Friday, May 27, 2016

Friday Favorites - Nordstrom's Half Yearly Sale!

Today's post is toooootally out of my comfort zone!  But in the best way!  Dressing rooms and shopping in general have always been a frustrating (and at times tearful) experience, but recently things have changed.  In the past, I would walk into the store, grab a few of the biggest items I could find and pray that they would fit.  Some stores I would just avoid altogether because I knew they didn't carry my size.  Most shopping was done online, which meant a lot of in store returns.  

But this week I had an amazing opportunity to partner with Nordstrom and check out their Half Yearly Sale!  Nordstrom has intimidated me a bit from the moment it opened here in Cincinnati.  I pictured designer shoes that only Carrie Bradshaw would wear (and could afford) and all size 0000 high end brands.  Now there is some of that, but every time I go into Nordstrom I am surprised to see affordable clothing that I can actually fit in to.  And the online selection....WOW.  You could get lost on there for hours and with the sale going on right now, you may want to!

I hit up the sale racks mostly on this trip, but did try on a few pieces for fun.  And just for your Friday Favorites pleasure, I documented my trip ;).  If you like any of these items, click the link below the picture and check them out!  And make sure to scan through the other sale items while you're there :).

There are SO many dresses on sale that can be worn right now in the heat and those you can hang on to for cooler months. 

A quick note about those white jeans hanging there.  You will not see a picture of me in these because hello thin material!  I have always been intrigued by "designer" jeans and the hype  - and I'm sure some of them are SO worth it - but these were not.  

This was my favorite shirt I tried on.  The size large fit perfectly and the colors were great for the festive summer holidays.

I loved this top too, but the large was baggy.  I couldn't wrap my head around the idea of needing a medium, so I didn't try it.  Kind of wish I had now!

My least favorite.  Loved it on the hanger, but the color was eh.

This is technically a tunic, so the longer length was perfect for me.  The colors are even better in person than in pictures and online. 

LOVED this black tank.  It was a dressy material and had a "v" in the back too.  And it was only $17!

I have read so much about this brand of workout pants, so I had to try them on.  They were super soft and a great price with the sale going on.  

Not sure why I'm sharing this one, haha.  As you can tell, WAY too short.  The only reason I tried this on is because I have never been able to fit into this brand before.  And I pulled it off the rack and zipped it up.  Best feeling ever. 

My favorite dress.  The shape is great and the pattern was so fun.  

Loved this one too, but the sleeves would make it too hot for summer.  I wasn't sure about the color for fall/winter.  I did size up in this one since it was more clingy. 

I so badly want to like these trapeze style dresses.  I think they just look like a tent on me though :(.

I couldn't find this one online, but it wasn't my favorite anyway :).

And this dress.  This is not part of the sale (but I will be stalking it)...I saw it on one of my favorite bloggers, who is currently on a cruise in the mediterranean....probably wearing this dress.  I loved it for so many reasons but mainly because it was actually long enough!

I hope you enjoyed this version of Friday Favorites!  Nordstrom's Sale is going on through June 5th, so be sure to check it out.  I have some more fun fashion posts in the works, stay tuned!  Have a wonderful holiday weekend and please take time to say a prayer for all of the Service Men and Women who deserve SO much more than one day of gratitude!

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Summer Bucket List 2016

As in true Cincinnati fashion, we are going straight from winter to summer!  It was a chilly spring and now the next week is supposed to be hot and humid.  But like every other year, we'll survive ;).  

As a former teacher, summer has always been my favorite.  More freedom, more time outside and everyone seems to have a relaxed demeanor.  I love the festivals, concerts, baseball and food.  Although, when I think back on the past few summers, we haven't done many of these things.  So when coming up with this year's bucket list, I included a few items that are more adult oriented.  We did almost everything on last year's list (found here), except visit the Blue Marble bookstore.  And the whole no TV thing.  Maybe this summer...

So here is our list.  Aiden contributed this year, I'll let you figure out which ones he came up with.  Once I got him to understand that riding the Polar Express train wasn't an option...he came up with some good ones!

1. Visit the Blue Marble bookstore and the Blue Manatee bookstore.  I have never been to either and these would be great rainy day activities.
2. Go to at least one Reds game as a family and without the kids. 
3. Build the biggest sandbox ever in our backyard.
4. Swim in the big pool at our gym.  And a baby pool in our backyard.  
5. Make our own popsicles.
6. Go to a country concert at Riverbend.
7. Ride a big train.
8. Visit Liberty Center to play inside, at the splash park and see the trains.
9. Play in the sprinkler, eat ice cream and then wash off in the sprinkler.
10. Buy food at a farmer's market and make it for lunch or dinner. 
11. Go canoeing or kayaking - without the kids so I don't have a nervous breakdown.
12. And because I can't end on an odd number... we'll try that whole no TV one day a week thing again ;).

Happy summer everyone!

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Aiden's First Last Day of School

As I sat in a church sanctuary yesterday, watching Aiden's end of the year program, I kept are we here already???  I am reading it everywhere right now, but all parents seem to be in a collective shock that their kids grow up so fast.  It's so hard to think of the wonderful stages left behind but it's equally exciting to think of what lies ahead.

We decided  to put Aiden in pre-school this year when he was two and a half.  While that is early for pre-school, we wanted him to get comfortable with other trusted adults (he was VERY dependent on me), for him to grow socially and of course learn!  I also loved the idea of having some one-on-one time with Audrey since they are so close in age.  We are SO glad we sent him this year, he has grown so much in so many ways.  A perfect his Christmas program, he didn't participate. He spent the time on my lap, crying.  Well, at his program yesterday - in front of A LOT of camera holding parents - he sang and danced his little heart out.  I felt like I was going to burst with pride.  

It was a special day to celebrate our big boy and the fact that he stuck with something that was very hard for him at first, but he ended up loving it.  There's a life lesson in there somewhere ;).  He will go back next year for the three year old class and we will likely send Audrey too.  The school is wonderful, I have been so impressed. 

Enough words, time for some adorable pictures.  And stay tuned for next week for our Summer Bucket List...Aiden has some specific requests this year ;).  

Looking so big!

A little unsure at first.

But then he let loose!

Mommy, I look like daddy in my shirt! :)

He had a very special bond with Mrs. Dietz from day one.  She is retiring this year, so she was a little emotional :).

"Art Express" - his favorite.  I wonder why ;).


Skyline lunch to celebrate.

And ended the day with his favorite activity.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

A Third Life Crisis

The discussion has come up recently if 33/34 is too early for a mid-life crisis.  You know, the phase defined by a restless feeling that leads to big leaps, rash decisions and random purchases.  This period typically begins once all of your kids are grown and gone and you aren't sure what to do with yourself.  While I definitely hope that 33 is not mid-life, I do think this age comes with a bit of that same restlessness.  John Mayer sang about a quarter-life crisis, so I'm here to introduce another overly analyzed, self-depricating phase - the Third Life Crisis.

My husband and I were talking last night about how this is a unique time in our lives because the next step is not clear and there really are no expectations.  As a child, you go to school and graduate high school.  Next comes college and then you're supposed to graduate and get a job.  Then you move out, buy a car, save to buy a house, meet the love of your life, get married and have kids.  Of course, this is not the exact road everyone takes, nor should it be.  But it is what society has led us to think is the best path, or at least the most safe and predictable.  In our own way, we have checked all of these boxes and we now find ourselves in an interesting place.  We are done having kids, Andrew has a job that he loves, I am keeping busy with the kids and work...but what's next?  What's the next box to check?

There are two ways to look at this stage of life.  The first outlook is a bit more negative and unfortunately how I've been feeling recently.  It can be overwhelming, scary and unsettling to think about an open-ended life.  Are we stuck in a rut?  Do we need to shake things up a bit?  But how?  And what if it's risky?  The what if's take over at that point.  I recently started following a family on Instagram that call themselves the Bucket List Family.  If you have never heard of them, I highly recommend you look them up.  They sold all of their possessions a couple of years ago and have been traveling the world with their two very young children.  While I'm pretty sure that's not the exact route we should take next, I do wonder how they made that decision.  People have crazy ideas like that all of the time, so what gave them the courage to just go for it?

The other outlook on this stage is how I'm choosing to start approaching it.  We are past the box-checking stages... how great is that?!  While we will now look forward to milestones reached by our children, our family can choose whatever path we want.  Now we haven't won the lottery, so obviously the sky isn't completely the limit, but we have the power to decide how to lead our lives.  The phrase "no risk, no reward" comes to mind.  For us, this probably does not mean taking up gambling, sky diving or swimming with sharks (maybe the last one someday), but it's okay to take chances, even if they are small.  We are one third down, with two thirds to go, God willing - we aren't in a crisis, we are at a crossroads.  And we can start checking whatever boxes we choose.  

Friday, May 13, 2016

Friday Favorites

Happy Friday!  I'm looking forward to this weekend, including today.  We are finally getting a break from the rain, so it's a great day to head to the zoo!  Tomorrow Andrew and I are getting an entire day to ourselves to do exciting things like clean out our storage room ;).  But we also get to go out to an adult's only dinner with friends!  Sunday we are celebrating Mother's Day with Andrew's side of the family, so it's a jam packed weekend.  Next week is Aiden's last day of preschool, which means the official start to summer.  So hard to believe.

On to this week's favorites...

Aiden asks to paint everyday, thanks to all of his art projects at school.  Thankfully, he does pretty well on his own while Audrey naps and I clean, prep for dinner, etc.  I love the way he sticks his tongue out when he concentrates...he gets that honestly ;).

Last Saturday, we went to one of my favorite places...Oxford, Ohio...where I attended Miami University.  It's the best town and brings back SO many memories.  I had to get a Wamo from Bagel & Deli.  

And the kids were worn out when we left.  This was the first time putting them side by side and they loved it!

Mother's Day started with take out from Bob Evans...or the Pancake Restaurant as Aiden calls it.  I took this picture as I was finishing up and I love how it captured the moment.

My Mother's Day gift was a couple of hours of myself!  My favorite find was this dress.  And to top it off, it is HALF the size of the dress size I wore at one point.  I still can't believe it fits. 

I tried this bread from Costco last week and love it.  I'm also still on an avocado toast kick!

We spend a lot of time at our local library.  The kids love it and since it's right next to the gym, it's very convenient!

Finally getting warm enough for iced coffee!  And why does everything taste so much better in a mason jar?!

Which also leads to grill out season!  I stick to meat and veggies when we grill out...steamed broccoli has been a favorite around here recently.  Well, for Andrew and I at least!

I LOVE this picture.  Their faces make my heart grow a million times bigger.

We stopped at the bookstore yesterday and I got to see my recent article in print.  Sort of cool and fun to see.

We've never eaten lunch there before but I was feeling unmotivated yesterday and it was so convenient.  The food was delicious!  I had a hummus/veggie sandwich, salad and fruit.  The kids loved the grilled cheese.

Time to get moving today!  Ot at least time to be productive...I've been moving for hours already ;).  Have a wonderful weekend!

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Overheard in our House

Our kids are cracking me up these days.  They are also driving me crazy, but that's a different post for a different day.  Let's focus on the funny stuff for now.  Aiden says the most random things and Audrey has developed a few habits that you just have to laugh at.  In an effort to never forget this silly, innocent phase...

Aiden (at 6am): Mommy, let's go to the pumpkin patch and pick pumpkins!
Me: The pumpkins haven't grown yet, Aiden.
Aiden: Well..tell them to hurry up!

Me: Ouch! (after Audrey bumped into my head)
Aiden: I'll kiss it mommy and make it go back to the boo-boo store.

Aiden: Mommy, let's go to the train store and get the biggest steam train ever...and his mommy.

Aiden: Audrey, just do this.... (does something silly like jump up and land on his butt).

Me: Aiden, what's your full name?
Aiden: Aiden Pauw Wimke

Aiden: We need to go to the park, the blue playground, the train station, the tractor store and the farm....NOW!
Me: We can't go right now, Aiden.
Aiden: We NEED to! (his new favorite word)

Audrey isn't saying many full words yet, but as they say...actions speak louder than words.

Audrey: Crying uncontrollably until she picks up 5 blankets and 5 stuffed animals.

Audrey (after insisting on doing everything by herself): Did it!

Me: Audrey, can you go get my shoes?
Audrey: Comes back like this...

And there are so many more but my sleep deprived mind cannot remember them all!  Parenthood is SO hard with it's fair share of tears, but thank God for these silly moments and times of laughter.  They are what keep us going on those hard days and remind us why we wanted to be parents in the first place. 

Thursday, May 5, 2016

To My Kids on Mother's Day

Last year, I wrote a very special piece to honor my mom on Mother's Day.  You can check that out here.  This year, I wanted to honor my babies.  The ones who made me a mommy.  I'll get to that in a minute.  I want to wish a very happy Mother's Day to my mom - thank you for all you've done for me.  As a mom myself now, I think I need you more than ever.  Also, to my mother-in-law - you raised an incredible man who is a wonderful husband and father.  And you have been there for us in so many ways.  Thank you.  To all of my mommy friends and family - thank you for the support, the example and for putting up with me constantly complaining about my lack of sleep ;).  And to all of those women who WILL be mommy's.  I pray for you daily and I know this can be a difficult time.  The wait just means even more love for the little one that will come your way.

To my Aiden,

You made me a mommy on February 19th, 2013.  You challenge me and push my buttons.  You melt my heart with your kisses, hugs and smiles.  You still fit on my lap and I can't get enough of your snuggles.  When you say no to me, you scrunch up your face to try and be tough, but I just laugh at you.  And then we both laugh.  And it reminds me how much you are like your daddy.  You look at things in amazement - from the large dump truck parked outside of our house to the baby birds in the nest on our porch.  You try to be tough and stubborn but you easily give in, especially with me and Audrey.  You love to kiss Audrey and you love when she plays with you.  You've grown into such a good big brother.  You drive me crazy in one minute and have me swinging you around in the next.  I love you and am SO proud to be your mommy.

My baby Audrey,

My little firecracker.  You bring SO much joy to our lives (and a little less sleep ;)).  I can already tell you are strong, brave and smart.  You are a force to be reckoned with and I couldn't be more proud.  You don't like to hold my hand in parking lots, but your favorite spot is my hip everywhere else.  You want to (and usually do) keep up with Aiden and he's loving it.  You are independent in so many ways and yet my clingy little baby in others.  Watching you is like looking in a mirror and wow is it eye-opening.  I have learned so much being your Mama.  I've changed so much in your twenty months and you've been along for the ride.  I want to make you proud.  I want to show you that you can do ANYthing.  I look at your face when you are asleep in my arms and I can see the brightness that is your future.  You will move mountains, baby girl.  I love you.

Happy Mother's Day beautiful Mama's...

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

To the Teachers...

For 8 years, I wanted nothing more than to have my own classroom.  I graduated college with my teaching degree, had my certificate and had visions of crayons, themes and bright-eyed students ready to learn.  Unfortunately (or fortunately depending on how you look at it), the job market for teachers was rough, so I worked a few part time jobs until I found a job in education, it just looked a little different than planned.  Fast forward 8 years and a wonderful Principal took a chance on me and hired me to teach 5th grade.  It was one of the best moments of my life - a dream realized.

That was the beginning of a few years of craziness.  Two kids and open-heart surgery led us to the very hard decision for me to leave my teaching career behind, for now.  I've found new challenges and new passions, but I think I'll always be a teacher at heart.

This year I got to experience the other side of teaching - being the mom.  Our son started pre-school and all of a sudden I looked at teaching with new eyes.  I don't want to be "that mom" and hover, and I think I've done a good job of letting his teachers run the show.  They are amazing with these little ones and I have so much respect for their patience, creativity and dedication.  At the beginning of the school year, I had to hand my VERY upset two year old over to two women that I didn't know at all.  I had to have faith and let go and for the first time, trust other adults with the care of my baby.  In a minute I understood all of the emails, visits and phone calls I had received from certain parents.  I was taking care of their babies for several hours out of the day, and they didn't know me.  They knew I was a teacher and hoped that I would provide the best for their children.

Think of all of the teachers you know.  Now think of one word to describe them all.  Passionate.  You can't be a teacher and not have passion for helping young ones.  All teachers know that the "job" is SO much more than teaching how to read and add.  Our son has learned so much this year, but I am most excited about his growth in independence and socialization.  His teachers have provided a loving environment where he has felt comfortable enough to be himself and make friends.  I am forever grateful to them.

Even if I never go back to teaching, I will ALWAYS think that teaching is the MOST important job in the world.  Without dedicated teachers, we wouldn't have doctors, lawyers, inventors, writers, politicians or... more teachers.  Teachers inspire us to reach for the stars and want to give us the knowledge, as well as the confidence, to chase our dreams.  They are not recognized enough, rewarded enough or thanked enough.  Every day should be Teacher Appreciation Day, but I'm glad we do take the time today to raise up those who helped raise us.  As a mom, I know I will be counting on teachers for the next several years and I am beyond thankful for the big hearts in those who teach our children.