Celebrating One Month

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

One month. How much happiness and inspiration can you fit into 30-ish days? A lot, apparently. Today The Lucky Lifestyle celebrates one month of being "out there," sharing the light-hearted and the heavy, the funny, the everyday, the once in a lifetime. This space is still in its infancy (newborn-ness, really) but I already feel so encouraged. 

Selfishly, I love the writing. I love how the littlest thing can spark an idea for a post and before I know it, I'm furiously clicking away on my keyboard, what was once just a thought becoming this... thing. This idea, or suggestion, or revelation, or musing that is out there in the world for others to take in. But here's the key: the others part is the best. It's connecting with you that means the world to me; making the world feel just a bit smaller, lifting someone up and being lifted myself, making someone laugh or say, "me too." 

Every time one of you comments, sends me a message, or relates, I feel like a kid riding a bike: I'm doing it, I'm doing it, I'm doing it. In some small way, perhaps I am making a difference. And, of course, I won't pretend that every post has been or will be profound... far from it. Sometimes sharing fun shopping finds is just, well, fun. And that's ok, because we're rich tapestries of people who enjoy - even crave - variety.

And one more thing: You see that chair in the photo above? Why not take a seat? There's a quote I like by Emma Watson that says: "In my moments of doubt, I've told myself firmly: If not me, who? If not now, when?" My hope for this next month is that when you see an empty chair beckoning you, you sit. You can always get up, you can always move seats. But try it on for size and never let doubt tell you it can't be yours.

As a small token of thanks for a month of love and support, and because I wish I could go grab a coffee and a cake pop with each one of you, I am giving away a $10 Starbucks gift card on Facebook today. Feel free to like The Lucky Lifestyle page and check it out -- a winner will be drawn at random at 9pm ET. Official rules here. Good luck!

Monday Musings + Links of Interest

Monday, August 28, 2017

First of all, your feedback on Thursday's post warmed my heart -- some comments made me laugh and nod my head in agreement and all of them encouraged me. This is already becoming a place for genuine connection, and for that I am so grateful.

By the way, The Lucky Lifestyle is on Facebook! If you haven't visited yet and would like to keep current on posts and other fun stuff, feel free to give it a like. To celebrate my one month blogiversary and thank you for your support, I will be giving away a Starbucks gift card this Wednesday, August 30th on Facebook... so keep an eye out!

What did you do this weekend? The weather was incredible here, and luckily we had a couple of really fun outdoor plans on our calendar. On Saturday I got my hair cut (funny story about that below) and then we celebrated the girls' little friend turning 2. The party was in my friend's beautiful backyard and there was a jump house, swing set, and lots of good party food. So, basically a kid's dream! Sunday my brother, sister in law, and nephew came to visit and we went to a farm by us so the kids could play, then ordered pizza back at home. It was the perfect way to spend our last August weekend.

Here are a few musings for this Monday morning and a pic of my new 'do:

+ Saturday was #NationalDogDay. We adopted Layla from a local shelter ten years ago this past June! I was at a kind of crossroads in my life at the time, and I always think of the saying: who rescued who? Animals can have such a profound impact on our lives. Layla has been my sweet and steadfast friend for the past decade and has been so wonderful and patient with the kids. She adds so much to our lives. If you're thinking of adding a furry family member, consider adoption. You can find local shelters here.

+ I discovered this article on Cup of Jo and couldn't stop thinking about it. It's not something anyone likes to talk about. The concept of dying is scary and, frankly, incomprehensible to me... so reading these honest thoughts about a terminal diagnosis from someone who could so eloquently convey them was powerful. 

+ Who is excited for fall TV? I can't wait for This Is Us and the new Will & Grace. One of my favorite parts of This Is Us is the soundtrack. The music always fits the scene perfectly. I found this piece with some of the songs, if you're interested.

+ So, I got my hair cut on Saturday. I usually liken my hair cuts to those of a dog: I get groomed about twice a year. I really love it, but I just never seem to find the time. I called to make an appointment with the stylist I usually go to and the receptionist said she was out on maternity leave, "she had her baby!" I feigned excitement because the truth is I had no idea she was pregnant, which tells you a little something about the last time I was there. ;)

Alright, let's do this Monday.

Thoughts for Thursday: How Motherhood Goes

Thursday, August 24, 2017

I wake up in the morning, either to my alarm clock chiming while it's still dark if I've decided to attempt to get some work done or to my three year old's OK-To-Wake clock being pressed into my face at exactly 7:01 a.m. (it's set for 7) accompanied by shouts: "My clock turned green, mommy! Time for breakfast! Get up, mommy!" I am always a bit shaken being woken up abruptly -- ideally I like to have a minute to collect myself, transition wholly and peacefully from dream world to real world. But then I open my eyes and see her sweet round face with morning eyes, tangled golden curls, the littleness of her in her Frozen nightgown and I smile, pulling her up next to me.

That's just how motherhood goes.

The breakfast hustle is just that... a hustle. The 1 year old is up by now, adorably snuggly but ferocious and unforgiving in her pursuit of dry cheerios and a cup of milk. Steve and I tag team it, cheerios being emptied onto the highchair trey, milk being poured into sippy cups, waffles being toasted, fruit being chopped into to less-than-choking-hazard size. It's a whirlwind full of chatter and innocent, yet relentless, requests until both girls have a meal in front of them and then there are three minutes of glorious silence as I grab a protein bar and coffee and sit down at the table. About a minute later I'm called on to clean up drips, "wipe off my stickies please, mommy!", clear plates, refill milks. I continue to drink my coffee well into the morning (I don't play that warm it up in the microwave all-day game, I just start with it iced. Easier that way!). I watch the girls as they pull out toys and begin the important work of a child: playtime. I silently say thanks for their bellies full of food and bodies full of energy and can't help but smile at them: two sisters, playing together. I am the luckiest.

That's just how motherhood goes.

Hadley goes down for her morning nap and I put on a show for Carrie as I settle in on the chair next to her and open my laptop to do work. The minutes allotted to accomplish what feels like a never-ending list of tasks (emails, writing, pitching, research) fly by as if we're on fast forward and before I know it, it's almost time for H to wake up and C has had an hour and a half of television. She's happily singing the Doc McStuffins theme song, but I'm feeling the familiar sting of mom guilt: Does she watch too much TV? Am I paying enough attention to her? Is she affected by the fact that I work at home? We get Hadley up together and a bit later C announces what she wants to be when she grows up: "A mommy and a doctor!" I'm encouraged -- as a mom, and as a woman in general -- by her belief in her limitless potential. Maybe I'm not scarring her for life, I think to myself.

That's just how motherhood goes.

We get out in the afternoon, either to a play date, an activity, the bookstore, the playground, to run errands, etc., partly for the kids so they have something fun to do and partly (ok, mostly!) for me so I don't go completely nuts without a change of scenery and adult interaction. Some days this goes pretty smoothly -- maybe just an emergency potty run and spilled drink -- and some days it feels as though my two children have turned into six and I'm chasing and corralling and consoling. I bite my lip hard while the biggest climbs on tall playground contraptions challenging her limits and try to quell my inner control freak as the littlest "helps" me put groceries into a cart. I can spot fellow moms from a mile away and we eagerly strike up conversation: "How old? Two brothers, how sweet! Oh, my daughter goes to school there too!" We're like two lonely singles engaging in small-talk before a date. And mind you, I never really dated... so I am rusty.

That's just how motherhood goes.

The time right before dinner is ridiculous. Everyone is fragile. Everyone is hungry. Sometimes I take a work call while sweating and muting/un-muting like a mad woman. I feel on the brink of losing my mind. Some days I look at it as a challenge: I meet C's repeated questions with calm answers and H's shrieks with yogurt drops. I pull out pots and pans and spoons and they perform like they're being paid. I put a hot, healthy meal on the table. Other days I loudly sing "la la la laaaa!" while texting Steve to pick up Chick-Fil-A. 

That's just how motherhood goes.

Bath and bedtime roll around and although by that time I'm usually counting down the minutes and sopping up water from the bathroom floor, once the girls are in bed Steve and I sneak back into their rooms to look at them, marveling at the fact that we created these two tiny, needy, ornery, smart, fantastic little humans. We scroll through pictures of them throughout the last few years and talk about how, sure, we are biased but they are certainly and without question the two most beautiful little girls on the face of the planet. And then I get to work, usually too late into the night, and wonder which alarm will wake me first the next morning: my phone or my preschooler. 


Listen, mommas, I know you go back and forth each day: I am supermom; I am the worst. I am doing it all; I am doing none of it right. I have remarkable patience worthy of an award; I am about to break. I know you lay your head down on the pillow and, as great or as hard as the day was, question whether you could have handled a situation better, fed them more nutritious meals, spent more time with them, or spoiled them a bit less. But I also know that, deep down, you love your children with an intensity that just really, truly can't be described. You did the best you could today, and tomorrow you will do the same. You are the best momma to them, for them. I hope you sleep well tonight knowing that. And you're going to need to get some sleep because...

That's just how motherhood goes.

Fall Bucket List

Monday, August 21, 2017

I mentioned a couple of weeks ago that at the beginning of each new season I make a "bucket list" of things to do with the girls. I had some interest in what our bucket lists look like and what kinds of activities I put on them, so I thought I'd share our fall 2017 list in case you need some inspiration. In full disclosure, our bucket lists are often made with Crayola markers and construction paper so I encourage you to use whatever you have on hand and, of course, add the to-dos that sound most fun to your family! But if you're short on time, feel free to save, print, and share this one. :)

PS - It goes against every fiber of my being to talk about fall while it's still August, but it's coming quickly and I keep seeing advertisements for all of the pumpkin things, so no time like the present, right? Enjoy, friends!

Thoughts for Thursday: Let's Talk

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Is it just me, or does the end of summer signal a sudden time warp in which the already fast weeks begin to fly by even faster? This is not the time to go quickly, weeks! (Great, I am yelling at weeks now). I want to slow everything down so we can enjoy the hot days splashing in the water, the warm nights eating ice pops in the yard, the relaxed routines. But alas, here we are on Thursday in the middle of August, and I'm linking up with some of my personal favorite blogs to share some light-hearted Thursday thoughts. I'm calling this the "Let's talk" edition. Feel free to chime in, since nobody likes a one-sided conversation!

+ Let's talk about resilience. I have been so intrigued by this topic lately and have read a couple of articles I thought were really interesting, particularly related to helping our kids become more resilient (a key trait for success, happiness... all of those good things). I have a whole post planned around this topic, so be on the lookout for that. In the meantime, has anyone read Sheryl Sandberg's newest book Option B? I would love to hear your thoughts, if you have!

+ Let's talk about extracurriculars. Since I stay home with the girls, I've found a lot of value in getting involved with a couple of "extracurricular" activities. It allows them to interact with other kids their age, typically learn some type of skill, almost always get exercise, and learn to listen to direction from adults other than their parents. Let's not forget that it allows me to talk to other adult humans for an hour or so, which never hurts. ;) Carrie began dance classes shortly before she turned two, and we just made a big switch for this year, swapping ballet for gymnastics. We had her trial class this morning and she loved it, so she's all signed up for the fall! I'm excited to see how she grows in a new activity and environment. Hadley is still little, but I plan to take her to the free story times offered by our local library this fall while C is in school. 

+ Let's talk about having a third baby. After you have a child, you are safe for pretty much a day or so until the question comes: "So, do you plan to have more?" I was actually asked this question as I lay mostly immobile in a hospital bed after giving birth to Hadley! To be fair, I've certainly asked friends of mine the same thing (hopefully much better timed and when I felt the question was welcomed) and I also consider myself a pretty open book. So, do we plan to have another baby? Here's the honest answer: I have no idea. We always said we'd like 2-3 kids, and here we are. Truthfully, it doesn't feel as if anybody's missing. I can see moving forward with our life with two daughters. But it also doesn't feel impossible, and you know what that quote says: when nothing's sure, everything's possible. 

+ Let's talk about dinner. Everyone's favorite question: what's for dinner? We seem to be in a bit of a meal rut lately. Steve and I make the same meal for the whole family so sometimes it can be challenging to find something that we all enjoy (and that is somewhat healthy -- because we all definitely enjoy Chipotle, but taco bowls + chips every night probably wouldn't serve any of us well). Here are a few recipes that have been a hit with each of us:

Slow Cooker Italian Beef Hoagies - just add chips or a salad

Cherry Glazed Ham - perfect for company but easy enough for whenever

Deconstructed Cabbage Bowls - hidden veggies galore

One Pan Honey Garlic Chicken w/ Veggies - one pan to clean? sign me up

You can also check out my Pinterest "Favorite Recipes" page for ideas! And please share any favorites you've found with me -- I could really use them. :)

+ Let's talk about a new read. My wonderful friend and fellow mama, Sophia, just launched her own blog "The Unadorned Life" -- go check it out if you have a minute. She's so genuine, talented, and full of great ideas about parenting and more. Congrats, Soph!

Back to School | Boys' Backpacks

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Last week I shared some of my favorite girls' backpacks for back-to-school and had a couple of requests for boys' picks! I have two little girls but, truth be told, I love perusing the boys' section. I really never understand when people say there are no cute things for boys -- I'm always seeing great stuff! Luckily, I have a nephew. ;) 

If you're sending a little guy off to school soon, here are some fun options:

Hero Vehicle Backpack | Target - preschool size just $14
Shark Backpack | Target - love the blue & orange at $17
Dino Backpack | LLBean - on sale for under $20 today
Alphabet Backpack | Pottery Barn - $40 but watch for sales, free shipping
Skip Hop Dalmatian Backpack | $20 at ToysRUs but other designs only $10!
Fox Backpack | Land of Nod - on sale for $25
Skip Hop Chameleon Backpack | Only $10 at ToysRUs! 
North Face Cobalt Blue Backpack | Durable quality, $35
Construction Backpack | Pottery Barn - small on sale for $31, free shipping

Which one is your favorite? I love the sharks, personally!

One Year In Our House + Tips for First Time Buyers

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

I can't believe it's been one year since we closed on our house! 

Actually, I can believe it -- because, honestly, so much has changed in a year's time. We went from having a newborn to a one year old. A toddler in a crib to a full-fledged preschooler in a twin bed. A house that felt like somebody else's to a home that feels like ours. Closing day last year was a proud and exciting day for us, but also a total blur. Hadley was a month old and our couple of hours away that afternoon were by far the longest we'd spent away from the kids since she was born. You know you're in the thick of parenting when closing day is the closest thing you're getting to a date. ;) 

Here's a bit of the back story: 

Owning a home was actually never on either of our immediate "must-do" lists. I know it feels like a right of passage for many adults, and that's great. But we were pretty ok with being renters. I liked the flexibility, the feeling of not being "stuck" should we want to move, and being able to just send a text to our landlord when something went wrong (admittedly, we had a wonderful landlord). Pretty low-stress!

But we were quickly outgrowing our two bedroom rented townhouse and had realized over three years of living there that we really loved the town we lived in -- actually, we really loved the very neighborhood we lived in. We started keeping an eye out for single family houses going up for sale in and around our neighborhood, but it didn't happen often. I began touring houses for sale when I was pregnant with Hadley, and we probably toured 10 or so all together before finding ours. I would do the initial tour with Carrie as my sidekick, and if we liked the house, we'd bring Steve back. It's funny, though, because when we found "the" house -- we moved fast. We all went to look together, then went back for another private showing before making an offer that day. Steve and I were away for the night in Philly for our anniversary when we received a counter offer, countered ourselves, and then received word that our counter had been accepted! Talk about reason to celebrate! 

As resistant as we were at first to the idea of buying, we have been so very happy with our decision. We love our fenced yard (so nice to let the pup and the kids run around safely to their heart's content), cozy front porch, family-friendly floor plan, natural light from lots of large windows, big basement for storage, and our great neighbors. There are lots of kids in our neighborhood, the ice cream truck comes by almost daily, and it always smells like clean laundry on my evening walks with Layla. It reminds me a lot of where I grew up, which I'm sure doesn't hurt in making it feel extra homey. 

We learned a few things throughout the process that I thought might be helpful for anyone else who's considering going from renter to buyer:

1. Pick your agent well. Our real estate agent (hi Kristin!) helped us find our townhouse that we loved and rented for years -- even though our criteria at the time was 3 bedrooms, she sent us a 2 bedroom + a loft option, and it ended up being perfect. So she was our first call when we were ready to buy. Find someone who thinks a bit outside the box but also respects your non-negotiables and, of course, your budget. They should be very knowledgable about the area you're interested in (a longtime local, preferably), and responsive/communicative. Buying a house can be a confusing, complicated process and you need an agent who welcomes and answers your questions quickly and honestly.

2. Prioritize what you can't change. The most important things to consider when searching for a house are the things that can't be changed: the location and the floor plan (unless you have the budget to overhaul that). Paint colors, outdated fixtures, landscaping, etc., can all be changed over time. The plot of land your house sits on and overall layout can't be.

3. Look, and look again. If you find a house you like, don't be afraid to go back for a couple more showings to be sure before making an offer. It's hard to take it all in during one visit, and there very well could be things you missed. I always felt bad inconveniencing the owners and my agent to return, but if it means a potential sale, I'm sure neither will mind. ;)

4. Bring an attorney to closing. I know not everyone does this, but we found it so helpful. I found it was comforting to have our attorney there on closing day to review all of the documents/terms/jargon alongside us. They are hired solely to keep your best interests in mind, which isn't such a bad thing when making the biggest purchase of your life.

5. Go with your gut. In the end, you kind of just have to have that "feeling" about a house. You may look several houses and nothing really feels right -- don't ignore that feeling. If you find yourself making too many pro/con lists or Googling issues that worry you about a home, it probably means you know that it's not the best decision. 

I hope these tips are helpful if you're on the hunt! There really is no place like home.

Top Photo Credit: Almond Photography


Monday, August 14, 2017

I had another post scheduled for today, but then the tragedy in Charlottesville unfolded over the weekend. I expressed how I felt on my personal Facebook page, but it still doesn't feel adequate. My thoughts are with the victims and their families.

I appreciated this piece that includes a comprehensive list of places you can get involved with and donate to.

I also came across this piece about how to talk to your children about what happened.

Sending you love on this Monday, friends. Back tomorrow.

Friday Favorites

Friday, August 11, 2017

Friday has always been my favorite day of the week. The week is behind you, the weekend is ahead of you... anything can happen. Or, if you're a parent, you pretty much know exactly what will happen: Target run, about ten coffee runs, playgrounds, mow the lawn, repeat. ;) In any case, Fridays are wonderful.

What are you up to this weekend? We're going to a birthday party on Saturday (happy 3rd, Wes!) and plan to see family, and on Sunday C has her swimming lessons. 

Here were a few favorite moments of the week:

one // We've been asking Carrie what she wants to be when she grows up a lot lately. She usually says a doctor, sometimes a nurse, lately a mommy, and the other night her response was "an animal." ;) But the other day while we were snuggling she looked at me and asked earnestly "Mom, what do you want to be when you grow up?" Man, what a great question. How often do we get asked this as adults? It was so refreshing. And, honestly, I didn't know the answer. What would you say? Is it what you're doing now? 

two // This actually happened last Friday, but I had to include it because it's such a great reminder. My friend and I had our kids at the splash pad and Hadley was desperate to try it out, so I suited her up and we went in. Not surprisingly, she loved it and bravely stomped her little feet in the water and dipped her bucket into the fountain to try to fill it. (In contrast, Carrie hated the splash pad as a baby!) Later when we were at home, my friend texted me a couple of pictures that she had taken of us saying "I snapped these of H's first splash pad experience since you were chasing her around!" She had taken them since she knew I didn't have my phone on me and what a great idea, right?! It's not uncommon for us to be running around with the kids and unable to document the moments we are actually a part of. I just thought it was so thoughtful and a great reminder for me to do the same for my momma friends. Thanks, Ash! 

three // I'm sure by now you've heard of Halo Top ice cream, but if you haven't, trust me when I say it's worth running to the store to grab a pint. Most entire pints are under 300 calories and it typically takes me a week to finish one -- I have a little bowl each night after dinner and it's so creamy and flavorful that it satisfies my sweet tooth without being really unhealthy. Here's my current stash (I don't do anything halfway, do I? At least not when it comes to food). Oatmeal cookie is so good. 

four // Something else I'm loving from this week is this new pair of jeans I bought during Nordstrom's anniversary sale. They were around $44 during the sale and I know I'll wear them all fall and winter (Literally. Probably almost every day.) and the best part? They have a built in elastic waist band. I am not ashamed to say that I am a big advocate for normalizing the elastic waist band (they are not just for toddlers/senior citizens/active wear) -- anyone who knows me in real life knows my love for maternity clothes for this very reason. :) But, seriously, if you're in need of a new pair of jeans that are comfortable and cute, check out this pair by Wit & Wisdom. 

five // "Your little everyday joys all lined up in a row." Yes. 

Have a wonderful weekend!

Thoughts for Thursday: 30 Things

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Today I'm linking up with a few of my personal favorite bloggers for Thoughts for Thursday. 

Circa 2015, Almond Photography. C was so small - my heart!

Since this little space is still new and many of you might not know me well (or at all), I thought I'd share 30 things about me; the serious, the funny, the strange... you name it. I'd love if you shared something about yourself in the comments so I can get to know you a little better, too.

+ I'm a popcorn addict. Literally cannot be around a bag of boom chicka pop without demolishing it within a day or two.

+ I've never gone on a diet.

+ My dad immigrated to the US from Cuba when he was six years old. 

+ I have been writing ever since I can remember and have kept journals since the third grade. I still have them.

+ My not-so-secret talent is naming cars. Just ask my friends.

+ I have a really bad habit of snacking in bed at night. Sorry for the crumbs, babe.

+ I got engaged at 21, married at 22.

+ My biggest fear used to be death, and now it's something happening to my kids.

+ I hate scary movies.

+ Sometimes I watch QVC at night to relax. (So weird)

+ I've lived in 7 cities and 3 states.

+ Julianne Moore signed a book for C (fun fact: she has a family member named Carrington) and told me she liked my dress. Life made. I've also met Snooki and Theresa from RHONJ (A list celebs, I know) and the actual Auntie Anne, founder of Auntie Anne's Pretzels.

+ My first kiss was at a public pool. My first kiss with Steve was on an Amish farm.

+ My favorite holiday is Thanksgiving. My family takes it and its related traditions very seriously -- I scheduled C's birth for the day after Thanksgiving so I wouldn't miss it, and my cousin got engaged on Thanksgiving a couple of years ago. 

+ I helped to develop an Events Planning course in college.

+ I tear up whenever an ambulance passes by. 

+ I gave birth to both of my babies via c-section (breech baby + repeat C) and the same doctor delivered both.

+ I've gone cliff jumping in the pouring rain.

+ My favorite color is red. 

+ I keep voicemails and texts from family members who have passed away. My family experienced a lot of loss in the past couple of years, so this collection is getting a little excessive/borderline creepy. Oh well!

+ My favorite meal is eggplant parmesan. 

+ I never drank coffee prior to having kids. Now I drink at least a cup a day. I call it a "cup of hope." :)

+ I feel most at home in the country, most at peace by the water, and most alive in the city. So... I live in the suburbs. ;)

+ For Steve's 25th birthday I got him a helicopter lesson and he got to fly it around Philly.

+ My favorite season is summer.

+ I carried my dad's red handkerchief around the stems of my bouquet on our wedding day as a way to have him with me as I walked down the aisle, and also because red is considered a lucky color in Cuban tradition.

+ I don't like wine.

+ Quality time is my love language.

+ Pet peeve: when people don't courtesy wave in traffic.

+ I was going to be named Caroline or Kimberly. Jennifer was a last minute call.

How's that for randomness? Would love to read more about you in the comments! Happy Friday Eve, friends. 

Back to School | Girls' Backpacks

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

This is the first year I really feel I'm sending C "back to school." 

Last year was her very first year of preschool, so when we sent her off that morning in the fall we weren't really sure what to expect. The entire experience felt brand new -- and it was! But this year, I'm starting to feel that "back to school" excitement in the air as we get closer and closer to the first day. We already have her teacher assignment, she knows some of her classmates, and we know the drill: comfy shoes, snack, change of clothes, and a backpack to stuff full of her drawings at the end of every class.

I thought it would be fun for C to choose a new backpack for the year since I picked out the one she had last year, but she insists she still wants her unicorn backpack (included in the roundup and just $10 right now at Toys R Us)! Who am I to argue?! It's so cute and has held up so well. But if we were picking out a new backpack, here are some favorites:

Navy Unicorn Backpack | Target - Just $17
Skip Hop Unicorn Backpack | Only $10 on sale at Toys R Us right now!
Ice Cream Backpack | Gymboree - they always run sales & free shipping
Velour Cat Backpack | Gap - frequently 40% off
Emily & Meritt Bunny Backpack | Pottery Barn - these usually go on sale
Disney Princess Backpack | Pottery Barn - backpacks ship free
Polka Dot Cat Backpack | Target - Just $17
Purple Owl Backpack | Lands' End - keep an eye out for sales (yesterday was 50% off!)
North Face Geometric Backpack | Priciest at $50 but durable quality, look for sales

More back to school posts to come. :) The countdown is on, whether I like it or not!

Our Home: The Dining Room

Monday, August 7, 2017

Happy Monday, friends! Did you enjoy your weekend? I met with a friend for lunch on Saturday (hi Daniela!) and we spent so much time catching up that we basically got kicked out of the restaurant. ;) On Sunday we had C's swim lessons (she's loving them) and then went to a playground for a bit. As always, it all went too fast.

Today I thought I'd give you a little tour of one of my favorite rooms in our house: our dining room. Since moving into our home almost a year ago, we've slowly been adding our touches to each room and the dining room is one of the rooms we recently finished. There are two things that make this room especially fun design-wise: 

1. I really had no idea what direction it was going to go in, so the final result was almost just as much of a surprise to me. At first I thought I wanted to make this room more of a dressy/formal space, but the practicality of that with very young kids just didn't make much sense. Plus, I couldn't find anything that felt right. You'll notice that the room ended up going in a very different direction -- one I am so happy with!

2. There are some really meaningful pieces incorporated into this room that make it not just a pretty space, but one that feels special, too. One of my personal "musts" when decorating is incorporating pieces that have some kind of significance to us. You'll see what those pieces are below! I've also listed paint color and sourced other items in the room at the end, if you're interested.

The first thing we did (even before moving in) was have this room freshly painted. The top portion of the walls was hunter green when we bought the house. The wainscoting and trim were already there. Next thing on the list was to replace the chandelier, which resembled something you might see in a funeral home, with a Pottery Barn lookalike. Once we bought the blue curtains (a very out of character move from the Queen of Neutrals, yours truly) that set the tone for the room -- peaceful, simple, elegant. 

I knew I wanted a buffet or console along this wall the entire time, but it took me nearly a year to find the right one. Steve requested something slim so the space could still be functional (we could still pull out the chairs, walk by, etc.) and I wanted something with plenty of place for display and a bit of storage.

We chose a simple white frame set to put our family pictures from this past June in. It felt kind of strange at first to put ourselves on display but it is our home, after all. And I smile every time I look at the girls' sweet faces. The grass plant and lantern were pieces I already had and the sail boat and wood & marble coasters sealed the deal of the coastal feel -- they are from a shop in Avalon, a beach town Steve and I have visited every summer we've been together and now take the kids for a yearly getaway. The plate was a gift from my mom that fit in perfectly.

We've had a lot of fun dinners at this table, which we bought after we moved out of our first apartment and into our townhome, which accommodated a larger table. Easter, Christmas, Friendsgiving, birthdays and more have been celebrated.

This is the most special piece in the room. My dad painted this in 1981 (that's his signature and the year scrawled in the lower righthand corner). I always knew I wanted it, and when my mom sold our childhood house, I packed it up and moved it around everywhere we went. When this room went in a coastal direction, I immediately knew this painting had found its home.

This simple mirror is also really special to me. My grandma gave it to me for Christmas right after we moved into our first place. I think of her every time I walk by it, and the girls love when we lift them up to make silly faces in it and to smudge it up with their fingers. ;)

Thank you so much for visiting today! Let me know if you'd be interested in seeing more room tours and house posts -- like I said, I'm no designer but I definitely have fun with the process of making our home reflect who we are. I know I always enjoy glimpses into other people's homes and design processes (it can't just be me!). :)


Paint Color - Benjamin Moore "Shale" 
Chandelier - Lowes (similar to but less expensive than this Pottery Barn one)
Drapes - ATG Stores
Curtain Rod w/ Lucite Finials - Home Depot (not sold online, but similar here)
Table and Chairs - Old
Frame Collage Set - Gallery Perfect
Sailboat & Coasters - From a store called Kitchen Home Makers in Avalon
Console table, basket, grass, flower centerpiece, and placemats all from Homegoods

Thoughts for Thursday: Take the Trip

Thursday, August 3, 2017

 I've become that person, wearing clothes on the beach. "But it's so practical, I'll be chasing after the kids!" In my defense, I was right.

 Essie's "Mint Candy Apple" is one of my go-to summer polishes. My other favorite: Essie's "Watermelon." 

Every season I create a "bucket list" full of things to do with the girls during that particular season. Summer's list includes things like make s'mores (check), play at the splash pad (check), and let Carrie stay up late to catch lightning bugs (still need to check that one off!). Also on the list was "take a day trip to the beach." We had our week long beach trip in late spring and C loved making sand castles, collecting shells, splashing in the water -- I just knew we had to get her back before the end of the summer. Luckily for us, we don't live too far away.

But distance and convenience are two very different things when you're considering a trip (even a day trip) with two very young children. It's so easy to say but it's so much work to pack everyone up, they won't do well on the drive, everyone will be sticky and hot and tired, they won't even remember this... so why bother? That sounds terrible, but if you're a parent of little ones, you know you've thought it! I get it. There are many times I've thought the very same things, and even times I've let those thoughts make up my mind.

But not this time. 

This time, we spontaneously threw caution to the wind on a sunny Saturday and, mid-afternoon, packed up our 3.5 and 1 year old plus 1000 beach toys, 1 cumbersome beach umbrella, 40 snacks, and a couple of changes of clothes and hit the road for the hour-ish drive to the shore. And you know what? It was so much fun. Don't get me wrong: It's not like the whole thing went off without a hitch. Hadley did nothing but eat handfuls of sand the entire time we were on the beach, I forgot her pajamas to change into, and both of the girls were literally covered head-to-toe in sand with it stuck in places I didn't know existed. At one point Steve was dousing them both with baby powder while they stood in the trunk of our car (baby.powder.everywhere.) and said jokingly (ok, maybe half jokingly) "This is the stuff nightmares are made of!" But it occurred to me that we could substitute the word "memories" for nightmares and look at it entirely differently. ;) 

And it's so true.

Memories aren't usually made from the times when things go perfectly smoothly. Most of my fondest childhood memories are of the times things didn't go according to plan: getting stuck in a downpour, piling way too many family members into a car for a trip to the diner, getting lost on a road trip, huddling in our sleeping bags downstairs during a bad thunderstorm. And in fact, I'm smiling now just thinking of our humid summer Saturday "down the shore:" Hadley's first ice cream cone, walking along the boardwalk while hungry seagulls swooped in and out, riding the carousel with blinking carnival lights swirling around us in a haze but our girls' joyful little faces perfectly in focus.

So if you're on the fence, take the trip. Even if the kids don't remember it, you will. :)

CopyRight © | Theme Designed By Hello Manhattan