Life Is Tough, But So Are You

This post contains affiliate links. I received the tee to review for this post. All opinions are 100% my own.

I have a problem when life sends tough stuff my way. I tend to focus on the tough stuff and not on the way through it. I wallow. I worry. I complain. Life is tough, and I don’t like it.

I’m really thankful God is growing me in this area and doesn’t allow me to stay in that place for long. Life IS tough, but so am I. I didn’t always think this way. Strong and tough were not labels I would have always claimed. That has changed over the past fifteen years because I’ve been through moments that required strength I didn’t even know I had. Rather than focus on the fear, worry, or discouragement I felt in those tough moments, I choose to focus on the toughness inside of me that carried me through and brought me out a better person on the other side.

What are those tough moments in your life that uncovered your strength?

For me, three particular times of my life come to mind. These are all very positive events in my life, but they each required (or still require) all the toughness I could pull together.

  • Childbirth
  • Motherhood
  • Running a marathon

Childbirth and running a marathon tested my body beyond what I ever imagined, but they also maxed out my mental toughness. I have so much joy associated with the memories of giving birth to our boys and crossing that marathon finish line, but I also knew that I could do just about anything if I could make it through those exhausting feats.

Motherhood is a whole different kind of tough and this is where I needed (and still need) the biggest mental adjustment. It is also where I need the strength of God inside me most. Raising children is no joke, people, but it is some of the most important work I will do. My children will make mistakes, butt heads with me, and need the same lessons taught to them many times. We’re all sinners and life together is messy. When it gets tough, I need to not feel defeated or discouraged, but rather repeat to myself: “This is tough, but so are you.”

Now I have the shirt to remind me:

life-is-tough-close-square

When I don’t have the toughness I need, I know God is there to strengthen me and to surround me with family and friends that will hold me up and call out that strength. We need to be those people for each other.

I know so many people going through hard things – illnesses, divorce, natural disasters, job loss, etc. I wish I could give each of you a great big hug, pray with you, then remind you that you are just as tough as those circumstances. Let’s be done with despair and defeat and worry. I’m ready to embrace my toughness with a smile.

life-is-tough-full-outfit

The new “Life Is…” t-shirt line from Cents of Style captures all of life perfectly. Life is tough, but it is also beautiful, sweet, grand, and an adventure. However you see life or WANT to see life, one of shirts will speak to you!

life-is-shirts

The “Life Is” collection launches today with a fabulous sale! Pick your favorite shirt and use the code LIFEIS1 at checkout to get it for just $15.95 with free shipping! That is a huge steal for these gorgeous, high quality tees.

life-is-shirts-long

How do you see life? How do you want to embrace this life? Grab a shirt today to claim that vision!

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The Best of Fall Fashion!

This post contains affiliate links. I received the sweater to review for this post. All opinions are 100% my own.

This time of year is a struggle for me. The calendar says fall starts this week and it is my FAVORITE SEASON EVER. The temperatures this week, however, are still screaming SUMMER. I really don’t like that at all. While I hide from these 90º days, I’m going to dream of sweaters and jeans and boots until they become a reality.

Thankfully, Cents of Style is there to indulge my love for fall fashion with the most amazing pieces to wear this season. I’ve picked out a few of my favorites from their new releases, but it only scratches the surface! Let’s start with these fabulous fall fashions:

best-of-fall-fashion-1

clockwise from top left

  1. Jessa Diamond Sweater Kimono – more details AND a sweet discount later in the post!
  2. Tobin Cut Out Ankle Bootie – I love this new take on the ankle boot this year. The cut-out detail gives it so much fun flair!
  3. Diana Geometric Cutout Dangle Earrings – Fall screams gold to me. I love the warmth of it paired with browns and reds and oranges. These make a statement – and kind of look like leaves!
  4. Rylan Crochet Peasant Tunic – I adore this color and tunics are my favorite. Paired with jeans, boots, and those gold earrings…ah, fall perfection.
  5. Nisha Wool Panama Hat – Everybody needs a great fall hat. Go with a brown one like this to complement the colors of autumn!
  6. Esther Wood and Gold Cuff Bracelet – More gold jewelry, I know, but doesn’t your arm deserve to get in on the fall fun? Love this bold, but simple cuff! And the wood accents are genius!
  7. Lexia Geometric Kimono – If you live in a place with a warmer fall, this lightweight kimono might be more appropriate. I just can’t get over the fun geometric pattern and fringe!
  8. Giovanna Glass Bead Necklace – Long tassel necklaces pair perfectly with long sweaters and skinny jeans. The camel color is very in this fall, so this necklace will match every outfit!

Now back to that diamond sweater kimono…

sweater-kimono-snuggle

THIS is the reason I want the temps to cool down. I want to wrap myself up in sweaters that feel like blankets and not sweat to death!

A sweater kimono is a layering piece to take everywhere with you this fall. I’m picturing a hayrack ride or bonfire…pardon my daydreaming, but I just want to go there right now! The key to pulling off this look with a heavier piece on top is to keep the pants nice and sleek. I would opt for skinny jeans or leggings with boots to complete the fall look!

sweater-kimono-pattern

You have to get your hands on this sweater kimono, so we’re offering you a deal! Use the code KIMONOHOME at checkout to get the Jessa Diamond Sweater Kimono for only $17.95, including free shipping!

The sweater kimono is available in four great colors (navy is sold out – bummer) that will make any fall outfit pop AND keep you nice and snug. The black is stunning, the gray makes a subtle statement, and the burgundy is bold and beautiful!

sweater-kimono-square

I needed a brown sweater to round out my fall wardrobe and this one is it. I’m picturing it layered over burnt orange, plum, and, of course, lots of cream or white. So many options, and it has the cutest wood buttons on the sides to create sleeves!

Go grab your sweater kimono for just $17.95 with code KIMONOHOME before they sell out!

Which color did you choose? What are your fall fashion favorites from Cents of Style?

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Ending the School Year Strong!

We did it! We made it through our first non-homeschooling year of school for the boys!

Last Day Mom Boys

It was an incredibly successful year of transition for us – not perfect by any means, but full of great learning experiences for education and life. Friends were made. Conflicts arose and were resolved. Homework was forgotten, but not much because that lesson was learned fast! They went on field trips, competed in the spelling bee, brought lunch from home (except for pizza days), celebrated birthdays, and so much more. They had wonderful teachers

We are all very pleased with how the year went and know God was with us every step of the way, as He always is. The kids loved school, but they are also equally ready for a summer break!

Whether your school year has ended yet or not, a lot about how the school year ends for our kids can be impacted by our behavior as parents. The way in which we end a school year can help our children see the big picture of how they grew over the past nine months as well as help them to actually look forward to the next school year, even if summer is all that is on their mind!

I have a few fun ideas for ending the school year strong as a family and you can use them whether your kids were out a few weeks ago or still have a few weeks left! Find three of my favorite ways to end the school year strong over on the Tommy Nelson blog!

How do you celebrate the end of the school year as a family?

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Race Day Essentials: Race Time

This post contains affiliate links.

The “Race Day Essentials” series continues today with the items I must have during the actual race. If you missed day one, you can check out my pre-race essentials here!

One of the best pieces of advice about running a race is, “Don’t try anything new on race day.” This is especially true for me during the race. I don’t want to eat, drink, or wear anything I haven’t trained with, so my list is pretty specific. These are the items that have passed the test for my race day!

As I said in my previous post, these are the items I use and must have on race day, but your list may look very different. The posts are meant to give you ideas, not something you should copy exactly. Try lots of things and go with what works for your body!

Here we go with what I must have during a race:

MY RACE-TIME

The perfect shoe – Before I begin on my love for Brooks Running shoes, you need to know that running shoes are a very personal thing. Do NOT go buy a pair of shoes because someone else really liked them. If you are serious about running, you need to go to a good running store and have your feet measured and gait analyzed to get recommendations for your feet. I’ve tried a few brands and models, and Brooks shoes are the only ones for me. My race day shoe is the Ravenna and I’ll be wearing those awesome animal print ones for my first marathon! Side note: do not run a race on brand new shoes. Plan ahead to break them in before the big day!

Balega socks – Just the right amount of cushion, very few blisters, fun colors – Balegas are a winner for both The Hubby and me!

Arm sleeves – I obsess about the weather and what to wear for races. I don’t want to be cold, but I absolutely can’t stand having too many layers on and getting too warm. Arm sleeves are a fabulous solution for those races that start out chilly, but warm up fast. I can wear them with a tank top and push them down or even take them off if it gets too hot! I pack them for every race, just in case.

Honey Stinger Chews – I mentioned the Honey Stinger Waffle in yesterday’s pre-race post, but the chews are the first thing that got me hooked on this brand. They are soft, naturally sweet, and come in several yummy flavors. I have tried MANY kinds of fuel during a race, but I’m not looking back. Honey Stinger is the one for me. I particularly love Pink Lemonade, Cherry Cola (with caffeine!), Fruit Smoothie, and Pomegranate Passion Fruit.

SPIbelt – How do I carry those Honey Stinger Chews with me? I’m glad you asked! It took me a long time to figure out the best way to carry things with me because I HATE to carry anything extra during a race. I doubted I would find a fuel belt I really liked, but the SPIbelt totally won me over. It looks so small, but stretches to fit whatever you need to fit in it. You’ll have to experiment with how you like to wear it and how much you will carry, but I’ve found it to be handy, versatile, and comfortable. It always carries at least my fuel and phone, both which take up a good amount of room!

GPS watch – During a race, I need to know how I’m doing with my pace. Enter the GPS watch. Sometimes it helps me hold back at the beginning of a race. Sometimes it reminds me I need to push myself a little more. I try not to obsess over it and mostly just check in at each mile. I would go crazy racing without it. CRAZY. I have a very basic Garmin Forerunner (mine is older, but most like this model) that does everything I need and The Hubby has a model with more functions and details.

Pace band – I can get “running dumb” during a long run or race. Trying to calculate where I should be time-wise in the later miles is almost impossible. Pace bands do all that work for me. My next half-marathon goal is 1:55:00, so I have a pace band that tells me what I want my time to be at each mile. For the marathon, my goal is to finish, so I picked a pace band to help me keep steady and hold back a little. When I pass a mile marker on course, I check my watch and my pace band to see how close/far off the times are and adjust from there! The Hubby and I also use these when we pace races.

Tomorrow, we’ll wrap up this series with what I need to recover right after a race! See you back here for the final installment!

What is always with you during a race?

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Three Must-Pack Items for a Sunny Getaway!

I received complimentary items from Avenutra Clothing to review.

I’m dreaming about hopping on a plane with The Hubby for a weekend getaway to somewhere tropical…

Beach. Water. Sun. Quiet. Sigh…

While I’m daydreaming and mentally packing my suitcase, I thought I’d tell you about three items I MUST have for such a vacation. These aren’t the only things I would pack, but they will cover lots of situations while relaxing under the sun.

Versatile, wrinkle-free sun dress

I love a basic, neutral dress that can paired with a variety of accessories to be day dress for window shopping, an evening dress for a night of dinner and dancing, or even a swimsuit cover-up! Black, grey, and white are my top choices for this piece.

Packable sun hat

Not only are wide sun hats totally in style right now, they are also great for your skin. I would go with a light-colored one to keep my head cool and it must be packable because I don’t usually have a lot of extra room in my suitcase (OVER-PACKER)!

Comfortable sandals

While I love to lay around and relax on a beach vacation, I can also get restless and want to explore. Also, I need those steps for my Fitbit! I have to have comfy sandals along to get me wherever we’re going without aching feet by the end of the day. Leather sandals (not flip-flops) are my favorite because of the look, the feel, and the durability.

These three items can be used in so many ways separately, but they also pair really well together!

Aventura 2

dress + hat from Aventura Clothing / necklace + earrings from Starfish Project / Merrell sandals from Orvis

This adorable dress and fabulous sun hat are from Aventura Clothing, a family-owned business operating with sustainable practices and using eco-friendly fabrics whenever possible!

Aventura 1

The Mallory dress is lightweight, comfortable, and oh-so-cute! I can roll it up to throw in the suitcase and pull it out when we get to our destination with no wrinkles – ready to wear! This color is great because it won’t show dirt like a lighter color and it won’t get hot like a darker color dress.

Aventura 3

And how about the fun Cruz sun hat? Just fold/crush/pack it in your suitcase and you’re ready for some shade in the sun! The hat has UPF 50+ and comes in four colors – something for everyone!

Check out more fun and functional clothing for an active lifestyle over at Aventura Clothing! And my friend Shannon is styling this very same dress over on her blog today, so check that out for more ideas!

I have my packing list all ready – now where should we go?! What do you HAVE to pack for a sunny getaway?

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Sharing Music for the Holidays! (Giveaway)

This post is part of the #ShareTheHolidays campaign with Omaha Performing Arts. I received two free show tickets. All opinions are 100% my own!

Nothing gets me in the mood for the holidays more than music. Once Thanksgiving is over, Christmas music is playing in our home 24/7. As a music teacher, I made it my personal mission to make sure all my students knew just about every classic Christmas song under the sun. Now I do the same with our children and I even made a printable for families to use for learning a Christmas song per day during December!

The Christmas music lover in me is THRILLED with the holiday lineup from Omaha Performing Arts this year! Just take a look at this amazing schedule:

  • The Brian Setzer Orchestra 12th Annual Christmas Rocks! Tour – Sunday, November 15, at 7:00 PM, Orpheum Theater, Slosburg Hall.
  • Vienna Boys Choir – Christmas in Vienna – Thursday, November 19, at 7:30 PM, Holland Performing Arts Center, Kiewit Concert Hall.
  • Cyrus Chestnut Trio – A Jazzy Christmas Wednesday – December 2, at 7:30 PM, Holland Center, Scott Recital Hall (1200 Club performance – a night club setting).
  • A Celtic Tenors Christmas – Wednesday, December 2, at 7:30 PM, Holland Performing Arts Center, Kiewit Concert Hall. 
  • Michael McDonald – This Christmas, An Evening of Holiday & Hits – Friday, December 4, 8:00 PM, Holland Center, Kiewit Hall.
  • Joyful Noise – A Gospel Christmas featuring Salem Baptist Church – Sunday, December 6, 4:00 PM & 7:00 PM, Holland Center, Kiewit Hall.

Yes, please. To all of the above!

To go along with these wonderful holiday events, the Shine the Light on Hunger campaign runs November 1 through December 31 at several Omaha venues, including the Orpheum Theater and Holland Center. People attending concerts at these locations can bring non-perishable food items, which will benefit the Food Bank for the Heartland!

BSO_ChristmasAdmat_Everywhere

The Hubby and I will be heading to see the Brian Setzer Orchestra 12th Annual Christmas Rocks! Tour next weekend! I can’t wait to hear his take on holiday music and I can’t wait for a date night with The Hubby! I think this calls for a fun holiday dress, right?!

We would love to have you join us for the Brian Setzer Orchestra on Sunday, November 15th, so we’re giving away two tickets! Just leave a comment with your favorite Christmas song and I’ll pick a winner this Sunday evening at 9PM CST!

Which of these shows would you most love to see?

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ONE DAY ONLY: Boots + Scarf Combo for $32.95!

I have included affiliate links below. When you purchase through these links, I may receive a small commission. Thank you for supporting this site and our sponsorship of our Compassion child, Samson!

The great boots + scarf combo deal from Cents of Style is back and better than ever! You guys went crazy over this last year, so I was super excited when I knew it was make a repeat appearance! Please grab this deal RIGHT AWAY because it always sells out FAST!

COS Boots + Scarf 1

For this year’s combo, you’ll get a pair of CUTE tall riding boots with strap and buckle detailing, a half zipper on the inside, and a fair amount of room in the calf. They come in two colors: black and tan. I am loving these and SO glad they have extra calf room to fit boot socks!

COS Boots + Scarf 5

The scarf in this year’s combo is a knit infinity with small pom-like knit details.

COS Boots + Scarf 2

It comes in 7 great fall colors and looks super cozy! I’ve got my eye on the cream and gray!

COS Boots + Scarf 3

Here is a step by step instruction on how to get the boots and scarf for $32.95 & FREE SHIPPING!

  1. Add boot to your cart.
  2. As soon as the boot is added, a pop up will appear and offer to add the scarf for $4.00.
  3. Proceed to checkout.
  4. Additionally, when checkout button is clicked a boot cuff offer will popup for $2.99.
  5. Apply “BOOTSCOMBO” coupon code and it will drop the price of the boot and scarf to $32.95 (plus $2.99 if cuffs are added)
  6. FREE SHIPPING- as always, with Cents of Style!

Here’s a peek at the boot cuffs you can add on to your order for just $2.99:

COS Boots Cuffs

When all is said and done, you could have new boots + a new scarf + new boot cuffs for less than $36 shipped! And you’ll be all set for fall!

Ok, don’t delay one more second! Go grab this deal, then come back to tell me what you picked out! Happy shopping and HAPPY FALL!

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What I Wore

I have included affiliate and referral links below. When you purchase through these links, I may receive a small commission. Thank you for supporting this site and our sponsorship of our Compassion child, Samson!

I know, I know. Style posts two days in a row. If you don’t really care about fashion, I’m sorry. But if you do enjoy talking fashion, like me, then YAY! More style talk!

I’ve been wearing lots of shorts + tanks thanks to the hot, humid weather, but this week I mixed it up a bit with a maxi skirt, a hoodie, and my favorite cowboy boots!

Here is what I wore this week…

What I Wore 8-12 Gathered Maxi Skirt

Basics can be beautiful, right? I love having staples that can be thrown together easily, like this black Target tee (very favorite tee in my closet), gathered maxi skirt from Beautiful & Beloved, and Saltwater SandalsThe skirt is 40% off right now and available in this smoke color, as well as berry!

What I Wore 8-12 Sienna Ashley

This outfit just screams fall. I was in my happy place because it was cloudy and a little cooler. Not THAT cool, but I was comfy in this inside! I paired the new Sienna Ashley from Evy’s Tree (get 10% off at that link!) with a great Elegantees tee, my new favorite Kan Can jeans from Noelle Mae Boutique, a fabulous Noonday necklace, and my thrift store Skechers find!

What I Wore 8-12 Jump

See? Happy place.

What I Wore 8-12 Accent Ruffle Tank

Big J was invited to a horse-riding birthday party this past weekend, so I had to break out my favorite Lane cowboy boots! With all the stuff you find in the stables and riding arena, I was glad to have jeans and boots on, even if it was quite hot. This accent ruffle tank is another great piece from Noelle Mae Boutique! I know it will be a valuable layering piece for me this fall! (I AM wearing a cami under it – it’s just nude colored!) Remember, you can get 10% off your first Noelle Mae Boutique order when you shop here!

That’s it for What I Wore this week! Make sure you check out all the fun What I Wore posts all linked up over at The Pleated Poppy!

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Hands-on-Prints Books: Engaging Kids in Reading!

I participated in an Influencer Activation on behalf of Influence Central for Hands-on-Prints books. I received books to facilitate my review. This post contains affiliate links.

We are a book-loving household. We have books of all kinds coming out of our ears. I’ve really tried to trim down our selection over the years, but I can’t seem to stop adding to our collection when I find something that looks good!

The introduction of Kindles in to our home has helped slow the rapid growth of our stacks and stacks of books, but there is still nothing like holding a physical book in your hands, especially when it comes to children’s books.

Hands On Prints All

I’m thrilled to introduce a new series to you that will really engage your children in books through great content, wonderful illustrations, and their senses!

Hands On Prints Books

Christinia Cheung earned a Masters in Early Childhood Education and established a Montessori school that celebrates differences in personality, learning preferences and cultural backgrounds. Through these experiences, she was compelled to write her Hands-on-Prints books.

Hands On Prints Boys

This series of five books inspires simple and complex learning about the world, especially incorporating sight and touch to create an interactive visual experience for children. Hands-On-Prints books really are a unique set that my children and I are greatly enjoying!

Our family favorite is Around the World from A to Z!

Hands On Prints AZ

Around the World from A to Z takes kids on a journey to explore the activities, famous landmarks, and cultures of countries. Rock climbing at Mt. Rushmore, martial arts at Mount Fuji, and snorkeling at the Great Barrier Reef are just a few of the fun adventures highlighted in Around the World. My boys loved seeing what activity would be on the next page and finding the location on the map in the upper right corner of each page!

Hands On Prints AZ Finger 2 Hands On Prints AZ Finger

Each page also features a raised, textured cursive letter of the alphabet for little hands to trace! Our oldest showed his younger brothers how to trace them correctly and I’ve caught them doing it over and over again. This book has so many things to get kids involved in learning! We are big fans!

Hands On Prints Chartres

Several years ago, The Hubby and I visited Europe and one of our stops along the way was in Chartres, France. We explored the gorgeous and incredibly unique cathedral in this town and were fascinated by the story of its construction. Because of that visit, this next book is a sentimental favorites. Geometry through Architecture: The Chartres Cathedral details all the ways shapes were used in the building, particularly as symbolism in the stained glass windows. I loved looking through this book with Big J and showing him our own pictures of the cathedral from our visit. He is his mother’s son – very interested in reading and history – so this was a great connection point for us!

Hands On Prints Coconuts

Other books in the Hands-On-Prints series include Nuts for Coconuts, A Persistent Vine, and Do I Have To? What If I Don’t Want To?

Hands-On-Prints books take children on adventures that develop their knowledge and a sense of discovery! I love how these books encourage kids to think outside of themselves and their normal circumstances. They truly do inspire the best in young learners!

Which Hands-On-Prints book would be most interesting to your child?

Leave a comment with your favorite to be entered to win! Giveaway ends Tuesday, May 26th at 9PM CST!

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Sensible Portions Puffs: Snacks for the Whole Family!

This is a sponsored post from Hain Celestials. I was compensated for this post, but all opinions are 100% my own.

I know I’m not the only mom who has kiddos CONSTANTLY asking for things to eat, right?! I’m always on the look out for better-for-you snacks to feed the whole family when they need to munch on something. The boys have found a new favorite in Sensible Portions Puffs from Hain Celestials!

Puffs

Made with organic corn and no fillers, Sensible Portions Puffs are baked and deliciously seasoned bite-size poppable treats for the entire family to enjoy! Sensible Portions Puffs are made with the belief that an after-school snack, or a movie-watching treat, can be fun and delicious while also being a better-for-you, smarter snacking option.

Puffs Eating

The boys take after me and like something a little salty for an afternoon snack along with some fruit or string cheese. I don’t want them to fill up on junk, especially with dinner right around the corner. Sensible Portions Puffs satisfy that salty craving with their four yummy flavors: Veggie, Cheddar, Tomato Basil, and Sour Cream & Onion.

Puffs Boys

The boys loved all four flavors, but the Cheddar were definitely a favorite! The Hubby enjoyed all of the flavors as well, while I had a strong preference for the Veggie Puffs! These really are the perfect thing to snack on – low-calorie and without any nasty fillers! You can grab your own at WalMart stores for just $2.88 a bag!

I want your family to be able to give Sensible Portions Puffs a try, so we’re giving one of you four bags – one of each flavor! To enter, just tell me about your favorite better-for-you snacks for your family! For an extra entry, tweet this and come back to leave a separate comment telling me you did:

Tweet: Enter to win 4 bags of #SensiblePortionsPuffs from @homewiththeboys! http://ctt.ec/3dJF1+ #giveaway

Leave your comments by Monday, May 11th at 8PM CST to be entered!

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