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.