Ahoy!: Nautical Style for the Entire Family (Also Known as: I Want to Live in a 1960’s Butterick Pattern)

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With summer approaching and school almost done, I’ve been dreaming of heading north and returning to our favorite summer spot in Michigan. This, of course, comes with fun “what will we pack?” lists which–while some things change every year–always end up taking a red, white and navy theme. Or as Heidi calls it, “your summer nautical obsession.” ‘Tis true. I want us all to dress like little sailors. For one, it’s classic American summer style. I mean, who doesn’t love a red stripe boat neck shirt or a perfect pair of linen sailor pants? Second, Florida style tends to be characterized by more jewel tones–Lily Pulitzer pinks and greens, bright florals and bold palm prints, and those, while lovely, aren’t my jam. Plus, subtlety has never been my specialty, and I bear the Literal Destination Fashion Interpretation gene which means I summarize the style of where we’re going and then take it to the moon. I dress like a first lady when visiting Washington D.C.; hippy it up in Ojai, California and get mistaken for a yacht club representative when I step on the ferry toward Mackinac Island. Ahoy, mateys! Lainey, you take port side! Nella, you take starboard!

And the kids? Well, sailor style is the holy grail of children’s fashion, and I take it very seriously.

Exhibit A:

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Exhibit B:

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Exhibit C:

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We go for Little Kennedys, circa 1962. The 60’s and 70’s clearly had nautical fashion in the bag. I want every outfit in these old patterns, please.

I mean, Nella and Dash would kill it in these:

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And don’t think I wouldn’t wear this palazzo jump suit, oh my God.

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Those pointed collar rompers! Get thee to a seamstress.

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Or how about the entire family in matching yacht club uniforms? YAAAAAAASSSSSS.

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I even found the exact equivalent to my favorite vintage sailor suit Dash wore, in a women’s version.

Would I wear it? Feck yeah, I would. I mean, maybe not with knee socks and pilgrim shoes, but with sandals, I’d totally take the pontoon boat for a spin around the lake in this.

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So, we’ve drifted away from The Good Ship Lollipop fashion over the years, but nautical style and good old red, white and blue have always served as classic summer staples, and whether you want to go full-on vintage sailor or include simple subtle hints of the sea, here’s a round-up of some favorite nautical fashions for girls, boys and mamas.

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1. Powell Craft Sailor Dress (in sizes 1-7!). This is it! Such a chic version of the classic knotted sailor dress. And it works for so many ages.
2. Freshly Picked (NEW!) Leather Sandals
3. H&M Stripe Sleeveless Bow Top
4. Mini Boden Wide Leg Sailor Pants
5. Hanna Andersson Cotton Stripe Tee. Nella has this tee and it is a top five staple of our summer wardrobe–super versatile, great quality and perfect for layering under overalls and jumpers.
6. Hum Stitchery Andi Mini Skirt with Suspenders
7. Gap Red Espadrilles. I cannot with these little espadrilles. Seriously.
8. Hanna Andersson Sailboat Tank
9. Herschel Heritage Kids Backpack
10. H&M Seersucker Knotted Blouse
11. Gap Stripe Eyelet Tank Dress
12. Navy Saltwater Sandals
13. Zara Red Jumpsuit with Frill. I wanted this one for Nella for Mackinac Island this summer and was super bummed that her size is the only one sold out.
14. H&M Stripe Jersey Top
5. J Crew Factory Scallop Hem Shorts
16. Twisted Navy Boat Shoes. Classic nautical look…and only $15!

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1. Mabo Organic Cotton Red Stripe Tee
2. Janie and Jack Linen Suspender Shorts
3. Janie and Jack Linen Blend Cap (so dapper!). I feel like this little hat with the suspender shorts is a little bit more grown-up version of the classic sailor suit for boys.
4. Tan Saltwater Sandals
5. Sailboat Toy (really floats in water!)
6. J Crew Vintage Chest Stripe Tee. These J Crew vintage wash tees are heaven. The quality is unmatched–they wash up over and over still looking brand new.
7. H&M Navy Clam Diggers. I love the length of these and that they are slim-fitting. 
8. Sperry Boat Shoes
9. Old Navy White Tee
10. H&M Denim Shorts with Suspenders
11. Winter Water Factory Sailboat Tee. Dash had this print in a tank last summer, and I loved it so much.
12. Children’s Place Red Pull-On Shorts
3. Osh Kosh Navy Sandals
4. Lucy & Leo Organic Cotton and Hemp Mantauk Tank and Shorts. I’m obsessed with this little outfit for Dash. The quality is so great (the hemp makes it a bit more structured).

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1. Gap Vintage Wash V-Neck Tee
2. Gap Red Bandana Necktie. Well, you know how I feel about neck ties. GLAMOUR DO. And a perfect way to sailor up an otherwise ordinary outfit.
3. J Crew Factory Navy Shorts ($14.50!). These shorts are my secret summer staple. I have them in several colors–J Crew quality, but super inexpensive.
4. Women’s Saltwater Sandals
5. J Crew Factory Panama Hat
6. J Crew Factory Striped Off-the-Shoulder Boat Shirt. I love this shirt, especially with the sailor pants. It’s so I’ll-see-you-at-the-yacht-club.
7. J Crew Linen Sailor Pants
8. Modcloth Nautical One-Piece Suit but you’re totes going to need some…
9. Silicone Reusable Pasties for that white top.
10. Gap Stripe Crochet Tank. I love the retro feel of this tank.
11. Women’s Classic Red Keds (YASSS. All summer long.)
12, Modcloth Nautical Short-Sleeve Sweater. I’m going to have some fun in this baby this summer.

Time to practice my square knot.

I can hear my dad teasing me now: “Admiral McCarthy called. He needs his uniform back.”

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Enjoying: Mother’s Day

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Just a quick midweek post to say hi  from the abyss of a birthday week (Lainey’s) for which I’m planning an epic scavenger hunt this weekend but haven’t actually started working on it yet. Might want to get on that.

I had one Mother’s Day request this past weekend–everyone has to go to the beach…and like it. So when the sun was creeping past the hot-as-hell point Sunday, we headed to my favorite beach as of late to finish off the evening riding waves, writing our names in the sand and chasing seagulls. It was perfect.

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Going to the beach is so much easier than it used to be. The little ones no longer push the boundaries of how far they can go, and I’ve downsized my bring-it-all approach to showing up with a small backpack or tote and a blanket. The kids carry their own towels and usually one floatie, and we can pack it up and leave in a matter of seconds.

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Still working on teaching Dash what’s an appropriate time and place to whip it out and pee (“NOT towards the people, Dash! It’s not funny!”), but we’ll get there. Also, the best way to confirm to a four-year-old that something is indeed very funny is to say “It’s not funny.”

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I’m far more eager to go the beach than Brett, so I like to remind him often that he’s the one who tells everyone how much he loves Naples because of how close it is to the beach. “You know you have to actually go to the beach to credibly use that reason. I’m revoking you of your Naples travel guide status.”

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10 more school days for us, and we couldn’t be more excited.

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A few things I’m loving right now:

1. Will Ferrell’s commencement speech at USC last week. Watch it. It’s so so good. “I didn’t read any reviews because I was too busy throwing darts at the dartboard, all the while facing my fears.” And “You will never truly be successful until you learn to give beyond yourself–empathy and kindness are the true signs of emotional intelligence.” 

2. The Creativity Manifesto written and illustrated by Wendy MacNaugton and Courtney E. Martin (just ordered Martin’s book): “…Pick up your pen. Pick up your paintbrush. Pick up your damn chin. Put your two calloused hands on the turntables, in the clay, on the strings. Get behind the camera. Look for that pinprick of light. …Focus on that light. Enlarge it. Reveal the fierce urgency of now. Reveal how shattered we are, how capable of being repaired.”

3. Orlando Soria’s Instagram Stories. He’s hilarious. They make me laugh every day.

4. And this quote by John C. Maxwell: “You’ll never change your life until you change something you do daily. The secret to your success is found in your daily routine.”

…and I meant to share this interview last week. Talking about my favorite books and what reading means to me over at The Reading Lists here.

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Happy Mother’s Day

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I’ve been trying to write a Mother’s Day post for three days now, locking myself in my office when Brett gets home and declaring, as the kids pass their perfectly capable father to come bang on the door to ask ME to get them a drink/sign their homework folder/explain why fish don’t have butts, “ASK DADDY! MOMMY’S WORKING! IT’S HIS TURN!” There’s a special tone of voice I’ve reserved for these moments, of course–mommish enough to pass as directed toward the kids but clearly intended for Brett.

Read between the lines: “Dear God, intervene already.”

Intervention is difficult though when Nella’s already lying on the floor, sliding her fingers under the door, crying, “Mommy, do you see me?” Because there’s only one way to answer that question in motherhood, and it is always “Yes.” I always see you. In my office, in my bathtub, in my sleep.

I managed to slip away to take a long shower tonight while Brett watched the kids play in the pool, but right as I went to lather my shampoo, I heard them coming…all of them. “We’re cold, can we get in the shower with you?” A minute later, I was crammed against the back corner tile, fighting for an eighth of the water stream while three kids in bathing suits drew pictures on the fogged-up shower doors–a cat, a bunny, a snake that slowly disappeared with more steam–and I tried to figure out how to rinse my hair with my tiny share of the shower head.

It is hard to find the place where they end and I begin, and while I thought I’d find it in the shower tonight but failed, there is always one place where the lines feel strangely clear–at an airport bar when traveling alone. My friend Claire and I have talked about this before, and so she sends me a photo a couple weeks ago, no explanation needed–a half-finished mimosa on a table in front of a window overlooking the runway and a stretch of planes against a cold gray sky.

“Ahh, I love it. I know that feeling,” I text back.

“I know you do. I took this photo specifically for you.”

It’s the one definitive place between two worlds and two people, and whether I’m departing to adventure away from them or excitedly coming home to get back to them, the airport bar scene is always accompanied by this electric energy and deep thoughts for me, heightened, of course, by the faint buzz of an airport beer. It’s where my intertwined identities separate for a moment, hover above like little spirits, and acknowledge each other:

“Oh hey, adventurous one that dwells within. I see you.”
“Hi, Mom. Nice to get a break, huh? You’re doing a good job, by the way. Fun working with you.”
“Hey–in case we don’t get this opportunity again for a while, I need to tell you this: I love them, but I love you too.”
“Don’t worry, I get it. And for the record, I love them too.”

And then they hug and get all tangled up again as I reach for my phone to find that picture of all three kids sleeping in my bed, the one where Lainey’s arm is tucked into Nella’s, and Dash is hogging half the bed. And I feel electric again–because nothing feels more electric than loving them.

I find it necessary to honor the part of me that is just me–to take quiet runs alone, say no to opening the office door sometimes, say yes to those trips that take me away, explore hobbies and talents and desires outside of my kids. I do it for myself, but I do it for them too–because it’s too much pressure on them to be linked to my every happiness, and I want them to find themselves outside of me as well.

But mostly, I lean in to the entanglement of it all, especially during this phase of our lives–to lean in to the fact that listening to the adventurous one that dwells within often means inviting Lainey to join me on a run, or scooting my magazines off the edge of the bathtub so Dash can climb in with me, or pausing work on the computer so Nella can sit in my lap and tell me what songs she wants me to play on Spotify.

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She wants Justin Bieber who lures the other two in, and they’re soon laughing and dancing and shouting out what song they want next. “Pitbull!” Nella yells, and the twerking begins with the first beat. They shake their hips like Shakira on the “babybabybabybabybabybaby” part, and the girls fall to the floor in a fit of laughter when Dash’s interpretive dance goes awry. Every part of me is braided in this moment, right here, and there isn’t an airport bar in the world that can hold a flame to this.

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It is during these times that I often do this thing I do where I imagine this moment is a sliver from the past and that my little old lady self has been given the opportunity to wormhole back to it. They can ask me to refill their cup a hundred times. They can shove homework folders in my face with stubby pencils that never write. They can demand for me to explain one more time why fish don’t have butts and fall apart when my answer isn’t what they were looking for.

In the end, I feel simply...lucky.  There isn’t a cell in my body that isn’t stamped with love for them. That’s why I can wave goodbye when Brett takes them all to Chuck E. Cheese tonight while I stay home and drink wine with my book club.

Happy Mother’s Day and love to all those who feel this day in different ways–the memories, the heartache, the hope, the thrill, the hard work, the beauty, but most of all…the love.