best of: backpacks 2018

Backpack season is upon us! So many darling options out there! I broke it down for boys + girls and there’s a mix of preschool size on up to youth. Nothing TOO big though because I got your back and your kiddos. Literally.

Let it be said so many of these would be great for either gender, so be sure and check out both and know that I hate deeming LEGOS just for boys, or a pink unicorn backpack girls only. You do you!!


2018 Best of Back Packs GIRLS

Hard Shell Egg Pack $14 and several bright colors! // Hello Kitty Pack // Soft Red Adidas Pack // Watermelons // Dusty Rose Red All Over Patterned Adidas // Unicorns // Gingham (this pack set comes with 3 pieces and is $30!) // Colorblock Pack (all the colors are SPOT on) // Pineapple Rucksack – $7 // Mustard + Hot Orange, greatest color combo ever. // Skateboard pack // Tote + Backpack combo! Looks so handy for school or dance class – $22// Fjallraven striped handles! // Not sure why this multi colored toddler pack is $9 + amazing reviews, but it’s darling. // Kitty Rucksack // Striped (also part of the 3 series set. So many options in this to check out here! // Clear Pack. I know it’s bittersweet since some schools demand it for safety reasons, but I still think it’s fun!



2018 Best of Back Packs BOYS

Burgundy Adidas Lunchbox  // LEGO lunchbox // Show team spirit, these are Herschel and under $30! They have every team imaginable so keep searching til you find yours! More here and here. // Orange Reptile under $20 // LEGO backpack // Hardshell Bee // Reptile Tail in Green // Mario pattern that I don’t hate. // This color combo is epic. By Vans. // This monster pack has a front with lego-like beads for keeping busy while on the bus etc. // Window Pane in blue // Upside Down bat – funny!! // Olive + Navy Toddler pack, great deal – $10 // Another team option, super slick $26. // Prism pack // Starry Sky pack // Classic Hunter pack // Smiley Face Pack // All black Vans pack //

Back To School Shoes

Sponsored by Rack Room Shoes.

Back to School means so many things for our family this year, as a whole and for each individual and we might all need a little extra dose of courage for Back to School 2018!  I need all the tips on how to make moving to a new place right before school easier, more peaceful, or even fun for the kids. It might keep me up at night a little. We’ve started attending church in our new area, meeting up with a couple people nearby that have kids around their age, hopefully that will help!Rack Room Shoes Gonna choose to have peace and trust that everything will work out! Serenity now, right? (I’ll never forgive myself that this photo is blurry! Hayes was doing this pose and Raleigh came, sat down to copy him. Dead!)Rack Room ShoesMoving to a new place, new school, where my kids don’t know anyone just yet is full of unknowns and neither of my kids do well with that! Callum goes from Kindergarten (half day) to a full day of school, and cafeteria lunch, so that’s a big transition for him, too!Rack Room Shoes Raleigh won’t know what to do without his brothers all day and even Russ and I have lots of personal + professional transitions to manage, too!Rack Room ShoesIt might sound superficial, but one of my favorite things about clothing is how it can instantly give you a dose of courage and confidence. So we’re taking all we can get this year!!Rack Room Shoes   Giving my kids the reigns to find the pieces that make them feel like they can walk new halls and smile at new faces and know that they’ve got this! They can do this! And even kids that aren’t new get nervous, too! So they can be a friend to others instead of waiting for someone to find them.Rack Room ShoesWe’ve teamed up with Rack Room Shoes for several Back to School seasons now and I love that they have great prices and huge collection of options for the whole family! I love that they’re active in charity work called Shoes That Fit. They have donated 250,000 pairs to children in need Here’s what everyone chose!

Rack Room Shoes

Russ – Nike Tanjun in Olive // Emily – Nike Air Max Motion Racer in White// Hayes – Nike Team Hustle D8 in Black, White and Gold // Callum – New Balance 005 in Dark Green // Raleigh — Nike Infant Flex Contact in Grey (this shoe is so pliable its perfect for a new walker!) // Cal’s Backpack

DIY Reading Fort

This post is sponsored by Kellogg’s. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Currently my boys share a room and both of them have been known to yell to the other “I just need some space!” so I knew it was time to create another option for them if they need to get some alone time in! A good ol’ sheet fort on my bed (since I’m never in there until way past their bedtime anyway) is just what they doctor ordered.

We’ve had an ongoing incentive at our house that they can earn different rewards for every book that they read. Happily for all of us, they are plowing through all our books! Dollar General has this amazing deal right now that has made it even easier to get our hands on more books.$1 off coupon | Dollar General Deals

RiRight now with every participating box of Kellogg’s products you buy, you can cash it in for a book! You can view the book options here, but we picked up Rules, Diaper Baby and a couple Clifford the Big Red Dog options! On top of that, Kellogg’s products are 3 for $6 AND I have a $1 off coupon for you right here. Christmas in July!!Dollar General Coupon for Free Book!For your at-home fort there are lots of ways to make it happen. I did ours over our bed so the reading nook is extra cozy!$1 off coupon | Dollar General DealsAll you need is a sheet, rope and push-pins. I like push-pins because you can hardly notice the holes in the ceiling! If you want a no hole option just put some stools parallel to each other and put the sheet over top!DIY reading fort

My big boys love to read the Clifford the Big Red Dog books to Raleigh, so we made a DIY Trail Mix or “Puppy Chow” for them to snack on! (I totally realize it’s going to be crumb central on my bed, so they also get armed with my handheld vacuum to take care of that afterward!)

Here’s how we do the DIY Puppy Chow Bar! Just set out bowls with several options that taste good together. Then give them a small cup, and they can layer on their favorites!
$1 off coupon | Dollar General DealsThe worst part of trial mix is that you have to pick out your favorites, leaving the raisins to go to waste (just me?). So by them making their own, they can get their favorites, and I don’t have as much clean up. Dollar General Free Book DealWe did Kellogg’s® Froot Loops® Cereal and Kellogg’s® Frosted Flakes® with gummy fruit snacks and cashews! If you head to Dollar General for the deals I mentioned, these cereals were front and center! Super easy to grab and go!Dollar General Free Book DealHead here to grab the $1 off coupon, and you can find your nearest Dollar General location here.

weekend deals

Summer clearance + Back to School deals are starting to roll out and now is a great time to stock up!

JCREW has an insane additional 50% off sale. New Balance Leggings $23?? // Stripe slides $24!

Resin Circle Earrings // Tippi Sweater // Pom Earrings // Jeans (so many more on the site!) // Straw Hat

OLD NAVY has up to 50% off jeans + tees for women and kids have $5 deals galore! Uniform clothes all under $10

TARGET is doing spend $50 save $10 spend $100 save $25 — but there are markdowns already going like $100 off this rug. Good way to stack deals!

GAP as up to 50% + an additional 20% off everything LOTS of cute pieces!

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best of #nsale accessories

My favorite Spanx, those incredible black and white earrings, and the bra with 400 4-5 star reviews!



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pickleball summer

This post has been sponsored by Danone Waters of America. All thoughts and
opinions are my own.

So my husband is weirdly good at tennis and LOVES playing in the warm months. Trouble is, I am not so good! He’s asked for years and years for us to spend time playing, but I never seem to get better– ha! A few years ago we tried out Pickleball, have you played? It’s essentially a mix of tennis + ping pong, and it is so fun! I feel like I was able to pick it up and improve so much faster!Evian US Open Sweepstakes! The differences are: it’s a smaller court, and it takes a lot less force and skill to hit the ball where you want it to go. Let’s just say there’s no such thing as Pickleball elbow 😉 You know you’re in the right place when the other couples on the court are all grey-haired and possibly retired! It is such a great workout and we’re both winded, chugging water and so sweaty after! Since I can actually keep up with him and get a good game going, it’s been such a great way for us to be active together! We’ve even made it a part of our vacations with friends — making sure a court is nearby or on the property where we’re staying — and the boys are getting on the action, too!evian® is packed with natural electrolytes If you buy this evian six pack at any Kroger Store, you’ll see there are sweepstakes to win two tickets to the U.S. Open! You can also just text ‘winevian’ to 24587! This is basically Russ’ dream so we’re guzzling evian like crazy. He watches every year, how fun would it be to go?!  We get these at Kroger which is the very closest grocery store to our home. Kroger is my go-to, so it’s been fun to team up with them so much over the past year or so!What do you guys do to be active with your significant other? Always looking for new ways!




mine + ours: books #11

July Book Reviews!

I rarely, if ever, do this but I quit not one, but TWO books this month! (The last time was probably 6 years ago and it was Freedom by Jonathan Franzen) it might be my stress levels, a never ending to-do list with the move, not sure but I have the personality that finishes books to the bitter end so it’s shocking maybe to only me!

First– Reincarnation Blues by Michael Poore. The story of Milo, a man who has died nearly 10,000 times. He only has a few more shots to hit perfection or he disappears forever, except one problem. He is in love with Death (a woman in the book) and can’t seem to commit to leaving her.

The premise caught my attention and seemed like a super unique and fresh book and it was entertaining and unlike anything I’ve read. I just couldn’t seem to get through it! So I exchanged it on Audible. From what my book club buddies said the content and language is rough throughout and it’s a little dark. Has anyone read this? Did I give up on the best book of my life?

Second — The Girl With Seven Names. This one has thousands of 5 star reviews and was a default merely because I had read “Nothing to Envy” last year and they information and presentation is super similar. I didn’t find myself learning anything I hadn’t already about North Korea so I passed on it! Nothing to Envy shares multiple people’s stories whereas Seven Names is one story, so if you find yourself leaning towards one over the other, maybe that will help make the decision!


I Can Do That! Books have quickly become go-tos around here. For the church bag, the car, quiet time. Interactive books are our jam and these are great! The dry erase one especially!

Activity Books for Kids!Stickyscapes at the Museum was sent to us to check out and it’s RAD! It’s quirky and wonderful and I might have stolen it from my kids to play with. I love that it has stickers of famous artist and works of art and random other stickers that you can fill in the pages of the museum!Stickyscapes at the Museum

Catch all my past recs here!



Can I just tell you I don’t know how someone swiping would feel but I am EXHAUSTED from the last week of crazy sales. They were truly so good and I had to restrain myself. ENOUGH links already, Em! I apologize if I added to the frenzy! So hard to pass up sharing when they’re that good.

Here’s what is on my mind this week!

EATING: Nutrikid sent me this powdered shake and I’ve been working it into my boys’ smoothies and its a hit! It has 10g of grass-fed protein and a whole heap of vitamins, omegas, probiotics and no sugar! You guys know I have a super picky eater so I am stoked about this! Vanilla is great but they have several flavors here! Us “15OFF” for 15%!

WATCHING: I take it back, I finished Ozarks and it’s dark AF. Then I got my Hulu free trial because I couldn’t take it anymore — everyone talking about Handmaid’s Tail!! I have so much to say on this show. It is dark and gratuitous and uncomfortable, but it is also touching, and so well done. And the subject matter is nothing we haven’t experienced in history I could never recommend it to the general public because it’s a tough, tough watch, but I also think an important one.

Coming off binging both seasons of that, I needed something light. And my friend Kim has been literally bullying me to watch Love Island and I finally did. I’m obsessed. Two eps in. Its a freaking treasure. Anyone else watching?


Kayti gave me this KKW Bake and Brighten or whatever the heck its called and its actually really good. Super happy with it and I got a few people wondering what my highlighter was this week — here she is! I have light and its great for me! It’s not meant to bronze at all, just contour so if it feels too light that’s why! I was also wearing these earrings a Little Sycamore ring in that same video and this lip in Carina.

Today the Nordstrom Sale goes live for all and I have several posts under this one of my favorites if you’re interested. I also finally got around to taking some crappy pics of what I bought. There are so many other pieces I wish I could buy, but this is what shopping the #nsale on a budget looks like! Ha!

Tissue Turtleneck (I got this in green too. I love the idea of it for layering under jackets or sweaters. $15!)

Slim Stretch Crepe Pants — such a great fit on these pants and they come in several colors! Personally I get sick of jeans and love having something different to throw in the rotation when it gets colder! Sneakers and a graphic tee. A long overcoat and heels for dinner, a button down blouse and flats for lunch with friends. $58 down from $89.

Button Detail Crepe Skirt — this is the same brand and material and I am dead over the asymmetrical hem! It has great coverage so you can freely bend and move but it’s still so freaking flattering. The buttons bubble on this one if it’s not a little looser so I’d size up. Or if you’re pretty straight up and down you’d probably be fine with your size? $48 down from $78!

Leith Nik Block Heel — I got these in “taupe” velvet but I think they show more grey or even a dusty lavender. I think they sort of chameleon to whatever you’re wearing which is great! $50 down from $80.

READING: Wonderstruck with my kids! Caldecott winner and I’ve never seen a book like it. It’s coming out to theaters soon and is a mixture of written story and graphic novel! Super cool.

ANTICIPATING: The move, always. Started de-junking my house one drawer at a time. Trying not to get wholly overwhelmed. We have basically one more purchase to make for the necessary decor and then we’re done! I am sure we’ll have lots to add later on but as far as purchases I can make before we’re actually settled in — we’re done! AHHH!

LISTENING: Which brings me to listening. Kind of a strange thing to share but I get asked about this a lot. Am I nervous to move? Absolutely. To put all your eggs in your big dream basket is not meant to be comfortable. To truly go all in. We saved for years. We then spent every dime we have and leveraged whatever we could. We have given every last ounce of ourselves, physically and emotionally. We have hustled harder, stretched thinner, and prayed harder than ever before. I truly don’t know how Russ has done it. Working 15+ hours each day, managing the bids and the draws and the bank. Coming home and showing up for our family, too.

What keeps us going? He says heavy metal, ha. He’s literally pumping himself up with every step, to keep motivated. Thanks for that, Metallica. He also watches this clip by Jocko who is in a higher up in the armed forces every now and then and “Good” has been our inside joke every time something doesn’t go to plan. Which is a lot. So much has been put into this, it’s hard to know how to manage expectations, even after all that its still just a house, and it’s how we live in it and away from it that truly matters. I just pray that this new place fosters the family culture that we’re hoping for, that it brings out the best in us all.

It’s funny that music is keeping him going because it’s keeping me going too! I made myself a playlist of songs that sort of encapsulate what this dream means to me, and to us. It is so much more than a house. And it is meant to heal so much more than a temporal need for a place to live. And one day when it doesn’t feel so tender to the touch maybe I’ll share about it. But I turn on the playlist anytime I get scared, or unsure. I turn it on when I drive to the house and when I leave it, and I feel such immense gratitude. This turned into a novel (what else is new!) but wanted to share for whatever reason.

HUGE HUGE thank you to all of you who messaged me about my school debate yesterday. I am gonna tour both schools and see how it feels!

Have the best weekend everyone!



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#nsale best of shoes

Top 13, according to me. 😉

White, Western Edge are two trends you’ll see a lot of this Fall. Combine both with 1. Marc Fisher // 2. Or this Steve Madden option!  // 3. A nice bootie option, love the perforated for something new + exciting! // 4. Love this classic side buckle suede boot. Such a classic staple! // 5.// Isabel Marant look alikes via Charles 6. The tougher, combat, hiking bootie is big for Fall, too! Love this Steve Madden brown pair // 7. // Nike Blazers 8. 9. Hunters for $89?? 10. Like the other hiking pair but basically an exact replica from a designer pair I saw endless celebrities wearing last Fall that I am certain will have staying power this year! I am eyeing this pair hard! 11. Pretty suede heel in several colors with the D’Orsay detailing at the arch! 12. Bought this taupe velvet heel SO FAST. 13. A perfect $60 heel in 4 great colors!




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best of #nsale dresses, skirts + pants




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