The One Way I Know How to Be Brave Today

I received the featured product to review from Cents of Style. All opinions are 100% my own. This post contains affiliate links.

I feel just about everything except brave today.

I felt brave seven months ago when I decided I would train for my first marathon the following spring.

I felt brave when I filled out my registration for the Fargo Marathon and sent it in.

I felt brave as I started my marathon training plan in February with my eyes set on conquering my next running goal.

I even felt brave as I finished my 20-miler a month ago, the longest run I would do during my marathon training.

Today, the day before my first marathon, those brave feelings escape me, so I’m writing this now to remind myself of the brave moments that led me to this one.

I’m also writing this to remember that I am not brave on my own. I am brave because my God looks at me and says, “You can be brave because I am with You.”

Be Brave 2

We’ve taught our boys since they were little to approach life and the things God calls us to with faith and bravery. Joshua 1:9 is a key verse we refer back to often:

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.

This is a lovely promise, but it’s not just that. This is a command. A command WITH a promise: be strong, be courageous, be brave BECAUSE the Lord my God is always with me. 

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The feelings of bravery will come and go a million times before I cross the starting line and every step of the 26.2 miles, but God is not that wishy-washy. Unlike my feelings, He is steady and true. He will never leave me or forsake me and that is the source of my bravery today, tomorrow, and every day of my life here on earth. Standing in this truth is the one way I know how to be brave today.

I’m wearing my Be Brave shirt from Cents of Style today as we drive north to Fargo for my first marathon. It is just the encouragement I need running through my head as the time to run (a REALLY long way) draws closer. Be brave – embrace it with me (and maybe pray for an extra does of it for me?!) today!

What do you need the push to “BE” today? Cents of Style has an amazing Be Series with messages for each of us: be brave, be still, be true, be kind, be bold.

COS Be Series

This beautiful collection of shirts, hats, and jewelry from the Be Series is 50% off with the code BEYOU today! You also get free shipping! Choose your word and grab your favorite styles before they are gone!

One last thing: I’m running this marathon tomorrow in support of The Mercy House, a maternity home in Kenya. I need less than $100 to reach my fundraising goal, so every little bit helps! Would you consider making a donation of any amount to help us hit $262 before the race starts? Thank you so much!

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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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The Best Statement Necklace + A Summer Date Night Look!

I received complimentary product to review from The Jones Market. I was not compensated in any other way for this post, and all opinions are 100% my own.

It’s the Boy Mom/Girl Mom Style Challenge! Shannon – mom to four girls – and I – mom to three boys – will be posting a style challenge twice a month and we want you to join in!

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Each #BMGMStyle challenge will have a theme. You just need to post a pic on Instagram following that theme and use the hashtag #BMGMStyle to be a part of the challenge! Shannon and I will pick our favorites to feature each week and one participant per month will win a giveaway from the month’s featured companies!

Are you ready for #BMGMStyle Challenge #3?

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I have been DYING to share my favorite new addition to my jewelry wardrobe with you and today is the day!

Jones Market Necklace 1

The Jones Market is a dream shop for mamas. They are all about creating non-toxic, lightweight, tuggable (a.k.a. kid-proof) jewelry that is absolutely stunning. I have so many of their gorgeous necklaces on my wish list, but this green beauty won over my heart the instant I saw it on Instagram.

Jones Market Close Square 1

This is the classic single cinch style and I love everything about it. It is bold, but I almost forget I’m wearing it because it is so light! AND IT IS GREEN. People, you know how I feel about green. All the love. I wear it no less than three times a week – no joke.

Jones Market Full

While it is a great everyday necklace (check out how Shannon styled it for day), a necklace from The Jones Market can easily be worn for a fun night out! I have lots of black and neutral outfits for date nights, so they need a good pop of color! This single cinch necklace is just the perfect fun addition to this romantic summer look, don’t you think?

I know you are just itching to get your hands on your very own necklace from The Jones Market (I’ll take about five more), so let’s do a giveaway! Just enter below to win a $30 gift card to do a little shopping for yourself!

We would also love to see how you style your favorite statement necklace, whether it is from The Jones Market or not! Just tag your statement necklace style photos with #BMGMStyle on Instagram so we can see your fabulousness! 

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Race Day Essentials: Post-Race

This post contains affiliate links.

We’re wrapping up the Race Day Essentials series with the things I need after the race is over. It took me a while to figure out what my body needed after a long or hard race, but that ended up being due mostly to not hydrating well enough in the days leading up to the race. Now that I have that part of the puzzle figured out, my stomach isn’t as sensitive and I’m not quite as picky about what I can eat.

Not included in this list is the MASSIVE amount of food that can be handed out at the end of a race. I usually eat 90% of this food and have ZERO guilt. I love when races have salty things like pretzels and chocolate milk – not necessities, but definitely favorites.

The lists have been more about food and products I use on race day, so I also left off a few experiences that must happen post-race: lots and lots of pictures, a long warm shower, wearing my medal everywhere we go, and maybe even a nap! There really is nothing like the runner’s high after a hard-run race!

Here’s today’s list:

MY POST-RACE

Banana – Some people like a banana before the race, but I prefer mine after! I think the banana has become a healthy post-race comfort food for me and they are usually available at the finish line, so I never have to look far for one!

Water – Again, this is a no-brainer.

Deep Blue Rub – We NEVER leave for a race without packing Deep Blue Rub. It is a MUST MUST MUST for us. The natural cooling and warming combination is just what our legs need after a long, hard race. I apply it to my problem areas (calves, quads) after a long, warm shower…sigh… I don’t sell essential oils anymore, but if you’re interested in this rub, you can get more info from a trusted friend of mine here!

Calf sleeves or compression socks – These get put on right after the Deep Blue Rub. As The Hubby once said after he put on his very first pair, “It’s like they’re giving my legs a hug!” He was totally right. And my legs are SO much happier with me the rest of the day (and for days afterwards) if they get a nice post-race hug. I don’t prefer one over the other, but use them in different situations, depending on the weather and what I’ll be wearing the rest of the day. I love these “Run Happy” calf sleeves from Brooks Running and Pro Compression makes my fave compression socks!

Bzees shoes – My feet are the most hurting part of my body after a very long run and the last thing they need is to be squeezed into an uncomfortable pair of shoes. I tried flip for a while, but I often get a blister between my first two toes, so flip-flops went bye-bye quickly. Then a pair of Bzees entered my life.

Bzees originally sent me a pair of shoes to review last year, and those shoes have been packed for every single race since. My feet need some support, but also some room to breathe. My Bzees feel like clouds from heaven for my feet. In the above photo is a new pair they sent me this year and my feet loved me for packing them on my trip to Nashville a few weeks ago for the Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon. Yes, I got these shoes from the company to review, but I would buy them again with my own money in a HEARTBEAT. They work in any weather with almost any outfit I might choose post-race. My love for Bzees has no bounds. For reference, the pictured pair is the Sparkle Sling Back and I also own the Relax Slip-On – they are all machine washable!

You could also add to this list food, food, and more food, especially a nice burger or steak and some frozen yogurt, but that all just depends on the race and the day!

And that is the conclusion of the Race Day Essentials series! If you missed them, check out my pre-race and race-time necessities and share your favorites!

What do you need or love to have after a race?

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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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Race Day Essentials: Pre-Race

This post contains affiliate links.

The only thing on my mind right now is running.

Ok, well there a few other things, but running has taken over most of my brain because my first marathon is almost here. There is a LOT of nervous energy flowing through me right now, so I’ve decided to combine it with my running obsession to write a few posts I’ve had planned for a while!

The Hubby and I really, really love races, so we’ve had time to really perfect our pre-race, during race, and post-race routines. This will be my first marathon, but after 13 half-marathons, I know what helps my mind and body get through a race and recover afterwards.

I don’t usually post on Sundays, but I couldn’t wait any longer to get this series started!

Today is the first post in my series “Race Day Essentials,” so we’re obviously beginning with pre-race essentials. Tomorrow, we’ll move on to essentials for during the race. We’ll wrap it up the next day with my post-race must-haves. It’s going to be a fun week – at least I think so!

My disclaimer on all of these posts will be the same: 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!

With that, here are my pre-race essentials:

Pre-Race Essentials

English muffin + peanut butter (not pictured) – I eat an English muffin (or this homemade English muffin bread if I’m at home) with peanut butter (and sometimes honey) two hours before the race starts. If it’s a really early race, I’ll eat it and go back to bed, but sleep usually evades me at this point!

Coffee – This is a new development for me this year and I’m loving it. I’ve always loved coffee, but this is the first training cycle where I’ve had it before almost all of my long runs. I like the results. I plan to have some at least an hour before my first marathon – I’ll let you know how it goes!

Water – Do I even need to explain this? Good.

Body Glide – Necessity. Training for this marathon has revealed all sorts of new chafing problems, so I’m using Body Glide like never before. On my 20-mile run, the seam on the back of my pants rubbed my lower back raw. I had no idea, but that spot is getting Body Glide every time now, along with many other places. Body Glide – don’t run long without it.

Honey Stinger Waffle – I eat this amazing piece of deliciousness on the way to a long race. It is naturally sweet and just what I need for an extra boost of energy to start the race. We’re both obsessed with Honey Stinger products. You’ll hear about another one in the race time essentials.

Chapstick + sunscreen – One of the last things I do before dropping off my bag at gear check is put on some chapstick. I can’t stand having dry lips during a race and the sunscreen is a must to protect my skin for the 2+ hours I will be running! My chapstick must have it’s own sunscreen (the yellow EOS in my running bag and SoftLips in my fuel belt) and I prefer spray sunscreen so I can apply it quickly myself.

Come back tomorrow as we’re moving on to my necessities for the actual race!

What are your must-haves before a race?

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SoCozy Hair Care for Kids is at CVS!

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of SoCozy. All opinions are my own and not edited by the sponsor.

As a boy mom, I don’t have to think a whole lot about their hair care. We don’t struggle with tangled hair, and with their short haircuts, they don’t even need to comb their hair! Just in the past year, we’ve entered the world of hair gel with our oldest, but that is the extent of the work that needs to be done to get ready for the day!

Even though our hair care needs are minimal with boys, I want to make sure what we do use on their hair is safe and effective. I’ve recently been introduced to SoCozy and it checks all the boxes for our needs – and they will do the same for your family!

SoCozy at CVS

SoCozy products are non-toxic and made without parabens, formaldehyde, sulfates, phthalates, synthetic color, propylene glycol. Free of alcohol, gluten, wheat, peanuts and tree nuts. SoCozy is committed to providing easy-to-use, safe hair care for all kids’ hair types, as well as well-researched tips and advice for parents!

We recently visited CVS to pick up some SoCozy products for our own family! CVS just started carrying the SoCozy line, so it’s convenient for your family to grab at your local store – we found it in the baby aisle at our CVS!

We don’t have much need for these items, but I loved seeing that the SoCozy line includes a detangler and styling cream – I know a detangler was a necessity for my hair as a little girl, and even sometimes now!

SoCozy at the Pool

For our boys, I bought the 3-in-1 shampoo-conditioner-wash to take along on our trips to the gym or swimming pool. I love multi-use products because they cut down on the number items we have to remember when we pack up! The mango smell is super yummy, too! It feels like the perfect product to take with use everywhere this summer, including on vacation.

I also grabbed two of the “boo!” products, which are intended to help prevent lice – and every mom said, “Amen!” We don’t have need for these right now, but I wish I would have had it during those winter months at school when lice was going around! We avoided it this year, but I’m happy to be prepared the next time a note comes home that someone in their class has lice.

Make sure to visit your local CVS to pick up these wonderful, safe, fun hair care products for your kiddos!

Which SoCozy products sound like the best fit for your family?

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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!

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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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Get It, Girl: How I Wear Activewear and a Sale for You!

I received complimentary product to review from Cents of Style and all opinions are 100% my own. This post also contains affiliate links.

I’m currently training for my first marathon. I shared some of that story here, but I have to tell you that as the days have sped by and my marathon is only three weeks away, a little bit of fear has started to creep in.

I’ve been a runner for four years now. I hated running before that, but now it is so many things to me. Running is about a healthy body AND a healthy mind for me. I run because it helps clear my head. Running used to disgust me, now it makes me happy.

Running also provides a way to challenge myself and this is where fear can factor in. I never enter a race thinking I might win, but I always have goals and sometimes those goals are scary. Like this marathon.

If I let my mind wander for too long, I start to think, “I’ve never run longer than 20 miles – how will I make it 26.2?!” or “What if feel sick or get hurt or can’t finish the race?” It’s enough to make me want to back off, but I’m not going to be that person. I don’t ever want to be the person who backs away from challenge.

Since quitting is not an option and I won’t let fear get me down, I find ways to keep myself motivated, like fun activewear with great patterns and sayings that make me want to crush the run and reach that goal!

Cents of Style Activewear Sale

I love the phrase, “Get it, girl,” and I often use it to cheer on my friends in their healthy pursuits. I love that I have that phrase to encourage myself now, thanks to this awesome tank from Cents of Style! I have a half marathon coming up tomorrow and I’m planning to bust out a new PR, so I threw on this sweet tank with a pair of heathered yoga capris (also from Cents of Style) for my easy run yesterday. I felt pretty darn good and a little invincible – ready for the challenge of pushing myself to a new best this weekend! Go ahead – tell me to “get it, girl!”

Cents of Style Activewear

Here’s the fun part for you: the fun activewear collection from Cents of Style is 50% off today with the code ACTIVELOVE at checkout! This includes great tanks and capris like mine for $14.98 each, as well as more yoga pants and sports bras. There are some GREAT sayings on these tanks – I know you’ll find one that gets your motivated or puts a smile on your face!

COS Activewear Tanks

Whether you wear activewear to run, lift weights, or go to the grocery store, grab this fun deal before it’s gone! Use the code ACTIVELOVE to get 50% off AND free shipping today only!

I have to know: which tank is your favorite?

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#BMGMStyle: Cool, Calm, and Casual with Chadwick’s!

I received complimentary product to review from Chadwick’s. I was not compensated in any other way for this post, and all opinions are 100% my own. This post contains referral and/or affiliate links.

It’s the Boy Mom/Girl Mom Style Challenge! Shannon – mom to four girls – and I – mom to three boys – will be posting a style challenge twice a month and we want you to join in!

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Each #BMGMStyle challenge will have a theme. You just need to post a pic on Instagram following that theme and use the hashtag #BMGMStyle to be a part of the challenge! Shannon and I will pick our favorites to feature each week and one participant per month will win a giveaway from the month’s featured companies!

Are you ready for #BMGMStyle Challenge #2?

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We’re partnering with Chadwick’s today to show you some cool, calm, and casual looks for spring! My absolute favorite everyday look when the weather warms up is a maxi dress. A maxi dress is an instant outfit – no mixing and matching necessary! Just add some simple or bold accessories and you are ready to go.

I also love maxi dresses because of the practicality and comfort level. Dresses are my favorite and I love all lengths, but the maxi dress has a special place in my heart for the following reasons:

  1. I can move around easily with my boys and not worry about anything (ahem) accidentally showing.
  2. A maxi dress won’t fly up and expose others in this Nebraska wind.
  3. I can look dressed up, but feel like I’m in my pajamas.

This maxi dress from Chadwick’s is all of the reasons I love the maxi dress…

Chadwick's Maxi Dress Pin

I firmly believe every woman needs a simple black maxi dress in her wardrobe. The knit tank maxi dress from Chadwick’s is the definition of cool, calm, and casual, with bra-friendly straps, fun front pockets, and small side slits. I could throw it on in the morning for just about any occasion and feel totally at ease all day long.

Chadwick's Maxi Dress Side Chadwick's Maxi Dress Front

I also love a pop of color with my basic black. I went for red with this ensemble, with a great hat from Cents of Style and my fabulous new Avarcas. If you see me out and about with the fam this spring and summer, there’s a high probability I will be wearing a very similar outfit!

Chadwick's Skirt Square

With the Nebraska wind and active boys, shorter skirts and dresses can be a little risky for a casual, active day. But this French terry skort – a skirt with shorts hidden underneath – is a great solution for those warmer, casual days. I can look sporty yet feminine when I pair this comfy skort with my Royals tank and classic Converse!

Find out how Shannon styled her Chadwick’s items, including the same maxi dress, over on The Simple Moms today!

Chadwick’s has great pieces for you to stay cool, calm, and casual this spring, so we’re giving away a $50 Chadwick’s gift card! Enter below and remember to tag your casual spring looks with #BMGMStyle on Instagram!

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What is your favorite cool, calm, and casual look for spring?

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