If You Love Them, Leave Them

Getting away from the kids and house can do wonders for any mom’s soul.
If you need a recharge, chances are good maybe you need an escape!


If you follow me on Instagram, you probably saw that I recently spent a few days in sunny, colorful Palm Springs for Altitude Summit (also known as Alt), a conference for creative entrepreneurs and bloggers.  I’d been looking forward to mixing, mingling and learning from other amazing creatives at this conference for almost a year…but it was only a couple months ago that I realized I’d be 38+ weeks pregnant at the time!

I decided to take the risk and make the four hour drive with some friends (including another very pregnant blogger) and I’m so glad I did!  You all know how passionate I am about taking time for yourself as a mom and homemaker and even though this was technically a “business” trip, it was just what I needed to recharge.

Moms spend their days pouring their hearts and souls into their children’s lives and their homes, it’s only right that we take time for ourselves sometimes.  Whether that comes in the form of a weekly art class, a lunch date with friends or a weekend away with the hubs, the important thing is that we never forget to take care of ourselves first and foremost.

I’ve found that I love being productive during my alone time by working on my blog or creating something of beauty.  At Alt, I met and saw women (and a couple brave men!) who were sheer powerhouses in their businesses and creative ventures.  Stylish fashion bloggers, savvy PR and marketing managers, creative Instagram moguls, you name it!  They were all in the business of kicking butt and taking names.

Every one of these women had taken something they were passionate about and turned it into a a fulfilling career that they were pursuing regardless of all the other obligations hanging over their heads.

While I’ll always consider the time invested in my children and husband the best use of my time, I remind myself regularly that by developing my own talents, hobbies and interests, I’m becoming a better mother and wife to those I love.  And I’m confident that our eventual transition into the “empty nester” phase of life will be a lot less jarring if we’re already pursuing some of our own passions.

What do you do to make yourself feel recharged and ready to take on the tasks of motherhood?

The Magic of Black



Dress (worn as top): Socialite on sale! (similar) || Faux-Leather Jacket: Topshop || Leggings: Zella ( and these are my maternity favorites) || Booties: BP Faren (I wear these every day!!) || Necklace: Anthropologie || Sunglasses: Duduma (in pink)

This last month of pregnancy is hitting me hard lately and it’s a rare day that I don’t plop on the couch for an hour or so to just chill.  I don’t know if  it’s the chaos of all the other kids, Mimi getting into a naughty stage (that kid is into everything!) or just my “advanced maternal age” 🙂 but I’m pooped!

I did manage to get off the couch to share this look with you because it’s made up of my maternity faves!  Now that I’m as big as a house, only a handful of items are comfy enough to qualify for space in my closet and leggings and tunics continue to make the cut. Notice the abundance of black in this otherwise color-loving mama’s wardrobe.  There just ain’t another color that minimizes a belly (and hips, and thighs, etc) like black!

But my latest faves are this jacket and these booties.  The jacket caught my eye a while ago and I couldn’t get it out of my head.  I bought it right after Christmas and wear it multiple times a week – it’s so cute and warm!  I’m usually a medium (without the huge belly) and bought a size 8, for reference.

The booties are the result of literally months and months of looking for and trying on shoes.  I’ve been looking for a great pair of low heeled, black booties since last winter and can’t tell you how many pairs I tried on.  These fit all the criteria: low enough to wear with long pants, interesting cut-out and mesh detail, low heel and super comfy!  Bonus: they can be slipped on and off without bending over.  Score!

My other top three bootie contenders were the Caslon Tara, the BP Tripp and the Sam Edelman Petty Chelsea.  I seriously could’ve been happy with any of these, but the BP Faren were/are perfection!

Family Pictures and Milestones

Check out our most recent family pictures!

 

Hurray for family pictures!  I’m thrilled to finally post all these…my sweet photographer Breanne had a baby right after shooting these and then Christmas and New Year’s so bless her heart for all the editing she’s been catching up on!

I love them all more than words can express and I hope you enjoy them at least a little 🙂

Liam is 11 this year and just the most delightful preteen around.  I seriously had no idea the older kid years would be so stinking much fun.  He has a hilarious sense of humor, is super intelligent and the BEST helper I could ask for.  He thinks nothing of jumping up every time I ask for something and is a fantastic big brother.  I can’t wait to see him as a teen!

Toby is 9 and the class clown of our homeschool – haha.  He is always happy and joking and LOVES little babies…he’s always hanging around Mimi and helping her.  Even at age 4 he loved holding the newborn twins so seeing him all grown up with a newborn (next month!) will be a lot of fun.  It took a while to convince him that reading can be as much fun as jumping on the trampoline but I love seeing him enjoy it now.

Juliet is bubbly, outgoing and can talk your ear off about anything…in other words, a pretty typical 7 year old girl.  She gets so excited about EVERYTHING so it’s kinda hard to keep a straight face when she’s talking to you.  Her latest obsessions are reading (Boxcar Children and Ramona Quimby books), her giant stuffed bear, riding her bike and gymnastics.

Vivan (aka the curly-haired twin) is a boisterous, opinionated and darling 5 year old.  She and Kira are THRILLED to be attending school one day a week and she doesn’t seem the least bit bothered by the fact that she can’t really write anything yet 🙂  Her personality is maddening on bad days and spunky on the good – I couldn’t love it more.

Kira is the most delightful little 5 year old lately!  She’s easy to please, quick to laugh and always obedient.  Kira worships her big sister Juliet and wants to copy everything about her, including her love of fashion, makeup and high heels.  We’re excited to see her get really close to reading independently too!

Finn is your typical, mischevious 3 year old, with a side of sweetness.  I’m really looking forward to seeing him with a new baby…he’s finally learning how to be tender and careful with little ones!  He and Mimi are developing a super cute little friendship as well, now that they share a bedroom (and when Finn’s not teaching her how to lose at sword fighting).  I’m thrilled that potty training has finally taken hold and his obsession with Star Wars knows no bounds!

Mimi (short for Marilyn) has been THE best baby on the planet!  Which just means that I hardly know what to do with the recent toddler curiosity that keeps her emptying 13 cabinets a day.  She is chubby and happy and a super great sleeper…in other words, a gateway baby to the next one! She’s also a girly girl to the extreme, in love with purses and shoes and trying on every lipgloss I own.

The love and adoration I have for this man is neverending.  Luke is the funniest, calmest, most loving man I know and I have never once seen him actually get angry in the 13 years we’ve known each other.  It takes a special guy to be willing to have a whole bunch of kids AND work hard enough to feed and keep them all in clothes, and I’m grateful for him every day.

Check out this post to see how I choose coordinating outfits for all these hooligans!

And these tips will help you succeed at family pictures every time.

Top 5 Maternity Essentials

Overwhelmed by all the pregnancy changes your body’s going through?  
Get a headstart on a great maternity wardrobe with these 5 fashion essentials!

I’m a HUGE fan of changes, goals and fresh starts so the new year is one of my favorite times!

I also love making lists for everything and fashion is no exception.  I find that I shop much more intentionally and purposefully when I know exactly what my closet needs and what I should look for.

Today I’ve got a list of my 5 favorite maternity fashion essentials to keep you covered and comfortable for the entire 9 months.  Pregnancy is a great time to experiment with a capsule wardrobe because it can be more difficult to find things that fit, and because you only have to dress your cute bump for less than a year!


  1.  Leggings: Find yourself 2-3 pairs of comfy, stretchy leggings and they’ll be wardrobe staples until (and after!) your sweet baby is born.  My favorite non-maternity versions  are the BP leggings pictured here (available in 3 colors) as well as this pair of black Zella leggings.  I’m absolutely in love with these Ingrid & Isabel maternity ones…I want to live in them!  The great thing about leggings is that you can often wear non-maternity versions and they’re great for pairing with your non-maternity tunics and dresses as well.

  2. Knit Dresses:
    If you find yourself pregnant during the warmer months of the year or live in a temperate climate, knit dresses will be your best friend!  They’re stretchy, flattering and you just can’t beat one step dressing.  This lace up Topshop dress is on regular rotation over here and here’s a link to lots more maternity options.  If you’re concerned about camouflaging lumps and bumps, read on for my last maternity essential. 
  3. High Quality Maternity Denim:
    It can be hard to justify spending a chunk of change on pants that you’ll only wear for 9 months but hear me out!  If there’s one time in your life you want clothes to fit well and be comfortable, pregnancy is the time.  Premium denim (like these amazing Madewell jeans) will give you a better fit and do a much better job of stretching with you during your 9 month adventure.And if you’re planning on having any more children, you’ll wear a great pair of jeans into the ground.

    Finally, a good stretchy waistband will be worth its weight in gold in the 4th trimester when your waistline is nowhere in sight but you still want to look and feel good.  

  4. Lightweight outerwear:
    Long cardigans and vests are my secret weapon this pregnancy!  They help stretch a capsule wardrobe by adding a cute layering option to just about any outfit and they cover any squishy bits around your hips or bottom.  The black cardigan pictured above is a ridiculously comfortable fleece version – I wear it almost every day (plus it’s on sale!).
  5. Knit Pencil Skirts:
    Again, knit anything is key during pregnancy.  I love any excuse to look a little bit nicer when hauling around a big baby bump and elastic waistbands are the only way to go.  I’ve never worn maternity versions, I usually just size up skirts like these for pregnancy.If I had to add one more important essential it would be over-the-belly underwear!  (You can thank me later for not taking a picture of this one for you).  I know they look and even feel kinda silly, but they are THE best way to keep any lumps and bumps all smoothed out.  I never wear a fitted dress in pregnancy without these!
    Good luck shopping for this exciting time in your life; embrace your changing shape and enjoy growing your little munchkin!

My Fashion Faves on sale!

 Lace-up dress – TopShop maternity (non-maternity on sale) || cardigan – Bobeau (on sale) || Booties – BP (on sale!) ||
Similar Bag – Sole Society (so cute!)|| Earrings – Nickel & Suede || Initial Necklace – Anthropologie

I hope everyone had the most fantastic of Christmases!  Our house was an absolute disaster Christmas night, which I think means it was a success.

Now that I have a couple gift cards burning holes in my pocket, it’s my second favorite week of the year: shopping week and the Nordstrom half-yearly sale!

This lace-up dress has been a cozy, comfy staple for the past month, as have these booties and cardigan.  The cardigan is seriously my ABSOLUTE favorite for throwing on any time I need an extra layer.  It’s fleece, soft and comes in a billion colors.  Plus it’s on sale this week!  Along with some of my other favorites listed below… hope you get to spoil yourselves a little this week!

PANTS:  Zella leggings (the COMFIEST leggings!) ||  AG Stilt Jeans (AG always has the most amazing fit) || Paige Gray Skinnies

TOPS: Free People Lacy Top ||  Topshop Plaid Shirt || Topshop Ruffle Sweater ||

SHOES: Coach Booties || Latigo Lace-up booties || Lace-Up Red Heels

ACCESSORIES: Skagen Watch || Nadri Crystal Bracelet (gorgeous!!) ||Kate Spade Crossbody Bag

Flowy Dresses, Earth Tones

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Dress: eShakti (I customized mine with shorter sleeves for our warm weather) || Watch: Arvo || Bag: Target Similar options || Wedges: Forever 21 Similar Options ||Necklace: Anthropologie Similar

Shopping trips for myself should really be called “If Only…” trips: “If only this were longer”, “If only this had sleeves”, “If only this had a different neckline…” and on and on!

That’s why I was blown away when I hear about eShakti.com‘s customizable clothing…eShakti is an online women’s clothing retailer that customizes ALL of their clothes to your specifications!  You can change length, sleeves, neckline and other details to make sure you get the style and fit you really want.  It’s absolutely brilliant!!  Learn all about how eShakti works here!

In other news, this season is really a GREAT time to be pregnant or have a few extra pounds hanging around.  Flowy dresses are everywhere and are SO comfy.  This dusty green color is another of my fave Fall colors – and it pairs perfectly with the other hot colors this season: pale pink, merlot and navy; I love them all!

What color combo are you loving the most right now?

Leggings: A Maternity Essential

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Similar Tunic || Leggings: BP || Similar Loafers || Hat: Similar and love this one! || Watch: Michael Kors ||Earrings: Nickel & Suede

It’s now officially cool here in Arizona…and it’s about freaking time!  Now that I want to wear pants all the time, leggings are definitely on major rotation.   As in, like, every day.

I posted a few tips about wearing leggings responsibly (haha!  I love that term) last year here, so check that post out if you have hesitations about wearing stretchy pants in public.  After swapping out my tunic and loafers for longs sweaters and booties, I plan on wearing this for look for the forseeable future!

*Note: I actually forgot about the pictures from this shoot for a couple months…don’t worry, the current 30 week baby bump is MUCH bigger!  And so is baby Mimi…why do they have to grow so fast??

Date night for Fall

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**GIVEAWAY CLOSED!  Congrats Heather P.!**

Hey all!  After loving this cute dress from Pink Blush Maternity earlier this summer, I was excited to shop their actual maternity section when this bump popped!  Anybody else have the darndest time finding flattering, affordable maternity clothes?

This time, I picked a cute sequined tunic that is perfect for date night or any time I want to dress up just the teensiest bit.  It’s lightweight which is great for fall in Arizona, but can be layered when it gets colder (I can’t wait to try it with leather leggings and boots!).

I really love buying pregnancy clothes that can still be used after baby is born since it seems such a waste to buy stuff I love, and then shove it under my bed for years.  Although admittedly, I’ve had more opportunities to wear maternity stuff than most people!

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Tunic: Pink Blush Maternity || Maternity denim: Madewell || Heels: Justfab ||
Bag: J Crew || Watch: Arvo || Necklace: Anthropologie || Sunglasses

A note about pregnant bodies: Guys – I SO get the angst that comes with watching your youthful, energetic body stretch and expand to accommodate growing a little baby.  It’s really hard sometimes to deal with these changes and maintain confidence in yourself and your looks (ask me how it feels to take regular pictures of myself and post them to the internet – yikes).

But in the end, the sacrifice of growing a baby is SO worth it, we all know that!  Just be patient with your body (including the weird emotions and crazy cravings that may accompany it) and embrace your growing shape.  Don’t feel like you can never look nice just because you’re uncomfortable or don’t feel like yourself.  Spend a little money to outfit your new figure and flaunt it.  Taking some extra time on yourself while pregnant can do a lot to boost your self-esteem and make you extra grateful for the miracle of pregnancy!

Be sure to enter the Rafflecopter giveaway for some free cute clothes!!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

And if all else fails, just start breaking out ridiculous dance moves…

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Check out this great link up post for some more Fall/Winter sweater inspiration!

This post created in partnership with PinkBlush.  All opinions are my own.  Previous winners of PinkBlush gift cards in the past 3 months are not eligible for giveaway.

 

Knit dresses: a maternity essential

Comfy knit dresses are the perfect maternity staple!

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Just like this knit pencil skirt, I’m currently collecting only cute, belly-friendly pieces that can be worn a ton of different ways.  Knit dresses fit the bill and mean I can stay comfortable without sacrificing variety!  Cause feeling fat AND having nothing to wear is just adding insult to injury.

This one (non-maternity) is cute enough to be worn alone, but the layering possibilities are endless.  You can add cute sneaks and a vest, a cardigan and booties, button down tied around the waist or scarf and wedges for 3 separate and completely different looks.  I LOVE any piece that lets me prolong how long I can wear my fave non-maternity clothes.  I plan to live in this one until February!

Dress: Love, Fire (comes in 2 colors!) More great dress options here, here and here || Shoes: Madewell (on major sale!) || Hat: BP (Similar) || Watch: Arvo || Similar Bracelet (love this one!) || Similar Clutch || Lipstick: Jouer

Family Pictures: Dressing the Clan

Fall is the quintessential time for family photo shoots: temperatures have cooled off, you’re gearing up for the holidays and prepping to send out greeting cards.  But along with family photos comes the stress of all the prepwork!  There’s the photographer to choose, location to determine and, worst of all, the outfits to coordinate.  Ay!

I’ve got some tips today for how to dress your crew for the perfect family photo shoot…whether you have 1 child or 10!

 

family-picture-collageFind your color inspiration.  Sometimes this comes in the form of an outfit you already own and want to use, sometimes it’s a dress you see in the store or some other random print!  This year I used the ottoman in my daughter’s room as inspiration and decided to go with gray, berry and blue tones.  

While sometimes a wide array of colors can work for a large group, you’ll generally want to stick with no more than 3 colors (or color families).  Also, be sure to choose colors that are in style for the season!  You might want hot pink and royal blue for your Christmas cards but if those colors aren’t in stores, you’re going to have a hard time finding outfits for everyone.  This fall you’ll find lots of gray and blue tones, maroon and berry colors, blush pink and dusty greens.

Dress the hardest body first, and build around that.  Since I’m pregnant this year, I had considerably fewer options that I felt comfortable in, so my outfit got chosen first.  This could also be a child who has fewer clothes than the others or one whose outfit you already know you love and want to use.

Neutrals, neutrals, neutrals!  Beware of too many prints and colors; neutrals help ground an ensemble and will balance out all the other busyness.  It’s tempting to dress everyone in a cute print or color but in order for everyone to work together, there has to be places for the eye to rest.

Once you’ve gathered all the outfits you own that you want to use, pack them up and go shopping!  You can also take a picture of the outfits to reference while in the store, but having the actual clothes with you makes it MUCH easier to mix and match.  My favorite places to shop for the whole family are Old Navy and Gap since they have clothes for every age and use the same color scheme throughout the store each season.  This makes it a cinch to coordinate for the whole family!  It also helps to have an idea in mind of what you’re looking for…a printed dress with berry tones or a neutral button down, etc.

Be sure all the outfits work well in any combination…in other words, make sure the girls look good together, the boys’ outfits work next to each other, mom and dad’s colors blend, etc.  You want to make sure that no matter the configuration your photographer is shooting, all the colors meld well.  

In the example above, I put mom and dad in neutrals, with a colored cardigan and shoes for mom.  Then assuming there are 2 boys and 2 girls, I put one of each gender in a neutral and one in a colorful outfit, with just 2 simple prints.  No matter who gets photographed together, it will look great!

If you need more tips for how to survive family pictures, be sure to check out this post as well.

And to watch me walk through the process of selecting our outfits for this year’s pics, watch this FB Live video!