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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