the sparkly life

Monday, July 16, 2018

Meet The Mom Version of Back-To-School Shopping

BJ's Wholesale Club

back to school shopping

We're smack in the middle of summer, but I can feel it: Back-to-school time is coming.

I know this because I was in a store the other day and ran right smack into a huge display of school supplies. School supplies! In July! I mean, is it just me, or does everything seem to come earlier and earlier each year? Stores start displaying the Halloween costumes in September and Christmas decorations the day after trick-or-treating, and now back-to-school is suddenly getting the early-bird treatment, too. 

It seems crazy, I know, but when I saw the display of pencils and notebooks, I realized that it might not be that nuts to start thinking about this stuff early. We're basically halfway through summer right now (sad face), which means school will be here before we know it. And shopping early means you get the best selection, but it also means that you (kind of, sort of) have your life in order, right? Being prepared with all your school stuff at the ready means fewer last-minute scrambles. It also gives almost a sense of calm and order to this little corner of your world. Basically, it allows you to have one area of your busy life where you can feel confidant saying, "I got this."

BJ's Wholesale Club

BJ's Wholesale Club

So as I threw a few notebooks and packs of pencils into my cart, I realized that it might not be such a bad idea to expand this sense of preparedness and do some "back to school" shopping for other areas of my life, a little stocking up of basic items that will set my family up for success (or at least set us up for a life of not constantly hearing "Mom! We're out of [fill in the blank]!"). Let's call it back-to-basics shopping.

This year, I'm vowing to be prepared by stocking up on the things we're seemingly always running out of. I don't need to be rushing to get ready for school drop-off and realizing I'm out of shower stuff, or trying to tend to a cut on my finger and discovering I only have Spider-Man Band-Aids. So for me, that meant stocking up on those daily essentials you never really think about until you're out of them.

BJ's Wholesale Club

BJ's Wholesale Club

And as I've told you guys before, BJ's Wholesale Club is the perfect place to do just that. They have a surprisingly large health and beauty section with all of your favorite brands in bulk, which means no more running out of the stuff you need. I scooped up a big ol' jar of NatureMade multivitamins, Olay Fresh Outlast Body Wash in three fun scents, and jumbo packages of Band-Aids and Neosporin, Secret deodorant, Crest toothpaste, and my favorite Oral-B Glide dental floss

Now my kids are set for school--and I'm set for life. (Ha--I wish! But I'm definitely set for Band-Aids and body wash, okay?) ;)

Thank you to BJ's for partnering with me on this post. Are you a BJ's member? If not, here's a cool deal: You can get a $25 gift card just for signing up! Click here for details.

Friday, July 13, 2018

14 Cool Things You Need to Click On Today

That's my daughter on her way to "Job Day" at camp. She had to dress up as an occupation--and it had to be something that she could wear all day while still being able to play and not get too hot--and let me tell you, deciding on this outfit was a battle. She didn't know what she wanted to be, and everything I suggested was apparently "stupid." There was lots of fighting, lots of crying, lots of arguing, but in the end, she decided to be a vet, and I'm pretty psyched with the homegrown costume that we cobbled together in literally four minutes as we rushed to the busstop. What do you think?

And what are you guys up to this weekend? We're heading to the lake where we have friends coming over. I also have Salvation Army coming on Monday, so I'm going to do a little last-minute decluttering and (hopefully) donate a bunch of stuff to charity. (And if you think all the decluttering I've been doing this summer means my house is super clean and organized,'d be incorrect!)

Whatever you're up to this weekend, I hope you make it a great one. Here's a few fun links to check out in the meantime!

• Did you see my post earlier this week with the deal for free Mrs. Meyer's products? You can get a hand soap, dish soap, and hand lotion, and a cute metal caddy for free! It's only live for the next few days, so definitely check it out. You can also skip my post and go straight to the deal here, if you want. I won't be offended. ;)

• I'm probably not doing a big, dedicated Nordstrom Anniversary Sale post (unless you want one--do you?), but here are a few things I have my eye on/recommend:

- Barefoot Dreams Circle Cardigan: I bought one of these last year. It's the softest thing you have ever felt, and it works equally well with jeans and booties to wear during the day, or cuddled with sweats for a cozy night on the couch.

- Moto Jacket: I bought a similar one in the sale last year, but I like this one way better. It has a hood! And it's just $64! (And yes it's faux leather, but the one I have by the same brand feels surprisingly real.)

- Lace Top: Such a pretty grown-up going-out top! I love it with gray, black, or regular jeans. Plus, it comes in four pretty colors (my favorites are the burgundy, forest green, and blush) and it's under $50!

- Sneakers: When I first saw these sleek, space-age-y sneakers, I thought they had to be by Alexander Wang or some other fancy designer. But then I saw they were under $50, and then I noticed the brand!! OMG--I did a double take!! Whatever. I think they are the coolest

Rebecca Minkoff Feed Bag: The size of this bag is just perfect. Not too big, not too small, and I love the crossbody style. And it's about $150, but made of real leath-uh. Love!

• I'm obsessed with these Tamara Mellon flat sandals! I just bought them in this tan, but I also love, love, love the black, and the gold is (omg) soooo good.

• New workout clothes always inspire me to exercise--at least for a little while! These colorblocked leggings are SO cute. Only question: Which color to get?!

• This artist crochets little decorative cacti. How cute are they?!

• This Modern Love essay about a dying husband's peculiar last request is by Judith Newman (a truly incredible writer who used to write for me when I was an editor at Allure), and it is one of the most beautiful, most amazing things I have ever read. It is a movie waiting to happen. (I'm sure there has to be a bidding war going on for the rights, right now!) You must read it. 

• In NYC, there are crazy people singing in the subway all the damn time. They're just not usually Lin Manuel Miranda.

• Have you seen this video for the DIY Water Dispenser? No offense to this blogger, but it has to be the dumbest, most pointless DIY I have ever seen. (And don't feel bad for her: The video has racked up 43 million views...!)

• There's going to be a Downton Abbey movie!!

• So excited for this Netflix movie. It looks funny, sad, and sooo good. 

• I'm also dying to see this movie in the theaters. (It's kind of in the same vein. Maybe I'm just feeling nostalgic for my school days??)

And in case you missed it, I...

• Wrote honestly about what it feels like to be fired. (It's been one of my most popular posts in years. I've been floored with the response!)

• Talked Fourth of July.

• Shared a limited-time deal for free stuff!

Have a great weekend!


Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Deal Alert! Here's How to Get FREE Mrs. Meyer's Cleaning Products

grove collaborative

You've probably heard me rave about Grove Collaborative before, right? I've been using and loving it for over a year now, ever since a friend turned me on to a deal they were offering at the time. So, I tried them just to get the deal--and I've since become a complete and total Grove fan. The prices are surprisingly low and it's so convenient. I buy all of my cleaning products there now! 

And now I have a deal for you...

If you're not familar with Grove, it's an online site that carries natural products for home and body, and the best part: They offer these high-end, normally pricy brands at very competitive, very affordable prices. They carry Mrs. Meyer's, Method, Burt's Bees, Caldrea, Seventh Generation, Acure Organics, Jason, and many more. 

The truth is, I hate cleaning. But fancy cleaning products that smell amazing just make the job way more bearable, right?

grove collaborative

Well, I love Grove so much that I have partnered with them periodically to bring you special deals, and I have a good one today, which they are only offering through Sunday July 15th. With your first order of $20 from Grove Collaborative, you will get the following (full-size!) items in your choice of scent for FREE:

• Mrs. Meyer's Hand Soap

• Mrs. Meyer's Dish Soap

• Mrs. Meyer's Hand Lotion

A cute metal caddy (pictured above!)

• Free Shipping & a 60-day VIP trial (VIPs get free shipping on every order, free gifts, exclusive sales, and more)

The products and caddy are normally a $30 value, so it's a great way to check out some really nice products that you otherwise might never have tried!

(*FYI, if you're already a Grove Collaborative customer, you aren't eligible for the deal, but if you use this link, you can get a free set of Grove's walnut scrubber sponges, which I use and really like.)

grove collaborative

You can cancel anytime, so honestly, it's worth at least placing one $20 order for some basics like paper towels, sunscreen, deodorant (they carry my favorite, Schmidt's!), etc--and then getting all the free stuff! Then you can decide later whether or not you want to continue ordering through them. (That's what I planned to do when I got my deal, but I've totally stayed on and I order all of my cleaning products through Grove now.)

Don't forget: This offer ends July 15th, so grab your free Mrs. Meyer's products and caddy now!

Note: This is not a sponsored post and I was not paid to feature these products, however I will receive a small affiliate commission from any purchases.

Monday, July 9, 2018

This Is What It Feels Like To Get Fired

alyssa hertzig

This post has been almost three years in the making. First, I was too shell-shocked to write it. Then, I was too embarrassed. Then, there was a period of time when I worried that if I gave details like this, I'd have trouble being hired in the magazine industry again. But now time has passed. I'm not embarrassed or even upset, at all. (90 percent of the beauty editors I was working with at the time have since lost their jobs, as well, so I'm hardly alone.) And the magazine business that was struggling then, is on its last legs now. There really isn't another magazine industry job to get anyway. It seems like as good a time as any to finally tell my story.

Two and a half years ago, I was fired from my job as the beauty director of a major magazine. 

Well, "laid off" is the technical term. And while that might not carry the same stigma as being fired for cause, at the end of the day, it's really the same thing. I came into my office one morning with a job, and I left it that afternoon without one.

That morning was typical. I was in the office, at my desk working. Looking back, I do remember my managing editor emailing me to ask for some contact for a big project I had been working on for the magazine. This struck me as a little odd, but not enough to sound alarm bells. (I had been working with a big cosmetics company on a co-branded collection of polishes between the brand and the magazine. I had been the sole negotiator on this and it was a big "win" for the magazine. In hindsight, I see that they wanted to make sure the deal didn't fall through since I was soon to be out the door.)

And a little background: Although there wasn't anything blatantly different about the day, magazine people were certainly nervous around this time. Many magazines in my company had already been laying off people over the past month or two. The longtime editor of the magazine I had worked at previously had just been let go. It was a tense time. And though I was nervous, I also felt comforted by the belief that, in my industry, beauty directors didn't tend to get fired. Our department was the one that brought in a huge portion of revenue through beauty advertising. They needed us, right? (Sigh.) 

I also didn't make a huge salary. I mean, it was certainly decent, but nothing like some of the other beauty directors. (I had taken a big pay cut when I had accepted this job, but it had been worth it to me because I only had to work three days a week. I had Mondays and Fridays completely off. For a mom with two little kids, it was a dream.) So all of this to say that I--like everyone else--was always a bit nervous about the state of the industry, but I wasn't that nervous. 

Eventually lunchtime rolled around. Now, usually, 95 percent of my lunches were spent as working lunches. I was either out at a lunch event learning about a new product, having a lunch meeting with a PR representative, or (most often) I was eating at my desk, editing a story and catching up on emails between bites of cafeteria salad. But on The Day, I was actually meeting friends for lunch at a restaurant a few blocks away. Four of my mom friends from Hoboken had come into the city to meet me for a fun pre-holiday-craziness lunch. I remember feeling a little stressed and guilty as I headed back to the office since I had been gone over an hour.

Soon after I got to my desk, my phone buzzed. It was my editor-in-chief's assistant. "Alyssa?" she said. "---- was wondering if you could come to her office for a minute." Now let me preface this by saying that this was a completely ordinary thing. My editor often had me pop in to discuss a story or a potential idea. As I always did, I grabbed my pen and a pad of paper and headed over.

The fancy offices at my company were constructed entirely of clear, floor-to-ceiling glass (imagine fishbowls), so as I walked up, I noticed there was someone else seated in one of the chairs across from my editor. She looked familar but I couldn't place her at first. "Who is that?" I wondered. "Was it someone from advertising?" As I pushed the glass door open to walk inside, it hit me: The woman was from HR.

And at that moment, I knew.

alyssa hertzig

I sunk into the empty seat opposite from my editor-in-chief feeling a bit out of my body. She immediately launched into a speech that had clearly been given the HR edit. This was a time when magazines needed to make difficult choices. This so hard for everyone involved. This had nothing to do with performance. Blah blah blah. She then got up and walked out of her office, leaving the HR woman to deal with the specifics.

She started talking logistics and dates--when I would receive my last paycheck, when COBRA would start, etc etc. (Side note: Why do they even bother? I was in a daze at that moment and remembered none of it later. Thank god it was all on paper.) When what sounded like the Charlie Brown teacher voice stopped, I asked if I was allowed to go back to my desk. She said "Of course!" I would be able to go to my desk to get whatever I needed to get and do whatever I needed to do. (I was/am grateful for this). I just needed to be gone by the end of the day. 

I walked to my corner of the office imagining all eyes were on me. (They weren't--no one knew anything at that point.) I fired off a text to my husband and two of my friends letting them know I'd been laid off, then I asked my team (an associate editor and an assistant--both amazing) to join me in the beauty closet. (This was our only private space on our "collaborative," cubicle-filled floor.) I told them the news--even though it hadn't yet sunk in to me. They were upset. I told them not to tell anyone until I was out of the office. I was desperate about this. I hadn't cried yet and I knew that I would if people started parading over to my desk to say goodbye. 

I went back to my computer and started emailing everything from my work account to my personal one. I forwarded emails and contacts and stories I'd written. There was just so much. This took hours. I then looked around at my desk. Beauty editors receive a literal constant flow of beauty products and gifts and bottles of wine and swag--it was all piled on, under, and all around my desk. I grabbed a carry-on suitcase that I had received at a recent Ulta event and started stuffing it. (Who knew beauty editor freebies come in handy when you're canned?! The sleek white suitcase was definitely way more chic than the stereotypical open-topped cardboard box.) I filled it with some of my more important office stuff (framed photos of my kids, my makeup bag, the tape recorder I used for interviews), then I asked my assistant to pack up the rest the next day and have it sent to me. Turns out, the remaining stuff filled seven huge boxes that arrived on my doorstep later that week. (Seven boxes that I couldn't face opening for over a year.) 

While I was packing, the executive editor of the magazine came over to talk to me (she was the one who had hired me in the first place and who I worked most closely with on a day-to-day basis). We snuck away to the beauty closet and had a heart-to-heart. Soon after that, my managing editor came by and we did the same thing. And this, surprisingly, was the first and only time I cried. I don't know what it was, but something about my managing editor--who I liked and respected but hadn't ever had a particularly close relationship with--being so kind and friendly to me, just really made it feel...over.

I also found out then that only two of us had been laid off. Our staff was so small that letting go of two higher-level people had been enough to satisfy the budget issues. And the other person was currently on leave, which meant I was the only one in the office being laid off that day. (This makes it worse, by the way. Years before I had been a part of a magazine closing. And though that was extremely sad, as well, there is a huge amount of camaraderie when it's literally every single person on staff leaving. But when it's just you, it's just you.) 

Around 5pm, I turned off my computer, grabbed my suitcase of shame, and left the office for the last time. I was supposed to head to a beauty event that night, but I skipped it. (It was actually the launch of hairstylist Jen Atkin's new-at-the-time haircare line Ouai.) I was so sad, because I considered Jen a friend (this was before her meteoric social media rise; she used to cut my hair in her hotel room!), but I couldn't face going and telling all of my beauty editor and PR friends the news. I also couldn't face going and pretending everything was still normal. So I went home, hugged my son and daughter, and went straight up to my bedroom. (If our nanny wondered why I was coming home a little early--and with a suitcase--she didn't say.) 

alyssa hertzig

I logged onto my work email (it was still active, and, inexplicably, would be for about another week) and emailed the magazine's staff to say goodbye. I then emailed every PR contact I had to tell them the news, let them know I'd be freelancing, and share my personal email address. 

And though everyone in the beauty industry knew within hours (it's a small world and we're a gossip-y bunch!), I didn't tell most of my non-work friends for weeks. And though I quietly edited the info from my social media and internet bios, I never explicitly shared the news on the blog here.

Because I was embarrassed. That's one of the emotions that comes with being fired. There are many. There is anger.  There is fear. There is sadness. And there is confusion. I had been a beauty editor for the past 12 years, but could I still call myself a "beauty editor" now? Was I a beauty editor if I was no longer editing beauty for a magazine? Is an accountant still an accountant if he is laid off from his accounting job? I didn't know.

The truth is, there were so many things about that job that I hadn't liked. It wasn't the perfect place for me. I was getting bored writing only about the very narrow topics that the magazine covered. I was frustrated that we didn't have the budget to shoot our own stories. I was annoyed by things a lot. But there were also so many things that I did like. I loved my part-time schedule. I loved my team. I loved the work we were able to produce with very little resources. And I loved the closeness I felt with the editors at other magazines who I saw several times a week at various events. In truth, I had thought many times about leaving my job, but that didn't soften the blow. No matter how you feel about a job, if you're going to leave it, you want to leave it on your terms. And when that choice is taken from you, it can be crushing.

It turns out, I started a trend. Two months later, the majority of editors at my former magazine (the one I worked at before the one I had been fired from--it's confusing, I know) were let go when the new editor in chief cleaned house. And over the next year, my beauty-editor friends at other magazines began to peel off, too. Some magazines closed, others were laid off for budget reasons. It was a trickle and then a flood. When I go to beauty events now (and I do still go), I sometimes barely know anyone. There are fewer and fewer magazines and smaller and smaller staffs. It is truly the end of an era. And as someone who dreamt of working for magazines since I was a teen, that feels very sad. 

But I'm doing okay! Great, actually! I've been lucky--and busy. Once news got out that I had been laid off, so many of my editor friends reached out with assignments, and for that I will be forever thankful. I also started writing for brands and doing some consulting (which I love). And I worked on the blog, of course. (Though not nearly as much as I wanted to. Both fortunately and not-so-fortunately, I was busy enough with assignments that I couldn't focus on the blog as much I would have liked.) 

And yes, I still consider myself a beauty editor! I still write about beauty. I still cover the market. I still edit sometimes, too. I'm a beauty editor. (And you laid-off accountants, you're still accountants, too, dammit!)

There are very few magazine jobs left, but even if one opened up, I would find it very hard to go back to that life. I like the freedom and the flexibility I have now. I work from home, which means I can go to a fancy beauty product launch in New York City--and then go straight to pick up my kids from school. I don't miss school plays or presentations, and I still get to work in this industry. And though I certainly wasn't happy that December day two and a half years ago, it now feels very much like the best of both worlds.

So I'll leave you with a little advice: If you get the dreaded call to HR: Stay calm. Don't say anything you could regret. Don't sign anything that day. (Go home and digest the paperwork first. If you want to argue about severance or anything, there will be time later.) Try to get back to your computer so you can email yourself everything. 

And consider keeping a rolling suitcase under your desk. It beats a cardboard box any day.

Have you ever been laid off? Or fired outright? I'd be so curious to hear your story! Thanks so much for listening to mine. 

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Happy Fourth of July!

Happy Fourth of July! What are you guys up to today? We celebrated early at our lakehouse this past weekend with friends, fireworks over the water, and sparklers. Today is round two, where I'm forcing my kids to wear red, white, and blue (obvs), and then we're taking them to their first Yankees game! It will be my first in years (I went through a phase about ten years ago when I was a huge fan though), so I'm excited, too. Will be sharing the day on my Stories of course, so please feel free to follow along! (And please also send good, thunderstorm-free weather thoughts!)

I'll also probably be doing a little shopping. (I can't resist the sales!) If you're up for that, too, here's a few discount codes for the sales I'm most excited about.

J.Crew: 30% off all full-price styles (plus 50% off select styles) with code ALLSTAR 

Ann Taylor: 40% off full-priced styles and an extra 60% off sale with code CELEBRATE

Madewell: 20% off with code SPARKLER

Old Navy: 20% off (no code needed)

Serena & Lily: 20% off with code 4TH

And before I go, here's a picture I just found of my kids from 4th of July...three years ago! Ahh! They were babies!!

Here's wishing you a day of bomb pops, hot dogs, fireworks, and fun!

Friday, June 29, 2018

18 Cool Things You Need to Click On Today

melania's jacket
Love this drawing by @melseysillustrations (She is selling prints of it, too!)

I've been pretty MIA for the last week or so. Besides the news--which has been relentless and pretty tough to take--I've been swamped with "mom stuff," namely shuttling my kids to various camps and dealing with that whole thing, which it turns out, is way more work and stress than it should be! (Speaking of the news, I fell in love with the drawing above when I stumbled on it on Instagram. I love everything about it, including that it kind of looks like it could be a portrait of my daughter and I! If you love it, too, you can purchase a print here.)

This weekend, we're having friends over to our lakehouse to celebrate the 4th a little bit early. Then we're doing some family stuff, and yes, a little more decluttering! (If you follow my Instagram Stories, you might know that we've been decluttering like crazy. And now we're getting a dumpster at our house for the second time this month!) 

Anyway, whatever you're up to this weekend, I hope you make it a great one. Here's a few fun things to check out in the meantime.

• I pretty much live in denim shorts during the summer. My latest purchase: this pair from Madewell. I love the visible buttons, the fit is great, and the length is perfect (not too long, not too short).

• Just finished The Arrangement and loved it! It was a quick, fun read that I couldn't put down. The premise is interesting (it's about a couple that decides to have an open marriage for a six-month period), the setting is smart and familar (a yuppie-ish New York community), and it's actually laugh-out-loud funny in parts. Kind of the perfect thing for a vacation or beach read.

• And before that, I tore through Something in The Water, which I picked up because it's the latest pick in Reese Witherspoon's book club, and that woman has a serious knack for finding great books. This one is one of those books that really grabs you and doesn't let go. It took me two days to read and I was late to many things during that time because I could not stop reading it. This is definitely going to become a movie at some point, too, I'm sure (it would be perfect as one!), so definitely worth reading now!

 And finally on the books thing: I just started reading Beartown. After hearing rave after rave about it being one of the best books people have read in their lifetime, I had to check it out.

• My other love: clothes! From the gold detailing to the sleek navy shape, this maxi dress is absolutely stunning.

• So in love with these gorgeous tablecloths! Love the patterns and all the beautiful colors. They also work as a beach blanket or coverlet, but I'm excited to use them for outdoor entertaining in my new backyard. (They're--finally--supposed to be done with the backyard reno today. Eek!)

• Speaking of tableware/outdoor entertaining, I'm obsessed with everything in the new Aerin Lauder for Williams Sonoma collection. I want it all (especially the ice buckets!), and I'm really considering buying a few pieces now, because most of the collection is currently on sale, and you can get free shipping with code JULY.

• This new Keurig makes legit lattes and cappuccinos from any K-cup. It even steams the milk and makes foam. I WANT IT SO BAD!

• Do you guys use top sheets on your bed? I haven't in years (they're the devil!), so I definitely appreciated this piece about how top sheets are becoming passe

• I wrote about my must-have summer beauty products for the BJ's Wholesale Club blog. Check it out!

• New skin cream does "something." (Lol!)

• I'm dying to try drone photography after seeing these amazing photos.

• News you can use: which wine pairs best with Chinese takeout.

• This video of Asian women taking off their (very elaborate) makeup blows my mind. (How are these the same people?!?)

• WOW. This is quite possibly the best campaign ad I have ever seen. (I can't stop watching it!)

• To bring attention to the heartbreaking policy of separating children from the parents at the border--and to remind us all that these are real people and real lives--my friend Monica met with a mother and child who had fled their home country to come to America. The now five-year-old little boy spent 700 (!) days in baby jail. Definitely worth reading their story.

And in case you missed it, I...

• Adopted kittens from Beth and Howard Stern. (Yes, that Howard Stern!)

• Got great deals on men's grooming products.

Have a great weekend!


Tuesday, June 19, 2018

We Adopted Kittens From Beth Stern! Here's How.

beth stern foster program
kitten adoption
beth stern foster program
beth stern foster program
kitten siblings
beth stern kitten adoption
If you follow me on Instagram you already know this, but if not...we adopted two kittens from Beth and Howard Stern! (Yes, the Howard Stern.) I mentioned it briefly when it first happened, but a lot of people have had questions, so I wanted to share the full story. (And, of course, show more cute pics!) 

I first heard about Beth Stern's adoption program last fall when my friend Joanna adopted two kittens from her. Immediately, I started following Beth on Instagram, and in about two seconds, I fell in love. Beth Stern is an angel, you guys. She (and Howard) are constantly fostering multiple cats in their home. She usually has lots of kittens (some with their birth moms, some who were abandoned), and then a handful of what she calls her "perfectly imperfect" cats who are often very old and/or sick or missing an eye or a limb. She fosters them until they are ready to adopt (all the while sharing their photos on her Instagram account), and then personally delivers them to a lucky family.

I knew I wanted in! See, we had recently lost our 14-year-old cat, Stella. (My husband and I got her before we were even engaged...and we've been married for almost 12 years!) We knew we wanted to adopt again, and though I'm usually open to adopting adult cats, I did want my kids to have the experience of having a kitten at least once. I applied to Beth's program. 

Here's how that worked: In mid-November, I sent an email to the address in her Instagram bio, expressing my interest and asking about next steps. And then I waited. And waited. And waited. I was pretty sure it was lost in the abyss, but then in mid-January, I finally heard back. I had a phone interview with a representative from North Shore Animal League, I submitted references, and then again...more waiting. (I knew they had contacted at least one of the references pretty much right away, so when I didn't hear back for a long time afterwards, I was convinced that we hadn't made the cut!)

So, we stalked Beth's Instagram while we waited, wondering if any of the cute kitties would be ours. Things started moving again in early March when North Shore called saying we had been approved!  They suggested two of the kittens we had been fawning over on Insta, and we were initially thrilled, only to be heartbroken moments later when the timing didn't work out. (We would be on vacation in Hawaii when they needed to be picked up, because Beth was heading to Florida to pick up four new kittens.) They told us we'd be first in line for those Florida kittens. 

So we were glued to Instagram for the next few weeks! Then, a week or so before Easter, we got the call. Ebbylu and Bobalu--brother and sister from the Florida litter--would be ours, and Beth would be delivering them on Easter Sunday. I tweaked the names to Bobby and Lulu, and we decided not to tell the kids and let it be a surprise.

That day, our au pair took the kids down to the playroom in the basement to distract them. Beth arrived with the kittens (they were sooooo little!), plus tons of toys, wet and dry food, a litter box, etc etc., and gave my husband and I each a big hug. "I feel like I know you guys!" she said. (Though North Shore handles interviews and paperwork, Beth approves all the adoptions herself.) Then we quietly signed the papers, oohed and ahhed over the kitties a little bit, and then called the kids upstairs. And they were so surprised! (You can watch the video below--their reactions are so cute!) We took some photos together, she kissed the cats goodbye, and then hugged us before she left for her next Easter kitten delivery.

People have asked if we have kept in touch, and we sort of do! She follows the kittens on Instagram (it's @bobbyandlulu, if you're so inclined), and for the first week or so after the adoption, she would DM us questions checking up on the kittens, making sure they are ok, etc. We're certainly not BFFs talking every second of the day, but she truly loves all of her fosters, and I know that we could ask her a question if we needed to.

Bobby and Lulu have been growing fast. (It's amazing how quickly kittens grow!) They alternate between being sweet and sleepy--and totally crazy and energetic. (And it's usually the crazy thing--they are so playful!) They are both lap kitties, which we love, and they are both so, so adorable.

The only "bad" thing is that I'm still addicted to her Instagram feed and I find myself falling in love all over again with multiple kittens, multiple times a day. Maybe a calico or a little orange one somewhere down the road? Bobby and Lulu could use some playmates. ;)

Oh! And people have asked if I have any "tips" on being chosen to adopt through her program. Here's what I have: You'll have a better shot if you're open to two kittens. I've heard Beth say that she much prefers to send them in pairs, and having now seen a brother and sister together, I have to say: It's pretty awesome. They love each other soo much and they constantly have a playmate. It's also not any extra work to have two. (Truly.) It's just a little more poop. :) I also know that she is very against declawing (as she should be!), and you have to be willing to sign something saying you will not declaw your cat.

Now, here's that cute kitten-surprise video!

For more information on kitten adoption, you can visit North Shore Animal League (or your local shelter!) and follow Beth on Instagram. (Have you ever had kittens? Aren't they just the best??)