Finding yourself again after having kids


c/o Lulu's dress, old (similar HERE, HERE and at Target HERE); Target sandals and bag; Rayban sunglasses.

Nobody who has had a kid ever INTENDS to lose themselves, it just becomes inevitable. (I think? Is this just me? HA.) Not only does you body change as you grow a child, but your entire life shifts to this little tiny human person who depends on YOU for everything. 

Your first one, especially, is a game changer. 

All of a sudden, life as you know it is over (not in a bad way, just different), and the YOU you used to be is kind of gone? Eight and a half years later I'm not sure I remember who I used to be, because now I'm "mom" and everything is changed. I used to be more selfish and spontaneous, more free but less focused. I had yet to see the resilience I would build, the patience and the courage and the all around consuming love that I would add in each day of their lives, like drops of water in a glass. A lot of this can be contributed to just getting older and (hopefully) wiser, but I'd like to think that most of who I am now is shaped by the two little people I get to raise each day.

Still, I did lose myself for a bit. I let what makes me happy slide, and it happened so gradually I didn't even notice. I stopped caring about what I wore, I read less and worked out never and focused only on my kids. Which isn't bad, because they needed me and two kids in seventeen months doesn't leave much time for anything else, it just simply WAS. I was in survival mode, and honestly that lasted for a good several years.  It wasn't until my youngest turned one that I started to gain a little piece back by working out. I would go to the Y three days a week and gain an hour each time while they played in the daycare there. I learned that I had control over how I felt inside and out by how I cared for my body. I gained strength and the mindset that I could handle a lot more physically and mentally than I ever thought possible. 

Then a year or so later I started this blog, because what I wear and how I present myself is another huge factor of what makes me tick. I simply LIKE putting together outfits and expressing myself through my personal style. This blog forced me to get dressed each day and document it, so I tried harder and gained another small piece of myself yet again. If I take five minutes to throw a dress and some cute accessories on, even when I'm heading to the grocery store or the chiropractor, I feel better. It is part of what makes me, ME, and doing so helps me find myself more and more each day. 

Lastly, reading is a huge part of what makes me happy. I am a reader, which I've mentioned many times here. I read about a book a day and I fit in some sort of reading in my day, no matter how busy, whenever I can. I read a whole lot less when my babies were actual babies, but I DID still read a couple of pages when I could. Now I have a lot more time to enjoy a book, the beach is a favorite spot of mine and I read a ton at night while my husband watches his shows. 

Something I remember clearly after my kids were born is that I had also let all my fashion magazines go and only got parenting ones. I never even noticed the change. That's the funny thing about losing yourself, it's often so gradual you don't notice the change until it is too late. For me this gradual loss of myself  took about 2-3 years, until I noticed it and had the time and energy to get it back. 

My kids are 8 and 7 now and looking back I shake my head a bit about who I was then. She wasn't bad, she was just coasting. She lived day by day, often hour by hour, and devoted her whole self to her new mom identity. 

Now she knows better.

I know that for my kids to be happy with themselves, I have to happy with myself. And that if I take the time to do what means the most to me, that they will do the same. They see me taking care of myself, body and soul, which in turn makes me a better mom for them. I guess I had to lose myself to get to who I am now, and maybe in ten years I'll look back and feel the same way about my (almost) 36 year old self. I've noticed that each year I find I know myself better and better, I do more of what makes me happy and less of what I don't, and being true to myself is the first step in all of that. 

Tell me, what do YOU do to stay true to yourself? (Kids or no kids!)

My favorite items to wear this summer (and the one item you'll never regret!)


BP top, old (similar); Levi's shorts; Target sandals; BP faux leather tote, old (similar).

My Summer style is pretty easy (read: lazy.) I am almost always in either workout clothes, my bathing suit, or some type of lounge outfit at home. Rarely do I wear a real outfit, unless we go out to dinner or do something as a family (above was a day where we visited a new brewery in town!)

Reality is, I'm a beach girl and I prefer to spend my days there, we have to enjoy the amazing weather while we can! While I love Fall fashion so much more than any other season, I am NOT ready for it yet. I need more days with my feet in the sand, and nights out with my husband, no schedules and alarms, and time to have special outings with my babies. Believe it or not, I miss them terribly while they are in school (though I DO enjoy the quiet time;), and having the Summer to really enjoy them makes me so happy.

As for what I REALLY wear the most? These shorts! They are IT, you guys. The perfect wash, the perfect amount of distressing, and they go with everything. I wear them over my bathing suit in the day, and with simple tees and tanks everywhere else. They are fairly short (my legs aren't my favorite, but life is too short to care about that!), but I love 'em anyway. Worn with these Target sandals (another fave), these shorts are truly 90% of my summer wardrobe. 

They should hold up for a couple of years, too, so price per wear? They're practically free. ;)

Shop the post!

How to have the best summer hair of your life


Ever since discovering Monat last Fall, my hair has gotten easier and easier to style. Monat works as a treatment based system, the longer you use it the better it gets, until your hair just sort of always looks good and is super soft and shiny? It sounds to good to be true, right? 

Here's the deal: I LOVE Summer, but days and days at the beach and the pool and having to constantly heat style my hair so it would look "decent" was always a drag for me. I never wanted to get my hair wet anytime near "wash day," because it took so much time. I had to use gallons of a very expensive cleansing conditioner each wash (with greasy roots and dry ends by day 2), then I had to blow dry my hair, then flat iron the frizzies out, then I used a curling wand for beach waves. It probably took 30 minutes? NOT what I wanted to be doing on a gorgeous summer day. My hair often didn't even cooperate after that, either! It was a 50/50 shot of having a good hair day. 

Not anymore.

I still wash my hair about 3 days a week (more if I'm swimming), but now I use a dime size amount of Monat's Renew shampoo and I conditioner with the Replenish mask (which is also awesome applied to damp hair before a beach or pool day and secured in a braid for extra protection from the sun!) When I get out of the shower I use a dime size amount of the Leave in conditioner mixed with two drops of the Rejuvenique oil. I air dry for a bit before blow drying just the front pieces of my hair with a flat brush and the very ends (I brush them over my shoulder and blast them with air), for about 2 minutes. MAX. The rest air dries and just looks tousled and beachy and fun. THAT'S IT. I will spray it with Monat's hairspray on super humid days it there is frizz, but that is the extent of my routine. My hair takes about 10 minutes total every three days or so. When I sleep at night I typically loosely braid it for a wavy look the next day. 

I love this so much. 

Life is too short to spend it sweating in your bathroom over a blowdryer!

If I feel like making more effort I will straighten it all out (maybe once this summer? Ha.), or take my curling iron to it after it is air dried and I need to go out for some reason. (This rarely happens.) 

The biggest thing I've found with Monat is that I use less product, I spend less time on my hair, and it looks better than it ever did. Quality hair products are so worth it, in my opinion. I have used shampoos at all price points and I have never seen a shampoo work like this stuff does. It detoxes your hair of yucky silicones, and balances the PH of your scalp so that it can just BE. Plus it is botanically based and good for you. YAY. 


If you'd like to hear more about Monat or would love to ask me questions, please comment below or email me at becauseofjackie(at)yahoo(dot) com. I'd love to introduce you to this amazing brand!

P.S. For those interested in the business side of Monat (it's RIDICULOUSLY awesome... see: I get paid to wash my hair...), free starter kits are happening right now with free shipping until August 10th!

The cutest Free People dress


Free People top; Target sandals

I wish I could have shown the details in this top, and the quality /softness of the lace! The second it came in the mail last Fall I KNEW I would love it and wear it year round. It's great over cutoff's for a summer date night (see above!), and equally as awesome over faux leather leggings, ankle boots, and a faux leopard coat in the winter. 

On this particualr night, my husband and I got to get out of the house and join friends for a night out listening to awesome throwback music (Vanilla Ice! Color Me Badd!), and have some adult beverages. We ate yummy pulled pork sandwiches before we met up with everyone, and ran across this awesomely painted wall that just SCREAMED Instagram picture. (#bloggerproblems) It was a wonderful and much needed night out. I felt pretty and comfortable and effortless, a combo I like to try for each time I get dressed. I never want to tug on clothing or feel like I am not myself, and Free People always has clothing that fits the criteria I look for. It is more expensive, but I find I wear it more and take care of it better, and I am less likely to dispose of it after a season. Now I want this same top in in white.....

Investment pieces, who knew?!

How to pack for a 10+ day trip with only a carry on


Wearing my fave Free People slipdresses (this layered over this) at a family reunion!

Hi there! I took an unintentional-ish break from posting here and I am so happy to be back! I had a huge month of travelling and just enjoying life and I knew that I could step away for a bit and be able to get right back into the swing of things with YOU. I have such pride writing here and sharing my life and style on a pretty regular basis and I have zero plans of NOT doing that, I hope you know that. I have some awesome posts planned (including my #nsale picks!), so YES, let's do this.

This past month has been nuts, with the Fourth and all the festivities that come with that, as well as a short family trip to Indianapolis with my husband and kids, and then a longer 11 day trip back home with just my kids (my husband had to stay home and work, boo.) I was determined to travel for both of these trips with just weekend bags and carry on suitcases. This ended up being surprisingly easy! Obviously the 3 day weekend getaway was the easiest to pack for, but I found that going home for 11 days with just a couple of bags was not that hard, either. My kids each took a back pack, and I had a carry on suitcase and my Lug weekend bag that served as my personal item on the plane. I learned a thing or two about packing for longer trips with just a small bag and I wanted to share these with you now, yay!

1) Despite the length of time we were traveling, I packed my kids and I 5 outfits each because I knew I could wash them at my mom's house and re wear them all. When I am back home I tend to wear simpler things, so I brought a pair of jean shorts, my overalls, a pair of jeans I flew in, and then various tops. I did less actual  "outfits" for me, but tried to stay with neutral colors (black, white, and blush.) Often enough, a simple tee and shorts, with a cute choker or kimono thrown over the top is all you need. My denim shorts were the star of the week for me, I wore them over my bathing suit at my dad's camp in Maine, and with lace up sandals and an off the shoulder top for dinner with my brother and sister in law. I also loved wearing my Free People slip dresses (above), I have them on black and white, and I always feel pretty in those. 

For the kids I did actual matched outfits with one dressier option for them, which worked well. Their clothes fit in their school backpacks, along with pajamas, bathing suits, and some small items they could play with on the plane (luckily they love playing cards together, or in a pinch I could pop a movie on from my Kindle or laptop.) They are old enough to carry their own bags through the airport, so that helped as well. 

2) I tend to over pack shoes, for some reason I think I will actually need the heels or cute wedges when I am home? I packed two pairs of shoes for me, a basic tan sandal (above), and a silver tie up pair of sandals that work well in dressier situations.  My kids each brought one pair of shoes, which they wore, because kids are easy like that;) I need to remember this for future trips, I almost never wear more than 2 pairs of shoes on a trip, ever. I do know it is best to wear your heaviest things on the plane (boots, sweaters, etc), which would work best in colder months. 

3) If I am travelling and need to dress up more, I find that a simpler all black look, with ankle boots (I love my fringe ones!), with statement jewelry of course, works well. I have a cute all black body con dress that translates well dressy or casual, and it rolls up easily in a bag for packing. I save the bags my jewelry comes in from Rocksbox when I buy it, and I travel with those a lot, just tucking jewelry in those. I prefer to pack simpler outifts and add in fun jewelry for a little bit of uniqueness. 

4) When I travel home to my mom I can leave out stuff like shampoo (luckily she buys Monat!) and other bathroom necessities. I do have travel sizes of that stuff, but I left that home this time. I could have easily fit it into my bag, though, in a Ziploc, for easy travelling. I pare down my makeup bag to bare necessities and I brought one neutral colored purse that I rolled in my carry on so that I could call my Lug weekender bag my personal item on the plane. I essentially had two carry on bags, that I used to put toiletries in, my lap top and Kindle, and any extras we acquired on the trip. 

That's it! It's taken me quite some time to limit my packing to smaller bags, I am a notorious over packer. All I know is that on the way home, when the line for checking bags and the security line were super long (seriously, it took us an hour and ten minutes to get through security!), I was so glad that we didn't need to check any bags as we would have missed our flight. 

Tell me, are you able to pack less for trips? (This wasn't really that possible when my kids were babies, but I maybe could have done it, ha!)

Shop the exact pieces I brought on my trip, below!