Lovely Simply

Style and Lifestyle in New England

Tag: lifestyle

The Harder Days

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People talk a lot about how social media only presents one side of reality– the lovely side. I have written about that before, and about how I don’t really have a problem with it. Currently our world has some pretty devastatingly hideous aspects to it (and our country does too…) so we could all use a little bit of loveliness from time to time. That being said, as a mother, a woman, and just an all around human, I find growth not in perceived perfection but in joint struggle. If that makes sense. I’m Tired with a capital T lately. 023153b1-623d-4721-94b4-499b69d9d10f

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These photos were taken last weekend when I had a real outfit on (I do love this sweater with a passion) and had done my hair and was feeling pretty together. But in general, this week hasn’t been like that. I love being a mother. And I feel that I am pretty good at it…but sometimes I fail so spectacularly that it is almost comical. I think the biggest issue is that I am pretty tightly wound. Which is a little confusing because I consider myself a laid back person. I am not terribly particular. I don’t demand for things to be a certain way all the time. I am generally able to go with the flow. But at the same time I get really, really stressed really, really quickly. I admire women with multiple children that just sort of seem to let the crazy wash over them and smile or laugh our completely ignore it. I don’t know if that is an innate skill (in which case, I am lacking it) or something they have nurtured out of necessity (in which case, I have some serious nurturing to do) but I just don’t have it. Yet. ce0feec3-57c6-4bb9-94d7-18cbb4afcc0a

Part of my issue is that I have a fine tuned sense of guilt…which I am, of course, tempted to blame on MY mother who had her own fine tuned sense of guilt built through a tapestry of evangelical Christianity with just enough catholic sensibility to keep things interesting. But isn’t that always the go-to? To blame our mothers? And dear god, now I am a mother and I sure don’t want Redmond to start storing up his issues to blame on me in a few decades. No. Better to take the responsibility of it having been fashioned through life. My own life, through my own childhood and into this bizarre and terrifying world of adulthood. All of that to say, I expect myself to just succeed at an awful lot. At work, at marriage, at parenthood, at friendship. I expect to maintain a clean house. I expect myself to cook a really good, interesting, healthy meal every night. I expect myself to stay fit and never miss a workout. I expect myself to keep up this blog with some regularity. I expect myself to be dazzlingly successful at social media. I expect myself to be fully informed of everything going on in our country and world. The list just keeps going, and when one of the little spinning plates starts to wiggle, I am immediately convinced that ALL the plates are about to come crashing down and that it is my fault for being such a failure and such a big fat mess. I imagine this is familiar to most of us. I DON’T imagine that I am remotely unique in this. It’s basically what women put ourselves through and have put ourselves through for all of history. 25b996a1-6761-45df-abfa-ed489761ee16

c08e209c-820b-4074-ae00-ffce1d3a208d The problem, the real problem, with all of this is that when I am feeling those jabs of stress and failure (Which in the winter months is always a bit more present) my patience gets hit first. Suddenly the fact that my poor stuffy nosed toddler won’t eat his food like he usually does becomes an absolutely astronomical issue. It becomes the  new reality. It becomes, not just a temporary thing to sail through quietly and with a gentle understanding that Redmond doesn’t realize he should eat, that he only knows he doesn’t feel well and food isn’t good because he can’t taste anything with his stuffed nose. Instead, it is an affront to me. “What is wrong with you? You love cauliflower. Why don’t you eat anymore?” And as I’m saying it, I’m telling myself to be quiet. Leave him alone. But, of course I don’t listen to myself. Why would I?

When I am rushing to get out of the house in time, and Redmond won’t brush his teeth, I feel this frustration just welling up inside me. If the dog brushes against my legs depositing fur all over me, it is World War III. Because I can’t just let it slide. I can’t just give his teeth a quick brush and be done with it. It has to be thorough. I have to win. As if Redmond is busy keeping a score card like I apparently am with a check list reading”Redmond, 4. Mom, 6. I’m getting close.” I can’t just brush the dog fur off and keep going. I suddenly blame it on her like she PURPOSEFULLY SHED A LITTLE EXTRA just to spite me.

Some weeks, I feel like I am away from Redmond a lot. I am not a full time stay at home mom, and having grown up with one, I think I expect to be both. A working mother who is also somehow simultaneously a full time stay at home mom. Last night after Redmond went to bed, I was just hit heavily with all of my shortcomings, all of my failures (see that guilt there?) throughout the week. The moments where I had raised my voice. The times when I had felt that choking frustration rushing to my head. The times when I had scolded him for tiny things, for things that didn’t really matter. And for all the hours I had been away from him…leaving him (I imagined) only with the memories of my displeasure in him. “Does he know that I love him?” I asked my husband. A stupid question. Of course he knows that I love him. I tell him a thousand times a day. I tell him with words, with kisses, with smiles, with hugs, with my absolute infatuation of him, my precious little son. They call it “mom guilt” but I am more inclined to call it “woman guilt.” Something that has been groomed throughout the centuries and leaves us feeling like most of the world is resting on our shoulders. And you know what? Maybe it would be better if the world WERE resting on our shoulders. But, as it stands, it is not. As it stands, my son loves me. Even if I do lose my temper sometimes, even if I can be impatient, and testy, and short with him. I realized today while I walked with him on my back and our dog on her leash, that so often, HE is not the problem. And for that matter she (the dog) is not either. I am the problem. And not in a  I am a problem, I’m such a mess, blah blah self hatred kind of way. No, I am the problem in that all I need to do in most of these situations is breathe. Get outside. Realize it’s not that important. Its my outlook, in those moments, that is the issue. Easier said than done. Easy to write this while he sleeps, deeply, a really long nap for his second day in a row. Harder to implement later perhaps if he doesn’t eat his dinner, and I am hit with worry about his skinny little body and, good lord Redmond you are not built in a manner that allows you to go a week barely eating! Get it together! But. If I write it out, sometimes (often) it serves as a reminder. I always tell my little students that writing things down helps to cement the learning, and it does. For me at least, it does.

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sweater c/o Hope Ave Boutique// jeans c/o Wild Blue Denim//Reds Moccasins c/o Sweet n’ Swag

The Process of Pruning

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If you follow me on pinterest you will probably have noticed that I’ve been pinning oversized, cozy sweaters like a fiend. Part of my goal for embracing winter this year is to dress appropriately for it. I love wearing dresses, and I used to just keep wearing them straight through the coldest months with tights and then wonder why I was freezing. The reality is…for folks like myself who get cold when it dips below sixty, the deep chill of New England winters requires some classic New England dressing. L. l. Bean exists for a reason guys. We really DO need to layer a turtleneck or flannel underneath our sweaters. Heck, we may layer a turtleneck AND a flannel and then stuff our wool socked feet into Duck Boots before facing the elements. Anyway. All that being said, I have been hard at work stocking up a good collection of chunky sweaters.

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And believe me, the bare ankles displayed in the above photo only transpired because of the freakish bout of fifty degree days we had after a string of sub-zero temps. Because, climate change. Which always makes me itch with nerves when its unseasonably warm,  but then I also am reveling in it and feeling guilty for reveling and vowing to swear off plastic. Its a lot of emotions all at once, folks. Back to sweaters.

I stocked up on five new ones that I am crazy about– the kind of sweaters that go with everything ( like this one)– and subsequently went through my drawers to get rid of as many old ones as I could. Because I had sweaters. They just weren’t wisely bought ones, for the most part. I used to shop a lot more, before Redmond, back when I worked six days a week and it was my way of having “me” time…Which, upon retrospect, was not the best way to “indulge” myself because it led to piles of clothing that I’d wear once or twice and then either give away or just forget about. Since Red’s arrival, its not that I don’t like style….I do like it. Very much. But it DOES have to serve a more practical purpose for me. bb77e4ac-f3c9-4d32-9c0c-93d2e47a0065

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I went through my wardrobe when we moved in October and donated/gave away bags of things that I didn’t need. A reminder that those impulse purchases of pre-baby life were not necessary. And this past weekend I pruned a bit deeper and a bit further. So, here are my new rules for my closet.

  1. Did I wear it last season? (in this case– last winter)
  2. Do I love it?
  3. Does it go with several different outfits? (I have been guilty of buying a skirt that goes great with that ONE top….and nothing else.)
  4. Is it comfortable and easy to wear? (obviously I have some non practical pieces for special occasions but I don’t need a full wardrobe of that stuff)
  5. Is it something that fits my style? (we all have those items that USED to be “so us” but sort of aren’t anymore….)
  6. How many times will I wear it in a season? (if its less than three times, it really isn’t worth keeping.)769163c6-fe3f-4c49-ac18-8563141fcdcf15749d1e-29dd-4a97-89d2-1f47f7154f93

If an item doesn’t meet that criteria, than its out. That being said, I have a pretty big collection of vintage clothing that I don’t plan on getting rid of because I want to be able to give them to my daughter if I ever have one. But otherwise, I’m working hard to maintain these rules for 2017.

As far as what I do with it all, I sometimes sell it at Buffalo Exchange or Consign Trilogy, but typically I either give it away or donate it. I love handing stuff down to my sister and friends because then I get to see my clothing being worn and loved by someone else. 078376e5-42e3-489c-88d9-6ceb639ff8d6-1

The sweaters that I’m wearing in this series of photos have been on repeat since I got them. With leggings, skirts, skinny jeans, boyfriend jeans, over dresses– the whole gambit. And the black bucket bag pictured is another new regular accessory. Its that perfect size where I can just reach my hand into it and fish around to quickly find whatever I need. Have I mentioned that I’m not very organized? Cause I’m not very organized. This style sells out pretty quick (its from Ms. Littles Bag) so jump on it if you love it.

I would love to hear your methods of keeping your closet pruned!

outfit 1 details: frayed jeans c/o  (on sale! and order a size up– the run small)/ long grey sweater– sold out but similar herebucket bag c/o/ adidas/ beanie, old similar here

outfit 2 details: camel coat c/o/ similar sweater/

 

 

The Matter of Weaning

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This is a bit late in coming. Redmond is almost a year and a half old, and he weaned about three months ago. But part of my goal for this year is to get back into more “lifestyle” type posts, and to be honest, although I love style and try to at least put myself together every day, the thing that really occupies most of my time is mothering. I have worked with children since I was thirteen years old. I have a lot of “theories” about raising them…but until you have your own, all of that is just ideas and words. The past few months have been so exciting for me because I can finally put into real practice some of my ideas.

But when it came to breastfeeding, I knew basically nothing. I wrote about my journey a bit last year, but I just remember so vividly spending hours on the internet trying to find something that would encourage me while I was crying over the fact that I was using a nipple shield and that it hurt and that Redmond took an age to finish nursing when he was little.

So first off. We used the nipple shield until we weaned. I had PLENTY of milk (it took me two months to stop producing) and Red got all that he needed. So. If you can’t get your baby off the nipple shield or just don’t want to undergo the trauma of screaming baby while you attempt to shove your boob into babies mouth without the shield, just stop worrying about it. I spent so much time being afraid that people would judge me or think that I “wasn’t doing it right” because of the shield but…you know what? Who cares.

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Anyways. On to the actual topic of this post. I was terrified to wean. I was scared it would turn my happy baby into a terror. I had visions of Redmond pulling at my clothes, trying to wrench my boobs out, and me feeling like a milk machine but also like a mean mama. I wanted to wean when he was ready…but I also wanted to wean when I was ready. I had planned on going longer with Red, but I started wanting to begin trying for another baby and my body wasn’t able to nurse and return to a normal cycle. This is different for everyone…but even when we were only nursing for five minutes a day, I wasn’t getting a period and I figured the only way to get back to normal would be weaning. In November, we had a wedding to go to, and I wanted Redmond to be able  to go to sleep without nursing first so he wouldn’t give his grandparents a hard time while they babysat. I was really dragging my heels, but one night I just didn’t nurse him. He had eaten a big dinner, we had read some books, he snuggled my shoulder, I gave him his sippy cup of water, and laid him down. And he didn’t cry. He just went to sleep. And slept his usual twelve hours. And just like that, we were done. He never asked for it again. He never even hinted that he was interested. Now, maybe Redmond just didn’t care about nursing. Or maybe his intense love for solid food just swayed him away. But since he started on solids at around six months, I nudged Redmond towards being a pretty scheduled eater. We always nursed in the same spot (on the daybed in his room) and nowhere else. Because of that, when we were out and about or in any other room ofthe house he never tried to nurse. And for me, that was important. I loved breastfeeding, but I also liked maintaining my independence. I dropped his nursing sessions slowly– for a long time we were doing three a day– once when he woke up,  before his nap, and  before bed. I gently weaned him off of those first two over a matter of months and stuck with the final nurse until he was almost fifteen months old. And that was that. I didn’t replace the nurses with bottles– he never took them well — I just gave him little snacks or meals. img_3345

I really worried that when we were done nursing, I would desperately miss that snuggle time with Red. But now he actually cuddles me…he loves sitting on my lap for stories. He loves lying in bed with me. Before I lay him down for bed at night, I whisper a prayer into his ear while I hold him, and he nuzzles his head into my neck and it is such a sweet closeness that somehow means more to me…because he is cuddling me for me. Which feels so special. I still miss the essence of breastfeeding– knowing that I am building and nourishing a child–but it makes me look forward to a second infant that much more. And that’s pretty much all I’ve got to say I think. I would LOVE to answer any questions if you’re a new mom just starting out nursing. It was a hard journey for me but so deeply worth it. And I’d love to hear about your journeys as well! And I’m going to stop saying journey. Ok. Happy almost weekend!

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Reds blanket: c/o Audreys Bear

Oh Hey There

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The nice thing about having a blog that only a handful of people read is that I can take off for a month or so and no one really notices. I like that freedom. It has truly been A MONTH of incredible changes and challenges. We bought our first home. We moved into that first home. Redmond is a competent walker, runner, and climber. Soccer season ended. And all of the sudden, the holidays are upon us. That in itself is completely crazy to me, but I am giddy with excitement. Our new home has a charming, cozy, old fashioned feel to it and I am so excited to get the Christmas tree, and hang the garland, and put a wreath on our front door. Gifts will be modest this year (we did, after all, gift ourselves with a house) and I hope to fill our time with more experiences than possessions. It is a mind set that I am seeking to change for myself– I have always loved wrapping gifts, and having a pile of things under the tree for everyone to open. img_0214

But in reality, what I remember after the fact isn’t what I got or what I gave to someone else– its the hikes through snowy woods, the gatherings with friends, the feast that I make on Christmas night, the traditional eggnog sticky buns that we eat before we open gifts– those are the things that matter. The memories that are made.img_0209

For the past few holiday seasons, I’ve been longing for a tulle skirt like this. Its surprisingly versatile– I plan to pair it with a green plaid shirt and pearls, a white turtleneck and flats, the list goes on. It is such a party within itself, it doesn’t need all that much more to make a statement. And I have always wanted to be a ballerina. This skirt from C’est Ca New York has the level of fluff that my heart desires– no extra petticoat needed. Because, yes, in case you were wondering, I own three petticoats. img_0208

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We took these photos a few weeks ago before the frenzy of moving began. Now, the leaves are all off of the trees, and the weather has turned chilly. It feels appropriate for November, and I am happy to be cozy inside and bake muffins and cook stews. For now. I have a goal to enjoy this winter season. We have SO MUCH winter here in New Hampshire (and Maine. Because we live in New Hampshire now, but I still go running in Maine. Its confusing. Border living. Its like the wild west out here. I’m joking. Its NOTHING like the wild west.) and I am tired of just surviving through months of every year. I want to embrace all of it. So. I am going to come up with a list of things I plan to enjoy this year. I’ll check back in with it later. In the meantime, buy this one skirt for the holidays and wear it to every single party in a different way. And let me know how you style it!img_0210

tulle skirt c/o

long sleeve bodysuit, old, similar here

 

LBD of The Day

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The Little Black Dress is nothing new. Obviously. But this one is new to me, and I don’t have a single thing like it in my closet. I did have a moment when I opened the package where I was like…can I pull this off? Is it too cool for me? Because, I’m closing in on thirty and I worry that my “cool” is fading. If I ever had any “cool” in the first place. This dress is seriously cool. Like– it girl cool. And I am not an it girl, but I still freaking love it, and I have these fantasies of wearing it as the weather gets colder with tights and ankle boots to a fabulous sort of happy hour type place in Portsmouth or Kennebunkport. In my fantasy, Redmond is not necessarily throwing crayons across the table or pointing eagerly at my cocktail requesting a sip with his sweet, persistent “prease? prease? prease? prease?” I am, to be quite honest, sort of fiending for some grown up time. In November, a group of my dearest girl pals are coming to visit for a long weekend and I am so excited it feels like I could burst. You know what else this dress would be perfect for? Karaoke. Cause that is definitely happening when the four of us ladies are all reunited.

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Today, it is warm and humid. Redmond is still sleeping at 9:00. My nose is stuffed, and my eyes are tired, and I am thinking for the hundredth time that I want a vacation….somewhere quiet with my little family to just walk in the woods, drink hot cider, sleep into the late morning– you know. Nothing fancy. Just a recharge. Wouldn’t that be nice? But I am trying (trying, trying) to actively seize and enjoy every day in Redmond’s little life, because he is not so little anymore. And life is terribly short. And I am so very fortunate to have the life that I have. To remember this when I am tired, and feel that deep sense of being overwhelmed, makes all the difference.

 

dress c/o Dezzaladidas

That Seventies Thing

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As a teenager, I liked anything that was retro. I went through a long fifties stage, and I dabbled in a seventies phase as well– with bell bottoms, fringe, head scarves– you know, everything that keeps coming back into style. I guess they just really got it right back then, because I feel as if a little seventies flavor is always in style. This denim jumpsuit from Dezzal is basically a dream come true for me. Big huge bell bottom flares? Check. Lace up detail? Check. So freaking comfortable it feels like pajamas (apparently a must for me…)? Check. I wore it with a belt and clogs for a little added fanciness, but I am going to wear it today with lace up flats and unbelted to keep it a touch more casual. I also tried it on over a long sleeved turtleneck, and yeah, that’s going to be happening once the days are chillier.  img_9281

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img_9273These days, Redmond is walking all around. He gains more confidence every day, and I am at once achingly proud of him and terribly lonely for the little baby he once was. He is already moving into toddlerdom, and I feel like I’m not ready. I haven’t built up enough patience for the tantrums that are sure to mount. I haven’t gotten used to having a baby– I still feel excited and astounded sometimes when I remember I have this little human that was made inside of my body and he’s ours now. That novelty hasn’t worn off yet, and here he is climbing (and falling down) stairs, and going down the slide, and using words to communicate. And holding my hand and walking beside me. img_9271

 

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I don’t have the plethora of words that I usually have tonight. I just stuffed some broccoli, pasta, sausage, and tomato sauce into my face. It’s 9:00. I got home with Redmond a little late, and of course the dog had puked all over the floor. Which is what she does when she is annoyed . Toting Redmond, I cleaned up the vomit, let the dog out, fed her and the cat, nursed Redmond, and then finally got some food into my own belly. Better late than never. Nick is a coach and he has lots of evening games this time of the year. We miss him, but I am proud of how hard he works and how good he is at what he does. And I am proud of myself for managing…even though I only have one child (and a very large dog) to take care of– I still revel in the feeling of capability when the house is quiet, and the baby is sleeping, and things are sort of clean (because, lets be honest, them dishes ain’t getting washed tonight.) and I am rambling now. Far off the topic of a soft as butter jumpsuit and a pair of seventies style clogs. I’m going to turn it on in folks. img_9275

denim jumpsuit c/o Dezzal

clogs c/o Shop Amara (on sale for 25$!!)

Redmonds jumpsuit (on sale)

Redmonds shoes (on sale)

 

Jump. Jump. Jump.

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Oh, hey September! Look at you just creeping yourself on in. I feel two ways about the beginnings of this new month…On the one hand, I’m thrilled because it means we get to start our budget over and can do fun things again like meals out, and dessert nights, ect. But on the other hand, I’m sad because it means winter is closer, school is starting, and Redmond is a month older (stop growing already kid!). They keep saying its going to be a warm few months though (because, you know, climate change and we are all going to explode into a fiery mess and OH MY GOSH I AM NERVOUS BUT ALSO HAPPY BECAUSE ITS WARM BUT ALSO NERVOUS) so I think it’s all right. Plus, I had a hot almond milk hazelnut latte (please, extra hot, and in a mug, and extra foam, and blah blah blah…I’m kidding, I’m not that girl.) this morning on a wonderful date with Erica of Honey Bee boutique and I didn’t hate holding that nice steamy mug in my hands. And Redmond didn’t hate eating his entire croissant plus half of his little friends blueberry scone plus a granola bar plus grapes…Um. Anyway.

Deep purples remind me of Fall. But a one shoulder cut keeps summer going. A leopard print scarf sort of hints at cooler temperatures. But lace up sandals are all “let’s go to the farmers market and pick up some fresh tomatoes.” So what I’m saying is…this outfit from Back East Boutique is a glorious balance. img_8969 img_8976img_8977

I feel like I’ll be wearing a lot of jumpsuits over the next few months. There is something a little cooler about them than a regular bottom and top combo and they are just as easy as throwing on a dress. But, you know, edgier. And I’ve been feeling edgy. I’m creeping ever closer to my thirtieth birthday and it’s now or never. Well, I guess I could bust out the “Edge” at sixty too but I’d rather do it now.

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jumpsuit c/o (can be worn as one shoulder or off the shoulder)

sandals

bracelet c/o

 

Dog Days of Summer

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The past few weeks have been peppered with super hot days. Like the sort of August days I remember as a kid. For some reason, summers in New England seemed much warmer then. Maybe kids just don’t get cold…which would explain how we were able to spend hours in frigid ocean waters while I can barely get past my knees now.

Last weekend, we went on a spontaneous little day trip with some friends of ours to Hampton Beach. Its only about a half hour from our house, and I used to go there as a child with my grandparents every summer that we were in the U.S. But for whatever reason, I have never been there as an adult. It had a real cool sort of west coast vibe to it with surf shops and taco joints and smoothie shops. I wore this vintage-y swim suit from PakPak and was feeling all California cool until I actually put a toe in the water and it was insanely, insanely cold. Like, aching numb feet cold. Like, you probably couldn’t have paid me to get all the way in cold. So cold. Needless to say, we didn’t do any swimming. But we DID have a really great lunch at the secret spot— a taco for me, a fish burrito for Nick, and a green smoothie for Red. Although, let’s be real, he ate half my taco too. We are going to have to start ordering him his own meals because the kid eats so much. img_8225

Don’t be misled by his grumpy face. He had a straw in one hand and a smoothie in his sippy cup and all was right in his little worldimg_8219img_8221

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As a teenager, I was obsessed with Marilyn Monroe in particular and 1950’s/60’s style in general. I spent hours scouring the internet for vintage inspired swim suits back in the mid 2000’s, (is that what one would call 2004/5/6?) with very little luck. So, the fact that high waisted swim suits have been in for the past few years brings me no end of joy. NO END I tell you. Add to that the fact that I don’t have to worry about that extra bit of post giant baby belly skin to the mix, and I’m one happy beach bather. Also, I love the pattern. And the fact that I was the only girl on the beach wearing a suit like this. Again. I really like to stand out from the crowd. I’ll admit it. I was a theater major for goodness sakes, its in my blood. Running through it like a show-offy wine. I’m kidding. I’m not kidding. Maybe I’m kidding.

Anyway. We wrapped up our beach day with a naked diaper bum baby (after he covered himself in sand) and a peek at our friends new camper van. Which made me really want a camper van. Which made Nick really want a tent. Which caused us to spend a day at L.L. Bean looking at tents…Nick was starry eyed imagining the fun we’d have in some remote area and I was imagining the special kind of crazy it would be to camp with a one-year-old who loves the hell out of his crib and his ten hours straight a night in that crib….would that mix with the great outdoors and a sleeping bag? Would it? I’m willing to find out, but only if we stash a good bottle of tequila in our backpacks….img_8224

Outfit details: swimsuit top and bottom (super affordable) c/o/ heart shaped sunglassessimilar sandals/overalls (Mine are sold out, but I love this flared version for fall)beach tote c/o and on sale