#onalark: field guide (with a family in tow!)

After a crazy week on the home front, our little family had the chance to spend the most relaxing weekend at Field Guide in Stowe, Vermont. Lark Hotels invited us to get away and experience another of their amazing properties in a new-to-me corner of New England. We took a half day off from work on Friday and made the scenic drive up to Stowe. Let's put it this way: it was love at first sight.

Much like my experience at The Break, the staff at Field Guide was on their game from the minute we walked in the door. They had everything prepared to the last detail, something I have come to appreciate from smaller, more intimate hotels. We were handed a pre-loaded iPad, chock full of ideas on where to eat and visit, which made our stay that much more enjoyable. (My sweet friend and seasoned Stowe visitor, Abby, also sent over a few of her favorite pit stops that she shared with The Everygirl.) I wanted to toss our bags and get going on our Stowe adventure, but the minute we walked in our room, I almost said we didn't need to leave...

Traveling with little ones in tow can make things a bit more complicated, but the master minds behind Field Guide definitely had this in mind. Our space (known as the Trail Suite) was well-designed to give the younger set their own space, while allowing parents the luxury of not having to tiptoe around a hotel room. This particular suite had a seriously cool lofted space (appropriate for older children -- as it does have a spiral staircase leading up to it), along with two other spacious bedrooms. These twin beds are up in the loft... you can't beat the rustic yet modern feel!

When we first arrived, this pregnant lady was a tad bit hangry. Thankfully, we didn't have to go far: we ate dinner across the street from Field Guide at The Bench. The atmosphere matches their food: cozy and comforting. (We loved it so much that we tried to do take-out the next night, but they only take seated parties -- not parties to go ;) I would definitely classify The Bench as family-friendly, with high chairs readily available and quick service for hungry and somewhat unruly toddlers.

Field Guide's on-site restaurant, Picnic Social, should be open any day, but until it is, they offer a complimentary picnic basket full of delectable breakfast treats -- like overnight oats and fresh fruit. It was such a treat to find this basket at our door! They also have a small coffee maker and refrigerator in the room, though I wouldn't classify it as a complete kitchenette. It worked beautifully for our needs -- a place to store milk, yogurt, and fruit that our little man demands on a daily basis.

We devoured this delightful basket of goodies and then ventured out to see more of the little town of Stowe. {cv}'s 'coffee beacon' landed us at the charming Black Cap Coffee in the heart of downtown. Even after all those treats at Field Guide, I made room for a cider donut and a hot chocolate -- because even early April in Stowe required a heavy fleece. Downtown Stowe was full of New England charm, though its old buildings are not always stroller friendly. You'll have to pack your muscles a bit to get in and out of some shops, but this is par for the course when traveling with little ones.

After walking the Stowe Recreation Path back in the direction of Field Guide, we ended up at Doc Ponds for lunch. It is also a hop, skip and jump from the hotel and offers a relaxed dining experience with delicious (and inventive) dishes. Much like The Bench, they were also extremely family-friendly. It isn't a quiet restaurant, so noisy peeps from little ones go unnoticed. Their menu was also one-year-old (and thirty-year-old) approved.

With naptime looming, we hopped in the car to explore a bit and hopefully let our little guy catch a few zzz's on the way. We eventually stopped at the Von Trapp Family DeliBakery to take in the views; {cv} also enjoyed one of their house-made brews. If you hadn't already noticed the gluttonous theme to our weekends away, we also made a beeline for the Ben & Jerry's Ice Cream Shop. It's a serious tourist attraction, so you'll want to pack your patience. To no one's surprise, we all thoroughly enjoyed the ice cream. We didn't end up taking the factory tour with our one-year-old, but we saw plenty of other families attempting that feat. (More power to them!)

Running around for a good portion of the day (combined with the extra accessory {jv} was sporting) meant that, by dinner time, it was time to light a fire and enjoy our suite. {cv} grabbed take-out from Piecasso, a short drive from Field Guide. Ordering the pizza was quick and easy, so we settled right in for the evening. On Sunday morning, we indulged in another picnic basket of goodies before hitting the road.

Traveling as a family isn't always glamorous, but staying in a place like Field Guide made it feel like a serious vacation. I snuck away to grab a few photos of their gorgeous lobby. The best way I can explain it? Ski chalet chic to the very last detail!

If you go with children: Bring along your pack 'n play, as they are not provided (we love our Breeze from 4moms!). To be honest, I never find this to be an inconvenience because I'd rather {jv} sleep in a familiar space away from home. I bet I'm not alone ;) Be sure to check the hotel policies, depending on which room you choose, as additional fees may apply per person -- which includes infants and children. A few other positive points of note for parents: many of the rooms have beautiful tubs, perfect for your little ones (and you!). You can also park right outside your room or suite, which is fabulous for the influx of stuff you bring when traveling with children.

This trip only touched the tip of the iceberg on places to explore in Stowe, so I'm already itching to get back with our (even crazier) crew once baby #2 arrives. We seriously cannot thank the staff at Field Guide or the Lark Hotels team enough for their incredible hospitality. If you're looking for a stylish getaway -- with kids or not, there's no question that Field Guide should be your home away from home. Thanks for taking this little getaway with us -- and for not judging our caloric intake ;) xoxo {av}

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NOTE: This post was written in conjunction with our stay at Field Guide in April 2016. I did not receive compensation, other than my complimentary accommodations. I was not required to write this post in exchange for my stay; I chose to write this post after an extremely positive experience.

when you're in it.

when you're in it: a parenting epiphany.

On a particularly normal Wednesday morning last week, I had a strange epiphany about my current season of life. I spotted a woman -- maybe 75 or 80 years old -- who had just left her physician's office. Patiently waiting for her bus, she sat without a phone or anything else to distract her. She was very much alone. This is when the lightbulb proverbially went off. Bear with me here, as I explain...

Though {cv} and I just enjoyed a few quiet days away (courtesy of my in-laws), there are few moments when I am ever truly alone in this season of my life. The sight of this elderly woman helped me realize something rather profound and simple all at once: this crazy togetherness will not last forever. One day, if I'm blessed to live another fifty or more years, I will have many lonely yet peaceful days like this sweet woman I observed.

This is when reality hit in full force: I won't always have these early mornings with a giggling toddler in my ear. I won't always feel like a woman on a mission, trying to squeeze in a grocery store run before the daycare closes. I won't always be worrying what is next -- be it our next meal or our son's next milestone. Most importantly (and most poignantly), I won't always be surrounded by the people I love. I saw myself in sweet older woman -- many, many years from now -- as I drove by slowly that morning. I started imagining the treasure troves of memories still to be made between my 30-year-old self and a woman her age. It almost took my breath away. 

So often, this season of life is filled with mundane moments, those everyday ones you are pretty positive will not exist in you memory bank when you're 80. Those 'mundane' moments, however, are precisely the ones I want to hold onto the most. Momentous occasions are almost always documented: first smiles and first steps to baptisms and birthdays. The everyday routine somehow gets the shaft. Some way, some how, I want to do a better job at writing those other moments on my heart. 

This drive-by made me realize something more: this hectic and happy existence is exactly what I wished and prayed for in a different season of my life. I longed to be needed like I am today, something I know many others in my life pine for as they wait on this season to begin. Strangely, I know that many moons from now I will feel the exact same way. My children will be grown -- without their mother worrying about their next meals or milestones (though let's be honest, I will still worry). They will be focused on their own children, spouses, and careers. I want to wake up during those days, filled with gratitude that I lived those packed-to-the-brim years to the fullest. 

To the outside world, our little family is really in it. By in it, I mean that there will never be another time like this in our lives: I'm waddling around with my basketball (or beach ball?) belly and holding the hand of my toddler, while my husband carts around the tremendous load of stuff we all require. One day, we will have free hands and a lighter load, only to reminisce on these days. These long, laughter-filled, sometimes tear-stained days. I will never be a perfect mother -- I gave up on that many moons ago. However, I hope I will look back and remember the littlest of things, like the way {jv} blissfully glided in his swing on a sunny Sunday morning -- and the smiles {cv} and I shared watching him.

Thanks for reading, friends. More soon. xoxo {av}

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recent wardrobe + beauty finds: spring 2016.

I'm baaaaaack! After a crazy few weeks (see Instagram evidence here), I can admit that real life took precedence to sharing trivial things like what goodies have been in my shopping cart -- though sometimes, it is a welcome distraction. From clothes (both regular and maternity friendly) to beauty products, you're about to get an eyeful. My novel awaits you...

STYLE: Dressing the basketball I smuggle under my shirt daily is no easy task. As this pregnancy winds down, I find myself hesitating to buy too many more maternity pieces. When I was pregnant the last go around (late March to early December), I purchased more in the way of summer wear -- though my "big" days of pregnancy weren't until the colder months. This pregnancy (late September to early June), I had to buy a few more winter weather appropriate pieces to help me get through the colder months. You'll find some non-maternity and maternity purchases I've made in recent months in the paragraphs below. My aim has been to find pieces which will be comfortable now and later, so I think the comfy factor works for everyone. (If you want some more specific ideas on how to build a maternity wardrobe you'll love, this post is for you!)
  • While J.Crew is rather disappointing for maternity wear, I have found a number of pieces at Madewell over the course of this pregnancy (and last pregnancy) that have worked surprisingly well. This dress (in my favorite cobalt blue!) worked well for me until roughly 31 weeks, when the only issue became the length. I'm looking forward to wearing it this summer after baby arrives when I want something loose and airy. This top has been perfect for work -- and for the rare date night -- as it is rather flowy and does have buttons up the back, which could give extra room if needed. Last but not least, I lived in pull-on shorts during my last pregnancy, so I was thrilled to discover they had a few pairs. I grabbed a pair of these basic shorts, but they also have a myriad of other solids and prints that are calling my name.
  • I discovered a few nursing-friendly dresses from ASOS which will be ideal for the summer after the baby arrives -- and still give me ample bump space for the remainder of this pregnancy. This scalloped dress (available with short sleeves or long sleeves) is pretty perfect, though it doesn't have the airy cotton feel that this maxi dress does. I wasn't a big ASOS Maternity gal last time around, but I definitely think their selection and their price points are tough to beat.
  • It's hard to quit lululemon while I'm pregnant, so I have just been a bit more creative in my purchases. I cannot speak more highly of the Align Pants. They have a slightly higher rise and literally feel like you're wearing nothing at all, which they call the "naked sensation". I know these will also be clutch in those early days post baby when I want to 'contain' myself a bit. I'm also a new fan of the super soft Pima cotton Trapeze Long Sleeve, which is comfortably harnessing my (almost) 33 week bump, without being skin tight. I may have mentioned them before, but I adore the Tracker Shorts whether I'm pregnant or not. They're the perfect length and are not constricting / muffin top-inducing. To combat a little chafing from time to time, I bought one pair of Speed Track Shorts, which do the trick. I purchased all of these one size larger than my "normal" size and haven't had any issues with accommodating my bump. If you want more fit pregnancy gear advice, take a peek at this extensive post from my last pregnancy!)
  • While I love Rent The Runway, it isn't necessarily the most feasible option when you're 33 weeks pregnant. It worked much better in the earlier weeks of pregnancy (up until maybe 26 weeks?) because my bump and "girls" are so unpredictable after that mark. Their bump-friendly section is helpful, but I would caution to really read the reviews to see about fit. While my final dress selection will be a game-time call, I did find a few fun accessories to help make me feel a little less "house-like" in these final weeks. I'm not a big pink fan (sorry, folks), but these fuchsia heels were too good to pass up. A fun pop of color can make anyone (pregnant or not) feel more confident. As far as jewelry goes, I had been on the hunt for a few special pieces outside of the J.Crew or Nordstrom jewelry section. After lusting on them for far too long, I gave myself these earrings and this bracelet at Christmastime -- and I'm so glad I did. They make a big statement and I know I'll wear both pieces for years to come.
  • This is totally minor, but I wear a Fitbit Charge HR and have always wanted to jazz it up a little bit. Cue this pretty (and not too committal) addition to my wrist. Now, I can try to be fit and fashionable at the same time ;)

BEAUTY: A few months back, I shared a look at my quick beauty routine, which has included a few improvements in recent months. I'm not a product junkie by any means, so when I find something I like, I generally stick to it. (This would probably explain why my curly hair routine hasn't changed in... 15 years.)
  • Six weeks ago, I upgraded to this undereye balm from Clarins. I loved this gel for years when I needed a quick and refreshing jolt after a long night, but I need a bit more help in the fine line department. They cost the same, but I feel the fine line coverage with the balm in a way I didn't with the balm. Word for the wise: don't be shy to ask for help at your Clarins counter (or any counter for that matter). I was in a hurry one day and took home this more advanced serum, thinking a bit more help couldn't hurt -- and ended up with a strong reaction because it was doing too much for that eye area. When I went to return it, they told me they typically recommend it for people over the age of 50. Oops...? 
  • While we're on the topic of the undereye area (a lifelong battle in my corner of the world), I decided to make a few changes in the hopes I can make myself look a bit more awake. I always finish with this camouflage concealer, but I added this primer to help my cause. It doesn't crease and serves as a good base for my concealer. When I really need a pick-me-up, I also add this correcting fluid (in peach) to the mix. It helps even out my coloring and does a solid job of hiding those extra tired eyes.
  • I am desperately trying to get better about my nighttime beauty routine, so I'm taking small steps (like adding in a nighttime moisturizer) for a bit of restoration during my sleeping hours. Interesting fact: I used this years ago and stopped, mostly because I got lazy, but they've revamped it a bit in that time -- and I like this formula so much better.
  • This facial oil (found at Follain) is also a new and cost-friendly favorite. I will force myself to look past the price tag to buy this serum one day soon because I've heard such good things. Note: I don't use the moisturizer and the oil together. Some nights, the moisturizer has too strong of a scent and I prefer the oil -- it's all in how I'm feeling. Trust me: I know I need to work on this routine, but right now, I'm doing the best I can ;)
  • If you want to give some life to those cheeks of yours, this illuminator may be just what you need. Though the name is a little scandalous (cough Orgasm cough), I have long been a fan of the blush and the blush stick. This 'pretty potion', as I like to call it, in the same shade is quickly becoming my go-to for a little extra glow.
Since this post is already a novel, I'll save the new products that I've been loving for our little man for another post. I also owe you a few posts on our experience with daycare... I haven't forgotten! More importantly, I have another getaway post to share after an incredible weekend in Vermont; if you have a case of wanderlust like I do, you won't want to miss it. If there are any other topics you want me to explore, shoot me an email or leave a comment below :) Last but certainly not least, if you're still reading to here, THANK YOU. I know it was a doozy. Enjoy the rest of your week! xoxo {av}

P.S. If you want to exercise your right to vote, there's a little contest going on in the state of Rhode Island. Click here to add "long distance loving" to the Best Lifestyle Blog section. I'd be so grateful! (You can log in easily using Facebook to avoid any voting frustrations!)

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#onalark: the break.

At the end of January, I had the pleasure of spending a night at one of Rhode Island's newest getaway spots: The Break in Narragansett. Lark Hotels invited Kate (my Boston Bloggers partner-in-crime) and I to sneak away to this stylish new outpost, which opened during the summer of 2015. From the minute we walked in the door, it felt like we had escaped into a beachside oasis -- even in the depths of winter.

Upon check-in, they provide an iPad for you to explore the property and surrounding areas. While you can't keep the iPad (no surprises there!), it felt like you had the hotel (and Narragansett) at your fingertips. With only 16 rooms, the property feels incredibly intimate without feeling like you're on top of other guests. I always judge hotel rooms on whether you can hear other patrons... and let's just put it this way: I didn't hear a single peep from anyone else during my stay. Each room has a totally different feel, so I loved getting a peek in Kate's room too. No detail is spared throughout the entire hotel, which shows just how much thought went into the design.

At The Break, they have a convenient on-site restaurant, Chair 5, which is charmingly decorated and (more importantly) positively delicious. The staff at Chair 5 treated us to an incredible dinner with more courses than I could count. The grilled oysters with housemade sriracha and miniature s'mores ice cream sandwiches were some of my most memorable bites. Another important stop at The Break? Their bustling rooftop bar with the cutest buoy lamps. Kate sipped a cocktail and I enjoyed my mocktail there after dinner.

Beyond our delightful dinner, we also had two other amazing dining experiences: a private cooking class with the talented executive chef at Chair 5, Basil Yu, and a brunch buffet fit for a king or queen. He made even this novice of a cook (me) feel comfortable making a more intensive dish -- that beautiful lobster pasta dish you see above. Kate shared the recipe on her blog here. (Since I left, I have been plotting ways for my husband and I to get back for another private class.) Kate and I also went back for multiple rounds at the breakfast buffet, which is included in your stay. Perfectly instagrammable ;)

As an aside: A few years back, I ran a race on Ocean Road, which is right where The Break sits. I was able to slip out early that morning and run the beautiful route, up to the Point Judith Lighthouse. When beach season is in full swing, the proximity of The Break to all of the area beaches is a serious plus -- though they do make their heated pool available to guests all year long ;) Beyond the beach, their in-house iPad offers a number of other ideas on things to do and places to eat. You can also take advantage of the spa, located on the bottom level of the hotel. It is private, clean, and relaxing... just what the doctor ordered for a getaway!

If you go for a getaway: Book in advance and use The Break's website to pick your ideal room. I had the pleasure of staying in the Ocean Deluxe King with Balcony. While you're booking, be sure to reserve your table at Chair 5. The Break truly thinks of everything -- from "nightcap" cookies (as I deemed them) to the heated bathroom floors.

If you go for dinner: While they welcome spontaneous visitors, I would highly suggest booking your table in advance -- especially in the winter. As it is one of the few winter dining options, it does book up fast! If you stay for after dinner drinks, you'll likely be treated to some wonderful tunes being played up on the rooftop bar.

If you go with children: This is not an adults' only hotel, though we didn't see many children during our stay. Infants and children do count as guests, so there is an additional charge of $50/person. The king rooms only accommodate two guests, so you are required to book a king suite. They do not provide cribs or pack 'n plays, so be sure to pack yours. 

I truly cannot thank the wonderful staff of The Break, Chair 5, or Lark Hotels enough for the much-needed 24-hour escape. If you're looking for a place to take a break on the Rhode Island coast, make the trip to The Break -- and I promise you will not regret it. xoxo {av}

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NOTE: This post was written in conjunction with my stay at The Break in January 2016. I did not receive compensation, other than my complimentary accommodations. I was not required to write this post in exchange for my stay; I chose to write this post after an extremely positive experience.