my return to small town life.

Eight months ago, we moved into our new home -- thirty minutes from the conveniences of a city. {cv} and I made the conscious choice to remove ourselves from the hustle and bustle. Though we grew up in small towns roughly a thousand miles apart, our early years were spent in the confines of a town which has less inhabitants than some New York City apartment complexes. I miss some of the conveniences of the city (like good sushi and my favorite dry cleaner), but I relish the quiet of our small town life. 

To frame up this discussion, it is important to give a little background. All my life, I have been an extreme extrovert. I introduce myself to strangers in elevators. I chose to go to a school where I didn't know a single soul. However, in the last year, I noticed that I don't need that social interaction in the way I did ten years ago. To be honest, I am having a hard time deciphering whether our move, motherhood, or age has made me more of an introvert. 

Stranger still, I don't hate this conversion of sorts. My husband is an introvert, through and through. It is highly possible he is rubbing off on me. While I still love my short stints in cities -- be it for travel or work, there is something deeply peaceful about pulling into our driveway and leaving the craziness behind. Living in this deeply "social" world, however, you are never really that far from the constant firestorm of reminders that my world is much different than many of the people I follow on Instagram or elsewhere. 

The hardest part of this shift just might be the fact that, as petty as it sounds, my life seems less "Instagram-worthy" than those who live in more happening places. I fear that my followers will find my quiet life boring and feel compelled to press that unfollow button. As an extrovert, this is based in my desire to be accepted -- something which I have struggled with my whole life. (Everyone wants to be part of the cool crowd, right?) I realized recently that the sooner I accept that not everyone will like that small town life, the better off I will be. I love the life I've been given. My new introverted side reminds me that my family and my friends matter most. More importantly, I know I cannot determine my self-worth based on the approval of random strangers on the internet. 

In the midst of this self-reflection, I wondered (honestly) why anyone reads here. In the beginning, I shared a great deal about surviving our long-distance relationship. I posted collages about outfits I wanted to wear. I had a never-ending fount of creative energy. In the last few months, I have recoiled a bit to determine what it is I want to do with my blog and how I can bring some sort of good from it. I have always said that I won't waste your time with worthless posts, so my goal is to continue blogging with intention. Small town life may make my Instagrams a little less exciting, but I still have things to share -- which I hope will help you, inspire you, and encourage you in your own life. Bear with me as I get that footing, but I promise: I'm not going anywhere.

Somewhere, deep inside, I always knew I was best suited for small town life. I grew up in the small town John Mellencamp so famously sang about in 1985. When I left that small town in 2003, I would have never guessed you would find me back in the boondocks. I loved my formative years in southern Indiana, but I was ready to escape -- as most 18-year-olds are. Finding myself back in a small town 12 years later, I am more than content to share this 'slower' world with our son. We still have plenty to discover in our new small town, but we will get there. For now, I will remind myself that good things take time. I will always have a place in my heart for the years I spent in DC and Providence, but this coastal small town life is fine by me. As I learn to navigate life with this new (yet somehow familiar) perspective, I am so grateful to have you along for the ride. xoxo {av}

seven tips for your first flight with your baby.

how to prep for baby's first flight

Before {jv} arrived, you could find me in an airport at least once a month. While it doesn't make me a black belt traveler, it does mean I have a few frequent flier miles behind my name. I haven't flown since I was 32 weeks pregnant, so I must say I was excited to take to the skies again. {jv} took his first flight at 6.5 months. While it didn't go perfectly, his first two flights were much better than I expected. I owe it all to the village helping us raise {jv}. In preparation for our trip, I crowd-sourced a few tips from my most trustworthy (and well-traveled) mom friends. Some of these tips come from those conversations; others come from our first-hand experience. Here are a few of my takeaways...

1) Invest in gate check bags for your stroller and car seat. Germs are prevalent on airplanes, so this extra layer of protection can't hurt. It also means you lower your risk (ever so slightly) of banged-up baby gear. (One thing to note: some baby gear requires the "branded" bag if you want to cover any damage. We have the UPPAbaby G-LUXE; if carried in this bag (and registered with UPPAbaby), all issues will be remedied in the first two years.) Gate checking bags is free -- and your items are way more likely to reach your final destination if you walk them down the jetway yourself.

2) Speaking baby gear, do your stroller and car seat research. I had too much faith in Uber Family and blindly thought they would have infant car seats available. Unfortunately, they only have forward-facing car seats (which do not work for our current situation). I didn't discover this until the week we were to leave. I had to scramble big time to figure out a solution. (We ended up bringing our Maxi Cosi Mico AP Car Seat, which we buckled directly into any cabs or ubers. As for the stroller, we found a floor model of the Maxi Cosi Kaia Stroller. It had a removable car seat connection, which made it easy to snap in quickly. It also made {jv} more comfortable on longer walks when we could leave the car seat at home. The Maxi Taxi was another compatible solution -- essentially a Snap N Go made especially for our brand of car seat.

3) Carry on back-up outfits for your little one and for you. It should come as no surprise that you might need an extra outfit for mishaps with your babe, but don't forget about yourself. A lap-held infant could easily transmit their outfit malfunction to you, if you catch my drift ;) It's better to be safe than sorry, even if it takes up a little room in your carry-on. Speaking of said "mishaps", bring a diaper bag dispenser. It takes up virtually zero space in your bag, but what it lacks in girth, it makes up for in smell prevention. One other expert tip from a sweet friend: ask for an airline-provided blanket to be sacrificed for the dirty job and act as a changing pad liner. Most flight attendants would be happy to help -- and point out the changing "table" in the lavatory. (These disposable changing pads are also great in a pinch.)

4) Pack a sense of humor. Traveling with a baby isn't a walk in the park, but it isn't impossible. {cv} and I shared a few laughs throughout the process -- thanks to some of {jv}'s loud bodily noises and awkwardly timed bathroom visits. We took it all with a grain of salt: he won't always be this small and portable. (One day, he will cry and actually be able to vocalize his frustration.) We decided to accept the little embarrassments and move on... because we will likely never see our flight mates ever again. Once they walk off the plane, our baby will be a distant memory.

5) If at all possible, take the necessary steps to get TSA Pre. At roughly 38 weeks pregnant, I waddled into our local enrollment center for my interview. It was an incredibly simple process. I hadn't reaped the benefits of that afternoon until this past weekend. We were able to skip the lines and bypass much of the hassle of going through security. I'd call this a serious win when you have a baby in tow.

6) Whether you're breastfeeding or bottle-feeding, be ready for time away from much of your gear. Feeding (however you do it!) on the ascent and descent can help prevent some ear irritation. Pack a lightweight nursing scarf or a few extra bottles (with ample formula) to ensure you're covered for extra time on the tarmac or in the air. When {jv} turned six months, I transitioned from exclusively breastfeeding to formula feeding (which requires a whole post in itself). I wanted to make sure I wasn't without necessary fuel for our little man, so I used a formula dispenser and filled for three feedings beyond what I anticipated. I'm sure it was overkill, but I've been stuck in an airport enough times to bring an insurance policy or two. (This will help keep your nerves at bay, which relates closely to my last tip!)

7) Leave your nerves at home. Babies play off of the environment around them. I notice it on crazy work days, but when I'm stressed, {jv} is too. The morning of his first flight, I was pretty exhausted after some last-minute packing, so I was too sleepy to be anxious. On {jv}'s first flight, he fell asleep ten minutes before we boarded our flight while I was wearing him in our Ergo. He stayed asleep for half of the flight, only waking up because of the beverage service cart noise right by his head. He required a bit of entertainment from the two of us for the duration of the flight, but we made it without any crying episodes. We had a more stressful boarding process on our flight home -- and {jv}'s behavior reflected it. Our flight was slightly delayed and he was overtired. The first twenty minutes of the flight involved some serious fussiness, but he finally gave in to his heavy eyelids. (We tried a combination of a bottle and a pacifier to satisfy him.) I can't help but think that he fed off my anxious energy on the way home. I'm going to try even harder to keep my nerves in check on future flights.

As an aside, these are a few posts from fellow bloggers which helped me maintain my sanity: Beth (from Ocean State Styled) is fresh off of a transcontinental vacation to Greece and has plenty of fantastic tips for the plane and beyond. Jane (from In The Pink and Green) had her son the same day I had {jv}; she has already traveled extensively with her little guy, so I was all over her travel post. Last but certainly not least, Lauren (from Aspiring Kennedy) has been my traveling-with-kids role model for 2+ years. I positively love this post she shared about adapting to travel with kids in tow.

Whether you have a brand new baby or might in the future, you can pin this post for future reference -- or to pass along to new mom friends. Please feel free to add your own anecdotal advice in the comments below as well! I know some of these tips may change depending on when what age you first travel with your baby, but these tips are a good start in preparing you for baby's first flight! xoxo {av}

P.S. Make sure you ask your flight attendant for a memento from the flight for your little one's baby book!

life lately.

Hello there! Remember me? I am so sorry for dropping off the face of the earth for the last few months. (Didn't you know that the face of the earth was this blog? I kid, of course.) Truth be told, the transition back to work after maternity leave wasn't as seamless as I thought it would be. When I'm not working, I'm making the most of my time with {jv}. Even though he has a somewhat regular bedtime these days, I don't feel like I have the "free time" to share posts like I imagined in my head. I have plenty to share in my drafts folder, but I refuse to put up content that isn't quality -- just for the sake of posting. I did a "life lately" post a few months ago and loved that I was able to share a ton of random thoughts in one place. (Since new mom brain is also in full effect, I decided that a random compilation of thoughts is an acceptable practice. My brain always seems to be on ten different tangents (at once!), so it only makes sense. Without further ado, here is a window into my life lately... xoxo {av}

P.S. As always, if you want the most recent updates (and shall we say "micro blog posts"), my Instagram is the place to find them!

-This satirical article from The New Yorker about Pinterest cracked. me. up. In the months since {jv} was born, I have spent much less time perusing Pinterest. While I miss it, I do find myself less inhibited by the pressure to make my life look "just so". My home won't always be ready for a photographer to stop by -- and I'm more than fine with that ;)
-Since May is Skin Cancer Awareness Month, it doesn't feel right to let it pass without a yearly reminder about my own experience with melanoma. If you're in the market for sunscreen this year, here is a round-up of my favorites. (I have a few new sunscreens to test out this summer, so I will be sure to report back.) I also appreciated this honest perspective from Jacqueline Weppner about her battle with skin cancer after the birth of her daughter.
-On the topic of returning to work after maternity leave, I found this discussion around the cost of childcare fascinating. There is so much more work to be done on this topic. I'll leave that there.
-Sharon Holbrook read my mind with this one. I can only blame the hormones so much now, but this post makes me tear up each time I read it. I live quite a distance from most of my friends (and a good portion of my family), so Sharon's words definitely struck a chord.

-We've been in our new house for six months now -- and we're still not completely unpacked. Oops? I blame it on my inability to be away from {jv} or my pump for much longer than four or five hours. I need to find a few more storage options for books and a variety of accent tables to round our our space. I don't want to unpack things just to move them again (I'm all about efficiency here!), so those things will remain in their boxes until I have what I need. (If that isn't this first year, maybe we don't need the contents of the box after all...) I will say, however, that the packing system I shared last fall worked like a charm for finding things we needed from random boxes. Small victories.
-You know what small thing makes me feel like I conquered something big? Framing recent photos! We ordered a few framed photos from Framebridge and I'm obsessed. They can print directly from your Instagram feed (and the prices are reasonable too!). I am always a sucker for packaging and the Framebridge crew knocks it out of the park there as well. Do yourself a favor and frame a few of your favorite Instagrams (or photos just hanging out on your camera roll). You'll be so glad you did!
-Slowly but surely, we're crossing little projects off our list. Hanging {jv}'s gallery wall and our bigger pieces of art was a step in the right direction. Since I can't forget about everything I see on Pinterest, I'm working to round out some of the "tchotchkes" and little vignettes. I would love some off-the-beaten path places / websites where you've had good luck. I don't want something super cookie cutter, but I also want to invest in something which won't end up in a box in the basement in 18 months. Send along your favorites -- I'd be forever grateful!

-I can hardly believe the baby in the picture above is mine. I feel like he graduated from newborn status in the blink of an eye. {jv} is sitting up like a champ, though he still hasn't quite mastered the whole rolling over business. I won't complain though -- he can entertain himself in one spot for a little while longer. I know I'll be chasing him soon enough! (If you have kiddos, did they do some things "out of sequence" too?)
-{jv} joined in our annual Memorial Day weekend on the Cape! I was excited to break out this playard (that the kind folks at Delta Children sent us this winter) for a few days away. We have a larger playard from 4moms (which we have handy on the first floor of our house for easy diaper changes), but I was thrilled to have something a bit smaller for his first year. If we're staying somewhere other than a hotel in his first year, I can guarantee this will be in use. It's lightweight but still sturdy -- and the price is super attractive too.
-In the months since {jv} arrived, there has been a large influx of stuff in our house. I found this post a few months back and it made me feel better about our decision to not buy out the toy store. While I want him to have whatever his little heart desires, I think there's a limit as well. (I may do a post down the line on what toys you really need -- because, let's be honest, the options are limitless!)
-When I wrote my last "life lately" post, I asked for tips on pumping while at work. Though I never thought I would get pumping down to a science, I have managed to make it work and I am just about two weeks away from my "goal" to breastfeed for six months. In my day job, I spend a ton of time on the road which makes pumping super difficult. In a perfect world (and one where I worked in a cubicle!), I would try to keep breastfeeding exclusively. I am hoping to transition to a first feed + a dream feed combination, supplementing with formula during the day. If you've made that move, I would love to hear more about your experiences (and if you have any tips!).
-Last note about my "ladies": my supply has started to decline in the last few weeks, as I've been away from {jv} for longer stretches because of work. I always thought lactation cookies were just a disguise for eating cookies, but I believe the hype. With limited time to bake, I took the easy way out and bought a pack of the Oatmeal Chocolate Chip cookies from Milkmakers. Let's just say I'm going to have a hard time not ordering these cookies once I'm done breastfeeding ;)
-One final plea for my fellow mamas out there: what tricks worked for you with teething? {jv} has had a few early mornings the last few days and it kills me not to have a good answer.

my new mom uniform.

creating your own new mom uniform.

This weekend, I am thrilled to celebrate my first Mother's Day! I have so many posts on my brain about the journey to motherhood (and how my life has changed since I got here). As of late, I'm feeling all the feelings about being a mom. Instead of a novel on how the last year has changed me, I decided to round out the week with a more light-hearted post about my mommy weekend wear.

Truth be told, my new mom uniform doesn't look that different from what it did before {jv} arrived. The big difference? My little guy has an eye for sparkly things, so I can't wear much in the way of necklaces, bracelets, or earrings. While it simplifies getting dressed, I sometimes feel a little "plain jane" without them. Without further ado, here are the necessary components to my new mom uniform:

ON TOP: Since I'm still breastfeeding, I need a top that isn't impossible to get up over my chest when out in public. I am loving the length of these crinkled gingham J.Crew boy shirts. If I feed {jv} on the go, I'd prefer not to show everyone my lower back -- so longer shirts that also open in front are clutch. (Want a more cost-effective option? These Old Navy button-downs will do the trick.) I know I'll have to re-evaluate this top once the warmer weather decides to stay, but for now, these tops work beautifully. I typically sport one of these maternity tanks (from Target!) underneath my top. Yes, I said maternity tank. I love their length and I don't think I'll ever buy a "normal" tank again.

ON BOTTOM: I protested destructed denim for ages, but I finally broke in late February. These toothpick jeans from J.Crew had just the right amount of character; they were also shorter in length, so they looked cute with sneakers. Most of the sizes are gone, but many retailers are carrying similar styles these days. (This pair from Old Navy isn't destroyed, but I still dig them.) I know many people who swear by leggings, but I generally leave my leggings to work-out wear.

ON FOOT: As pictured above, these New Balance sneaks are the thing of dreams. They bring some pizzazz in my wardrobe when accessories are out. Slip-on sneakers have also become a go-to because they're about as easy as they come. (You can call me boring, but I bought this pair of classic Vans.) I also adore my Supergas. Even once the weather warms up, you'll find me in sneakers 95% of the time. I need to be sure-footed when I'm running around with {jv}. 


If I'm not in this uniform on the weekends, I'm typically in some sort of workout gear -- or athleisure, as they're calling it now ;) This get-up, combined with my abbreviated beauty routine, is an easy way to feel put-together without being overdone. I'll have to switch things up a bit when summer comes around, but I have a feeling it might involve this chambray popover and some colorful shorts ;)

Pulling together this post sparked the idea for another post about dressing for the "fourth trimester" (aka the three months after birth). Are there any other topics you'd like me to explore as a new mom? (Or anything you'd like me to explore in general?) Now that I'm getting in a groove with {jv} and work, I'm finally finding more time to blog. When I do post, I want to give you relevant and helpful content, so it'd be great to hear what you'd like to see! I'd also love to hear what's a part of your weekend (or new mom) uniform. xoxo {av}

P.S. If you're newly pregnant (or know someone who is), I wrote this post on building a maternity wardrobe just for you. If you're staying active during your pregnancy, you may also like this post on my favorite pregnancy workout gear. If neither of things apply to you (but may one day), hop on over and pin them for future reference!