Big City of Dreams

From where I sit at my desk in the corner of our master bedroom typing this, there are three diplomas on the wall. All three belong to my husband, and he worked incredibly hard for those achievements. Rather than being a brag-wall for himself, those diplomas are hanging proudly for our children to see and eventually understand how they came to be. While Justin’s education in dental school wasn’t always easy with three young children, I am so grateful for that experience for them. They watched him study for hours at home and leave for even longer during school days. They sat at his graduation and watched him receive his diploma, and while they might not know the gravity of that moment, they’ll have a visual to return to when they can understand it.


I’ve been so fulfilled within my role as a mother and wife that it’s often overshadowed my desire to achieve something for myself, on my very own. After starting this blog and finding an avenue within it that I could use my creativity, I started to remember how good it felt to accomplish things on a personal level. I found a perfect medium where I could spend my days with my children, while taking photos of them and our adventures and writing about our experiences as a young family in Manhattan. Slowly I began to come into my own in more than one way, and perhaps a little later than is the standard, but it was happening and it was wonderful. It was confidence, excitement, inspiration and ambition and it was everything.

I feared losing these rediscoveries when we moved from Manhattan back to California. I feared returning to the self that I didn’t quite remember and was happy to have grown from. The most surprising thing happened instead, however, with the explosion of our photos of Theo and Beau on the internet, and the opportunities that arose from it. None of which would have happened if we had stayed in Manhattan.

Life is so interesting in it’s lessons.

My trip to New York City last week was everything that I had hoped it would be. Even though I lived there just several short months ago, I had never truly experienced it on my own terms. It was a long time to be away from my children and my family-longer than I liked-but it was just enough time to ease out of the discomfort of being away from them and be able to focus on me. I can’t say that I’ve really done that since becoming a mother 7 years ago, and it certainly wasn’t a natural transition. It was something that I really needed to do though, for my own benefit and even the benefit of my family and people that depend on me.

I took the time to meet with dear friends, I ate at restaurants that I’d always wanted to go to but had never been, I visited the parks now covered in snow that I had once taken my children to play in. The poignancy of these moments brought tears to my eyes, not because I missed them but because I knew that this was exactly the closure I had needed.

photo 5
photo 2

I even stood in the cronut line at Dominique Ansel’s twice (to no avail, but at least I tried).

photo 3

Most importantly, I signed the contract for my two book deal with Feiwel & Friends, a Macmillan imprint, in their offices in the historic Flatiron building. The Flatiron happens to be the neighborhood closest to our old home and the one in which we spent the most time. Jack and Zoe and eventually Beau played in Madison Square park all year ’round, and some of my best memories were made with my them in that neighborhood, with that building as the backdrop.

photo 1

I’d always wanted to go inside, knowing that it holds so much magic and endless stories from the years since it was built, but I never actually thought I would.

I met with the publishing team and my agent, and we went through the layout, design and wording of my forthcoming children’s book Naptime with Theo and Beau. It was one of the most incredible days of my life, and while I was disappointed that my family wasn’t in that room with me, it was almost as though I needed to reach this monumental achievement in my life on my own. It felt really good to arise to this benchmark-one that will impact all of our lives in the future-on my own and savor the moment as it should be.

photo 4

It goes without saying that I’m incredibly excited about the books coming in the next couple of years. I can’t wait to show my kids the books when they are published, but more than that I am looking forward to the moment of sharing one of my accomplishments with them. This might not be a diploma on the wall, but it’ll be something tangible that will live on their bookshelves that I made, a physical representation of my heart and my goals all in one. I want them to see that they can be anything they want to be, as long as they follow exactly what they love and what inspires them in their heart. It took me thirty four years to realize this, but the brilliance of parenthood is being offered a second chance at doing something they way you believe it ought to be done the first time.

This week in Manhattan was everything and nothing that I expected, but it was exactly the trip that I needed. I’ve struggled so much with transitioning from being a full time parent and sharing my focus with fulfilling my personal dreams at the same time. It’s challenged me in ways that I never expected and honestly it hasn’t been all that pretty at times. I do want my children to see my successes as well as their father’s though, and something that important certainly won’t come easy. NYC has this incredibly magical and mystical side to it though, and I came home even more fulfilled and inspired as a person and most importantly as a parent.

Join the Conversation


  • what a beautiful story…love your pics; can not wait for your books!

    Congrats to you!

  • What a beautiful post, brought tears to my eyes. Very inspiring and Congrats!!!

  • Congratulations! That is wonderful. I can’t wait to enjoy your books with my kiddos!

  • As I sit here watching my kids playing I the bath thinking this would be a quick and easy read I’m having to explain to them why mommy is crying! Thank you for your inspiration. I live in New York and it’s stories like this that remind me of why I am here. Congratulations on all your accomplishments! Whether it’s a diploma a book or 18385837848374 likes of Theo and Beau pictures on Instagram your children are blessed to have you as a role model!

  • Your lastest blog post is very moving. My eyes teared up a bit. It is truly heartfelt. Women/ mothers like you truly deserve to shine in this world. Your illuminating influence helps others more than you can fathom. Wishing you more wonderful moments in life! πŸ˜‰

    Your fan,

  • I know exactly how you feel. Being a wife and a mother is my true calling but I would love to have accomplishments of my own and in this I’m flailing and finding that traveling this journey is difficult. Maybe one day I will realize what I am meant to do outside of this but for now I’ll continue to flail but be the best wife and mother I know to be.

  • I love so much about this, Jessica. I am so excited for you. You, your words, your photos, you love of life and your family…all ridiculously and perfectly beautiful. Thank you.

  • I totally hear you about wanting to share your successes with your children and show them what you can accomplish, as well as doing it for yourself. Being a mom is the most important thing in the world, but I think that part of that is showing them everything that a mom and a woman can be. And that’s important not just for daughters but for our sons, as they venture out in the world on their own. These lives of ours can be messy and crazy and stressful, but all of that insanity can also be wonderful and inspiring. Congratulations on your publishing deal and your new ventures! Looking forward to seeing the books!

  • Congratulations. That is definitely something to be very proud of!

  • I can’t wait to be at your book launch, Jess. So happy for you–love you!

  • Congratulations! Children are such an inspiration! Can’t wait to read my children your books.

  • Dearest Jessica,

    God bless you for all you are, all you have been and all you are yet to be!
    You inspire me everyday. What a beautiful, wholesome, healthy, productive attitude you are raising your kids with. What a peaceful unselfish base of love your life is centered upon for you and your family. You’re an inspiration in the truest sense of the word to all of us.

    I am reminded of the essential wisdom of the collected works ANTOINE DE SAINT-EXUPE’RY when I read your captions and see your photos. Collections of old soul wisdom…the good stuff, that surpasses generations of times past and yet to come and fills in the spaces of places we have yet to savor and celebrate.

    Thank you and may you continue to be inspired by the love of your family.


  • so excited for you. Your pics of Theo and Beau are much anticipated in our home each day. My teens love to look at them! Congrats

  • I really enjoyed your post. Thank you for sharing so much of your amazing family and life with us.

  • Dear jessica: Congratulations on your achievement: you were meant to raise a family and support a husband before creating material to your books. Such creative way to show that time of your son is amazing and a sort of coffe break every day when you remember us the hapiness of simple things and family moments!
    Keep dreaming big!
    Regards from uruguay!

  • Congrats on your success! Your pictures have brought me so much joy and made me so thankful for my own sweet lil rescue pup! Can’t wait to get your book!

  • Jessica, I am not a mother to human babies, but rather fur babies. All my babies are rescues. Although I have not experienced “life” like you have – I too have moments that I need to myself. My me-time does not come often, but when it does, it is much needed to help me recharge and refocus. I’m glad to see that you are all things, wife, mother, friend and individual person. These different labels make you accessible and identifiable to us all. I want to thank you for the daily joy you bring to those who may have a very different life from you, yet join with you in your celebration of all the goodness there is in life. Thank you! Blessings upon your house.

  • How wonderful. Congratulations, and best wishes! πŸ™‚

  • Thank you for sharing this experience. Congratulations!

  • Excellent post – your success is well deserved and your pictures inspirational. But my question is — where did you get that slice of pizza?

  • What an inspiring story. I look forward to your photos every day! Congrats!

  • Been following your lovely blog for a few years now. Lately, I’ve have been sitting on the the sidelines of the #theoandbeau juggernaut, inwardly saying “go Jessica!” And of course, screaming and dying from their cuteness! (Oh, one of my best friends is a brand manager at FreshPet – naturally that’s all that our two pups eat) But this post? Squeezed some tears of joy for you from my eyes.
    That feeling of accomplishment you got this week? How savory. Nowhere better than NYC to reach a personal milestone. Congratulations! Can’t wait to see the books!

  • My boys as well as myself love looking at all your pictures. They will be excited to hear about your book. Thank you for sharing you life from the inside out.

  • Congratulations! Great story. Your kids are your diplomas. Your Theo, he’s your reward.

  • Congrats Jessica! Loved your post, I can relate. I’m excited for you and your accomplishments and can’t wait to see the books. It’s so great to see opportunities arise as a result of the magic you capture with your beautiful photography of Theo and Beau. Funny how quickly life can change with the addition of a little puppy and all that he has added to your family. Your photos really show the sweetness and people have totally fallen in love with your little duo. Thanks for capturing and sharing the innocence of childhood, the unconditional love of a dog, and the beautiful bond they share. I love seeing good things happen to good people.

  • Looking forward to your book! Congratulations!!!!

  • LOVE the photos and the captions! Looking forward with much anticipation to your books! Congratulations!

  • Jessica, this is such a heartfelt and touching post. Often it’s hard to recognize our own milestones as they occur. Kudos to you for understanding their significance in the moment. I’m really thrilled for you, and thank you for sharing your journey .

  • So beautiful!!
    Thank you for sharing.
    And so, so much congratulations!!

  • I am 50, with my daughter a Freshman in college, and my son a Sophomore in high school. I am so inspired by you. I appreciate you allowing us to peer into your life and share your struggles, and in the case of New York, your victories.

  • Dear Jessica,

    I stumbled upon you blog two days ago when a friend of mine from California posted a link on Facebook. Your pictures of Theo and Beau gave us so much joy the past two days. You could hear my girls (7 and 12 yrs) screech in delight and even my husband was smitten by the sweetness of these pictures.
    I wish you all the best for your career as a book author and send you happy greetings from Berlin, Germany to one of my favorite places in the whole world. We used to live in the Bay Area for 7 yrs and Santa Cruz was one of our most visited weekend spots. The natural bridges park, the surf museum, the board walk, the sea lions at the pier and a burger at CafΓ© Ideal – lovely memories!
    Best Imke

  • thanks for sharing both thoughts and photos. It is greatly appreciated, even as far away as Copenhagen, Denmark πŸ™‚

  • How wonderful for you Jessica. Congratulations! I look forward to your posts everyday. Keep sharing.

  • I’ve been reading your blog since your Manhattan days, and I’m so thrilled for the doors that are opening up for you. You seem like an amazing soul, a down to earth girl, and an incredible mama. It’s so easy to get lost in motherhood, and I don’t mean to lose ourselves but to get lost in the magic of it. When we emerge from the fog of having very young children and remember the girl we once were and the wisdom and sense of self she’s gained from being a mother, suddenly old harbored dreams don’t seem so far fetched anymore.
    Congrats on the book deal! I used to work in children’s publishing in NYC. The industry has such a fun vibe, and there are certainly days that I miss it.

  • Simply inspiring! Thank you:)

  • Hello from Manila! In your Feb 10 Team Cuddle post, you posted a pix of Theo eating or drinking from his bowl (white with stainless steel bowls) where can I buy that? I have two dogs a Japanese spitz and a Lab! Theo and Beau is my daily dose of good cheers! Looking forward to your children book/s for myself and as gifts for christening, birthdays and baby showers.

  • Hi, I love you stories and your pics, i am a big fan (both Facebook, Blog and Instagram) can’t wait to get your book!
    Keep it up you are a great mom!

  • Very inspiring! πŸ™‚ All the best with the book! πŸ™‚
    I Love your photos!!

  • I get it. I soooo get it. I feel the freedom and joy and accomplishment in your words. You are many things wrapped in a unique package. Sometimes we have to explore the parts not connected to goldfish and cheerios πŸ™‚ so happy for you!

  • Jessica,

    I have followed you and your blog since before Beau was even on the scene. I am so happy for your well deserved success. Enjoy your time, enjoy this moment.

    Much love,


  • As a native NYer who is awfully homesick, this was so beautiful in more than just the AMAZING FOR YOU ways. Congrats to you. This is awesome. I’m thrilled for you and your family. But the beauty of NYC and the way you experienced it on your own? Also, amazing. Congrats, for real. I hope to meet you someday – at a conference, book signing, or when we’re both in the city at the same time. Mega hugs and huge love to you!

  • What a beautiful moment in life! Congratulations!! I will most
    Certainly have your books on my shelf! Your pictures , writing and stories
    Are always so heartfelt and wonderful!

  • Congratulations Jessica, that’s amazing news! I understand the desire to show your children that you can be an incredible mother AND have success somewhere in something else too. You can do anything, provided you’re willing to work your ass of to get there!

  • I am so excited for you. As a 48 year old full time working mother of 2 teenagers (one of them in college), your sweet pictures of Theo and Beau catapult me back to the years when they were small and carefree! And now that we have a rescue dog of our own (for 2 years now), I can so appreciate those sweet bonds of puppy and boy.

    Thank you for sharing your family so freely!

  • thank you so much for this post. i am actually going through what you went through (trying to transition from stay at home mom into chasing a few of my own dreams), and i NEEDED to hear this. that is is okay. that i can do it. that my children are watching me & need to see me take big steps. love your photos on instagram. this is my first time on your blog, but it won’t be the last! πŸ™‚ congratulations, & thanks again!

  • Wow! I absolutely loved this post πŸ™‚ I lived in New York for six months and it felt like a season of storing up creative insights/etc. I wasn’t really able to produce much creatively, because I was taking in so much every day.. but as soon as I had settled in on my flight to move back to Seattle ideas just started pouring into my journal. I have since seen some of them come to life.. So though I was sad to leave New York it will be a chapter I am forever thankful for. I am inspired by what you are accomplishing πŸ™‚ Thank you for filling my Instagram feed with such beauty every day.

  • What a beautiful post. It is so important to feel fulfilled individually in addition to all of the love and satisfaction that you have with your family.

    I love your pictures and cannot wait for your books to come out. I am due to have a baby in 3 weeks and am already hoping for even a fraction of the cuteness between my son and my little dog that I love so much. Thanks for always brightening my day with your pictures!

  • You have expressed what I struggle with on a daily basis. To be simultaneously so fulfilled in motherhood but “unfinished” in personhood — it’s tough. I am so happy for you. I’ll be buying these books for my own children and celebrating in the success of a fellow mom.

  • Congratulations! Look forward to reading your books with my little people.

  • Congratulations… what a beautiful post and wonderful story. Can’t wait for your books and to share them with my little ones πŸ™‚

  • I’ve had the pleasure of recently discovering your Instagram & blog, and although I without a doubt enjoy every photo & every word of expression this blog truly moved my soul. I am a 46 year old wife and mother to an incredible 8 year old son and your story, your words of this journey you have been on and are continuing on has inspired me to nuture my own passion and see where it takes me to not only feed my soul but to set that priceless example to my son that your passion can not only bless you but bless others in abundance.
    Congratulations and continued blessings and successes.

  • Congratulations! I can’t wait to buy a copy of your beautiful book!

  • Congratulations! Can’t wait till the books come out! Glad you had the chance to take that trip. Keep those amazing pics coming. Can’t tell you how many days have been very hard and I have looked forward at the end if the day, to climbing in bed, and seeing the two precious ones curled up together. Thank you for sharing their amazing bond with us.

  • I cannot wait for the book to hit the shelves! I love looking at your Theo & Beau photos on Instagram, and having a beautifully printed copy of all those cute moments will be amazing. My infant son is OBSESSED with dogs, so I know he’ll want to look at the book again and again. Good for you heading off to NYC solo to take care of business. It’s something I think all mothers need at some point in time, and is clearly easier said than done. I can’t wait to continue to follow your adventures and am so glad that Theo is a rescue dog; makes the whole story that much sweeter!

  • I’m thrilled for you! Love when good things happen to great people!

  • I am a 50 year old nurse, mother of 2 grown children and at the top of my Christmas list this year will be a book called “Naptime with Theo & Beau”. Congratulations and I’m so looking forward to it!

  • What a beautiful post, and based on the comments left here, one that resonated with many of us. Thank you for sharing your heartfelt and deepest thoughts on your journey to (re)discovery. You are inspiration and proof that the universe does have something grand in store for all of us, as long as we trust that and are open to the opportunity. Congratulations!

  • Your words are always so magical! I am so very happy for you. Congratulations on the book deal. πŸ™‚

  • Congratulations !!! I m french, i’m following you with my instagram app, i love your daily pictures of your family and your dog, it’s remind me of my chilhood and my dog which i lost 3 moths ago but your pictures help me to cop with my pain and reminds me all of the good memories i had with her !!!
    I’m looking foward to see your book, i hope i will be able to buy it on internet.

  • Beautiful! Dream big always! Any advice you would offer a new blogger?

  • i’m just so proud of you. what a beautiful example you are for your children. i never doubted that you would take cali by storm as you did with ny. you are a rock star mama. so glad i have followed your journey for so long. and will continue to do so!

    lots of love to you!

  • I can hardly wait to see your published books! What an amazing accomplishment! I know that both adults and children will appreciate the beauty from your books.


  • Jessica,

    After following the snippets of your motherhood and photographer adventures on Instagram, I finally made it to your blog; more specifically, this post. A post that has sparked a glimmer of hope in the possibility of my husband going to podiatry school which would require us to move. I am a photographer myself and have built up a base of loyal clientele here in Minnesota. I am also two classes away from finishing my Masters Degree in Youth Ministry, and am currently heading up the middle school ministry in the church I grew up in. I’m living out two of my dreams.

    So, as we wrestle with the decision of what’s next, of what pursuing my husband’s current dream would look like for us in the near future, this post gave me hope. Hope that surrendering a present dream can open up the door to bigger, unimaginable dreams. That the possible need for my husband’s dreams to take priority over my own dreams for a season can awaken new dreams, new outlets, new callings. That it is possible for my husband to juggle an education and a family.

    Thank you for sharing your heart. My husband and I are newlyweds and new puppy parents to a pup we adopted a few months ago. It’s wonderful to know of someone a few seasons ahead, full of wisdom!


  • I read this post awhile ago but wanted to come back to congratulate you! I just had my third baby and haven’t had much time to comment on blogs (obv!). I have been following your blog since before you “hit it big” with the cute IG photos. I wanted to say how amazing it is – that something as simple as the love between a puppy and a boy can turn into this big of a success. It just goes to show you that people in this world are looking for positive stories. They’re looking for love and peace and bonds. It’s really beautiful and you brought some of that beauty to the world through this. I love love love seeing the new photos. Keep it up. I have always wanted to publish a book and this gives me hope that my dream might still be able to come true. That a small idea can turn big πŸ™‚

Follow @mommasgonecity on Instagram