Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Stitch Fix #16

Wanted to do a quick Stitch Fix review since I’m already way behind with this one.  Kate has been styling me for quite awhile and I continue to request her because I feel like she just gets me.  Once again, Kate did an amazing job.  This Fix certainly did not disappoint and I ended up taking two of the items to Europe with me.

First up was the Makai Halter Swing Knit Tank Top.  I had my doubts about this one, but only because I was concerned about fit.  I had seen a photo of this (or something very similar) on another Stitch Fix subscriber and it seemed more fitted and short.  Maybe that person ordered a smaller size or has a different body type.  Regardless, I loved this when I put it on.  I think everyone knows I’m a sucker for a floral print and this was loose and so so comfortable.  Definitely a winner.  And I love it with the cardigan for work.  KEPT

Next, was the Daniel Rainn Vivienne Floral Print Sleeveless Blouse.  I love Daniel Rainn tops and my stylists frequently send them because they know I’m a fan.  Daniel Rainn tops are usually not too fitted, a bit dressier, and perfect for looking more put together at work.  This top threw me because of the fit.  I loved the color and overall look, but it was tighter than I expected.  I was also not a fan of the camisole that came with it.  I actually looked to see if I could exchange this for a larger size, but there wasn’t another top available.  I ultimately decided to keep this for the discount.  A few days later, it dawned on me… remove the existing cami (which was attached by a few threads) and replace it with one of my own.  As soon as I did that, I was much more comfortable and ended up wearing this under a blazer while I worked in Europe.  KEPT

Then it was time for the Katelynn dress.  I had this pinned and loved the bright colors in it.  I wasn’t sure this was super flattering (I think the waist could be a little higher maybe), but I really liked it nonetheless.  As my mom suggested, I think this would look really cute with a jean jacket.  All in all, very comfortable and great for work or even errands with the boys.  I tend to live in dresses during the summer since I don’t wear shorts.  KEPT

I requested a pair of distressed jeans because I think they look great on others and I wanted to give them a try.  I’ve never worn distressed denim and was a little worried about looking sloppy.  I loved that these Hope Distressed Fray Hem Skinny jeans were not too holey and I really like this entire outfit.  I try to keep my outfits balanced so I think I’ll wear these jeans with nicer tops to avoid looking too ragged (if that makes sense).  I did exchange these for the next size up because I was a bit nervous about them being too tight (especially with the holes) and I didn’t know how they’d hold up in the wash (though I’ve never had any issues with my SF jeans shrinking).  As a side note, I think A is weirded out whenever I wear these because I don’t seem like the “distressed jeans type”.  KEPT

Finally, one of my favorite SF items to date.  I absolutely love this Cristen Shirt Dress.  I love the pattern and overall style.  My only complaint is that it can be short when I sit – being a shirt dress, there isn’t any stretch or flare and it doesn’t button all the way down, which makes complete sense.  And if it wasn’t a shirt dress, it would lose some of its charm.  All of this rambling to say, this dress is amazing, but I have to sit like a lady, which is not a problem (thus far).  I brought this to Europe and wore it around Paris so it will always have a special place in my heart.  I should note that A mentioned he loves this dress and I was asked by a stranger wear I got it so major win!!

This fix was one of my favorites to date and I’ll definitely get lots of wear out of each of these pieces.  Another winner!!

Monday, July 10, 2017

Weekend Recap

Not a lot to report on this weekend.  It was low key, which was very much needed.

We let W choose where to get pizza from on Friday and he selected one of our favorite places.  S was a bit cranky and wanted to sit with me during dinner.  Of course W was feeling left out and came to cuddle with me too.  A snapped these pictures, which perfectly sum up the dinner outing (and the majority of our dinner outings for that matter).  Ha.  I love their expressions... these boys love their mommy and I love them so much.  I'm so incredibly thankful for them.

Saturday consisted of a couple errands.  I had to go to the bank and W asked if we could go to the branch near Grandma’s house.  That led to asking if we could stop by Grandma’s house, drive past Grandma’s house, drive through Grandma’s neighborhood, and so on.  The boys had a haircut scheduled for 12:45 so I called my mom and asked if we could stop by afterwards.  Thankfully, she obliged.  The haircut went well and the boys had a great time per usual at Grandma’s house.  We ended up spending the majority of our visit outside.  The weather was beautiful.  S fell asleep on the way home and slept 12 hours.  W slept nearly 12 hours as well, which was great!  Maybe we need to visit my mom more often. ;)

Sunday was our usual.  A cleaned out the car, we rearranged S’s room to better fit his new bed, I packed suitcases for our upcoming trip – it was a very productive day.  So far, S is doing really well with his new bed and we’re hoping this continues.  Look how proud he is... :)  And if you want a before look...

Friday, July 7, 2017

Friday Thoughts

This is the first time in my life that I have 4 weeks of vacation time and I am taking full advantage.  We leave for our annual Maryland trip next Friday and the boys are really excited for pool time.  It occurred to me that I will not work a full week in July and that is just about the best thing ever.  Love time spent with family!

S is definitely going through a terrible twos phase.  He’s been a lot more defiant and vocal lately, but he’s also cracking us up with his expressions.  When he wakes up in the morning, he’ll usually lay in bed and sing songs.  When he decides he’s ready to get up, he’ll yell, “Get me out!!  Get me out!!”  If he hears his name come up in conversation, he’ll excitedly yell, “That’s me!!”   Recently, W was crying/whining about something and I was ignoring him.  Often, if one of the boys falls down or gets hurt, I’ll hug them, pat them on the back, and tell them they’re ok.  Well, upon hearing W fake cry and whine, S very sternly pointed his finger and yelled, “You’s ok!  You’s ok!!”  So funny.

S hasn’t been a baby for awhile, but there are still reminders that he’s not a big boy yet… his crib, diapers (he’s not potty trained), and he’s still rear facing in his car seat to name a few.  We recently ordered a big boy bed because S was showing signs of being done with the crib.  He often climbs into W’s bed and loves to lay in it (especially at bed time).  S is also a pretty big guy and we’d often hear him kicking the sides of the crib as he rolled over in the night.  A assembled his new bed while I was at work (which was probably a good thing), but I’m so sad to say goodbye to the crib.  There’s been a crib in my house for the past five years. L  And if our transfer in December had worked, that crib would be waiting for someone else.  L L  On the bright side, two nights in his big boy bed and he’s doing great.  Here’s hoping that continues.  If you need me, I’ll be moping around wondering how my boys are growing up so fast…

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Adventures in Europe Continued

Thursday morning was spent working.  Because my colleague and I spent so much time on site on Wednesday, we thought our efforts would be better spent working from the hotel.  That way, we weren’t wasting time driving and we had Wifi connection, which wasn’t available at the site (actually, it was available, but we were unable to connect).  We worked from the little café, eating croissants and enjoying the breeze from the open windows, which looked out over the beach.  If you have to work, this is the way to do it. 

After working through the morning, we headed to Brussels.  A and I would spend a couple nights in Brussels and my colleague was planning to head out from Brussels and meet up with a friend in Germany.  Brussels was insanely busy.  So many people, so much traffic.  It was a bit overwhelming at first.  We stayed at a hotel that my boss recommend and Holy. Moly.  I should have taken photos, but it was the fanciest hotel I had ever seen.  Imagine an opulent building, sculptures, and Audis and Mercedes parked out front.  I was honestly intimidated walking in.  Even President Clinton had stayed there during NATO.  Anyway, after getting settled in, A and I headed to Grand Place, which is the main square in Brussels.  It was very impressive.  After walking around Grand Place for a bit, we headed out in search of a restaurant for lunch.  I should mention that restaurants were challenging.  Many times menus weren’t in English.  People speak French in the southern part of Belgium and Flemmish in the north.  Most spoke English, but the menus did not reflect that.  We found a great little café and were able to sit outside once again.  I absolutely loved all the outside seating and I think America is severely lacking in this department.

After lunch, we found the Mannekin Pis, a famous peeing sculpture – ha!  We walked down a few more streets, bought Belgian chocolate and a Belgian waffle, and then headed back to the hotel.  One other thing to note – it stayed light until 10:30pm so we were able to take advantage of the long days and stay out later.

On Friday, A and I took the high speed train to Amsterdam.  I’ve never seen so many bicycles in my life and each street had a designated bicycle lane.  The city was bustling and I found the culture really interesting.  The people seemed very friendly.  The trend among teens and young adults was very “punk” - think dyed hair, tattoos, skinny jeans and t-shirts.  I had fun people watching.  We started with a canal tour.  It was a great way to see the city and relax.  After that, we stopped for lunch.  We ate outside again (of course!) and then made our way to the Ice Bar.  A and I had a lot of fun drinking beer in glasses made of ice and hanging out at the bar, which was also made of ice (go figure).  Afterwards,  we walked, and walked, and walked some more.  I don’t think I’ve ever walked so much in my life.  Once we got away from the extremely busy area near the train station, I enjoyed the city much more.  The canals, bridges, and architecture were really pretty.  We eventually made our way to the Van Gogh museum.  I really liked studying Van Gogh in an art history class and I find his life fascinating.  I loved seeing so many of his paintings.  We also stopped for frozen yogurt and walked past the Anne Frank house.  Then, it was time to catch our train back to Brussels.   I have to say, A was amazing at following the map and getting us from place to place.  With all the canals and signs in Dutch, he did an amazing job and we had so much fun navigating the city together.

Saturday morning, we said goodbye to Brussels and took the high speed train to Paris.  Paris had me completely awestruck.  I’ve never seen a more beautiful city.  Unfortunately, the people were not very friendly (at least to us).  The hotel clerk told us she didn’t know when our room would be ready and directed us to the wrong spot for our tour bus.  We attempted to ask a lady working at what appeared to be an information booth if she knew where the tour bus pick up was and she just shook her head.  It was incredibly frustrating to say the least.  We eventually just walked toward the Eiffel Tower and were so excited to arrive.  There, we were finally able to board our tour bus.  Traffic was insane and after the fourth stop on the tour, A and I decided to hop off the bus and try to find a place to eat.  Everything seemed too pricey or it wasn’t what we were looking for (or we couldn’t read the French menu) so we decided we’d get back on the bus and hop off at a different spot.  Only problem was we got on the wrong bus.  The yellow line was a different route and didn’t stop at the main sights like the green line did.  We were still able to enjoy the beautiful city even if we weren’t seeing the most famous parts.  After riding the yellow line for over an hour, we eventually got back on the correct bus only to get stuck in horrendous traffic.  We drove past the Louvre and we eventually made it to Notre Dame, which was amazing to see.  Both because I’m Catholic and  because the architecture was stunning.  We walked along the Seine and then boarded the bus for the next stop, which took over an hour again thanks to traffic.  We hopped off at the Concorde and walked along Champs de Eliasse (which I cannot pronounce no matter how many times I try).  We stopped for chocolate crepes during our walk and they were delicious.  We also picked up a couple souvenirs for the boys along the way.  We eventually made it to the Arc de Triumph – which I later found out you can actually climb and get an incredible view of the city… darn it!!  After that, it was back to the Eiffel Tower to get one more viewing.  Paris was simply incredible and I really hope I can return some day and spend more time exploring the city.  We finished the day eating pizza at a café and watching the Eiffel Tower illuminate.

It was an incredible trip and an amazing opportunity.  I’m so thankful I was able to experience Europe with A.  I did miss the boys incredibly and being away any longer would have been really tough, but we knew they were in good hands and received daily updates, which definitely helped.  Very, very grateful for our parents taking such good care of our little guys.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Weekend Recap - Happy 4th!!

We had such a fun long weekend!!  I can’t believe we’re already into July, though!!  This summer is really flying by!

Friday afternoon included taking a long walk with the boys and heading out to a local pizza restaurant for dinner.

Saturday was pretty low key.  We decided to go out for lunch and let W choose the place.  He chose our favorite chicken restaurant in A’s hometown.  I really love going there and the boys seem to enjoy too.  We always sit in front of the large open windows and the boys love to comment on the cars they see and the passersby.  W knows the make of every car and S is catching on too so it makes me laugh to watch them point out each car as it goes by.  The food is also delicious.  So fun!

Sunday was church, Starbucks, and then it was off to the local parade.  I mentioned previously that A is not a fan of parades and didn’t want to walk in it last year.  My mom walked with us to keep me company and help with the boys.  She volunteered to walk with us again this year and A decided to join us too!!  It ended up being great, albeit warm.  We were walking with the boys’ preschool and the kids were all so cute in their red, white, and blue attire.  The parade finishes at a park and the boys didn’t waste any time hopping out of their wagon and heading for the splash pad area.  W was soaked and I didn’t bring a change of clothes.  Oops.  I was super hungry so we finally convinced the boys it was time to leave and found an outdoor restaurant at the harbor overlooking Lake Michigan.  We sat at a table with a little fire pit in the middle and listened to a band play while eating a late lunch.  I absolutely loved it!  Such a fun day!  And happy A decided to join us this year.

Monday, A headed out to see a movie with one of our friends.  I was supposed to grab lunch with friends later in the day, but it ended up being cancelled.  It rained a bit in the morning and when it stopped, I suggested that we pick up McDonalds and head to a park for a picnic.  The boys were on board and I texted A to let him know what we were doing in case he wanted to join us when the movie was over.  So happy he came to the park because we ended up staying for 2.5 hours!!  And the boys wanted to stay longer, but I’d had enough.  And the thing is, when your kiddos are still little, you can’t just sit on a bench and watch.  They need lots of help navigating the playground equipment (or at least mine do)… going to the park turns into a little workout!

Tuesday, A and I decided to have a little cookout at home.  The boys are too young to stay up for fireworks and with all of our outdoor time, they need their sleep.  So A cooked brats, burgers, hotdogs, and corn on the cob while I made a cucumber and dill salad, mac and cheese, and fruit salad.  We ate outside and everything was delicious.  We bought poppers for the boys (those little white things that you throw on the ground) and they thought those were the best thing ever.  S cracked up every time one of them popped.  A great day and an awesome weekend!

Friday, June 30, 2017

Friday Thoughts

We have new tenants for the townhouse!  While we have a few reservations, we selected the family who wanted the house the most.  They emailed me quite a few times to ask about the status and offered the deposit immediately.  They were VERY persistent.  The lady even described the house as “perfect”.  I’m hoping this means that they’ll take good care of it.  We do have a few repairs to make before they can move in so I’ve been contacting different companies for estimates.  I’ll be really happy when the repairs are made and the new tenants are moved in.  I should also mention that it was stressful letting other applicants know that we had selected a different family to rent the house.  I had no idea there would be so many interested people and felt awful giving disappointing news.  Good thing I’m not a realtor – I get too emotionally involved!!

On Monday, right after we returned from vacation, we were on our way to pick up W from preschool camp when a rock flew up and cracked the front windshield of my car.  Uggh.  I’ve only had the car for a year and I’m so frustrated.  I know these things happened, but still, they are frustrating.  On the bright side, someone came to the house to “fix” the crack, but there’s now an annoying white spot on the windshield.  I told A that I’m just going to pretend it’s bird poop.

We’re going to be in an Independence Day parade this weekend.  A hates parades so I doubt he’ll join us.   I’m hoping it’s not as loud as last year (we were right behind a truck that kept blasting the horn) and crossing my fingers for good weather.

I came home from work on Wednesday to find a gorgeous bouquet of flowers.  I was confused at first because they looked like the kind that were delivered.  A explained that he had worked with a florist to design a bouquet that was symbolic of our trip to Europe.  The colors and types of the flowers represented the three countries we visited.  I was so impressed and completely surprised!!  I absolutely love the flowers (which also smell amazing) and love A so much!

Happy holiday weekend!!  I'm excited to have four days off to spend with my favorite guys!  Woohoo!!

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Adventures in Europe

I really enjoy traveling and seeing new places (for the most part).  I mean, I hate packing and I miss my bed while I’m away from home, but visiting a new city, experiencing different people/cultures far outweighs the dreadful packing and uncomfortable hotel beds.

My colleagues travel quite often.  Many have been to France, Switzerland, Germany, Ireland, India, Japan, Spain, and so on.  I traveled to Germany in 2013 and really enjoyed the experience, but recent travels have taken me to Cincinnati and Montreal.  I was definitely envious of my colleagues who had the opportunity to travel to more interesting locations (no offence Cincinnati and Montreal), but I also know it’s challenging for A when I travel and can be tough on the boys so I just accepted that traveling overseas was not in the cards for me right now.

Earlier in the year, to my surprise, my then boss asked me if I wanted to conduct an audit in northern France.  I definitely did, but wanted to make sure it was ok with A.  After discussions with the company we’d be auditing, we set a date for mid-June.  A and I discussed and knowing that he’d be out of school, we thought we’d ask our parents if they’d be willing to watch the boys for about a week so that A could join me.  It was definitely a lot to ask, but it was also a great opportunity for A and me to experience new cities/countries together.  Our parents generously agreed to care for our boys and we began planning.

A has never been to Europe and I’ve only been to Germany once.  In the early phases of planning, we agreed that we’d see as much as possible – this is generally our strategy when we travel as we’re not sure if/when we’ll return to a destination.  I was also able to rely heavily on colleagues who had lived and/or traveled to the area.  We eventually decided we’d try to see Gent, Bruges, and Brussels in Belgium, Amsterdam, Netherlands, and Paris, France.

We arrived in Brussels on a Tuesday with one of my colleagues.  After picking up the rental car and getting lost a few times (a GPS you’re unfamiliar with and street signs you can’t read make for a challenging journey), we were off to Gent, Belgium.  When we arrived, I couldn’t stop commenting on how beautiful the city was.  Stone streets, amazing architecture, a river running though the city, and even a castle.  It was breathtaking.  We walked around for a bit and decided to eat lunch outdoors along the river.  It was wonderful.  After lunch, we toured Gravensteen Castle.  I loved viewing the different rooms and even getting a look at the torture devices used in medieval times – yikes.  It was uncharacteristically warm, but not unbearable.  After that, we headed to our hotel in De Panne, Belgium, which happened to be right on the coast of the North Sea.  Our room overlooked the sea and our windows remained wide open.  It was bliss.

Gent, Belgium

De Panne, Belgium

Wednesday, my colleague and I worked all day.  A got to enjoy walking along the beach and checking out the little town while my colleague and I were on site.  After a very long day of work, we headed to Bruges, Belgium.  Another absolutely beautiful city with sculptures, amazing architecture, and streets lined with shops and cafes.  Unfortunately, we arrived late so many of the shops and restaurants were closed, but we found a great restaurant with outdoor seating and enjoyed a nice dinner.  I’d really like to return to this city some day and see the Michelangelo sculpture and check out the shops and restaurants.  I loved it.

Bruges, Belgium

Doesn't it look like something from a storybook?  Stunning...

To be continued…