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}

eight tips for running through your first trimester.

eight tips for running through the first trimester (you can do it!)

DISCLAIMER: I was cleared by my obstetrician to run during my pregnancy. Please discuss your activity regimen with your health care professional prior to any physical exercise. If you haven't been running prior to pregnancy, it would be best for you to wait to begin a running regimen after the baby is born. With this post, I intend to share my takeaways from running in the first trimester. I am not a medical professional, so please see this post as a conversation between friends -- not a physician or fitness coach.

In 1997, I fell in love with running. At the ripe old age of 12, I found my stride pounding the pavement in my size 5 Nikes. Barring the times I was sidelined by pesky stress fractures, I have been running for nearly 20 years. This does not qualify me as a running expert by any means, but it does give a little background to my love of running. I know running isn't for everyone, but it is most certainly for me. Below, you'll find my eight tips for running through the first trimester. Some will apply to you, some will not. I simply wanted to share my experiences because I ached for real-world perspective on running through pregnancy during my first few months with a bun in the oven.

TIP #1: Listen to your body. Forever and ever, amen. I was blessed to have a relatively nausea-free first trimester {please don't hate me!}, so thankfully, this did not impact me getting out the door for a run. It was the intense fatigue which really slowed me down, literally and figuratively, in my first 13 weeks. My last run longer than 3.1 miles was the week I found out I was pregnant. I made a pact with myself to be happy with getting in a 5K and not pushing myself beyond my comfort zone for more miles. As one might expect, my first trimester miles were not pretty. Fatigue prevented me from being incredibly consistent, so I aimed to run every 2-3 days. I didn't beat myself up if a nap took precedence over a run. Neither should you.

TIP #2: Don't let your fear of miscarriage keep you off the road. After our loss last fall, I was especially anxious to run at the beginning of this pregnancy. My OB reassured me that my running had nothing to do with the loss of that child. For me, running was the release I needed to help me get through those uncertain weeks. I needed to spend the time on the road to wrap my head around everything. Running provided peace amidst the craziness of my emotions.

TIP #3Be alert. This will sound like a goofy suggestion, but follow me here. Don't use the first trimester to try out crazy new trails and pathways. Even with a baby on board the size of a blueberry, you will be concerned about falling while running. During my first trimester {and beyond}, I made peace with running similar routes on a regular basis. I also made sure not to run when it was too dark {or bright!} to keep a clear view of my footing. Safety first -- especially with baby on board. 

TIP #4Don't beat yourself up if you can't keep running. I'm the first to admit that some days were easier than others. I struggled a lot in the beginning with my bladder {sorry, it's true}. My first trimester runs were plagued with frantic bathroom hunts mid-run. Coupling these bathroom trips with the need to stay hydrated is difficult as well. You can find the right balance; it just takes patience. All I can say is that running while pregnant does get better in the second trimester. Just keep on trucking...

TIP #5: Pay attention to what smells you'll be encountering on your run. This is a totally random tip, but trust me: when you accidentally run by a fragrant Indian restaurant, you'll know what I mean. Avoid highly smelly places as best you can to keep your sniffer happy. I knew where road construction was to stay away from smelly tar. While smells can always catch you off guard, pre-run planning can go a long way if you have a sensitive nose during the first trimester.

TIP #6: Invest in a few looser fitting tops so you don't feel self-conscious in your workout gear. While every pregnancy is different, your bump won't likely be bumping until the second trimester. I have gained weight throughout my entire pregnancy, all starting in my midsection and chest. I felt hyper-aware of the muffin top phenomenon, especially toward the end of my first trimester. If you don't want to buy a new maternity running wardrobe just yet, a few of your husband's t-shirts will do. {cv} had plenty to share, so I just popped on one of his shirts when I was feeling "doughy". {It's hard to explain because pregnant bellies grow at such different rates.} Tops like these will also translate well to the first few months after baby:

TIP #7: Open your eyes to the joys of walking. I wrote a post earlier in the year about my daily 10,000 step challenge. Don't get me wrong: walking will never replace my love of running. I simply focused on moving in my first trimester, whether it was at a jog or a stroll. Because of my recurring stress fractures, I cannot run consecutive days. Walking helped me fill the void -- and gave me a 'pass' on the days when I just didn't have the energy to run.

TIP #8You will slow down: the sooner you accept it and move on, the better. I am not a Boston qualifier, but I am a dedicated runner. My pacing is steady and rarely fluctuates over the course of a run. {This only qualifies if I'm running a relatively flat course, not beastly hills.} Prior to this pregnancy, my average pace hovered in the low-8:00 miles. During my first trimester, I tacked on a good 30 seconds to each mile. It was tough to accept the slow down in the beginning -- until I remembered the miracle happening inside of me. I learned to listen to my body {à la tip #1} and find a new rhythm which worked for me.

The bottom line with this post is that running in your first trimester is totally doable. The circumstances have to be right, of course, but you should never see a positive pregnancy test as the end to your running days. With two trimesters of running under my belt {or bump -- however you want to look at it}, I have plenty more to share about running through the next trimester too. Keep an eye out for a post on running from weeks 14 to 28 soon! If you ran in your first trimester, I'd love for you to share your tips below. I don't have all the answers ;) Happy trails -- or better yet, clear sidewalks! xoxo {av}

barton build: an overdue update.

With fall only a few days away, I can officially say that this summer passed in a blink. The craziness of the last few months has prevented me from sharing updates on our #bartonbuild. Aside from an occasional snap on my Instagram feed,  I apologize for keeping you in the dark. We have made some serious progress since my last official update two months ago. I'll do my best to get you up to speed with this post!

First, a disclaimer: you will see plenty of miscellaneous boards, buckets, and dust throughout these photos. As much as I would like to make these glimpses picture-perfect, the reality is that we are in flux. I keep telling myself that the final product will be that much more exciting once the dust has lifted! Moving on...

I wish I could give a bulleted list of all that has been done in the last few months, but you would be reading a book {not a blog post}. From the street, the most visible change from my last update would be a completed exterior: the roof is on, the cedar shingles are installed, and the windows are in place. My favorite feature? THE PORCH. I'm already counting down to next spring when we can enjoy it!

Moving inside, it doesn't take a rocket scientist to see we are well beyond the framing stage. You can no longer see through our walls! Sheet rock was installed last week and it finally feels like a house when we walk in the front door. The picture above is a look from the edge of the kitchen into the living room. You can see space for built-ins on both sides of the fireplace {!!!}. I just can't get over all the yummy light.

Don't worry -- there will be railings on these stairs; they just aren't in place. The photo above is a look from the second floor down into the foyer. One day soon, there will be pretty light fixture suspended here. {We have to choose it first...} We really focused on creating an open space when you first walk through the door. Until the drywall was installed, it was hard to get a feel for the space. It is amazing what a difference it makes!

This photo was taken from the landing on the stairs, looking into the open concept living room and dining nook. The kitchen is off to the left, but the island will be visible from this view in the coming weeks. While there is still a fair amount to do, we have made some big decisions on the hardwood floors, appliances, and kitchen cabinets. Those aren't the only decisions we've made, but they are the ones which stand out the most.

Over the weekend, I made a pilgrimage to Benjamin Moore for paint samples {after all of your wonderful help!}. I still need to grab a few others, but we should hopefully have those choices nailed down later this week. We have some of the other finer details to choose as well, but we are on our way! Everyone warned us that the stress of building a home would be tough to juggle with a baby on the way, but we are taking it in stride. Since it is truly out of our hands, I don't ask about our move-in date. Our builder has been on "schedule" thus far, so we trust him to make it happen before baby {v} arrives. While we are taking it one day at a time, a mid-November completion would be quite the treat. 

As always, I am open to any and all bits of wisdom on homeownership. Are there any "little" things which might make a huge difference for us--while we still have the chance to make it happen? I promise more frequent #bartonbuild updates here on the blog, but follow along on Instagram for the most timely updates! xoxo {av}

black + taupe bootie guide.

black + taupe bootie guide: 10+ pairs of booties for all budgets!

1) J.Crew Laine ($238)  //  2) Sole Society Romy ($90)
3) Seychelles Take Notice ($140)  //  4) Ivanka Trump Roni ($150)
5) Rachel Comey Mars ($395)  //  6) Softwalk Rocklin ($140)
7) Hush Puppies Corie Imagery ($99)  //  8) Sam Edelman Petty ($130) 
9) Sam Edelman Cody ($130)  //  10) Joie Dalton ($325)

Continuing the shoe search this week, today's post is all about black and taupe booties! Last August, I did a fun post on how to style booties. The only problem? I never did the proper research to find booties I could actually see myself wearing. I returned the pair I purchased last fall because I just didn't love them. My J.Crew Field Boots were an easy fix, but they were definitely not booties. Though I plan to pull out those boots in the coming weeks, I decided it was time to reinvestigate the bootie trend -- and see if there was a pair which really called my name. Since booties have proved their staying power, it is time to make a pair my own. 

I picked a few of my favorites in the round-up above--and included a few bonus pairs too! If money grew on trees, I would buy a pair of black and a pair of taupe booties. (Too bad money doesn't grow that way!) Are you embracing the bootie trend or are you slowly warming up to them like me? I'd love to hear your thoughts. xoxo {av}

on point: leopard flats.

leopard flats for every budget!

With fall weather finally upon us, I'm excited to pop on some closed toe shoes for a change. I haven't fully embraced the pointy toe flat trend this season, but I know it is time to make the shift from my rounded toe flats of seasons past. Since the leopard trend isn't going anywhere, I did a more concentrated round-up of pointy leopard flats for all budgets this fall. 

Flats have always been my jam, but they are even more of a necessity this year: my pregnant klutziness is at an all-time high! I cannot wait to slip on a pair of leopard flats with skinny jeans and cozy leggings as fall approaches. I'll be able to wear them now and post-baby--and instantly feel chic. I'd call that a win-win! xoxo {av}

P.S. Keep an eye out for a round-up of easy booties in the coming days -- they're next on my list!

choosing the right paint.

how to choose the right paint for your entire home.

Building a house from the ground up isn't all roses. While {cv} and I agree on most everything house-related, we are at a bit of a crossroads with the overall color scheme of the house. As my #bartonbuild board would attest, I gravitate heavily toward the white and gray tones. {cv} isn't opposed to this vision; he has simply expressed some concern that it could be too "basic". I think it's clean, but that's just me. These four examples only brush the surface of why I like these soft and subtle tones...

gray + white paint inspiration.
{top left: Gaylord Designs | top right: S.R. Gambrel | bottom left: abode love | bottom right: Terracotta Properties}

Since marriage is all about compromise, I realize I may have to bend a bit on this gray and white dream. I simply want to hear all sides of the story before the construction crew goes to town with a paintbrush. With sheet rock going in next week, our builder has encouraged us to get the ball rolling on our paint colors. We are a few weeks away from the final call, but I would love to get a few opinions on how you handled paint choices in your home. 
  • Did you do the same "base" color throughout your house? If so, how did you go about choosing that one color? It seems like an incredibly daunting process to pick just one! With the light a bit different in all corners of the house, I feel like it would be difficult to choose one that is universally wonderful. {If you know of any such universally wonderful colors, help a lady out!}
  • If you chose to pick colors room by room, how did you make those decisions -- especially in advance of other big decisions like furniture? Since we currently live in a two-bedroom apartment and will be moving into a two-story home, we will have to furnish the house over time -- not overnight. While I wish it was in our budget to just get it done in one fell swoop, it isn't a reality. I want the house to have character, without regretting the choice when we finally do have the chance to add pieces of furniture over time.
  • What tips would you give for deciding on colors? Did you paint a small section and look at it over the course of the day? True story: I have chosen the paint color for one room in my entire life. I failed miserably with a horribly dark caramel color in an already dark bedroom. It felt like I was living in a cave the entire year I lived there. I know paint can be easily changed, but I would rather not have to do much changing once we get in the house with a little one. 
While this post seems to prompt that I know what I'm doing here, I can only anticipate that your comments will be the backbone of this post. {I just ask way too many questions!} One thing is for certain: I can always count on my readers for the best advice. I sincerely appreciate your lifeline to sanity during this house-building process. You're the paint on my paintbrush -- in other words, absolutely essential to the final product. A big thank you in advance! xoxo {av}

P.S. Have any favorite grays or whites? Be sure to share them below! I want to round up a few fan favorites! Merci :)