Spring + Summer Shopping…

I’ve been working on a major over haul of my closet the past few weeks. Putting stuff away till next fall and winter and making room for some new spring items. I am planning on keeping it simple this season, lots of denim, every tee Everlane makes (seriously, it doesn’t get better!), a few dresses and some killer sandals. Here are some things that are top on my wishlist. Of course I only have $$ for a few items but making this post really helped narrow my focus on what I want to actually buy this season. Oooh!! I can’t wait to be soaking up the warm sun on summer adventures!!!

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BLACK PERFORATED DRESS | PERFECT TOP | BLACK AWESOME SANDALS


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SALT WATERS | OVERALLS | PERFECT SPRING COAT


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FATIGUE SHORTS | MUSCLE TEE PERFECTION | SUMMER DRESS


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CHECKERED DRESS | VANS HI TOP | TRAPEZE DRESS


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DANIEL WELLINGTON WATCH | MARA HOFFMAN SUIT | BRIXTON HAT


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DENIM JACKET | CHAMBRAY TRACK SHORTS | DRAWSTRING OVERALLS


12 Tips On How To Enjoy (Art) Museums With Your Kids

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Have you ever brought your kiddos to an art museum? It can be nerve-racking for sure. Priceless art and rambunctious toddlers don’t want to mix very well. However, maybe it’s the art teacher in me but I’ve always made it a priority to bring the kids regardless. Not just art museums but all museums (although art museums are my favorite). I feel like they have so much to offer even for small little ones. Plus it just teaches them to value that kind of thing. Maybe that’s not important to you (which is totally ok) but it’s something that I value a lot and want my girls to be able to appreciate.

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Here are a few tips that have worked well for us over the years to make the experience more fun for everyone.

1. Start off with a “transition” type museum in your area.

These might be museums with a heavy emphasis on kids or kid exhibits. This let’s them get use to the whole museum setting. Near us we have the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art. This is a great museum for kids. Lots of fun things for them to do there but it’s also a real art gallery so we learn the “rules” of museums. No touching, no loud voices, no running. It’s one of our very favorite museums in the area.

2. Always explain the rules before you get in the museum.

Talk about what is expected of them there and why. Talk about how the art is (usually) very old and important and when we touch it, it can damage the art. Give some meaning to why they can’t do all the things you are saying. Talking about it before hand let’s it settle in a bit before you get there and are yelling “don’t touch!” all the sudden. Sure it’s probably still going to happen because duh! they’re kids but it does help a little. One time we were doing the little activity sheets the museum gave us when Rowan got so excited she saw the painting she was looking for, she went running both hands open to show me where it was. Let’s just say there were about 5 museum attendants running slow motion with that “Noooooooooooo” face on. hahah. Whoops. Lesson learned.

3. Make sure it’s not nap time and that they’ve just eaten.

I sure as heck don’t want to be walking around a museum tired and hungry so let’s assume our kids don’t want to either. There is usually no food allowed either- so no snacks in the purse like I usually have for any whim request of “I want a snack Mom”. Most museums have a little cafeteria area though- make it a break point if need be. And we all know how easy going a kid without a nap can be (wink, wink). Let’s just leave that one for common sense. hahahah

4. Call ahead and see what exhibits they recommend for children.

They may even have little activity packs for the kids related to the exhibit. At The Clark in the Berkshires they give the kids their very own sketch book and pencils when they arrive, as well as scavenger hunt cards for particular paintings. The cards have a little history lesson on the back and some good questions to ask your kids. So don’t be afraid to ask if they have anything for the kids.

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5. Ask if they’re allowed to carry their own notebook and a pencil

If they don’t provide anything for the kids then bring your own! Have a little drawing session in the museum based on the artwork they are seeing. My kids love being able to sit on the museum floor and draw a copy of what they are seeing.

6. Play Eye Spy.

I’m telling you it works great! Rowan loves to play eye spy in the museum. There are so many paintings and so many things to pick out- it’s a game that could last the entire trip.

7. Talk about the art

Help your little ones understand what they are seeing. Ask if they can figure out what time of day it is in the painting? What do they think the artist was thinking of? What emotions does the painting give them? They can be simple but teach them how to start talking about art.

8. Beware of little eyes.

Rowan is super sensitive to things that she sees and hears. That girl is full of emotions. So we have to be very protective of that for her. We’ve never had a problem but I would definitely scan the room quick with each new gallery you enter. Especially at a modern art museum. Modern art museums can be the most fun with large engaging installations for the kids but can also hold some very bold, in your face images which might be scary or alarming to little eyes.

9. Have low expectations + move quickly

I never expect my 4 and 2 year to want to sit around and leisurely talk about art. We always head in with low expectations, just knowing we will make the most of whatever happens that day. I mean they’re kids right? I also know that it may be my favorite exhibit in the whole world but that they have the attention span of 5 seconds so I need to keep it moving. It will make the trip more enjoyable for all if you keep at their pace.

10. Mix it up.

If you bring them to a more adult museum, next time make it a science museum or kids museum, something more up their alley… it will give them a broad range of experiences and keep it fun.

12. Find museums with beautiful gardens/grounds.

This helps break up the trip. Spend sometime inside and then go run around and let off steam on the grounds of the museum. The Clark or The deCordova in Masschusetts have beautiful grounds to explore.

13. Create meaning and understanding at home before/afterwards.

Research the artists together. Create an art project based on what they saw/will see. Make it fun and memorable. We went to a Frida Kahlo exhibit in FL and when we got home we looked up some of her paintings and created our own self portraits based on them. It’s funny how many times Frida Kahlo has come up in regular life since then. Rowan always gets this cute little smile on her face because she knows who she is.

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Taking Stock…

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We spent this past weekend up in Canada celebrating my Grandpa’s 85th birthday. We picked up my sister in Rochester first and then headed north. It was so fun to be all together with my cousins and aunts and grandparents. My cousins were my best friends growing up and in many ways I still feel like we’re all kids but now all our kids are playing together. It was quite a surreal and awesome day. I kept thinking what it would be like for my Grandparents to be in that house with their 4 daughters and all their husbands, and then all their kids and all their husbands and then all their kids. haha. Kinda amazing, right? What a legacy. Anyway, no trip across the border would be complete without a stop in Niagara. We’ve never brought the girls before so that was exciting to share that with them.

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and a cute little idea i’ve seen around called Taking Stock….
Making: i’m currently trying to get back into screen printing a bit more. kev and i used to have a legit 4 color press with oven, and flash and the whole kit and caboodle but i’m just trying to figure out exposing my screens right at the moment. i’m running into major difficultly. it’s such a long process to start and then mess up and have motivation to do it all over again.

Cooking: i’ve been kind of obsessed with curry lately. trying out a whole bunch of different recipes ranging from spicy to sweet.

Drinking: water. i’m pretty boring. except I did put some cut up grapefruit and lime into my water the other day and it kind of rocked my world.

Reading: i am reading a few marriage books at the moment and reading through the she reads truth study on 1+2 peter.

Wanting: i am dying for a new dining room table. i’ve been stalking diys for a big farm table but not sure i have it in me (nor the tools). there are 2 at ikea that i really like (here and here). i won’t even let myself look at west elm, totally not in my budget. i am just tired of the glass it’s so loud, dirty and cold all the time.

Looking: lots of looking for vacations. trying to plan a little getaway for kev and i this summer. we like to try to take 1 small trip a year just the 2 of us. there are just so many possibilities. how do you narrow it down?

Playing: outside! yeah for chalk and bikes and walks and tag!

Wasting: time on the internet (what else is new?)

Sewing: i was sewing a skirt for rowan but i changed my mind about the fabric and haven’t finished it now. Where do you buy cool patterned fabric? I feel like the fabric at joanns is so very “joanns”. does that make sense? looking for something a little cooler.

Wishing: all my family lived closer

Enjoying: going for walks all together as a family in the morning. love that the temperatures have finally started to stay sort of mild.

Waiting: waiting and waiting for calls from our social worker.

Liking: hearing the baby birds chirping outside the windows

Wondering: how i can keep my garden from being dinner from the critters in our yard this year. they leveled it twice last year. i am not sure if it’s bunnies, deer, or gophers. i had a fence up and everything. doh!

Loving: rowan’s new bangs. so dang cute!

Hoping: for a date night- i honestly can’t remember the last time kev and i went out by ourselves.

Needing: sun

Smelling: not much! stupid cold + congestion. ALLERGIES!!!

Wearing: tons of sneakers. always my shoe of choice.

Thinking: about all the summer plans i want to make and do with the girls. i should make a list!

Bookmarking: tons of recipes. i’m feeling in a cooking rut lately. pinning tons of stuff to my whole eating folder.

Opening: a new box of honest goodies.

Giggling: over finley’s bedhead this morning. it was epic.

Feeling: sore. did the lower focus t25 video this morning and my legs are feeling a little bit like jello. which is a clear sign i am not doing it enough. whoops.

A Week in Photos | Florida Edition

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I’ve had these pictures on the computer for like month now, thinking it’s about time to get them up here on the blog. It’s been super grey and chilly here the last few days- trying to live vicariously through the sunshine in these pictures. Oh Florida! You sure are sounding pretty good today.

Happy Tuesday Everyone!

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Sisters, Motherhood And All The Things In Between.

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I took these photos on a little outing with the girls when we were in Florida. They’re random and silly but for some reason I just love them. The two of them couldn’t stop dancing their way down the streets that day. Rowan would make a move and then Finley would copy. That’s how it usually goes. Finley loves her Roro and is always just a few steps away, copying her every move. She always has to do what Rowan does. Finley’s most used sentence is probably “i coming too!!” She never wants to left out. It’s been one of my greatest joys seeing their relationship blossom. They love each other fiercely, of course not without sister squawks but that’s to be expected. Rowan builds, Finley knocks down. Needless to say there are always some tears but their love always shines through. Last night as I was putting Rowan to bed, Finley was in the other room having a time out with Kev for normal Finley shenanigans. Finley was of course upset and next thing I know Rowan is balling because she feels so bad for Finley because she can hear her crying. Rowan is a nurturer through and through. She is the number one look out for Finley. Always patting her face and saying “it’s ok baby” or “good job honey, you did it”. Oh man… the two of them are just the sweetest thing to witness.

Life with a 4.5 and 2 year old is chaotic but worlds of fun. We have a good time together! Motherhood is a weird journey sometimes, huh? One that’s always evolving and changing. Who I am as a mother now is so completely different than who I was when Rowan was born. It’s a good thing though (I hope). We should always be growing right? The Lord has really worked in my heart the last year on my thoughts toward it all. It’s so easy to get wrapped up in the mind set that being “just” a mother isn’t enough. I felt this pressure to be striving for something greater all the time, as if I wasn’t being successful or doing something worthy. I didn’t even know what it was that I was striving for? All I know is that it left me feeling quite inadequate in my role of Mom. Have you read Own Your Life by Sally Clarkson? or even Make It Happen by Lara Casey? I really, really enjoyed those books. I talked a great deal about all of this at Hope Spoken actually. My talk was titled “The Story of Rising Up”. It was all about rising up in Christ right where you are. It doesn’t matter if you are changing diapers or creating a nonprofit it’s all worthy and great for the kingdom of heaven. For me, that’s motherhood. I am knee deep in it and it’s something I feel so fulfilled by when I remove all the outside worldly pressures. Don’t get me wrong, we all need our “me” time and I totally still have dreams and goals but I have learned where to let go and where to make the time for what matters. I hope I can write out my talk into a blog post one of these days because I would love to expand on all of this. I feel like as mothers we struggle with always feeling less than for some reason. Why? Why do we do this to ourselves? (cough, cough social media-just kidding)

Well I’m not really sure why I titled this post “Sisters, Motherhood and Everything In Between” because we’ve definitely covered sisters and motherhood, but I am kinda done with the post and I’m not quite sure what the in between should be. The title flows though so maybe I’m just going to leave it. Should we talk about spicy chocolate ice cream again? No? Ok. Ok. How about 5 things I am totally loving right now? 1. Grapefruits. I can’t get enough. I used to hate them now I love them. 2. Starburst. Don’t ask. 3. Freshly dyed and cut hair. Holla. 4. Hot Yoga (post to come) 5. The fact that the forecast is at 60 or above for the next week!!

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Rowan: Dress from Old Navy, Moccasins from Freshly Picked | Finley: Jumper from Old Navy, Sandals from Target

My Everyday Style | 04.07.15

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Spring! Spring! Spring! I kind of want to shout it from the roof tops. We actually went outside the other day without coats. NO COATS!!! I had almost convinced myself that was never going to happen again. Anyway, with some mild temperatures on the horizon I’ve been eyeing some new spring items for my closet. I am trying to stay minimal and simple. I feel like that’s the easiest and I’m always the happiest with my money spent. I love looking for quality pieces at good prices. Are you into any particular spring trends? I’m kind of all about this “modern safari” trend this year. I picked up these awesome snakeskin pattern heels and white boxy button up from T.J.Maxx the other day and I know they’re going to be a closet staples in the coming months. The heels are just the right height- comfy yet not ridiculous for mom life (it’s a hard balance to strike).

Aside from spring, what’s new with you? Got any new exciting news to share? I’d love to hear it! Life in our house is going well. We’re settling back into the swing of things at home now that our crazy travel season is over for a bit. It was a little insane there at the end. So happy to be back home and all together. Rowan is begging for ice cream today so maybe that’s what our night has in store. We’re really living on the edge over here in upstate NY, huh? Can’t wait for all the tiny local ice cream shops to open for the season. MMMMMmmmmmmmmm. So good. Now I’m thinking of ice cream. Have you ever had spicy chocolate ice cream? Goodness, it’s awesome. Maybe we should change the subject. We just signed Rowan up for hip hop dance next year. She’s pumped! I was very proud of her because she chose to take hip hop over taking ballet with her friends. I thought it showed a lot independent thinking for a little 4 yrs. She saw these hip hop/modern dance troops at Downtown Disney perform and I think she thought it was about the coolest thing she has ever seen. So cute! And as far as Finley goes, let’s just say we are ankle deep in potty training. Dang that girl is stubborn… and that about wraps up a tiny little recap of us as of right now.

Hope your Tuesday evening includes spicy chocolate ice cream!

OUTFIT DETAILS:

White button front shirt: c/o T.J.Maxx (similar)
Black jeans: Nordstorm
Tahari Heels: c/o T.J.Maxx (similar)

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p.s. our calendar is a Stendig- I tried to find somewhere that had them but I think they’re sold out everywhere.

TXSC CAMP 2015

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This past weekend I headed down to Austin to attend and speak at the last Texas Style Council Conference. This conference has been a staple in my blogging scene for quite sometime. It’s always felt like a big high school reunion of sorts. Not the kind you dread and drag your feet going, but the kind where you can’t wait to see all your dearest friends that you grew up with yet haven’t seen in a while. Most of the girls that come speak/attend are the girls I’ve grown up with. They’re (most of them) my Delightful Dozen, my friends that were there in the beginning of my blogging days (way, way, way back in the day). We were by no means the first to blog at all, but in some ways it feels like we were right on the cusp of this giant bubble. We have all shared together a lot of the good and unfortunely the bad that has come along with this blogging world. They’re girls I have emailed hundreds of times with questions, to bounce ideas off, to collaborate and to congratulate. These women are fiercely talented and it’s been my honor to blog along side them all these years.

It was so fitting for the last TXSC to be held at a Girl Scout camp. The weekend was meant to celebrate community and the stories we have to share. And celebrate we did! Indiana is one of the funniest, most genuine and lovely people I have met through blogging. She’s my spirit animal (I have the picture to prove it- it involves a gorilla and a lobster). I love her in so many ways. I would’ve dropped everything for her to make sure I was here. I am so, so thankful for her making this conference happen every year. Her heart has always been in the right place- always looking for the best way to support women in this community. It was sad to say goodbye to something that has been such a big part of my life each year. The blogging world has changed in soooo many ways over the past few years though. There are resources online that can pretty much teach you anything you want to know about it. There isn’t much new information that can be shared. I think she knew it was time to pass the torch. There is a new group of emerging bloggers out there. Ready to make something like this their own.

Blogging has changed for me personally in so many ways. It’s kinda been striped back to what it started as. No set schedules, no editorial calendars, no striving for more followers, no loop giveaways (ugh), only choosing partnerships that work and feel real, etc… With age has come a shift in priorities. I am far from a instagram star or a blogger making the big bucks. I am just a busy stay at home Mom who wants to create a meaningful and loving life for her family. When I started blogging, I didn’t even know making money was a thing. Over the years I’ve been so thankful for the opportunities this blog has brought but it comes with a price. There’s A LOT of hard work and late nights involved with keeping up, creating beautiful and unique content, being engaged, responding to emails and running the business it becomes. I just can’t do it all and honestly, I’m not willing to give it the time it needs. I’d rather spend the time with my kids and Kev. So my blog is what it is now a days. A place to share words and pictures when there is time and an acceptance of all that it’s not at this season of life. I still LOVE blogging and I LOVE all of you. I am so, so humbled and grateful for all of you. Life is good!

My highlights from TXSC include:
1. Siting down next to my dear sweet Erin and talking heart to heart. She’s my favorite.
2. Meeting new faces- what an honor to meet so many new women! You guys are killing it! Keep working hard.
3. Roommate hang out sessions. Lasting well into the wee hours of the morning.
4. Taco truck!
5. Getting to know Bethany from TOMS. Goodness I love that company!

Thank you Chelsea for these photos!

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We talked a lot about your “tribe” this past weekend. Couldn’t be luckier to have these ladies in my tribe.

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Julie | Amy | Megan | Liz | Tieka | Chelsea | Indiana | Savannah and Jenny | Jessie

Hi, I'm Jen!

Welcome to my personal lifestyle blog. It features topics such as motherhood, family life, fashion, cooking, and all sorts of adventures. I hope you enjoy what you find!

Jen Loves Kev
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