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.

this time around.

Hello hello! It's me again... Every time I open my blog dashboard, I get that pang to pour my heart out. However, when I look at my watch, I am losing the battle to time and those words often stay bottled in my head. Real life takes priority, which is something I committed myself to long ago. That said, I miss my little corner of the internet and I promise to continue popping in as often as I can. Now onto the real point of this post: a little introspection on this pregnancy vs. my last pregnancy...

Chasing a toddler (or other children) was rumored to make subsequent pregnancies go by in a flash. I agree with this rumor 90% of the time. (The other 10%? The epic sick days which seem to last an eternity.) I remember back to this time in my pregnancy with {jv} and think of the quiet walks I'd spend dreaming of what life with a little one would be like. With this pregnancy, I certainly don't have the same amount of time for reflection. In some ways, it makes it easier: I'm not second guessing myself or worrying about things the way I did with {jv}. In others, I ache for the quiet to appreciate this extremely special time even more.

{cv} and I took advantage of the warmer weather this weekend and went on a long walk with {jv} down by the water, not far from our house. We made this walk a fair bit last summer -- and I anticipate doing this walk often once the new baby arrives in June. It reminded me of the days when I was pregnant with {jv} when we would stroll leisurely and catch glimpses of other parents pushing strollers. We would talk about what life would be like once we had our own stroller to push. On our walk this weekend, we had a similar conversation -- except it involved how life would evolve when {jv} becomes a big brother in just a few months.

Last week, {jv} cycled into his fifth ear infection of the season (paired with a nasty case of bronchiolitis). Having a sick child has a way of really making you feel like a parent. I watched his little chest rise and fall, remembering those early newborn days when I would do the same. For once, he was willing to snuggle and I felt the weight of his little body, so much heavier than it was 14 months ago. During these sick days, I found myself barely being able to focus on this pregnancy -- other than my daily prenatal vitamins. I certainly felt the baby moving and shaking, but my main concern was getting {jv} back to 100%. (A week into treatment, he finally seems to have turned a corner... or so we hope!)

If this pregnancy has taught me anything, it's this: I'm doing the best I can. Anticipating the new baby's arrival in June, I cherish the kicks and jabs from this new life. I feel just as connected to this little one as I did with {jv} but in a very different way. I have a better idea of what to expect this time around -- and feel more tied to this child because of it. This sweet baby is sure to bring his or her own light to our daily lives, just like {jv} did when he made his entrance. I cannot wait to see how he or she fits into our family (and how {jv} embraces his new role). 

Nearly 26 weeks into this pregnancy, there are definitely fewer "bumpies". However, there are more board books to read, more diapers to change, and more milestones to appreciate. Because of the joy {jv} has given to our family, there is also much more anticipation of what's to come. My heart may actually explode, come June. Until then, I will treasure those moments when {jv} crawls in my lap to read a book before bed -- and I simultaneously feel baby #2 give a little kick, as if to say "we're all here". I cannot wait until he or she is actually here...  

Here's to another week and hopefully some Trader Joe's tulips. xoxo {av}

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