A Different Story

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I was hanging out at a local coffee shop junior year of high school.

I went for a run last week for the first time in years. In high school, I used to go for runs to escape from my thoughts for a little while because when you’re working out, sweating, and focusing on your body, you can quiet your emotions. I walked by so many little kids heading back to school after what has been the hardest year any of us have ever experienced from Covid-19 and our new normal to the economy changing in front of our eyes. I cannot imagine having a school-age child right now and sending them back to school, hoping they’ll keep their mask on, wash their hands, and sanitize. It’s hard to picture little kids wearing masks and immersing themselves in the school experience way differently than I did when I was a little girl. I never saw a world that looked like the one we currently live in. I applaud all moms and dads who are working so hard to keep their kids sane, healthy, and happy during a difficult time. My baby boy is still way too young to even understand what this year has consisted of, which I’m honestly happy about.

As children and young adults head back to school in different forms this month I wanted to take a moment to walk down memory lane and provide my young readers with advice from a woman whose been there. I remember every beautiful and every heartbreaking moment of high school…it wasn’t the happiest of times for me. Although, I did meet one of my closest friends the summer before entering into freshman year and my other good friend I met freshman year. It’s crazy how long we’ve known each other and they literally watched me grow up, which is something you can’t replace. I still remember my first love, my first crazy, sleepless night, and my first wild party like it was yesterday. I can still smell the perfume I wore every day to school, hear the songs that were on my Spotify playlists (so much Lana Del Rey), and taste my drink of choice when I went out with my friends on a Friday night. I did so much growing up and although it wasn’t always pretty, it was reality.

I learned, grew, and changed a lot during my high school years. I don’t relate to the girl I once was, but I love her. I love that she got me to where I am today. I love how fierce, passionate, and emotional she was, always. For those who don’t know, I was raped just after finishing my sophomore year of high school which catapulted me into a darkness so dense I never thought I’d feel sunshine again. I was no longer naive and I was forced to grow up in that moment, knowing that it was the only way to survive and move forward. I had to figure out how to not only love again, but also how to have sex again without having a panic attack. It was a long, painful journey. I remember lying beneath my first love and crying as soon as he touched me. He looked at me with this doe-eyed, worried gaze and I then had to tell him what had happened to me months before, which I was dreading. I had to explain to him that I wasn’t the same girl I was when we met freshman year and that I was barely holding it together. I was struggling with existing and there’s nothing scarier than that. When I say I’ve been there, I’ve been to the darkest places. I’ve also been to the most beautiful and I appreciate every page of my story because it’s made me who I am today.

I emerged from the darkness a stronger, better version of myself and I want to be that strength for others. I want to continue to remind young people that you have no idea how insanely strong you are. You’re amazing and can get through anything life throws at you. No matter how many rainy days you’ve made it through the sunshine is just around the corner. One of my favorite TV shows of all time is Gossip Girl, which I watched religiously in high school. I cried when the finale aired and I have always connected with the show because of my personal connection to New York City. I’ve sat on the Metropolitan Museum steps where Blair Waldorf and her band of followers ate their yogurt, I shopped at Saks and Barney’s where the Upper East Side princesses bought their wardrobes, and I’ve sipped martinis at famous Upper East Side restaurants, just like Blair and Serena. I watched Gossip Girl today and thought about my high school self…sometimes I miss her. Sometimes I wish I could talk to her and tell her that the most gorgeous chapter of her story is waiting for her just around the bend. I wish I could tell her that she will be an amazing mom and that becoming a parent will change her life. I wish I knew then what I know now.

Life is short and it’s beautiful. Your strength will sometimes be the only one by your side, but it’s a light that will never burn out. When you’re little you look for your shadow as you’re walking down the road, but instead of looking for your shadow, look for your strength. It’s always there. Don’t worry about what others think about you, or what they say, because there’s literally nothing you can do to control that. What you can control is who you surround yourself with and how you let others affect you. Be you. Be unapologetically yourself and never regret your decisions, even the bad ones because in the moment it was exactly what you wanted. Let your walls down and wear your heart on your sleeve. Your heart will get broken regardless of what you do to protect it, but hearts are wild creatures…our ribs are cages for a reason. Hearts are fierce and will always recover from heartache. Learn from the tears and the pain but don’t run away from it. You need to feel all of the emotions to grow and move forward. Don’t be afraid of your emotions. Every feeling is natural and demands to be felt. Hang on tightly to the people who make you feel loved, alive, and happy. They’re the good ones.

Live wildly and without boundaries. Listen more than you speak…you’ll learn so much about life and other people if you open your heart, eyes, and ears. The most inspiring conversations you’ll ever have will probably be with strangers, and that’s okay. Even strangers are put in our path for a reason. Never judge a person. You have no idea what keeps them up at night, or what they’ve been through. It doesn’t matter how much money a person has…money doesn’t buy happiness. Money doesn’t buy true love, laughter, or inspiration. Be the kind one. Be the sweet one. Be the compassionate one. We need more people like that. Hold the door open for others, ask about everyone’s day, and smile. Let your smile fill the room with warmth and positivity, even on the darkest of days. Instead of waiting for the storm to pass, enjoy the peacefulness of the rain. Dance and laugh more often. When you’re doing the laundry, cleaning, or getting ready for your day put on your favorite song and sing along. Soak in your favorite lyrics and let them inspire you. Go for a drive and roll the windows down on a cool, fall day. Watch the leaves change color in autumn, decorate for the holidays, and light some pretty candles. Read good books, eat good food, and enjoy a strong drink. Find time for you and workout, meditate, and unwind. No matter how tired you are, go for a run, a walk, or do a quick workout routine at home. It’s never fun to exercise, or easy but it’s so good for you. Be thankful for every breath you take and never take a day for granted. Be thankful that you can walk, run, and workout. Appreciate your body. After I became a mom I learned how incredible and strong my body is.

No matter how low you’re feeling, this too shall pass. The pain is real, but so is the light. There’s light in every single day…you just have to find it. Sometimes, it’s the little things that are everything. You’re here for a reason. There are only so many tomorrows. So, say “I love you” more, kiss with passion, and laugh loudly. Get a cup of your favorite coffee in the morning and sit in a pretty spot while you drink it, inhaling the entire moment. Watch the trees on a windy day and feel the sun on your skin on warm, summer walks. Moisturize your skin as much as you can, wear sunscreen, and take vitamins. Eat colorful, healthy food, but treat yourself to pizza and French fries sometimes, too. When opportunities come your way, say yes. Get drinks with good people, stay up late some nights just to sit under the stars, and open up to those who love you about your goals, fears, and passions. Live your life with passion and purpose and never give up. This is your story. Write the sentences you wish to read.

Here I am next to the love of my life, my best friend, my husband. I am the happiest I’ve ever been and I’m thankful for every chapter of my story. Soak in my advice from this blog entry, but also make your own mistakes…they’re learning experiences in the end.

XoXo 😘

Coming Home

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lifestyle

Hey y’all, whose ready for fall? ♥️

I started decorating for fall yesterday and I’m absolutely obsessed with my fall finds this year. I still have an entire storage container of fall decor to bring down from the attic this weekend (meaning my husband needs to get the storage container down from the attic 😉). I’ve been collecting pretty fall decor for years and I find it therapeutic decorating for each season. Interior design is a strong passion of mine and I’ve always had an eye for details. Fall is a season filled with adventure and new beginnings. After the emotional year we’ve had it’s nice to cozy up to fall throw pillows and blankets and to pick some pumpkins. It’s nice to focus our attention on something positive and simplistic. I NEVER drink coffee and I actually am not supposed to; I was born with a stomach ulcer and it went undiagnosed until I was twelve years old. I lived with stomach pain and issues for years before feeling relief, which has made it hard for me to drink coffee (caffeine makes me sick). But, the other day I just needed a little pumpkin spice in my life. As soon as I drank an iced pumpkin spice latte I knew fall had started for me, regardless of Labor Day still being days away. For anyone wondering, you can start celebrating fall and decorating for the season whenever you’d like. There’s no rulebook, but I usually don’t decorate until Labor Day (this year I just couldn’t wait).

When I worked in fashion retail my favorite aspect was changing mannequins and designing displays. I’d spend so much time on every little detail and I’d feel proud after creating magical moments through design and styling. I believe that your home tells your story and through your story memories are made. To some, an accent chair is just a chair, but to others (people like me) a chair is where your toddler first learned to climb, or the place you sat down to try on your favorite pair of shoes. Every piece of decor and furniture in your space holds memories…good and bad. A store is made to look beautiful to sell you a vibe and a lifestyle, but your home is made to look beautiful to create a vibe and a lifestyle. Who are you? What does your style say about you? I’m a farmhouse kind of gal but I also love luxury pieces, which is a really cool, beautiful combination. At the end of the day I like to be cozy with a glass of wine and feel happy and at peace in my space. Even when I decorate for fall and the holidays my decor reflects who I am and goes with my home’s personality. I have only just begun my fall decorating, but it’s beginning to smell like pumpkins and crisp leaves in my home. I’m hoping to have Andrew bring the rest of my fall decor down from the attic tomorrow, which will fill my weekend with designing and styling. Here’s a little sneak peek at my fall decor and I promise there will be so much more to come…✨

The adorable fall throw pillows are from Michaels 🎃
Home is where your pumpkins are 🧡 The Sherpa throw blanket is from Target.
The scarecrow is from Michaels 🍂
I bought my little bowl of pumpkins on Amazon and they’re such a cute accent on my kitchen counter.

Where do I shop for fall decor?

  • Michaels
  • Marshall’s
  • Target
  • Amazon
  • T.J. Maxx

Whether you’re beginning to decorate for fall now or you’re waiting, I hope everyone falls in love with pretty decor and beautiful moments. Remember what’s truly important and what makes you happiest as you sip your pumpkin spice latte and shop online for cozy decor.

A letter to Long Beach Island

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lifestyle

Photography by Lizzie Mognoni 

Thank you for everything, LBI; the views, salty air, warm days, and perfect memories. I grew up in Barnegat…fifteen minutes from the causeway. I was a beach baby, spending countless days on the beach. I’m thankful for my connection to such an incredible place and for all of the moments I’ve spent on the island from weeklong vacations to day trips. 

I love the days I spend at Barnegat light and watching the waves crash in Holgate. I live for the sunshine in Surf City, as I’m listening to the sounds of the ocean. I crave those long walks on the beach and shopping at Five 0 Six Boutique…every moment spent on LBI becomes a part of me. I’ve done a lot of growing up on the island, and there’s something about being near the water that heals old wounds. I always go home missing my ocean view, but I also feel renewed. Life is about finding happiness and chasing moments and in LBI every moment feels special. We all have that place that makes us feel alive and reminds us of what’s truly important. Some crave the hustle and bustle of the city and others desire to be out in the country, surrounded by fields and blue skies.

I love driving over the causeway, rolling my windows down, and smelling the salty air. I swear that salty air and sand beneath your toes heals physical and emotional wounds. Even after a restorative day trip to LBI I feel healed and peaceful. My favorite time of the year to spend on the island is actually fall and winter. I love the island off season and I adore walking on the beach cuddled in a sweater and jeans. The ocean is so beautiful when it’s cold. There’s something magical about walking on the sand during the colder months. After a big snowstorm years ago, I drove out to LBI and walked on the beach in my Uggs, jeans, and a fluffy jacket. There was snow everywhere and the dunes were touched with white, glistening powder. It was breathtaking. When I leave the beach I take a little bit of the environment with me and I feel inspired.

I married my best friend in Surf City, surrounded by the ocean and listening to the sound of waves crashing against the shore. We rented an oceanfront beach house for the weekend and the bridal party stayed in the house with us. It’s one of those massive, coastal themed, cedar shake homes right on the dunes and water. We had the master suite, of course, that had the best view of the water and the beach. I woke up to a perfect, oceanfront sunrise and we got ready the morning of the wedding looking out at the beach. Our first look was on top of the beach entrance, encompassed by the dunes, and looking out at the ocean. The ceremony was simplistic and intimate inside the home, in their huge living room with vaulted ceilings and beach accents. It was a beyond beautiful day and weekend. After our wedding and the reception, (the reception was at Daddy O Restaurant & Hotel) I ran on the beach in my wedding gown and laughed with my close friends. We went for drive-in food at Woody’s (a famous, surfer restaurant) with our bridal party, late that day and walked there and back, soaking up the LBI experience. The wedding was very us and truly memorable.

The following day was Mother’s Day, which we celebrated oceanfront eating breakfast and having mimosas with my family and my man of honor. We got a beach storm on Mother’s Day, which is always beautiful to watch from the comfort of your beach house. LBI will always be a part of one of the most important days of my life, the day I said I do to my soulmate.

I always have fun shopping on the island, but I’m head over heels for my new clothes that I just bought at my favorite boutique. Five 0 Six Boutique is my favorite store in general, but it’s also my favorite shopping destination in LBI. It’s located in Surf City, New Jersey and filled with gorgeous clothing. The quality can’t be argued and the environment is fun, beachy, and inspiring. They carry my favorite brand of jeans, that I could literally live in, especially in the fall and winter. Just Black Denim makes comfortable, pretty, good quality jeans and the different styles allow every woman to find their perfect match. They’re pricey but completely worth it! Any girl whose ever bought a really good pair of jeans knows that you need to spend a little money in order to find the perfect pants. The company is a contemporary, American made jean brand and they pride themselves on the value. Every woman should have that store that feels like them and that instantly brightens their day. For me, that store is Five 0 Six. They’re open until January, which means even off-season I will be driving to LBI for retail therapy 😉

I also want to share my favorite coffee house in LBI with all of my readers, because I love to support local businesses, and there’s nothing better than grabbing a cup of coffee with someone and going for a walk. Coastal Coffee (the Beach Haven & Surf City locations) has the absolute best coffee, little treats/snacks, and my personal favorite…an Iced Chai Latte. They have an Apple Cider Chai Latte that tastes like fall in a cup! I love grabbing a latte and walking down the street to the bay. I instantly feel zen and enlightened. After chatting with the sales associate at the Surf City location the other day, I was told the Beach Haven Coastal Coffee location is open year-round. I hope that remains the case because I will be visiting that location in the fall and winter!

For anyone traveling to Long Beach Island, New Jersey for a summer vacation I am here for you for all of your shopping and dining recommendations. I know the best spots for sunsets and for sunrises, where to take your significant other for date night, and the best ice cream shops. I’ve immersed myself in the island lifestyle and the township and that makes my connection with the shore town very strong.

Thank you for the endless sunsets, the sunrises that brought new beginnings, and delicious food. Thank you for being a part of my childhood and for watching me grow up, become a wife, and a mom. Thank you for being there for me on my wedding day with pretty views, salty breezes, and for making our wedding photos perfect. Thank you Long Beach Island, for everything. I love you.

Xo

End of Summer Vibes

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lifestyle

Hey loves! I’m sorry for disappearing from my blog this summer, but I’ve been incredibly busy and creative. I wanted to take some time to share my summer adventures and experiences with everyone before posting my other entries. I hope all of my amazing readers and followers have been staying sane, safe, and healthy this summer despite the new normal we’ve found ourselves living. For anyone whose heading back to school in the fall, I wish you the absolute best as we navigate a different kind of environment. Remember, taking care of your mind and body and staying healthy is more important than anything else. It’s been a weird, uncomfortable year, but I actually had a beautiful, inspiring summer. I am the happiest I’ve been all year and I’m so excited for fall. I’ve been soaking in every second of the season and making the most out of our changed world.

I started ballroom dancing again and I’m currently choreographing three dances for an upcoming showcase in September, with my dance partner/instructor. It feels so good to be back on the dance floor. I’ve always said that true dancers don’t dance because they want to, they dance because they need to. It’s a feeling like no other, creating gorgeous movement to your favorite music and sparkling in pretty dance shoes. I’ve been ballroom dancing since 2017 and although I danced since I was a little girl (Ballet, Hip Hop, & Jazz), I’ve learned so much more about myself from diving into ballroom. It takes a lot of patience, hard work, and passion to grow on the dance floor and I’m proud of myself for following my heart. I’ve been at the studio at least two days a week, putting together my showcase look, and memorizing steps and timing. I took a break from writing as I immersed myself in the dance world once again. Sometimes, it’s important to quiet other creative projects to focus your energy on one artistic venture.

I just back from an oceanfront vacation in my favorite place, Long Beach Island. I grew up around the corner from LBI, spent weekends sitting in the sand as a baby and a toddler, and when I first got my license, I drove to LBI every week to escape from reality. I married my best friend last year, surrounded by the ocean and salty air, in Surf City and I still drive to LBI any day I need a little extra peace and quiet. It’s truly my home away from home. I’ll be posting a special blog post dedicated to LBI, which will allow my readers to explore my favorite shopping and dining destinations in the beautiful New Jersey beach town. I went on a shopping spree during my vacation and I bought really beautiful, beachy pieces that will transition into the fall months. It felt so good to shop at my favorite boutiques and stores the way I did prior to the pandemic. It’s also nice to shop in an inspirational environment, such as the beach. There’s nothing better than retail therapy! I love carrying bags of clothes out of a store and knowing I bought pieces that I love.

I went back for a day trip to LBI the other day with one of my best friends to do a little shopping, get coffee at my favorite coffee house, and walk on the beach. It was raining when we walked down to the bay, but absolutely beautiful. By the time we walked back towards the beach a rainbow shone brightly over the water. It was one of those perfect, peaceful days. I am constantly spending days in LBI because I only live about forty minutes away, which is really nice. It’s always good for the soul to take day trips and adventures…breathing elsewhere for a little while can clear your head. My favorite time of the year to walk on the beach is actually in the winter…it’s a different type of beautiful. I’ve spent a lot of time with my two best friends, Gabby and Danny this summer, as much as we could and that definitely made up for the lack of socialization during the quarantine.

I spent the quarantine with my husband and son, staying as safe and healthy as possible and being super creative. I distracted myself with home projects, writing, and other hobbies. We really have come so far since then, regardless of how some may feel. Simply being able to see your best friends, whether you’re enjoying outdoor dining, or you’re spending time in the comfort of your own home, is everything. We need moments with close friends and family to stay sane and happy. It’s the way we are wired as humans. I feel proud to surround myself with such beautiful people and to know that they’re always there for me, even during the darkest times means so much.

Besides dancing, shopping, and pretty trips I’m loving my busy days as a mama to a lively, sweet, smart almost two year old. Greyson turns two in December and we’re already planning an intimate birthday for him. With the Coronavirus controlling a lot of events and planning still, we’ve decided on an intimate second birthday for our boy. He’s literally my entire heart and soul and every day spent with him is magical. I love watching him grow, learn, and laugh. His smile lights up my days and his cuddles remind me of what is truly important. I love you so much Greyson, Xo.

I’m also fully ready for the fall season from decor to fashion. I start decorating for fall Labor Day weekend and it’s so much fun. This mama doesn’t waste any time transitioning into fall days. I take decorating very seriously and it’s one of my favorite things to do. I light some fall scented candles, listen to a good playlist, and I unpack all of the decor. I can’t wait for cozy sweaters, hot chai tea lattes, and football. It’s been a really inspirational summer for me despite the chaos around me, but I’m completely ready for a new season and new moments. I hope everyone is finding beauty in each day and that with the summer coming to a close, new chapters are on the way.

Stay tuned for my upcoming posts such as Coming Home & The Greyson Diaries

What’s in my Beach Bag?

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lifestyle

Whether you’re a busy mama like me, or you’re just a gal heading to the beach to catch some waves and soak up the sunshine, your beach bag is essential. After becoming a mama to a fun, crazy, incredible little boy my beach bag has changed immensely. I’ve been to the beach every weekend since summer began this year, and I always pack my beach bag hours before to ensure that I don’t forget anything. I’m here to help you pack for your next beach day! What’s in my beach bag?

  • Sunscreen for myself and Greyson (I bring sunscreen with me, but I apply it to myself and Greyson before we head to the beach to save some time)
  • Bug spray
  • Healthy snack 🍇
  • Water (you can always bring a small cooler for all of your food/drinks)
  • An insulated baby bottle tote that fits food and a bottle for Greyson (I usually pack a PB&J sandwich, a snack, and a drink for him)
  • Baby wipes
  • Diapers & swim diapers
  • Two extra outfits for Greyson (always be prepared)
  • Sunglasses (I usually bring one of my Ray-Bans to the beach) 😎
  • Hair ties
  • Trader Joe’s Rose Water Facial Toner (refreshing after laying in the sun) ☀️
  • My wallet & cash 💵
  • A book (always bring a book, or a magazine with you…everywhere) 📖
  • Perfume
  • Spray deodorant
  • Hat (a beach hat, or a baseball cap)
  • A cute cover up, or a comfy lounge shirt

There are also beach essentials that don’t fit in my beach bag, but that I always bring with me! What are my other beach essentials?

  • Towels
  • Tanning mat
  • Beach toys for Greyson
  • Cooler (optional)

This has been a very weird, trying year for everyone and I truly believe that the beach can cure all wounds. Take a day trip, or rent a beach house for a week and escape from your daily routine for a little while. You deserve it.

Xo

Coming Home

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lifestyle

The Ultimate Staycation

2020 has not been what any of us envisioned as we watched the ball drop on New Year’s Eve, ready for resolutions and adventures. We had a vacation planned for May to celebrate our one year anniversary, which we cancelled due to the pandemic, and I had a New York City trip planned with a girlfriend that we put on hold for the time being. We missed seeing my brother and family in the city for Passover and Easter, which made me sad. Although I’ve been making up for the lost time and going to the beach, shopping in my favorite boutiques, and enjoying the outdoor dining experience, I’ve been living the staycation lifestyle for months and I can’t complain. Whether you’re taking it easy, cautiously moving forward post-pandemic, or tight on money after a weird, stressful few months, going on a vacation might not be an option. That’s okay! Don’t let jetsetters on social media make you feel envious. You can have a wonderful summer at home. Here’s my guide to the ultimate staycation…

  • Go to the bookstore, or online, pick out a book that interests you and create a cozy reading area in your home, or outside.
  • Have a barbeque with summer drinks, good food, and music.
  • Do a wine tasting at home with your significant other or friends with a few bottles of wine, cheese, fruit, and crackers.
  • Set up your bedroom for a personal yoga class. All you need are candles, leggings, and a yoga mat (Amazon). Download a yoga app on your iPad and get your zen on.
  • Go to a local farmers market and shop colorful produce, baked goods, and plants.
  • Have a spa day at home and take some time for yourself. Buy some flower petals, lotions, facial masks, scented candles, and make a playlist.
  • Pick a DIY project and have fun creating and crafting something beautiful.
  • Have a movie night with popcorn, candy, and wine. Make it a film festival vibe!
  • Campout in your backyard or near your home, tell scary stories and watch a movie.
  • Have a cultural day at home by picking a theme, such as Greek day. Dress for the part, make something Greek themed for dinner, and decorate your home for the occasion.
  • Go for lots of walks around your neighborhood, discover local parks, and make it interesting for yourself and kids. Tell your kids that on your walk they need to discover different types of plants, birds, or bugs. Make it a learning experience and record everything new you’ve discovered.
  • Enjoy a Disney-themed staycation with Disney music, Disney movies, Disney decor and decorations, and even wear a pair of Minnie ears around the house. This is perfect for a weekend at home with your kids. Make some Disney-themed foods and hide hidden Disney toys around the house for your kids to find.
  • Have a Christmas marathon in the summer, because it’s never too hot or too early to drink egg-nog and watch Hallmark movies, right?
  • Game night is always a good idea! Buy some of your favorite board games and DIY some new, different games and have fun with wine, games, and appetizers.
  • If you have a pickup truck, or can borrow someone’s truck fill the bed with pillows and blankets and lay out under the stars.
  • If you want to have a romantic night at home with your lover, pick a place you both want to visit and transform your bedroom into that place by candles (specific scents), food, and wine (unique to that country or state), and decor.
  • Have a bed and breakfast themed morning in bed with your significant other and, or your kids. Watch a good movie and eat waffles, eggs, and drink some flavored coffee.

The Greyson Diaries

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motherhood

Creating a Comfortable World For Your Child

There are questions parents ask themselves, every day. “Should my son like the color pink more than blue?” “Is it okay for my daughter to want to play football rather than dance?” “Are toy guns dangerous or simply apart of pretend play?” “Should my child eat meat if I don’t?” There’s no rulebook to being a parent and at the end of the day we know our children better than anyone, but our children are also their own people. Even at a very young age, they have their own opinions, thoughts, and ideas. Sometimes, Greyson is my absolute twin and other times he’s a totally unique, independent kid. I was always incredibly girly, obsessed with fashion, dolls, and glitter, but I was also in love with sports, nature, and animals. I spent hours on end playing in the dirt with my dogs, riding my horses bare back, and crawling through bushes and climbing trees. I wasn’t one, single descriptive word. Your son can love the color pink and also play football better than anyone. Your daughter can play with cars and love sports but hate dance and dolls. You can choose to keep toy guns and video games out of your home, but you can also introduce them in simple, innocent ways, if you choose. Unfortunately, we can’t shelter our children from everything and they deserve to learn and grow, despite the weird, crazy world we live in.

I believe there’s nothing wrong with little kids playing with toy guns, swords, and light sabers, fighting off monsters, zombies, and bad guys. I think pretend play is so important and we’ve all been doing it since the beginning of time. But, I think it’s also so important for your child to understand that if they ever see a real gun, to stay away from it, and to tell a parent or an adult. It’s crucial for them to understand that weapons kill people, innocent people, children included, and that they don’t just exist in pretend play situations. Especially with all of the violence surrounding us, children need to know right from wrong, peace from war, fear from strength, and love from hate. They need to know how to be kind, inspirational, and creative. Spend more time raising a strong, independent, happy child than worrying about whether or not your son wears a lot of pink. They will discover who they are as they wonder, grow, and learn, but it’s our job to provide them with a comfortable, loving environment. It’s our job to allow them to be who they truly are. If we don’t believe in them, who will? It’s a big, scary world and home should always be a safe place. I’ve already taught Greyson so much and although he’s only eighteen months old and has a mind of his own, I know that the lessons that Andrew and I teach him will make a real difference in his life. The love that we show him every single day will impact him in beautiful ways.

Beyond teaching Greyson to always say “I love you”, to be kind and polite to others, and to brush his teeth at least twice a day, I also teach him the fun, sparkly life lessons. I teach him to never stop believing in magic, to never be too old to search the skies on Christmas Eve, to never be too old to play with toys, and to be unapologetically himself in a world filled with people pretending to be something they’re not. You can ask yourself those questions every day, but the answer is up to your child. You might not always like the same things as your children and that’s okay. You might’ve loved baseball as a child, but your child may love bugs and books about different bugs. I see so much of myself and Andrew in Greyson, but he’s so unique and special. I love that even at eighteen months my son has his own mind, spirit, and interests. I know without a doubt that I’ve created a comfortable world for him to grow up in.

We live in a world where even little kids are judged for who they are and that’s the saddest thing I’ve come to learn as an adult. It may be a bitter pill to swallow, but you don’t tell your child who they are, they tell you and the world. I’ve heard dads say that they’d never allow their son to play with dolls, or to push a baby stroller because that isn’t manly…well, my husband is one of the strongest men I’ve ever met and he pushed Greyson in a stroller everywhere we went, he also carried my diaper bag for me, and would never tell our son who to be. Why shouldn’t a little boy learn at a young age that taking care of someone else is significant? I read a beautiful article the other day in a parenting magazine where a dad explains that he, just like my husband pushes his baby girl in a stroller every single day and is a burly, thirty-year old man. He supports boys playing with dolls, girls learning to play sports with the boys, and children exploring who they are. It made me feel better reading that there are real men out there, like my husband, in this scary world that are supportive of their children and who they are. Boys playing with dolls is just a simple example for a much larger, deeper topic, but the point is let your child be whoever they want to be. There will be plenty of obstacles in their way as they grow up. Don’t be one of them.

I’ve heard moms say that they’d never let their daughters play basketball or football because they should be dancing or singing. Well, tell that to all of the women who’ve fought so hard for their place in sports, at The Olympics, and in the world today. I don’t think you’d appreciate being told who to be and your daughters deserve the right to be whoever they choose and to explore their passions. Creating a comfortable world for your children starts at home, from the day they come home from the hospital. There’s nothing wrong with showing our children what we love, but it’s so important to show interest in what they love, too.

To all of the mamas and daddy’s out there doing their absolute best in a world filled with hate and chaos, you matter so much. Raising our children to be kind, honest, passionate individuals is the most valuable job in the world. I’m so proud to be a mama and to be doing what I love every single day.

The Greyson Diaries

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motherhood

Bless This Mess

Parents know better than anyone that some weeks don’t go as planned and others play out perfectly. The past week has been filled with issues, chaos, and unexpected surprises. It’s been such a drama-filled week that I feel the need to share all of the details with you. If you’re having a long, rough week you’re not alone! Hang in there. Every day, good and bad, brings new lessons and growth.

Friday was a normal, mama and Greyson day and we went for a walk, watched a movie, and I did my usual household tasks. I cleaned, did some laundry, made a list of home projects to tackle over the weekend, and did creative work for my blog. Andrew came home late that night and we were both exhausted by the end of the day. We’ve been bottle feeding our baby cow, Oliver, and fitting interesting responsibilities into our schedule. Bottle fed baby animals are a huge responsibility for anyone whose never had the pleasure of taking care of a sheep, goat, cow, etc. that needs motherly care until they’re old enough to eat grain and hay. It’s incredibly rewarding and you will create a true connection with the baby animal, but it’s tiring. We’ve always had unique responsibilities and fun projects happening at home, but this week took on a life of its own.

Saturday we woke up ready to tackle my list of home projects and sadly, the weather interfered. This has been the weirdest year of weather from the temperature to the tornado-force winds we’ve experienced over the past couple of months. Sunday was a new, bright day and we were determined to complete the home projects with little to no issues and have a good day as a family. Greyson is such a happy boy and has always been easygoing in all types of situations, but for some reason this weekend he was in one of those moods. We all know the mood I’m talking about…the mood that makes us question everything, want to cry (just like them), and makes the child pass out, completely exhausted from their own emotions. I’m a positive person and I always see the light, but this weekend kept testing me. Finally, I felt lighter and relaxed. Andrew needed my help holding a piece of trim while he nailed it to the wall. I stopped one of my creative projects (The Doll Diaries) and went to help him.

I was holding the trim for him, which I’ve done many times before. I’m married to a very talented man whose skills range from construction to farming and we’ve done so many projects together, small and enormous. I always help him and we’re a good team. I heard a strange noise echo from the nail gun and then I felt an intense pressure in my finger. I looked down and realized a three-inch, relatively thick nail shot straight through my finger, luckily missing the bone and my fingernail. I turned white as a ghost and screamed a scream that scared my husband half to death. I looked like a child, thinking the world was coming to an end. Andrew looked at me and I burst into tears, finally feeling the extraordinary pain from the nail. The nail gun had misfired and it was such a freak accident. We don’t even know how my finger was in the way or what really happened, but the end result was a nail through my finger. Andrew told me to look away and he pulled the nail, in the blink of an eye, out of my finger. I screamed again, in complete shock. My finger was black, blue, and bright red and I kept looking down at the two, giant holes in my finger and felt as though I was going to pass out.

Andrew is incredible in situations like that and he took care of my finger, disinfected the wound, wrapped my finger, and reassured me that although it’s going to be very painful for a few days, it’s going to be okay. He felt awful, because he nailed a finger through his wife’s finger, despite it being a total accident. I tried to continue with our day and push through the pain, taking painkillers and being as careful as possible, but even changing Greyson’s diaper was tough. Andrew managed to finish every home project that day alone and I tried to stop replaying what happened in my head over and over again. At the end of the day, I laughed and looked over at my husband. I said to him, “Babe, I thought my finger would have to be amputated.” He fell over laughing and said, “Baby…you’re a trooper and I’ll never forget the look on your face when you held your little finger up to me with the nail sticking out of it. You lost your tan for a minute…you were so white.” It was a very eventful day.

Memorial Day was beautiful and the weather was perfect. I was in a lot of pain and my finger had swelled up; my finger looked even worse than it did when it initially happened. On our way home from Shoprite, ready to barbecue, drink, and relax, we smelled a horrible, burning rubber smell. We pulled up to our house and sat in the truck for a moment, confused as to what we were smelling. I looked out the window and the back end of his truck was smoking. Smoke poured out and the smell became worse. It’s also important to note that it’s a work truck and Andrew had just finished installing a new front bumper, grill, and he put about $2,000.00 worth of work into the truck a couple of weeks before. I grabbed Greyson and rushed out of the truck, panicked. Andrew hosed down the back end and sparks, smoke, and a white, smelly haze came off of his back brakes. His brakes literally caught on fire. This event delayed the entire barbecue and evening. I ran inside and poured an extra-large glass of wine for myself and sat with Greyson on our deck, finally taking a deep breath after the weirdest, craziest weekend we had experienced in a very long time.

Yesterday I drove Andrew to work and picked him up since his truck is at the mechanic and it was a busy, but normal day. Greyson and I wound up waiting for Andrew at the end of the day for an hour and we drove around, discovering a beautiful park near his work that we didn’t know existed. Greyson and I walked around, relaxed, and soaked up the sun while we waited for Andrew to be done for the day. He had a long, complicated roofing job far from the office. The day came to a close and we both fell asleep happy and relaxed. This morning I drove him to work again and on the way home I realized my tire pressure was dropping rapidly in my one tire. It was seven in the morning and I was barely awake. I was so excited to get home and cuddle with Greyson.

Anyone who knows me knows that my truck, Luna (a 2019 Toyota Tacoma TRD Off Road) is my baby and I’m so careful with her. I always make sure she’s clean, detailed, and that everything is in perfect condition. I arrived at the farm forty-five minutes later to feed Oliver and I looked at my tire, knowing something didn’t feel right and there was a giant nail lodged in my expensive tire. I couldn’t believe it! A nail through my finger and then a nail through my truck tire…what was happening? Did I offend the universe and deserve a crazy, bad week? I wanted to cry and laugh. Luckily, I got my tire fixed late this morning and it’s perfect again, but it was one hell of a morning and a week I will never forget!

The moral of my long, detailed story is that everything comes with a lesson. I learned that my husband can handle and take care of literally anything and that he always does. He took care of my finger, called to arrange for my tire to be fixed while he was at work, because I was overwhelmed, and thanked me over and over again for the ride to and from work, incredibly grateful for me and our relationship. I am so grateful for him and for our strength as a team. I learned to never take any good day for granted and that every day, even the messy ones are a blessing. I also learned that there’s nothing I can’t handle with a little positive thinking, a deep breath, and a glass of wine…of course!

Cheers to life’s messy moments 🥂

Coming Home

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Home Design

DIY CACTUS PLANT 🌵

Hey there! I am sure anyone whose still quarantining and remaining cautious is feeling bored and tired. I’ve been spending a lot of time creating, writing, and online shopping, of course. I’ve also spent as much time as possible outside. I drove to the beach the other day, go for walks every day, and hangout with my animals. I love exploring the forest and state parks, too. I’m lucky enough to live in an area surrounded by woods, fields, and I’m not far from the beach. Try to make the most out of every day!

Whose ready for my latest DIY project? I made a DIY cactus plant the other day and it’s adorable. I made mine for my deck but you can place it indoors, as well. If you’re in love with color, bohemian trends, and summer, this project is for you. It’s also a great way to keep your children busy and inspired.

What will you need?

  • A pot (terra-cotta planter, ceramic pot, decorative pot, etc.)
  • Sand
  • Large and medium painting rocks (I bought painting rocks but also used rocks I found at our farm)
  • Outdoor Acrylic Paint (I ordered mine from Michaels)
  • Small paint brushes
  • Cardboard (to paint on)

First, fill your pot more than halfway with sand, dirt, or even rock. You want your finished rocks to sit on top of the sand and be visible. I used some soil and sand. The sand is the last layer before adding the finished product in my DIY cactus plant, which makes it look more authentic and natural. If you bought a terra-cotta planter and you’d like to paint it, do that before anything else and let it dry. After filling your pot with the dirt, rock, or sand more than halfway it’s time to paint! Lay all of your rocks, spaced apart on a piece of cardboard, and begin painting the rocks whatever color you’d like. I went with a classic cactus look, painting the rocks dark green and lime green. I painted four coats on each rock and then I let them dry. After they are dry you can add pink or yellow to the tips (imitating a cactus flower and adding pops of color). You can also paint white dots, lines, stars, or stripes onto the rocks to make the cactus rocks look more realistic. After finishing the one side of the rock, (and assuring they’re all dry) flip the rocks over and paint the backs the same base color you did on the front, for example green. I did another three-four coats on the backs of the rocks and then by the evening they were dry. Once the rocks are dry you can simply place them in the pot and arrange them however you’d like. I used about twenty rocks, but you can make your pot as filled or as simplistic as you’d like. I set mine outside on a little side table to add even more color and summer fun to my deck. It goes with an adorable pillow I just bought from Michaels, too.

Have fun! ✨

Coming Home

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lifestyle

Outdoor Living

I know it feels as though we’re living in an episode of The Twilight Zone and we’re unsure of when life will fully return to normal. But, I’m a glass half full kinda gal. On the bright side, this time at home has awakened creativity, change, and motivation in many. I’m aware of the painful truth that for others this time at home has been brutal and for some, even deadly. There are too many women and children trapped in abusive homes, single mothers unable to provide for themselves and children at this time, and hardworking Americans not receiving unemployment compensation, the stimulus check, or any other form of income to help them through. For those of us who are blessed with less stress than others, a paycheck every week, and a constant light during a dark time, please don’t take any of it for granted. Fall asleep at night with a grateful heart and be sure to thank God, the universe, or whoever it is you pray to for everything that you have. With all of that being said, this is a time to appreciate nature and the ground we walk on. It’s time to create that outdoor living area you’ve always wanted.

I’ve always felt more at home outside than inside and I feel a sense of peace when I’m surrounded by nature. It’s no secret that I love decor and designing my home, but I really don’t need much to achieve happiness and comfort. I know that home decor and especially outdoor living pieces (such as sofas and dining sets) can be pricey, but no matter how large (or small) your outdoor space is, you can make it beautiful. I’ve continuously decorated my yard and deck with plants and decor but this year, since being under quarantine, I’ve made it a priority to make my deck and yard as beautiful as ever, because this is where I am every day. What are my favorite ways to enhance my outdoor living area?

  • Plants (planted and potted)
  • A seating area, loveseat, or lounge chair
  • Outdoor pillows
  • Lanterns, outdoor candles, and a good-quality wall light
  • Garden decor (DIY & store bought)
  • Seasonal decor (a seasonal flag, holiday decorations, etc.)

What are my favorite places to shop (especially during the pandemic)?

  • Wayfair.com
  • Amazon.com
  • Target.com
  • Walmart
  • Local nurseries and garden centers
  • Michaels.com
  • Tractor Supply

I wanted to create a space that fit our farmhouse style but that also reminded me of a vacation. I bought a loveseat from Wayfair and added palm leaf outdoor pillows to give it a more beachy vibe for the upcoming months. The great thing about outdoor pillows is that you can buy outdoor pillow covers and change them whenever you’d like. I kept an older table on the deck for my plants, candles, etc. and I ordered a new, smaller, teal side table to be placed by the loveseat to set a cup of coffee, a book, or another decor piece on (the little table is delayed but on the way). I also just bought a third pillow that’s adorable! I decided that this year I really wanted a gate at the top of our deck to ensure that Greyson is safe and able to spend time out there with me. He loves being outside, just like his mama.

It’s important to note than anything sitting outdoors (regardless of weatherproofing) will weather over time through the heat, snow, and rain. It’s an outdoor space for a reason! I have a cover for my outdoor loveseat and I cover it every night to protect it from the elements and critters. You don’t have to be as crazy as I am and cover your furniture every night, but it’s good to have a cover on hand. I made sure to invest in a really nice wall light for our deck and I couldn’t be happier with the one I chose. I love the glow of a warm, LED bulb opposed to the white colored light bulbs, especially for an outdoor space. The warm light adds a fireside glow in the evening. I bought the farmhouse light on Amazon and we love it! I always get compliments on it and it’s good quality. I also purchased the pretty, reversible, plastic rug from Amazon. It’s made of recycled plastic, which I love.

There’s nothing better than relaxing and drinking a glass of wine on the deck after a good, long day. Remember, even if you have a small balcony, a tiny porch, or a simple step leading into your home, there are millions of ways to decorate and create a fun, inspiring vibe. Invest in a birdhouse, hummingbird feeder, or a bird feeder. Sometimes, you wont attract the critters you’re wishing to (don’t get discouraged) but other times you will and it’ll connect you to nature. My yard is always filled with birds, hummingbirds, butterflies, and bunnies. The hummingbirds come back every year, eager to drink from their hummingbird feeder and I love to watch them. I always see at least five different kinds of birds in my yard, including Bluejays and Cardinals. It’s important if you have children to teach them to appreciate the world outside of their window and to give back to the planet, even if in just small ways. Plant a herb garden and discover the joy of fresh herbs, plant spring flowers in a garden bed and await their return each spring, or build and paint your own birdhouse.

Before you purchase new furniture, decor, and plants be sure to clean your yard and eliminate any unwanted plants, weeds, and trash. A clean space makes all of the difference! Remember, never strive for perfection because that’s not reality. Strive to create a space that makes you smile and feels like home.

I accomplished a few, DIY projects the past month and I’ll be sharing them with you 💗 I wish everyone endless adventures and creativity while at home ✨