Packed: Jamaica Picks


I feel like the first part of this post could be an exact “copy & paste” from my Packed: Chicago Picks post last July. How do vacations always manage to sneak up on me?? I’m mentally packed for months, but then the week of the trip, I panic because I’m running out of time and pack wayyyyy too much stuff. At least I’m somewhat organized! I saved my packing list and vacation check list from our cruise last year on the computer, and that decision has been a total lifesaver. Is anybody else as obsessed with lists as I am? Let me know in the comments if you want to see my check list and packing list – I’ll share them in my next post!

I’m apparently predictable when it comes to packing, because I’m still including a mix of basic pieces in my bag, with a few beach necessities:

•  an oversized tee
•  printed shorts
•  Chacos (so hipster of me)
•  a maxi dress
•  a wide-brimmed fedora

I’m not usually into BLINDINGLY BRIGHT colors, but I weirdly found myself wanting something yellow for this trip. I have this pair of printed shorts from Old Navy that I fell in love with instantly, but then brought them home and realized that I don’t really know what shirt to wear them with. When I imagined what color would look good with them, the color yellow popped into my head. I don’t even like yellow! This vacation is doing weird things to me.

We’ll be at the resort for a week and I’m still not entirely sure what we’re doing each day, so I haven’t planned every single outfit. But here’s a taste!

#1: Floral scarf. Hands down, one of my best purchases ever. The craziest thing is, I can’t even remember where it’s from! Pretty sure it’s from a boutique online.
#2: “Locals Only” tank. I just got this a couple days ago from Bliss Boutique! It just screamed ‘beach vacation,’ not to mention the fact that it’s by Comfort Colors, which makes it an automatic winner.
#3:  New sunnies. I. LOVE. THESE. I found them at TJ Maxx for like $12, and the subtle cat-eye slays me!
#4: Grey printed tee. Old Navy will always be my go-to for basic wardrobe pieces. This top is super soft and the perfect kind of oversized.
#5: Hawaiian print “Keds.” (They’re not real Keds, they’re from Target.) How great is that print?? I should have gotten two pairs, because I’m going to wear these until they fall apart.
#6: Printed shorts. Old Navy strikes again! The only printed pair of shorts I owned before these had stripes, but I looked at these and was instantly transported to Jamaica.
#7: J. Crew denim shorts. Literally the perfect denim shorts. They fit like a dream. I shouldn’t have spent so many years wasting money on cheap, flimsy denim!


Other essentials for this trip include:

— waterproof beach bag
— Chacos
— sunscreen
— Downy wrinkle release spray
— cute swimsuit cover-up
— 1 pair of heels + cute clutch + statement necklaces, in case we decide to be fancy


Packing Tips

1. Make a list and stick to it.
Realistically decide how many outfits you need, based on where you’re traveling and your length of stay. Don’t play the “Oh, but I neeeeeed six cardigans because I want options” game. Or the “What if we get stranded and end up hiking across the island?? I have to make sure we have a first aid kid, bottled water, a flare, and an emergency snowsuit” game. You don’t need it all, I promise you don’t. If you’re an overpacker, gather up everything you want to take and reduce it by at least 1/3.


2. Lay out your clothes by outfit.
This helps in several ways. First, it keeps you from overpacking because you see exactly how many outfits you’re taking. Second, it makes things easy once you’re actually on vacation because you don’t have to root through multiple stacks of clothes to put an outfit together. Less time in front of your suitcase = more time in front of the ocean.


3. Before you put anything in your suitcase, group similar things together.
This might sound repetitive, but just go with me here. You’ve already stacked your outfits together, tees/tanks on top of shorts/jeans. Gather everything else up (accessories, toiletries, extras) and keep similar items with each other. This will allow for a second round of purging, if you need it, because you have eyes on EVERYTHING you’re packing at once and can see if you have more stuff than you really need. If you pack things in groups, it also makes things easier to find in your suitcase whenever you get to the hotel.


4. Fill your bag with smaller bags.
When you have lots of little things that you don’t want to lose in a mountain of clothes, put them in smaller zippered bags. It’s way easier to find your favorite pair of earrings by grabbing the bag you packed them in, rather than rifling through a pile of swimsuits.

I’m sooooo ready to lay on that beach! Jamaica, here we come!

What tricks do you use for packing smart? I’d love to know!




I seriously can’t stand still because our trip is SO SOON!! I’ve been mentally packing my bags since January, but now it’s actually time and I’m freaking out a little because of how much is left to do before we leave.

So far, our itinerary for the week looks like this:

Sunday: relax
Monday: relax
Tuesday: relax
Wednesday: relax
Thursday: relax
Friday: relax
Saturday: cry because we have to go home

I almost don’t believe that it’s finally time to get on a plane because we’ve known about the trip for so long. It’s been torturous I’m ready to have zero responsibilities other than soaking up the sun and stuffing my face for a week, and I know Daniel is too after months of studying for the CPA. (Speaking of – he takes his third test out of four tomorrow, so please say a prayer for him!)


I also never imagined I would hear myself pray, “God, I just really need longer leg hair.”  The last time I shaved, I used the cream shave that MONAT created for their new men’s system, and I SWEAR it stunted my leg hair growth. Which I guess is good? But not when you have an appointment scheduled to wax said leg hair off for your beach vacation. I’m definitely using the cream shave from now on if it keeps my hair from coming back, but for the next few days, you’ll probably be able to find me googling “how to make your leg hair grow faster”.


 One of my favorite parts of traveling is the packing! I love picking outfits to wear and figuring out how to fit a lifetime of stuff into a too-small suitcase. I’m obsessed with this compilation by Jones Design Company and definitely using it as inspiration for our week. Although I could honestly pack a couple of swimsuits, snorkeling gear, and some sunscreen and be good to go. :)

Stay tuned for a post with my outfit picks and packing tips!

To the Exhausted Post Office Mom


Dear Mom of Three in the Post Office:

I stood transfixed while we waited in line, watching as your adorably cute toddler wiggled around the room, picking up and dropping the letters you had given her to hold.

“How old is she?” I asked. You turned and gave me a half smile and replied, “20 months.”

Your oldest girl rolled around on the floor around your legs, while your son managed to touch probably every single manila  envelope and cardboard box in the cubbies next to us, even after you told him to stop three times.

I couldn’t help watching, but not because of your kids – because of you.

You had every reason to lose your temper. You were clearly worn out, and your kids had enough energy to rival a crowd of Super Bowl fans. But your patient, firm yet gentle responses were unparalleled. To remain calm and kind in the presence of kids who were, honestly, just being kids, is a rare and praiseworthy quality. I’m sure you can think of a hundred other times when you weren’t so patient, but I will never forget your quiet exchange with your children in that tiny post office. You handled yourself with so much grace, and I wish I had gotten the chance to tell you in person. You’re a warrior, and someday your crazy monster children will grow up and realize how incredibly brilliant you are and how unbelievably lucky they are.

I hope I parent the way you did today. Happy Mother’s Day, Post Office Mom.

Love, A Former Monster Child

This letter was originally posted on Facebook a year ago, but it deserves to be shared again.

Happy Mother’s Day to my own mom, Dayna,  my mom-in-law, Sue, and my grandmas, Ann, Mignonne, Mary, Alice, and Lela, as well as all the other moms and grandmas in my life who have loved me as one of their own. Happy Mother’s Day to the moms-to-be, to the brand new moms, to the worn out moms, to the moms whose kids live far away, to the woman who’s waiting to be a mom, to the mom who’s grieving the children she’s lost, to the woman with no physical children but HOARDES of spiritual children, to the mom who had to cook her own Mother’s Day lunch – you are so, so loved. You are not alone. Christ is holding you tightly, and you are cherished beyond belief.

Little Bird is Leaving the Nest


Dear Robyn:

Little bird, you’re really leaving the nest.

My youngest sibling is graduating from college today.


I really don’t know what to feel. I definitely feel old, because if you’re old enough to graduate college, that means I graduated four years ago and that’s just impossible. I still see you as the cute, freckly 14-year-old you used to be, because that’s how old you were when I went to college. (Remember taking those silly photos on my Macbook in the car on the way to OBU? Lol.) Sometimes I look at you and I’m like, “Wait…you can drive??” But you’re not 14 anymore. You’re an actual adult. *weird*

I know we struggle like any pair of sisters would, and I know I’ve tried to be your mom too many times when Mom actually does the job just fine by herself. But even though you’re my “little” sister (I’m pretty sure you’re taller than me now), I look up to you (which I guess is fitting, seeing as how you’re taller, but I digress). You are so neat! I mean it, I really do look up to you! You have qualities I’ve never had, and may never have, though I hope that maybe you’ll live near me again someday and I can acquire them through osmosis.

You are compassionate.
You give generously.
You care for others selflessly.
You have the best sense of humor.
You love learning.

Not to mention the fact that you LITERALLY never went through an awkward pre-teen/teen phase. Shut up, because I know that you’re protesting, but seriously? You didn’t. Stop.

It’s hard for me to handle you as a grown-up, and I think I figured out why. We’ve spent two decades in a funny sort of dance: me doing dumb things and telling you not to do them, you doing dumb things and telling me about them, both of us laughing (and crying) about dumb stuff we did, me giving you advice you needed but didn’t want, you giving me advice I didn’t know I needed, me giving you advice you didn’t need because you already knew what to do, and so on. Now, after all this time, we’re finally beginning to come to a place where the playing field is more even. You’re catching up to me, and it’s hard for me to admit. Know why? Because I still want to be needed. :) You’re growing up, but I don’t want you to stop needing me. Since the day you were born, I’ve been looking out for you. I think God engraves it on the hearts of every oldest child: an instinctive responsibility to protect and encourage their younger brothers or sisters. Nine times out of ten, I’ve given you advice because (1) I wanted you to do what I did because it worked, or (2) I wanted you to NOT do what I did because it DIDN’T work. I’ve spent years perfecting the role of “older and wiser” (*wink*), and it’s weird to start becoming more like equals as far as life experience goes. It’s hard to let go of you, because I don’t want you to fall. But you were BORN to fly. You’re ready. You are so ready, and you’re going to change the world.

I know I’ve already been more sappy than you’re comfortable with, but just know that I adore you and I couldn’t be prouder of you if I tried. You’re going to be the BEST teacher – can’t wait to see where the Lord sends you next! ♥

   I love you!
– Laura