5 on friday: travel highlights

My days are seriously mixed up. After 3 weeks in South Africa where I didn't have to track time, days, or work, I really lost track of where (and when) we are. But, apparently, it's Friday again, or so my watch tells me. I'm going to detail our trip more thoroughly in the coming days, but I can't think a better way to kick off all the recaps than wrap up our top five moments of our travels this past month. I'm linking up today with Smidge of This for 5 on Friday and Meet at the Barre for Friday Favorites.

1 // Flying to South Africa was an adventure this time. When I booked our flights, I knew we obviously needed the boys' passports. I did not, however, see that South Africa had changed their policies and required original birth certificates, as well. We showed up to fly on the 8th of December, and we weren't allowed to board because we didn't have them. After our amazing neighbor scanned them for me, and we got them notarized, we were able to fly on the 9th instead - only missing one day of our trip. It was early in the morning, and we were all exhausted when we connected in London, but we saw some incredible sights, including the Eye of London in all its glory.

2 // Christmas wasn't all that Christmas-y in South Africa, but the malls were definitely decked out in all their finery. My cousin, Angie, told us about the Mickey Mouse Christmas tree at Menlyn Mall in Pretoria, so we decided to head over there one evening to surprise our biggest Mickey fan. Needless to say, Spencer was totally in awe, acted like it was the second coming of Christ, and screamed with joy for several minutes.

3 // We made a point of seeing as much as possible around the Pretoria area (where my family is) while we were there. We stayed with my aunt and uncle, but my aunt isn't in the best health, and she relies heavily on oxygen these days. So, we didn't get to travel as much as we wanted to. Luckily, there are a lot of things nearby so the boys could see the animals without traveling too far. We headed to Krugersdorp to the Lion & Safari park, and I was able to pet a baby lion, and we saw one climb a tree. Too cool!

4 // If you follow me on instagram, you've probably seen it, but we ran into a big ol' South African roadblock at the Rietvlei Nature Reserve one day, and it was too funny. We also had lunch there at the old camphouse, and it was the best. The boys found a stump upon which to entertain all our fellow diners with their rendition of the Hot Dog Dance from Mickey Mouse. It was charming (and hilarious), coupled by their fantastic shirts.

Boys' Shirts - Crazy 8 (similar here)

5 // The whole darn trip was lovely, and though we were definitely ready to come home, it was so great being able to share this world with my boys. We went to the Voortrekker Monument one of our last days there, and though I've been a few times before, seeing the views of Pretoria and the land my momma is from was just so special. It was beautiful, and I'm so glad we had this opportunity to spend time together in this wonderful country.

We really had such a great time, and though we're decompressing for a few days in New Hampshire, we're heading back to New York to get the ball rolling on PCS season tomorrow. It's going to be full-speed ahead for the next 6-8 months before we move, and I'm excited, nervous, scared, and so so ready to see what's next for this little family of mine.

I hope you all had fantastic holidays, and I can't wait to catch up! xo

christmas in south africa

Hi friends! It's been a minute. We got back around 2 AM this morning after a whirlwind 30 hours of traveling. We're spending the next couple days here in New Hampshire with my parents, then we'll be heading back to New York this weekend. I have so much to share about our trip to South Africa, and I'll be getting down to it in the next few days. But today, I just want to recount our Christmas spent overseas this year.

Christmas was different this year, as we spent it at the La Montagne Guest Lodge in Hartbeespoort, South Africa. Rather than a snowy Christmas like we usually experience in New England, it was 95 degrees, and we spent the day in the pool overlooking the Hartbeespoort Dam. Christmas was also our second to last day in South Africa, so we kind of rushed through the whole day - just trying to soak up the sun and family time before we packed (last-minute, of course).

La Montagne offered an incredible Christmas brunch for guests, and we were a group of about 30 there for the 4-hour time offering. From roast beef to braised chicken, fillets of fish and beyond, the meal was incredible. They had delicious sides, fantastic desserts, and the staff was friendly and inviting - even with the noise and activity we all made them endure. 

Spencer and Porter loved being able to swim on Christmas day. To be fair, I don't think they even had a clue it was Christmas, but dang it, they had fun. Ryan and I took turns swimming with them, enjoying a poolside Windhoek beer, and really just enjoying the last bit of our holiday with family. While we were sad it was one of the last times we'd see everybody before we flew, we were definitely ready to travel back, so it was a mixed bag of emotions.

We thought a lot about our Christmas overseas, and while the holiday was wonderful, we definitely missed the Christmas vibe this year. I don't think we'll actually spend another Christmas there because summer for the holiday just wasn't what we love. There's something about the cool weather, twinkle lights, carols, and the smells of Christmas that just make the holiday. Am I right? We're excited to spend next year in the comfort of our home.

But, all that said, I hope you all had amazing Christmases, and I can't wait to share more of our trip with you in the next week or so!

hello from south africa

Sweet, beautiful friends! We're in South Africa (for the past 8 days or so), and I have so many stories to tell! Naturally, though, we're soaking up all the time we possibly can before our time here runs out, so I haven't taken the time to really sit down, write a proper blog, and formulate my thoughts.

I certainly promise that I will, but I want to make sure to enjoy things in the moment, first and foremost. We're here for about 10 more days, so we're packed to the bring with things to do. From seeing the Christmas lights in Johannesburg tonight to going to Kruguersdorp next week, we're going nonstop. I'll recap it once we're all home back in the United States. 

As such, if I don't manage to comment on your blogs before Christmas, I hope you're having a wonderful time with your friends and family, and I can't wait to see what you've all done and catch up when we're back! 

Lots of love xxx

3 years of spencer bruce

photo courtesy of Kindred Hearts Photography

Dear Spencer Bruce,

Today you are three years old!

Where has the time gone? It seems like just yesterday that your daddy and I brought you home from the hospital, scared new parents. We had no idea what we were doing, and we had no idea how to do it! At 13 days old, you made a cross-country move with us to New York, and we haven't looked back for a single day.

Little man, three years ago, you made me a mama. From the start, you've been such a resilient, fiercely independent, invincible little boy. You have the strongest convictions about what you do and don't want. You know exactly who you are, and you aren't afraid to show it (and I love that about you!) You love your little brother, and you're all boy. You think bugs and worms are the coolest, and you can resist a good puddle-jump. To be fair, who can?! 

Spencer, I know that today is about cupcakes and songs for you, and that's wonderful because today is your day. I want you to know that your Daddy and I love you more than words could ever express, and I have so many hopes, and dreams, and wishes for you. I want you to have it all, little man because you are perfect and wonderful.

You're destined for greatness, sweet boy, and I'll do everything in my power to get you there. But for now, today is for you. Happy birthday, my precious boy. 

Love always,


5 on friday: welcome december

I seriously can't believe it's already December! It's officially been a whole month since Ryan got home from his deployment, and in less than a week, we're heading out of the country. This is going to be the busiest few days here, as we're leaving NY for NH on Tuesday, then we're heading to Boston on Thursday to head out of the country. But, we're hoping to accomplish a few more things here before we go, and it's gearing up to be a good weekend! I'm linking up today with Smidge of This for 5 on Friday and Meet at the Barre for Friday Favorites.

1 // Spencer is turning 3 on Monday, December 4th! How is that even possible?! Every day I watch this little boy grow more and more mature. He's so aware of everything around him. He's sweet and sensitive, thoughtful and kind, silly and rambunctious. This little man gives me such great joy, and I can't wait to share our celebrations!

2 // Speaking of Spencer's birthday, I'm going to attempt to make cake pops this weekend for him to take to daycare on Monday. He loves cake pops, and I think it'll be a fun and kid-friendly treat for everybody. I'm hoping to follow this site's tips/recipe, and offer a chocolate-free version for a child in his class with an allergy. Fingers crossed it goes well?! 

3 // We are leaving for South Africa next Thursday! My mom's family is from there, and we'll be spending about 3 weeks enjoying their summer while winter hits home here in NY. We're going to head to Zebula straight from the airport for several days, and we'll be spending Christmas at Harbeespoort Resort, but I'm not sure what else we'll do while there. Either way, I can't wait! I took this picture during my last trip back, and I can't wait to share it with my family!

4 // Ryan and I have his unit's Dining Out tonight at the RiverEdge Resort in Alexandria Bay. I used Rent the Runway again, and I stepped way out of my comfort zone with my dress this time. I'm really hoping the look comes together because I'm a little bit worried it won't! I'm doing my own hair tonight, so I'm not sure how that's going to go, but here's hoping it doesn't suck?!

5 // Totally unrelated to all the things, but I've been feeling like the worst cat mom lately because Stella and Jasper are going to be here in NY alone while we're in South Africa. Obviously, yes, we have a pet sitter, but I feel so bad! Danny is at least spending the month with my parents in NH. I've had my eye on this wall shelf for them from Meowingtons for a while now, and I keep hesitating to pull the trigger. Someone tell me that it's worth it and that I should just do it!

That was a seriously random assortment of Friday thoughts, but that's clearly where my head is today. I hope you all have fantastic weekends and great plans ahead. Happy December, sweet friends!

our fort drum army homecoming

I know I've said it before, but we literally have the best photographer here at Fort Drum. A little less than a month ago, Ryan's unit got home from a tour in the Middle East, and Julie from Kindred Hearts Photography came to take pictures and document our special day as daddy returned. I teased the photos she gave in the beginning, but I finally got all of them, and I felt that flood of emotions all over again when I opened the file and saw those moments again. 

It was like reliving them again. The anticipation of their return. The amazing adrenaline rush when our soldiers marched in. The exhilaration of finding our soldier in a sea of camo. The overwhelming joy and tears that came with the relief of having him back in my arms. Seeing these pictures again is priceless, and you'll have to forgive the photo dump that's to come because I just have to share.

All images courtesy and copyright of Kindred Hearts Photography

These pictures are truly everything to me. We didn't have a lot of professional pictures before. I've come to realize the value and posterity of these moments though, and that quality counts. I will treasure these photos for a lifetime because seeing my boys see their Daddy again, hugging my solider and feeling that overwhelming rush of pride isn't something that will go away soon - or ever. Damn, I'm proud to be an Army wife to my soldier.

my konmari closet

Can you believe that Thanksgiving has already come and gone?! Seriously! Time is flying lately, and I think that it's in large part because we're leaving the country in less than two weeks (wait...what?!) In the spirit of Black Friday being yesterday, Ryan and I decided to change up our mindset a little. Instead of just adding more stuff to our lives, we wanted to eliminate some of the excesses. One of the biggest pain points in our home is our closet. We have a walk-in closet, thankfully, but the layout leaves something to be desired, and we have/had a lot of clothes. We decided that we would each tackle our wardrobe and really eliminate the excess. 

You may remember I read Spark Joy earlier this year, which details the KonMari Method. I decided to implement those changes in our kitchen, and the results were amazing. So, we decided that it was time to spark some joy in our closet, too. We don't want to totally redo the footprint because we're not staying here long term, but we wanted to make it more bearable and functional.

Here's the thing. I love fashion, but I don't have the most exciting fashion sense. I love classics. I'm a big fan of black, greys, and white - I know - a little bland, but it works together for the most part. The problem is that I have a lot of other pieces in there from the few moments I've tried to step outside what I really love, and they started to bog down the entire wardrobe (and closet). So, I decided to do what the KonMari Method says - take everything out and start from scratch.

You'll have to pardon how messy everything looks, but that's how the process goes. It looks worse before it looks better. Once everything was out of the closet, I looked at each piece and honestly acknowledged how often I wear it, and how often it I truly thought I would wear it going forward. I have a lot of quality clothes from Banana Republic, J Brand Jeans, Chinese Laundry, and even J Crew dresses...but most of them really haven't been worn lately, or ever, in some cases.

So, I had to put aside those errant thoughts of "well, maybe I'll wear them someday," and honestly put them in the pile to donate. I'd love to try and sell some of it, but 'tis the season to give, too, so I want to live in that spirit. 

I've also really been fascinated by the concept of capsule wardrobes and minimalism this year, too, and I wanted to sort of embrace those styles with our closet and my wardrobe, as well. Jenn from Lost in the Right Direction has a lot of great posts about her adventures in minimalism, and we've chatted a few times about it. I want to jump in more though, especially since we'll be moving in the next 8 months or so, and excess is the worst when moving. But I digress...

It took about an hour and a half of naptime to really weed everything out, clean things up, and hang things in order. I wrote an article the other day about how to declutter your closet, and I used some of those tips here, organizing my clothes by sleeve length, spacing things out, etc. 

The end result was insanely awesome. Between the two of us, Ryan and I filled up for large trash bags of clothing and shoes to donate. Sure, some of these were pricey items, but it's less about the money and far more about the spirit of giving. Plus, you know that age-old adage of having a closet full of clothes and nothing to wear? Now I can simply open my closet and see exactly what I have. They're pieces that mix and match well, and now I know where I can spend money appropriately towards my wardrobe. And, with all the great sales going on right now, it's the perfect time to revamp things a little bit!

Have any of you tried the KonMari Method, or do you have a capsule wardrobe? I'd love to hear your tips and tricks!

thankful for thanksgiving

Black Jersey Knit Swing Dress: Old Navy (here) // Blanket Scarf: Riley Grace Boutique (similar here)

Thanksgiving is upon us, yet again, and I'm loving it! I have so very much to be thankful for this year. 2017 was a hard one for the Moore family. Ryan deployed in early February, and we had to brave a 9-month separation as a family. It wasn't an easy one by any stretch of the imagination. Danny was hit by a car six days after Ryan deployed. Both Spencer and Porter were hospitalized for severe medical issues. Household items broke, and honestly, it felt like someone was pulling the rug out from under us multiple times.

But great things happened, as well. I trained for 9 long months and completed my first marathon. Both my boys started at a fantastic daycare that they love - and where they're learning and growing leaps and bounds every day. Ryan and I grew as a couple, learned to live separately but together (that deserves a post of its own), and embraced the challenges that life threw at us.

all images are courtesy and copyright of Kindred Hearts Photography

I thought about posting about a tablescape, or the menu for tomorrow, or even what my boys are going to wear because, yes, I'm that mom - it's all planned. But here's the thing. For today and tomorrow, I just want to be thankful. I want to remember that Thanksgiving is a time to reflect upon that which we have to be grateful for, and I have so, so much. 

There's a church that I drive past every day as I take the boys to school that has a sign out front that says "Thanksgiving was never meant to be just one day." So, as we head into a day of feasts, friends, and family, I encourage you to reflect on what you're grateful for. Chances are you're just as blessed, and remembering that makes all the difference.

Happy (early) Thanksgiving, sweet friends!

ice skating in black river

We had our first snow this past weekend in the North Country. It wasn't much, but it was enough to let us know that the season is truly upon us. I love the first snow. There's something so magical about it; how it blankets the ground and everything becomes so quiet. There's a smell to it, too. It's fresh, clean, and pure - before it gets all gross from cars whipping by. Yes, I'm waxing nostalgic about snow, and I won't apologize for that even one bit!

Jacket & Boots - LL Bean (here and here) // Jammie Pants - Old Navy (similar here)

It was a busy weekend for us. We went in with one real goal - to go see the Christmas lights at Lights on the Lake in Syracuse. Guess what we didn't do? That's right...see the lights. We did, however, take the boys to Billy Beez, an indoor playground in Syracuse. It was a little pricey - we paid $36 for the four of us but, to be fair, it's an all-day pass. You can technically come and go as you please, so long as you wear the wristband provided. We stayed about two hours because the boys were totally pooped after playing, climbing, and exploring nonstop. It was worth every penny!

We did dinner at Destiny at Gordon Biersch, and it was good as we remembered. The boys are getting better and better at manners and etiquette at restaurants, and though we might be cheating a bit pulling out the handy electronics when they start fidgeting halfway through a meal, they really do great. They always say please and thank you, they seldom have fits, and both are pretty good at entertaining themselves appropriately. And they eat, so that's a plus! Anyway, we'd planned to go to Lights on the Lake after dinner, but it was pouring and already 6:30, so we decided to head home.

Sunday, we woke up to snow, and my sweet Spencer was wide-eyed and awestruck when he saw it out the window. Melt my heart, little man. We decided to go ice skating that afternoon, but the only place to locally skate is the Watertown Municipal Arena, and their open skate hours are smack during naptime at 1:15 to 3:30 PM. We decided to chance it, and we went. 

Spencer had a blast. He pretty much hung on the bar the whole time while I pushed him around the rink, and Ryan and Porter didn't skate, but it was so much fun for us to have something to do together. Fun fact...both my parents were professional figure skaters, so skating runs in my blood. That said, I'm decent skating on the ice, but I'm by no means great. 

Needless to say, it was a busy weekend over here, and with Thanksgiving this week (what?!) it's definitely just going to keep getting busier and busier! I snagged a huge freelance job last week that's kicking off today, too, so I'm going to be very busy the next few weeks, and I'm excited to really work on a project that's going to challenge me going forward. I have so much to be thankful for this year - not the least of which is wonderful weekends like this with my family.

I hope you all had great weekends, too, and that the week ahead gets started off great!

I'm linking up today with B Loved Boston for Weekending.

5 on friday: countdown to the holidays

But seriously, how are we less than a week out from Thanksgiving, guys? I'm honestly a bit clueless as to where the entire month of November has gone. Sure, we've been a little busy welcoming Ryan home, reintegrating as a family of four, and preparing to go to South Africa in less than three weeks, but yikes! This season is just speeding by, and I can't help but wonder where the time has gone! This Friday, I'm linking up with Smidge of This for 5 on Friday and Meet at the Barre for Friday Favorites.

1 // We had our Christmas photos done last weekend, and our amazing photographer, Julie, teased some of the photos online. I'm obsessed. I mean, Spencer's always a handsome boy, but she always manages to capture the best of him, and I can't wait to see the rest!

Photo Courtesy of Kindred Hearts Photography

2 // We bought new luggage for our upcoming trip to South Africa for Christmas, and we're so excited that it finally arrived yesterday! We did a lot of research, and we decided to to with the Haupstadtkoffer Hard-Side Luggage Set in Alex Red. Needless to say, we're obsessed. Not only did it not break the bank, but it's eye-catching, has TSA-approved locks, and is super durable. We bought ours on Amazon here.

image via

3 // I recently took up a freelance job writing articles for an amazing interior designer, Patricia Davis Brown, who has a fantastic design blog. I wrote about holiday cocktails, and I seriously can't wait to try out some of the recipes I researched and found!

image via

4 // We're so glad that Ryan is home, and we know we won't be in New York too much longer, so we're doing our best to really take advantage of the time we have left here. There's still a lot we want to see and do before we move though, so we're staying busy. In the next few weeks, we're going to see the lights in Syracuse and Niagara Falls, and we're planning to head back up to Kingston, Ontario to shop along Princess Street because we loved it so much there when we went last week!

5 // And because it wouldn't be a true Army wife post without some sort of complaint about the Army, we are literally still waiting on orders for our next duty station. Because Ryan dropped his packed for a special ops unit, we're waiting to find out if he was picked up to assess. But we should know any day now, and I'd be lying if I said I wasn't getting super anxious about it...I just want to know already (but I'm sure he does, too!) Please keep your fingers crossed for us! Until then...

Happy Friday, beautiful friends, and here's to a wonderful weekend ahead! Also, I'm still looking for addresses! If people would like to exchange Christmas/holiday cards this season, please drop your address here so we can send one your way!