#goodnights, every night.

This month, {cv} and I faced the dreaded four month sleep regression headfirst. With the exception of what I will affectionately refer to as the "daycare cough", {jv} is slowly but surely getting the concept that he sleeps in his room and we sleep in our room. When The National Sleep Foundation approached me to do a #GoodNights Spring Cleaning Challenge, I didn't hesitate for a second. With as much as we have been focused on our little one's sleep, it was time to pay attention to our own. 

I never struggled with sleep before the 38th week of pregnancy. I'll admit I was one of those lucky "head hits the pillow" sleepers. When baby {v} arrived, my sleeping world was rocked -- and I don't mean in the glider in our nursery. When we made it out of the fog of the first six weeks, I started paying closer attention to {jv}'s sleep but neglected my own.

Thankfully, the National Sleep Foundation came to my rescue. If anyone knows sleep, it's them. I did a little research before we began our "spring cleaning" and I learned so much about the importance of a good night of sleep. I loved these design tips and worked to employ many of them in our space. It makes perfect sense, but clutter is a subtle sign of chaos. Making a few adjustments to your nightstand can be particularly impactful. (Pro parent tip: we added a basket below each of our nightstands to collect the miscellaneous baby items which end up in our room.)

In looking to improve my sleep, I found out that much of what we were doing to help {jv} learn to sleep through the night would also work for us. I also made a concerted effort to stop using my phone after a set time; if I needed to use it, I made sure the brightness of my screen was dim. After this challenge, I determined my bedtime should be roughly 45 minutes earlier than I had previously been hitting the hay. I am no longer half the night owl that I was. Let me tell you: those extra 45 minutes of sleep are crucial when you're a working mom (or anyone!).

SOURCESStacked Crystal Glass Lamp - Exotic Angel PlantPlanter - Candle (no longer available, but similar here) - Rope + Glass Ball - Wicker Basket - Marble Coaster (DIY -- see more info here) - Nightstand (no longer available via West Elm) - Headboard - Bed Linens (no longer available via Matouk)

As an added benefit in this challenge, I received a few eye-opening products from PureCare and Exotic Angel. These National Sleep Foundation partners provide thoughtful solutions for better sleep. Before the #GoodNights challenge, I never thought to swap out our mattress or pillow protectors. Adding a bit of aromatherapy created a calm environment to ease into a deep sleep.  I loved that the lavender scent wasn't too overpowering, as it sometimes can be. The eucalyptus scent also helped with my intense seasonal allergies. All in all, this simple switch made a big difference.

Unfortunately, we couldn't keep the gorgeous Exotic Angel plants out at night -- or else our deep sleep was interrupted by curious kitties. Even still, they brought a burst of life in our tranquil space when they did grace our nightstands.

coral + grey bedroom.

Decluttering our nightstands and keeping technology at bay wasn't the easiest, but it definitely paid dividends in our sleep. While I know they're not 100% accurate, my Jawbone UP24 band showed a vast improvement in the soundness of my sleep at the conclusion of this challenge. (I'll take it!) I don't want to give it all away, so be sure to check out my post with Sleep.org for the results of my #GoodNights challenge. Regardless of your life stage, sleep is the cornerstone of health and happiness. Our nights may not be perfect with a baby in the house, but we are making the most of the quiet hours we do get ;) If you're spring cleaning, don't forget that your nighttime routine might need a little dusting too. xoxo {av}

P.S. The whole "sleep when the baby sleeps" thing is bogus. Am I right?

This post was sponsored by the National Sleep Foundation. On occasion, I will partner with brands and organizations to bring fresh and relevant content to {long distance loving}. I chose to partner with the National Sleep Foundation because sleep is such a crucial part of the first year of parenthood. All opinions are my own.

patio style challenge -- revealed!

I am so excited to finally reveal the results of my Patio Style Challenge post with The Home Depot! Turning our empty deck into a backyard oasis was just what the doctor ordered after the brutal New England winter. {cv} and I hadn't invested much thought in our outdoor space. When The Home Depot offered me the chance to work on this project, I jumped on it! I spent a good deal of time at three of my local stores during this challenge. Their staff amazed me with their expertise and patience. Though the cold weather threw things off a bit (and subsequently killed my basil -- boo!), we were able to capture the patio on the one nice day in a very long string of rainy days. Here are a few teaser images from the day...

The "placemat" below is actually a marble tile cut to 12" x 14" by a friendly Home Depot employee. I added a few felt pads to keep the scratches to a minimum. These beauties won't blow away and they'll survive in any weather. I am just a little bit obsessed.

Since our home is in the Ocean State, we had to pay homage to its nautical roots. I created these rope coasters, which could be made in a number of sizes, to use under pots of plants on the deck and under hot plates on our patio set. They add an extra splash of color and definitely gave the space a nautical vibe! (If you want to make your own, you only need rope, a glue gun, some masking tape, a utility knife and a lighter. For all the details, check out my post for The Home Depot here.) 

I must give BIG props to my sweet friend, Bree Hester. She took the photos for this post and completely knocked it out of the park! Bree was an absolute lifesaver the day of the shoot -- I seriously couldn't have done it without her. Credit must also be given to my dear friend, Meredith, for whipping up my chicken scratch designs into those nautically inspired pillows. She is a rockstar. Last but certainly not least, I am so grateful to The Home Depot team for making this post possible. We cannot wait to share this space with our friends and family in the coming months. I hope you love it too. xoxo {av}

This post was made possible by the generous support of The Home Depot. They provided me with the patio set and a gift card to cover some other costs associated with this project. All opinions are my own. Many thanks for your support of brands that support long distance loving.

two quick beauty routines for new moms (or for anyone).

two quick beauty routines for new moms (or for anyone!)

Since {jv} came on the scene, time is in even shorter supply than I expected. I knew my routines would have to change, but I now have two paths to take when I put my face on in the mornings. I have a "bare minimum" routine, which can be enhanced with the "four-minute pick-me-up". {jv} watches my every move when I get ready in the mornings for work, so I have to keep it quick. If you're a fan of efficient makeup routines (whether you're a mom or not!), these are for you!

When it comes to makeup, my priorities are the length of wear and ease of use. Some of these products require a bit of an investment, but for me, it is an investment in myself (for once these days). If something can make me feel even the slightest bit more like a human, I jump at it ;) These routines may work for me, but I would love to hear what works for you too. Leave your favorite in the comments below -- even as a creature of habit, I'm all ears to what works for you. Enjoy your weekend!  xoxo {av}

P.S. I don't know about you, but when Sephora offers a sale, I act on it. As a creature of habit with my makeup and hair routine, I know what products I need at any given time. As long as you're a Sephora VIB, you'll get 15% off your order through April 21st using the code VIBLOVE. Don't say I didn't warm you ;) 

THE BARE MINIMUM: Though it looks way more complicated than it actually is, my bare minimum routine just gets me to a solid starting point -- and gives me enough confidence to face the world, even if I don't have the time I'd like to get ready.

-Clarins Multi-Active Day Early Wrinkle Correcting Lotion: It's a fact that makeup goes on much better when your skin is hydrated. I had to do some research to find a lotion compatible with my sensitive skin. With an SPF included, this lotion from Clarins is lightweight and easy to apply. It has a soft and pleasant scent, which didn't offend my sensitive nose while pregnant. I have this lotion on every day of the year.
-Make Up For Ever Full Cover Concealer: My bff introduced me to this concealer the year we graduated from college -- and it's been my go-to ever since. It doesn't require a special brush for application and it packs a serious punch for dark circles.
-Bobbi Brown Bronzing Powder + Bronzer Brush: I was leery about bronzer until a few years ago, when the winter pastiness really got the best of me. Since I do my best to stay out of the sun, I need a little color in some shape or fashion. This powder + brush combo is the best I've found; the color lasts for hours and doesn't look cakey. 
-Dior Diorshow Waterproof Mascara: This mascara has been a favorite since college. The waterproof mascara requires a bit more in the way of makeup removal at the end of the night, but it helps with the new mom hormones (aka spontaneous tears). 
-Bobbi Brown Long-Wear Cream Shadow: When time is of the essence, a couple of quick swipes of a light shade + a dark shade of this long-wear shadow will do the trick. 
-Aquaphor Healing Ointment: We have tubs of Aquaphor in nearly every room of our home. It works wonders on a number of baby ailments, but it also works as an incredible basic lip balm.

THE FOUR-MINUTE PICK-ME-UP: This routine includes the extra steps I add on days when {jv} may have fallen asleep after his morning feed while I'm getting ready for work  -- or is just being kind enough to let me have a few extra minutes ;)

-Benefit Cosmetics Erase Paste: If I need a little extra coverage after a long night, adding this concealer below my Make Up For Ever Full Cover Concealer makes a big difference. (Be sure to watch Sephora's video on application to prevent excess application.) 
-Dior Rosy Glow Healthy Glow Awakening Blush: Another bff shared this with me during a recent visit to Rhode Island. It is the newest piece of any of my makeup routines -- and I absolutely LOVE it. It is seriously a magic blush which creates the perfect amount of color for your cheeks.
-Bobbi Brown Bobbi's Browns Eye Palette: I created my own palette of Bobbi Brown hues, but this set contains similar tones to the ones I use on an every day basis. 
-Dior Diorshow Maximizer Lash Plumping Serum: This plumping serum works as a fantastic primer for my waterproof mascara. I use it to help keep my eyelashes from getting too brittle, which is a phenomenon I discovered in my late twenties.
-Nars Larger Than Life Long-Wear Eyeliner: When I have an extra minute to get ready, I love adding some eyeliner to help make my eyes pop. This eyeliner doesn't require a pencil sharpener, only a twist of the pen. 

-Clarins Eye Contour Gel: I've professed my love of this eye gel before, but I can share it again, can't I? It definitely softens dark circles and cools down your eyes before a long day begins.
-Neutrogena Make-up Remover Cleansing Towelettes: Actresses tout these wipes on TV, but I just wish they hired people who use these wipes day in and day out (like me!). I can't start or end my day without them.
-Dior Crème de Rose Smoothing Plumping Lip Balm: I mostly love this lip balm for its scent; the plumping feature is just a bonus. 

what I've learned from five years of marriage.

Alison and Chris from Kate Headley on Vimeo.

Today, {cv} and I are celebrating our fifth wedding anniversary! It feels like yesterday, but at the same time, it feels like a lifetime ago because we have packed so many wonderful things in those years. I share our wedding video every year, mostly because I still love it as much as the day I saw it for the first time. (We are forever indebted to my dear friend, Kate Headley, for capturing this day on film and video. She posted a great #tbt yesterday -- we look like teenagers!) Here are a few things I wish I could tell my 24 year old self walking down the aisle...

1) Always (and I mean always) prioritize each other. {cv} and I started dating nearly ten years ago. In that decade, we have experienced the highest of highs and the lowest of lows together. {cv} is, far and away, my best friend. Maintaining a friendship requires time and effort. It seems like a no-brainer, but the same should apply to a marriage. While it is easy to get caught in the minutiae of everyday life, we try to take a few minutes to block out the craziness and focus on each other. (We also have embraced care.com -- because going out to dinner was one of our favorite activities before we had {jv}. Finding a few sitters we trust has made all the difference.)

2) Learn to compromise, even when you really don't want to compromise. When you've built a house together, I have an even greater appreciation for this tenet of marriage. I don't believe compromise means submission to your spouse. I believe wholeheartedly that it is taking into account what matters to your partner and putting their needs above your own. When I embraced this perspective, compromise became a much easier pill to swallow.

3) Don't sweat the little things. A marriage is the sum of its parts; don't let life's minor annoyances tally up to create a big issue. I used to hate how {cv} left his shoes under the coffee table every day -- without fail. Now, I look at it a different way: seeing those shoes under the table means he's home and he's not traveling for work. Nagging about the shoes day in and day out is just wasted breath. In my opinion, this isn't an avoidance of the issues. Rather, it is an acceptance that nobody's perfect and you're better off spending your time on things that matter.

4) Stop keeping score. Taking the scorecard out of marriage makes your life together way more fun and so much less cumbersome. Sometimes, life's load falls more heavily on one spouse than another. When I was 39 weeks pregnant, I couldn't pick up the dry cleaning. When I went back to work last month, I was (strangely) excited to be able to do something as simple as that pick-up because it lessened {cv}'s to-do list. 

5) Always be kind. Without sounding too morbid, the best thing I can say is that you don't want to live life with regrets. Five weeks after {jv} was born, one of {cv}'s tires gave out while he was going 70mph on the interstate. Though he walked away without a scratch, every part of me couldn't believe that our life almost changed in an instant. I would have never forgiven myself if I had been less than kind when we'd last spoken that day. Rather than live in fear, we simply keep kindness and love front and center. 

I temper this entire post with this fact: our marriage is far from perfect. I will never qualify as a marriage counselor. We have our scuffles like the best of them. (Many of them admittedly begin when I haven't eaten -- hangriness makes me an unpleasant person.) I share these five things because they have made our days together infinitely better. Our years of long distance forced us to be great communicators. While we didn't love those years apart, we learned so much about each other. There is still a thrill in waking up next to him -- even with those heavy, tired eyes of parenthood -- because we didn't always have that luxury. I am so lucky to have a lifetime of those mornings ahead of me. 

Thank you for the forum for this mushy post -- I hope Kate's video brings you a smile. 
Happy anniversary, {cv}! xoxo {av}

psst: if you're in the mood for more wedding photos, you can see more on: Martha Stewart Weddings + Southern Living!