September 2, 2016

I Watched You Walk Away


Our routine is in place. Literally, we have mastered it you and me. We go through our evening adventures like seasoned pros these days and morning isn’t much different. I would have never imaged the amount of pride I have in you as a result. And I would have never imagined the amount of sadness I am toying with as a result. None the less, we are here, at another stage in the game of life.

You are six. Not sixteen. Yet, you have an air and a confidence about you that I admire. This morning I got a little taste of the sweet six year old that lives within. You had asked for a double-bun hairdo as you were getting ready. You wanted your hair to look like the play-dough hair you had been playing with for the past twenty-four hours. You were overjoyed, completely thrilled.

Our commute started and quietly from the back seat of Hank (our Jeep) you asked, “What if the boys make fun of me?” At first I didn’t hear you, so we chatted until you were willing to share your moment of insecurity again. Together we discussed that you are fun and funky and awesome and a mini super hero. We talked about the reasons why someone would make fun of your hair. We talked about the girls maybe liking it so much they’d ask their mamas to attempt the same “do” come Monday. We talked about options if you wanted to take the buns out of your hair. By the end of our chat, that moment of insecurity turned to joy and laughter.


We arrived at school and as you often do these days, you told me to drop you off in the parent car line since you are a first grader now and a big girl. I put Hank in park and hopped out to help you with your back pack and give you a good squeeze good bye (I’ll be honest saying good bye to you at school every morning is the absolute hardest thing I will ever do). You wandered slowly as you do and seemed to be looking around, so I stopped driving off and yelled out the window “Doodle, I love you.” You looked for me, it took a moment, but you found me. We smiled and waved at one another and then you seemed content to wander into the playground.

I watched you walk away.

I watched you timidly start your journey into school this morning. At first my heart was breaking, “there goes my little girl”, she is shy and nervous and seems unsure about today. I drove slowly through the loop out of your school that hugs your playground. I watched you fiddle with your backpack and walk even slower. I watched as you set your backpack down in your teacher’s class line.

And then it happened.

You touched the double buns on the top of your head as if to confirm they were secure and then you took off, in a full blown sprint. I saw my heart as it sprinted in its turquoise shirt to the playground where classmates and friends were playing before the bell rang.

All the emotions.


At first I was nervous for you and sad. I was worrying about your insecurity about those buns. I was sad about the abrupt good bye we shared and the lack of confidence I saw as you walked away. I was nervous about your self-esteem as you wandered slowly. And then I realized as you started sprinting that you are incredible. You are independent and kind. You are shy and guarded. You are confident and thoughtful. I realized that you my love master life at your pace and in your way. I love your tender heart and your fierce confidence. Plus I have no doubt that at some point during your school day you took those buns out and put your hair in a ponytail by yourself.

I love watching you walk away.

August 9, 2016

T H I R T Y – F I V E

adventure Birthday Me

Better known as the year of “I’m just gonna do me, ok?”

Leading into this birthday there was a sense of “mid-life crisis” going on. I was too much of all the not-so-good and too little of the good. I was chasing too many things and I think I have been for the past few years. I was committing to too many things. I was (and probably still am) thinking too many things. Planning too many things. There were simply too many tabs open.

There was this fierce feeling that I needed to accomplish more, be more, and achieve more. I needed more in a manner that started putting too much pressure on myself and the ones I love around me. When more becomes necessary the world has a way of reminding one that less is always more.

I got real and honest about these feelings in the weeks leading into my birthday. They were no longer subconscious actions chasing that which could never be attained. They started becoming real and raw thoughts. They were thoughts of unhappiness and a realization that the pressure I was putting on myself to be someone I wasn’t was one part insane and two parts ridiculous.

Then it happened, just like that, my birthday arrived and guess what, I was still me. I woke with a sense of focus and purpose. A sense that in my most happy times, my most successful time, my most amazing times, I stopped over-thinking and I just lived.


Lived honest and real and adventurous and excited and happy. I lived for those things that made me happy. What I had was enough. What I wanted was a dream. And my reality was fantastic whether my dreams came true or not. My happiest has always been when I am NOT comparing myself to others, chasing unrealistic realities or living outside of who I really am.

I put pressure on myself. I put pressure on those I love. I set high expectations, sometimes known, often unknown. And then just like that… I woke to celebrate my thirty-fifth birthday and there were no expectations, there was no pressure. I woke knowing, I woke knowing I was simply meant to live in the moment and live simply.

My family always has a way of reading me. Of knowing me. Of knowing just what I need. And this year they reminded me of their special gift and hit the celebration out of the park. My birthday was kicked off with a beautiful bouquet from J and our girls. When I arrived home to start the weekend our house was filled with balloons, one for each year of my life and an extra one for good luck and good measure. On Friday night we settled into simple; ordering pizza and watching the opening ceremonies of the Summer Olympics in Rio. The Doodle desperately wanted to give me her gift, a gift she had consistently told J she wanted to get me for over a week – my mama heart exploded and the celebration was spontaneous. Saturday morning I woke for my workout. I sweat and I was happy. I drank my coffee and I ate my home cooked egg sandwich. We watched more Olympic events. Then just as they do, my family surprised me with an incredible gift, an 80 minute massage. Time on my birthday for just me, to take care of me, to relax and rejuvenate. In those two hours of me time I was reminded just how important it is to shut down our heads and our hearts and take time to heal. Allow others to take care of us and be one with ourselves and good in our soul. It was honestly transformative. Our family then headed to dinner at a spot I love. A dance party broke out in the car ride home and continued within our home for an additional two hours. A gift my husband gave me at a deep and loving level and one he will never realize meant as much as it did. He played MY favorite music, for hours, and our family danced and sang together. My personal heaven. Sure there was cake and we had to use all the random candles in our house. It was fabulous. And memories were definitely made.

A day filled with more memories than materialistic things. A day filled with love and laughter. A day filled with relaxation and rejuvenation. It was a simple day, filled with more magic than I could ever convey. In one day I was righted. Put back together. Reminded what is the very best within me and for me.

Take that mid-life crisis. Take that chasing. Take that my need for more. This year I think I am just gonna do me. Everyone else can just do them. I need what I need and what I need is simple. I need easy, I need simple, I need low key. I need laughter and love and adventure and moments and memories. I know me and it’s ok, I’m sticking with I’ll do me, you do you. No more comparison, chasing or trying to be someone other than the real me.

Simple. Honest. Real. Raw. Authentic. Grateful. Memories. Moments. Love. Laughter. Rejuvenation. Relaxation.


* Image curated from The Petit Cadeau

July 18, 2016

Summer Nights

adventure summer nights wellness

It’s one million degrees here in Arizona and we are deep into our summer. Roughly three-quarters of the way through with four weeks remaining to entertain, prepare for a new school year and make a few final memories for the summer of 2016.

Friends and family are completing their vacations, making their way back to this heat and moms are starting the back-to-school chatter. Who’s Doodle got for first grade, did you go back-to-school shopping for clothes yet, have you purchased school supplies? What activities will Doodle be involved in? And so the mama journey continue…


While I am thrilled to see fall approaching at a rapid pace, I am desperate to squeeze a couple more memories out of what will amount to this years summer break.

My favorite way to squeeze out just a tad more summer and fill my hearts cup is a BBQ. A pool-side BBQ with some of our closest friends. Friends who are raising friends together. The best way to make it through this heat wave we call summer in Arizona is a pool-side get together.


Saturday we spent the day preparing for a fun evening with friends and kids. The house was cleaned. The laundry done. The fridge stocked. Pool floats inflated. Candles lit. Food prepped.







All that was left to do was swim the evening away, enjoy grilling dogs and burgers and laughing with friends. I cannot think of a better way to spend a hot summer’s night than by the pool with some of my favorite people.




Giggles and laughter and joy ensued. Kids chanted throw me again. Rings were tossed and jump contests occurred. The best of summer was had. Cannon balls, cork screws, pencil jumps, front flips. More laughter and more joy. A summer BBQ is absolutely what my heart needed. The smell of the BBQ. Bowls of chips. An ice cream sundae bar to top the night off. Instruments were played and kids played.




Summer traditions passed down. This mama’s heart exploded. Those kids hearts were filled with joy. Four more weeks, I am sure I’ll squeeze a few more memories out before it is all said and done. The best feeling is passing those memories and traditions down from generation to generation and raising friends with my dearest friends.

July 15, 2016

in my cart // four

In My Cart Series Style Style Files

Summer has been good to me, oh so good. I don’t want for anything these days. But, these days I am ALL ABOUT the Boho flow with my fashion. Maybe it’s a result of travel and time adventuring in beach towns. Maybe it is the insane heat of the Arizona sun and the need to wear forgiving materials that flow. Boho is where my heart’s at these days. Every detail is sweet. It’s naturally flowy and forgiving. And the vibe is casual chic. I simply cannot get enough.

Fitness has me focused. Focused on my kicks. Working out every other day sure has its perks, one of them being the need for athleisure clothing. I simply love having options when it comes to my kicks. There’s something about a shoe that can make all this difference in your day, in your workout.

Photography has been on my mind a lot as of late. Capturing life and its beauty. Documenting moments in a real and raw and vivid manner. It’s not so much about a new camera as it is a chic camera that inspires me to capture more.

With my birthday right around the corner, I curated my top picks for gifts this year:

1. I like a low profile shoe. There is something about low profile that makes me feel lighter. Historically I go for bright vibrant kicks or neutral shades, but I love the color blocking of these Nike Metcon 2’s. These would surely spunk up my otherwise neutral fitness gear. Cute cute cute.
2. Travel is fun. Traveling with cute gear is even more fun. Vera Bradley has a way of making quality totes that depict joy and happiness. I love this Tote 2.0 in Nomadic Floral. There is something about the calming hues of blue, green and grey with the added pop of coral. This bag feels like it was made for me. Calm and chaos. Yep, that’s about right.
3. Having just left the beaches of Cabo sun, sand and Mexico are on my mind. Free People’s Modern Mexico Dress is simply lovely. Baby-doll in nature, flirty and fun. A great date night addition if I do say so myself.
4. I got the memo. Off the shoulder is in. I am THRILLED. I love this Feel Free Top by Free People. The macrame detailing and metal gear bring lady like to rocker chick in summers top fashion trend. I want one or three.
5. I told you I was hip on the boho movement. I think it all started with a beach cover-up in St. Thomas. Whatever it was, I want more. And this Voile and Lace Trapeze Slip has me craving boho hard core. Tunic. Tank. Sun dress. All of the above.
6. Crochet trimmed mini dress. Sold. You had me at crochet. This One Costa Brava mini dress should have been in my closet prior to our beach get aways. I’ll do just fine adding it now in preparation for future travel.
7. Red. A grand pop of red. These Nike LunarGlide’s are just what this all-American girl wants. Maybe it’s all I need to hit my fitness goals. Either way, get in my closet.
8. I have been eyeing this Nikon 1 J1 digital camera for some time now. I don’t know why, but I want this sleek beauty for all my future photos. I want a modern camera that captures images and inspires me to point and shoot life’s moments. This’ll do.

I don’t need a single thing for my birthday. But, if you’re shopping, at least now you know what I’d love.

July 13, 2016

100 Ways to Improve Your Day

How To's & To Do's
100 ways

Sometimes all one needs is a boost. A little umph that makes the day just a teeny tiny it better. Sometimes a change of setting, a different focus, an adjustment to mindset. Sometimes just a little life win is needed to change outlook.

Here are 100 ways to adjust the course of any day… Read More

July 12, 2016


birthdays celebrations Doodle

I don’t even know where to begin. So, I will begin simply with I LOVE YOU.


Six has arrived so quickly. And six feels so much bigger than all those other numbers to date. Six feels like we’ve turned a corner. It feels heavy to me. Sad. Yet wonderful. Scary. Yet beautiful. There is no going back now. No more baby. No more toddler. Just a little girl. A beautiful, smart, courageous and bashful little girl.



Your year was filled with new adventures and new challenges. It was filled with glorious triumphs and devastatingly sad, scary and hard moments. Your year was magical and mundane. And through it all you remained my little human.





You are strong willed and wild. You are kind and generous. You are emotional and grounded. You are independent and spontaneous. You are everything I can imagine rolled into one colorful personality. Your rainbow shines even brighter and even bolder yet.

Doodle, you are my greatest accomplishment, my biggest challenge, my best adventure and my whole heart.







You love reading, playing with your babies, Barbie, Dancing with the Stars, American Ninja Warrior, swimming, singing and coloring. You love to help me cook and do chores. You are a fashionista who gets dressed to impress and has a unique style, you beat to your own drum. Your imagination has blossomed this year and I often find you talking to yourself and playing house, having conversations and singing. You love chocolate, pancakes, chicken, burritos, chips, ice cream and macaroni & cheese. You love music. You love your family. You love adventure. And you love home. You are a homebody at your core, you’d rather eat a slice of toast and remain in your happiest space and place then race around town, eat out and always be on the go.




1st october break



This year I wish for you continued growth. Tolerance and kindness at heart with friends. Courage and a steadfast nature as you face challenges. Focus and an eagerness to learn at school. Curiosity and consideration as you explore new territory.




Little lady, I know this, your heart is huge. Your imagination is grand. And your personality is gigantic. You brighten the lives of many. If the next six years are half as incredible as your first six years, this mama’s heart will explode.

my heart

I love you. Happy S I X.


* All photos are from family’s personal collection or professionally taken by YTW Photography. They are not for use outside of this personal blog post. 

May 26, 2016

What a Difference a Year Makes

Doodle School
1st day of kindergarten

What a difference a year makes…

Reflecting on this past year. Our first year in the public school system. Our first year with routines, homework, school lunches, uniforms, field trips, kids club, programs and celebrations. Looking back on week one versus our final week, there is so much love and so much growth.

day 2 of kindergarten

There were so many tears. So many clings. So much emotion. My sweet Doodle struggled everyday for nearly the first month of school, just because saying goodbye for the whole day was hard. She started falling in love with her teacher Mrs. Geary, but there was still fear and anxiety at simply saying goodbye. This mamas heart broke into pieces. Watching my child struggle is the hardest thing I will ever do. I followed my heart, I put her into before school kids club. The result was phenomenal.

bye mom


And then just like that school became routine. Waking up and getting ready and joining her classmates daily was just what she did. From fear and anxiety we moved to confidence and control in saying goodbye. However, there were more hurdles to be had. School work didn’t come easy to the Doodle. Reading was hard, writing was a challenge, staying on track in class was nearly impossible. Again, I worked with her teacher, followed my heart and within our family we focused on reading tutoring with a dear friend. And agin, the results were phenomenal. There was joy in learning.

Doodle was sinking into kindergarten just fine. There was confidence in the goodbye. There was joy in learning. There was pride in accomplishements. There were friends and excitement. And Doodle started experiencing so many firsts.

first school carnival

first school carnival

first field day

first field day

first art walk

first art walk

first field trip

first field trip

first 100th day of school

first 100th day of school

first spring break

first spring break

Here we are, Doodle’s final day of Kindergarten. In a few short hours my girl will be considered a 1st grader. This is getting real, oh so real. Yesterday there was a beautiful graduation ceremony in which our kids sang songs and celebrated the transition from kinder to 1st. Another school year and a new beginning.

final week

mrs geary


The final morning goodbye felt a lot like the first goodbye. Emotions and fear. Struggles and clings. A little girl needing her mommy more than usual. And I was there. I was the final hug and the loudest cheer. I was her strength. I was her coach. I was her mom. And then Mrs. Geary came to Doodle’s rescue. She gave her that hug, that inviting loving hug, the one that said everything was going to be okay. The one that said “I know you will miss your mommy today, but I love you too.” The one that gave Doodle the courage to let go of mommy and soar. Without the love and kindness and positive juju of Mrs. Geary we would have never made it through kindergarten. She was our saving grace and our heart.

last day of school hugs

last day of school

I am so grateful for the heart and soul of this little school in the desert. I am in awe at how loving every single teacher is, at how focused they are on growing our children educationally while recognizing that they are in fact little humans. Doodle’s school seems to focus on everything that makes a child a child; play, heart, happiness, education, celebration. They pull out all the stops and truly make education fun.

Until next year…

May 25, 2016

In My Cart // Three

Series Style Style Files

Summer is days away! School lets out tomorrow and this mama is ready for a summer filled with adventure! There will be trips, trips and I think more trips. There will be summer pool parties and weekend adventures with our kiddos.

Summer always feels like my favorite season as it approaches. The opportunity to create magic, the opportunity for adventure. Spending time in the sun, reading an incredible book and simply slowing down with my family. Summer is my “happy place” and I have visions of a beach house where we all veg out in our future.

Until then… My cart is filled with summer essentials…

1. This Neverfull GM Louis is exactly what I am looking for in a summer tote. Enough room to throw in swim suits, towels, sun block, a great book, my wallet and of course snacks. This tote is simple and fresh with the ballerina pink lining and shades of summer blue and white leather. Yes please.
2. Mustard yellow. I don’t think anything says summer more than any and everything in the shade of the sun! This Expressive Feat Dress is calling my name. It’s 1950’s meets 2016. I just know it will make me feel fancy.
3. Has anything ever made you feel more happy? I think not. Round Up The Crew beach towel in Garden is simply summertime happiness contained in a towel. I am loving the round towel style and this pattern simply screams happiness.
4. I want to slip into this dress for a summertime date night with a cool breeze sitting on a pier. Yep, that is exactly what I think of when I see this Thesis, That, and the Other Thing dress. A flirty, sweet combination that is perfection for summer nights.
5. Because every white tank and jeans combo needs an incredible belt. Because belts with the perfect white t and shorts will never look bad. Because I love the details. This B-Low Frank Hip Belt needs to get in my closet.
6. I am a personal development junkie. So much so that I no longer look for the perfect beach book. I have a library of them. Present Over Perfect is on my summer reading list. Presence is the best gift we can give others and I want to hone the skill of living in the moment and truly being present. Sorry kids… The no phone zone rule is not going away any time soon. 😉
7. Every blue pool needs a flamingo floatie. Any summer pool needs any massive floatie. I love this Flock on the Wild Side Flamingo pool float. I mean coral pink, floatie, pool adventures await!
8. Vince Camuto knows a thing or two about ladies foot wear. These Janil sandals in cashmere are the bees knees. The perfect summer grey. Sexy strapy sandals. This sandal transitions from day to night. From beach to bar. From work to weekend. I think I am in love.
9. Happier at Home… The title says it all. Who doesn’t want to kiss more? Jump more? Let go more? Sign me up… I am ready.
10. My most frivolous summer cart item has got to be this Nikon 1 J1 digital camera. I have no good reason to make this purchase. Other than the camera looks cool. I suppose that is reason enough. I just love the sleek look and the white body. I dig it. And it would look pretty darn cute in my Neverfull bag if I do say so myself.
11. White. Silk. Flirty. Fun. Mark my words… This will be my summer date night staple. I think the Parker Eve Dress would easily slip on for a sexy night out. I can’t think of a better way to flirt with my husband…
12. Just because. Mabillon is the perfect basic purse for summer. When racing to the office, chores and errands, summer camp and grocery runs. Not too big, not too small, I think it is just right.

I’m just missing a palm frond pattern and that beach house. Aside from that, my cart is full and happy.

May 8, 2016

To the Mother’s I’m Raising Daughters With…

Doodle Family mommy motherhood
three girls

Thank you!

To the two mother’s I am blessed to be raising daughters with, THANK YOU.

To the mother that I share my Doodle with, I am so glad you are in her life and I love you for loving her so good. I know I am “supposed” to hate the idea of sharing Doodle with you. I know I am “supposed” to struggle with you. I know I am “supposed” to do a lot of things that imply negativity. But, really, I just love you for loving her. I love when she tells me stories about things you do together; babysitting your friend’s kiddos, painting nails, shopping. I love when I ask her where she got some of her cute clothes and she says you bought it for her. I love when I ask her what she did at her daddy’s house and she gets excited explaining all the details of your family and the love she shares with all of you.

Raising a daughter is hard. Raising a daughter as a divorced mom and dad feels even harder sometimes. Keeping rules and schedules and daily routines similar enough to raise her right is top of mind. But, raising a daughter with you feels easy. You are grounded and calm to my excited and active. You are sweet and quiet to my wild and loud. You are an unwavering support in her life and to you, my daughters other mommy, I say thank you.

To the mother that has raised my two bonus daughters so well, I say thank you. I know it was never in your life plan to have to share your girls with another woman. I know it is not ideal raising teenagers with a lady that has a different parenting style than yours and different views than yours. I am certain you hear a lot of stories about our house and me and how I behave or what I believe and I would bet it’s not comfortable to hear. For supporting me in becoming a bonus mom to your girls I say thank you. I know I will stumble often, I will not get this bonus parenting thing right regularly and for that I am sorry.

I am grateful to you for your support over the years. I am grateful that you respect and communicate with me at family events. I am grateful that you engage with Doodle and make her feel special. I am grateful that you have adjusted some of your traditions so that we could build some of our own in this world of blended families. I am grateful for the times I know you have gone to bat for me with the girls and I am grateful for all of the times that I don’t even know of that you bit your tongue on my behalf so that I could develop a relationship with your girls and learn how to bonus parent teenagers while being a brand new mom.

Ladies, it was never in any of our life plans to have to share our babies. We never intended to be tied to another woman for the rest of our lives based on marriage and divorce and new relationships and re-marriage. We never thought we would watch our little beating hearts walking outside of our bodies fall in love with someone else so unconditionally. Yet, such is our blended life and our beautiful connection.

Thank you for being part of my mommy journey. Because of the two of you I am a better woman. I am more understanding, more loving, more capable and more thoughtful.

Thank you. Thank you for being on this journey with me.

April 13, 2016

My Heart

Doodle feelings Heart
doodle feet

Every single day my heart shatters.

Every. Single. Day.

This parenting gig, it takes its toll and without fail, every single day my heart shatters. Into one million little pieces. It is the absolute best moment of my day and the absolute worst. It is the moment I watch my little walk away and head into school.

Wearing her too big for her backpack, running in her little Nike’s, as her little body weaves in and out of much taller kiddos through a huge school to her little space and place in kindergarten.

I never realized in a single moment my heart would simultaneously burst with pride and shatter because of her independence. I never realized how nervous every little independent moment would make me feel while also allowing my heart to soar. I never realized how often I would hold my breath, linger just a tad longer in the parent drop-off line to ensure her safety. I never realized I would grin from ear to ear as I watched her integrate with friends and start playing. I never realized how much I would wish she would look back one last time and how proud of her I would be that she didn’t. I never realized that I would want to stop time so desperately all the while filling with excitement to see the next major change and growth. I never realized I would be so utterly captivated and in love all at the same time.

This parenting thing sure does take its toll.