Reworking family fashion

Ever since I was little I’ve been obsessed with wearing my parents clothes. Old photos of me from toddler life sportin’ an oversized road race or track shirt and loving life. This is just part of me being an old soul but also because I just love my parents. My mom was a lover of vintage things or finding a use for anything. That “you’ll never know when you’ll need or want that mentality”. She didn’t get rid of anything and I find that in myself (sorry Joel).

Especially with clothes…styles come and go but some things just don’t fade. Plus I love mixing old with new and finding a way to make something seem new again. It’s a challenge that keeps me holding on to items I’ve had for years.

Knowing I wanted to share this with you all, I reached out to Justin Meyer, an insanely talented photographer, jack-of-all-trades and friend. He was so nice to help me capture some of my favorite parent and even grandparent hand-me-downs. It was a fun morning and I couldn’t be happier with how they turned out…thank you Justin!!

Florida Track Club singlet – historic track club Frank Shorter – US Olympian ’70 Marathon Gold Medalist & ’76 Marathon Silver Medalist was a member

Most of these shirts are older than me but I love how comfortable they are and how proud I am to wear them. My dad has hung up his running shoes and I didn’t get blessed with his speed, but wearing these shirts lets me pretend.

Stay tuned…outfits from my mom and grandma’s hand-me-downs coming soon. Shop the look below.

Father Keith’s homemade race shirt from Luther College late ’70s

Back of above shirt & my favorite part. Father Keith aka ELLY

One of my all-time favorite vintage track shirts. The sweater is not vintage but super comfy too.

Shop the look:

One teaspoon denim shorts | Zara denim jeans (similar)| Express duster cardigan (similar) | j.crew belt (similar) | Burberry eye glasses (similar) | Homemakers couch & chair | Crate and Barrel Bar cabinet

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Fear of the unknown

Friday I had the privilege of giving Father Keith an early Father’s Day gift – spending most of his day with me. It’s actually the other way around. It was so nice to get to hang out with him without distractions. We spent the day at a conference learning all the ins and outs of the health condition he battles.

Pulling into the parking lot and seeing the sign “Hope starts here” really resonated with me. As I fought back tears realizing I’d soon be face to face with fears of the unknown, I took that sign as not only a sign from God but from my mom. I couldn’t help but think back to her interview with a local news outlet discussing the National Ovarian Cancer Coalition-IA Chapter’s annual Break the Silence Run/Walk. Her message of hope just made me feel like in that moment, on Friday, my dad and I were where we should have been. Together, educating ourselves (and smuggling suckers from the vendor tables). Because all you can do is educate yourself and #sweets4life.

I actually listen to her interview often. I selfishly need to hear her voice and a verbal reminder of hope. And, ironically a couple weekends ago, we attended the Break the Silence run/walk in her honor. It was incredible to see all the people supporting their loved ones. It’s bittersweet attending without her but having her Grandkids and sister participate were a close second best.

How do you handle fears of the unknown? Do you like to be educated or are you stronger when you’re unsure?

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Just cancer.

“Your mom just has cancer. Not you.” I’ll never forget those words. When my mom was diagnosed someone told me this after I explained  how my life had changed, my values and priorities had shifted and I’d grown. The comment stopped in me in my tracks.

And while I can’t remember how I responded, I catch myself thinking back to that moment every once in a while. “Your mom has cancer, not you.”

True, my mom was diagnosed with stage 3C ovarian cancer, the kind that is past the point of easily being cured –  I was by all accounts healthy. But anyone who has lost or seen someone suffer a loss knows that while the patient does carry the heaviest burden – family and loved ones have their own struggles. How do you keep it together when your world is falling apart? You just do the best you can. And some days you have it together and others you don’t, but both are ok.

Some days will be fighting through the fears of the unknown, the questions of whether or not your recent phone call will be the last. Will they feel up to talking with you or having you visit that day? Who is going to talk to your siblings guidance counselors and make sure they don’t miss athletic events they simply cannot miss? How will you give the play-by-play of athletic games you don’t understand? Smiling when you can because you know that’s how they want to see you. Making the hospital or chemo/doctor visits your new place to visit and going for that hour run when you’re way out of shape because they just killed their chemo treatment and want to run.

And that is “just cancer.” It’s your dad sitting at your wedding by himself in a pew that he should be sharing with his fourth grade sweetheart. That is grief, that is loss and that is heartbreak – a different kind of heartbreak. It’s having your world flipped upside down. It’s bittersweet memories…always. It’s being afraid but smiling. It’s crying harder than you’ve ever cried and it’s realizing that you don’t have to keep it together. Things can fall and you can change. There will be good days and there will be hard days. And that is ok.

How do you cope with a the loss or fear of losing a loved one?

Through it all.

Happy Birthday to the person I simply cannot live without. The person who accepts all of my flaws, reminds me of them and challenges me to be the best version of myself. You make me want to be the best I can. And, you do that by being an incredible partner, co-parent and driving me crazy at the same time.

You came into my life when I needed you the most but had no idea I did. My heart was in a different place, my head was in another but you helped me piece it all together and come out smiling. So thank you. Thank you for helping me grieve the challenges life has dealt. The loss of my mom, our miscarriage, becoming new parents and everything in between. And while some days it can be so hard to smile, you remind me why I should. Why we should. The support you have provided to me since sending that first email has never wavered. And I love you for it.

You make me laugh and let me cry while just holding me up.

The first song is everything you are to me. And the second is how I will always explain falling in love with you (minute 2:52 I die). I tear up every time I hear them. My life, my smile and my heart are where they are because of you. Ending relationships, starting new ones, moving three times in two years, having two kids in three years, losing a baby, new jobs, family heartache – there is nothing we can’t overcome and that is something you’ve challenged me with since we met. Thank you for always having my heart.

And this blog is your present. You’re welcome, you said not to spend any $$.

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Horses and handheld memories

Since it’s almost the one year anniversary of our relocation to Iowa, I decided to put some personal touches throughout the house. I so admire people who are able to breathe life into a room with their style (The Makerista) because I just don’t have that talent.

But Hayden-Keith’s birthday seemed like a great deadline to give him a big boy room. When we moved he rocked transitioning from his crib to a queen bed. We made it seem like the crib didn’t move with us, so he was prepared ahead of Leah’s arrival. There were a few sleepless nights / weeks but he did great.

In my last post you saw the intensity of his love for horses. After one horse ride at a pumpkin patch he was hooked, and “Misty” has been his horse ever since. I’ve followed UrbanWalls for a while and since I didn’t want to commit to painting, their wall decals were perfect. After seeing local Iowa blogger, Nina and Cecilia (amazing) post on them, I decided to get some samples. UrbanWalls customer service was so nice and responsive, they recommend samples as the decals won’t work on heavy textured walls. The samples were sent quickly with no charge. Our walls are a bit textured but the decals held well. They were super easy to apply and they come off no problem. I was sold, placed my order for several sheets of “Misty” —  BUT rookie mistake — measure before ordering (yes they recommend this in the FAQs, but I was super cocky, guessed and now have several extra sheets).

The Small Horse Wall Decal was the missing piece to his unplanned “home on the range, wild west themed room” complete with a teepee. He loves it. To quote the cutie, “mom I love these Misty’s, thank you for hanging them.” Ugggh stay sweet forever please. And, seriously, if you’re considering adding some unique flare to a room, Urban Walls is where it’s at.

 

It’s funny how family heirlooms have a way of molding into a new generation. Growing up I remember my mom having a guitar – I have no idea why she had one. Never heard her play, but I made sure it didn’t get donated when we cleaned up my parents house. I hate getting rid of things, especially handheld memories. The guitar is now next to the teepee and Hayden-Keith thinks Angel Grandma Kristi gave it to him, which she totally did. Between the bald eagle photos, her old picnic basket next to his bed for books and the guitar, my mom is well represented in this room. The photo over his bed is actually a photo of Joel and I on our first trip to Scottsdale AZ, it’s a horrible picture for a canvas but has never made its way to the trash…again, I can find a use for anything.

Any tips for decorating with family heirlooms? Links below if you saw something you can’t live without.

Dresser | Teepee | Horse Decals | Frames | Lamp | Slippers | I’ll Love You Forever Canvas | Buffalo

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Some Kid 3rd Birthday

A birthday is a big deal. You won’t convince me otherwise and if you’ve been following along in past posts you’ve gotten the hint. An Olympic Games #1 birthday party and donut/ Mickey Clubhouse “ohh toodles” 2nd birthday – obviously the 3rd birthday had to follow suit. And it did…

I’m totally taking advantage of throwing a party my kids will love but that also has some sentiment. Hayden-Keith is very much my spirit and he has seemed to gravitate towards things his mom likes (animals, gardening, being outdoors etc) – sorry Joel. And he’s even taken a liking to some of my favorite movies…one being Charolette’s Web. Since horses are his favorite animal, and Charolette’s Web takes place on the farm, I knew we had to capitalize on this interest.

So I did what any mom would do by bringing the book to life and stalking local farms to see who could bring a horse to our house for rides. We made our own “Some Kid” 3rd birthday party complete with Angel, the sweetest horse from Rolling Hills. They were so great to work with and the sweetest. Hayden-Keith had the best time playing with friends and family, riding Angel and just celebrating getting another year older. We should all celebrate our birthday like a 3 year old.

My mom grew up on a farm and that was such a big part of who she is but she also went all out for birthdays. I know she was proud of his party and LOVED that he had NO FEAR meeting and riding Angel (all 7+times). It was great having family and friends there to celebrate with us.   And praise the Lord for Amazon Prime. I was able to get decorations and party favors in two days so nothing was done last minute. I made the “some kid” decoration using a hula hoop, duct tape and scotch tape – super easy and I’m pretty happy with the way it turned out.

#3 Balloon | Farm balloons  | Walking horse balloon | Barn door prop | Horse toy | Masks | Hats | Favor bags | Favors

The horse and party were our gifts to him but we snuck in one extra surprise. Because he loves horses so much and I have neglected to decorate his room, I connected with UrbanWalls for some adorable horse decals. Stay tuned to see how his big boy room turned out.

 

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Happy Birthday Mom!

Today we celebrate the birthday of a beautiful woman who turns 60 in heaven. All day I caught myself wondering how she’d spend her day. We did our best to honor her here on earth. I finally hung decorations in Hayden’s room that have a special tie to her — bald eagle prints, horse decals and an “I’ll love you forever…” print. I couldn’t help but tear up as I was cutting flowers from our “Grandma Kristi” garden thinking how badly I wish I could share life with her. I wish she could see the excitement Hayden has for the bird feeder anytime he catches a visiting bird in his binoculars. Or the way he is so happy and proud to smell our flowers. He loves to play baseball and bake and just live life. I would give anything for her to have a slumber party at our house in Hayden’s teepee then greet Leah in the morning smiling wide-eyed in her crib. We’d take them on a long walk or runs, talk about recent award shows, the news and grill seafood.

I know she’d love sitting with my dad and just watching her Grandkids play and laugh. She’d be right there with them. And while it breaks my heart to think of all the things I don’t get to see her do, I know she does them all in Heaven.

I love you mom. Thank you for every moment you remind me that you are here, never far from my thoughts and always in my heart. Happy 60th.

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Happy Birthday Hayden-Keith

Friday was our sweet Hayden-Keith’s 3rd birthday. Tears have fallen and will continue to fall. We had a sitter his birthday eve and I snuck in his room for our last goodnight chat as a two year old. He became so big when Leah arrived and Friday he became even bigger. I catch myself thinking of a quote from Peter Pan during our bedtime routine, “little boys should never be sent to bed. they always wake up a day older.” It’s so true. I’m thankful for every day I get to see him become bigger and I’m so grateful he is ours.

  • Getting ready for the HOM Teal Strides
  • Wheaties box!
  • Podium picture

Mother’s Day gift guide

This week is always a hard. Staying positive when you want to celebrate the person who brought you to life takes a toll emotionally. But the one person who’s mission in life was to always celebrate you should be celebrated. The countless marketing emails and social posts calling out Mother’s Day make it hard to escape. The best decision I made when my mom passed away was to not think of her as past-tense. She’s still my mom regardless of whether she is on earth or not. So, even though the day is bittersweet and May is especially hard because it’s her birthday month, I’ve put together a list of ways to celebrate or honor moms who are here in person or in spirit.

Mother’s Day road race
Whether its specific for the day like this local one (I signed up for the 10K), it’s a great way to get celebrate an active mom or honor your mom by doing an activity she loved and can no longer do.

Flowers
I love flowers and all you haters can say they are a waste of money but they will no doubt bring a smile. Whether you buy a bouquet (I’m obsessing over Boesen’s collection) or hanging basket from a local greenhouse like Canoyer – you can’t go wrong. And these can be taken to a grave site or given to a hospital or place that maybe meant a lot to your mom. We’re going to plant our garden and a peony bush in my mom’s honor.

My wedding bouquet courtesy of Bella Flora Event Design.

Brunch
Give mom a break and take her out to brunch or visit her favorite restaurant. Order her favorite meal or bake your own using family recipes. Check out my friend and blogger, The Makerista’s take on how to throw a simple Mother’s Day brunch with Keurig.

Makerista Mother’s Day Brunch w/Keurig photo: Justin Salem Meyer

Perfume/Candle
A scent can bring on nostalgia. Perfumes make a great gift but they can also take you back to a place and a memory. These Anthropologie candles are my favorite.

Music
Attend a concert, make a CD or playlist that your mom can jam out to or load it with songs that remind you of her. My mom loved James Taylor, The Eagles and Motown. I have a special playlist of songs just for her. Grab an iTunes gift card and make a playlist together.

Those are just a few ideas. How are you celebrating?

Weekend recharge in Decorah

With young kids it’s super hard to travel. Growing up we spent a lot of time at home and now with my own kids, I totally get why. But one place we always traveled to was my parents hometown of Decorah, IA. It’s one of my favorite places. The small-town laid-back feel, beautiful scenery and so much to do outdoors is undeniable. My parents are fourth grade sweethearts and so much of them and who they are is in that hometown and I grew up loving that connection. It’s so special to me that Joel proposed in front of the tree my parents planted on Luther Campus.

There is so much about this part of Iowa that I love, but a very special place is my the farm my mom grew up on a few miles outside of town. It’s breathtaking. Both that house and the farm land have been in the family for over a century and it’s something the entire Olson side is so proud of. My childhood memories include waking up to the sun shining through the sheer curtains covering windows that overlooked raspberry bushes, grandma’s garden, the old chicken coop and pump house. To this day, I LOVE waking up with the sun.

Riding with grandpa on his tractor, hunting for farm cats and giving them our table scraps, going fishing and playing endless games of cards. There are so many memories in that old farmhouse and on that land, that make me so proud to be my mother’s daughter and her mother’s granddaughter. I only wish she could have been with us in person when Hayden and Leah visited a few weeks ago. We could have stayed for days. Hayden loved exploring and throwing pine cones. Leah just took it all in from her carrier. It’s hard to not tear up being out there without my mom. We spent time with the Olson matriarch, my Grandma Olson, who is the best. I know we would visit more if my mother was here. Below is a picture of us hanging out at her apartment in town and we unintentionally left a spot for mom on the couch.

If you’re in need of a quick weekend recharge visit Decorah. Take in the delicious local food, the amazing outdoor activities, go during Nordic Fest for a complete Scandinavian experience and visit the Decorah Bald Eagles and the fish hatchery. There is so much more, we will be back soon.

   

 

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