Playing dress up

A few posts back I shared my love for reworking family fashion but specifically my dad’s incredible collection of vintage track and road race shirts. I have to smile every time I put one on because as we’ve been cleaning out my parents house as my dad prepares to move I’ve found so many pictures of me as a toddler wearing those same shirts. But the love doesn’t stop there. Some of my mom and even Grandma Olson clothes have found a permanent place in my closet. The day we shot my race shirt collection, photographer Justin Meyer captured a few of my favorite outfits. THANK YOU  JUSTIN.

Mom’s vintage skirt that can also double as a strapless maxi dress if belted.

If it fits it stays is my motto and right now being pregnant not everything fits currently but it did within the last year so it qualifies.

Shortly after my mom passed away, my sisters and I tried to help Father Keith go through her side of the closet. This proved to be very difficult because we weren’t ready to let go of those memories. An outfit can take you back to a place in time and as we went through dresses, shirts and work out clothes, we did our best to divide up based on who wanted what and what fit who.  I walked away with some pieces that I can still see her in. And one skill my mom did really well was sewing. She made her wedding dress, made a lot of our clothes growing up, even Halloween costumes and duvets. Anything that she had made we kept and I’m pretty sure the skirt below is one she made.

I love how bright the colors have held up after years of washing.

It’s fun to feel like I’m still playing dress up in her closet by mixing and matching different items she wore often and incorporating them into my outfit.

Mom’s vintage Levi jeans.

Who doesn’t love highwaisted after having a baby belly.

Wearing my mom’s mom jeans as a mom is probably one of my proudest accomplishments. It’s like our own generations photo.

Handmade highwaist skirt by Grandma Olson (mom’s mom).

So I’m not encouraging you to be a hoarder of all things. Just encouraging you to think before you let go of something, especially if it was an item special to a loved one who is no longer here. These material items are just clothes but to me they will always be a part of my mom and that will always be in style.

Shop the looks:

Free People body suit (similar) | bald eagle necklace (similar)| Free People sheer crop top (similar) | Forever 21 scalloped crop top

 

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Grieving it all.

Each day I expected to grieve a little less, be a little more used to my mom not being here. Not being a phone call or hug away. But as I continue my grieving journey I’ve realized that it’s just always going to be here because as life continues new moments will inflict their own feelings.

My mom’s health began to significantly decline when my life was beginning to grow. This was hard for my twenty-four year old self to be okay with. How do I find out who I am without leaving her behind? She passed away two weeks after I started my first full-time job in a new state. I’ll never forget her face and our tears as I hugged her good-bye at my aunts wedding reception. She was reclined in her chair, so frail and sad…so unlike her. I remember walking out in tears because I knew that the mom I grew up with was really never going to be that way again. And looking back, I can still see her eyes and thinking this isn’t how it’s supposed to be.

Why didn’t we get the normal life of weekend visits to my apartment and seeing me live a grown up life? Watching me marry the love of my life, talking me through pregnancy concerns, reminding me to think before I speak and to take care of my self. But we don’t get to pick and this was the hand we were dealt. I know she was angry at the end. She was an extremely positive person but she was angry. She didn’t deserve that ending to her story.

And I think that is why I’m so committed to carrying on her memory every day. Because she deserves that. She deserves Grandkids who understand why we love Bald Eagles, and a memory garden filled with her favorite flowers. She more than deserves to feel our love all the way to heaven.

This rambling post is really because each new memory in life brings up those new feelings. We are expecting our third child and I’m met with a whole new set of emotions wishing she was here. Wanting to ask her how she handled three kids, if she had anxiety or depression during and after pregnancy…and how she did it all?

So ask your mom, or dad or whoever is super special to you these questions because you just never know. I’m left with this sweet card my dad found when he was cleaning out their house. We can’t remember why or when she wrote it, but I love that it’s so simple that a quick look can bring both tears and love.

 

 

Leah-Kristi 1st BeyDay

Get in formation & celebrate our Queen Bee turning 1

I swear I blinked and our little diva turned one. In utero I decided her first birthday party was going to be a Beyonce-themed party. After seeing Queen Bee live at 32 weeks pregnant for my 30th birthday with Leah kicking the entire time and for how much our little Leah LOVES to dance to Beyonce, it proved a great choice.

Our Leah-Kristi is a strong-minded, kind little girl who loves to take chances, doesn’t slow down (unless a good song comes on) and is willing to try anything once (terrifying to a parent). Basically our version of Queen Bee.

After having Hayden-Keith I was so proud of what I had accomplished. My body carried, delivered and fed a beautiful little boy. When we miscarried before Leah’s pregnancy it really shocked my self-esteem. For me, music is a source of healing and listening to the empowering, uplifting and heartfelt songs from Beyonce I grieved that loss while embracing Leah’s pregnancy.

It’s amazing what we as women can do. And I want my daughter to know that.

Party details:

From the invites to the decor and food table a bit of Queen B was carried throughout – we even had fresh squeezed lemonade.  I’m all about details and incorporating meaning into a special day. Lots of that was poured into Leah’s party.

Invitations – A friend brought my idea to life and I couldn’t be happier. Incorporating FLAWLESS and LEMONADE into the theme because how can you pick between the two.

Fresh-squeezed lemonade – Growing up I babysat and worked concessions for a family who owned the local A&W. My parents and siblings all worked the IA State Fair, National Balloon Classic and other events for Larry McConnell. I’m a lemonade snob because of how good his lemonade is. And he was so nice to hook me up with a batch for the party. Thank you Larry!

Lemonade stand – Hayden-Keith was generous to share his lemonade/grocery store. And a nod to my McConnell concession days and Joel’s days at the Bird’s Nest.

Decor – Balloons, giant balloons, fresh flowers and Lemons. Done.

Outfit changes – Because every birthday girl should have two outfits. Queen Bee shirt w/lemon shorts and “Who Runs the World, Girls” black onesie from Vagabond Babe for cake eating.

Food – From “I don’t think you’re ready for this jelly” beans to “hot sauce in our egg bake”, Beyonce Hits were incorporated throughout. A big hit was my go to crock pot breakfast casserole from Kristin at Iowa Girl Eats.

Desserts – This is always the easiest place to highlight my mom, Leah’s Angel Grandma Kristi. Her baking is out of this world and I LOVE that her unique recipes fit perfectly into the day. She always made Lemon Bars for my birthday so Leah had that as well as her homemade Twinkie Recipe. Thank goodness I made both because Leah had a slight reaction to the egg in the lemon bars. Recipes to come soon.

Favors – Who doesn’t love leaving a party with gifts. Oriental Trading Company had cute lemonade themed cups, tattoos and scented bubbles.

Her party was FLAWLESS. We had so much fun celebrating our Queen Bee with family and friends. I love having a little girl. Not for the outfits and playing dress up, but because some day I hope Leah and I can share the same bond my mom and I have. I know how hard I love my mom and I always wanted a chance to know how the other side of that relationship felt. I pray my mom knows and can still see how much she is loved by her little girl.

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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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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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All that you’ve missed but seen


Thank you so much for all the love, thoughts and messages regarding our last post. While our hearts are broken we know it’s not the end of our journey to grow our family and will just see where God takes us.

IMG_6787It’s officially been five years since the last day I got to talk, hug and love my mom in person. And it’s been really hard. It’s been harder than normal and I find myself tearing up really easy, just wishing I could call her. As I do each year, I took the day off to just spend some time with myself and her. I made sure to do things we would have done together or something she would have done in her every day like taking Lou for a run and baking her cut-out cookie recipe. Joel even helped me frost and decorate. Oh and I wore her turtleneck cropped wool sweater which I received compliments on (my sisters won’t believe it). My sister Catie and her manfriend Arlin came over and we ordered “terrible” Chinese. It was great. Continue reading →

1 in 4 is me.

This Wednesday will be five years since I last saw my beautiful mom alive. Each year it is always hard but this year hurts even worse. I think of all the times I’ve needed her here and all the things she’s missed out on.  Her shoulder to cry on and her hugs are something I wish I could have just one more time. Especially during the hard times like this past August when our journey to become a family of four (not counting Lou) was derailed when I started to miscarry at nine weeks; just two days before our nine week ultrasound appointment.

We found out we were pregnant right away. I remember being so excited and telling myself I would really make the most of this pregnancy. I was confident in my body’s ability to carry a healthy child full-term and had made it through a fairly uncomplicated labor and delivery (minus 36 hours of labor and a hematoma). After taking a few tests and thanking God for positive results, I shared the news with Joel and Hayden Keith. We were all so excited. Continue reading →

Soar on wings like eagles

Eagle_closeupAnyone who knows me knows I love Bald Eagles. Growing up my parents shared their love of this bird, due in part to their hometown, Decorah, IA. It’s a popular area for Bald Eagles and when we would road trip to visit family we would always keep an eye out for one. Dad said we’d get $5 for everyone we saw (still waiting to collect).

I never knew how this bird would become my saving grace in coping with my mother’s cancer. When her hair started to fall out from chemo, mom got together with her sisters to shave her head. She looked amazing. I wish I would have done it with her but my head has a dent in it. Regardless she looked beautiful. One day she was probably asking me to do something and I got sassy with her and called her “Bald Eagle.” She gave me a look but I quickly recovered and let her know it was a symbol of strength and grace. She liked it and the name stuck. Continue reading →

Getting through the hard days.

74bbcd1045617cfdfc240e5a38480681 Some days are hard and some days are even harder. Last night was a really hard one. Over the last month I’ve been trying to cope with loss and understand how and why some experience more loss than others. I know everyone has their own battle(s), but some just seem more obvious than others but regardless loss hurts. It doesn’t make one loss any less than the other. But to some holding onto that loss and grief can be a sign of weakness. As if there is a time frame for grief and “getting over” someone or something. To those people I would say, “it is really easy to say that when you aren’t the one experiencing those emotions.” You don’t have to go through your day seeing people live a life you once knew or you wish you could experience. Logging into social media, you see so much joy (which is great) but on a hard day it can make it even harder. People having babies, spending time with their parents and friends, and it’s easy to start to compare and break yourself down because your life doesn’t live up to that picture. That’s my struggle. Continue reading →