The Simple Summer

Wednesday, August 4, 2021

When I was small, summer meant the smell of chlorine and cheap plastic inner tubes. We’d visit the local pool store to ready our above ground at the start of each season; she was nothing fancy, but she cooled us off and attracted a steady stream of friends and family to splash with. It also meant we stretched the days to their seams, making the most of every minute and begging our parents to stay up even after the sun went down. Those humid nights when they threw up their hands with an “oh well, why not!” were as good as winning the lottery: rich with sticky s’mores and too many popsicles, lit up by lightning bugs, culminating in a neighborhood-wide game of Manhunt. The memories are priceless.

Now, as a parent myself, the summers seem full of pressure; summer camps are full half a year in advance, sports are all booked up, vacations are plentiful and grand, and of course, all of it is well-documented on social media. It’s easy to get swept up in the idea of what a summer should look like for our young kids: have they seen all of their friends, tried plenty of new things and had a sufficient number of experiences? 

Did our parents frantically ask themselves these questions and put the same pressure on themselves? I’m no sociologist, but without social media to document every minute, perhaps summer truly was simpler in those days. At some point along the journey from then to now, simple became synonymous with boring; but with increasingly harried parents and jam-packed schedules, maybe simple isn’t so bad after all. 

Don’t get me wrong: I am a restless soul and a proud maker of seasonal “bucket lists.” I want my little girls to see, hear, taste and experience new things, to make memories that will still be with them when they’re my age. But I think we all—myself included—could benefit from taking a step back from the lists, from the posts, stories and reels, from it all, to reflect on what made our own summers magical. Was it learning a second language, zip lining through a forest, or exploring mountain peaks in a foreign land? Probably not. 

Maybe you planted flowers with your mom, dirt caking under your fingernails as you talked about life. Perhaps you spent afternoons with your grandparents, the only reprieve from their un-air conditioned house melty root beer floats on the front porch. Could be you ran wild with the kids on your street, savoring your first tastes of freedom as you bounced from yard to yard living in your own imaginary world.

I’m sure there were also times when you were bored. Weren’t we all? Those might be the best times of all, as a child; stolen pockets of time with absolutely no expectations and no choice but to let our imaginations run wild. What an underrated treat it is to be bored – let’s not take that away from our kids.

For me, the magic was in that distinct smell of chlorine. It was my older brother cooking burgers on the grill, walks with my mom, water from the hose, mid-day naps with sunburned cheeks, and picnics of saltine cracker sandwiches with my best friend under her willow tree. It was the “late nights,” as we came to call them, when we felt the rules didn’t apply. These no-frills summers may not have been Instagrammable—in fact, there are few pictures to prove they existed (such a pain to develop film back then)—but they were time spent with the people I loved most and the camera roll in my mind is better than any digital highlight reel.

My favorite memory with my own kids so far this summer was throwing on our sandals and walking in the summer heat to the grocery store down the road to choose our own pints of ice cream, whatever flavor they wanted. They partially melted on the way home, but we took spoons to them to taste-test each other’s selections while chatting at the kitchen table. They said I was the best mom and that it was the best day, and I was reminded once again that simplicity reigns.

So now, when I begin to feel that familiar uncertainty creep in about whether I’m giving my kids “the best summer ever,” when I worry that we haven’t crossed enough off our lists or the memories we are making aren’t grand enough, I recall the summers of long ago and am reminded of what really matters: saltine crackers, fireflies, and pool floats. Joy in each other. Joy in the little things.   

Welcome, August: Your Weekly To Do List to Make This Month Amazing

Monday, August 2, 2021

 I have long held the belief that August is an underrated month. It tends to get tacked on to the end of the season and looked over in a blur of "sort of summer" and "sort of back to school." But man, oh man, do I find beauty in August. Why? Because August is the best of it all: warm and sunny summer days mixed with the excitement and possibility of new things to come. You know that sort of magical feeling that hangs in the air as the first day of school approaches? That's August. It's slow and lingering, reminding us to soak up every last second of less structure. It invites us to do the things we may still be longing to do, like go swimming in a lake, pack up and head to the beach, take a nap in the shade. And yet, August is full of promise for fresh starts. And there's nothing I love more than that!

This month, I hope you'll take inventory of your life and prepare yourself for your next step, whatever that may look like for you. Even if you're not heading back to school or don't have kids going back to school, I hope you'll still think of August in the same way: as a month to both savor and prepare. Take time this month to reflect on what it is that makes you truly joyful, what fills you up, what you're excited to spend your time on. How can you do more of that? It's going to look different for all of us: for some, it may be career-related. Maybe it's time to ask for that promotion, to take the first step in starting that business you've been dreaming of, or even to quit a job that's draining the joy out of you. Perhaps it's related to relationships -- you may want to text a friend today about getting a date on the calendar, make a plan to reconnect to your spouse, or plan some quality one-on-one time with your kids. Perhaps it's related to self-care (though the term has become so overused!). Maybe this is the month you want to try something new (full disclosure: I taught myself a tik tok dance the other day!), carve out time to journal, finally commit to exercising, heck, even pencil in a daily 20 minute nap. Whatever it is... I challenge you to put one foot in front of the other this month, and to take that first step! The first step is always the hardest, and once you have some momentum going you'll find yourself striding toward writing a beautiful, exciting, joy-filled new chapter of your life. 

Let's start with August! This month, I'll be sharing a simple weekly "to-do" list at the beginning of each new week (Monday). I'll include a special written note at the bottom to remind you of your worth and potential at the beginning of each week. :) This is a space to jot your intentions for the week, the steps which will propel you forward week-by-week. Just save and print this sheet, clip it into your planner, and refer back to it at the end of each week. Give yourself all of the kudos for completing whatever steps you could and know that I'm cheering you on, too! 

Summer So Far: A Little Life Update

Friday, July 16, 2021

 It's been a while since I've done a life update!

Summer is in full swing and busy, busy! I've talked about this with a few people, and we all agree... doesn't it feel like this summer is extra busy and flying by? It feels as if everyone's on overdrive after a year of not being able to do much at all (myself included). It's really telling, I think, the ferocity with which we're jumping back into life and socializing with our people after having that taken away from us for a bit. Clearly, we missed each other.

Anyway! Though I don't do these often, so much has happened already this season, I wanted to pop in with some behind-the-scenes at the Tuckers', and some summer highlights. Before we know it we'll be back-to-school shopping so before that begins, allow me to revel in all things popsicles, water, and tiny (sweaty and sticky) girlfriends. :) Along with lots of inflatable pool time and swimming in our amazingly generous neighbors' pools (my girls would swim all day if they could!), plus swimming lessons and play dates with friends, oh! and a week of art camp which the kids adored!, here are a few things we've been up to...

We've been taking lots of walks (thanks to our rescue pup, Max!)

C "bridged" from a Daisy to a Brownie -- what a strange Girl Scouts year it was! But we're excited to see what the next (hopefully in-person) year holds.

Our library does a kids' story time each week and the special guest readers have been the principals at the various elementary schools in our town. So fun!

We celebrated Fourth of July with family at a BBQ (wearing my red, white, blue...and pink!)

My second baby turned FIVE! I can hardly believe it. In true 2021 style, she had multiple celebrations: her actual birthday during which she had art camp and - her favorite! - swimming lessons, a family party full of pizza and cake, and a friends party the next day featuring... Mister Softee! Did you know you can rent the ice cream truck for parties? So fun!

My cousin, aunt, and cousin's son came to visit from NY! It was the first time we'd seen them since before the pandemic and it was amazing.

Steve and I booked a trip to celebrate our belated 10th (now belated 11th, lol!) wedding anniversary in... Savannah, GA! We're so excited. This will be our first real trip without kids since having the girls (we've only done an overnight) -- we'll be away for three nights and the girlfriends will be having a blast with their grandparents! If you have been to Savannah and have any recommendations, I can't wait to hear them!

I turned 24! Ok, ok... 34. ;) I have to say, I mostly feel 24, only with some more wisdom. So that's a good thing...right? It was a great birthday (on my favorite day of the week - Friday!), and even ended with a rainbow. You can read my birthday post here.

What have you been up to so far this summer? Is time going at light speed for anyone else?

So good to "catch up" here in an informal way. And, by the way, I've been showing up on Instagram quite a bit, so if you'd like to come visit me there... I'd love that! 

Have a beautiful weekend, my friends.

On Turning 34 & My Birthday Wish for You

Friday, July 9, 2021

 It's the night before my birthday as I write this, and as I finally sit in some silence, I can't help but reflect on the past 34 years of my life and think ahead to what's to come.

I am so, so grateful.

I'm grateful for this chance at life, for my health, for the people in my life who love me, encourage me, and make me laugh until I cry (and I'm definitely a laugh-crier). I am indescribably (seriously, I could never put words to it to do it justice) grateful for my children. I pinch myself every day when I look at my three daughters. I mean, wow. Such a responsibility and also such an incredible privilege. Also just a whole lot of fun. :) I'm grateful for the man who helped make them and raises them with me, who I've loved since I was 15 years old, and his unending support of me and all of my crazy ideas and big dreams. I am grateful for my family, now more than ever before, as I had missed them so much during the pandemic and my heart is so full it could burst being all together again. I am grateful for my friends, who are as true as they come, who revive me and cheer me on, cry with me and make the best and most dangerous shopping partners. And I am forever grateful for a million little things from beautiful skies that my eyes get to witness to watching my girls dance in the ocean waves to salty french fries to music that moves me and my voice to sing along (however questionably). And so much more.

I don't really share this with a lot of people (until now!), but every night when my head hits the pillow, the first thing I say in my mind is: dear God, thank you for all the blessings of my life. And then I list them. And I fall asleep happy and content. It's the reason this blog is named The Lucky Lifestyle. Because I truly think that you're as lucky as you think you are, and it all stems from gratitude. I don't always get it right, but it's how I try to live.

I am so, so excited.

As I think ahead to what this next year may hold, I feel my heartbeat quicken. I think about all of the possibility that exists in a blank new chapter that stretches out before me. The last year and a half has taught me (and everyone else) that we never truly know what's coming around the bend. Sometimes it's the best thing ever, and sometimes it's the hardest thing we'll ever have to endure; and endure we will. As for the good times, I hope we'll all savor them just a bit more now. I often feel I'm living the best days of my life, and that can be a little scary. I don't want them to fly by, I often want to freeze time and try to take mental pictures of moments to tuck away forever. Try as I might, I know many memories will fade away with time -- but it's the moments themselves, the ones we live with vibrancy and gusto and enthusiasm and gratitude, as presently as we possibly can -- that add up to our life itself. 

So, at 34, I am so happy that I don't care if smile lines are starting to show. I am so thankful that I want to pay it forward however and whenever I can. I am driven in a way that I don't think I've ever felt before in my life, and I think it's because my "why" is so apparent and special. We rush ourselves along in the process, I think, without realizing that the process is the most important part. If we try to jump to the last step, to our last goal, to the final destination before we've lived enough to know why we're heading there... what sense does that make? And where's the fun in skipping the scenic route? We'd miss the wonders we're meant to see, the lessons we're meant to learn, the people we're meant to meet, the small accomplishments that are meant to build us into the person we're becoming.

So if you're reading this (and you've made it this far -- bless you!), just know that one of my birthday wishes is for you to live an authentic, one-of-a-kind life that feels good and right, not just one that looks the part. I hope you plan with purpose but also act on a whim sometimes, that you remember that life is happening all around you, all the time... it's not a spectator sport. We're not promised any of this, and it's finite, so jump -- literally, cannonball! -- into your own life and live it with joy. Every year, every day, every second. 

With love,


30 Father's Day Experience Ideas for the Dad Who Has Everything

Tuesday, June 15, 2021


I'm pretty sure we just celebrated Mother's Day, and now Father's Day is this weekend! This summer is already flying by, and it's not even officially summer yet.

Does anyone else find dads (grandpas, uncles, brothers, basically any male) kind of difficult to shop for? Maybe it's just the guys in my life -- my own husband included -- but I often find myself stumped when it comes to Father's Day gifts... and that's when I tend to turn to experiences over things. I know my own hubby would much prefer an experience (and maybe an updated pic of his kids for the office... and maybe some coffee and cinnamon rolls) over clutter. In case the guys in your own life are the same, I've rounded up some great experience ideas. The best part: these gifts will be ready in time for Father's Day this Sunday since these experiences are usually in the form of a gift card. You could even just book the experience and print out a picture or write what it will be in a card and gift it that way! Done and done. ;)

Experience Gift Ideas for the Dad in Your Life


-TopGolf (or another driving range in your area)

-Helicopter flying lessons (I did this for Steve years ago!)

-Luxury car rental (road trip, anyone?)

-Ax throwing



-Climbing gym

-Guitar lessons

-Dinner at a new restaurant

-Scuba diving lessons/certification

-Overnight trip (hotel stay)

-A straight razor shave by a barber

-Camping trip

-Lawn service (take something off his plate)

-Whiskey tasting

-Live music concert

-Night at the comedy club (laughter is always a good idea)

-Tickets to see his favorite team

-Cooking class


-Ninja warrior class

-Boxing lessons

-Art class

-Meditation/yoga class (time to relax!)

-Drive in theater tickets

-Tickets to a car show

-Archery range

-A day of fishing gift card (research those family roots!)

It's safe to say there's something for everyone on this list! No matter who you're celebrating this Father's Day, an experience gift is always an unexpected, fun way to surprise someone. Not only will they feel special and thought of, but they will walk away from their experience with the best gift of all: memories.

Have you ever gifted an experience, or received one? I'd love to hear what it was!

What's Your Purpose? 3 Ways to Identify and Live It

Thursday, June 10, 2021

What's your purpose?

Phew! Big question for a Thursday, right? You're probably thinking... my purpose is to live to see 5pm tomorrow so I can relax a margarita on the rocks (with salt) and some chips & guac. Or is that just me??

But really, this has been a question - and an entire topic, really - that has been on my mind for quite sometime. I think that natural question of "why am I here?" follows us around for most of our lives, and as we get older, if we haven't worked to fulfill our purpose yet - to do what really sets our soul on fire and what we believe we were put here to do - the question starts to nag at us. It wants attention. It wants validation. Like a hungry toddler, it wants to be fed. ;)

As I approach a new year (I turn 34 next month), I feel more called than ever to pursue my purpose. Julie Solomon, host of The Influencer Podcast, explains it best: passion and purpose are different. Passion is more temporary, the thing you use to express your purpose in the moment or for a little while. Your purpose is the thing that has actual roots, that helps make you... you. Now solidly in my mid-thirties (ack!), I'm acutely aware of how fast time actually goes, how precious it truly is, and how capable I really am. We are all capable. That thing you want to do? The thing that nags at you? The time is now to stop ignoring it... because now is all we have for sure. If you're looking for a sign: this is it.

So, what is my purpose (outside motherhood, because I truly feel being a momma is my deepest and most treasured calling)? I've had a sense of it almost all my life, but becoming a mother almost eight years ago solidified it (pretty cool how one purpose shone light on another!), and then the past year - all of the feelings and reflection that the pandemic brought forth - really sealed the deal. My purpose is to connect with others so we all feel a little less alone. In doing this, I hope to uplift, inspire, and empower people -- especially women. The way I choose to do this, and how it seems I've long chosen to do it, is through writing.

A few of months ago, my mom handed me a couple of boxes she'd held on to from my childhood. They were full of school papers, journals, stories and projects. I was blown away by how many of the things I found in those boxes that had to do with writing, with wanting to be a writer when I grew up, with wanting to connect with people and make others feel better. It was a reassurance that I was on the right path... that the grown up me was aligned with my childhood dreams and visions, pure and true as they were. That I had been listening to the quiet voice inside me (growing louder by the year) and was on the right path.

This voice, this purpose, is why I started this blog almost four years ago. Has it always been consistent? No. Have I fulfilled my purpose through this blog? No. But damn, it was a good start. It was me putting myself out there to begin. It was a wonderful first step. And then there were babies and a day job and family and friends and life... and I don't feel ashamed for any of that "slowing me down" in my exploration of this purpose. Instead, I choose to look at those things as fuel for the fire, as inspiration.

What's next? As my babies grow, and gain and relish in a bit more independence, I'm feeling ready and called to commit more time to writing, to connecting, to building community. I'm happy to say that, for now at least, I think this blog will be a part of that. But I also have ideas and plans that go beyond this space, and I hope you'll join me in that growth. I am so grateful for you for being here, for taking your valuable time to read this and anything I've written, and I hope more than anything you connect with it and think: hey, me too.

If you're feeling a little lost when it comes to identifying your purpose (and believe me, you have one... likely more than one!), here are a few ideas to get you started:

1. Reflect on who you were as a kid

I personally believe there is so much insight into who we really are and what we really want to do to be found in our childhood. Of course, we learn and grow and change - we're supposed to! - but our interests, talents, and things we were drawn to as a kid have a lot to teach our adult selves. So, as yourself: what were you like as a kid? What did you enjoy doing? What brought you genuine joy? What were your strengths? What did you want to be when you grew up?

OK, I'll admit: as a really young kid there's a video of me stating that when I grew up I wanted to be a "ballerina and a mommy." The ballerina thing... that wasn't going to happen, ha! But the yearning to be a mommy has never wavered. :)

If you're thrown off course remembering that you wanted to be an astronaut or Indiana Jones or something as a kid, go a bit older. What about when you were 10, 11, 12? My answer all through upper elementary, middle, and high school is that I wanted to be the editor of a magazine. I also toyed with the idea of becoming a school counselor. Put those two things together and they pretty closely reflect what I've identified my purpose to be! Crazy, right?

2. Write your story... 10 years from the future

So many of us, especially if you're close to my age, find ourselves at a crossroads. We've studied a certain thing, or started a certain career, or we think we might know what our purpose is, but we have no idea how that really plays out or what that looks like in real life. Maybe we even find ourselves in a position in life we never thought we'd be in... and we just don't know the way out. First of all, believe me, there is one. More than one, in fact. 

Here's an exercise that I started doing and that I've found helpful when you feel stuck and unsure of what your next steps should be: write a story about your life... ten years from the future. Example: "She was a month away from turning 34 when she could no longer quiet the voice inside her that called her to connect with others, and make an impact on the world, through writing. On her 34th birthday she promised herself she would start by committing three hours two days a week solely to writing, pitching her writing, and building her portfolio so she could reach as many people as possible. By 35, her website was built and she had written pieces for her top three "dream" publications. By 36, she branched out and began a podcast so she could highlight the voices of incredible women who had powerful stories to share." I mean... really get into it! 

If you could write your story, how would it read? Here's some news: You can write it.

3. Embrace your life as is, and then make a plan

We can get so hung up on the "should haves" and the choices, or maybe even excuses, we've made on our journey thus far that it feels like we're too far to make a different choice. We're not! You are where you are supposed to be... because if you weren't, you wouldn't be reading this. You wouldn't be ready and willing to find your purpose so you can fulfill it and live fully, and wholly, and joyfully. Your choices have shaped you; it's time to embrace them. It's time to thank yourself instead of shaming yourself so you can finally move forward. You cannot start this next chapter while standing in the last one. This next leg of the journey requires both feet in, not just one. 

After you've made peace with your journey to this point, make a plan. What steps will you take today to start? They don't need to be huge or mind-blowing or life-changing. It just needs to be ONE step you can take today toward your purpose. What will it be, and what will it take to make it? For me, it's going to be asking for help when I need it. It's going to be carving out time for myself. It's going to be being more unapologetic, more bold, more willing to take a risk. What about you?

If you've made it this far, I hope this has been a sign for you to value yourself and the unique things you have to offer to the world. There are so many people on this earth doing so many things, but not a single one of them is you. And the world needs you. 

Down the Shore 2021 + Updated Tips for Traveling with Littles

Wednesday, June 2, 2021

 I know there's no cure to the virus, but if there was a salve to soothe some of the hurt of this crazy past year -- time away from family, cancelled vacations, extra stress, etc. -- for me, it would be a week in the sunshine with the people we love most. And, somehow, that's just what we got a couple of weeks ago when we took an early-season trip to the beach.

We got the most beautiful weather for mid-May. I couldn't believe it! Each day was nicer than the last, warm but not *hot*, tons of sun. We enjoyed mornings and afternoons on the beach, the girls spent hours on end fearlessly splashing in the ocean (sometimes too fearlessly for this momma, haha) -- it turns out Isabelle is a beach baby too! They also loved catching crabs with their daddy... especially Hadley, who loves anything creepy crawly.

We went to the zoo, walked through the wetlands, went mini-golfing, took porch naps, played at every playground, went shopping in town, barbecued, ate delicious food from our favorite restaurants, and on the last night Steve and I even got to sneak away, just us two, to a Mexican restaurant on the bay to drink extremely over-priced margaritas and watch the sun set (our 11th anniversary was the next day!). So, yeah, all in all... pretty perfect. :) Truly, the week felt like a gift. One I was so happy and so grateful to receive. With all that said, here are some photos from our week:

Is traveling (even somewhere pretty close by) ever easy with small children? Nah. But after the first night (which is always an adventure), our kids actually really impressed us and did a great job being flexible and even sleeping throughout the week. We've picked up some best practices for traveling with little ones over the years that I want to share with you. I hope you have some type of trip planned this summer and that these tips help it go as smoothly as possible so you can enjoy it fully!

1. Lower your expectations, especially for the first night. The first night is always the toughest. The kids are excited, probably over-tired, and aren't used to their environment. This is not a great combo for sleep and I've found falling asleep that first night is usually the toughest. I have some tips below that will hopefully help, but my biggest tip is to simply lower your expectations. If you go into the trip thinking your kiddos are just going to fall asleep as they so easily do in their rooms at home, you're probably setting yourself up for disappointment. Grab a drink and a magazine and brace yourself for some bumps that first night.

2. Mimic the look and feel of home. I literally strip the kids' sheets and mattress protectors right off their beds and pack them as we're leaving so they smell like home. The sheets and favorite blankets, plus pillows, that they're familiar with are key! We also pack their night lights and sound machines, and of course any favorite stuffed animals or loveys. Basically, however your kid would fall asleep at home... try to mimic that as closely as possible!

3. Consider renting a crib. My kids would never tolerate a pack-n-play for overnight, especially for multiple nights in a row. We've always had great luck renting a wooden crib from a local rental place. It couldn't be easier -- I just "book" and pay for the crib rental in advance, and the company delivers it right to our door the day we check in, and then comes to pick it up the day we check out. If you're interested, try searching the town you're traveling to + baby rentals in Google to see if there's a rental place close to where you'll be staying.

4. Pack a few new activities and surprise them. I always hit up the Target dollar spot before we go on a trip to grab several super inexpensive new activities (think, coloring and activity books and those play packs, crayons, bubbles, etc.) for our trip. They come in handy in the car, at the house during any down time, and even waiting for food at a restaurant. Other great places to check for similar activities are the dollar store and craft stores like Michaels.

5. Hit up a grocery store for some food/drink staples. There's no doubt that eating out is one of the best parts of vacation! We definitely do plenty of that while we're away, but we also like to pack (or buy once we arrive) typical staple foods that we know our kids enjoy, and that are probably a bit healthier than all of the restaurant food we'll be enjoying. For instance, I pack plenty of foods for breakfasts and lunches -- bread, pb & jelly, string cheeses, applesauce pouches, carrot sticks, etc. I feel like regulating their eating a bit and balancing out the greasy foods and sweets with some healthier options makes everyone happier in the end!

I hope these tips were helpful! I'm putting together a separate "beach must-haves" post where I'll share our tried and true beach essentials for kids, so keep an eye out for that. ;)

Thanks for taking a peek at our trip down the shore! I'd love to hear if you have a trip planned this summer and, if so, where to!

Mother's Day Gift Ideas | 2021

Friday, April 30, 2021


Gingham PJ Set  |  One Line A Day Book |  Tory Burch Bag  |  EOS Balm

I can't believe Mother's Day is a little over a week away! In case you're still looking for a last minute token of appreciation for the momma or special woman in your life, I've rounded up 7 of my favorite gifts. From my favorite lip balm in the yummiest scents at only a few dollars, to a gorgeous splurge of a bag (that color!) -- you can't go wrong with any of these pretty spring picks. 

I can say from experience that having the "one line a day" book is such a nice idea. Kids say so many funny things, and there are so many small moments that are easy to get lost in the shuffle of day-to-day life. I love the fact that you can keep memories in this special and pretty book for five years, and have it to always look back on. The perfect gift for a first-time mom!

Those summery hoop earrings are on sale for $38 and would go with any and every outfit this summer. I don't know about you, but I haven't treated myself to much over the past year so I think they'd be the perfect way to update your best momma friend's wardrobe (or your own!).

I have a pair of Keds x Rifle Paper Co. platform sneakers and love them so, so much. I wear them with shorts and t-shirt dresses, and always get asked where they're from. Tip: DSW carries a few different styles from this collaboration for less $!

What are your plans for Mother's Day? It'll be here before we know it!

Three Parenting Lessons I Learned By My Third Kid

Monday, April 26, 2021

I vividly remember one evening when my first born was somewhere between 12-18 months old, she flipped over the plate of food I had prepared for her dinner in a protest of epic early-toddlerhood proportions. Kneeling in a ketchup-y pile of "brinner" (breakfast for dinner - i.e. eggs, potatoes carefully chopped to bite-sized, minced sausage... you get the picture) while my daughter shrieked, I burst into tears of my own. Yep, there we both sat in the dining room of our townhouse, crying in unison. It's actually pretty comical looking back on it, but I remember how defeated I felt in the moment. I think I actually asked "why would you do that?" as if the tiny human who had been on the planet for one year carefully thought out her plate-flipping move or would give me some logical explanation, lol.

All that to say that with time, experience, and hard-earned wisdom come (some) clarity. Seven and a half years and two more kids later, when my third kiddo flips her plate or turns her baby pouch into a fountain, I reach for one of the 7,000 packets of wipe I keep handy and wait for her to be done making her mess expressing her creativity. 

Here are three lessons I've learned that have helped make life a little easier on this rollercoaster ride of heart-exploding love and "I don't know what the hell I'm doing" called parenting:

1. Keep your standards high... but your expectations low (I mean, low low)

For people like myself who value having some or most of the control over things, parenting little ones can feel like one out-of-control day after another. I get it! When you're a new parent, that can be a tough adjustment. You might, like me, try to cling on to every last ounce of control you can possibly have in order to make it seem like there is some sense or order to things. 

But here's the secret you learn as time goes on and, if you choose to have them, with subsequent kids: stuff is going to happen no matter what. No. Matter. What. There is no amount you can plan or prep and no grip tight enough on that last shred of control that will keep the inevitable messes, sicknesses, and other stressful - but normal - parts of parenting littles at bay. The challenges and stressful moments will come, and you will want to make sense of them, but the truth is... sometimes it just is what it is.

It's taken me quite a while to accept that parenting is an exercise in letting go, but once I did accept it, my life, mood, and outlook on this super important gig have all changed for the better. And it's because of this: I lowered my expectations. Don't get me wrong! Having standards for your kids and yourself and how you'd like things to go is great and necessary. So keep those standards high... but if you can, while the standards remain high, lower your expectations from perfection to reality. The reality is, we aren't dealing with miniature adults here. We are dealing with children who have only been around for a couple of years and who are learning every single day. If you can look at your kids as kids (yes, kids that are accountable... but also human!), then the next time you're staring at pizza on your wall you might just reach for the wipes while conveying the lesson to your kids, instead of melting down in a puddle of tears. ;)

2. You cannot (I repeat, cannot) do it all by yourself

While we're on the topic of letting go, here is a lesson I am still learning but have finally *finally* realized: you can not do this all by yourself. If you're a stay at home parent, keep in mind: parenting little kids is a full time, round-the-clock job. If you work another job, too, then you also have that on your full plate. I know you want to be your best for your kids, but you won't be able to be your best without asking for help when you need it and delegating where necessary. 

I'm a work-from-home mom and have been since my first kiddo was born. Honestly, when I had one baby who napped consistently, I could fairly easily handle both roles: momma and employee. But I quickly learned after having my second child that more time didn't just magically  appear just because I had more kids: I needed to ask for help. My husband was grateful when I clearly asked for what I needed from him, and our parents began a routine of coming every other week (one set of parents one week, the next the following week, and so forth). This allowed me to carve out time for work and other responsibilities.

Another important part of this is making/having friends who are also parents. I can (and probably will!) write an entire post about how crucial finding fellow parent friends is, especially in the early days of parenthood, but for right now I can't emphasize enough how much it will improve your daily life if you have a support system (it doesn't have to be huge!) of other parents who can understand the phase of life you're in, who you can vent to, call on, lean on, and meet up with. This made all the difference for me when I got to know a handful of other new moms when my first born was around 6 months old. Having a baby can be lonely (something people don't always tell you!), so my advice would be to not allow yourself to become isolated. Friends are more important than ever during this season!

3. These are the days

I know it sounds cheesy, and I don't mean to downplay how hard and tiring some (most?!) days can be, but something I've learned over the last seven years is this oft-repeated saying really is true: the days are long, but the years are short. They are so, so short. There is a finite period of time that our kids will be so small and will need us so much. Yes, they'll always need their parents. But believe me: the dynamics of families change as they grow. They will change for the better in many ways -- I was just telling my husband how cool it is to come to a place in our parenting journey where we are genuinely admiring the individuals our kids are becoming -- but there will also be far more complicated problems than a meltdown over the wrong flavor juice, and many days when we're not the first they turn to. 

I try to keep this in mind, as I find perspective is everything. Yes, these days are messy. They are unpredictable. They can be overwhelming, busy, exhausting, and sometimes lonely. But they are also full of fun, cuddles, learning, playing, and the kind of pure love only little ones can offer. Though I've always been aware of how lucky we are and super grateful, it really took until my third kid to realize how fast this time goes and to enjoy it for all it is, realizing how quickly it really goes. 

It's my hope that by applying the first and second lessons I learned by my third baby, this last lesson will be an easy to realize and embrace... whether you have one child, or ten. ;) We're already aboard the rollercoaster of parenthood -- we can hide our eyes and wish for it to be over, or we can throw our hands up and enjoy the ride.

Home | Serena & Lily Living Room Dupes

Wednesday, March 10, 2021

Striped Pillow Covers / White Couch / White Lamp

White Side Table / Wicker Basket / Gold Floor Lamp 

We're in the midst of a little living room (which serves as our family room/tv room, connected in an open concept to our kitchen) makeover, so I've been doing a lot browsing online lately -- always fun! I am drawn to the Serena & Lily vibe (coastal -- but on the more traditional/homey side, if that makes sense), but their prices are not in the budget!

If the same is true for you, I wanted to share several fun finds I've spotted recently that have that S&L look with a much kinder price tag. ;) Edited to add: By the time I put this little collage together, several of these items were sold out. I'll link the ones that I can find that are still available -- but hopefully this gives you some inspiration!

Here are some places to shop where I've found good Serena & Lily dupes:


One Kings Lane

H&M Home



I'll keep you posted on our living room update. In the meantime, happy browsing and decorating!

2021 Word of the Year: Intentional

Friday, February 19, 2021


It's totally ok to choose my word of the year a couple of months into 2021, right?

Truth be told, I've never chosen a word of the year. I've always been a traditional resolutions-making gal; nothing too intense, rather goals and visions for the year ahead.

But the more I read about others' words and thought about the concept, the more it appealed to me. I mean... I love words. I'm all about words! So why not? But it took a while to choose a word that really resonated with me, had genuine meaning to me, and aligned with my vision for the year ahead -- a year which will, no doubt, be unlike any other.

So after considering several possibilities, I ultimately chose the word intentional.

The definition of the word intentional is pretty straight forward: to be done with purpose, deliberately. It's a word that kept popping up in books I was reading and podcasts I was listening to. It's a word that, I realized, is connected to joy. And who doesn't want as much of that as possible? 

The more I thought about it, the more living with intention made sense, especially for this season of life. Reflecting on the things I want to improve, the things that seem to take away from joy, made me realize that adding intentionality into those areas would help. For instance: eating intentionally (leading to healthier, more satisfying choices and more energy). Spending my time intentionally (when I'm with the kids, be purposefully with them... when I'm working, spending that time focused on work, etc.) to avoid feeling burnt out, hurried, and unaccomplished. Spending money more intentionally, which is actually something I feel I did really well with last year (not just buying something because it worked, or was on sale, or was "just ok" but spending money -- which is what we receive as a trade for the most valuable thing of all, our time -- on things that truly bring me joy).

The importance of forming my goals for the year with intention also became really apparent. What do I want to accomplish this year, and why? What can I purposefully do that will add value and joy to my (and my family's) life? What speaks to me as an individual? Scrolling social media or only doing things that I'm supposed to do might pass the time, but they don't fill me up. They don't add value. Our time is so precious and ultimately so short -- I'm becoming more and more convinced that we need to spend it as intentionally as possible.

Don't get me wrong, I'm still an advocate for the YOLO way of life. ;) Sometimes, we just want and need to let go and live life a little less planned and a little less scripted. Sometimes the very best memories are made this way. Sometimes, in the letting go, we discover parts of ourselves we didn't know existed. I know all of this is true, and in fact, living intentionally will only help with this. The goal isn't to live a scripted planned-to-death life, but an authentic and genuine one. Yes, I think we can still be intentional even with the YOLO part of our lives. 

I could go on and on about this (again, obsessed with words, haha). Have you chosen a word of the year? I would love to hear what it is and why you chose it!

Loaded Baked Potato Soup

Thursday, February 18, 2021


If you need a warm, savory meal for a cold winter day... look no further! 

When I started to make this Loaded Baked Potato Soup, I actually intended to follow a recipe I had found. But then I bought a few wrong ingredients and realized the recipe I had wasn't for a slow cooker -- and slow cookers are my jam when it comes to soup (and a lot of other meals!). Nothing beats throwing ingredients into a big pot and forgetting about it until dinnertime rolls around, especially with the craziness of these days we're in.

So I did what I tend to do a lot these days and improvised! And I'm so glad I did, because this soup turned out so yummy, and I realized by subbing a milk base for a broth base and cutting out butter, I saved a ton of calories but sacrificed none of the flavor (and trust, there are still plenty of calories in this soup, haha). I will warn you, I pretty much eye-balled amounts of everything, so feel free to adjust as you see fit. That's the beauty of soup -- with the basic ingredients in place, it's hard to go wrong.

Here's What You Need:

-32 oz chicken broth

-Small Yukon Gold potatoes

-Thick cut bacon

-White or yellow onion

-Cheddar cheese, shredded

-1/2 cup - 1 cup heavy cream

-Sour cream


-Garlic salt

-Cracked pepper

Here's What You Do:

-Bake bacon in oven heated to 400 for 25 minutes (my tried & true bacon-cooking method, and it took a lot of trial & error and fire alarms going off, is to place bacon on a baking sheet and cover with another baking sheet)

-While bacon is cooking, wash and cut potatoes into cubes, dump into crockpot

-Chop white (or yellow) onion -- I used about 1/2 an onion -- and add to crockpot

-Once bacon is done cooking, tear apart 4-6 slices and add to crockpot

-Pour whole carton of chicken broth into crockpot (should just cover the dry ingredients) and mix everything together

-Cook on high for 3.5-4 hours, or low 5-6 hours

-About a half hour before you want to serve, whisk together 1 tablespoon flour and 1/4-1/2 cup of heavy cream, pour into crockpot

-Add approx. 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

-Add few dollops (what a fun word) of sour cream

-Add garlic salt and cracked pepper to taste

-Stir all together and cook for another 30 minutes or so

-Enjoy topped with shredded cheddar and crumbled bacon!

February Favorites

Saturday, February 6, 2021

Happy February!

I'm not much of a fan of winter, but I can't help but be fond of February. Valentine's Day is always fun (more so each year!) with our three little valentines, and there are some very special birthdays in our family this month... one of which we'll be celebrating snowed in this weekend!

I've been wanting to share a few recent favorites with you. Some are things I've recently purchased and love, some are things I've read, and some are things on the wish list.

Hope you're staying happy, healthy, and cozy this month. I see a light at the end of this pandemic tunnel, and it is filling my weary heart with hope. Better days are coming, my friends, and in the meantime I hope we're able to embrace these days with as much courage and joy as humanly possible. :) xoxo

Loft earring set | Sugar lip polish | Sleep shirt

Cozy slipper slides | Untamed | Yeti mug | The Magnolia Story

10 Ways to Get Unstuck

Friday, January 29, 2021

The past year has taken a toll on all of us in one way or another. Moms have taken on everything from juggling working remotely with navigating virtual learning, to worrying about our families’ mental and physical wellbeing, and so much more.

It’s exhausting. And even though moms are incredible, we’re still human and at some point each of us has likely found ourselves feeling… stuck. 

If you’ve felt that way lately – I know I have! – here are ten things to try to get unstuck:

Put it on paper

Call it journaling, call it a brain dump, call it making a list; whatever you call it, getting your thoughts out of your head and onto paper is extremely cathartic and absolutely necessary for clearing your mind. The beauty of this exercise is that it doesn’t need to look pretty; it can be scribbled or drawn. But here’s the catch: no matter how you do it, it should be on actual paper. The physical act of scrawling out your thoughts is just as therapeutic as the mental act of emptying your mind of them.

Take a (tech free) walk

Early this summer, I began channeling the anxiety I was feeling into moving my legs and taking a daily walk. Though I brought my phone along with me, I tried not to look at it, instead paying as much attention to my surroundings as possible. On these walks I noticed blooming trees, inspirational sidewalk chalk messages, rainbows hung in windows meant to encourage neighbors. I smiled and said hello to those I walked by, and the connection—though brief—made so much difference in my mood. 

Phone a friend

Girlfriends are our lifelines. During these difficult times, let’s not forget the power a chat and a belly laugh with those who know us best can have. Just when connecting with others seems hardest, is when it’s most important. Make the effort to ask a friend when she’d be free for a catch-up call (my girlfriends and I refer to them “phone dates”), and notice how your mind and heart are eased when you hang up the phone.

Prioritize getting dressed

There have been more times than I’d like to admit during this ordeal when I’ve woken up and gone the whole day without changing, only to fall asleep in the same pajamas that evening (tell me I’m not the only one!). Trust me when I say: it has never helped my spirits. No matter how busy, crazed, or rushed through the day we may be, prioritizing getting dressed and ready for the day – even if it’s just brushing our teeth and throwing our hair into a ponytail – is crucial. 

Make plans for the future

I’m convinced that, as human beings, we need things to look forward to. Our spirits thrive when we know that something happy, hopeful, fun, or restful is in store for us. Especially during these times, when so much has been cancelled and we feel like we’ve really missed out on a lot, it’s so restorative to sit down and plan something for the future whether it be a trip, a visit with faraway family, or a big goal and how we are going to meet it. 

Repeat a mantra

I know you’ve already heard about mantras and their benefits, but if you’re anything like me, you might not have known what a mantra should even sound like. Here’s the good news: it can sound like anything, as long as it empowers you, sooths you, or otherwise helps you get through the hard stuff. My two favorites are “I can do hard things” and “this too shall pass.”

Consume uplifting media

Media – from social media to the news – is an inevitable part of our lives in 2020, and it’s safe to say there has been a ton of media to consume this year that has been hard, sad, scary, divisive, and stressful. Try taking some time away from the types of media that make you feel down. I like to turn up my most upbeat songs and read the stories of people who inspire me. The types of media we consume day after day become the lenses through which we see the world, and inevitably effect how we feel.

Turn your sights toward others

Nothing helps me get out of my own head like making an effort to help others. With so many needs out there, it can become easy to get overwhelmed by the thought of lending a hand. Don’t underestimate the power of small gestures: helping somebody reach something on the supermarket shelf, or giving someone an eye-crinkled masked smile can be extraordinarily powerful. I call this “planting seeds.” Bonus: a healthy dose of perspective never hurt any of us!

Focus on small moments of joy

We’ve lost a lot this year, and those losses can sometimes overshadow what we still have. One way to reclaim happiness is to practice noticing small moments of joy. Think: the way the creamer swirls into your black coffee in the morning; the way your daughter’s hair smells like shampoo; the coziness of your favorite blanket wrapped around you. Though these aren’t grand moments, they add up.

Remember gratitude

It’s easy to be grateful when life is easy, fun, and happy and everything is going as we think it should. Gratitude, though, is a buoy available for us to grab onto when the waters get deep and dark. So long as we’re holding onto gratitude, we keep sight of hope on the horizon.

Of course, there are times when we will need more than just “mood lifters” and we should never feel ashamed to ask for as much help as we need – whether from our family or a professional. But if you’re simply feeling stuck or having an off day (or week), I hope you’ll remember a few of these tried-and-true tactics.

What do you do to help yourself out of a rut?

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