Thank you 2018

Holy moly what a year! When I look back on 2018 I’m honestly a little blown away by all the amazing things that happened in my life. It’s funny, I mentioned in my blog earlier this week that I got a little bit down at the end of the year and part of that was because I was comparing myself to others on social media. Well, it’s so strange to me that I felt that way given the incredible year I had. I guess that’s the thing about feeling sad. It doesn’t matter what’s going on in your life or how good you may have it, feelings of depression can affect anyone at any time. But with that said, feelings of depression are very different than feelings of ungratefulness. I for one, even though I’ve felt down at times, have never lost sight of how fortunate I am for my life. I am so incredibly grateful for my beautiful family, my health and the health of those I love, and for all of you! Truly, I love you guys! Without you this blog wouldn’t exist and my blog is such a huge part of who I am. It doesn’t define me, but it absolutely has shaped me over the past five years. I’m not even exactly sure how long I’ve been writing it. But I believe it’s been around five years and when I think of the girl I was five years ago, I’ve completely changed and all of you have changed along with me. So thank you for that! Thank you for being here to listen and for sharing your lives with me too!

So here is what went down in 2018…

A New Home!

My family and I started off the year moving into our brand new house! It’s crazy to me that we haven’t even lived here a full year yet. Well, technically next week will be a full year. But January 2018 is when we packed up our old house and moved in to our current one. From the first day we moved in I knew this house was going to be special. Not only was I pregnant at that time, so I know knew we were going to bring Riley home to this house, but I also knew it was going to be the first house Molly remembers. She was too little when we moved out of our old one so she doesn’t remember it. But I know she’ll have so many memories form this one – even if we were to move out tomorrow. And it goes without saying that I’m just extremely grateful to be able to put a roof over my children’s heads. It’s not lost on me how fortunate we are to be able to live here.

It’s a Boy!

Soon after moving into our new home, we shared with all of you that we were expecting a baby boy! I know I said this then and I mean it, but we would’ve been happy no matter what gender we got! But deep down, we were both really hoping for a boy. Just because we knew that we only wanted two kids and we’re just grateful to be able to have a boy and a girl. I knew back when we announced that we were having a little boy that it was going to be special. I’ve heard from so many mothers that the mother/son bond is different than the mother/daughter bond. Not better, just different. I didn’t know what they meant then, but now that Riley is here I completely understand! My bond with him is like no other! Just like how my bond with Molly is like no other!


In March we jetted off to Hawaii for a babymoon. I was so excited because I thought it was going to be super relaxing and a magical time before the baby came. Boy was I wrong. Ha! Don’t get me wrong, anybody who is lucky enough to be able to go to Hawaii knows how absolutely gorgeous it is! But unfortunately, it rained four out of the five days we were there. And the resort we stayed at was rather large, which is wonderful, but I was so uncomfortably pregnant at the time that it was hard for me to walk around and try to do things around the hotel and enjoy it despite the rain. All I wanted to do was go park my big booty down on a lounge chair by the pool and not move all day. Oh well, there was one nice day were we got some beautiful photos. And we were fortunate enough to bring both of our mothers with us so they got to spend lots of Grammy time with Molly before Riley came.


Showering Baby Boy Manno

In mid-April we celebrated Riley, who at the time was known as baby boy Manno. My baby shower was small and intimate but absolutely perfect. Celebrations like this are always a little bit tough on me because I live so far away from my family and I really would’ve loved to have had my mom and sister there. But it made me super grateful for the friends with me to celebrate the soon to be arrival of my sweet boy.


Welcome to the World Riley Doran Manno!

On May 24th at 12:53 AM, we welcomed sweet Riley to the world. It’s so funny because I remember wondering how I could ever love another baby as much as I loved Molly and with Riley, the moment I saw him I knew he had given me a love like no other! Riley is truly the happiest person I know. I’m so grateful every single day that I get to be his mother. That someone as high stress and anxious as me gets to be a mom to such a sweet leave that little boy. I swear he chills me out sometimes. When babies are supposed to do the opposite to parents. Ha! He makes everything in life better.

I love the photo below because it’s so raw and perfectly sums up how I felt the moment I held him. I was terrified, I was relieved (mostly that the labor was over), I was filled with joy, but mostly I was overwhelmed with love. Like I just mentioned, you wonder how your heart will grow big enough for there to be love for another human when you have another baby. But the moment I saw him my heart burst with love, and I thought for sure it couldn’t get any bigger. But every day since then it has grown and grown and grown, and I can’t possibly love that sweet boy anymore than I do. But then of course, tomorrow I love him even a little more.

Molly’s TWO!

In July we celebrated the two years we’ve had with Molly on this planet! Because we were so consumed with having a newborn, we really didn’t do much planning for her party. It’s honestly something I whipped up a few days before the actual day. I’m so lucky that we were able to give her the birthday party of her Pinkalicious dreams! With an Elmo thrown in there as well! Ha! I’ll never forget the look on her face when Elmo walked into her party. She still talks about how he came to her party and keeps asking when she’s going to get to see him again. Luckily we’re going to Sesame Street Live when we visit Kevin‘s parents in Chicago in a few weeks. She’s gonna lose her mind when she gets to see him again!

Newborn Fog

The rest of the year up until about Halloween is kind of a fog to be honest with you. Any parent who has taken care of a newborn can relate. It’s called the newborn fog for a reason. Honestly, I find myself going back to videos and photos of Riley to try to remember those months because I know what a magical time they were. But it’s almost impossible to remember them without the photos and videos because you’re just so dang tired all the time! Riley is only 7 1/2 months old and I can’t even remember him as a newborn. Unless I look at a photo. And I’ll leave some of those adorable photos here. I mean, I just want to eat his little face!


After experiencing Halloween with Molly last year, I’m starting to realize that every holiday is going to be absolutely magical! I knew Christmas was going to be special and as I sit here writing this I could not be more excited for Valentine’s Day! Every holiday has a whole different meaning and is so magical when I get to see it through her eyes. Why don’t people talk about this more? That’s one of the best things about becoming a parent is that holidays become so much more special?! And not just the big holidays. Obviously things like Halloween and Christmas are big, but even things like Valentine’s Day are so exciting when you have kiddos. I didn’t quite realize this until Halloween. You should totally watch this video of her doing her best to “sell” our candy to all the trick-or-treaters. It’s the cutest EVER! It honestly might be my favorite video of her of all time!

Riley’s First Christmas

Christmas with Molly was too good to put into words! You should also check out my Instagram TV video of Christmas morning at our house if you have a minute. It’s really special and in my opinion, gives a very raw and real look at what Christmas is really like in most peoples homes with small children. One minute Molly is running towards the tree with a huge smile on her face and the next minute she’s bawling her eyes out. Ha! It’s too good not to watch. And I hate to say it, but with the excitement of this being the first Christmas that Molly really understood, I feel like we kind of swept it under the rug but it was Riley’s very first Christmas! Oh well, as parents we do the best we can and I’m sure he’ll forgive us. Ha! Plus we did get some super cute photos of just him under the tree to commemorate his first Christmas. And we did an ornament with his footprint on it just like I did for Molly when she had her first Christmas. Those two ornaments are items I know will cherish forever.

What A Year

Looking back over everything I just wrote, it’s hard for me to look back on 2018 and feel anything but gratitude. I honestly think one day if I’m lucky enough to grow into a little old lady, I think I’ll look back on this time in my life and remember it as the absolute best years of my life. And as I move into 2019 instead of goal-setting, I want to strive towards one word and that word is – authenticity. In this day and age we are so consumed by cellphones and social media that it’s hard to have any authentic experiences anymore. Not only is it hard to be authentic by showing your true self on social media (I mean who can really show who they truly are when you only see snippets of someone’s life) but I also think it’s hard to have authentic relationships – with friends and sometimes family. There have been times when I’ll look over at Kevin while we’re sitting in our living room with our kids and realize that we both had our heads down staring at our phones for who knows how long. And then I look over at Molly and Riley who are just giggling and smiling and playing – not even aware that social media exists. I want to be more like Molly and Riley! We ALL should be! So I offer that word – authenticity – to all of you as you move into 2019 as well. Strive to be authentic. Be who you are and be proud of that person. You may see some changes from me in terms of the content I share opn social media and here on Ali Luvs. But I hope you guys welcome it and love it. Because this year I’m tearing down all my walls and putting it all out there. And I encourage you all to do the same. I love you guys so much! I hope this year brings you nothing but health, love and happiness.

41 Thoughts

41 thoughts on “Thank you 2018

  1. Ali, I often think of you as the Mr. Rogers of social media! Thank you for showing us that it’s OK to be who we are. Thank you for opening your heart and sharing your life.

  2. I feel like your post probably insulted several people who actually suffer from depression. You may have been sad but depressed – actually clinically depressed – obviously not. Especially since you just “snapped out of it”. Making people with depression feel as though they should just be able to snap out of it. Poor choice of words. It is so annoying when people with a platform talk about mental health as if they actually know anything about it. Use the platform to show support and raise awareness. Yes, or course! And thank you! But some of your wording in posts and blogs are frustrating to read.

    You display your life as perfect. Your perfect white house and family. Clearly well off financially. Then when people point that out you try and be the “real mom”.

    Your way of writing makes me feel this way so it may do the same for others.

    1. Alex, you display your life as sad. Your way of writing makes me feel this way so it may do the same for others.

    2. Alex,

      Thank you for saying it. I suffer depression and anxiety. I can’t turn it off an on as easily. Ali may have felt sad, but not depression.

    3. Please remember that there is a difference between using the term, depressed or stating you have depression. Depressed as an adjective simply means (of a person) in a state of general unhappiness or despondency.

      Let’s also remember if you can’t say nothing nice, don’t say nothing at all. It is extremely difficult to share yourself publicly on social media. Scrutinizing someone over a word choice is not necessary. Ali does a good job of showing her life in both the “instagram version” and the “real version.”

    4. Allie – ignore these people. Your whole point is that no ones perfect – yet here you have a hater.

      PS. Don’t like what she posts – don’t read it.

      Don’t give them power over you. Negative isn’t worth it.

    5. Alex, I respect your opinion, however I suffer from pretty severe anxiety and depression and I was not at all offended by the way Ali referred to her depressed episode, or whatever you’d like to call it. Everyone suffers differently, at various levels, lengths of time and symptoms, so I find it more beneficial to focus on my own mental health instead of judge what someone else may be going through.

      Ali, keep being open and vulnerable and just yourself! I love what you share and stand for and don’t want you to feel like you’re walking on eggshells with us!

  3. Such a great year Ali!! I love watching your family on here, like I have said many times you and your family are such a breath of fresh air to watch. We had a similar year, New home, new pregnancy, I’m expecting this April! Lots and lots of ups and downs and I struggle a lot with social media as well…I have been trying to delete Facebook for the past month lol I think I am going to do it soon! I love instagram, but facebook just a bit much for me.
    I love how real you are and that you share all of the aspects of life that you go through. Can’t wait to see what this year has in store for you! Keep doing you!!

    1. I am making a real effort to step away from my phone more than normal. I believe there are studies that show that social media can make us feel depressed. So much good with social media but it has major faults too.

  4. What a fun look back at the year! Love your word choice for the new one as well. I think I’m gonna take a lesson from that and try to be more aware in the moment rather than always needing to capture it. I’ll still take my pics of a sunset but maybe spend some more just enjoying them thru my eyes and not a phone’s camera screen. Happy new year😊

    1. I am soooo guilty of this. I never want to miss a moment. But by trying to film them all, I am truly missing them all!!!!!

  5. Ali,

    After watching your Instagram story, I felt compelled to comment on your blog. I just want to thank you for being so real when sharing your motherhood journey. I am a first time mother, and reading/listening/watching your stuff has made me feel normal. Being a mother is HARD! So rewarding, but hard!!! You are always so honest, which is so refreshing and exactly what the internet and social media needs. Keep doing what you are doing! You are doing a great job! 😊

    1. I deleted it. I dunno. It’s too scary for me to open up THAT much I guess. But thank you so much for the nice words.

      1. Ali, I’m not a Mom myself but I actually really commended you for your now deleted post on depression. While I do not personally have clinical depression, I sometimes find myself in days-long funks to the point that I question “is this depression?”. While in my heart I know it’s not, I also have to recognize what’s bringing me down and work to combat it (just like you with getting out of the house!) Please know you will *always* have someone who doesn’t agree with your wording, thoughts or opinions, but for every 1 of “them”, you have a dozen that thank you for your honesty & openness.

        Ps. No one has the right to judge what’s going on in your personal life or with your mental health because they should know you only share part of the story and keep other parts private. You could very well have a mild form of PPD and on the upswing. Just because you’re coping better than some doesn’t mean you still aren’t struggling!

  6. Loved this post so much. Thanks for being so real and genuine. I definitely can relate to all your points. Time definitely goes by fast that 1st year. I’m sure thankful for videos. I also agree completely with the whole cell phone overload. I’m hoping 2019 will involve less phone time and more “in the moment” time. Being mindful of the present. That will be my motto for this year 🙂
    Love your post, cheers ox

  7. I just watched your insta stories and had to say.
    Focus on the 95% of us girl.

    EVERYONE has feelings and they are valid. Your feelings are valid.
    I cannot imagine being in the public eye and sharing those feelings.
    You are brave. I am sorry your bravery is meant with anything besides ‘Thank You’.

    Thank you for sharing.
    Wishing you love and kindness in 2019.

  8. Your family is adorable! Love that you share them with us. Ignore the naysayers. They’re jealous! They’ll deny that they’re jealous but they are. Don’t ever apologize for what you say and do. You put yourself out there and they follow along just to cause hurt. No one asks them to read or comment and they do both for one reason: to try and tear you down! Well rise up girl! Life is short, live every second of it with passion, love and gratitude!

  9. Omigosh, don’t listen to the trolls!! You portray your beautiful family and the home you are building any way you want! Your children are adorable and you SHOULD be enjoying every magical second of their precious little lives, good and bad. We all get a little down, especially after the whirlwind holiday season. You are just brave enough to say it. Keep up the good work!❤

  10. Hi Ali
    I admire your honesty & I enjoy reading your blog!
    I feel like we are friends & that makes me happy.
    May 2019 be a peaceful, joyous year for all. 💕

  11. I agree with Alex. Mental health issues are real and do not come and go On a whim, be it anxiety or depression or whatever. Ali, you come across as self-centered and egotistical. You need to get off your high horse. You are not the end-all and be-all of the world. When you video your kids, why do you always have to stop and look at yourself in the camera? It’s a me me me thing with you. ENOUGH.

    1. She said she was feeling depressed. Which is another way of saying sad, it’s just a different adjective. She did not say that she suffered from clinical depression. There is a difference. Stop picking apart other people’s lives to make you feel better about yourself.

  12. Ali! I just saw your posts and your story and felt compelled to reach out. I have struggled with depression for 9 years. It’s the worst and like you said, it can be debilitating. When I was first diagnosed, the first 6 months, I would beg my therapist to promise me once she fixed me, I would never go through it again. She told me that would be ethically irresponsible because the hard truth was I would battle this for a really long time and even during the good months or hopefully one day, years, there would be some bad days, weeks and months in there too. The first reason I share this is because I want you to know that mental illness is something I understand. The second reason I share this and how long I have struggled is because I want to discuss the affect it can have on a person’s personality during and after a period or relapse of depression or any mental health issue. Because you have family who has experienced depression you may recognize this but it’s not often talked about and it’s a shame. Humans are empathetic. We all carry a certain amount of empathy for others. Besides the actual symptoms of depression, the hardest thing I have had to deal with in my life post depression diagnosis, battle and treatment is my change in how I express and share what I feel empathy for. The logical side of my brain still remembers what I was like before this all started. I was empathetic in EVERY situation that called for my brain to respond that way, as anyone would. After depression, that all changed. My entire brain was rewired or at least that’s what it feels like. I lack empathy and sometimes patience for people who say they don’t feel well because I know that it will pass and they will be fine. I also lack empathy for people who aren’t struggling but rather complaining about their life being difficult or challenging. This is not to say anything about how I feel about your statements. I have had to come to replace that empathy with a statement taught as a tool by my therapist. Nobody’s problems are bigger than anyone’s problems. Mine feel big to me and yours feel big to you. That’s is empathy in a logical form. I don’t feel it but I know it. So, why am I telling you all of this? Because when you first posted, I was pissed at you for misrepresenting mental health as a snap your fingers and your better in a few weeks type of thing but I was wrong to put that on you. I wasn’t wrong about how mental illness should be portrayed but I was wrong to judge you and forget my own tools and understanding of everyone’s problems being different but all still feeling huge. You have every right to say you were feeling upset and sad and anxious. Not feeling yourself is(I think) one of the worst feelings ever, worse than feeling depressed honestly. If you are struggling with your identity, you can’t find clarity and that is miserable. When I watched your story, even though you don’t know me and I don’t know you, I knew I owed you an apology. If you are open to it, I would love to talk more about this. Hold onto your empathy. It’s precious and you are so blessed to have that! Know that you are flawed and that makes you a better person and know that the mental health community are some of the HARSHEST critics of others who may or may not be struggling. All people want a stigma free life so as you have noticed, people with mental health issues are going to call you out to make sure you and they get that. It’s shit and I have been called out by family even who saw what I have experienced. Therapy has changed my life and im not sure if you have a therapist, but that hour once a week is life altering whether you have any issues or non at all. The best time to go is when nothing is wrong. You will learn the most. The last thing I want you to know is that you are NOT alone. Ever. It feels lonely and like nobody understands you but you are understood. I am a stranger who got it wrong with you. Here to talk when you want to! x Alexa
    Ps sorry for the novel!

    1. I commend you SO much for your self-awareness, specifically regarding this issue. While I do not suffer from a mental health disorder, I do have a chronic pain disorder and at times, have felt frustrated that I have to physically work so much harder than others to get by. I’ve come to realize that that’s not reality. We all work hard, we just have different understandings of what “hard” looks, sounds & feels like based on our personal experiences. Your ability to first be frustrated with Ali only to realize that she too is suffering & is allowed to, is amazing. I’ll never understand people who waste time telling other people how terrible they are (like a handful have done on this post) because to me, all that does is show their true colours. If they really felt so horribly about someone, they’d never waste their time following their life and commenting on it. Thank you for being the bigger person here and recognizing that even though you were originally put off by Ali’s comments, tearing her down for them only hurts & definitely doesn’t help or educate. You can disagree in a friendly manner while still respecting the other person. I hope that others pick up on your behaviour and mindset!

  13. Gosh I love you and your family so much! Your blog always makes me cry!! Haha but good tears 🙂 Your experiences remind me so much of mine and it is so good to relate with someone. I love your word for this year-authentic. Love it and you. You are doing awesome!! Thank you for your sweet words.

  14. Don’t listen to any of the negativity, I love all your posts so much. I have a second baby coming this month and cherish all the advice, stories, raw memories you share. In addition to hearing about you going back to work, fashion and family. Love this blog and always have, cheers to another wonderful year ahead!

  15. Ali, I love your blog (actually is the only blog I read regularly) and seeing you and your family on Instagram. My daughter is a July 2016 baby as well and I’ve loved your take on parenting and experiencing your journey w you as I am going through the same things w our little girl. Keep being yourself and thank you for your authenticity!

  16. ❤️ to you Ali, and here’s to Alexa for her honest response and apology to Ali. That took courage, humility and honesty.

  17. Ali,
    I’ve chosen my words very carefully and I hope you get w chance to read my comment💕I’m glad you snapped out of things. I remember a state of depression so bad in my life when I was pregnant that when I looked out the window I didn’t even see an existing world anymore! It was like I didn’t fit in and had nowhere to go. It was spring and new life was everywhere, but I was trapped in a mental black hole I couldn’t escape. I suffered from baby gender anxiety…google it it’s a real thing! Nobody understood and shamed me for being an awful person for potentially not getting the sex of baby I had wanted. Nobody could see it was more than that and on a much deeper level than anyone ever cared to consider. Being shamed by others can be a trigger for people who suffer depression and no doubt can cause feelings of sadness and anger. Some women have commit suicide over not getting the gender they desire. It’s no laughing matter. I was very fortunate I did get the gender I had hoped for and now have that “million dollar” boy and girl family such an eternal gift🙌🏻I know you were just in a sad phase for a week and meant no disrespect to people currently suffering mental health issues and depression who follow your blog. I NEVER would want another women to ever experience the grief, misery and depression I experienced and not for one second would I downplay what contributed to said depression. I thought I was crazy and I sure felt like I had to be for those thoughts, they were uncontrollable. Through medication, therapy and online support(so sad I couldn’t find local support only online) I was able to slowly start coming out of that hole. After I had my baby I had migraines pounding every day for 5.5 wks! They kept saying it was a side effect from the epidural which is true but not for that many weeks. I could not enjoy or physically be a mother to my child for 6 wks. I had a spinal fluid leak and required a blood patch. I recovered and all that I have learned since comes with growth and experience and getting older which I hate and love at the same time. At one time I too was an “expert” and thought I had it all figured out! Just know that none of us do every minute hour week month season and year we grow into more than we can have ever imagined and to get there takes guts and courage! Well on your way girl😊Don’t allow yourself to feel what others write to you, there can be value found in everything though proper wording and respect in our words could sure go a long way in the decorum department of online interaction.

  18. Your blog was absolutely touching. You are truly beautiful inside and out. I have followed you for years since you were on the bachelor. Speaking of that….I hope you will be blogging about the bachelor. I enjoy hearing your opinions even when we don’t agree. Hoping you will continue. Xoxo

  19. Ali, sending love and best wishes for a happy new year to you and your family! Love your blog, your stories and your precious family!! You are doing such a great job with everything you do, and gratitude is one of the studied ways in psychology to be happier, so you are on a great path! There will be always people who disagree or not approve, but remember that it is their baggage, don’t take it on yourself 🙂

  20. I enjoy following all your posts. I went through the exact same thing with my second born. It’s no fun and terrifying at times. Keep your chin up!🤗❤

  21. Hi Ali, Just want to let you know I enjoy reading your posts. I been following your blog for months now but this is the first time I am commenting, it is actually one of the first things I do in the morning to see if you have new post. Keep writing and keep being so real 🙂

  22. Ali,

    I just wanted to say that I love your blog. This is the first time I’m comenting. We are the same age and I welcomed my first baby (a little boy) this past year on May 26, two days after Riley. I watched you on the Bachelorette all those years ago, and rediscovered you on Instagram during my pregnancy last year. I love watching your journey with your beautiful family and how real you keep it. Thanks for all of the new mom tips as well! Hope you all have a wonderful 2019.

  23. I wanted to comment on one of your insta stories but I am super lame and cannot figure out how to do that, or if it’s even possible, so I guess I will just comment here. I was just watching your insta story where you are modeling the new fabletics line. I just want to tell you how much I admire you and the person that you are. I know that you have mentioned that you are not super happy with your body post baby #2, and I am thrilled that you are not hiding it, and are showing all of us moms that beauty is not all about what we look like and definitely not about how much we weigh. I know that it is difficult to put yourself out there, especially when you are not back to your normal weight, but you are doing it anyway….so brave. And I am not saying that you are overweight, by any means…please dont take this, that way, at all. You are fantastic: so beautiful, and your happiness is so evident in your posts. I also love hearing about your mutual admiration in your marriage…so awesome. So, keep up these ultra honest posts and sharing your gorgeousness (both inside and out).

  24. I wish commenting on peoples posts wasn’t a thing. Of course someone has to say something negative, then you have to read all the comments below it defending the post. Why do I always get dragged into it and keep reading lol!

    Anyways so glad to see how much you’ve grown! I remember reading a comment on Instagram when you had your first child and the person was asking if you’d share more of the thing you find hard and challenging instead of all happy and sunshine. You seemed very much against it (and kind of offended) in your reply and so did your followers. I thought it be a great idea but didn’t chime in out of fear of getting backlash myself from your followers. But I see now you are sharing all aspects of motherhood and life, not just the highs. Women out there really appreciate that!

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