Ask Magpie: Road Trips with Kids, Family Photo Dresses + Rainy Day Outfits.

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Q: Any road trip with kids tips? We’re about to embark on one with a three year old and five year old.

A: Nothing groundbreaking here, but I pack a ton of snacks and activities and specifically try to reserve a handful of them for really hairy moments, when the distraction/newness is needed. Sometimes, those hairy moments don’t come, and then you just keep them tucked away for the return trip. (Also, be sure to pack enough snacks/activities for return!) We generally try to avoid pulling out the iPad until we really need it, but I always have it charged and pre-loaded with downloaded movies/shows. I shared some of my favorite car travel activities for kids here, but some items that were big hits with my kids at the ages of yours:

Age 5: Doodle screen, Usborne sticker books, Hidden Picture books, Usborne wipe clean books, BrainQuest smart cards

Age 3: Magnatab, Usborne First Sticker books, My First Color by Sticker books, WaterWow Deluxe

For both: I Spy. We also used auto bingo cards on our most recent road trip and my younger one (3.5) did not get the hang of it and kept shouting out things he clearly had not seen. But, you could play it with the older! And my older one LOVES Mad Libs, which is honestly such a sneaky way to discuss parts of speech!

On the snack front: I try to find new things that will be “special” for the kids. I don’t often shop at Trader Joe’s, so I’ll go there to load up on snacks that will seem different to the kids. I don’t have these, but this would be a cute idea to present lots of different options in a travel-friendly way. Generally, having pre-apportioned snacks or at least snack cups on hand are good for doling things out quickly.

Hang in there!

P.S. Some of my favorite travel gear for families here, and an essay on the magic and mayhem of traveling with young children here.

Q: How do you keep putting out so much great content so consistently?

A: Thank you so much — so kind of you to say. I am process-oriented when it comes to writing and running this blog. I aim to publish daily with the mentality that consistency will help me improve. Over time, writing has become like an emotional center for me, or perhaps — an emotional centering — and I find I am called to it daily. I write to know what I think. I very much doubt you can find a woman with less on her mind; I simply have a calling to convert that mindshare into musings in prose. On a tactical note, I shared some thoughts on how to get started with writing here. I’m also a prolific note taker and list-maker, and will often jot down completely random thoughts, observations, quotes, words, memories. These are the flotsam that percolate and eventually weave themselves into longer essays.

Q: Spring/summer rainy day outfits?

A: In spring: a light rain jacket, a striped tee, jeans, and sneaks or Hunter short boots. In summer: a lightweight cotton mini (also love this Old Navy) and sneakers or jelly sandals, paired with a great pocket umbrella. (Truly the best umbrella ever! It folds up tiny but is super-durable. On rainy days, I like to wear my neoprene Naghedi tote or this smooth leather State belt bag, which — while not impermeable to water — seems to handle it well.

Q: A casual everyday pant that’s not jeans.

A: These Jenni Kaynes have been SO popular. I’ve also heard really good things about this pair from Frank and Eileen, sort of a hybrid between a legging and a trouser. I LOVE this pair of pants from Spanx — so flattering and comfortable. (They’ve offered us 10% off with code SHOOPXSPANX). And when you’re feeling Nancy Meyers vibes, you need this pair of wide leg cropped pull-on trousers, which I’ve gotten quite a bit of use out of so far this season. Finally, you know I love a utility pant — this pair looks chic.

Q: What’s a talent you wish you had?

A: Such an interesting question. My gut reaction was athleticism. I am horribly uncoordinated. I specifically wish I could play tennis because I love the idea of playing outside with my husband and my many girlfriends who do play. At the same time, I truly believe that we’re born/oriented the way we were meant to be, and I feel just fine with the gifts I have. It has led me to focus on writing, which brings tremendous joy and clarity, and which I have somehow managed to parlay into a career.

Q: Affordable girls’ outfits for camp.

A: Target dresses with kick shorts beneath, lettuce edge shorts with ribbed dresses, or these Zara sets!

Q: A crochet dress.

A: V. on trend. I ordered this one — so whimsical and fun! I also love this Zara (Missoni-esque!), this Kitri, this Zimmermann, this Mango mini, and this Target as a cover-up.

Q: Family photo beach outfit – blue and white.

A: This caftan (belted), this Evi Grintela (50% off), this Mirth caftan, this all-white Mille, this Reformation, or this Temptation Positano.

Q: Mom uniform for summer. Don’t know what to wear if not jeans!

A: Caftan life, baby! Try the ones from S.Z. Blockprints (this one on sale!), Julia Amory, Mille, Free People, Emerson Fry, Boden. Pair with a fashion-forward sandal, like a dad sandal.

Q: How do you get your day started on the right foot?

A: A good night of sleep. After five years of poor sleep owing to raising young children, my husband and I have been prioritizing good sleep hygiene and have discovered that a full night of sleep immediately sets the tone for a positive, productive day. A few things that also help: 1) I also like to get up a little bit before I absolutely need to so that I can do my entire morning skincare routine, put in my contacts, and gather myself. Owning the pace of the day from the get go makes me feel in charge of things. 2) I participate in a digital prayer circle with my mother and sister. Just a tiny moment to pause and talk to God before I slide into the day. To be candid, sometimes I am more mindful than others during this time. But it is always a call, and I feel absolutely lifted on the days where I do make a meaningful connection. 3) I take Tilly for a walk. Again, some days, I am more intentional than others, but this time is such an important mood-setter for me. Sometimes, I call my mom, or I listen to an audiobook, and other times, I purposefully leave my phone at home and try to soak up my surroundings.

Q: Black one-piece swimsuit for honeymoon.

A: Love! Try this, this, or this. Very glamorous! You didn’t ask, but this would be the perfect cover-up.

PSA that everyone’s favorite Tory Burch underwire swimsuit (I bought one in a lavender scarf print this season) is on sale for 75% off here.

Q: Tanks for summer.

A: I’m drawn to the polish of this style and like the high neck on these ALC ones. J. Crew is usually my go-to for inexpensive basics — this style looks promising. Mallory Goldman recently recommended these ones on Amazon, and I feel like she always has great finds.

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