Friday Favorites

Friday, May 22, 2020

Hooray... it's Friday! It has been a week over here. How about for you? Luckily the weather has been nice where we are, and that puts all of us in pretty great moods. Next week looks even better with temps in the low 80s! Bring on all of the outside activities!

It's been a while since I got to share some Friday Favorites, so... here we go:

Cheers to 10 Years

Steve and I celebrated our ten year anniversary this weekend! It's both hard and easy to believe that warm, sunny May day we said I do was an entire decade ago. On one hand, ten years has gone by so fast, and on the other hand we look around at our three kids and it becomes easier to believe. ;) I am so grateful for the life we have built together and am so excited for all of the adventure, laughter, and love to come.

Kitchen Makeover... officially underway!

Maybe we've just been home too much, but we've decided to get to work on our long-envisioned kitchen facelift. We've been in our house for almost 4 years, and the kitchen has always been on our list of updates. We figured... what better time? We're home more than ever to get the work done, and we're constantly looking at it.

Here are some inspiration pictures. We got these new floors, we're going to paint the cabinets white (going back and forth between simply white, white dove, and chantilly lace if you have any suggestions or experience with those colors!) and get new hardware for them, new appliances, and a new light fixture (looking at this one, and also love this style -- so inexpensive!). We also got a new kitchen table and these chairs, so our expanding family can actually all sit at the table together now! The chairs are amazing, by the way. A great Serena & Lily dupe -- all 4 chairs were the price of 1 Serena & Lily chair. They're comfy and bonus with kids: they can be hosed down!

Isabelle is 8 months old

Our Isabelle Joy turned 8 months old this week! This is the cutest age. She is still this squishy, non-mobile little baby but she's also really beginning to come into her own little personality. She's giving us the best spontaneous belly laughs lately, is obsessed with food, and is basically just the sweetest little soul. I am just enjoying her and her relationship with her big sisters more than I could ever express.

Old Navy Basic Tees with a Twist

I've been living in nothing but comfortable, basic tees lately. I had to buy a few new ones since I didn't get any last year because... pregnant. Haha. My body always seems to change in different ways after each baby, so it was time for some new and better fitting tops. I grabbed these two at Old Navy and have been loving them:

Old Navy Twist Front Tee (I have this in long sleeve, too, and both are great)

Old Navy Open Back Tee (Got this in white!)

A Family Dinner Discussion Starter

Our two oldest kids are at a fun age for games now, and one of our favorites lately (that isn't really a game, but more of a discussion starter) is Table Topics for Kids. We like to pull them out at dinner, ask the questions on each card, and go around the table answering them. There are usually a lot of laughs, too!
Hope you have a nice Memorial Day Weekend! I'm sure it'll look different for most of us, but hopefully the weather allows for some BBQ, outdoor fun, and relaxation. 

How Do You Prioritize Your Passion?

Saturday, May 16, 2020

I've been thinking a lot lately about our passions: why we feel drawn toward certain things, and then how we pursue them. I know "passions" can feel like a cheesy, cheap, overused word and concept -- but truly, if you're honest with yourself for a minute, you have one (or more than one) too. 

Maybe it's running. Or pottery. Or teaching. 

Maybe it's photography. Or reading. Or gardening.

Horseback riding. Fundraising. Cooking.

The possibilities are endless, because we are each so different. Even if we share the same passion, the reasons we feel pulled to something might be completely different. Maybe something is simply therapeutic for one person, while it is incredibly fulfilling for another, and finally a way to feel connected to the world around them for yet another person. And the ways in which we act on our passions are very different, as well. One person might dive in headfirst in pursuit, while another spends much of their life identifying what it is that they are passionate about and then slowly dipping a toe into the water. There is no right or wrong, again because there are no two circumstances or two people that are the same.

So, that's an empowering thought, right? Whatever it is that sets your soul on fire is yours, and yours alone. There is no competition, no winner or loser. The only person you're up against is... yourself.

I'm sure it comes as no surprise to most of you that I've long felt that my calling, aside from being a mom, is to write. And when I say calling, I don't mean it in a divine way, necessarily. To me, your calling is that tug toward something that you feel excites you, fulfills you. If you had a day with no plans whatsoever, it would feel incomplete without doing this thing. You spend time thinking about this thing. It enhances your life. Perhaps it enhances others' lives.

I've been writing for as long as I can remember; keeping a journal since I was eight, making up stories, entering school competitions. I wrote articles for our local newspaper when I was in elementary school. As I grew, so did my love for writing. I majored in Journalism, and then Communications. I've contributed pieces to various outlets here and there. I have an idea for a book that has been rolling around in my mind since I became a mom six and a half years ago. And of course, I started this blog!

Sometimes it's hard not to feel disappointed and confused as to why I don't devote even more of myself to my writing. I know it's what I want to do, I feel it's what I'm meant to do, and I can picture doing it in the future. I can't picture my life without it. So, as I've been reflecting on the concept of passions lately, I've realized that at this point in my life I prioritize my time according to who's depending on me. My first priority is being a mom and an engaged member of my little family (and I love this part of myself and my life the absolute most, with full honesty) -- those are the people who depend on me most. My second priority is my work, because people depend on me there, as well. So that got me thinking that perhaps I don't prioritize writing because I feel like nobody is depending on me for it, or depending on the writing itself. 

But then I realized: I'm depending on me for it. The past version of myself, the little girl who recognized a passion and an ability to connect with people and to move people through words on paper has answered the why for me. I write to connect, and I always have. And then there's the future version of myself, the person I might become if I respect, believe in, and make time for what I'm passionate about. Those two versions of the same person - me - depend on the present version of myself to honor what I love to do. 

And I think that's probably the same for you.

It would be a terrible waste for us not to spend some of our short, precious lives doing what we love, don't you think? So I'd love to hear from you: what is your passion? Maybe you have a couple, but if you had to choose one that you feel especially pulled toward -- what is that thing? Why do you love to do it? Do you make time for it? If so, how do you make time for it?

I can't wait to hear.

Comfy At Home

Friday, April 24, 2020

Happy Friday, my friends! I can barely keep track of the days anymore, but I never forget a Friday. I know my opportunities to come to this space have been few and far between in the last several weeks (as I'm sure all of you understand well!), and when I have I've been pretty contemplative. What about you? How are you doing with everything? Hoping you had a week with a lot more ups than downs.

Since we're all spending the vast majority of our time indoors, I know our lounge-wear is getting more use than ever. And, it just so happens that lounge-wear is one of my favorite categories of clothing. ;) So it's working out well (maybe too well) over here!

I've rounded up a few of my favorite comfy clothes and accessories, perfect for working, playing, and doing absolutely nothing at... yep, you guessed it... home.

How cute would the customizable bracelets (supporting a small business and #momboss) be personalized with kiddos names for Mother's Day? Or how about the Mom Off Duty socks and sleep mask? I started wearing a sleep mask after I had Isabelle and it's a game changer for restful sleep. If anyone owns blue-light glasses, I'd love to hear your thoughts about them -- do they really work? With so much time spent staring at screens lately, I feel like they might be worth trying.

Wishing you a comfy, cozy weekend ahead.

Thinking Out Loud | What I Miss & What I'm Grateful For

Friday, April 10, 2020

These are just such strange times, aren't they? It's surreal to think that we are going through something unprecedented right now -- something that we've never, even our parents have never, really weathered before. There are so many things I miss, like:

-Making plans with family and friends
-Hugging my mom
-Getting dinner out on the weekend
-Taking a spontaneous trip to the beach, park, zoo, or home
-Seeing our friends and their kids
-Play dates
-Grabbing coffee without second thought at Starbucks
-Target trips
-Hearing about my kids' days at school

And so much more. Like everybody else, we had plans sprinkled here and there throughout the spring that have, of course, been cancelled. Trivial compared to what so many are going through, but still, these are the things that we look forward to as social beings. I had an annual tea with my mom, dinner at a new restaurant with friends, shopping dates with friends, birthday parties, our yearly beach vacation, bridal showers, and more lined up and most of all I am missing the faces I would have seen at these events. I'm missing the conversation, the closeness, the laughter. I'm absolutely positive you feel the same.

With all that said, and with health on our side, we are able to put things in perspective. Temporary challenges are just that: temporary. Yes, we miss experiences and people -- the details that make life rich and keep it interesting -- but there are so many things that these weeks have made me even more grateful for, like:

-Our health, always
-More time than I would have had with my family all together
-Our comfortable, safe, happy and cozy home
-Our neighbors for checking in on each other and hellos from afar
-Our healthcare workers (was grateful for them before, and now more than ever)
-The workers at essential businesses like grocery stores, pharmacies, government, etc. for keeping our society moving and putting themselves at risk while doing it
-People who are helping, in big and small ways (follow @goodnews_movement on Instagram for some smiles)
-Technology like Zoom, Skype, Google Meet to keep us virtually connected
-Our teachers (I have literally been moved to tears by their dedication to our kids)
-The motivation to check in on people we love
-The reminder about what's really important
-Free shipping
-Plan-free weekends to do all of the truly relaxing things like naps, reading, playing in the yard, walks
-The spring weather which allows us to be outside (a sanity saver)
-Our jobs, which are secure and we can do remotely
-And so, so much more

I wonder often when this will all turn -- when will it feel safe and, even more distant of a thought, "normal" to resume our lives? Speaking of "normal," will there ever be such a thing again? I think there will be, but I do think it will look different. I think the way our society operates in some ways will change, I think there will be economical obstacles to overcome, and on a positive note, I think absence will truly have made the heart grow fonder. We will no longer take for granted the little things like walking the aisles mask-free at our favorite store, or the big things like celebrating weddings and birthdays, gathering for concerts and festivals, and traveling to new places.

Anyway, I just had to get my thoughts out, if that makes sense. I'd love to hear how you're doing and if you're wondering the same things I am. What do you miss? What are you most grateful for? 

Wishing you a happy & healthy weekend. Cheers!

25 Easy Activities to Try With Your Kids

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

So... we'll all be at home for the foreseeable future, huh? It's strange, because I've always been a restless person -- I usually feel like I need to get out at least once a day -- but I've adapted surprisingly well (better than I imagined!) to being a homebody. My oldest daughter takes after my husband and is completely and totally fine being home 24/7, but my middle is more like me -- we like to get out!

I must admit, though, selfishly I am happy and relieved to have my kids home. Carrington started kindergarten this year and it's full day, which just feels so long to us, so it's been nice to have her around much more. She misses her pals and I'm sad that she's not having that real kindergarten experience, but she's kept busy playing with her sisters and all of her toys around the house, which she hasn't had much time to play with since beginning school. Hadley is happy to have her big sister home, too. Don't get me wrong -- there has been plenty of arguing and lots of emotions, but it's all good. Soon everyone will be in school all day so I have been savoring this as much as possible.

With all that said, since we're all home with our families, I thought I'd share some ideas to keep your kids busy during this time in case the boredom begins to set in. Some you may have seen or done, and others may be new to you -- hope you find a few fun things to try!

Hang in there, stay healthy, stay connected. Virtual hugs to you all!

In Uncertain Times

Saturday, March 21, 2020

Hello, my friends! Tell me: how are you holding up? 

It's been a couple of weeks (ok, longer) since I last posted as life had been crazy... and, of course, it's only become a million times crazier. It's unbelievable just how quickly things can change in such a relatively short period of time. I feel like the progression of this novel virus we're facing, and therefore the state of our world and consequential changes to our lives, evolves hourly. This is truly uncharted territory for us all. But... at least we're all in it together (well, together but apart, because #socialdistancing).

I honestly have so many thoughts about it all that it's hard to make sense of them most of the time. I worry about the virus itself since there are so many unknowns about it -- I think about the people we love dearly who are in the high-risk groups and how this might impact them. Of course, I worry about my kids getting it. Even though it seems to impact children less, it's still a scary thought as a parent.

I think about the implications of quarantining on businesses, families, individuals, and our economy as a whole. There's no doubt small businesses are feeling this acutely, and on a larger scale I wonder how much our economy can take. I feel so fortunate to have our comfortable home and my family with me during this time, but I know so many others are experiencing this differently. There are many people who absolutely need to go to work to earn a paycheck to feed their families, there are children missing out on regular meals and social/emotional care at school, there are individuals stuck in uncomfortable, lonely, or potentially dangerous positions when forced to be home. Even for the most fortunate among us, this whole isolation can be a mentally taxing experience. So it's just heartbreaking to think of the many different ways this affects all of us.

My kids are home, as of now, until April 20th. So for five weeks, it is up to me to keep them learning in some capacity in addition to my part-time job, training for a new position, and caring for an infant (here's hoping Steve is also able to be home and helping -- that's our plan/goal). Carrie is in full-day kindergarten right now and her incredible teacher has been doing a live lesson every morning. All of the kids get online at the same time so they can all see and talk to each other, and she teaches them their daily lesson, reads them a book, answers their questions. Today (Friday) she even had show and tell. But I do need to be there to help her during that time, to mute/un-mute the mic, help her sound out words, show her work, etc. 

I am so very lucky and grateful that the job that I've been at for 8 years is literally built for working remotely. I've been working at home exclusively since I had Carrie 6.5 years ago, so I am pretty used to this particular juggle of work and kids -- it's just the addition of, you know, homeschooling. ;) I feel for the parents who are usually full time in the office or their workplace, and now their company expects them to be full time from home -- how must they feel when they see the posts floating around that say "Oh, breathe it in, mama. Enjoy every minute of this extra time." That is a beautiful sentiment, and ideally true, but we need to remember that this isn't a vacation for most and be respectful of the fact that many, many people have not been given a "gift of extra time" as they are still expected to perform the jobs that keep the families they love -- and our economy, and many systems of our lives -- afloat. And then there are those that still need to report to work, and those on the front lines of all of this: our healthcare workers (thank you, thank you for all you do). There are just so many different circumstances out there, and that has been heavily on my mind.

With that said, there are positives to come out of this madness, as there always are (memes are top among them, ha!). I'd love to give you a glimpse into our own "life lately" next week, and to share what I consider to be the silver linings of all of this. I've also seen feedback from others that regular ol' posts about NON-coronavirus related stuff are what people are yearning for right now, and I get that. I will have plenty to share there, too, but I do feel like I personally can't just glaze over this right now. This is real life and pretty all-consuming at the moment. But I know we're all in the same boat, and we'll get through this.

Stay well and take good care!

Binge-Worthy | What We're Watching

Thursday, February 27, 2020

Not sure about you, but a question that seems to always come up amongst my friends is: are you watching anything good? It's nice to unwind at the end of a long day with a good (or even just a purely entertaining) show or movie. I grew up hanging out in the den and watching a show or two with my family at the end of the day. Not much has changed!

Well, except for the fact that one day Steve and I realized that cable was silly expensive and we didn't watch 99% of the channels we had access to. So in true millennial fashion, we cut cable and turned to subscription services for our TV/movie fix. Currently we only subscribe to Netflix and Disney+ (because kids) but at various times we've also had Hulu and HBO subscriptions. I think we're the only people on the planet to not have an Amazon Prime subscription. I'm curious: do you have cable or do you rely on subscription services too (or both)? 

Anyway! All of that leads me to chat with you about what we've been watching lately. I'd love to hear your recommendations, too!

Netflix Binges

You: Creepy, addictive, will keep you binging (and guessing) even when you can barely look.

Inside the Mind of Aaron Hernandez: Entertaining and interesting for those who are into true crime; disturbing and sad nonetheless. I was mostly interested in hearing about how the physical trauma Aaron's brain endured from playing football might have played into his crimes, but they only briefly touched on this at the end.

The Stranger: Again, strangely addictive. Not the best acting, but it will keep you watching, and my heart was actually racing in the later episodes of the series.

Love Is Blind: Unrealistic "reality" show about dating/love and the question, "is love blind?" and yet wildly entertaining for some strange reason -- I am currently watching and can't tear my eyes away. 

The Pharmacist: I thought this documentary about the opioid crisis would be more interesting and have more to it, but I found it pretty boring and draggy.

Good Girls: I actually watched this first on regular TV (we still have a few major broadcast channels via antenna) and loved it. Really entertaining and funny! Recommend.

Workin' Moms: Often really funny and a little sad at the same time. This show follows a group of mom friends all navigating their own families, roles as moms, professional lives, relationships and more.

To All the Boys I've Loved Before: P.S. I Still Love You: Follow up to the first movie, this one is definitely cute and entertaining and worth the watch. I liked the first one more, but if you need something light, give this a try.

Unbelievable: Really, really good. Steve and I can rarely find a show we both enjoy (what can we say, opposites attract?) but this one was so well acted and the story kept you invested in getting to the truth.

Dead to Me: Did not expect to like this one but it was actually a pretty fun (albeit dark) watch. 

Friday Favorites | Thinking Spring (In February)

Friday, February 21, 2020

Is anyone else already thinking spring? I know I can't be the only one. Honestly -- and I think I've mentioned it before -- I always start to think spring in terms of plans, clothes, decorating, pretty much everything beginning in January. By the time the new year rolls around, I am ready to say goodbye to any brief winter we've had and plan on sunshine, warm weather, fun plans and happy colors in my closet and house.

Here are a few early spring lovelies I've spied:

1. Crossbody Saddle Bag | This is my favorite purse brand for a few reasons: the quality is incredible, you can personalize your bag with your initials (subtly embossed in gold), and it's not as well known as some other brands so you don't see it absolutely everywhere. I've been carrying one of their bags as my primary purse aside from my diaper bag for over six years.

2. Tortoise Sunglasses | I'll admit, I'm not a sunglasses girl. I have one pair at a time and wear them until they break or I lose them. ;) For that reason, I'm not one to spend a ton on a pair of sunglasses. This neutral pair is only $17 and I love the lighter tortoise for spring/summer.

3. Floral dress | This is a bit of a splurge, but hello, how cute. If you have a bridal shower or another fun spring event, I don't think you can beat this pretty button down dress. That color combo is warm weather perfection. By the way, who else has shopped at Tuckernuck? I recently purchased something for the first time from them (on mega sale + free shipping!) and was very happy with the overall experience.

4. Mary Jane Flats | Do you own a pair of Rothys? In the blog world, they're talked about a lot and the reviews are pretty amazing. I'd love to hear if they're as comfortable and versatile as everyone says! This new style caught my eye. That bow!

5. Patio Set | This Serena & Lily inspired patio set (at a much more reasonable price than Serena & Lily) is amazing and I sort of desperately want it for my actual kitchen. But really, I do.

6. Door Mat | I have been on a door mat kick, apparently (I shared this one from Anthro last week) -- but I had to share this one because I had a lot of questions about our current door mat (which is this one) and this Target version is so similar!

7. Lemon Wreath | Not sure if lemons will be a thing this spring, but in my eyes they already are! I bought an almost identical wreath from Homegoods and it's patiently awaiting the first day of March when I will deem it appropriate to officially declare winter over and decorate with all of the spring things.

8. Embroidered Tee | This t-shirt is currently en route to my house (snagged during Loft's recent 40% off + free shipping promo -- you all know how I feel about paying shipping). I spotted it a month ago and knew I needed it immediately. "I'll be by the sea" -- yes please!

Are you thinking ahead to warmer, sunnier days like me? What's on your spring wish list?

The Girls at Ages 6, 3, and 5 Months

Wednesday, February 19, 2020

Happy Wednesday, all! I hope your week is going well. We've been finally enjoying some blue skies and sunshine in New Jersey so that has me smiling. Thank you, by the way, for the love for yesterday's post about parenting. It's always really encouraging and rewarding for me when I share my heart and realize just how many of you need to hear the same messages I do. It makes me feel like we really are all in this together!

Life has just been flying by lately as if someone is pressing the fast forward button. The girls are growing and changing so quickly. I guess it's their ages -- six, three, and (almost!) five months are still so little and there are huge leaps in development happening right now for all three. I wanted to document what they're like at these ages for my memory's sake more than anything. :)

Carrington | 6 Years Old

Carrie at six years old is artistic, creative, inventive and curious. She is in a major arts and crafts stage, constantly drawing and creating. There are a million pieces of paper all over the house and glue smeared on most surfaces at any given time, and I can't keep scotch tape in stock here at the house. We call her a "maker" because she will think of something she wants to make, and she'll find the tools around the house to just do it. I admire that, because I feel like I am personally much more of a planner and often lose steam in the execution. She takes after her dad in that she not only plans, but she does -- and she does so with the infectious enthusiasm, optimism, and pride of a sweet six year old.

Carrie is reaching for her independence more lately. She gets dressed completely on her own and prefers to pick out her own outfit (on a daily basis she prefers comfort over fashion, but also absolutely loves putting on a fancy dress or decking herself out in jewels when the mood strikes). She loves to make her own food and help her sisters in any way she can. She is the classic oldest child in that she is a second little mommy, caring and protective as can be, and yet bossy as hell. She's always been my least snuggly kid, but I think being away at school all day has made her crave hugs and cuddles more and I am not complaining one bit. 

Carrie is a homebody and prefers to hang out at home when she's not at school. She loves playing with Hadley and going on adventures. They are always in the back yard pretending something together. Carrie tends to idolize adventurous characters over the typical "princess," which we love about her. She's also a collector. She has about ten different collections going at any one time: rocks, acorns, beads, you name it. Anything has the potential to be a treasure in Carrington's eyes.

This girl is smart and doesn't miss a beat. We can no longer talk about things in front of her that we don't want her to know about, because she will catch on immediately and start asking questions. And she asks the best and hardest questions. She stretches our minds and our hearts, that's for sure. Six years old has been my very favorite age so far and I just absolutely cannot wait to continue to watch this girl grow.

Hadley | 3 Years Old

Hadley at three is imaginative, funny, loving, and challenging. I say challenging with love, because the "terrible twos" for Hadley were not terrible at all -- I knew that three was going to be the age that gave us a run for our money. Hadley has always had an enormous amount of energy. Even in utero, we nicknamed her Hurricane Haddie. This girl is a tornado of love, sweetness, and emotion at three. 

Hadley loves playing pretend with her characters more than anything. She can create a pretend scenario out of anything -- you'll often catch her with a group of rocks that is "talking" to one another if her characters aren't within reach. Usually her pretend scenarios involve a family, and there's always an element of drama in her imaginary world. We say all the time that we wouldn't be surprised if Hadley becomes a movie director someday. She likes to direct what everyone does/says and will stand up to her big sister these days if she wants to play a game her own way. I love that she's embracing her own thoughts and ideas.

Hadley started school in September and I just had her teacher conference a couple of weeks ago -- her teacher described her as a friend to everyone, which I loved. Haddie has always been social and quite extraverted (especially compared to Carrie), saying hello to random people when we're out in public, greeting every neighbor, and making friends wherever we go. She is quick to start playing with other kids wherever we are. 

Despite her outgoing and energetic personality, Hadley is quite sensitive and craves affection. She loves hugs (and she gives the best ones!) and is quick to get her feelings hurt if she feels someone is upset with her. She's also quick to forgive, though. Hadley is such a fun, bright light in our lives and I can't believe just how big she seems at three. 

Isabelle | 5 Months

Oh, sweet Isabelle. This baby continues to be the most laid back, smiliest, easiest baby and we thank our lucky stars every day for the joy she brings to our family. She's adored and fawned over by her big sisters. Truly, there has never been an ounce of jealousy or resentment toward Isabelle and I think that's partly because she just shows so much love to each of us that nobody could ever resent her -- in fact, it couldn't be clearer just how grateful we all are to have her as part of our crew.

Isabelle loves to sleep (all of the praise hands!), be held and snuggled, and be talked to. If you take the time to smile and talk to her, she will reward you with her signature open mouth smiles that light up her face, and she'll probably stick her tongue out at you. She seems really social so far, so it'll be interesting to see if that remains part of her personality.

Right now, Isabelle is loving crinkly toys, lights and songs, chewing on her hands, and being involved in whatever we're doing. She doesn't prefer to be left alone (who can blame her?), and she's happy to just sit and observe as long as she's with her people. She's definitely starting to teeth and her neck/core strength seems to be improving a lot (that 97th% head won't hold her down) -- we're all excited for when she begins sitting on her own! She's still suffering from pretty bad eczema (and scratches it, as you can see by her picture!) so we're on the search for what will help that.

Next month will be a big one because we'll be introducing solid food to our sweet Belle. Every month brings a million changes and developments when they're this young, so it's fun to think about how much she'll grow in just a short time. Although since she's my last baby, I'd be happy for her to slow it down juuust a little. ;)

My wildest dreams have come true with these three daughters of mine, and no matter what comes our way, I feel like I've won the lottery every day. Truly. I am so grateful and excited for our future with these girls.

The Extraordinary Ordinary

Tuesday, February 18, 2020

To those in the thick of parenting: have you ever looked at photos of people traveling the world, or accomplishing something that makes a really big, loud, or noticeable impact and thought: that's extraordinary. Then your thoughts are interrupted for the hundredth time by little voices and you glance down to your own milk-stained shirt and, well, you feel anything but extraordinary.

In the day to day -- the sticker-covered, messy day to day -- when we are on the front lines of tantrums and more time is spent talking about bodily functions than we ever thought possible and at least 40% of our day is spent pouring milk... it becomes easy to believe that what we're doing is ordinary. Sometimes painfully so.

And it's because, honestly, the work of keeping humans alive is far from glamorous. It's not always pretty to look at and often not impressive to listen to.

But damn, it is important. 

Because while it doesn't draw crowds or a million likes on Instagram like the perfectly filtered photo of an exotic adventure, raising babies into children and children into adults is indeed important, honorable, and admirable work. Work during which you find your very heart has somehow grown. In all of the moments that seems so ordinary, you are actually building a family; a group of people who provide unconditional support for one another, whose love and stories will be passed on and on. You are building a legacy in those mundane, exhausting, so not glamorous moments. And if that's not extraordinary, I don't know what is.

We've been groomed to believe that something is only special if it looks that way, but we all know by now how deceiving appearances can be. Still we ask ourselves: if we don't look our best, and sometimes don't even feel our best, how can these really be the best years? How can this work be impactful if its everyday truth doesn't appeal to the masses and it doesn't look pretty from the outside? Are we extraordinary if we're not recognized for our tireless work? Are we extraordinary in our sweatpants, with our hair tossed up, and small arms wrapped around our necks?

I'm not suggesting that we shouldn't take care of ourselves or go after the other things we dream about, whether they be work or life-related. Of course we should. I know I still have dreams I hold dear that aren't related to my role as a parent, and I haven't given up on them. I still want to travel, to see sights that take my breath away, to experience new and interesting people and places. I want to accomplish certain goals professionally and creatively. Those values haven't gone away and I hope they don't for you either. I hope you realize they don't have to.

But if you find you just can't do it all in this season, or it's not your time to fly to the other side of the world, or you're not publicly awarded for your hard work as a parent (there is no employee of the month plaque that I'm aware of) -- please just know, even when you couldn't feel more ordinary, you are anything but. 

Friday Favorites: Things I'm Loving

Friday, February 7, 2020

We made it to Friday, friends! 

Today we're celebrating a very special birthday over here. I'll give you a hint: we are celebrating the only person in our house who is not a girl. Ha! Happy Birthday, Steve! This is the seventeenth birthday I'll be spending with you, and I hope it's your best one yet. I bet you never thought, all those years ago, that there would be four sets of girls' arms around you giving you birthday hugs. ;) We all love you so much and can't wait to have a delicious dinner out tonight!

Besides my husband ;), I'm also loving some other things this rainy Friday and I thought I'd share with you:

-This doormat is the prettiest I've seen and has me thinking Spring!

-I signed up for online Barre classes and HOLY I am so sore. I'm really excited about keeping up with them, though! I've wanted to try Barre for a while and this was a great, realistic way for me to check it out.

-My colleague Katie just wrote this article for Romper about caring for sick kids during this never-ending winter, and it is so. true.

-I got a sample of this honey mask by Farmacy in a recent Sephora order and absolutely loved it. I'm not usually a big mask person, but this one was amazing!

-Did you guys see the viral post about the different ways that people think? It's sort of blown up the Internet. Do YOU have an internal monologue?

-Fellow parents! Gymboree is coming back and I just got an email that they will have FREE SHIPPING on their website. This is huge, as I refuse to pay shipping, haha.

Wishing you a fantastic (and sunny!) weekend ahead!

Monday Coffee Talk | 5 Ways to REALLY Achieve Your 2020 Goals

Monday, February 3, 2020

Welcome Monday and February! A new week and month, so what better time to talk about fresh starts?

Did you make resolutions for this new year? I talked a little bit in this post about how I decided to do things a little differently this year in terms of resolutions. Instead of setting big, general resolutions for 2020, I decided to break it down into monthly goals. I figured that, especially in this crazy stage of life, my resolutions might feel more attainable if I broke them down a little and took monthly steps to reach them. For example, instead of "purge the entire house of junk" you could say, ok, in February I will donate old clothes from our closets. In March I will find some large items to post for sale. In April I will have the kids help in identifying what toys they don't play with anymore.

Before we tackle our goals, let's lay some ground rules for ourselves, shall we?

Tomorrow I'll share my personal goals for February, and I'd love to hear yours!

Friday Favorites

Friday, January 31, 2020

Y'all. I mean... guys. Let's all agree on one thing: JANUARY WAS THE LONGEST MONTH OF ALL TIME. Ooooh man, it sure felt like it was never going to end, but we made it! ;)

What are your weekend plans? Ours are mostly low-key. Carrington has a birthday party for a friend on Saturday and we're hoping to see my brother for a belated birthday celebration. On Sunday our friends might come for a visit. We don't have ties to either team playing in the Super Bowl so maybe we'll have the game on in the background but we'll see! Super Bowl is usually just an excuse to eat appetizers for dinner over here, haha.

Today I wanted to share a random assortment of recent favorites/finds with you for Friday Favorites. What have you been loving lately? 

PS: I have drafts of a few different posts ready to go for the next couple of weeks exploring the extraordinary ordinariness of parenthood, reviewing what we've watched on Netflix lately, sharing our favorite baby must-haves this time around, and talking about how to really give yourself the best chance of achieving those resolutions you set a month ago. Stay tuned!

Friday Favorites

-Stick on nails are BACK! Am I the last one to this 1990-themed party? I picked up a pack of Impress Gel Stick On Nails from Target on a whim the other day and tried them out this week. They look awesome! I didn't feel the glue stayed on as long as I would have liked but then again I'm washing my hands constantly, scrubbing children, and using my nails to open stubborn yogurt containers like four times a day so this isn't too surprising. For $5.99 for a box of 30 nails, they are SO worth a try! Especially perfect for a special event. I posted about them on my IG Stories and a bunch of people said they use them too! Who knew?

-I never cook fish. Like, never. But in an effort to try some new healthy meals I ordered salmon fillets in my grocery order this week and cooked up some Lemon Garlic Butter Salmon & Asparagus and it was delicious and so much easier than I thought it would be! If you're looking for a tasty and nutritious dinner option, give this recipe a try and let me know what you think.

-Do you all follow Morgan Harper Nichols on IG? You've definitely seen her quotes and beautiful artwork floating around. Just an FYI that she often posts free wallpapers to her IG Stories that you can simply screenshot.

-Free shipping alert! One of my favorite places to shop, H&M, is offering free shipping through TOMORROW! Their kids clothes are the best.

-I finally took the Enneagram test recently and I'm a 2. Who are my fellow 2s?! I've found all of the descriptions to be so spot on so I'd love to hear if you've taken the test and what your result was!

That's all for now, friends. Have a great weekend!

Monday Coffee Talk | Catching Up

Monday, January 27, 2020

Morning and happy Monday, my friends! Did you all have a fun weekend? Ours was pretty good. We went to a birthday party for one of Hadley's little preschool classmates on Saturday and then made pizza for dinner. On Sunday morning we picked up groceries (our menu for this week is below!) and then I met one of my longtime friends (hi Daniela!) for lunch. I took Isabelle along since Daniela hadn't met her yet -- we live about 1.5 hours away from each other -- and she was the perfect little lunch date. It was so nice to linger over lunch and catch up! Of course, we didn't take a picture, but it did in fact happen.

Sister snuggles

Saturday marked the Lunar (Chinese) New Year, and as far as I'm concerned it re-started 2020 over here. As you all know by now, we had a rough start to the year and, quite honestly, I've been in a funk because of it all. And that's ok. I hate feeling sad and unlike my usual self, but at the same time I think it's important to allow ourselves to feel the emotions that come along with the hard stuff in life; to be "in your feelings" as the kids would say (Ha! I am officially old!). I also think it's healthy for my kids to see and experience a grieving process so although I try to hold it together for the most part for them, they have definitely seen some tears and I've decided that I'm ok with that.

Speaking of, after my search for age-appropriate books about the death of a pet fell flat, my mom found two great ones that I'd like to recommend in case you find yourself in the same situation with young kids: Saying Goodbye to Lulu (my favorite) and When A Pet Dies (by everyone's favorite Mr. Rogers). Saying Goodbye to Lulu is written so beautifully and yet honestly, and perfectly describes all of the feelings children (and adults) might go through at the end of a pet's life and after the pet passes away. I thought it was an extremely comforting and tasteful book. When a Pet Dies is a great, very straight-forward book that will help with some of the tough questions that kids might have about death (like permanency). 

Moving on to some happier life highlights, because time continues to move forward at light speed!

January and February are filled with birthdays for us. My brother, my mom, Steve, some of my closest friends, cousins, friend's kids. Sickness and weather have derailed some of our celebrations so I'm hoping to slowly catch up with everyone who had/is having a birthday and enjoy some fun and cake. ;) Do you have a lot of winter birthdays in your family too?

The kids have been busy with school -- Carrington is "star of the week" this week and so, so excited! -- and play dates/activities. We did take a break from our busy activity schedule around the time school started/Isabelle was born so after soccer ended for Hadley, all we have on the agenda for extra-curriculars right now is Girl Scouts for Carrie. So far she's really enjoying being a Daisy and has been doing great with the start of cookie season. People take these cookies very seriously -- I had no idea, haha!

We're also starting to look ahead (with much excitement) to spring and summer. Does anyone else find that it's so helpful to begin planning for the warmer months in the dead of winter? I don't know about you, but I need things to look forward to when it gets dark at 5 PM and the temperature is less than my age. We are about to book our beach house for our annual weeklong Avalon/Stone Harbor trip so we're excited about that. We're also scheming a weekend trip to DC to see the cherry blossoms in full bloom and take the kids to the Air & Space Museum and some other favorite spots around the city. Our options for vacations are somewhat limited with an infant, but that's ok -- we plan to make the most of what we can do! We're so lucky to live close to so much: the shore and major cities. In the meantime, it's fun to dream about some of the farther away places we'd love to take the kids in years to come. I really feel like we're starting a whole new chapter now that our family is complete. Life with three daughters is going to be a wonderful adventure (it already is)!

What's on your menu for the week? Here's what we have planned for dinners:

Tuesday - Pasta with ricotta pesto (jarred) & peas

Wednesday - Chicken nuggets, tater tots & broccoli

Thursday - Zuppa Toscana soup & salad

Friday - Leftovers

Saturday - Delivery pizza with friends

Sunday - Out

Wishing you a wonderful week ahead! Happy New Year! ;)

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