your House When You Get Military Orders?

If you’ve followed me on Instagram for a while, you probably know these two things about me: I am a military spouse, and we own and rent our home from our last duty station. As a military wife who has been there, done that, I know all too well the stress of deciding if you should sell or rent your house when you get military orders. I thought I would talk a little bit about what that decision has looked like for us and what our recent experience with being a landlord has looked like. Should you sell or rent your house when you get military orders?

should you sell or rent your house when you get military orders

For those of you who are new here, Jason was Active Duty in the Navy for 10 years. He was a submariner, and these were our duty stations: Charleston, SC (2001-2003), Kings Bay, GA (2003-2004), Silverdale, WA (2004-2008), and Charleston, SC (2008-2011). He made the decision to separate from the Navy at the end of his enlistment in 2011, and we began our civilian life. Shortly after our move “home” to Georgia, he decided he missed serving his country and decided to enlist in the Navy Reserves. He has been a member of the Navy Reserves since 2011 and is currently a Chief Petty Officer.

We have owned 3 homes since we have been married: one in Kingsland, Georgia, one in Moncks Corner, South Carolina, and our current home in Augusta, Georgia. We initially rented our home in Kingsland but decided to put it on the market after a year. We were so lucky with that house! Shortly after we bought, the market boomed, and we sold quickly and made an excellent profit.

When we got orders back to South Carolina in 2008, we decided we wanted to buy. Base housing in Charleston is older and was at that time unrenovated. Because we didn’t have kids at the time, we would have qualified for a 2 bedroom despite the fact that he was higher ranking. Jason was teaching and really didn’t relish living with the students he taught, so we began to look off base. It made sense money wise to buy, so we leaped.

We closed on our house in January of 2008, and within months the market tanked. This was the height of the mortgage crisis, and our home value dropped almost $25,000 within 3 months of our purchase. By the time we needed to move, it hadn’t recovered, and selling would have meant we had to bring thousands of dollars to the table. Other friends we knew were taking a $10,000 check to closing, some were short selling, but we were hopeful that if we could just hold on to it that our value would improve over time.

We decided to sign a contract with a property management company since we would be living over 3 hours away. It made sense to have someone else be our eyes and ears. Our management company takes 10% of our monthly rent. They charged a one time fee when we signed, and they charge us for advertising when it is empty. We also pay a “bonus” when they place someone in our home.

THE GOOD

We’ve been very lucky to get renters promptly. We’ve had 3 renters over the course of 6 years. Our current renter has been living in the home for 3 years.

We’ve had good renters. They’ve all paid their rent promptly (knock on wood), and we’ve never had to deal (knock knock on wood) with excessive damages caused by a renter.

We have had an opportunity to pay down our mortgage.

Since we take a loss on the house (more on that later), we get tax breaks. I’m not sure what that will look like this year when we pay our taxes since the tax law has changed.

THE BAD

We take a monthly loss on the house. The amount we are currently able to charge for rent doesn’t fully cover our mortgage and the fee from the property management company. We are not making a profit. This is due in large part to the fact that our taxes more than doubled when we moved out of the home. My biggest advice would be to check on this before you make the decision to rent your home — our property tax went from 3% as residents to 6% when we moved out of the county.

We’ve had some high maintenance renters. I won’t really say more about that for privacy, but be prepared for phone calls about things that are serious and are not serious. Once I got called because my renter wanted maintenance to go out and change a light bulb. (I get charged $80 per service call, so that was fun.)

You need to have a pocket of money ready for repairs/lost rent/damages/etc. At any moment your renter could stop paying. Guess what? You can’t get them out immediately, and you have to pay the mortgage until they are out and you get someone new in. You have to pay the mortgage interim when someone moves out until someone moves in. When the house is empty, it’s still being sold, so you’ll also need to cover the electric and water. And then let’s talk about repairs…

REPAIRS

This is by far the most stressful part of being a landlord, but it is something you MUST prepare yourself for. Repairs will happen. They happen in the home you live in. They happened when you lived in the home you plan to rent out. It doesn’t mean your renter is tearing things up. It just means the house is aging.

Be prepared for repairs. Have some money set aside for emergencies. Make contacts with reputable HVAC companies, electricians, and plumbers. Your property management may have a company they use, but I’ve found many times it is easier and cheaper for me to make the arrangements on my own.

Our most expensive repair by far has been our HVAC unit. It kept going out this past summer, and almost monthly I had to pay for repairs. My husband and I finally decided to call in a second opinion, and when we did, we realized that in the long term it would be better to replace the unit. That was a tough repair to swallow, but it was necessary.

Our current dilemma is something relatively small, but we do need to address it. We have granite-looking laminate countertops in our kitchen (that was the style at the time). There is a place right above our dishwasher and on our island where the laminate keeps separating. We’ve reglued several times, but again, it may be wiser at this point to consider new countertops. I have a friend who recently replaced her countertop through Premier Surfaces, so I’ve been browsing their website for ideas and am thinking about reaching out for a quote. Premier Surfaces fabricates and installs custom countertops and surfaces. I like the fact that they have three decades of experience!

FINAL THOUGHTS

I really wanted this post to be truthful and transparent about the real advantages and disadvantages of being a landlord. It’s a whole new ballgame when you are a military member or spouse, trying to manage the rental of a home that is miles away. We can’t go to the house in person to check on our renters. We can’t personally handle repairs. It’s hard and it’s tough. I didn’t want to downplay that in any way.

However, it can sometimes be our only option. We don’t often get to choose when or where to move, and sometimes rental is the best financial choice. I would highly advise you to start by researching rentals in your market. What are homes your size, with your specs, renting for? Will the rental price you are able to charge (don’t forget your management fee!) cover your mortgage?

If it will, I would then start asking for recommendations for property management companies. Facebook is a great resource for this! Most bases have an active Facebook group, and that would be a great place to solicit advice.

Interview with a few management companies until you find one that feels like a good fit.

I also highly recommend marketing the property yourself. Your management company should put out ads and place it on the “market” but you can help by promoting it as well. AHRN is a good place to start.

I hope you found this a helpful resource as you start to make the decision about if you should sell or rent when you get military orders. If you have any questions, please let me know in the comments and I’m happy to answer!

This is a sponsored post. All opinions are my own.

Valentine’s Day Fun

Hello friends! I hope you had an amazing weekend. Since Valentine’s Day falls on a Wednesday this year, we decided to celebrate on Saturday. I’m sure I will do a little something for the kids and Jason on the actual day, but since we have school and church it just made more sense to celebrate on Saturday when we had more time together. Read on for more about our Valentine’s Day Fun!

First up, the table! Y’all who know me know that any holiday starts with a decorated table. This is something I love to do for my kids, and I try my best to do it for each holiday. There’s just something about fun themed decorations and balloons that make their faces light up as they enter the room.

More Examples: Boo to You Halloween Dinner * Back to School Table Decor

Valentine's Day table decor

We do presents for each child. I know some people don’t do presents and that’s completely OK! I set a $10-15 budget for each child and Jason and I have recently implemented a rule that they can’t have toys with a million tiny pieces (Legos are the exception). Poppy got a Princess Belle doll, Sullivan got a Mickey and Roadster Races race car track (that I found on clearance), and Cooper got a Pokemon Lego set.

Valentine's Day table decor

The table runner is old fabric from Hobby Lobby. I’m not honestly sure where the heart boxes are from; I’ve had them for years. The center heart is plastic and was from the Dollar Tree, as were the plates and napkins. Do you recognize the envelopes? They are old and from the Target Dollar Spot.

Valentine's Day

My kids love balloons. LOVE. I mean they honestly were more excited about the balloons than the presents. I got these from the Dollar Tree.

I picked up doughnuts the night before and we had a sweet treat breakfast and opened their presents.

Valentine's Day table decor

This is a little tradition I started a few years back. I have different colored hearts for each child, and Jason and I take turns writing reasons that we love them. Some years we get the kids in on the action and they write hearts for their siblings. I used heart doilies this year, and foam hearts for Poppy. All were from – you guessed it – the Dollar Tree.

Valentine's Day appreciation gifts

Next up are some Valentine’s Day goodies. The cookies are for my girlfriends – the package of Oreo Red Hot cookies says “Valentine, you are red hot!” The bottom cookie is Chips Ahoy Smores and the tag says “I need SMORE friends like you in my life.”

The gift on the left is a teacher gift. It was a hand towel from Wal-Mart ($1), a package of Lindt chocolate truffles, and I’ll be adding a $5 gift card before I give it to Cooper’s teacher on Wednesday.

Valentine's Day

Everyone needs some soft and sexy makeup for Valentine’s Day, right? On Tuesday, I’ll be sharing how to achieve this makeup look on Instagram. You can find me @andrearhouse. I will post the tutorial to my Instastories, and if you are viewing after the 24 hour period has elapsed, it will be saved to my highlights. Come check it out!

Update: Unfortunately I was not able to post a tutorial on Instastories on Tuesday, but it is coming soon! Make sure you are following me, and you can always check my Highlights for pas tutorials, product reviews, and swatches.

What are you planning for Valentine’s Day?

Five on Friday: Favorites

Today I’m linking up with Smidge of This and Carolina Charm for Five on Friday.

Y’all know I talked HERE about how I was on the search for a good drugstore liquid eyeliner that actually delivered? Well, I think I found one. I’ve used it about 10 times now and it doesn’t smudge or fade! I’ll be updating soon with a full review, but I wanted to let you know this is GOOD STUFF. The best part? It is only $3!

Essence Eyeliner Pen Waterproof: Amazon / Ulta / (It’s $4 on Amazon vs. $3 at Ulta)

 So I’ve been living under a rock. I admit it. While the rest of the world was been Netflixing and chilling, I’ve been Amazoning and Priming. I guess I just figured that Amazon Prime Video and Netflix were virtually the same thing? Well, THEY ARE NOT, says the naysayer herself. I finally started a free trial of Netflix and I won’t be quitting it anytime soon. With that said – I need your Netflix suggestions! What should I be watching? I asked this same question on Instagram last week and this show was recommended.

Can’t stop won’t stop. Jason and I are obsessed. I know it’s a teenager show (please don’t tell me actual teenagers are watching this; it’s so not appropriate) but I love the suspense and the plot! We finished the first season within a week and since Season 2 isn’t on Netflx or Hulu (boo Hulu – get CW shows!), I ended up purchasing the season on Amazon.

I stumbled upon an incredible Instagram account the other day and I wanted to share it with you. Hello Jesse Martin is a photographer and a mom, and she has some amazing photo editing tips on her Instagram page @hellojessiemartin.

I’ve always considered myself hopeless with photography, and I can’t begin to understand how to use Lightroom, Photoshop, and the like but her tutorials have helped me to break out my big girl camera and try my hand at editing.

I’m using two apps she recommended – VSCO and Lightroom. Both are free with in app purchases. I actually find VSCO easier to use, and I purchased a preset library for $8.99 that I can see totally meeting my needs for the foreseeable future.

This is a picture I took with my Canon Rebel EOS SL2 and edited in VSCO and Lighroom, using a tutorial I found in her Instagram highlights.

I obviously have more to learn, but I think this is pretty darn great for my first time ever editing a picture outside of Instagram filters.

So this is so random… but I really love Entenmann’s chocolate doughnuts. Is that weird? I can’t help it; I yam what I yam and all that. Recently Jason went to Walmart for me to pick up a few groceries, and he sent me this picture.

It’s part brownie, part cookie and TOTALLY DELICIOUS. The man loves me.

This crazy weather has my skin SO dry. Confession: I scratch at my legs during the night while I’m sleeping and don’t even realize I’m doing it. I wake up the next day with terrible scratches on my skin.

I absolutely have to apply lotion every single day when I get out of the shower, and these are my two favorite lotions.

 

 

This Eucerin Skim Calming Lotion is a heavy cream, but it sinks into your skin quickly, without leaving a heavy residue. It’s a little expensive in stores (around $10 a bottle) but I found it on Amazon HERE for $7. Tip: Target and Walmart also make a generic version of this lotion, so look for that to save a little money as well.

This is my favorite lotion ever. I know, I know, Johnson’s is supposedly bad. But my skin loves this lotion. It’s marketed as a creamy baby oil, but it applies like a lotion. It sinks in immediately and your skin feels soft and moisturized. I love the smell, too.

This is really hard to find in stores. My Walmart doesn’t carry it anymore, and it is hit or miss at Target. When I find it, I buy multiple bottles. It’s HERE on Amazon for $12.75 (pack of 2). If you can find it in stores, it is usually around $5 a tube.

That’s all I’ve got for today. What have your favorites been lately?

Links in this post are affiliate links; if you purchase using one of my links, I may receive a small commission. Thank you for supporting Tickled Peach.

Amazon Alexa Hacks

If you follow me on Instagram, you are probably familiar with my deep and abiding love for Alexa. We got our first Echo in December of 2016. I purchased it as a Christmas present for Jason and we put it in our kitchen, which is the main gathering place for our family downstairs.

Amazon Echo – Sandstone Fabric – $84.99

To be honest, I’ve always felt we didn’t use Alexa to her full potential. I occasionally ask her the weather, and I use her to play my Pandora stations when I’m cleaning the kitchen, but I just have never really understood all she could do. We don’t have smart devices in our home, so using her to turn off lights/change the thermostat/etc was out.

This Christmas my mom gave Jason an Echo Dot, which we are now using upstairs in our bathroom. I love it – it’s awesome to have as we are getting ready. I will say that Echo Dot is for sure the better value money wise, but in my opinion, the sound quality is less.

Amazon Echo Dot – $39.99

As I’ve said, lately I’ve felt like I wasn’t using Alexa to her full potential, so I’ve put together some great hacks for you if you are like me and feel like you don’t completely understand everything she can do.

MUSIC

First of all, did you know you can connect your Pandora stations to Alexa? Simply say “Alexa, play my Hillsong United Pandora station” and she will comply. She will also play I Heart Radio and Spotify!

If you’re a Prime member, you can stream over 2 million songs for free. Try saying “Alexa, play Michael Jackson music” or “Alexa, play pop hits from the 90s”.

I did start to find that when I would ask for specific songs or albums, they would sometimes be unavailable. I recently subscribed to Amazon Music Unlimited. I haven’t found an album or song they didn’t have available yet. To enable a free 30-day trial, say “Alexa, I’d like to try Amazon Music Unlimited.” Warning: it will give you a 30-day free trial, and it will cost you $3.99 monthly thereafter… for the one device you enabled it on. For additional devices (if you have more than one Echo in your home), you have to upgrade to a more expensive plan. Those options start at $7.99.

Ask Alexa for your favorite music playlists: hip hop, pop music, oldies, country hits, etc. While she’s playing songs, you can also interrupt and ask her “Alexa, who sings this song?” or “Alexa, what’s the title of this song?”

SHOPPING

One way I love to use Alexa is to ask her to add items to my shopping list. As I’m in my kitchen each day, I often find items that we are running low on or need to replace soon. I simply say “Alexa, add toilet paper to my shopping list.” Then when I’m making lists for the store or am menu planning, I can open up my Alexa app on my iPhone and add items to my grocery list. This has been a huge benefit for me because I’m notorious for forgetting those little items and having to make multiple trips to the store during the week.

Another thing I love is that you can re-order Amazon items. Let’s say you order your child’s diapers through Amazon – simply say “Alexa, reorder diapers” and she’ll place the order for you.

TO DO LIST

You know how sometimes you are doing one thing, and you get sidetracked by the realization that you have something else that really needs to be done? (Maybe that’s just me.) Tell Alexa to add tasks to your To Do List. You can then access the To Do List in the Alexa app on your phone, or simply ask Alexa to remind you of a task later.

PRODUCTIVITY

Here are a few ways Alexa can help you be more productive:

  • Alexa, set a timer
  • Alexa, what time is it?
  • Alexa, what’s the weather like today?
  • Alexa, what’s the forecast for this weekend?
  • Alexa, set an alarm
  • Alexa, read me a book (if you have an Audible account)

NEWS

Here’s where I’ll admit that I’m sometimes woefully ignorant of what is going on in the world. I no longer watch the news, and our television is seldom live. I check in with Alexa each morning for headlines by saying “Alexa, give me my flash briefing.” This will give you an overview of the major headlines of the day.

You can also ask for local traffic. “Alexa, what’s local traffic like” or “Alexa, how long will my commute be today?” are two helpful commands.

COOKING

Ask Alexa for recipes. I will often ask for conversions – “Alexa, how many tablespoons are in a cup?” or substitutions “Alexa, what can I substitute for buttermilk in a recipe”.

Did you also know you can ask Alexa to help you figure out what to cook for dinner? Say “Alexa, I have ground beef, onions, and potatoes; what can I cook for dinner?”

KIDS

My kids love Alexa, and we have fun figuring out things she can do.

  • Alexa, launch spelling bee
  • Alexa, tell me a knock knock joke
  • Alexa, open a bedtime story
  • Alexa, listen to Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood
  • Alexa, play lullabies
  • Alexa, let’s play Simon Says

Kids MD is an Alexa app created by the Boston Children’s Hospital, and as a parent, this is a nifty tool for medical questions. Ask “Alexa, what is the Tylenol dosage for a 2 year old” or “Alexa, what are the symptoms of the flu?”

FUN THINGS

  • Alexa, use the force!
  • Alexa, tell me a random fact.
  • Alexa, play 20 questions.
  • Alexa, play Animal Game.
  • Alexa, what does the fox say?

Obviously, this doesn’t even scratch the surface of all Alexa can do. What do you use Alexa for? Do you have any Alexa hacks to share?

This post contains affiliate links, which means I make a small percentage of any sale if you use my links to purchase. Thank you for your support of Tickled Peach!

Nursery to Big Girl Room Transition

My daughter, Poppy Grace, is 2.5 years old. She’s my last baby, a precious firecracker who brings excitement and laughter to our lives each day. I truly can’t fathom how in the world she’s already 2… didn’t I just have her? Wasn’t she just a newborn baby, snuggly and sweet? Did I not just paint her nursery and lovingly hang pictures and canvases on her wall?

I’ve been denying the passage of time, and as I’m sure you other mothers know, somehow time always catches up to you. I had this idea in my head that if I just kept her nursery intact that she would still be my baby. But she’s growing up and I’m slowly realizing that her room needs to grow up with her.

Her latest achievement is that she’s finally figured out that she doesn’t have to (physically) stay in her crib if she doesn’t want to stay in her crib. A couple of weeks ago, my husband laid her down for a nap so that I could take a hot bath (my favorite form of relaxation). I was lounging in the tub, reading a book, when I heard her chatting with her brothers in their room. I got out of the tub, dressed, and went into my boys’ room to find out what had happened, expecting that it was one of them who had helped her out of the crib. Nope! she informed me. She had gotten out on her own, and she was all too happy to show me how she had done it. Turns out my petite girl can now pull herself up, hike a leg over the railing, and then jump down.

Fun times.

Since then, she takes great joy in getting herself out of the crib whenever she objects to the atrocity of me trying to get her to go to sleep. That’s quite often. I’m thinking maybe it is time to start thinking about transitioning her to an actual bed.

I’ve begun making some initial plans about how to best transition her room from a nursery to a big girl room. I know that I don’t want to do anything drastic to her room. The accent wall and wall colors will stay the same, and I want to keep the same color palette. The furniture, except the crib, is in good condition and will remain.

This is the view of her room as you enter the door. I’m so very sad that the crib has to go. It has held all three of my babies and has been in use since 2010. I’m thinking I’m either going to have it made into some sort of furniture or keep it in the attic for any future grandchildren.

Right now my plan is to replace the crib with a twin bed, placing the bed where the crib is now. Her dollhouse will have to be moved either to the hallway outside her room or downstairs to the playroom. I’d like to keep the chair in the room for now because she does like to be rocked (and I’m not giving that up until she refuses to do it anymore).

I absolutely love her accent wall – it’s pink gingham, and yes, my husband and I painted that ourselves. It was a labor of love, let me tell you.

The curtains will remain as well. My mom made the curtains with fabric we found at a fabric store that has since gone out of business. We also made the cornice board ourselves and covered it with fabric.

I have a large gold monogram that hangs above her crib but it is in her closet at the moment.

I love her bedding. LOVE. The colors, the print… it is beautiful, soft, sweet, innocent…. all the things I wanted her room to be. I’m thinking I would like to perhaps track down the fabric and make a twin bed skirt. That can’t be that hard… right? My mom has been promising to teach me to sew for years, but she works full time and is busy so it has just never happened. A friend recently shared SewingMachine with me. They are a business based out of Atlanta, which is an easy day trip, that sells sewing machines, supplies, and even offers classes to teach you how to use what you buy! Let’s face it – I love my mom, but we’d probably kill each other if she had to teach me to use a machine, so maybe I’m better offer learning from a professional. Ha!

Here’s what I refer to as “Bow Corner.” I’d like to add some decorative hooks or shelving for headbands, purses, and assorted little girl accessories.

This is the wall that faces the crib. To the left is her closet. I’d like to get the frames up off the dresser and expand the gallery wall. What I really need help with is styling – any tips? What would you put on top of her dresser? I need it to be practical yet pretty.

Here’s the other corner of her room. The dollhouse will need to be moved, but as I said, I’d like to keep the chair. The bookcase baskets hold diapers (every day, nighttime, and swim diapers). I’m hoping by summer we can get rid of those. The top basket holds her sound machine (a must) and my breast pump (so random – why is that still there?!).

I’ve had that mirror since Jason and I first got married in 2003, and it has hung in all three of my babies’ nurseries. It will definitely stay.

I’d love to get some feedback from you! What changes would you make to the room? Do you have styling tips for me? Help a girl out and send me some sources for bedding that you think would go well in the room!

This is a sponsored post. All opinions are my own.