Miami Beach Part I

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One of my favorite things about young mothering is the impromptu adventures. Before school, we had the liberty to do it as often as we liked, and I can’t tell you how many precious memories I have of calling Heidi at 8 a.m. with “Hey, want to pack up bags and go somewhere?” and hearing her answer an enthusiastic YES before I ever elaborated on where we were going or how far we were driving. Back in the day, I could break down a stroller in less than six seconds, pack an overnight bag in two minutes and have the kids buckled in their car seats in less than one.

It had been a while since one of those adventures, and a day of hooky was calling. I noticed a couple of weeks ago that the famous Museum of Ice Cream (basically a colorful Children’s Museum built completely around the theme of ice cream) had a Miami pop-up. That was all I needed for an adventure invite, so I bought tickets, booked a hotel and planned a day of hooky.  Two days later, the Museum of Ice Cream announced that the Miami location was sold out of tickets for good, so perfect timing. I’ll post about the museum in Part II of this post next week. The kids loved it (like a giant interactive playground with free sweets), but it’s such an interesting concept, built heavily on the Instagram generation. I’m wondering if twenty years from now we will laugh when we look back and say, “Oh my God, do you remember the Museum of Ice Cream?” like we remember 24-hour streaming of music videos on MTV.

But on to Miami…

Here’s how we do Miami: full throttle.

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Miami is colorful, diverse, loud, electric, and about as extra as you can get. I love it, I love it, I love it, but at the pace at which we hit the city, I get my fill quickly, so 24 hours is usually how we do it. Basically, we ride a unicorn through South Beach–and forget the saddle: we go bare back. Full speed, until the unicorn passes out. Let’s put it this way. If Miami was a massage therapist asking how much pressure I wanted on my shoulders, I’d say, “Make it hurt.” We go to the most electric part of the city though, which is just a portion of what Miami really offers in terms of culture and opportunities. I’d like to explore some of the other areas in the future.

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Is Miami kid-friendly? Absolutely. We love South Beach and found a little boutique hotel on Collins, one street behind Ocean Dr., which feels a step removed from all the middle-of-the-night partying and yet still part of the scene we come for.

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First stop: The Wynwood District which is probably where I’d stay next time if I came without kids. Wynwood Walls, an outdoor museum showcasing large murals by some of the world’s best known street artists, is definitely the highlight of the area, but the surrounding streets are just as colorful, full of warehouses that have been converted into craft breweries, art galleries and hip bistros. Even the sidewalks are covered in art.

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Wynwood Walls was like a giant playground for the kids with several outdoor “rooms” to hide in.

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They played Camouflage Hide-and-Go-Seek which was so much fun. Can you spot the kids in the two photos below?

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Lainey went through two rolls of Instax film and put another photo in our Handstands Against Cool Walls collection.

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Another great Wynwood find: Cielito ice pop shop. Oh my God. The popsicles don’t have any added water, so they’re just pureed fruit, cream, etc.

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The big kids got unicorn pops (some creamy/sprinkle concoction with candy ears and a horn), Nella got watermelon (soooo good!), Dash got chocolate, and I got what quickly became the best popsicle I’ve ever eaten–pineapple jalepeno with some sort of chili salt.

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We happened to book our trip during a Florida cold front, but thankfully the sun wasn’t shy, so the beach still felt warm and inviting.

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Walking the beach is always a fun experience in South Beach as the lifeguard stations are all designed and painted differently, but all of them representative of Miami’s art and style.

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We found a decent kids’ menu at The Beacon Hotel on Ocean Dr. (where Brett and I stayed a few times before we were married :o) for dinner, and Dash was cracking us up with his night time shades that he refused to remove.

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Notice Dash’s store behind him. :o)

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I know it won’t be long before I look back and wish I would have done more of these adventures. I fell asleep in a tiny hotel room Wednesday evening with Dash and Nella cuddled next to me, listening to Lainey and her friend laugh and play Uno in the bed beside us, and I felt so grateful for this little window of life, the way the kids are growing, the times we have to squeeze in crazy little adventures like this.

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I’ll share the carnival that is the Museum of Ice Cream next week. The kids are still talking about it.

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(past Miami trips:  2010201120142015)

Happy Weekending!

Stoking the Gratitude Fire

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One of the great things–among many–about children getting older is that they begin to call you out on your crap. I say this joking, of course, because it isn’t exactly a moment of great parenting joy when your ten year old informs you that you are clearly driving over the speed limit, or points out that you too leave your pajamas lying in a heap on the bathroom floor after you climb out of them (we call that “rapture clothes”), or that you “always forget to sign my folder.” When I’m being fired too many of these parenting infractions, I have a snappy comeback–and feel free to borrow it because it works wonders.

“I’m sorry,” I’ll say with a smile after being corrected for leaving my purse in the car when I tell them not to leave their backpacks. “I have a question for you–” which is basically cue for “Run!” because everyone knows what comes next.


Here’s my parenting tip of the year: Kids love to hear their mom say vagina. You’re welcome. Use it well.

Despite my commitment to reminding everyone around here what my bizness has been through and how it earns me the right to make the rules and call people out on them, last week my kid called me out on something that stopped me in my tracks.

I was right in the middle of pulling out one of my trusty sermons on gratitude–the one with the overused lines I’ve regurgitated so many times–“We have so much” and “If only you knew” and sometimes goes so far as to include the line about kids in third world countries who wear the same shirt everyday and play with nothing more than old rubber tires “WITH JOY,” I add.

And then she brought it up…”But Mom,” she said. And though it wasn’t the best time to do it, it was strategically effective: “I heard you on the phone yesterday. You weren’t being grateful either.”

I was just about ready to take it back to the vagina, but I remembered the phone call and knew everything she heard. Well, shit.

“Tell me,” I said.

“You told Heidi that our bathrooms are so old and that everything feels outdated and that there’s so many changes you want to make, you don’t know where to start.”

“I did say that, didn’t I?” Crap crap crap.

The fact is that in a perfectly human low moment of griping about Things People Gripe About (subtitle: “and have no business doing so”), my daughter heard me and made note of my attitude, and–while perhaps manipulating it to get out of her own gratitude shortness–made a point I needed to hear.

So we talked about gratitude. I told her how lucky we are to have a beautiful home and pointed out the things I love about it–the cozy corners that make me feel so happy and the projects we’ve taken on to make it more “us”. We made lists of little things we are grateful for in this house–silly things like “my favorite blanket on the couch,” “that moon night light you love” and “a bathtub for long Sunday morning baths.” I told her that she was right. She caught me in a moment where gratitude wasn’t shining very brightly, but that it happens sometimes, and that gratitude is a life long practice–like eating well and taking care of our bodies. Sometimes we eat the cake we know isn’t great for us, but we get back on track.

This time of year–a week before Nella’s birthday–I always go back and read the things I wrote around the time she was born. Yesterday, I read this from her birth story, a reference to another time in my life when circumstances stripped gratitude down to its bones:

When Lainey was in the hospital with (alarming, unexplainable and unresponsive) jaundice, I remember hugging Brett and crying. I told him if God would make her better, I’d do anything. I’d live in a box, I’d sell everything we had, I’d be happy with nothing…just make her better. When she did get better, that feeling of raw gratitude was real, but it wasn’t long before real life set in and I was complaining once again about the dirty grout in our cheap tile and how much I wanted wood floors. I’ve often thought about how quickly that feeling left because we have a perfect, healthy little girl running around that erases all the painful memories of when we thought something might be seriously wrong. But I felt that feeling again last week. And as the pain has slowly dissipated, I’ve realized…I will always be reminded.

The house comment Lainey heard me say was silly and more representative of my creative brain that loves transforming and beautifying hings more than my displeasure with a wonderful space to call home, but the situation did call to attention something I’ve let slip–my relationship with gratitude and the practice of keeping it alive. When marriage relationships get challenged or feel dull, we stoke the fire with therapy and date nights and critical attention. When our gratitude relationship–which is basically our relationship with the world and life itself, what more importance could it have?–gets challenged, it calls for the same, if not more. I want to stoke the fire of my gratitude flames, notice more the thousand tiny things that are worth celebrating, let my children hear me speak of how much I love the jasmine that blooms on our front yard bushes, the way our windows let all that glorious afternoon light come pouring in, this strong healthy body of mine that can run and move and take care of everyone, the sweetest ripe strawberries in our refrigerator right now. Let them know my gratitude not just by what I say I’m thankful for but how I spend my time.

Mary Oliver said, “Ten times a day something happens to me like this – some strengthening throb of amazement – some good sweet empathic ping and swell. This is the first, the wildest and the wisest thing I know: that the soul exists and is built entirely out of attentiveness.” I want to up the ante and make it twenty times a day–to feel that strengthening throb of amazement, that attentiveness for all the good and wonderful things that exist and happen around us…and not on our phones, might I add.

There are some little adjustments I’m making with my gratitude relationship that I’m excited about–from writing gratitude prayers in my journal and pulling out the old Mary Oliver books to reevaluating my “inspiration” social media and magazine input.

With that said, lately we’ve been enjoying…

Things Dash Says.

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I’ve never written down so many funny things for one kid. His crazy imagination goes non-stop, and his brain filters nothing before it comes out of his mouth.

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Even when he’s not being funny, we hang on to all the little phrases and pronunciations that keep that sweet preschool vibe alive and well in our house. My favorite? “Pizuzz” for “Because”. As in: “I’m going to wear a sweater pizuzz it’s cold outside.”

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Siblings That Care of Each Other.

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He panics on the way to school if he notices I forgot to wipe cream cheese off Nella’s face. She double checks his preschool bag to make sure I packed him a water.

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He reminds me to put Nella’s glasses on her, never asks for a vitamin without holding out his other hand “for Nella” and runs to pick out a nightgown for her when it’s time to go to bed.

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It never gets old…watching them love each other.

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A Vine-Hugged Wall.

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The Sound of a Remote Control Car in Our House (translation: Childhood dwells here.)

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A good bandana scarf, Chuck Taylors, Florida sweaters in January, 2 braids, the color yellow, big sisters who amuse little sisters, a simple stick bringing this girl so much joy for 10 months straight now.

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The intersection of youth and everything that lies beyond.

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Slime. Even though I also say I hate it. Do I contradict myself? Very well, then. I am large, I contain multitudes.

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Off to clean up the rapture clothes I left on the bathroom floor this morning…the bathroom that has running water–water that gets hot, might I add–and two sinks, and a big window, and a tub that brings me so many happy, relaxing moments that make life easier. And for that, I am grateful.

Creating a Capsule Wardrobe: Less Stuff! Less Laundry! More Space!

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I cannot believe I’m saying this, but I’m finally joining the capsule wardrobe movement. Never one to consider it for my Type B merry-go-round of a brain (I’m too colorful! I like too many different things! My style cannot be contained into a capsule!), I changed my mind when the new year rolled around because A) I need to shake it up in many different areas, B) my closet situation is not working and needs a SWAT team intervention, and C) my sister told me she was attempting this, and she makes everything doable and fun (plus, she has a brain much like mine, so if she can do it, I can do it).

What is a capsule wardrobe, you ask? Basically, it’s an attempt to downsize your closet into a small collection of mix-and-match items (most capsule guides suggest around 30-40) that are supposed to last three months (1 clothing season) before refreshing it. You store what you don’t use out of sight.

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The capsule wardrobe was popularized by Unfancy blogger Caroline Rector back in 2014, but according to this article from Fashion Magazine, the original capsule was a more conservative approach created by a London shop owner in the 70s and was supposed to include roughly a dozen high-quality classic pieces. This idea took flight in the states in 1985 when Donna Karan introduced her “Seven Easy Pieces” collection. Capsule wardrobing is meant to help you declutter your closet, claim your style, gain confidence, save time in decisions and cut down shopping by keeping you from making emotional “I have nothing to wear” purchases. If you’re interested in trying it, Unfancy offers this printable planner that can help you choose your pieces and define your style.

Look at my sister’s Before & After…so inspiring!

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Now that you’re a capsule wardrobe expert, I’m going to break down my attempt at creating one this past weekend–a job I thought would take a couple of hours but turned into a full-day exorcism of my closet and way of life.

One of the biggest reasons I wanted to attempt a capsule wardrobe was that, no matter how many times I “organized” (I’m using that term loosely) my closet, it didn’t take long before it was a mess again and laundry was out of control. This, my friends, is the question I could not put to rest: Why do laundry if you still have things to wear? This problem, of course, resurfaced in other areas of my life, dampening my creativity. I tried the whole Kon Mari thing on my closet, but it’s a difficult approach when you truly find great joy in children’s books, holidays, stickers, neck bows, red shoes, things with bows, things with rainbows, things with stripes, things that are yellow…you get the picture. I love too many things. And, please, let me preface this post by saying this closet problem? It’s a very luxurious problem to have–I get that. With that said, this new capsule approach is doable because I’m just putting things away, not completely having to make decisions yet about what’s staying and what’s going for good. Although–let’s be honest–this is a stealthy method I’m expecting will lead to a more willing purge after reassessing the full closet in a few months. Another reason this feels refreshing for me is that I feel like I’ve been in a style rut simply from being overwhelmed with too much stuff in my brain, closet, etc. I used to get so much pleasure out of putting outfits together and having fun with creative fashion, but I’ve been grabbing the same old things to wear–many that I don’t really love–just because walking into my closet has made me want to walk out of it as quickly as possible–grab & go. And then, feeling overwhelmed and in a style rut, I was more tempted to buy things I didn’t need for an easy fix. After I shared the beginning of my capsule wardrobe attempt on Instagram Stories this weekend, many praised the capsule wardrobe, saying it has helped them clean up space for other things; but several thought it would stifle my style. From experience and so many things I’ve read about creativity and my personality, I think it will do the opposite–create order for my creative spirit to reign.

My goal in choosing my 35 pieces was to purposely pick some fun, colorful out-of-the-box items to force me to get back in my style groove. A lot of capsule wardrobes I’ve seen online feature a more minimalist style–a lot of neutrals, chambray, denim, black and white–but I went with a lot more funky/color pops, combined with staples (black, denim, black/white stripes and polka dots) with which they can easily mix & match.

This is what my closet looked like before–and it doesn’t even show the overflowing laundry baskets on the floor, not to mention all these weird random objects hidden in there that would both make for a challenging game of “Find It” and a nice roar of laughter from my friends. “Really, Kelle? A vacuum attachment, two puzzle pieces and a bike kickstand? Why are these in your closet?”

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One thing I had to get over quickly was that I could make over my closet without having to have it perfect. It’s easy to look at online closet transformations that include thousands of dollars, expert reconfigurations, fancy wood shelving and racks of gorgeous designer clothes on teak hangers and think, “I’m so far from that–why bother?” I’m working with what I have, but I did invest in several large bins as well as new hangers (I’m using the Huggable Hangers from Target). The plastic hangers were making me crazy, and I figured whittling down my clothes to 35 pieces would be a great time to start building a cohesive hanger collection.

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I began by taking everything–I mean everything–out of my closet which led to the realization that OH MY GOD, I AM A HOARDER. Even before I started putting clothes away to store, I collected three huge bags of clothes and shoes to donate and got them out of the house. Because my closet is the largest storage space in the house (we don’t have basements in Florida), I use it not only to store clothes but a place to keep my ironing board, vacuum, hats/mittens for up north, kid keepsakes, tote bags, camera equipment, etc. I did some hardcore organization on those items, and it feels so good! I also shared on Instagram how I store clothes my kids grow out of–the ones I want to save forever–in my closet (you can watch the Stories in my highlights on Instagram). Basically I save a few timeless favorites for grandchildren in one bin, and in another large bin, I store other favorites to be saved and made into a quilt for each child someday (I have one gorgeous baby clothes quilt made already that I’ll be keeping, as if my children want that one, they can pry it out of my cold, dead hands). Woven cottons quilt best, so anything that will work well in their quilt (I have a color/pattern scheme in mind), I put in the bin until I’m ready to send them away to Vintage Giggles for the magic.

On to the capsule selection. This is the Pretty Woman shopping scene part of the post which everyone knows is the best part of the movie (see also: Sex and the City closet scene). I found so many great things in my closet that I wasn’t wearing or had forgotten about and rekindled some major love for them once I took the time to try them on and match them up with other great but ignored pieces.

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I’ve always loved those magazine articles where they select 10 pieces and then show 30 different outfits you can make with them. This was my chance to do it in my own closet, and I had a blast with it–blared music in my bedroom, sorted through piles, matched up outfits, tried them on, walked the hallway runway for Brett and the kids, got votes and remembered how much fun fashion can be. I didn’t even realize I had a red pencil skirt…say what?

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Technically, the items you choose for your capsule include clothes, shoes and outerwear but don’t count pajamas, accessories, special occasion and workout clothes. So a neck bow doesn’t count (oh, we’d include it if it did). But the real question is, DOES A DICKEY COUNT? I tweaked this capsule for my own needs and ended up with 38 clothing pieces and 8 pairs of shoes.

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The Breakdown:

3 graphic tees (love Bando‘s tees). I love wearing these super casual with jeans but also pairing them with long skirts and pencil skirts or layering dressier blouses underneath them.
3 classic upscale neutral tees (to ground all the funky colorful stuff. I love Vince and Michael Stars fit and quality.)
10 blouses/shirts (a mix of Zara, Cooper & Ella, Gap, Who What Wear and Anthropologie)
2 sweaters  (one cardigan, one stripe–for some of these colder weather fronts we get this time of year)
1 blazer (one of my favorite most versatile pieces in my closet, this classic J.Crew Party Blazer)
1 jumper dress (basically a dress with suspenders, from Anthropologie–most favorite things I bought last year)
5 skirts (2 pencil, 1 flare, 2 long including this ASOS hot pink pleated midi skirt that I wasn’t wearing but love)
4 dresses (this Shabby Apple Rainbow Dress–works for casual, a classic J.Crew black dress and 2 printed Anthropologie dresses)
1 romper (even though I am constantly fighting the war on rompers in my head because of my long torso)
1 pair of shorts (I’ve never thought my legs look good in shorts, but sometimes in Florida, you have to succumb, especially at the beach)
1 pair of overalls (I always feel fun and creative when I wear them–they make me happy)
5 pairs of jeans/pants (my favorite go-to denim choices are Gap Super High Waist Corseted Black Jeans  and J.Crew 9″ High Rise Toothpick Jeans)

If I cheat on this capsule, it will most likely be with shoes, but I tried to pick a good variety to get me through both fashion and functionality challenges–classic J.Crew black heels (there’s nothing they don’t go with), my new Sutorial boots handmade in my cousin’s boot shop (going to give you a tour of this shop soon!), red Zara kitten heel boots, funky rainbow sneakers, black flats, t-strap clogs, Free People booties and a pair of sandals.

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Here’s the new space…it feels sooooooo good!

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Laundry can’t build up too bad, and empty hangers means time to wash clothes. I had more fun choosing what to wear today than I have in a long time (it felt like a whole new wardrobe!), and the best part? It’s inspired me to continue the organization and has uncovered some productivity that has been buried for a while.

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Have you tried a capsule wardrobe? Interested in attempting it but don’t know where to start? Share your thoughts, suggestions, challenges!

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