For a little while now, I have toyed with the idea of letting my hair grow out naturally and not covering up my gray hair. Two years ago, my mom underwent this transition and she looks amazing and she is happy. Ever since I watched Stacy London on What Not to Wear, with her white streak against her black hair, I was intrigued by the notion that a patch of graying hair didn’t necessarily need to be covered up.
I started getting gray hair when I was 18, and ever since then, I have been working hard at covering it up. Over the last few years, it has gotten worse. I had been going to get my roots done every 3-4 weeks, and I started doing them at home to save a little money. By a week after I had dyed it, sparkly white roots were already starting to pop up. At two weeks, it was time to color my roots again.
And I’m over it.
I’m over the constant upkeep. I’m over people staring at me for the patch that grows in right over my right eyebrow, where I love to part my hair. I’m over covering up something that is completely and totally natural.
Having kids and becoming a mother has given me a confidence I didn’t have before. Something about growing a human and sustaining it makes you realize that there’s a lot of things that we put importance on that aren’t really important. Plus, I have this notion of how I want my children to see me as they grow up, and of how I want them to see themselves and others as they grow up.
In particular, having a daughter has made me hyper-aware of the limits that we as women put on ourselves. Don’t gain weight, don’t get wrinkles, don’t get too skinny, don’t let your gray hair grow in. I want my daughter to grow up knowing that her beauty is defined ONLY by what SHE considers beautiful. And what better way to show her that than to live it? And truthfully, I think it will be positive for my son to grow up seeing that beauty isn’t just thin and blonde and with a full face of makeup.
Does this mean that I’ll never dye my hair again? I don’t know. Honestly, I know that this is going to be a test of my will and patience. I’m going to give it a shot. I’ve already spoken with my stylist and we have a plan to help camouflage the growth a little so I don’t have a hard line of growth. I know I’ll come up against some comments - I’ve already had a few people tell me that I’m too young and I’m crazy.
You want to know what is crazy to me? That we rely so much on antiquated standards of beauty to tell us who or what we should be, when we are defined by so much more than that? Why is it that men are considered sexy with their salt and pepper hair, and as women, we are considered to be aging prematurely? (And ladies, find yourself a man who tells you he’s growing his hair longer because he wants to match his hair to yours - yes, he said that.)
You know what else is crazy? Thinking that my hair color is what defines me. I am defined by SO much much more than the color assigned to me by genetics. And at the end of the day - it’s hair. If I hate it, I dye it again and start over.
Does your gray hair make you feel gorgeous? ROCK IT. Does red lipstick make you feel like you run the world? YASSS QUEEN. Does a fresh face make you feel your best? HELL YES. Do you feel better with a little shot of Botox now and then? THAT’S ALL YOU MAMA.
It’s time to redefine what beauty really is. So many companies and brands have started to move towards this idea that natural is what is beautiful, but there is still so far to go. Our children will be bombarded with images of what is deemed to be beautiful from a very early age, and it’s up to us to give them the images we want them to emulate. At the end of the day, I don’t care if my daughter dyes her gray hair or doesn’t wear makeup. What I want her to do is be comfortable in her own skin, and do things because SHE wants to do them, not because anyone else tells her she should.
At the end of the day, our confidence is what makes us beautiful anyway.
Do you momma. Because I think you're gorgeous as you are.
A couple of years ago, my friend Jenny Rose over at Princess Turned Mom shared an idea for Valentine's Day that really stuck with me. As an alternative to giving out chocolates and stuffed animals for Valentine's Day, why not give books? They last longer, and they won't give you or your kids cavities! Ever since I read that idea of hers, I decided I would implement it for my own kids for Valentine's Day.
With one week to go until Valentine's Day, I decided to compile a list of books we have enjoyed in our home and that I thought would be cute to give as Valentine's Day gifts.
In compiling the list, I reached out to the amazing people over at Books & Books. If you're in Miami and have never been, get yourself there ASAP. Books & Books is my favorite bookstore. It's local and it has a couple of locations in South Florida, but it has such an incredible variety of material. Plus, the staff there are true bibliophiles - they absolutely love books. I actually love this place so much that we had Caleb's baby shower at the Coral Gables location - it has the cutest cafe and courtyard space!
They sent me list of some of the books they currently have on their shelves, and there is something here for everyone. As a matter of fact, I may swing by there this weekend and pick up a couple of these (including a new read for myself!). If you're into this idea and have the spare time this weekend, head to your nearest Books & Books and pick up a copy of one of these, totally perfect for Valentine's Day!
Love You More
By: Gary Urda
Publisher: Little Bee Books
A Hug Is for Holding Me
By: Lisa Wheeler
Publisher: Abrams Appleseed
The Littlest Things Give the Loveliest Hugs
By: Mark Sperring
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
French Love Poems
Publisher: New Directions Publishing
Dumplin’ (of Netflix fame)
By: Julie Murphy
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
99 Percent Mine
By: Sally Thorne
Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks
Don't have time to stop by and pick one of these up? Head to my Amazon List to see some other options that you can get via Prime, with more than enough time for Valentine's Day!
Love is a Tutu and Goodnight Miami are also available from Books & Books.
I'd love to hear if you do this for your children or loved ones and how it goes - so if you do it, use the hashtag, #chaptersnotchocolates so I can see your posts!
I was provided with this shirt by Pink Blush in exchange for this post. As always, all opinions are my own.
We've already established my love for jeans. I have tried and tried and tried to break myself free of my denim habit, but it's just not happening, people. Jeans are easy and they are versatile and I really do love wearing them, so I'm not going to fight it anymore.
And if you love jeans, then you should go ahead and wear them too! Once you find your style, you'll be much more confident in your skin and in your clothes.
I also really love a good tee. But it can get boring for sure to wear a plain old tee day in and day out. So one way that I change up my look is by finding tees with fun details, patterns, or materials. PinkBlush has really cute maternity clothes, but they also have non-maternity women's clothing, plus-size clothing, and kids' clothing.
This tee from PinkBlush is perfect for when I want to add an extra little something to my look. The black and white stripes are really cute, but the lace detailing on the sleeve really adds a little something extra. The tee is actually pretty long, so it can be worn with leggings as well (my requirement for being able to wear leggings is that the shirt I'm wearing them with must cover my butt - and this tee does!). It is also the softest, comfiest tee, and I know I will be wearing this over and over again.
It's perfect for running around all day with the kids because it doesn't ride up, but it is also easy for me to nurse Chloe in it! I actually wore this exact look out to dinner this weekend, but I could easily dress it up with heels and a big sparkly necklace or dress it down with leggings and sneakers. That's what I love about simple pieces - their versatility is always worth a little investment - and PinkBlush has a great selection of versatile tees like this!
Since I get asked all the time, here's a link to my beach waves tutorial on IGTV!
A lot of you were very interested in what (and how) I packed for our Disney cruise, and have asked for a packing list for that. So I put one together for you!
It's pretty self-explanatory. Some things I packed are specific to a Disney cruise, but I didn't really include them in here (super hero costumes, Mickey ears, pirate outfits). The cruise line also provided a pack n play so we didn't have to take that. They have high chairs available at every restaurant, and are really accommodating when it comes to food for kids (Chloe is already eating table food so I just took a few purees just in case).
Chloe was also sick before we left on the cruise (she had a cold that turned into bronchiolitis) so I took more medication and a nebulizer to continue treating her and in case she got worse.
I also packed one outfit per day and didn't necessarily use them all. The day at Castaway Cay we were in swimsuits and cover ups all day, so the "outfits" for that day didn't get used.
Click on the file below to download the PDF of my cruise packing list.
Questions about what I packed? Suggestions on how to make it better? Send them over to firstname.lastname@example.org!
We spent the last days of 2018 and the first days of 2019 in a gorgeous cabin in Black Mountain, North Carolina. We spent a week there with family, and it was a great, relaxing way to start the year. I'll share a little more about the location later this week, but one of the biggest hurdles for me for any trip is packing.
I am a notorious overpacker, and since we are from Miami, traveling to where the temperature is even slightly colder than we're used to makes me want to be extra prepared. I over packed a little for this trip, but in all fairness we stayed in the cabin and in pajamas on multiple days, which means some of the other clothes I took didn't get used.
We had a couple of activities planned and we knew we were going to the Biltmore Estate one of the days, so I made sure to pack a couple of outfits that were a little nicer (not fancy by any means but jeans instead of sweatpants and nicer sweaters that we never get to wear!).
We stayed in a rental home, so there were some things we took that I might not have taken if we were staying in a hotel, but my list is pretty comprehensive. I've included some blank spaces for you to add in things that are specific to you and your family, but it's a good starting point!
Click on the file below the image to download a PDF file of the packing list!
I hope this helps you pack for your next trip! And if you think I have forgotten anything, let me know in the comments!
I’m not one for making New Year’s resolutions, not really. Anytime I’ve ever done them in the past, I’ve set goals that are too high and the minute I falter, I give up entirely. So in the last few years, I haven’t done resolutions at all. As a matter of fact, I haven’t done much of anything.
But this year, after hearing about it a few years in a row, I decided I would do a word of the year. After a little self-reflection and being totally honest with myself, I decided that my word for 2019 would be SIMPLIFY. In all ways. Once I decided a word of the year, I was able to set some attainable goals for 2019 that would help me achieve the simplicity I have been craving.
Over the last few years, I have felt bogged down. By compromisos, or things we feel we have to do, by stuff (SOOO MUCH STUFF with kids), by my wardrobe, and by the pressure to do it all. After a particularly busy holiday season, I decided that that was it. My primary “job” is supposed to be that of a stay-at-home mom. But my kids were not getting the best of me, at all.
And simplifying was the only way to get it done.
So for my photography business, simplifying means getting a client management software that will help me keep all my information and scheduling in one place.
For the blog, it means I will have a schedule for writing, and I will try not to stay up until the wee hours getting posts done.
For my home, it was to organize my closet and to organize the kids’ toys.
For my personal life, it’s to be present and to not say yes to every invite or event that comes our way. Will I take photos? Yes. But I may upload posts later. Will I reply to your comments and DMs? Yes - but I may not reply within minutes.
I feel like having a big word really helped me to narrow it down. Fitness is not at the top of my list this year. Neither is growing my business. There will be a time for both of those things, and 2019 is not the time. I recognize that. And while I did include a couple of goals like, “Move more,” and “Drink more water,” I know that those are completely attainable and within my reach.
So now that we are more than halfway through January, and I’m no longer on any vacation or planning for one, I’m putting this into practice. On Friday, I started thinking about Chloe’s birthday. At first, I said I would cut a cake with family at home. Then I started coming up with ideas, and pinning my life away on Pinterest. Within 15 minutes, it had gone from a small cake cutting at home with family, to a small-ish birthday party at a park with a bounce house and way too many details to oversee. I researched venues, made calls. And then I thought to myself, “How will this serve me or my family? How is this fitting into the theme of simplicity?” And the answer, before I had finished asking myself the question, was No. No it is not serving our purpose. No, it is not fitting into the theme of simplicity.
And as quickly as I scaled it up, I scaled it down.
And that’s what it’s about. It’s about knowing that you may get off course, but being able to bring yourself back. If you set resolutions and have veered off track a little, know that you can get back. Tomorrow is a new day.
Keep it simple, babe.
We have spent the last week in North Carolina, in an area just outside of Asheville (more on the area and things to do some other time). We left our house on the Friday right after Christmas and we will head back this Saturday. The entire trip is just about 12 hours one way, and we decided to drive for various reasons.
I was actually a little nervous about driving because Chloe doesn't always do so well in the car. As a matter of fact, we had a contingency plan - if she was a disaster on the way up, I would fly back with her on Saturday and Eddie and Caleb would drive down. But she actually did really well on the way up, so we'll all be driving back together again.
Caleb is a great traveler. Last winter we did a road trip and went up to South Carolina, stopping at a couple places along the way, and he was awesome. I wasn't worried about him at all. But there are things I do to make sure it goes more smoothly and that he is kept busy.
There you have it! It's not impossible to road trip with little kids - just takes some planning, preparation, and flexibility!
Hopefully you feel more prepared for your next road trip!
There's something about the ending of the year and ringing in of a new one that makes us pause and reflect. It's easy to just focus on a couple of moments, and we tend to focus on the really good or the really bad ones. But like they say in Rent - 525,600 minutes - how do you measure a year?
We tend to focus on the really big moments, maybe 15 or 20 when we think back on a year, but there are so many little moments in between those big ones. And those tiny moments are what make up the fabric of our year. These are the ones we don't take pictures of - the silent exchanges, the belly laughs, the quiet kisses, the heads on shoulders, the beaming smiles, the kissing of booboos.
In a day and age where everything is over documented, it's nice to think of the moments that are stored in our hearts, and not on our hard drives. If we pause and reflect on those moments, I guarantee there's a lot more good than bad.
2018 was a big year for us. We welcomed Chloe into our family, and we learned to function as a family of four. We found our groove with Eddie's new schedule and I had some really great milestones with my blog and with my photography business. I spoke on my first panel thanks to MamaBoss, scored an amazing partnership with JOHNSON's and was flown to New York City for an event. But the more I think about it, the more I realize that there were so many little moments - moments that aren't the first ones that come to mind when I think of the year - but moments that really define the everyday. Moments like Caleb first meeting Chloe, or Eddie telling me how beautiful he thinks I am. Moments when my clients get back to me telling me how much they adore the photos I captured of their families, or when you, my readers, reach out to me and tell me that something I wrote really resonated with you.
We've got about 960 minutes in a day (that's not counting 8 hours of sleep). Those are a lot of minutes, each one with an opportunity to create a moment or a memory. And while we don't take snapshots of each of those moments to store in our hard drives (can you imagine the size of the hard drive you'd need?!), we're constantly experiencing moments and creating memories.
So in 2019, I'm focusing more on storing memories - some on my hard drive, for sure - but more in my heart.
I'm storing the smiles.
I'm storing the smirks.
I'm storing the funny faces.
I'm storing every "I love you."
I'm storing Caleb's "Goodnight and goodbyes."
I'm storing Chloe's grin every time she sees Caleb, Eddie, or me.
I'm storing every squeeze Eddie gives me.
I'm storing every shared meal, every clinked glass, and every kind exchange.
I'm storing the cuddles along with the middle of the night wake ups.
I'm storing every grateful note or e-mail.
I'm storing every heartfelt thank you.
I'm storing it all.
I won't forget them, because even if I didn't take a photo of each of those 525,600 minutes, those are the moments that make up my life.
Cheers to 2019, and to storing all the moments.
From us to you, Happy New Year!
Christmas Day is just over a week away, which means all the festivities and activities are in full swing. This time of year, it’s so easy to get caught up in everything we should be doing and lose sight of what really matters. There are invitations to cookie exchanges, brunches and dinners and ugly sweater parties, and gifts to be bought and wrapped. And in the midst of all that, it’s easy to lose focus at Christmastime.
At the start of the season, I knew I was in for a busy busy couple of months - and by start of the season I mean October. As a photographer, I start booking up in late October and I’m typically booked up until mid-December. I was hosting Thanksgiving, and I also signed up to help out with a big fundraiser at Caleb’s school on December 1. Sprinkle in there my Christmas mini sessions, hubby's birthday, and various other compromises. So I knew that October through December was going to be hectic.
When I get busy with work and outside compromises, everything else suffers. Right now, my laundry is piled high on the sofa in our bedroom because I haven’t put it away in about two weeks. Before that? It had been about a month since I had actually put my laundry away. My house was a mess, and I hadn’t gotten a single Christmas gift. And while I’m okay with a little bit of a mess (like the laundry I mentioned earlier), it really starts to grate on me when my house is in a shambles. It heightens my anxiety and I have a hard time focusing on everything I need to do because my space is just so out of whack. My self-care suffers, I eat garbage, and I don’t drink enough water.
So when the invites started pouring in for events and activities, I thought really long and really hard about what all of these things would mean for me and for my family. More “hurry up we gotta go,” more leaving my kids, less time with my husband, and more stress because I had all this work to keep up with. So for every invitation that came in, I thought long and hard. And I only said yes to the ones that I thought would truly bring us joy while we were participating.
That has meant that we have spent more time together and less time running from one place to another. We have enjoyed each other’s company and sat down to meals together. We have spent time with family and we have been happier. I have had more patience, and when Chloe and Eddie both came down with nasty colds/viruses, I didn’t freak when I could barely get any work done for 3 days.
And to be honest, I don't feel like we have missed anything this Christmas season. On the contrary, we've enjoyed the things we have been able to do because we didn't feel stressed or overcommitted. One day, our kids will ask to participate in certain activities, and we'll let them choose the activities that bring them joy - but we will teach them to do things because they love them.
At the end of the day, resting and recharging and spending time together has been just what we have needed to get through this Christmas season feeling happy and content. And at the end of the day, that's what Christmas should be about - finding what brings you joy. If making gingerbread houses stresses you out, don't do it. If the thought of standing in line to visit Santa brings you to tears, then don't take them. And if what makes you happy is drinking hot chocolate on the sofa in your Christmas pajamas while watching Christmas movies with your kids, then DO THAT. You don't have to do things because everyone else is doing them. Choose your joy this season, and let your Christmas be yours.
About this Mom
A Miami wife and mom documenting her days with her toddler and all that comes along with it.