Monday, August 19, 2019

End of Season Sales

I get asked all the time to share some of my shopping tricks. This is a big at the end of the season or off season. I get some of the best deals this way. Snow boots in July? Yes!!! My kids don't care if they are the prior season's stock. I score huge deals this way.

This dress is another example. I bought this at the end of the season last year at Target. I have actually bought quite a few things from Target this year with their new Wild Fable line, but before that I never shopped for myself at Target. I spotted a TON of this dress on the clearance racks. I grabbed one and tried it on and it was a perfect fit. Even the people in the fitting room and dressing room attendant all said this dress was made for me and I had to get it. I get compliments every time I wear it and the best part...I paid under $10 for it.

I am not much of a clearance shopper, but now I do head over and browse. You probably won't find me searching them unless I am looking for something specific. I tend to look for things that I can transition into the following season. Even though this is a summer dress the black color makes it something I would wear into the fall and even put a leather coat over.

This season star print has been huge too! I am glad I grabbed this when I did because it is on trend without breaking the bank.

Since I grabbed this last year I am going to link some other star print items that I love!

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Widow Wednesday--9 Years

9 years. I can't believe it has been 9 years. For me the anniversaries of his death don't hit me as hard as the day he was diagnosed. Maybe being Christmas Eve and a holiday or maybe because when he died I finally felt he was at peace and not suffering anymore. I have always had a harder time with the anniversary of his diagnosis.

This year it fell on a Saturday, so we attended a memorial mass and dinner afterward. Normally, the girls and I will do something to remember him that day. Something he enjoyed to do or liked. This year it felt rushed with the mass. We made him a new flower for his vase and Lily and I took it to him on the way to mass. Of course this causes us issues almost every time. Not sure why I picked the top? It fell as I was trying to put it up and broke causing marbles to go all over (I use them to weigh it down). Lily was laughing and probably so was Ray. We ended up taking the old one apart and putting the new flowers in it and managed to get it up. It doesn't look great, but it is the thought that counts right?

Every year they say it gets easier, but it doesn't. You just learn to live with it and the hurt/hole. If you are a widow and reading this then you know no one understands the hole that this loss has left. Yes, other people miss this person but it is different for you. They continue with their lives, but it is a hole that can never be filled in yours. Even if you remarry this person will never be the father of your children or the person to fill all those hopes and dreams that you once made. No one else understands how your daily life is different, not just holidays etc.

Every year I think...Do I post about it on my Facebook and other social media? or do I quietly honor him on our own? Then I receive messages before I even make a post and think that I am sure others want to have a space to honor him too and remember him.

Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Widow Wednesday--WTE support

I came across the WTE website while pregnant with Summer and besides getting the weekly emails I never looked at the site. Fast forward to being a stay-at-home mom with a baby at home I had time on my hands and stumbled across their forums. I lurked for quite a while until I realized I had just gone through what most of the questions were asking since I was pregnant again so soon and was able to answer quite a few. I slowly started posting and recognizing names. After our June 08 babies were born we started a Facebook page to continue our group and it turned into more than just "baby advice/talk". We found our way onto friend's lists and now names had faces attached.

I will never forget when the mail started to arrive from this group at the end of Ray's life. Multiple members of the group across the US and even other counties began to send cards and messages. These were from people I had never met. The outpouring of support was overwhelming, some included messages and others included gift cards for things for the kids and I. We received gift cards to grab dinner, have a coffee, or even go do an activity. It was such an incredible gift for us to receive.

I remember after Ray died I was asked by a mom that was more local to me if I would meet for lunch at the mall. I remember being so nervous. I had been friends online with this person for years, but had never met.

When we met I was given baskets full of "things" for the girls and I. I was so overwhelmed once again by the thoughtfulness and overwhelming support. Till this day I still have the spray from one of the baskets and every time I spray it it makes me think of this group and the kindness the girls and I were shown. They somehow pulled off this surprise by making an alternate group online and coordinating it all. I am not a person that likes to show my feelings, especially in front of people I don't know and I remember having a hard time remaining composed.

Till this day I remain connected with this group and really think they played a huge part in me getting through this time. They have remained a constant support in the years since and I am happy to call them all friends.

Monday, July 29, 2019

Summer wet hair styles!

Summer is usually filled with vacations, beach, and pool days and easy hair is a must for this busy mama. Just easy wash and go styles are helpful since mine takes so long to dry and style. The last thing I want to do after getting back from the beach and taking a shower is to have to dry my hair for an hour so I can go to dinner. I worked in collaboration with Jeni from Kimi K Salon and Spa in Rochester, MI to put together some easy, wet hair styles. 

Style #1

This style can be worn with or without a hat and if you wear a hat you can make it even easier and just do normal braids on each side since the top isn't seen. This is probably the easiest and quickest of the styles if you chose to do just normal braids. If you are a little more talented you can do french braids like mine are in the photo. 
Romper c/o Boohoo last year

Style #2

I just love this style! I feel it is so easy and looks perfect for even an easy wedding hairstyle. To achieve this look my hair was sectioned into 3 sections. The back section was braided and secured into a low bun. The sides were then twisted and wrapped around the bun and secured. That was all there was to it! 

Style #3

This style takes under 5 mins! What?! Start by making low ponytail. Make a hole in the middle of the ponytail and pull the rest of the hair through the hole. A little further down put in another hair elastic to make another ponytail and repeat the steps (make a hole and pull loose hair through the hole). Continue for length of the hair. We added a decorative hair tie to the bottom to give it a little extra.

Style #4

This one only sounds complicated and requires quite a few hair ties, but again can be completed fairly quickly. Start by pulling the top section into a hair tie and secure. The small pony that you made divide in half and pull each side under another section a few inches down and secure under that section as one piece with a hair tie. The pieces you separated will be one again in the hair tie. Continue with the remainder of hair. After the hair is all secured you can pull the pieces to separate them a little more. 

All these styles were completed very quickly and with wet hair! Thanks again to Jeni from Kimi K! 

Linked below are bathing suits and hair ties!

Wednesday, July 24, 2019

Widow Wednesday--Anniversary

This week should have been our 13th wedding anniversary. Have you ever heard someone say that they knew from day one that they were the one? That was us.

It is crazy for me to think how our paths crossed before. We went to the same large high school, but had completely different crowds of friends. I knew of him, but didn't know him.

For one of my birthdays when I was in my early 20's, my friend invited her boyfriend and his friend out with my group of friends to the bar. I had quite a few of my girlfriends going and my boyfriend at the time. The friend that came with her boyfriend...Ray. How strange to think that only a few years later that friend would be my husband.

It wasn't until one of my friend's wedding planning parties that we were introduced and both single. I gave him my number after talking to him for a while at the party.

As I was driving home from work an unknown number was calling my phone. I never answer my phone in the car, especially for an unknown number. For some strange reason I picked up that call, and the rest is history.

Memories like these always seem to come up and especially around important dates. Our lives intertwined so many times before we officially talked and became a couple, yet once we did talk I instantly knew he was the one.

I had never been more comfortable around a person in my whole life. We were complete opposites, but together seemed to bring out the best in each other. We seemed to balance each other out. We could talk for hours and about important details and life. We had the same goals in life and wanted all the same things. Rarely do you seem to find that. I never really say, "It wasn't fair" what happened but on days like our anniversary, I certainly do have those thoughts.

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Same brands better deals than the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale!

If you follow me on Instagram, then you probably already seen this post. These deals are so good though it was worth sharing to my blog readers that don't follow me on Instagram or missed the post.

When I was browsing the Nordstrom sale I noticed a lot of the included brands are brands that other retailers also carry. Out of curiosity I started flipping through some of their items to see what they were offering and was shocked at the prices and how similar/same some of the items are. Some retailers are also offering more of a variety of certain brands that Nordstrom has on sale.

If you are looking for a good deal or sizes that might be out already at the Nordstrom sale it is worth giving these retailers a look and seeing what they offer! Some of them are my go-to sites when I am shopping and offer great deals. 

Monday, July 15, 2019

1 day 50% sale!

Right now everyone is competing with the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale and Amazon Prime Days. Ads are coming out left and right for different retailers that are running deals!

One of my favorite retailers for back to school shopping is running a 50% sale online, today only. They already have a decent selection of fall clothes and transitional items in stock. I picked up a few items last week for the girls when they were running a sale and I had an additional discount code for my birthday. Since I heard this sale was coming I decided to wait to add the rest to cart.

I am linking the items below that either I had my eye on or the girls had added to cart. I usually let them go through a site before I place an order and add what they like and then I narrow it down from their picks. This is a great sale to grab a few pieces for 1st day of school and even school pictures day.

I love that this retailer usually carries pieces in all categories (ladies, mens, and kids) that all coordinate or match. They also usually carry items with the same fabric even within a category so I can match my girls without them actually being super matchy matchy.

The outfits that they have on are new releases that are a great transition into fall!

Thursday, July 11, 2019

Nordstrom Anniversary Sale! Honest Opinion and a few tips!

The Nordstrom Anniversary Sale is here and I am going to give my honest opinion on this sale. Part of being a blogger is being honest and true about products, stores, etc. So here goes!

What is the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale and What Makes it so Popular?

What makes this sale so popular is that it includes items that are for fall. The items are marked down for the sale and then the price increases after the sale. The items are usually a good representation of what is going to be in style for fall. It also includes a lot of basics and name brands that rarely go on sale. Part of what makes it so popular is all the hype from bloggers.

Who Can Shop and When?

The Nordstrom Anniversary Sale opens to Icon and Ambassador members starting today 12:30 pm ET. Your status is based on your yearly spending at Nordstrom and cardmembers get advanced access to the sale. To find out your status log into your Nordstrom credit account and it will tell you. All card members gain access on the 12th at 12:30 pm ET and public can shop on the 19th. The sales lasts till August 5th when prices go up. You can apply now for a card to gain access. A lot of items DO SELL OUT during presale, but are often restocked during the sale. A TIP- if you see something you want and your size isn't available you can always exchange it later (even after the sale) if your size does come in.

My Opinion

So I used to be a HUGE lover of this sale. I would get the catalog in the mail and circle all the items I wanted to look at once the sale actually started. I would have TONS of items circled from stuff for myself to things for the girls. The last few years I have been underwhelmed with the selection offered. I haven't seen much that I can't find someplace else on a deal. Another TIP- most other retailers will also price match this sale. If you find something you like try another retailer they may be offering a similar selection at the same price. Nordstrom also does this throughout the year when it's competitors have a sale.

The catalog has been extremely small the last few years and I haven't found much to be excited about in it. I have seen bloggers that pre-shopped the sale and leave with bags full. A lot of the items I didn't see in the catalog so maybe the selection will be better once it is online and live. The kid's selection in the catalog was a one page spread this year. This is a time when I usually stock up on the items that don't go on sale for them ex: North Face fleeces, Ugg boots, Nike shoes for school I didn't really see much even promoted.

I also usually stock up on items for myself like Zella leggings, Hunter boots, Uggs, cardigans, etc. You can only own so many of these items though. I plan to look and see what is offered but like the popular leopard cardigan I see all the bloggers snatching up right now, I found it at Nordstrom Rack last year. Speaking of Nordstrom Rack another TIP I found a lot of what didn't sell from the Anniversary Sale last year at the Rack shortly after the sale! If you have one close you definitely should check it out.

A Question from Instagram

I have had people message me wondering how I get "credit" if they buy something. I do get a small commission on items purchased through my links. If you link through me on the tab I inserted above that takes you to the sale and anything you purchase from that visit I get "credit" for. You don't have to purchase anything I even actually linked, it just has to be a purchase from that retailer and I have to be the last person you linked from. I also receive "credit" if you shop through my links. I am incredibly grateful for those of you that do and have linked through me. This not only lets the company know that you value what I post but also me. It also lets me know what stores you enjoy and items.

So this is my general opinion and few tips for the sale! I will be putting together some of my picks once the sale does open. I might do a sneak peek on stories if I do make it do the store soon as well!

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Widow Wednesday--Workplace support during illness

Ray loved his job. He loved kids and the ones that were difficult were the ones he loved the most. Why? Maybe because they reminded him of himself when he was in school or maybe he just liked the challenge. He would get up early and go into school for breakfast every morning to socialize and help out. He would spend hours downloading songs from playlists the kids had made so he could DJ the school dances. If he knew a kid would struggling at home he would do what he could to help make things a little brighter.

His co-workers were a huge part of his life. They weren't just friends and co-workers but truly family to him. I can tell he was seen in the same light by his co-workers and students when he became sick. The outpouring of support was incredible.

At the time Detroit Public Schools would allow co-workers to donate hours to other staff that needed the time off. They would continue receiving pay during their illness, but their insurance would be cut. Ray made this his mission to keep the insurance active arguing that insurance when someone is ill is more important than even pay. Doctors, hospitalizations, and treatments are all extremely expensive and insurance was needed. After a lot of back and forth they did side with him and implemented as long as they had hours they would continue receiving their insurance. He received more hours than he even ended up needing to use. This was a huge display of kindness from his co-workers.

Letters, phone calls, and visits were all very important to him. The union rep from his school also sent him a card/letter updating him continuously. They weren't get well cards but rather funny cards. They were updates in life and what was going on with the rest of the staff. He looked forward to receiving these. She even continued to send them when she was out of the country over summer vacation.

While he was sick the community he was in had a support walk in his honor. I was overwhelmed by not only the money that was raised but by the participation in the walk. The local community all came together and the students made signs showing support and walked holding them. He received photos of all the kids and the signs. I still look at them today and think about how the kids that he loved so much all came together to show him the same support.

I still remember the students that came to his funeral. Parents telling us how they drove from Detroit to make it because their child didn't want to miss it. All the messages on facebook from students that found my account and wanted me to know how he impacted their lives. I still will on occasion receive them...9 years later.

After he died the school planted a tree in his honor and put up a plaque. They had a ceremony that they invited us to when they planted it. A year or two after he died we went to tie a purple ribbon to his tree for stomach cancer awareness month and when we arrived the tree was being watered. It meant a lot to all of us that even a while later the tree was being taken care of and hopefully would be part of that school a very long time.

His school holds a cultural event every year and we were invited to it the first year after he died. They had a wall decorated in his honor. This event was always something he looked forward to every year. Halls were decorated and they had an ethnic luncheon. It meant a lot to our family to be a part of the event.

I know that he will never be forgotten by the people that he touched in his short time here and the impact he made on his students is something that will live on in them.

Monday, July 8, 2019

Last year of my 30's

The last year of my 30's...if you had told me I would be in the position I am in 10 years ago I would never have believed it. I remember my dad telling me 30's was his favorite age because he had his kids and was in a good position at work with a stable income/future. I remember at 29 thinking my 30's would be the same. Instead my 30's were filled with learning how to do everything myself and finding the person I want to be. It has been filled with anxiety about just what the future will hold. I have learned so much about myself in the last 10 years. I am definitely stronger than I thought and able to do more than I ever imagined I could.

I thought it would be fun to tell a few things about myself in honor of my birthday and to get to know me better.

1. I am an introvert. I hate more than anything going to parties and being in large groups of people. I think sometimes I can come off as rude, but am just super shy. I hate being the center of attention and even had a small, intimate wedding ceremony because I didn't want everyone looking at me. Making small talk is extremely difficult for me especially if you aren't someone I know well.

2. I am the oldest of 3 children. I am a typical oldest child. I follow rules and my parents were toughest on me. My sister is 8 years younger than me and definitely grew up differently than I did.

3. I only applied to one college because I wanted to go to school where my dad. My dad had season Michigan football tickets my entire life and started taking me when I was around 8 and that was the only place I ever wanted to go to school.

4. I went to school for psychology, but took a ton of classes in communications, so I decided to double major. I was only a few classes away from also earning a marketing degree. I loved school and would have just continued being a student if I could have. I went on to pursue a master's degree in school and community counseling (I was doing both tracks) but didn't complete my practicum or internship to graduate. I had two babies at home and decided I wasn't going to return to work so I should just put it on hold.

5. Every job I have ever had was offered to me.

6. I drink Starbucks every day. I could eat McDonald's every day if my kids would let me. I prefer fast food and normal American food over any other kind of food. I am a huge donut/cake lover.

7. My Grandma was my favorite person and I always felt closest to her growing up. I loved spending time with her. She was the most patient, grateful person I have ever met. She was kind to everyone and just died a few years ago at 99.

8. I have a huge family. My dad was one of 11 kids so I have a ton of cousins. Everyone has always been super close but I always wonder if this is where my hate of large groups comes from haha.

9. I always wanted to go into fashion and that was my passion but I didn't want to move away. I thought if I pursued fashion I would have to move to NYC or California.

10. I love traveling and for most of my birthdays I have been on some sort of vacation. I have memories of vacations all over.

As I close out my last year of my 30's I am grateful for my family and friends and all the support they have shown me. I know I have gotten through these tough last 10 years because of them.

My outfit is sold out but linked a shirt I own in the same color, shoes, and bracelet below.

Wednesday, July 3, 2019

Widow Wednesday--July

July, should be the month of fun in the sun. Summer vacation is finally here and time to have some fun, yet this is one of the hardest months for me without Ray. I seem to be super emotional during this month. Maybe because when he was here, this was our time with him. Even though he was still working we would get to see him more. Technically, this was his summer vacation from work too.

I think the family vacations and daily outings are just another reminder of things he is missing out on. Things he will never get to do with his girls. They never got to have a real summer with him that they will remember. I see families at the park playing or taking walks through the subdivision. All reminders of things he misses out on.

I remember his last 4th of July he was wrapped in a heated blanket in fleece pants to sit outside and watch the fireworks. He always loved fireworks and really wanted to watch them. He was all skin and bones and so sick but wanted to be on the back patio.

For some reason my birthday seems to be a hard day. I remember my first birthday without him was my 31st and since on my 30th he was very sick I didn't really do much. For my 31st birthday a group of my sweet friends had a surprise party for me and my parents surprised me with a trip to Miami to see one of my best friends. I remember blowing out my candles on my 31st birthday and everyone saying make a wish and thinking my one wish can't come true. I was spending my birthday without him. Every year is just another reminder of a year past without him her and everything that he missed during that year.

July is also our anniversary. It is so weird to think I have been without him more years than with him.

Maybe because July was the last month I had with him that makes it hard I don't know. I am just so grateful that I can make memories with the girls and don't take one minute of it for granted.

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

4th of July Style Inspo!

I can't believe 4th of July is already around the corner! The first few years of my life the 4th of July meant a huge party at my house that was a shared birthday party for my aunt and I.  Now I almost feel like the 4th of July is the start of the end of summer. Soon school supplies will be back on shelves and fall clothes will be hitting the racks. Nordstrom sale will be on every blogger's mind. Summer seems to fly after the 4th!

I bought this cute dress a while ago with the plans to shoot it as the weather warmed up and link, but of course by the time the weather has warmed up it is now sold out. I have scoured the internet for other cute USA pieces, some of which I own and others that I just think are really cute.

I have a similar pair of red flat sandals from last year that I loved to pair with my USA sweatshirt and to add a pop of color to other outfits. This year Target came out with a wedge pair and I had to have them. I will almost always buy a wedge over a flat because I am so short and last year it wasn't an option.

I am going to link below a bunch of cute 4th of July options and the pieces that I am wearing that are still in stock!

Friday, June 21, 2019 Day coming sunday!

What is (LTK) Day?

The app LTK has partnered with a group of retailers to do exclusive discounts this Sunday, June 23 through the app. The participating brands include:

Abercrombie and Fitch
Colleen Rothschild
Kendra Scott
Outdoor Voices
Serena & Lily
The Styled Collection
Urban Outfitters
Victoria Emerson

What is

LTK is a shopping app. I have been using it even before I was an influencer on it. It is like a Pinterest for shopping for lack of a better way of describing it. It has a feed that updates that can be browsed multiple ways. You can browse the feed of the influencers that you follow, you can browse all influencers, you can browse by putting in search terms like maxi dress, or by using the categories on the top such as family, under 50, etc. Unlike Pinterest though, all the items are linked and shoppable. You just click the product and it takes you directly to the store to buy it! I also use the app for fashion inspiration to browse styles and save them to recreate later.

It is easy to shop the sale! All you have to do is:

1. Download the app
2. Shop!
3. When you click on a product that is part of the sale a popup will appear with the LTK day code for the discount, just copy the code, and paste when you make your purchase!

Starting yesterday, I have been posting in my Instagram stories (youngwidowedstylishmama) looks from the sale. I have been linking everything in my LTK profile on the app (youngwidowedstylishmama). You can get a head start by "hearting" looks that you love from stores that are offering the promotion to go back and shop when the sale starts on Sunday.

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Widow Wednesday--Blog update/ End of the school year!

I know my blog has been quiet, not for lack of things to post about, but because of the weather and how busy life has been. I haven't been able to keep up with shooting outfit posts because the weather here in Michigan has not cooperated at all. It is the middle of June and still pretty rainy and cool. I had some indoor ideas, but no one to shoot them if I am in them. Now that the kids are home my mini photographer can get back to shooting some looks for me. We already did one this week so look for a post soon! 

Plain busyness has also kept me from being able to post. The end of the school year is always so busy with dance recitals, end of year field trips, school activities, and photo shoots. It seems like time just flies after Easter. We also went on a cruise at the end of May which seemed to only make things go by faster. I am thinking of doing a post on cruises too. What to bring, helpful tips, etc. 

So that is a little blog update and why it has been so quiet, but I also wanted to touch on the end of the school year and this one in particular. This one ended a chapter for us here in the Chaptini household, we are out of elementary school. I am so sad about this. They say time flies and it really does. I can't believe both of the girls are done with the longest span they will have at a school and it went that fast. That just means the rest of schooling will probably go by just as fast. This also means we are that much closer to them being 18 and tested for the gene, which is something that makes me so anxious. I know I have talked about this before but while most kids are thinking about what they want to do in the future after high school I can't help but think about this being the beginning of what might be a long journey for them having to make a lot of other choices. College may not be a priority for either of them, but instead their health. Even though this is quite a ways away I just know how quickly it goes and it will be here before I know it. 

School endings used to be very exciting for us because Daddy would be home with us. My husband was a teacher, for those that don't know, and although he worked during the summer his other job and even summer school we would still see him more. 

School endings and ceremonies at school are just another time that I feel sad and think about how much their Dad is missing out on. I know he is always there, like on Lily's graduation morning my memory that popped up was a picture of us on her 2nd birthday (his last one alive) and some songs played that day that always make me feel like he had something to do with them coming on. In fact, the last little bit before school ended I heard a lot of songs on the radio that reminded me of him. I know I am lucky that the girls have a lot of support from other family that were at the graduation but it still made me sad to have to stand alone when they asked for parents to stand that were leaving the school that year. I know he would have been so proud to be there. 

Now that summer is officially here I hope to have the time to get back to my blog, because this is something i have truly missed doing!

Friday, May 3, 2019

Mother's Day Gift Guide & What I really want

I thought I would put together a Mother's Day gift guide, but thought what do I love most and really want for Mother's Day? My honest answer is healthy, happy kids and homemade gifts from the heart. Those are what I really want. I love when my kids come home so excited to give me something that they made. Even the little notes I find around the house throughout the year make me know I am doing something right. For those that want to treat themselves or someone wants to treat them I put together a little gift guide. I included items for dog/cat moms and even step/bonus moms.

Most of the things I seemed to be drawn to were pampering items or things to relax. One of my favorite items I own is the steamer I linked. This little thing came in handy when I was between espresso machines. I would use my Keurig to brew espresso coffee and steam my milk in the steamer and make my own mochas at home. The girls like to use it to steam lemonade to make medicine balls. It is so easy to use and quick.

I love to read, so any book is always appreciated. I have been hooked on Elin Hilderbrand books lately. Every one I have read I don't want it to end because I feel like I am so attached to the characters.

A good "mom" graphic tee is always fun to wear. I found dog mom, bonus mom, and even some funny saying shirts to link. These are easy to throw on and when you just look like a mess and want everyone to know it is due to #momlife!

The camera is a HUGE splurge item, but that is what I really need! A fun, cheaper option is this camera we have one and love to bring it on trips and put together a little memory book with the photos.

A few of the stores that always have cute little gifts items like the name plate I linked, mugs, frames, candles, and jewelry are Charming CharliesFrancesca'sUrban Oufitters, and Anthropologie.

Of course, gift cards for Starbucks, mani/pedis, or other activities are always an easy gift. Thinking outside the box, like a gift card to do a cooking class at Sur La Table or maybe making a craft at a local retailer is something different and unexpected. A subscription box is also another unique idea. They have so many options of different boxes now you are sure to find something suitable. 

Whether the gift be big or small, store bought or from the heart I hope everyone has a nice Mother's Day and is appreciated in some way. Even if you have to spoil yourself!

Friday, April 26, 2019

We are going on a cruise!

For Easter, the girls were surprised with a scavenger hunt from their grandparents and in the end they received a message that they are going on a cruise! Last year when we went, we all wore coordinating outfits the day we got on the boat. It was so fun to all be dressed alike, but not the same or in matching t-shirts. We were stopped by multiple people complimenting our attire.

Of course, as soon as we booked the trip months ago my mom was asking if we were getting the outfits again. We purchased the outfits from Old Navy last year and I have been waiting for them to put out their new summer arrivals to get the matching outfits. They finally started to put out the pieces. As of now, these are the pieces that coordinate or match! The little girl's shirt on the bottom center was just added today, so more pieces may be arriving.

I purchased the dress on the top and plan to wear it with some wedge sandals and maybe a belt at the waist. Summer chose the bottom middle shirt to wear with jean shorts. She is my comfortable girl and of Lily, my dress girl, picked the dress.

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Widow Wedneday--Friends Visiting while sick

While Ray was sick he had "good" days and "bad" days. The days we would say he was doing "good" didn't mean he was getting better. It just meant he finally had some strength and might have actually wanted to see someone.

He was very particular about who came over and when they came over. I am not sure if he didn't want them to see him sick or what it was. It was never something I questioned. I always tried to just do what he would ask.

People would ask all the time to visit and he would only allow certain people and at certain times. He had asked for a few people specifically. A few of his very best friends, a friend that would come and pray with him, work colleagues.

Ray didn't have Facebook so I was getting requests from a ton of people...friends of his, students of his, co-workers, etc. My private Facebook went on to accept a lot of people I did not know. Most looking for updates to his condition. Over the years I have received quite a few messages from people that he touched in some way. This has always meant so much to me. Facebook was my way to communicate what was going on without having to talk to a bunch of people or retell the story over and over.

The cards and other gifts sent while he was sick were very much appreciated. The offers of help. It is hard to know what to ask for but the pot of chicken noodle soup didn't go to waste or the card offering prayers was just as much appreciated. No gesture was ever too small or went to waste.

I have had over the years friends message me to ask what to do for someone that is sick or what to send and honestly, every person is different. Ray was always freezing and his heated blanket and fleece pants were his most used items. He relied on Slurpees to get him through his days. For a long time I couldn't have flowers in my house because they reminded me of him being sick because we always had flowers in the house while he was sick.

I think the thing that was most helpful was just letting him know you were there and praying for him. Reaching out with a text or a card. Allowing him to decide if he wanted to make contact, if he was up to it. I think more than anything he wanted to be treated normal and not sick. He liked when someone would come and watch a baseball game. He looked forward to the cards he received from his one co-worker that would come regularly (even when she was in Mexico for the summer she still sent them) that were funny cards and had updates to everything going on. I know he hated more than anything being sick and becoming weaker and less and less like himself. The sicker he became the less he wanted company.

Friday, April 19, 2019

Spring/Summer shirt recommendations!

Today's post I am going to highlight some of my favorite tops for Spring/Summer! If you know me you know I like to shop all different price points and styles, although I do have some go-to stores that I browse pretty much browse daily to see what is new.

My favorite stores to browse are SheinASOSBoohooNastygalVici CollectionRed Dress BoutiquePink Lily Boutique, and Zara because they usually have new inventory daily! They have the trendiest items and I can always find something unique. 

I also have stores that I tend to rely on for tried and true favorites. Some of these include ExpressJ. Crew & J. Crew FactoryNordstromNordstrom Rack, American Eagle , Abercrombie and Old Navy (and their affiliated brands). I, of course, shop at other stores too based on what I am looking for but these are some of my favorites. 

Some of the top trends for spring are eyelet, animal print, floral, stripes, button front tops, and tie dye. Kimonos are also making a statement this season and I think they look great paired with jeans or shorts and a basic, like the Express cami, underneath. 

For some classic pieces I look to Lilly Pulitzer. They are an easy go-to and can be dressed up or down. They scream summer with the bright colors and can be paired easily with white denim, etc. The pullovers make a great layering piece with jeans or shorts especially if you are on vacation. They are classic and never go out of style. 

I also love a great graphic t-shirt or sweatshirt. There are so many options out there right now you can almost find them to say anything. The boutiques I linked above have a ton of great options. 

I like to have on hand a light white sweater like I linked because they can easy be thrown on if you go into a cool building or on a breezy night and go with pretty much everything. 

A chambray top is also something I always own. I like to wear it paired with patterned shorts. The one I linked has a pretty ruffle which can dress up the outfit a bit. 

Button front tops can be found on pretty much every site right now too. I purchased a button front sweater tank from American Eagle, but it appears to be sold out now online. I wish it was still online because it has just the right amount of stretch and is so flattering on. 

For the past few years I wear bodysuits a lot! I love that they stay in place and tucked in. I don't find them uncomfortable and think they give a nice clean silhouette. They can be found on pretty much any site at multiple different price points. 

The last thing I included with tops are lace bralettes because I love to wear these under low cut tops or dresses, etc. I don't like the thought of my bra showing so I either wear these or a bralette.

Hopefully my little round up is helpful and if you are looking for more ideas let me know! I am always happy to do some digging and find what you are looking for!

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Widow Wednesday--Doing a good job?

I constantly ask myself, "Are the girls happy? Am I doing a good job?" This to me, is the most important thing in my life. When Ray was sick I told myself I want them to live the life they would live as if he were still here. Obviously, him not being here, they are already living a completely different life. I just don't want them missing out on things or not having what I think is a "normal" life.

I question myself if I am doing a good job. Are they happy? Do they each get enough attention and what they need from me? This is why I try to spend individual time with them. They are such completely different kids with such different interests. Summer much rather be at home and Lily loves to be out and about. Summer doesn't like to hug or kiss or sit by me. She doesn't show her emotions or feelings as much, but I can tell she is a kid that feels so much.

This morning I woke up to a note on my computer, a four page note to be exact from Summer. Telling me everything I needed to hear to know that she understands my position and that she is doing exactly how I hope. Little reminders like these remind me of the job I am doing and that I have two great kids. In some ways I think they are mature being their years, especially Summer. This child has always seemed so much older than she is. From very young so much responsibility was placed on her and at times I look back and feel guilty. She is very wise and such an old soul. Nothing gets past her. She calls those her detective skills.

I constantly thank God for giving me two girls (which is all I ever wanted) that are such good, well behaved kids.

Friday, April 12, 2019

Easter pastels

I had a shoot the other night and about an hour before I needed to leave I thought...we should shoot something quick before they get to the location! It was actually nice out and I had been wanting to shoot this Easter look. So I got her ready in about 10 mins and we were off haha. We ended up forgetting her coat and accessories in the rush, but I am going to link them so you can see what I would have added to the look to complete it.

She picked out the dress a while ago when we were in the store. I love the length and the off shoulder sleeves. The button front is so on trend right now too. Purple and pastel (to me) is so springy. I thought this would make the perfect Easter dress. We added the little hat, my Grandma used to say you always need an Easter hat, and of course she picked out jelly shoes to wear with it.

Ok, so her hair...I did it in about 10 mins! I even impressed myself. This is almost the same hairstyle that Jeni did on me for the photoshoot I was in. Would me making a video to show how to recreate it interest you? I am always looking for new ideas on what people want to see on my blog and Instagram. This is such an easy look to recreate and she was stopped a few times and complimented on it.

Now, if the weather would just catch up to the month I would be happy! She had been begging to wear a dress and it lasted about 2 days and now we are back to cold and snow.

Thursday, April 11, 2019

Shopbop buy more sale!

Shopbop sale has a few more days left and now is the perfect time to stock up on items that rarely go on sale. They carry all the best brands! Whether you are looking to load up on basics or splurge on new sandals or tennis shoes they have a little bit of everything.

I linked a bunch of the items I have or brands that I love to shop when I am on Shopbop.

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Widow Wednesday--Single, only parent

A single mom. Something I never thought I would be. When I got married I knew I had met my person and would never be divorced and then that all changed. Ray had worked a lot and I was the primary caregiver, but he was a ton of help when he was around. He was a very hands on dad. He also was a huge help around the house. Now it was all on my shoulders.

I have always been the mom that prefers to have my kids with me. I never complain when they have a snow day or are on summer vacation. I love having them home. I mean why have kids if you don't want them around?

Do I have help? Contrary to what people seem to think (from what I have heard) my kids are normally with me. My parent's are retired and are rarely home and they are my main source of help. My girls are best friends and they love each other (more so than most siblings from what I can tell, they really have a special bond) but they do need time apart from each other. They need individual attention. When Ray was around he would take care of one while I took the other shopping with me, etc. As they grew older I figured we would do the same with activities, etc. but that isn't possible when there is only one of you. If one has something to do the other has to join too or go. For a while I would make them just go, but then started making those my individual times with them. On Sunday, Lily has yoga, I leave Summer with Grandma and spend the day with Lily. I will leave Lily sometimes and just take Summer to do things she likes to do. I rarely don't have at least one of them. The only time is if I am doing a photoshoot and they pretty much always go with me on those too.

They have gone to doctor's appointments, hair appointments, you name it. It is easier for me to just take them. They don't like to be left with anyone outside of my parents.

My "me" time is usually when they are at school. I try to plan what I can at that time and get done whatever I need to get done. Sometimes I am able to, sometimes I am not. When I don't they go with me.

My girls are very attached to me. They feel safe only around certain people. I don't push them to be around the ones they don't. I allow them to make up their own mind about what they want to do. I think as children that lost a parent they probably have anxiety about losing me. My mom said she felt that way growing up since her dad died when she was a week old. I remember one time leaving the girls a few days to do a photoshoot in Florida and when I came home Lily was running through the airport crying like she hadn't seen me in forever and telling me how much she missed me. I have never been able to leave them after that. The entire time all I could think about was how they would have liked to be where I was. Whenever my parents would pick the girls up from school they would come out and first thing they would ask is, "Where is mom?" I try to reassure them I am not going anywhere, but I know I can't promise that.

Vacationing I have always felt more at ease going with other people. I am tiny and look younger than I am and sometimes feel unsafe traveling without someone. Not because I think I couldn't do it, but for safety. Usually we travel with family or go to a destination we can meet with other people. This has worked out well for us so far and we have spent time with a lot of people we love by doing this.

I struggled when Ray first died with how to dress, etc. I have always looked younger than I am and thought maybe I should dress older, more mature. I started to lose myself by doing this. I also struggled with if I should wear my rings or not. I wore them for a year before taking them off. I will always be married to Ray. I would get asked quite often if I was the babysitter or 16. I hated that and felt the rings and dressing older detoured that, but I was losing myself.

Tuesday, April 9, 2019

Maybe wearing yellow will bring out the sun? Spring jumsuit and vintage boho bag review

The girls and I spent a few days in Chicago last week, so I didn't do any posts. We have been there plenty of times, but normally go into the city just to shop and stay in the suburbs. This time we spent the whole time downtown and did the touristy things we have never done before. We had a blast besides it being a little cold and rainy. 

We came home to two nice days of warmer weather, so I finally had a chance to shoot this jumpsuit. I bought it a while ago and since then it has gone on clearance and when I went to link it today it is almost sold out. I still decided to shoot it anyways because it is adorable on and linked a few similar options. 

I love bright colors for spring! This yellow jumpsuit caught my eye and I knew just what I would pair it with. I tend to wear a lot of jumpsuits and rompers. I love that they are easy and put together, but comfortable. I paired it with my white denim coat since it was cooler when I was shooting this look. The hat is an Amazon purchase. I love that it has adjustable strings in it to make it tighter. I couldn't link the shoes they are from Vici and no longer on the site. 

I also wanted to answer a few questions on my bag in this post since I have been getting quite a few about it. My bag is a Louis that I have owned for quite a while. I threw it in the back of my closet when the tie closure finally snapped after being tied one too many times. The bag is very worn (I tend to be rough on my bags and don't change them often). I had looked into just buying a new tie and another suggestion had been to get a scarf to tie through it. Then I came across vintage boho bags website. They revamp bags to resell or you can send yours to them to have redone. They sell bags all the time on their site and then a few times a year do a sale. I happened to catch them on a sale day and the bags sold out in seconds. In order to do a revamp you send them pictures of your bag and tell them what you want done. They send you back a quote and you can add or take off options. You also can pick the color of leather you want them to use. Once you finalize all your options they send you a final invoice to pay and instructions on how to mail it. I mailed mine at the post office with insurance on it. They tell you it takes about 3 weeks and I think mine took every day of that. I am so happy with how it turned out. I constantly get compliments on my bag and I wish I would have had the top braided too (I took that option off due to price and not sure how it would turn it). 

Now off to enjoy the rest of this beautiful weather today since I already see snow back in the weather app for later in the week!