Packing: 11 Days in a Backpack


I love it when someone goes on vacation and then comes back and blogs something like "Definitive How-To For [insert thing here]" as if they suddenly became an expert on this one aspect of travel or one specific location after doing it for the very first time.

So I'm not going to pretend that I know everything about packing light for carrying all your clothes and other stuff in a backpack for 11 days. Because I definitely could have packed even lighter! Also Jordan carried my toiletry bag in his backpack (and complained about it the entire week, but we won't talk about that). But I am super impressed with myself for how I packed and wanted to share in case anyone else feels inspired to take a rolling suitcase-less vacation ;) Below is everything I brought to England, including the clothes I wore during travel, all pictured above (and below)!

*Affiliate links are used in this post. I receive a few cents (literally, cents) when you click on a link, at no cost to you! Thanks for supporting my writing and my blog.

1. Outerwear
1 medium-weight Columbia jacket
1 lightly padded black full-zip vest from Old Navy
-1 cold-gear Nike half-zip hoodie

We went at a good time of year, meaning that it was in the 50s/60s mainly, with some parts of the day in the low 70s as the sun rose. We didn't need heavy coats, but I did take my Columbia jacket that I bought at the outlet mall near us a few years ago and layered long sleeves underneath.

2. Bottoms
-1 pair of regular blue jeans
-1 pair of black jeans
-1 pair of sweatpants for the airplane ride/sleeping in
-1 pair of comfy shorts for sleeping in

I didn't need anything else and used everything I brought! Perfect! I loved having one pair of blue jeans and one pair of black jeans so I could feel like I was switching up my look a bit. Plus the skinny black jeans felt more European to me ;)

3. Gallon Ziploc Bags
-1 for underwear/bras
-1 for socks

I squeezed the air out of each bag, and they were a compact way to keep things together. As the trip went on and things got dirty, I used one bag for dirty stuff and one bag for clean!

This was my birthday present to myself this year in preparation for our England trip. It's from LL Bean (love them!) has a hood that fully covers my face, lots of pockets, is fully waterproof, and (most importantly) folds up into itself. We didn't actually even take these out the entire time we were gone, which was crazy since I feel like England is known for being wet. But it was good to have them and nice they packed up so small.

5. Shoes
-2 pairs of walking shoes

I brought 2 pairs of walking shoes because I wanted to be able to switch out a pair every other day or so. A surprise favorite were these sneakers, which I brought more because they were cuter than my Brooks running shoes, but actually they help up so well and were super comfortable even after an entire day of walking! I have to give thanks to Rachel for first sharing about these on her blog. I could have gone the whole trip with just this pair, honestly.

-1 pair of Old Navy flip flops (I thought I might want these for walking around the hotel/air bnb at night. I ended up never taking these out of the backpack! But it was good to have them just in case.)

-1 pair of flats (*I didn't need these at all, but my thought was that maybe we would go somewhere nice and I wouldn't want to wear my grungy tennis shoes. I momentarily forgot we are neither fancy nor extravagant dinner people lol)

6. Extras
-1 flowery lightweight scarf
-1 medium-weight solid teal scarf
-1 headwrap (goes around your head like earmuffs)
-1 pair of lightweight gloves (didn't end up wearing at all)

I absolutely needed my scarves and am glad I brought them. I wanted two so I could mix it up with my outfit. Plus the weight of each was a bit different, so I could pick which I needed depending on the temperature outside.

7. Layering Tops
-1 brown sweater from J Crew* (side note: this came in my most recent Stitch Fix box. I requested something to wear on our Europe trip, and it was perfect. It looks like it's on sale right now too, sooooo... I might be buying one in another color.)
-1 green long-sleeved cardigan from Target
-1 purple half-button long-sleeved henley from Old Navy
-1 lightweight denim button-down

8. Sleeping Tops
-So actually, the very first thing pictured under #8 are my pink/orange sleeping shorts.
-1 longsleeved shirt (for sleeping)

-2 short-sleeved t-shirts (for sleeping) *really only needed 1 t-shirt

9. Comfy but Cute Tops
-2 tank tops (Do not even talk to me about any other tank tops. These are the best. Yes, they are maternity. I bought some when I was pregnant with R and have literally not bought any other layering tank since. I'm wearing one right now, in fact.)
-2 solid short-sleeved shirts (cuter than your average t-shirt but comfy for travel and layering!)

So that's it! Plus my toiletry bag, which was in Jordan's backpack as previously mentioned. 

Is anyone still with me? Is this the most boring blog post of all time? 
No, don't answer that.

But I have learned that you can pack light if you need, and in fact I could have packed lighter! It's all fun and games until you are literally carrying everything on your back ;)

What would you have packed differently than me?

Travel Log: Boston, Massachusetts


I am completely overwhelmed at the thought of recapping our trip because there's so much to say and so many photos, so I figure I should probably just dive on in. 

We officially booked this trip back in March, but we've been talking about a trip to Europe for 4 or 5 years, mostly as a "wouldn't that be fun" kind of thing. Then last year around Christmas, we were thinking about what we wanted to do in 2018, and we decided the timing was pretty good for a fall vacation based on the ages of the kids and a gap before we might try for Baby Bum #3 and just the fact that we should just finally go ahead and do it while we could!

I honestly felt self-conscious even talking about our trip to anyone for a few reasons, but one of them was because I've read enough comments on blog posts and articles about working motherhood to know that a lot of people think families with two working parents have a lot of money and choose to work so they can have extra funds for fancy things. Every time I mentioned we were going to Europe, I wanted to follow it with, we aren't swimming in money. this is very unusual for us. we have never done anything like this before. But people will think what they want, I suppose, so that's neither here nor there. We saved for this trip just like we save for any other trip, which I talked about at length in this blog post if you're interested!

We decided to borrow backpacks from friends of ours who have traveled to Europe a few times. Since we were going to be moving around to a few locations in England and getting on and off trains, we wanted to pack as light as we could and liked the idea of being able to carry our stuff rather than pull a suitcase around. It ended up being the absolute perfect decision, and I am so glad we did it! I am also super impressed with myself that I was able to pack for 11 days of travel in just one backpack that I carried!

Of the two of us, I'm the one who plans our trips, books our flights and places to stay, and researches things to do and places to eat. Of course, I talk to Jordan about it before I confirm payment, but in general I make all of those types of decisions (because he doesn't really care and I kind of do care haha!). After looking at flight prices along with times and dates that might work with our work schedules, I decided that it would be the cheapest to catch a flight out of the Dallas airport to somewhere on the East Coast and then take a direct flight to London. That's how we ended up with a mini "trip within a trip" by spending a day and half in Boston before we flew to the UK! We drove from OKC to Dallas with both the kids so that my parents could take us to the airport and start out the first half of the week with R and J.

I've been to Boston once before on a family vacation when I was a teenager, but Jordan hadn't been. And honestly, I only remember it vaguely. We got to Boston around 3:30 in the afternoon and ended up taking a water taxi across the bay (long story short, we were supposed to take a ferry but didn't). That was super neat! We ate seafood for dinner and walked a bit of the Freedom Trail before heading to our hotel.

The next morning we ate quiche at the cutest breakfast place and then walked all day following the Freedom Trail and saw pretty much all the sights! After we walked up 294 stairs at the Bunker Hill Monument (which is at the end of the Freedom Trail), we ate lunch at Little Italy (after getting hangry and getting into a minor argument), and then took a Lyft to the airport. It was such a fun mini trip to start off our week in England.

Water taxi! Not the cheapest option, but it was fun. And it was really only like $10 more than our Lyft we took the next day so not crazy expensive.
We had a minor panic in the morning involving our plane tickets. We weren't able to check in online, and there was a notice that our passports needed to be affirmed at least 3 days in advance and we hadn't done it yet. We freaked out and thought we weren't going to be able to fly, so we called the airline and talked to them directly. Everything was fine, but man we were panicking! New to international travel lol ;)
One of our favorite parts of the Freedom Trail was going on board the USS Constitution. I just think it's neat how many ropes and things go into making and running a ship. It was cool to go into the lower decks and see the cannons and bunks and crazy to think about people actually being out in the middle of the ocean in one of these.

Our flight was delayed an hour, and we ended up leaving Boston at 10:30 pm for an overnight flight to London (Gatwick), getting in at 9:30 the next morning! From there we traveled to Liverpool, York, Cambridge, and back to London, so I'll have separate posts for each of those places. I know travel recap posts aren't everyone's favorite, but it's good motivation for me to get some photos edited and memories down in writing before I make my official Shutterfly photo book ;)

Also, feel free to let me know if you have any specific questions or want to know about anything in particular!

Adventure to England


Hello! It's been a minute. I don't think I've ever taken this much time away from the blog since I started blogging in 2010. But this summer has been so busy for us, and then Jordan and I left the kids with their grandparents and took off on an adventure just the two of us! We just got back late Monday night. We spent a total of 11 days on vacation, 8 in England and then a few days on each end in Boston as a mini vacation within a vacation. It was absolutely the most amazing time!

Here's me in front of Buckingham Palace. The Queen is out of town for 10 weeks each summer, and you can buy tickets to tour inside, so that's what we did! You can't take any photos inside or even have your cell phone in your hand at all. We went through security and metal detectors and everything.

I am overwhelmed by how many photos and videos I took, and of course I am going to put together a vacation recap video. I also want to share a bit about why we decided to take this trip now and how we planned it in case anyone else is considering a trip to the UK. We loved it so much!

What I think I will do is split up my recap posts by location, since we traveled to a few different places. I'm excited to share some of our trip with you! And get some photos edited and memories down for my own sake. The vacation magic is already fading and real life is not quite as much fun as touring around Europe ;)

Links + Loves vol 9


*Some affiliate links are used in this post. If you click on a link, I may get a few cents at no cost to you. Thanks so very much for supporting my blog :)

It's been a while since I've shared some links and loves from around the internet! The last post I labeled "link love" was in July when I shared toys & activities for road trips with babies/toddlers. Since that post, R got a few things for her birthday, so I can share a real-life experience. The water wow book from Melissa & Doug is really awesome, and I don't understand how it works. It's magic. MAGIC. My mom got R the boogie board for her birthday, and she loves it. There is also a case specifically for it, which I had no idea!

But I'm getting off topic of sharing new links with you... here we go!

This has been one of our favorite and most-used items for the past few years. As in, daily on multiple doors. Our house is just one floor, and what's nice about a Latchy Catchy is that Jordan and I can go in and out of rooms without worrying about the lock slamming and making noise, waking them up from naps (I'm pretending R takes naps! ha) or from sleep after they go to bed. There are lots of cute, fun patterns too!

I posted this essay last week on the blog and have received such great feedback, so thank you for reading and commenting! I'm still pretty bummed it didn't get chosen to be published on the site I submitted it to. I felt really good about it... better than anything else I've written and submitted. But I just hope that the person/people who needed to read it were able to find it through my blog!

Even if you don't follow tennis, you may have heard of the controversy surrounding the women's final of the US Open over the weekend. Admittedly, Serena Williams tends to find herself in controversy a lot, but I thought this article summed up the current issues really well and gave me some interesting things to think about in terms of how women are treated vs men in the world of sports.

I found this essay from Lore on Sayable so beautiful and thought-provoking. She and her husband have been trying to have a baby, and she's experienced a few miscarriages over the past couple of years. In this article she writes about the danger of saying "at least" to people when they share their struggles. She also wrote "what to do when your friend loses a baby," which I think is a good thing for everyone to read.

In other fluffier links, I know I talk about this website a lot, but they just had a great sale and I snagged a couple of tops for fall! Another reason I love Mindy Mae's Market is because they always offer free shipping, and every package comes with an inspirational quote on a white card.

This book recently came out just a few weeks ago, and I'm kicking myself for not pre-ordering it and getting some of the pre-order goodies they were offering. I started listening to Anne Bogel's podcast on my morning runs a few months ago, and I don't even care if you think it's nerdy that I listening to a podcast about reading. I've been enjoying it so much!

Speaking of things hanging out in my Amazon cart, I've had this cookbook in there for months. At this point maybe I'll just put it on my Christmas list.

I'm in a group on Facebook for working moms, and it's such an encouraging and supportive group of women! Someone recently shared this article from USA Today on the myth of the work-life balance, and I thought it was great (and a bit snarky, which I love!).

If you don't know, I'm kind of weirdly obsessed with my rain boots. We don't get a ton of rain in Oklahoma, but when we do, I like to have appropriate footwear! The ones I had for years finally bit the dust and cracked, and I thought I might splurge on a pair of Hunter's. Buuuuut, really in the end I just couldn't pull the trigger. I found Joules, which are super cute (cuter than Hunter IMO) and cheaper! There are more options on the website, but Amazon carries them too!

My favorite podcast is back after a summer break! If you have never listened to Risen Motherhood, DO IT. "Gospel-centered hope for everyday moms" is their tagline, and I just love this ministry and feel so encouraged by it. So much so that I support them every month out of my own blow money. I'm trying not to hold it against them that they rejected my article ;)

Finally, I know I've mentioned this before, but if you have a kid, you should check out the Kidizen app. I might be obsessed. It's basically a kid's consignment store online! People post items they are selling, and you can buy from them. I've found that it's not always a great deal for cheaper brands, but you can find some amazing deals, especially on fancier/name-brand items! I also just bought J his Halloween costume for $8, so it kind of has everything. It's not just clothes but swaddles, books, dress-up clothes, and even baby slings and things like that. Use my referral code theladyokie to get $5 off your first purchase.

Just a heads up that I might be taking a couple weeks off from the blog. There's a chance I will pop in next week sometime, but if not, don't worry if you don't hear from me until October! We have a lot going on this month, and I just don't know if I'll have time to log in. But either way, I hope you have a great rest of the week. 

I so appreciate YOU taking the time to read my blog. I don't take it lightly that there is someone on the other side of this screen reading this. I hope you find a link or two to love from my post! :)

p.s. Find other link + love posts here.