Family Travel: Topsail and Wilmington, NC

family travel to topsail and wilmington, NC

My kids have always loved the beach, but we hadn’t been since we moved from Los Angeles to Columbus, Ohio almost two years ago. So obviously, we were eager to get back. My mom and her husband have family who have a beach rental in North Topsail, NC and we were lucky enough to book the home a year in advance and have twelve months to look forward to returning to the beach. Booking so far in advance did lock us in, and unfortunately my husband had a job opportunity come up where he would have to be back in Los Angeles for three weeks, with our planned vacation falling right smack in the middle of his time away. But since my mom and her husband and my brother and nephew were all planned to meet us in Topsail I decided to take the boys on my own.

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My boys were so excited to get to the beach that we had to go straight into the ocean at 5 pm! Luckily our rental house was right on the beach so we could have beach time easily whenever we wanted. Having a home right on the beach was definitely the most convenient way  to vacation with kids. We didn’t need to haul one million things down to the beach, we could go back to the house for lunch and bathroom visits, and take a midday nap break for the younger kids.

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The kids’ favorite activity was just playing in the ocean. Quincy also loved digging in the sand and Charlie was obsessed with collecting shells. We also flew kites one morning, caught fish with little nets and collected them in our beach buckets to see who could catch the most (I won, but I split my fish among the boys’ buckets to keep the competition close), and hunted for ghost crabs one evening. We went on lots of treasure walks to collect shells and hunt for shark teeth (I found 10 and Charlie found 2!).

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After a few days at the beach we all needed a “surf, sun, and sand break” so we did a little day trip down to Carolina Beach for the morning and Wilmington for the afternoon. Carolina Beach Boardwalk is a really cute little area full of pastel and amusements and it has an arcade. We didn’t realize the amusement rides don’t open until the evening but we were plenty entertained by the arcade and snacked on delicious warm donuts from Britt’s Donut Shop.

family travel to topsail and wilmington, NC family travel to topsail and wilmington, NC family travel to topsail and wilmington, NC

We headed up to Wilmington after lunch and walked around the Riverwalk and had ice cream at Kilwin’s (soooo good!). It was a really hot day and we stumbled upon The Museum of the Bizarre and decided to go inside and take a break from the heat. I had read about the place doing a bit of research on Wilmington and it seemed family-friendly on their website. It was definitely bizarre — they have curated a collection of some really crazy stuff. Some of it is not appropriate for young kids (like the collection of letters from serial killers) but other stuff is just weird and freaky and cool. The stuff that was inappropriate was over their heads and not something they noticed anyways. There is a maze of mirrors and a laser obstacle course room that they thought was fun. If you like weird and bizarre things — or if you need a place to beat the heat for an hour — this place is worth a visit.

We didn’t make it to the Children’s Museum of Wilmington or the Fort Fisher Aquarium, but I’ve heard wonderful things about both. I also hope to see more of the historic district and to do a bit of shopping next time I visit.

family travel to topsail and wilmington, NCfamily travel to topsail and wilmington, NC family travel to topsail and wilmington, NC family travel to topsail and wilmington, NC

Was taking my kids to the beach without my partner easy? Definitely not. I did have grandparent and uncle help, but when you’re the only parent you take on all of the stress and mental labor of vacationing with kids. But was all of the stress and exhaustion and hard work worth it? Absolutely. My boys made so many wonderful memories with each other, with their cousin, and their uncle and grandparents; and also with me. It is a trip I’ll never forget and I’m proud of myself for doing it.

family travel to topsail and wilmington, NCfamily travel to topsail and wilmington, NC

If you are looking for a quiet, family-friendly place to vacation I highly recommend Topsail Island. When you rent a beach house on the beach you are also getting your own beach! There’s no need to get down early to get a spot. We set up our canopy each day and played until we were ready for a break (usually lunchtime). You have all the comforts of home (I had my own bedroom and bathroom), we saved money because we ate our meals at home, we could do laundry — it was an ideal way to do a beach trip with kids.

We loved our rental and I would highly recommend it — you can find it here. There are 5 bedrooms and 6 bathrooms, so it is perfect for a group/multi-family trip.

I’m really looking forward to making this trip again someday — but next time, with my whole family!

Experience Gifting: More Adventures, Less Stuff

This post is sponsored by Tinggly. Thank you for supporting the sponsors who help me bring you content here on Oh Lovely Day.

More adventure, less stuff: giving the gift of experiences and fun

I’m a huge fan of experiences, adventures, and making memories. If I were to win the lottery the first thing I would be planning (after paying off any debt, of course) would be an amazing family trip. When my husband and I got married, we had a honeymoon registry (back when no one had really heard of a honeymoon registry) and it was one of the best decisions we made. And our guests loved being able to choose a gift like “dinner in Rome” or “a bottle of wine in Florence” or “museum entry in Paris.” Gifting stories over stuff is the way to go in my book. So when I learned about Tinggly, I knew I had to share it.Read More

The Importance of Oral Health During Motherhood

This post is sponsored by Merion Village Dental, but the experience and opinions are my own

Fall fun and apple picking at Lynd Fruit Farm in Columbus, OhioYou want to know something that I don’t think anyone warned me about before I had kids? How much pregnancy and motherhood takes a toll on your oral health. I kid you not, in the years since I became a mother I have had two crowns and two root canals, as well as several cavity fillings. Before my first pregnancy I maybe had two cavities total. What changed? KIDS! And it is not a coincidence. During a recent visit to my dentist’s office I talked to my dentist about the importance of oral health during motherhood and why it can be such a challenge for so many of us. Read More

The Right Way To Start + Grow A Successful Blog

The right way to start and grow a successful blog

So you want to start a mom blog (or any blog)? You aren’t alone! It seems like every other mom wants to start a blog or an “influencer” Instagram account these days. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t throw your hat in the ring, but you should know that way more work goes into a successful blog than most people think. It is very unlikely that you’ll be successfully bringing home money to pay the bills right out of the gate. In fact, many make no money at all. Part of that is due to the oversaturation of mom blogs and part is because you have no audience (influence) yet. Because of that you get sucked in to the “work for free” trap. Brands reach out, or you might reach out to them, and offer very little in trade in order to get your free marketing. I’m going to share why doing this actually devalues you and the entire blogging community and is one of the biggest mistake new bloggers make. There are also legal and ethical rules surrounding blogging and influencer marketing that many are simply unaware of. I’ve seen so many new bloggers make costly mistakes (to both their reputation and wallet) that could have been avoided if they educated themselves before they started their blog. I’m sharing my 10+ years of blogging experience and my 15+ years of legal experience to help you start a successful blog and avoid all of those new blogger traps and costly mistakes.Read More

Delicious Fish Taco Bowls (A Paleo-Friendly + FWTFL recipe!)

Fresh + Healthy Fish Taco Bowls: paleo-friendly and FWTFL compliant

One of my favorite things to eat in the summer are fish tacos. They are so light, refreshing, and delicious. They also go great with margs, and any marg-friendly food is a favorite of mine 🙂 I often make these as bowls to make them a bit healthier, especially since I avoid gluten. You can use GF corn tortillas or corn chips if you prefer, or can even use a lettuce wrap to make them more like a taco. These are paleo-friendly and are also one of my favorite FWTFL low carb or low macro day meals. This recipe is one of the 8 recipes I include in my Healthy Eating Tips + Recipes Guide (FWTFL and paleo-friendly), which you can download here. But I wanted to share one recipe for free to give you a good idea of what is included. So, here ya go!

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Summer Style Round-Up (in time for Memorial Day Sales) + Swimsuits You’ll Actually Want to Wear

Mom-Friendly Spring and Summer Style basics for 2019 season

I tend to stick to a “capsule” for each season. Some pieces are sustainable and timeless staples I wear every year and a few are more on trend pieces that are more affordable but don’t last beyond that style’s moment. For this year’s Spring/Summer 2019 Style Capsule, I included some tried and true favorites:

A good summer weight button down shirt: My favorite style are the Central and Courier Shirts from Madewell. They are slightly oversized and drapey, but just enough. This yellow is a great bold color choice, and this striped one is also pretty for summer and would work well into fall. This indigo one from Target is a really soft and drapey Tencel and a budget-friendly option.

A breezy summer dress: This striped sleeveless shirtdress is my new favorite and is the perfect dress for summer at a great price. This one is also really lovely, especially in white.

Denim cutoffs: I feel like IG influencers are always recommending denim cutoffs, and every time I see them I’m like “yeah, maybe on your size 2 body, but those will never work on my size 10 frame!” They are often too tight and usually too short. I like my cut-offs to be a 5 inch inseam and these from Madewell are made for curvy bodies like mine. These from Old Navy are slimmer but also 5 inches, so better for slimmer thighs when you still want a tiny bit more length.

You can shop them directly below and you can also find them in my profile. I regularly update these with current links with style selects for each season.

Most of these are on sale now and are favorites from Madewell, J.Crew (currently having a 40% off sale!) Target, and Old Navy.


cute mom-friendly swimsuits

Ok, next let’s talk swimsuits! The only thing I used to hate more than shorts were swimsuits. But not this year. This year I feel better about myself and I also got to a point where I have no effs to give. I’m not letting a little cellulite or wobbly bits or a lack of thigh gap or a belly pooch that grew three babies to stop me from wearing a swimsuit and have fun with my kids this summer. I’m done with that. Let’s all wear the swimsuits! Here are a bunch of cute ones that will help us fake it till we make it 🙂


So, who’s in? Who is gonna wear a swimsuit and some cut offs and just have fun with their kids this summer? Thighs and wobbly bits and cellulite and all.