hello, goodbye!

It's been nearly seven years since I first posted here at {long distance loving}. So much has changed in the blogging world in those years. So much has also changed in my world. I was freshly married with two cats when I penned my first post, which seems like a lifetime ago as my two little ones sleep upstairs. With that in mind, it's with great excitement I share my new home on the internet: ali-v.com.

You'll find some of your favorite posts from {long distance loving}, along with new content that is aligned with the lady I've become. If you have favorite posts from over the years, please tell me in the comments below (or via email). I am only moving the best content! I'm planning to keep this blog alive for posterity's sake, but any new content will appear there. I also welcome any topics you'd like me to explore in the coming months, as I finally surface after these foggy first years of motherhood.

You can sign up for my email newsletter to start receiving posts from my new blog from the get-go, along with Bloglovin which I will transfer when everything is all set. Thank you for making this blog such a safe place to share my hopes, fears, wishes, and joys. I hope you'll all join me as I make this transition -- and step forward. I owe you my sincere gratitude for ALL that you've given me... and I can't wait to give you more when my new site launches next month :)

All my love -- and see you on ali-v.com soon! Alison

P.S. I worked with Ready to Blog Designs on my new site -- she created my amazing logo and site! -- and I cannot wait to show you how it all came together. I truly hope you love it as much as I do.

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to my best friend, as she becomes a mother.

to my best friend, as she becomes a mother.

This is a letter to my best friend as she prepares to become a mother -- and to my best friends who will follow on this path in the years to come....

When I met you, we were young and starry-eyed. We were full of hope in what the future would hold for us. We talked about cute boys, we traveled together, and we shared life's details we wouldn't even share with our own mothers. When we talked about the future, it typically centered around where we might live or who we might marry -- not necessarily about the days we would become a mother. Motherhood seemed like a distant reality. Believe it or not, that distant reality? It's here.

I'll admit: when I became a mother, I felt like I was on my own island. A few of my dear friends who were mothers tried to prepare me for what was to come. No matter how many questions I asked, nothing could have prepared me for the journey that is motherhood. I wish I could prepare you for what is to come, but unfortunately, there is no foolproof guidebook to motherhood that you can buy on Amazon. (If there was, I would have purchased it -- and already sent you a copy.)

I marvel at the mothers who "get it" from the early days. The ones who are brave enough to nurse in public from day one. The ones who shake off the blowouts. The ones who know every last piece of baby gear under the sun. Here's the thing... I've determined most of those mothers are second-time moms. If they're not, good for them. You have to find your own groove in motherhood. It may take you six months; it may take you two years. However long it takes, you can trust I'll be there to share my journey and give my side of the story -- without insisting it's the only way. 

I won't judge if you do or don't breastfeed. I won't judge if you FaceTime me and haven't showered in days. I won't judge if you co-sleep. I won't judge if you choose not to sleep train. (Ok, I may judge if you make your own baby food -- but only because I don't have the time to do it myself.) If you haven't noticed, the theme of this whole paragraph is that I will not judge your journey to motherhood. I simply pledge to be by your side, every step of the way. 

I can try to explain the feeling you'll get when you see your baby (YOUR BABY!) for the first time, but I can't. I can try to explain all the yucky parts of those tender postpartum weeks, but instead, I promise to answer your questions and keep the fear at bay for now. I can try to explain the exhaustion that comes with motherhood, but I will fail (read: it isn't like those all-nighters we pulled in college). I can try to explain the elation with seeing your baby's firsts, but until you witness that first smile or that first roll, my words won't mean much. You'll understand soon enough.

Truth be told, I cannot wait to see how your life changes once you have that baby (your baby!!!) in your arms. It sounds incredibly cliché, but it's true: it may not always be easy, but I promise it is always worth it. Our friendship will inevitably change once you become a mother. I am ok with that. Why? We will have a whole new facet to our late-night phone calls, text message chains, and frantic emails. It will no longer be about you and me -- it will be about something much, much more

I don't want to lose sight of what brought us together in the first place, of course. When I signed on to be your best friend many moons ago, I signed up for this too. We still have so many memories to make! I can't wait to take tandem family vacations. I'm already excited for those rare girls' weekends, when we leave the boys with our brood and get a chance to relax. Most of all, I look forward to the days when we're old and gray, chatting about our grandkids and laughing about our early days. 

I may not be your sister, but I am your best friend. Whether you realize it or not, you will be an incredible mother. How do I know? You're the friend I've needed in the lowest of the lows and the highest of the highs. You're smart. You're generous. You're thoughtful. You're compassionate. You're you. The only piece of advice I have is this: trust your gut. You've got this -- and you've got me right by your side, whenever you need me.

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the classic cross body guide.

the classic cross body guide: 30+ options for all budgets.

When we were in Charleston at the end of December, I had a serious wardrobe malfunction: the strap of my trusty black crossbody bag broke while we were strolling down King Street. After nearly five years, it finally bit the dust. I got this bag in my pre-baby days and it had been an easy bag to grab over the years. It was my go-to when I made a quick trip to the grocery store or when we finally got a date night. I typically carried this bag when I didn't have my kiddos in tow. My now retired bag had a long life, so I'm looking to replace it with something which can serve a similar term. I don't want something too fancy or too boring, but I also don't want something which might not work in a few years. (I'm looking at you tassels...)

In preparation for this decision, I pulled more than 30 black crossbody bags which fit the bill below. I tend to do this when I'm deciding where to make my investment, so I've I hope you can benefit from this research too ;) I have done similar round-ups in the past, including fun leopard flats and chic diaper bags. I'm all ears if you need me to do some research on a different item on your behalf. I love the thrill of the hunt!

Do you have any favorites from this bunch? I'm still torn on my final decision, but this one and this one (on serious sale!) are my top contenders at the moment. Time will tell which one I actually choose. xoxo {av}

UNDER $100
Sole Society Thalia Crossbody Bag - $49.95 -- a near lookalike of this Chloé bag

UNDER $200

UNDER $300
Tory Burch Mini Saddle Bag - $250 $200 (20% off)
Loeffler Randall Mini Saddle Bag - $295 $177 (40% off)
Tory Burch Kira Clutch - $395 $237 (40% off)

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real perspectives with MassMutual.

real perspectives with massmutual.
This post was sponsored by Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company (MassMutual). All opinions are my own. I believe in their mission and chose to work with them on this campaign because financial savviness is key to long-term success -- for everyone. 

Happy almost 2017! You may have noticed me talking about this financial savviness quiz over on Instagram or Facebook in the last few weeks. I have a different perspective than most in the financial arena because my husband works with numbers all day long. (I expect my 9 out of 11 performance on this quiz, though not perfect, is due to him.) The caveat is that we know we have much, much work to do with our finances. The last few years have been foggy with new houses, new babies, and new jobs. 2017 is the year we straighten up. Thanks to MassMutual, we've gotten a head start.

Whether you're 24 or 31, it is sometimes hard to envision life at 58 or 73. How are you supposed to know what you're saving for when you don't know what life holds? This was one of the most eye-opening parts of working with MassMutual on this campaign. Stowing away cash for the future isn't always easy when you have your eyes set on things in present day (like a new handbag or a hospital bill). I think millenials (myself included) aren't as focused on tomorrow, as we are on today.

We did a reasonable job of contributing to our 401(k) accounts in our 20s, thanks to working for companies which offered strong matches. 401(k) accounts are easy: with direct deposit, you never actually get your paws on the cash. Padding savings accounts can be much tougher, when you have those day-to-day expenditures in front of you. However, I wish I'd read this article in my mid-20s about monthly contributions to a savings account. Let's just say there is a VAST difference to starting your savings accounts at age 22 vs. 32. (My jaw hit the floor when I saw the numbers.)

Looking to read up some more? This to-do list for retirement is a must. 401(k) accounts are not the end-all and be-all; there are plenty of other options at your fingertips. It also provides an important guide to determining what your expenses could be in retirement. Though it feels light years away, I've learned in parenthood that years are fleeting. Remembering our children in this entire financial equation is fodder for an entirely separate post. It's not just me, it's not just my husband and me, it's US. We want to be able to provide so much for their future as well. Starting now is a much better plan...

If you haven't already, I really encourage you to take a peek at this quiz. Whether you get a failing score or a perfect one, your future self will thank you. The end of an old year and the start of a new one is the perfect time to re-evaluate. Many thanks to MassMutual for encouraging this shift in my thinking -- and for revealing the places where we can better our financial health for the years (we hope are) ahead of us. Here's to a 2017 with bigger and better goals! xoxo {av}

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