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For my 40th birthday, I wanted to celebrate by having a little solo time. So, I booked a trip to New York City, sans kids, sans Giant. And it was fabulous! I needed this getaway to refresh my soul and to live in the moment. I got to catch up with old and new friends over coffee, stayed in a gorgeous Upper West Side apartment (thanks, Cecilia!), snuck in family photo sessions with two of my favorite families from Chicago, saw a Broadway show, and oh hey, even met the gorgeous Caila Quinn for breakfast a couple times. No biggie. Of course, being the foodie that I am, I sought out all the delicious New York food, including breakfast at Balthazar, cronuts at Dominique Ansel Bakery, Charlie Bird for dinner… and much, much more. Check out my lookbook here for what I packed and wore for my New York trip, and scroll down for more detail shots! I can’t wait to come back in September–maybe next time I’ll pack flats with me!pinthis

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Upon turning 40 last month, I reflected on a few important lessons I learned over the years. Oh, and I may have done a birthday boudoir session… 😉

On Confidence

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“Any woman can look her best if she feels good in her skin. It’s not a question of clothes or makeup. It’s how she sparkles.” – Sophia Loren

Only a month into my fourth decade of life, and I can already tell you I know I’ll love this chapter more than any other one. That’s because I’m able to say “I’m forty!” with so much pride. I feel so much more confident and prettier now as a 40-year old–and after giving birth to three kids. I know my body will never be the same as it was when I was 20 (heck, even in my 30s) and I’m so perfectly okay with this. Confidence and style go hand in hand, but it’s not about the clothes, it’s about the individual.

For my 40th I booked a boudoir shoot. It wasn’t for Michael, it was for myself. To celebrate all my imperfections and to channel my inner Beyoce. It’s about being able to say f*ck it and own your body, because you’re only given one body.

I feel so much more beautiful, composed and empowered now than I ever did in my skinny 20’s. At the age of 30, I worked towards and discovered self-love and this was life-changing. I always heard the phrase “forty and fabulous” and now I totally get it–it’s really not just a saying for cheesy birthday sashes!

On Love + Relationships

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Love yourself first and foremost. When I was in my 20’s and early 30’s, I was the pleaser and always settled. It led to heartaches and wrong relationships. It wasn’t until I loved myself and learned not to settle that my relationships blossomed with the right men. I would have also told my younger self to live in a shoebox, eat ramen everyday, and travel the world with my money saved. I regret never having lived in other countries.

On Motherhood

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As a mother to 3 kids under 5, the best lesson I learned in motherhood is to let the small stuff go. Spilled milk, tantrums in public, skipping naps. With every child, I’ve become more relaxed. Be the opposite of a helicopter parent. (Your other half will likely do that for you.)

On Independence

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It’s okay for a married couple to have their own hobbies. For me, I love to travel. I sent myself to NYC earlier in the month as a birthday gift to myself. I go out with my girlfriends a few times a month. I feel like you need that time away to appreciate and miss each other. I depend on him as my husband because I crave his love and affection he equally misses me when we are not together. When he and I go on his work trip to Germany in a few weeks, I plan to take the train to Cologne for the day and skip out on boring business dinners. And of course, I depend on him for being such a hands-on dad.

On Future

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I strive to travel more and show more patience. I want my kids to see the world so they don’t live in a tiny bubble. More patience because having three kids CAN test you. I sometimes believe it’s their mission to break you everyday.

A big thank you to everyone for all your birthday wishes last month! Looking forward to sharing my journey into my 40s with you all!

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Off-the-shoulder is a 90s trend that has been going strong in recent seasons, and I don’t see it going anywhere anytime soon. Try this warm weather staple in a few styles–cold shoulder cut-outs, slouchy peasant tops, and full-on off-the-shoulder like the ruffled top I’m wearing here. This trend showcases the neckline in a subtly sexy and feminine way, and for this alone, I LOVE IT!!! It is classic enough to stick around year after year. Be sure to invest in a high quality, well-fitted strapless bra, or my personal preference, reusable silicon nipple cover pasties. Pair your off-the-shoulder top with your favorite spring denim and get ready to unleash your inner 90s child!

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I just returned from my epic birthday trip to New York, so I’m busy cuddling my kiddos and catching up on outfit posts, editing photos from the trip, and doing other real life stuff. I believe every closet needs a good faux leather jacket. It’s the perfect piece for transitional weather, like we have been experiencing here in Chicago lately. Not quite warm enough to banish the outerwear to the depths of your closet for good, but not cold enough for a down jacket. If you’re not feeling the all-black leather for spring, try a blush option, this embroidered moto jacket, or maybe this baby blue beauty. I like to wear my leather with flirty, feminine details like lace camis and this floral print full skirt, pair it with booties and call it day. How about you?

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