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Thursday, August 31, 2017

What August Taught Me.

To be a good friend. I have some friends who just went above and beyond in showing me love over the last few months, and it was so needed. Not only that, but it's really challenged me this month to actively try to be a better friend. To pick up the phone more, to not wait 84 years to text back, to think about how a little effort on my end might make a big impact on a friend's day. It's a giant blessing to have your people, so love them fiercely. 

To accept new versions of myself. This year has included a lot of change for me on a personal level. Some I was in control of, some I wasn't. When you're surrounded by so much change, you're bound to change a bit, too. I'm learning to accept the ways that I'm different, and not freak out because I'm not feeling how I've always felt. 

To give an extremely superficial example: I have always been ready for summer to end and fall to be here. August first rolls around and everything in sight is covered in pumpkins. But this year, we're almost at September, and I'm very much stuck on summer. And instead of worrying that I'm not a good blogger because I'm not blogging about pumpkin spice lattes yet or that I shouldn't even be allowed to own a house since there's not a hint of pumpkin anywhere in sight, I'm just rolling with it.
That is obviously a small and silly example, but point being, I've had a lot of those this year. And I just say to myself, Hey, this is where we're at this year, and that's okay. 

That people are good. Sometimes, it's far too easy to be overwhelmed with how humankind seems to be the absolute worst. And then sometimes, it's amazing to see so much pure goodness come from others. Watching everyone, near and far, do whatever they can to help with this hurricane makes me proud. There's still good out there, we just have to be it. 

What has this month taught you?
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Tuesday, August 29, 2017

The Beach With a Toddler: What You Really Need.

As summer winds down (which I'm sad about, for the first time in maybe my whole life), I feel so thankful for the things I got to do and the adventures I got to have. One of my favorite parts of this summer was getting to take Jack to the beach and see him love it so much. 

I'm a big fan of life still consisting of the things you love once you have a baby. From the time he was just a week old, Jack has been to happy hours, pool days, brunches, margarita nights...and slept through most of them like a champ. 

That being said, some things (like beach days) do take extra effort, especially now that the squishy little baby who would sleep through brunch is now a wild and rambunctious toddler. After quite a few beach days this summer, here's a short little list that made those days much easier. I'm not talking about things like sunscreen and water (because I'm assuming that you know your tiny human doesn't need to be sunburned and dehydrated), but a few little things that ended up being super helpful. 

An inflatable pool. If you get nothing else on this list, you need this. So cheap, and will absolutely transform your beach day with a little. It's multi-purpose on the beach: 1) It's basically a playpen. Set it up in the shade, throw some toys in there, and let them play. 2) When it's empty, it's the perfect place to nap. Lay a blanket down and boom, it's a bed. 3) You can keep your kid cool without having to constantly bring them in and out of the water. Just put some water in, let them splash around and stay cool, and you can work on your tan. Win-Win-Win. 

half-tent. I'm not really sure what the exact name of this is, but my parents bought Jack one and it was fantastic, especially on windy days. 

Baby powder. Through some kind of weird black magic, baby powder makes sand come right off. So when you've got a grumpy gremlin covered in sand, just sprinkle this on and wipe the sand right off (I'm talking about you, obviously, but it works on kids too). 

Rashguard (long sleeves w/ SPF). This protects at least half their body from the sun, making your job of chasing them around reapplying sunscreen a tiny bit easier.

Cheap toys. The cheapest you can find. I'm a huge fan of buying things that will last, but I don't care what you shell out on beach toys, they will. not. last. They will wash away into the ocean. Another child will walk by and pick them up and you will be too lazy to chase them down. They will break. Basically, they're not outlasting the week. So save your money, buy the cheap ones, and your kid will never know the difference. 

Bonus: All the towels. Way more towels than you think you need. I'm not really sure what happens to our towels, within an hour Jack had managed to soak/sand/throw them all into the ocean. Bring all your towels. 

Have you braved the beach with a toddler? 
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Friday, August 25, 2017

Things I Believe in This Week.

Thrift store shopping. It has ruined me. I got this entire outfit for $10 last week, and the shorts still had the tags on. I can't pay full price for anything now without feeling like I'm getting majorly ripped off (because I probably am). If you're near Gainesville, you need to go to Sandy's. If not, you need to find your city's best consignment shop. I know that doesn't sound too fun, but if you like shopping and new clothes but also don't like spending money you don't have, it's a game-changer. 

Going for walks. Look, I'm trying to become a runner, but it's a big work in progress. In the meantime, Jack and I walk a few miles every morning. It's good for him to get fresh air, it's good for me to get exercise (because if you don't think that pushing a 25-pound kid in a stroller isn't exercise, think again, my friend), and it puts me in a really good mood. Endorphins for the win. 

Being a good friend. I've been in a season of life where friendships have been so essential to me, and even felt life-saving on some days. Little gestures of "hi, I'm here, I've got you, we're your people" go the longest way. The things that have meant the most to me haven't been big. It was my friends texting me the morning of a day they'd knew would be a hard one for me. Or getting a package in the mail that made my day. Or someone sending me a quote or a verse and saying "this reminded me of you!" Just little things that go a long way. It's really made me want to pay attention to how can be the best friend. 

I say this all the time but I'm really learning it so much lately: Life is short, love your people fiercely 

Taylor Swift. Forever and ever, amen. 

What do you believe in this week?
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Tuesday, August 22, 2017

I Hope You Always Throw Your Head Back & Laugh || Letters to Jack

Last night, our air conditioner was broken. This meant a repairman coming in and out, which, for some reason, terrified the crap out of you. Every time the door opened, you burst into tears and ran full-speed into my legs, almost knocking me over. Eventually, I just picked you up and spun you around to distract you, and you responded by throwing your head back and laughing the most genuine, joyful laugh I've ever heard. In a moment similar to deja vu, but not quite, I could see a whole life of laughter for you. 
I imagined you throwing your head back and laughing during a day at the beach, a young kid dizzy with sun and saltwater and sand and body surfing.
I imagined you throwing your head back and laughing the first time you pull out of the neighborhood alone after getting your drivers license, having your first taste of real freedom. 
I could see you tilting your head back and laughing about a movie you just saw with a girl you're falling in love with, because falling in love will do that to you. 
I imagined you closing your eyes and laughing along to the music after asking a stranger to dance, because nights like that will do that to you. 
I could see so much for you...laughing on vacation with your best friends, because making memories will do that to you. Laughing after college graduation, because having no idea what you're doing next will do that to you. Laughing after finding your new favorite restaurant, because good food and wine will do that to you. 
I imagined you holding your own kid one day, bouncing them around, watching them throw their head back and laugh at you. That will make you throw your head back and laugh, too. Trust me, I know. 
In these moments, I realize you're not just a toddler who runs from me when I try to change his diaper. You're not just a one-year-old who loves peek-a-boo and Curious George more than anything else. You're not just a clingy little guy who lets me get absolutely nothing done when you want to play football. You're all of those things right now, of course, but you're also an entire life waiting to happen. You're a whole life happening. 
I hope you always feel joy with such abandonment. I hope you never stifle it, but that you always throw your head back and laugh. 
I'm going to work on doing more of that, too. 
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Friday, August 18, 2017

My Favorite Things I Discovered This Summer.

Butter pecan coffee. I'm not a huge Dunkin' Donuts fan, but when we went on our road trip, there was one right down the road from where we were staying, and my beloved Starbucks was nowhere to be found. Luckily, Sam is a die-hard Dunkin' fan, so she told me the butter pecan coffee was magic. She wasn't wrong, and I've actually gone out of my way to get it several times since. I think it's just a summer flavor, but it's so delicious! 

Sandy's. This is a local one, so sorry, non-Florida people. But this consignment shop is AMAZING. The first time I went this summer I got two pairs of shorts, three dresses (one of which was a Free People dress), and two shirts for $50 dollars. That is amazing. And seriously, once you start finding good deals thrifting, you just can't shop normal prices anymore, because it seems like such a rip-off. 

Acai bowls. I discovered these on our road trip, and now I can't stop making them. I buy the acai packets from Trader Joe's, blend them with a little bit of greek yogurt, and top them with almond butter, coconut, and granola. SO DELICIOUS. 

Dr. Teal's foaming bath. I have been singing the praises of Bath & Body Works Stress Relief bubble bath forever. And while I stand by it, it is a very small bottle (10 oz) that goes very fast for $12. Dr. Teal's foaming bath is an almost perfect dupe, PLUS it's only $6 for a size that's over three times bigger (36 oz). If I didn't know I was using something different, I honestly don't think I would have noticed any differences at all between the two.  

Amazon Prime sunglasses. My heart-eyes sunglasses. My cat eye sunglasses. My gypsy moon and star sunglasses. What I refer to as my movie star sunglasses. I got all four pairs for under $50, which is apparently on the lower-end of what people pay for one pair of sunglasses. I'm all for investing in nice things, but I am rough on my sunglasses. And by I am rough on them, I mean I'm working with a combination of being clumsy and dropping them/leaving them places/tossing them in my purse/Jack ripping them from my face and throwing them on the ground. So having these options that are adorable and knowing that when they eventually break, my heart won't be breaking along with them, is a win/win. 
Tell me something you discovered this summer! 
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Thursday, August 17, 2017

Wine a Little, Laugh a Lot || Tiffany L Photography

On the last night of our trip, we went to Sanctuary Vineyards. It was the most beautiful vineyard with live music, picnic tables, and wine tasting. The weather was perfect and the company was amazing and we spent the whole night laughing and taking pictures. 

I met Tiffany on our first trip to Virginia and we hit it off right away. She is the sweetest, sassiest, most fun girl to be around, and just like I was talking about in my last post, I'm so glad things worked out the way they did, because now I have an amazing new friend.

A new friend who just happens to be an amazing photographer, which, by the way, is exactly what you want when you're at a gorgeous vineyard on a perfect summer night. We had a spur-of-the-moment photoshoot filled with so much laughter, and I'm so glad I have these pictures to remind me of an amazing week full of adventure. 

Tiffany lives in Elizabeth City, NC, which is only about an hour from Virginia Beach. So if you're near either of those places and need a photographer, Tiffany is your girl. I promise you will have the best time. 

I love these pictures because they don't feel forced, and in all the pictures from that night, everyone looks like themselves. Sometimes when you get professional pictures done, they feel stiff and photoshopped and you end up with pictures that look and feel nothing like you. But these are so natural and I can just feel our happiness when I look at them. 

And here's a few of my best friend, because I think she's beautiful and am obsessed with her, as all best friends should be: 

You can get in touch with Tiffany on her page, Tiffany L Photography. While you're there, PLEASE check out this puppy gender reveal she just is the cutest thing I've ever seen. 

Happy Thursday! 
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Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Let's Have Coffee.

If we were having coffee (and a donut, let's be honest) today, I'd have a weird smorgasbord of things to tell you. Like... 

...Being a mom is weird. Having this human life that you're supposed to take care of and mold is a bizarre thing. I think all the time as I'm taking care of Jack, you are an entire life. You will grow up and have a life and make choices and build something for yourself, and I get to teach you how. I want him to grow up to be strong and independent, I want to protect him from every little thing. I assume this balance only gets harder as he gets older, but when things like Charlottesville happen, I think a lot about this. Nothing makes me so fiercely determined to teach him what's good and what's not, to teach him to be brave and stand up against the not okay things, and to teach him to let his life speak of love, not hate. What a privilege it is to get to teach those things. 

...It amazes me how small the world is, how intertwined everything is, and how quickly things can change. I wrote about it here, but I met my friend Sam in college because she needed a place to crash (and then just never left). We then both ended up in Gainesville a few years later. Without her, I never would have been brave enough to go on a blogging trip, and I never would have made the connections I made to go back for a second round. If I wouldn't have gone back, I wouldn't have made the two other friendships I did. 
We're all in a group text, and one girl texted yesterday asking us to pray for a big meeting she had. It wasn't an off-the-cuff, "pray for me haha!" It was a real, hey I need your prayers and I know you'll give them to me kind of thing. After I prayed for her, I kind of just marveled at how things lined up just so and I was able to meet these people at this time in this place. It's a small world. 
Sometimes the cycle of, if this never would've happened then this wouldn't have happened and then this would be different sucks, and feels like life is just beating you up. But sometimes that cycle is really, really good. 

...No matter how many planners I try, I always come back to daily to-do lists in a plain notebook. There's something therapeutic about seeing everything I need to accomplish written down. Will I stop buying planners, though? Of course not. 

...In a plot twist TOTALLY unlike myself, I'm not ready to say goodbye to summer and hello to fall yet. I usually am cooking all the pumpkin things and putting out the scarecrows on August 1st, but this year I'm just craving summer for a little bit longer. I am going to Hobby Lobby this week, though, so that may change. Stay tuned. 

Your turn! Grab a cup and tell me what's going on with you! 
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Monday, August 14, 2017

Speak it: This is Not Okay.

My first year of college, I took an adolescent literature class. For our final, we each had to give a presentation of a popular YA book. The quietest girl in class, someone I'd spoken only a handful of words to, was the last one to present. She had been given The Book Thief, a book about a young girl growing up in Nazi Germany. 
As she began her presentation, she placed a giant black and white picture in the front of the room. It was gruesome and hard to look at...piles and piles and dead children, scooped up and pushed aside in the street, people politely walking around their bodies. 

She gestured to the picture, to the people who seemed so unfazed, and referenced the book, talking about learning about these things in hindsight. "What do you think you would have done," she asked, "If this had been your reality? If you had been around when this was happening?" This led to a class-wide conversation about standing up for the rights of others and speaking out against evil. Many of us made incredulous comments about how insane it was that the rest of the world stood by and let this evil happen for so long. We wouldn't have done that, we said confidently. 

"I'm glad you feel that way." She said, moving to the picture. She pulled it apart, showing they were actually two prints, not just one. "Because this picture was taken in 1946 in Germany, and this one," She gestured to the bodies piled up in the street. "This one was taken last week, in Iraq." 

I will never, ever forget the way that made me feel. I will never forget going back to my dorm and crying. I'd like to tell you that I cried because I was so heartbroken that those pictures were someone's current reality, but the truth is that I cried because I felt so could I not know something so bad was going on? How could I not have paid any attention?

"We wouldn't have stood for that." We said. "We would have called it evil and not accepted it." We were sure. "We wouldn't just go about our lives, letting that happen." But would we have? 
What's happening right now in Charlottesville is nothing other than pure evil (and if you think anything different, you need to examine the amount of evil abiding in your own heart). Call it what it is. Speak out against it in whatever capacity you have. 

This is not the world I want my son to grow up in. This is not what I want him to think is normal, just because this is the time and place he was born. And so I will teach him: This is not okay. This is evil. 
I've seen a lot of different versions of the statement, "If you are wondering how you would've acted during Nazi Germany or during the Civil Rights Movement, look at how you're acting now." I agree. 

Speak up. Say it out loud. This is evil, and it is not okay. 

If you have kids, please, please teach them that this is not okay. That to hate someone because of their race is unacceptable. That it is pure evil. 
Say it out loud. To your family, to your friends, to your coworkers. It's not the time to be quiet. 

If your heart is breaking today, if you are outraged and're doing it right. 

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Friday, August 11, 2017

Books I Read in July (And Whether or Not You Should Read Them).

When You Find Out the World is Against You: And Other Funny Memories About Awful Moments by Kelly Oxford

Plot: Kelly Oxford likes to blow up the Internet. Whether it is with the kind of tweets that led Rolling Stone to name her one of the Funniest People on Twitter, or with pictures of her hilariously adorable family (human and animal), or with something much more serious, like creating the hashtag #NotOkay, where millions of women came together to share their stories of sexual assault, Kelly has a unique, razor-sharp perspective on modern life. As a screen writer, professional sh*t disturber, wife and mother of three, Kelly is about everything but the status quo.

Perfect for anyone who ever wished David Sedaris and Mindy Kaling would just finally write a book together already, When You Find Out the World Is Against You is filled with the biting, wise, and laugh-out-loud insights that have won Kelly legions of fans. When You Find Out the World Is Against You is Kelly at her most honest and disarmingly funny best. Her comedic skill, down-to-earth voice and bull’s-eye observations on the absurdity of modern life mean there is nothing quite like seeing the world through Kelly’s eyes. -via goodreads

My thoughts: My knowledge of Kelly Oxford was limited to her hilarious tweets and snapchats, so when I saw this book being hailed as a must-read, especially for anyone with anxiety, I ordered it. And I didn't finish it, because I decided this year that life is too short to make yourself finish books you don't like. 

I think had I been a big fan of hers and known more about her life, I would have enjoyed it. Instead, it felt like a really choppy, introspective bounce between childhood memories and adulthood stories. She does write with great candor about having anxiety, which I appreciate, but I wasn't a big fan of the rest. 

Should you read it? If you're already a fan of hers, you'd probably love it. Otherwise, skip it.

All the Missing Girls by Megan Miranda

Plot: It’s been ten years since Nicolette Farrell left her rural hometown after her best friend, Corinne, disappeared from Cooley Ridge without a trace. Back again to tie up loose ends and care for her ailing father, Nic is soon plunged into a shocking drama that reawakens Corinne’s case and breaks open old wounds long since stitched.

The decade-old investigation focused on Nic, her brother Daniel, boyfriend Tyler, and Corinne’s boyfriend Jackson. Since then, only Nic has left Cooley Ridge. Daniel and his wife, Laura, are expecting a baby; Jackson works at the town bar; and Tyler is dating Annaleise Carter, Nic’s younger neighbor and the group’s alibi the night Corinne disappeared. Then, within days of Nic’s return, Annaleise goes missing.

Told backwards—Day 15 to Day 1—from the time Annaleise goes missing, Nic works to unravel the truth about her younger neighbor’s disappearance, revealing shocking truths about her friends, her family, and what really happened to Corinne that night ten years ago.

Like nothing you’ve ever read before, All the Missing Girls delivers in all the right ways. With twists and turns that lead down dark alleys and dead ends, you may think you’re walking a familiar path, but then Megan Miranda turns it all upside down and inside out and leaves us wondering just how far we would be willing to go to protect those we love.
 -via goodreads

Favorite quote: 

“People were like Russian nesting dolls - versions stacked inside the latest edition. But they all still lived inside, unchanged, just out of sight.” 

My thoughts: On our road trip up to Virginia, Sam and I listened to this book. This is the first book I've ever read that was told backward, and that took a little bit of getting used to. We both said we were trying to build on what we knew about the story, but then would realize you couldn't do that, because you were going back in time. We also both agreed the backward order would have been easier to read than it was to listen to. In hindsight, I really like it and think it was a super creative way to write this story.

Here's my personal criteria of what a good mystery is: I want the ending/big reveal/solution to be something that I wouldn't have guessed, but once I find out, I think, Ohh that makes sense! This one did that. 

Should you read it? Yes! Read, not listen. 

Into the Water by Paula Hawkins

Plot: A single mother turns up dead at the bottom of the river that runs through town. Earlier in the summer, a vulnerable teenage girl met the same fate. They are not the first women lost to these dark waters, but their deaths disturb the river and its history, dredging up secrets long submerged.

Left behind is a lonely fifteen-year-old girl. Parentless and friendless, she now finds herself in the care of her mother's sister, a fearful stranger who has been dragged back to the place she deliberately ran from—a place to which she vowed she'd never return.

With the same propulsive writing and acute understanding of human instincts that captivated millions of readers around the world in her explosive debut thriller, The Girl on the Train, Paula Hawkins delivers an urgent, twisting, deeply satisfying read that hinges on the deceptiveness of emotion and memory, as well as the devastating ways that the past can reach a long arm into the present.

Beware a calm surface—you never know what lies beneath. -via goodreads

Favorite quote: “The horrors conjured up by the mind are always so much worse than what is.” 

My thoughts: The woman who died. The characters in the book that the woman who died was writing.  The woman who died's sister. The woman who died's daughter. The daughter's best friend. The daughter's teacher. The detective. The detective's dad. The detective's wife. Another detective. These are all main characters. 

I really enjoyed this story, but there were SO many people essential to the plot that it made it hard to put down and pick up without getting confused. I feel like there were seven or eight stories jammed into one. But it's worth the read, and I liked how the story was revealed a little bit at a time. It definitely kept me hooked. 

Should you read it? Yes.

What did you read last month?
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Monday, August 7, 2017

You're Enough.


You are enough. 

That big dream you have, the one that seems far too big and bold and grand to ever really be yours, you are enough for that. 

The days you wake up and look at your to-do list that has grown miles long, but ish has hit the fan and it's time to get to work, you are enough for that. 

The days where life comes at you in all directions (none of them good), and you have to be your own warrior, you are enough for that. 

The days you have to be not only your own strength but someone else's, too, you are enough for that. 

You are strong enough. 

You are smart enough. 

You are worthy enough. 

You are brave enough. 

When you wake up one day and realize you aren't in love with your life and desperately want a fresh start, you are enough to stand up and start over. 

When little daily worries and big life disasters feel like they're going to drown you, you are enough to stand firm and hold on. 

On the days you feel inadequate, the days you're sure you'll never be a good enough
worker/mom/friend, you are enough. 

You are not perfect, but you don't have to be. Because you are enough. 
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Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Spending Your August: A To-Do List for Adventuring Through the Month.

1. Set three goals for the month. Big or small, up to you. 

2. Start a group text with your favorite ladies. Pep talks and memes galore! 

3. Make a smoothie bowl. I had one of these on my trip last week, and now they're my new favorite thing to make! 

4. Celebrate the little things. No, really. Stop and celebrate the little victories. 

5. Give something a makeover. Whether you're brave enough to refinish an entire dresser or just wanna spray paint an old picture frame neon yellow, have fun with it. 

6. Go wine tasting. 

7. Have a facetime coffee date with your long-distant friend and catch up on summer so far. 

8. Check out a yard sale. 

9. Try a new workout. 

10. Make some appetizers. We all know you have plenty of recipes pinned that you've never tried.
11. Browse all the cute back-to-school office supplies. It doesn't matter that you're not actually going back to school, everyone needs pretty pens and notebooks! 

12. Go a few days without makeup. Your skin will thank you and you can sleep in later, so win-win, ya know? 

13. Take advantage of how good (and cheap) peaches are. That's (one of) the saddest thing(s) about summer coming to an end...the peaches. Make something delicious with them. 

14. Make sangria with sorbet. I'm telling you guys, I'm ruined for life. No more normal sangria for me, ever. 

15. Host a dinner party. 

16. Turn your phone on do not disturb. THIS IS LIFE CHANGING. I've been doing this and it's nice to be able to check my texts/phone calls throughout the day as I want, and not pick my phone up every single time it dings.

17. Go to a trivia night. 

18. Set out on an adventure to find the best donuts in your city. Someone's gotta do it. 

19. If that summer trip you were hoping for isn't going to happen, start planning one for the fall.

20. Organize your closet. If there are summer clothes in there you haven't worn this year, it's safe to say it's time to send them to a better home. 

21. Find a Ferris wheel and take way too many pictures. 

22. Go to a restaurant you've never been and order the first thing the waiter recommends. 

23. Have a friend over for breakfast. Stay in your pajamas and drink coffee and eat waffles. 

24. Look up consignment shops in your area. We went to several consignment shops in Virginia Beach and I got the best outfits for so cheap. Don't judge a place by what it looks like on the outside!

25. Go to the library and check out a best-seller in a genre you don't normally read. 

26. Color your hair. Use this, it's what I used

27. Go to the beach. Depending on where you live, this might be the last month you have beach weather!

28. Try yoga. 

29. Go for a walk at sunset. 

30. Or at sunrise, with a cup of coffee in hand. 

31. Spend a day going out of your way to make sure your people know you love them. Love letters, Chick-Fil-A delivery, funny know what to do. 

How will you be spending this month?
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