Our Next Adventure

Hi there!

The blog’s been pretty quiet for awhile, but it’s honestly because with Tad being go, go, go these days and Ted and I both working full-time, I try to spend as much of my free time having family time as possible. When Ted and I do get dressed up and go out, we’re usually rushing out the door and trying to make the most of our time while we have a babysitter! Most weeks, our routine is pretty much the same, but we’re shaking things up a bit in the months ahead.

As much as we’ve absolutely loved our little home in North Old Town, Alexandria, townhouse living is not as desirable with a toddler…so we’re headed down the parkway to the ‘burbs! We’ll still have about a year to enjoy walkable city life and our lovely little neighborhood, but are extremely excited to be building a house in the 22308 zip code. We’ve been so blessed to meet so many wonderful people who have become dear friends over the past couple of years, that we couldn’t pass up the opportunity to turn friends into neighbors. It really does take a village to raise little ones, and with most of our family still in North Carolina, we’re so excited to give Tad the opportunity to grow up in such an amazing community.

Currently, we’re waiting on all of the permits to be approved by the city so that demolition (then construction) can begin. The first big decision we needed to make is what color siding to use. The plans call for most of the house to be HardiePlank fiber cement siding which comes in pre-finished colors with the pigment integrated into the material. I had been eyeing “cobblestone” and “pearl gray” since I first saw the samples, but stay tuned to see what we decided. I hope to post updates throughout the process as I’d love to hear experiences and advice from you all who have been through this before. In the meantime…let the pinteresting begin!

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Christmas Card 2016

 

This time last year we were celebrating Christmas as new parents. Tad was barely two weeks old, and we weren’t able to manage getting Christmas cards out. I always enjoy receiving them from friends and family and like to display them on our mantle, so I wanted to make sure to send them out this year. Ted kept asking me what I wanted for Christmas so I told him I wanted pictures – a nice family photo, a one year old photo of Tad, and a picture with Santa. We were pretty ambitious in trying to knock them all out in one day, but we made it through and managed to get a few good shots, thanks to Amanda Donohue and her husband who is professional at getting little ones to laugh.

To our friends and family who were sweet enough to include us in their Christmas card list this year – thank you! We’ve enjoyed looking at the beautiful pictures and reading about your year for those that included letters and milestone events. Even though I planned ahead for photos, I didn’t actually get them in the mail until we left town for the holidays, but they are on their way so please don’t cross us off the list for next year!

Merry Christmas from our family to yours!

xoxo,

Kristen

Photography by Amanda Donohue

My outfit: J. Crew sweater, Rocksbox necklace, Ann Taylor skirt (old; similar style here), MAC Rebel lipstick

Ted’s outfit: Ledbury shirt, Nordstrom Rack sweater and scarf

Tad’s outfit: Ralph Lauren Baby, Freshly Picked

 

Brunch with Santa

Rather than taking Tad to the mall to see Santa, we attended a brunch with Santa. It was the perfect opportunity for him to see the jolly old fellow and watch other kids he knows sit on his lap first. He devoured all sorts of treats like Belgian waffles with strawberries and whipped cream while we waited our turn. There were also plenty of Christmas trees with bright, shiny ornaments for him to explore. He’s not really talking yet so I’m pretty sure he asked for a dadada and a nuh-nuh (what he calls our dog, Nutmeg), but hopefully Santa speaks baby babble because Tad’s been an awfully good boy this year. He loves going to school, reading books, and crawling all over the place. He’s learned to wave bye-bye, give kisses and high fives, and is a little speedster with his walker.

Oh, and he even gave us the classic picture you were really hoping for…

rosé all day

Okay, so, maybe not all day, but it was the varietal of the day for my sister’s bachelorette winery tour. I’m so glad that rosé is becoming somewhat en vogue, as I’ve been a fan ever since traveling in the south of France for my honeymoon. We had three stops lined up for the day, and agreed to try the rosé at each. While the wine at the first, King Family Vineyards, was my favorite (a dry rosé, named after the small town of Crozet in which the winery is located), the atmosphere at our third and final stop was unparalleled. Pippin Hill Farm & Vineyards is nestled just outside of Charlottesville and offers pristine views coupled with rustic elegance. A joint effort of husband and wife team, Lynn Easton and Dean Andrews, Pippin Hill combines their wealth of professional experience in luxury properties and bespoke events. It’s no wonder that Jennifer Aniston and Justin Theroux were rumored to have been married here! As I imagine is the case most Saturdays, they were busy setting up for a wedding later that evening. Though I don’t have any weddings to plan anytime soon, I would love to come back here for a special occasion, like an anniversary dinner, to try their “vineyard to table” cuisine. While it was the perfect way to celebrate my sister’s final days as a single lady, I was surprised to see many young families with toddlers in tow at King Family and and Veritas Vineyards. It actually makes perfect sense as there are big grassy knolls to upon which to spread out a blanket where adults can catch up with friends over their vintage of choice, and the little ones can run and play. I can’t wait to pack a picnic, round up a few friends, and head back to Virginia wine country. I’d love to hear any recommendations of other Virginia vineyards or wineries that are worth trying. I know Virginia isn’t especially known for great wine, but it still makes for a nice day-trip and the scenery can be simply stunning. Salut!

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Back to Work

After five glorious months of maternity leave, I’ll be heading back to work next week. While excited about getting my professional life going again and seeing all the great people I work with, I’m a little anxious about my new role as a working mom. My nearest and dearest, myself included, weren’t sure how I would handle maternity leave. Would I be bored? Would I go crazy spending so much time alone with just my little one? No and no! I have absolutely adored being home with my little man, and have kept myself plenty busy with projects big and small from cleaning out and reorganizing to gutting our master bathroom.

I have truly cherished this time I’ve had to focus on learning to be a new mommy and am amazed by how quickly my tiny baby is becoming a little boy. It seems like he learns something new every day! I got to be there the first time he smiled, laughed, rolled over, and tried to give me a kiss. He currently loves grabbing my face and planting a slobbery wet one on my cheek, and I love it! I know that preschool offers great stimulation, socialization, and other development opportunities, but it’s still going to be hard leaving him.

To my mom friends that have gone back to work…I would love to hear any advice you have to share on how it went for you, and any tips to make it easier!

Bowties & Belles

Horse racing, fancy hats, and mint juleps in silver cups…what’s not to love? Every year, I look forward to Derby weekend and Bowties & Belles because it’s a chance to dress up and have a little fun with fancy millinery while benefitting a good cause. I have to admit that it snuck up on me a little this year since the past few months of staying home with Tad have absolutely flown by. I have an aqua and gold Lilly dress that I bought last year, just before I found out I was expecting, that I really didn’t get to wear. Given that gold is so popular right now, I figured I would have no trouble finding a gilded, shimmering hat to match. After striking out, and realizing things were getting down to the wire, I was happy to find a fascinator style headpiece on Nordstrom’s website in a pale aqua shade with a shape that I liked that I thought would pair perfectly. Unfortunately, the shade  was a bit more of a seafoam green in person than it looked online. With mere days before the event, I grabbed a can of spray paint in desperation and hoped for the best. I was pleasantly surprised with how easily it covered the sinamay, and even the feathers! Though I was pretty happy with the result, the resulting hue was a more muted gold than I had hoped for so I went back to digging in my closet and pulled out this old favorite pink and gold dress that seemed new again after not having been able to wear it last year.

My sister was sweet enough to come visit and to watch Tad while we headed off to Bowties & Belles, a Kentucky Derby party to benefit the Campagna Center. It’s always great to spend an afternoon catching up with old friend and making new ones, but even better when it benefits the community as well. The Campagna Center offers educational and social development programs for children, teens, and adults in the community. Soon after moving to Alexandria, I was introduced to the Junior Friends, an organization that partners with and supports the center. It has been an amazing way to get to know some phenomenal women, and get involved in the community. I’ve had the opportunity to spend time doing everything from arranging flowers for the Anniversary Gala to planning and decorating “Santa’s Workshop” for Deck the Halls, one of the signature events during Scottish Christmas Walk Weekend. If you live in the Alexandria area, I highly recommend checking out the great things the Campagna Center is doing for the community, and coming to a Junior Friends meeting if you want to get involved!

Desk to Dinner to Date Night

Since I spend so much time at work or traveling for work events, I shop for pieces that easily transition from day to night. Simple sheath dresses are a great option that can be dressed up or down, but this statement necklace is truly a versatile piece that’s lots of fun! I was drawn to the mixed media design of the soft chiffon and leather petals against the heaver metal chain. The petals detach for a simple necklace that is office appropriate, and easily clip back on to transform a boring work ensemble to something with a little more interest for evening. Despite spending so much time in dressier, more polished outfits, my favorite way to wear it is dressed down with jeans and a jacket.

I pulled pieces that I already had in my closet to style this necklace, but love the current styles below to complete the look as well. The necklace, tote, and clutch are all available from Stella & Dot.

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Master Bedroom Inspiration

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This snow day has me thinking about being cozied up in a nice, warm, bed. We recently purchased new bedroom furniture since we had been using a bedroom set that I picked out in high school. While it had seen us through many moves, it was time for something new, and I was able to pass it along to my little sister, who is starting off on her own. Quality furniture can be handed down, so I knew I wanted to invest in a new dresser and mirror for myself, and storage chest for Ted. I settled on the dresser and media chest from Bernhardt’s Salon Collection. Ironically, the ivory and gold is reminiscent of a bedroom set that my mother kept for years and years, despite me telling her it was outdated. The Salon Collection is a fresh take on a classic combo.

I would absolutely love to do wallpaper in our bedroom, but we plan on selling our house in the next couple of years, so I don’t think it’s worth the investment. Our walls are a custom grey-taupe, almost identical to Benjamin Moore’s Revere Pewter. I love textured neutrals, especially for investment pieces, but am looking for ways to inject a pop of color (though not too much since I still want it to be a tranquil and relaxing space). The color palette is shaping up to be cream, gold, and muted lavender to pick up on the bit of color in the rug. Would love ideas for art and other accents to bring the space to life, as well as bedding that feel hotel-worthy!

Dresser, Mirror, and Media Chest: Bernhardt Salon Collection

Rug: Safavieh Vintage Ivory/Grey Rug

Jewelry Tree: Heather Gold Jewelry Tree

Bed: Safavieh Theron Bed

 

Owlet: up all night so I don’t have to be

Before having Tad, I never imagined how anxious I would be about falling asleep at night. I had read about SIDS and felt comfortable that by creating a safe sleep environment and following other guidelines to minimize the risk that I would be able to sleep soundly knowing we had done all the right things. I saw an ad for the Owlet monitor a week or so before my due date and went ahead an ordered one thinking maybe we’ll use it, maybe we won’t and if not, at least I can return it. Unlike other sleep monitors that detect movement, the Owlet measures blood oxygen saturation and heart rate. Those are metrics that my data minded self liked the sound of, and sounded much more sensible than trying to use movement or lack thereof to tell you anything about your baby’s breathing. Why wouldn’t you just monitor that they are getting the oxygen they need and that their little hearts are beating…especially when the price tag is on par with all of the other monitors out there that are notorious for false alarms, or not working through double-sided mattresses?

Our first night home, I was so glad I had ordered it. Ted immediately took it out of the box and got the app set up on our phones as soon as I showed it to him. The monitoring system includes a base station and a monitor that is inserted into one of several different sized socks that the baby wears during the night. You can turn the monitor on and off from your phone, and see real-time data. An alarm also sounds if the heart rate or blood oxygen saturation falls out of range, or if the sock is too far from the base station. The alarms sound different so you know immediately what is happening – a nursery rhyme for too far away, and a typical alarm sound for worrisome data. The base station works without the app as well. You won’t see the actual numerical data, but the alarms will still sound and the green glow light will turn red.

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owletcare.com

One of the main criticisms is that if the baby is moving too much, the sensor can’t get a read. I’m okay with this because if my baby is moving, he is alive and at least trying to breathe, and the alarm will sound if he’s not getting enough oxygen. It also does not have a camera (as that is not the purpose), but it’s quite possible that a camera could be integrated on later models. Overall, I am so glad I bought the Owlet. It not only gives me peace of mind, but I have also learned Tad’s typical heart rate when he is awake, just nodding off, or in deep sleep so I know how soundly he is sleeping. If this all makes me a paranoid new mom, I’m okay with that. I’d rather be extra cautious than wish I had taken advantage of the technology available to me.

New (and seasoned) moms – what monitors are you using? Is anyone else using the Owlet?

 

 

Baby Room Reveal

Ted likes to joke that I went through three cribs when repurposing our guest bedroom into a room for the baby. It was actually only two…I quickly realized that as precious as a wall to wall Pottery Barn Kids nursery can be, it was a little too cookie cutter to mesh with the overall design aesthetic of our house, especially since the room is so small and the crib is truly the focal point.

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I had been noticing a trend of wrought iron cribs popping up on blogs here and there and discovered that one of the most popular companies, Bratt Decor, is actually a family-owned business based in Baltimore, just a short drive away from where we live in Alexandria. As coincidence would have it, they were gearing up for a warehouse sale so of course I made my husband give up a day of golf to see what we might find. We were delighted to snag a crib that was being discontinued at a discount! We picked out the “Venetian” in “pewter”. It comes with a canopy kit that we decided not to use at first, but that Ted insists will be the framework for a “fort” once we convert the crib to a toddler bed.

Since our house has hardwoods throughout, we also felt that a plush rug that covered most of the floor was a must given all of the crawling around on the floor that is sure to be in our future. I spotted the Loloi “Penny” rug (also called the  “Panache”) in mist on Joss & Main and quickly placed my order before the last 2 sold out. I liked the silvery blue tones, and that it looked like a rug that I could just as easily place in the living room.

The crib and rug set the tone for the silver and blue hues, and were our investment pieces, even though I managed to get a good deal on both. From talking to friends and new moms, it seemed that a “glider” was a must have item, along with a changing area, so these were where I focused next. Meanwhile, Ted installed crown molding, a ceiling fan, and a new closet system to replace the old particle board built-in that was original to the house.

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I picked out the “Reese” grey and white animal themed crib bedding set from Pottery Barn Kids along with a few plush pieces like the Elephant Plush Play Mat and Sherpa Bear Rocker (which we received as a generous gift from dear friends). To add a bit more blue to the room, I ordered a storage ottoman from Wayfair and fabric swatches from Carousel Designs. I chose their Robin’s Egg Blue for the drapes, changing pad cover, and a spare sheet.

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Once all of the large furniture items were in place, I collected a few finishing accent pieces during my regular trips to Homegoods, and hope that we now have a baby room that is comfortable for late night feedings, afternoon playtime, and functional!

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Thanks for reading! I would love to know what your must have items are for a baby/toddler room as well.

xoxo,

Kristen