the best christmas gift.

On December 8th, we received the best gift of our lives: James Patrick was born happy and healthy at 7:22pm. He clocked in at 7 pounds and 12 ounces and measured 20.5 inches from head to toe. Finding out the gender in the delivery room was truly one of the best surprises of my life. It was agonizing to not know toward the end, but I am so glad we waited. It made his birthday that much more special. I promise to share more about {jv}'s arrival in the coming weeks.

We have been soaking up every little moment with {jv}, which also means I have been rather absent from the blogosphere. Your love on Instagram and Facebook warms my heart each time I have a second to "catch up" on life outside of our little bubble. I may not be able to reply to each and every comment, but I most certainly cherish them.

When I first found out I was due at the holidays, I will admit that I didn't love the idea. My tune has totally changed. As cliché as it sounds, {jv} is truly the best present I've ever received. His arrival has made this (and every future) holiday season infinitely more special. If you'd like to see more of our little {jv}, click here to join our journey on Instagram. Have a very merry Christmas -- and I'll be back with much more soon! xoxo {av}

we made it!

Hello there! Remember me!? I apologize for dropping off the face of the planet... we were just moving into our house! While there are a few odds and ends which still need to be completed, {cv} and I are officially in our home. The build itself only took six months, but the project was three years in the making. With so much to be grateful for this year, it was only appropriate {cv} and I were handed the keys the week of Thanksgiving. 

Time is of the essence to get settled in the house before baby {v} arrives. I'm officially 39 weeks and on baby watch. As evidenced in the photo above, my bump is in full force! While I thought maternity leave would give me a bit more time to blog, the final push to finish the house and pack up our apartment stole that down time. I decided to forgo the conventional gift guide posts for a few pages devoted to special sets of people in your life.

From your best girl friend to your sweet Aunt Sally, take a peek for a few ideas to make her holiday extra special. Take care of the men in your life with a quick look here. For ideas across the spending spectrum (under $25, $50 + $100), these cost-conscious ideas are for you. Finally, if you have a new mom or tiny tot on your gift list, get the ball rolling here. You can also click through below to find these gift ideas lickety split!

If baby {v} arrives a few days before his or her due date, it may be a few weeks before you hear from me again. It goes without saying that my new little family must come first. I want to soak up this special time to the nth degree (and I hope you'll understand). Instagram, Facebook and Twitter are the best ways to stay in touch for all the latest updates from yours truly. I promise little peeks of the house (and baby!) in the coming weeks. Many thanks for your patience and understanding -- I can't tell you how much I appreciate it. This holiday season is sure to be one for the memory books :) xoxo {av}

P.S. I'll continue to add gift ideas to the above pages between now and Christmas, so keep checking back if you're stumped with your shopping list!

is this your first?

is this your first? // a reflection on having your first child after a loss

If I am being honest, I have been writing this post for six months. At 38 weeks pregnant, time is of the essence, so I decided it was finally time to write it down. When I started this blog four years ago (this week), my naïve, wide-eyed 25 year-old self would have never anticipated sharing a post like this one. My 29 year-old self sees things a bit differently.

As I waddle around doing last-minute errands, I cannot count the number of times I hear the question: "is this your first?" I kindly look at them, say yes, and get on with my life.  Someone in the line at Chick-Fil-A doesn't need to know the full story. When we announced our pregnancy at the end of May, I dedicated a single paragraph to something which has laid heavy on my heart since last October. This isn't our "first" baby. The baby we lost the day the Red Sox won the World Series? That was our first baby. Responding to the question "is this your first?" with a yes feels like I'm denying that child ever existed. In reality, we simply had less time with that little one than we have had with this one. 

I scoured the internet in efforts to make myself feel better after my miscarriage. I wanted to read the stories of other women who had gone through a similar loss. As a result, it took me even longer to drag myself back out into the real world. I even poured my heart into a blog post that I never published. For a long time, I faulted myself for being too scared to share myself with all of you. I realized recently that I wasn't too timid to share it; there are simply lines which I'm not willing to cross with my personal life. My goal with this post is to give you a window into that time -- without unleashing the fear and worry I felt on someone else.

From my own grief, I recognized a few particular triggers. When I saw a pregnant woman, it stung. Follow-up visits to my OB were particularly difficult because baby bumps were everywhere. Pregnancy announcements suddenly took on a new meaning. The few baby things I had around our apartment quickly found hidden homes. It didn't get any easier once we had the clearance to "try again". Getting pregnant after a loss is a tricky thing. There is an enormous part of you that wants to move on and another part which begs you to hold onto the time you had. I knew acutely how it felt to be in the throes of loss. I worried that sharing our happy news would induce tears for someone else. It wasn't until 20 weeks (around the time of this photo) that I made a conscious decision to enjoy the journey. I decided this baby deserved to be celebrated and cherished, just as much as I held onto our "first."

When I found out I was pregnant this spring, we moved forward with trepidation but also hope. As with any pregnancy, there was a risk of loss. {cv} and I made the conscious effort to live in the peace that we could handle anything together. No matter how many books you read, there is nothing that truly prepares you for parenthood. When you become a parent prematurely (either with loss or an early delivery), you face that reality sooner than anticipated. For {cv} and me, our loss simply makes us that much more grateful for our second chance at parenthood. As delivery edges closer and closer, an overwhelming sense of joy has replaced my fear. I cannot wait to see {cv} become a father and see the way our genes wove together to make this special little one.

Thank you for giving me a place where I can share this post and thank you for your support on this pregnancy journey. Most importantly, thank you for reading. xoxo {av}

P.S. I cannot begin to fathom the pain of a loss later in pregnancy, but I know that the pain behind this question would still ring true. I am sharing this post today because I believe every woman deserves the right to privacy. Asking a random woman in Target if it is her first child doesn't change your day, but it could change hers. If you know this pain, share this post and help others avoid it too.

pantone color report: spring 2015.

pantone color report: spring 2015 // graphic by @luvfromafar

A few weeks ago, Pantone released their annual color report. This invaluable resource holds their annual predictions for the hottest colors in fashion for 2015. (You can download it here!) Compared to the last few reports, the hues of 2015 look to be a bit muted -- and I'm not complaining. I personally love that they included Classic Blue. You can call me boring, but it is one of my all-time favorites. It may be the impending holiday coziness, but Marsala is another hue which is catching my eye. 

After the holidays are behind us, I plan to put my gift cards to good use with these 16 hues in mind. If you pin this graphic, you'll have an easy point of reference too ;) Do you agree with this subdued color palette? Which colors stand out to you this year? xoxo {av}

P.S. You can see my translation of the 2013 report here and the 2014 report here!

the best pregnancy workout gear.

the best pregnancy workout gear via long distance loving

Since my bump days are nearing their end, I wanted to do a round-up of my favorite pregnancy workout gear. At 37 weeks pregnant, I am still running every few days and take long walks on the days I don't run. Though I will avoid the deep, deep cold of the winter, my pregnancy has spanned the entire range of seasons. I tried to capture something for all temperature ranges since everyone falls out differently on the timing spectrum. I should clarify all this with the note that I am cleared by my OB to continue working out, so make sure you have that same clearance before you invest in any of the pieces below. Here we go!

This tank from Old Navy has been a lifesaver for much of my pregnancy. By chance, I found one in store around 15 weeks and promptly came home to order two more. (They're typically online only pieces.) The reason I've enjoyed it is because it worked well in warmer temps, but it also wears beautifully under some of my colder weather gear. I purchased it in my "normal" size and it has grown well with the bump. 

Truth be told, I was never a fan of the lululemon run: swiftly line before I was pregnant. I am one of those folks who hates wearing tight tops when I'm running or working out. However, I learned quickly in pregnancy to embrace the bump. If there was one time I wouldn't necessary mind showing my "curves", it would be these months. I decided to invest in a few of these tech shirts (in various sleeve lengths). The fabric stretches beautifully to cover the whole belly, without getting cold on the bottom of your bump ;) I purchased them two sizes larger than I would otherwise size myself at lululemon. They have been worth every penny. I realized I would like them just fine after pregnancy since they were a few sizes larger -- and not so tight.

(One note: they had a "scoop" neck version with ruched sides at the end of the spring. I wish I had purchased it in every color. I wore it here -- and you've likely seen it in a few of my other running bump shots on Instagram. I scored one in the store and another on eBay. (I still get the eBay email alerts for them, so you can find one if you really want one!) Though I don't own one of these tops, they look super similar to the ruched top I mentioned from lululemon -- at a much lower price.

When this 1/4 zip top arrived, I was skeptical at first because it had that long and loose maternity front. Once I put it on, I changed my mind. It fit my bump from the end of the second trimester onward -- and still fits. This definitely looks like a pregnancy top, but let's face it: sometimes, it is unavoidable to wear one of those beauties ;) I ordered my pre-pregnancy size and was fine for the duration of my pregnancy.

This training jacket from Gap is a great piece for those in-between weather days. It grew well with my bump and still fits late in my pregnancy. I wore it a ton this fall on long walks. I'm still wearing it as an added layer. It washes well and doesn't lose its shape. It follows pre-pregnancy sizing.

One other note: your significant other's t-shirts (typically a size or two larger than yours) also work splendidly ;)

Though I'm a loyal fan of these lululemon shorts when not pregnant, I found that they produced a bit more muffin top in pregnancy than I wanted to sport. I discovered these shorts around 24 weeks and never looked back. I bought them one size up, but I'm confident they'll still work post-baby because of the stretch factor.

I wish I purchased these capris two sizes larger than I did. They worked well for the two weeks after I bought them, but after a few washes, they shrunk up a bit. I love how they hit below the bump and still come up high enough in the back. If you were to buy them, you wouldn't be disappointed -- just make sure you size them appropriately. (I was trying to make a rush decision in store and didn't think it through!) These leggings also help to extend the life of your pregnancy workout wardrobe.

Sadly, these maternity tights were not available in store at my local Athleta, so I purchased the non-maternity version in a size up. They are incredibly soft and comfortable -- and come in countless lengths and colors.

These pants have been a lifesaver since roughly 32 weeks. They're a bit of a splurge, but they do not constrict the bump and they do a decent job of containing muffin top. I bought them one size up, though I could have probably gotten away with my "normal" size. I just wanted to be able to make them last my whole pregnancy. You have to pull them on just right so they stay in place, but they truly are the most comfortable.

(One quick note: I've mentioned muffin top a few times and I want to clarify -- it isn't an aesthetic thing in pregnancy; it is a comfort thing. Too much tightness at the hips is not comfortable with a growing bump and I did everything I could to try and avoid it.) 

Forever and ever amen, I will be a Moving Comfort running bra fanatic. The Maia has been my favorite for over seven years. In pregnancy, I purchased a few bra extenders which helped me avoid buying an entirely new sports bra wardrobe. Though I needed a couple sports bras in a larger size for running, the extenders did the trick for longer walks.

Since it gets dark in New England at a ridiculously early hour in the winter, I have a few reflective pieces which draw some extra attention to me. This should be a common sense thing, but if you're working out at night, do make sure you're visible to drivers and bicyclists alike.

I found that my shoes wore out more quickly in pregnancy (weird?). I attributed it to the fact I was carrying around more weight. Regardless, it is worth noting that I purchased new running shoes a few times during pregnancy. I wanted to maintain the proper level of support in my arches and feet.

I have plenty more to say about belly support bands in a future post on second trimester running, but the best thing I can say is this: do what your OB recommends! 


Phew. There you have it. I hope this post can help you avoid some of the trial and error process that I encountered. I found it difficult to nail down one brand that knocked it out of the park with pregnancy workout gear, so I had to do some serious research. My only other piece of advice is to stick in a consistent color spectrum when buying your workout gear. I purchased mostly black and gray with a few pops of color. You'll save yourself the "what to wear" conundrum when trying to get your tail out the door for an early morning walk ;) What other workout gear would you recommend for pregnant ladies? xoxo {av}

P.S. Not into working out but need maternity wardrobe suggestions? I wrote this post mid-pregnancy about building an everyday maternity wardrobe you'll love

a blogger baby shower.

At the end of October, two of my dearest friends -- Kate {of DomestiKatedLife} and Lindsay {of Lindsay Jean Design + Duchess} -- threw baby {v} and me the shower to end all showers. From the moment I walked in the door, I was overwhelmed with their thoughtfulness and creativity. I knew these two would throw an amazing shower, but I had no clue just how incredible it would be. They truly outdid themselves on this one. 

You can see a few of my favorite details from the shower below, but you can see even more from the hostesses themselves. Take a peek at this post from Lindsay and this post from Kate for more photos and the sources of the goodies they used!

my favorite funfetti cupcakes with EDIBLE gold star sprinkles! 

a cheese plate found in every pregnant woman's dreams: completely pasteurized + delightful! 

mint chocolate anything is my weakness // a donut tasting bar?! I can't make this stuff up...

pretty drinks for the pregnant + non-pregnant crowd on the most colorful bar cart around.

When I started this blog four years ago, I never envisioned that two friends I made from blogging would throw me a baby shower of such beautiful proportions. Fast forward to today: I truly see the internet as the vessel to meet the people who were supposed to be in my life from the get-go. Many of the ladies who attended {and sent gifts from near and far} also happen to be sweet friends made courtesy of the world wide web. To everyone who came or sent their love, you sure know how to make a girl -- and baby {v} -- feel loved! You all nailed it with your gorgeous gifts. Baby {v} will be one well-outfitted and cuddly little one ;) I may sound like a broken record, but I mean it: thank you from the bottom of my heart, Kate and Lindsay! xoxo {av}

a cape cod maternity shoot.

a cape cod maternity shoot by Kate Headley

a cape cod maternity shoot by Kate Headley

a cape cod maternity shoot by Kate Headley

a cape cod maternity shoot by Kate Headley

a cape cod maternity shoot by Kate Headley

a cape cod maternity shoot by Kate Headley
{all photos used with permission from Kate Headley  //  outfit details: dress | sweater | necklace}

A few weeks ago, I spent the day on Cape Cod with my dear friend, Kate Headley. We met in DC in 2009 when I started the interview process for wedding photographers. Thankfully, I only had to interview one. She won me over from our first meeting and captured our wedding day perfectly. Kate has taken my photo many times over the years, but this time was a bit different: baby {v} was in the photos with me. Trying to feel comfortable "posing" with my bump was a new phenomenon. I count my blessings that when Kate is behind the lens, I feel completely at ease in front of it. 

During our blustery afternoon in Falmouth, Kate captured this special season of my life in a way no one else could. I am beyond grateful -- and always will be -- for these images. I can't wait to have Kate shoot our growing family in the coming years. Endless thanks to Kate for taking these priceless photos and letting me share them with you. xoxo {av}

P.S. You can see a more images from this shoot here. You can also see a few of our past shoots here, here + here.

eight shades of gray (paint).

eight great shades of gray from @benjamin_moore -- perfect for a neutral color palette.

A few weeks back, I asked for your advice on choosing the right paint for your home. Your responses were incredibly thoughtful and insightful. Not only did your input guide the decisions we made, it allowed me to maintain some shred of sanity in the final days of our build. Though we didn't go with an entirely gray color palette for the #bartonbuild, it is definitely prevalent throughout our home.  I tested these hues in every room and also did a side-by-side comparison (which I tried and failed to capture with my iPhone). After a ton of deliberation, these are the colors we chose for the aforementioned spaces:

Open-Concept Kitchen, Living Room + Foyer: Benjamin Moore Revere Pewter (HC-172) Since this space spans two floors, we needed something that would pop against our trim and this hue did the trick. In person, Revere Pewter shows tan in some lights and gray in others. We were pleased with how it warmed up our home -- without making it too dark.

Guest Bedroom + OfficeBenjamin Moore Gray Owl (OC-52) These two rooms receive the first light in the morning. We went with Gray Owl for these spaces because it is a touch 'cooler' than some of the other grays we tried.

Nursery + Spare BedroomBenjamin Moore Stonington Gray (HC-170) If I'm being honest, we chose Stonington Gray for the nursery because it best matched the swatch for glider we chose. I kept it going in the other (mirrored) bedroom because the glider might one day move to that room. It is also slightly 'warmer; than Gray Owl in person.

Master BedroomBenjamin Moore Horizon (OC-53) Not to be confused with Horizon Gray (2141-50), Horizon was a last-minute addition to my sample options. Since we have a deep gray headboard (almost like the Chelsea Gray seen above), we didn't want anything too dark. Using our fabric swatch as a guide, we agreed this was a light enough hue without being a boring choice.

Master BathroomBenjamin Moore Gray Owl (OC-52) Our master bathroom is outfitted with some beautiful marble. Even in the absence of windows, the Carrara tile just popped next to Gray Owl.

The extras: The other bathrooms, mudroom, laundry room and master closet add a bit of color -- and another paint distributor -- to the mix. (I'll share those in another post soon!) 

Though it may look like it, this post was not sponsored by Benjamin Moore. I simply liked a few of their colors better and invested the majority of my research on their color families. I learned a lot about paint stores in this process. The biggest takeaway? Any paint store can use another distributor's color numbers as guides to create the paint. It may not be exact, but it comes out close. If you're worried about precision, it is best to trust that particular brand's experts. 

I loved nearly every shade of gray we tested, but some had to win. As always, this post isn't one-sided. If you have other grays you love which I missed, be sure to share them in the comments below. Thank you again for all of your wonderful insight in this process -- I can't wait to share some photos with the paint in action! xoxo {av}

how to stay organized during your next move + free printables.

how to stay organized during your next move -- printable moving labels + excel worksheet included!

With our move sneaking up on us, I developed a little system to stay organized (and combat my pregnancy brain). When we moved last summer, I felt like boxes ended up in the wrong corners of our apartment and I was absolutely lost when it came time to unpack. Since we'll be moving from an apartment to a house this time around, we gain a bit more space to keep everything straight. I am trying to pack a few boxes a day in preparation because we don't know when baby {v} will decide to join us. As luck would have it, I will be full-term the week we expect to get possession of the house, so organization during our packing process is absolutely key.

The system I am implementing with this move is simple: I plan to place one of these labels on each box we pack and then add the information collected into one master Excel doc. (I also made this handy door sign to reduce confusion with our movers.) You can see what each of the elements of this system look like below!

how to stay organized during your next move -- printable moving labels + excel worksheet included!

Many of the boxes we've used over the years include a box which captures similar information, but it didn't always give the range of options necessary for our situation. I placed the "room" space at the top (since it is most pertinent to the movers -- or whomever you have carrying your boxes). Directly below it, I included an "instructions" space to capture whether anything was fragile or if the box was extremely heavy. The "contents" space is pretty self-explanatory, but this is essential for keeping your head on straight when you're trying to find an item in a pinch. The "box number" will ensure you have an easy way to identify a box. The packing information is useful if you're not the only one packing up!

A couple of notes: this 8.5" x 11" should be cut in half (down the center) for optimal use. Tape one half of the label to the top of the box and tape the other half to the side of the box. (This will allow you to see what is in the box from the top and side!) When printing the .PDF, I recommend choosing the "fit" to paper option -- if available. It will make the label as large as the margins of your printer allow.

how to stay organized during your next move -- printable moving labels + excel worksheet included!

I know this seems like a simple sheet, but it is an essential one. Whether you hire a moving company or promise your friends a pizza for their help, this door sign will help identify where to place the box they're carrying. This will reduce the number of times you get asked where any particular room is (and serves as your proxy if you have to make a lunch run or need more packing tape).

how to stay organized during your next move -- printable moving labels + excel worksheet included!

This Excel document will help you maintain your sanity in the best way possible. With everything in one place, you will not have to worry about the whereabouts of your favorite sweater or the next book in the series you're reading. I included a couple of example lines (which you can promptly delete) to serve as a guide behind my Type A madness. It may take a couple of minutes on the front end to enter the contents of the box into your spreadsheet, but it will pay dividends later. (There is even an app for Google Drive, if you wanted to add this information using your phone!) 

Of course, no move is foolproof. My hope is that this system provides peace of mind as you prepare for your next move. If you're not moving any day soon, you can always pin this post for future reference when the time does come. Since I know my readers are full of fantastic ideas, please feel free to leave a comment below about your "best practices" for moving. Sharing is caring ;) xoxo {av}

16 apple cider sips.

16 apple cider drinks ideas.

RECIPES: 1) Cider Jack Cocktail via Intoxicology 101 || 2) Mulled Apple Cider via Gardenista || 3) Smoky Apple Cider Cocktail via Tasteseekers Kitchen || 4) Apple Cider Moscow Mules via Sugar and Charm || 5) Spiced Apple Cider Sangria via My Life as a Mrs. || 6) Cider Pumpkin Float via Dine and Dish || 7) Spiced Apple Cider Champagne Cocktail via Dishing Up the Dirt || 8) Fizzy Apple Cider Punch via Just Putzing Around the Kitchen || 9) Caramel Apple Cider via Ciera Design Studio || 10) Homemade Apple Cider via Sugar and Charm || 11) Cider Rum Punch via Emma Dime || 12) Apple Cider Sangria via How Sweet It Is || 13) Apple Cider Mimosa via Style Within Reach || 14) Caramel Apple Cider via Pastry Affair || 15) Ginger, Apple + Bourbon via The Tampopo Post || 16) Bourbon Apple Cider via Set the Table

Though I may not be drinking the "hard stuff" this fall, I am far from immune to the onslaught of apple cider goodness across the blogosphere. After pinning cider-related concoctions like mad this week, I decided to create a little round-up of the best recipes from my research. Most of these recipes involve alcohol, but there are a few which could easily be adapted for those who prefer their cider straight ;) Enjoy! xoxo {av}

the ultimate guide to diaper bags for chic moms.

the ultimate guide to diaper bags for chic moms: 12 options for ALL budgets!

second row {from left - $99 to $138}: Skip Hop Chelsea Diaper Bag | C. Wonder Signature Diaper Bag (**) | LeSportsac Ryan Baby Bag (**)
(**) Shopbop is currently holding a friends + family sale for 25% off their entire site, these bags included, just use the code FAMILY25!

As my due date approaches, I am tackling the ten million decisions on my plate one by one. What color do we paint the nursery? {Still undecided, though we may go with the gold standard Benjamin Moore Revere Pewter.} What type of carseat do we buy? {We're going with the Maxi Cosi Mico AP!} Finding the answer to the question: what diaper bag do I want to carry? prompted this post. 

It may be selfish, but I don't want to lose all elements of fashionability in the delivery room. One of my closest friends told me a good diaper bag is worth the investment because you carry it every single day. With this in mind, I decided to go on the hunt for a few chic diaper bags. I was happily surprised with my research! 

The 12 options above prove that becoming a mom doesn't automatically signal the shift to hideous handbags. {My personal favorites include this Skip Hop score and this Rebecca Minkoff stunner.} FYI: Many of the bags above are available in other colors, but I pulled the black options for uniformity.

Current mamas: what advice would you give on the diaper bag decision? This ultimate guide to diaper bags needs your two cents, of course. If you're not on the mom path just yet, you might just want to pin this post for future reference ;) xoxo {av}

shop the full selection of diaper bags at these reliable retailers: 
NordstromSaks Fifth Avenue (25% off thru 10-19!!) | Shopbop (25% off thru 10-16!!) | TargetZappos

monday smiles.

autumn... the year's last, loveliest smile.

After a few rough weeks, I made my way to Durham, North Carolina to spend one last quiet weekend away before baby {v} arrives. Surrounded by three of my closest girlfriends, it was one of those weekends which will forever be written on my heart. I know my world is about to change in a big way, but it is such a comfort to know that some things will always remain the same. Though I may lack sisters, baby {v} will have no shortage of loving and doting aunties. They proved that this weekend.

This wasn't my first trip to Durham, but we did visit a number of new-to-me places worthy of a look if you're in town. Let's just say that baby {v} ate very well this weekend. I wish FedEx could deliver Pizzeria Toro to my door on a weekly basis, along with a few amazing bites from Mateo. As always, Parker and Otis hit it out of the park with their brunch  {and their amazing gallery wall seen above}.  

Autumn hadn't quite hit Durham, but we pretended it had with a trip to the pumpkin patch {as evidenced with those cute pumpkins at the top of this post}. The sunny weather also made a lovely picnic in the Sarah P. Duke Gardens possible. {I only wish I could have brought that warmth with me to Rhode Island. Waking up to temps in the 40s was a hard reality this morning!} I packed for cooler weather, so the bump looked rather autumnal. It is still crazy to see myself in pictures with this 31-week bump. Time is flying. 

As an aside: I've been paying extra attention to amazing stock-up sales in an attempt to dress the bump. As it cools down quickly in New England, finding pieces which will work now and later are most certainly on my radar. I have been living in this Splendid cardigan, which is now 25% off at Nordstrom. {I seriously want it in every color. It is so soft and machine washable. #winwin} Unless you've been living under a rock, I'm sure you know that the Tory Burch Friends + Family sale ends today... 25% off doesn't hurt anyone! Gap is also having a fabulous flash one-day sale: $45 off a purchase of $100+ online makes many of these gender neutral goodies extra affordable. Fall shopping doesn't have to kill your bank account after all ;)

A special thank you goes out to my girlfriends for making baby {v} and me feel so loved. If there is one thing I have learned in my 20s, it is this: investing in friendships is one of the best decisions you can ever make. The same applies to the readers of this blog: though posts have been sporadic lately, thank you for sticking with me. This is an unbelievably hectic but incredibly special time -- and it is a joy to have you along for the ride. Have a very happy week, everyone! xoxo {av}

breathe + be.

breathe + be.

I never post on Saturdays, but here I am. Being absent from the blogging world this week felt foreign.  When we returned from Mexico on Tuesday night, I thought life would be back to normal on Wednesday. Instead, we got a call which shook up our world. Without divulging all the details, {cv}'s dad was rushed to the hospital and we rushed to be with him. Though the drive felt like it took an eternity on Wednesday, we were incredibly grateful to be two and a half hours away from his family.

As with all life-changing circumstances, perspective comes in droves. With so much change on the docket for us this fall and winter, the events of this week reminded me to just breathe and be. Checking Instagram seems incredibly trivial when you're sitting in the waiting room of a hospital. Staying up on Twitter and Facebook is a weird distraction because both are absolute proof that life goes on when yours seems to stop. The lack of cell service in Mexico -- combined with the events of this week -- are the perfect reminder of what matters most. Answer: it is not growing a social media following, it is living life with the ones you love.

I don't share this post for your pity or concern; I share it because I think we all need these reminders from time to time. As my father-in-law recovers, I would ask for your prayers and thoughts in the coming days. The Lord works in mysterious ways and this week acutely reminded us of His watchfulness. Hopefully, I'll be back soon with more normal updates -- but time will tell. xoxo {av}

baby's gender neutral wardrobe.

25+ pieces for baby's gender neutral wardrobe!

Years ago, {cv} and I decided we wouldn't be finding out baby {v}'s gender. For all the things I get to experience in pregnancy, I am itching for the delivery day when {cv} can be the first to know whether we have a he or a she. It will be a life-changing, unforgettable moment -- and I can't wait to share it with {cv}. Trust me: I don't fault anyone for having a big gender reveal party; we are just waiting until December for ours.

As most of my friends and family can attest, sacrificing my ability to plan ahead for this child is a feat for me. It is one surprise, however, that I know will be worth the wait. I even practiced with surprises this summer. Letting {cv} plan our surprise babymoon was a step in the right direction for me: I normally like to be involved in every detail. Though there were moments I felt like caving and finding out, {cv} remained steadfast -- and kept me on the straight and narrow ;) We just had an ultrasound at 28 weeks and stayed strong, so we are really in it for the long haul. The first week of December can't come soon enough!

Friends and family have expressed their excitement -- and frustration -- in our decision to wait on the gender. While they all support us, many say it makes buying things for baby {v} much more difficult.  There is one major auxiliary benefit {for me} in not finding out the gender: we prevent the inevitable pink explosion if the baby is a little lady. I know I could be one of the few pink haters on the planet, but cut me a break here! While I love a pop of color here and there, most of baby {v}'s wardrobe is gray and white. I'll admit: I have a serious love of neutrals across baby clothing and home decor. One other bonus of not finding out gender is that future baby {v}'s could be easily outfitted without buying a whole new wardrobe.

The point of this post is to prove gender neutral options do exist -- for all budgets and price points. {I know many have shared that shoes are unnecessary for teeny babes, but they were just too cute not to include.} Cute gender neutral outfits do exist, but it takes a little extra effort to find them. I just keep my eyes peeled at all times! If you're not finding out the gender, I hope this post helps you see that adorable things do exist for your bundle of joy. If you know someone who isn't finding out the gender, this post is exactly what you need to rock on the gift-giving front. {All you need to do is pin this post for future reference!} Mamas + mamas-to-be: did you find out gender -- or did you wait? xoxo {av}

P.S. I have also been loving deal sites like Gilt for higher end pieces at more reasonable prices -- I just couldn't put them in this round-up because their inventory changes so frequently.

CLOTHINGGerber Newborn Organic Sleep N' Play + Hat Set {$8.99}  ||  Gap City Graphic Bodysuit - Paris {$12.95 + 35% off}  ||  Old Navy Sleeping Gown 2-Pack {$13.00}  ||  Gap Favorite Terry Stripe Pants {$19.95 + 35% off}  ||  J.Crew Baby One-Piece in Kisses {$22.50 + 25% off!} ||  Gap Western Denim Shirt {$24.95 + 35% off}  ||  Ralph Lauren Baby Coverall {$27.50}  ||  Baby Oeuf Long-Sleeve Bunny Tee {$28.00 + 25% off}  ||  J.Crew Baby Footsie Coverall in Stripe {$29.50 + 25% off}  ||  J.Crew Baby Cotton Sweatpants {$34.50 + 25% off}  ||  Gap Love Sweater One-Piece {$36.95 + 35% off}  ||  Nordstrom Baby Knit Sweater + Pants {$48.00 + 33% off} ||  Nordstrom Baby Bodysuits 6-Pack {$48.00}  ||  Burt's Bees Newborn 10-Piece Layette Set {$49.95}

HOODIES + OUTERWEARBurt's Bees Baby Newborn Long-Sleeve Hoodie {$19.95}  ||  Stem Baby Organic Cotton Hoodie {$38.00}  ||  Gap Warmest Puffer Snowsuit {$78.00 + 35% off}  ||  Ralph Lauren Baby Quilted Jacket {$99.50}