I’ve been talking a lot lately about my love affair with summertime, and I’ve received a flood questions through Instagram direct messages and emails. I pulled out some of my favorite questions to answer here for a summer q & a love round-up.
Q: Packing for myself and the kids is overwhelming and I always feel like I pack too much stuff! How do you approach packing? Is it different for weekends vs. longer trips?
Girl, this is a hard one. I’ve been an O.P. (over packer) my entire life because I always have grand visions for trips. I not only want to bring all the fun choices for clothes (I mean, it’s vacation!) and 900 pairs of shoes to choose from; but also twinkle lights to hang on hotel beds, art supplies, travel journals, six different books to read–not to mention special little treats for the kids to make trips special. I get better the older I get though because I have so much more experience coming home with giant suitcases full of things we never used and clothes I never wore. I’ve actually gone on several trips this past year where I never even checked a bag (huge for me!). When packing clothes, I try to bring our very favorite things that mix and match well rather than lots of “kind of like it” choices because we are happy repeating outfits if they’re our favorites. Writing down a “what to pack” list before I pull out a suitcase also helps me stick to the list rather than throwing in a bunch of things willy nilly that always leads to over packing. I try to stick to a carry-on bag or duffel for a weekend trip and allow myself a full suitcase for a longer trip. But I do know one thing for sure–when I pack all the shoes I want for a trip, I can easily take out half of them and still be fine.
Q: I want to love my look during the summer, but I feel like my approach to style isn’t much different than when I was a teenager. Are there some key pieces that are your go-to picks for summer style?
Summer really captures the spirit of freedom and fun! I feel like if there’s one season to try something new or out of your comfort zone, it’s summer. I love bright pops of color for this season–yellow (cannot get enough of it this summer!), hot pink, bright green–and mixing unexpected colors (currently loving royal blue paired with pink). I wear classic Birkenstocks for a lot of the summer (even though Brett isn’t a fan) and love pairing them with dresses and long skirts as well as the usual jeans and shorts. If I had to pack one bag for the entire summer, it would definitely include at least one sundress (especially if it’s white), a good Panama hat, some Parent Trap retro camp style (ringer tees!), a short-sleeve white button-up shirt (goes with everything!) and some fun colorful tennis shoes.
Q: How do you and the kids stay sane in the car during long road trips?!
We each get three “Permission to Lose it” cards a day. Seriously. We have been taking long road trips in the summer for so many years now, we’re all used to it (and look forward to it!). We’ve discovered many tricks along the way (give in to technology) and have learned what to pack to make trips easier (pillows! Everyone wants a pillow.). My number one advice: Take your time! We break up our long trips with lots of stops, and we welcome impromptu adventures (might I remind you of the billboard advertisement that led to our famous Babyland General Hospital detour and one of the greatest road trip adventures ever). Enjoy the ride, and keep expectations reasonable. Losing it on a road trip is often due more to a dreamy expectation not being fulfilled than the actual status of the trip. Guaranteed: Kids will ask to go to the bathroom three minutes after you pull away from the rest stop. Garbage will end up everywhere except for the cute little designated trash bag you arranged. And kids are most definitely going to argue over who gets to sit in the “good seat.” You’ll handle all of it so much better if you don’t go into the trip imagining your family singing four part harmony to your vacation playlist and your kids turning down iPads for books and quiet crochet projects in the back seat.
Q: As the days get longer and hotter, I feel lousy about shedding my big sweaters and stretchy jeans. Not to mention wearing a bathing suit… I don’t want my poor body image to bring down my mood, keep me from participating in the fun, or rubbing off on my kids. Any advice?
This is foolproof. Ready? Imagine yourself at 88 years old–worn and weathered with a body that can’t do what it used to do and a grown family scattered across the country–looking back at yourself right now. “If only I knew how beautiful I was!” she’d think. “If only she realized how powerful and capable her body was! If only she took advantage of this incredible time in her life and fully lived and enjoyed it. She’s so lucky!” Don’t make your 88 year-old self get mad at your current self. Love this phase of your life. Love this body you have right now. If you need to start in the shallow end, put your bathing suit on when you’re all by yourself at home. Turn up your favorite song and dance like no one’s watching (because clearly, no one is)…in your bathing suit. Shake what your mama gave ya. That feeling you get? That freedom? Hang on to it. Take it out—to the beach, to the pool, to the lake. Love the version of you that is this unique sliver of time.
Q: I’m always excited to take photos in the beginning of summer, but towards the end of summer it feels more like a chore. How can I document the whole summer and enjoy it without letting my camera take over my life?
First, space it out. Don’t stress yourself out by thinking you have to capture all the summer things the first day school gets out. Give yourself photo challenges to keep summer documentation fun. Maybe it’s a photo a day. Maybe it’s a themed summer photography project. Think about five details of summer that make you happy and challenge yourself to photograph them one week (clothes drying on the line, fresh berries in a bowl on the kitchen counter, watching your baby niece attempt to eat corn off the cob, etc.). When you’re at an event or enjoying an experience, give yourself ten minutes to go around photographing and then put your camera away and let yourself enjoy the experience without it.
We dig into more of this in my 10-day Framed! Summer Edition Photography course that starts Monday, June 3rd! This live online experience will jumpstart your creative spark, connect you with an amazing group of women, and give you guidance on composition, techniques, and planning that’ll transform your photos and your perspective on this summer and beyond. The course includes three live video calls with me and fellow participants, a photography how-to video library (15 videos!), three assignments that I’ll walk you through step-by-step, and more! Register by June 3rd.
Q: Any tips for being a good house guest when you visit friends and family during the summer?
(Pssst. If hostess has babies, love on them! Instant good house guest!)
Oh Lordy, yes. I mean, there’s the obvious–clean up after yourself, offer to pay for a meal, if you have kids with you, make sure they aren’t running around tearing the place up. But also–don’t hover. No matter how much you love the hostess and she loves you, neither one of you wants to spend every waking second together. Even when you really love being with someone, entertaining requires a hostess to be emotionally “on.” That can be so exhausting! Make sure as a guest you purposely make room for your hostess to decompress and have a breather. She likely won’t ask for it, so you’ll have to take initiative. Maybe that’s offering to go grocery shopping alone for her. Maybe it’s taking an afternoon to explore on your own. Maybe it’s as simple as letting your hostess know you’re going to read alone in the guest room for a little while. Just because you’re on vacation doesn’t mean your host is. Make sure you make room for your hosts to continue their normal routine which might include work or private family time. And make yourself at home! When people stay with us, I love when I see them making themselves comfortable enough to grab a blanket if they’re cold, open a cabinet to find a water glass, etc.—so much pressure off of me to stay attentive to their needs. It makes me nervous when I sense a guest is waiting for me to offer everything. Let your hostess know you’re comfortable and feel right at home (that’s the goal of every hostess anyway!).
Q: How can I give small and big celebrations in my home a magical summery feel without spending my paycheck at Target?
Campfires = FREE summer magic feels.
Here’s the secret for that magical summery feel. Ready? It’s YOU. Your enthusiasm, your peace, your gratitude, your sense of wonder, your invitation for fun and play, your willingness to act like a kid again. There’s not a Target summer product, no matter how colorful it is, that comes close to your power. You set the tone. There are two other little secrets that help create atmospheric magic though that also don’t rely on spending lots of money: music and lights. Play music. In the kitchen in the morning, in the back yard in the afternoon, on the front porch at night while you’re watching the fireflies. Set the mood you’re envisioning with the perfect summer playlist. Add twinkle lights or candle light (drop tea lights in Mason jars) or even flashlights at night. Use what you have. Blankets in the linen closet transform into couch forts for summer movie night. A garden hose, a tarp and some bubble bath become a Saturday afternoon slip-n-slide. You are the magic maker. My Once Upon A Summer guide (PDF) is packed with ideas, tips, resources, printables, my Ultimate Summer Bucket List and more! Grab it here.
And nobody asked this, but let’s pretend they did. My favorite Otter Pop flavor? Why, I thought you’d never ask. It’s Alexander the Grape.