The Dynamic Duo
The day begins in earnest after breakfast for Danielle Norcross and her husband, Jason, who homeschool their three children: witty Elsa (9), spunky Emery (7), and silly Gavin (4). Danielle tackles the morning shift, while Jason spearheads afternoon projects so Danielle can work on Palm Beach Lately, the blog–turned–lifestyle company, she started in 2012 with her sister, Beth Aschenbach.
Although Danielle’s constantly juggling projects—such as Palm Beach Lately’s collaboration with clothing brand Vineyard Vines—she keeps her kids and husband front of mind. “Our family and home are our foundation for life, so we invest a lot of time in them,” she says.
For the Norcross bunch, Palm Beach is their playground. They sometimes venture “off campus” for lunch at Sant Ambroeus and after-school activities range from soccer and dance to swimming and mini-golfing—with Emery capturing memories on her Instamax camera. The occasional sleepover at The Colony, where Danielle and Beth created a Sisters Suite with Serena & Lily last year, breaks up their routine, which always involves lots of family and cousin time.
Over at the Aschenbach residence, Grace (4) is up early after dreaming of the next batch of goodies she and her mom, Beth, will make thanks to inspiration from Kids Baking Championship. Baby Edie (7 months) is eager, as always, to be a part of the mix and come along for whatever excursion is on tap. Today it’s a bicycle ride along the Palm Beach Lake Trail before popping into La Muse, the Worth Avenue jewelry store their dad, Lawson, owns.
On other days, the itinerary might include a stop at LoveShackFancy to make bracelets with the cousins or trips to Pizza Al Fresco so Grace can get her pasta fix. Regardless of the specifics, Beth abides by a mommy motto to always “go with the flow,” she says. “With kids, something is bound to pop up and change the plan.” This mantra even extends to their family dynamic, which is constantly evolving as Beth’s girls grow up and grow into their personalities.
Molly Mele counts any day that doesn’t start before 7 a.m. as a big win. Her two boys, Johnny (5) and Archer (2), follow divergent circadian rhythms, with Archer opting for late nights and Johnny preferring early rises. For all their differences, however, the brothers share many qualities, such as boundless energy and a fondness for music. “Both kids love a good dance party,” notes Molly.
After prepping her crew, Molly and the boys hit the road. With this group, the journey is just as fun as the destination. Carpool karaoke, featuring sing-alongs to hits by The Beatles and others, enlivens their drive to The Breakers, where they spend the afternoon playing in the waves, collecting seashells, and planning a family beach cleanup for the following weekend.
After some arts and crafts at home, they might meet dad, photographer Nick, at Coyo Taco, a casual taqueria in The Royal Poinciana Plaza where the boys can run around in the adjacent courtyard.
As she remains engaged with her family, Molly is also earning a graduate degree in elementary education at Florida Atlantic University, with the goal of starting her own tutoring and literacy-assessment company. She hopes to infuse her passion for philanthropy into this endeavor, too, envisioning a volunteer component that would allow her to offer services to some of the area’s Title 1 schools and less-fortunate families at no cost. Adds Molly: “This plan is definitely in its infancy, but I am passionately looking forward to getting this all going.”
Having fought for so many years to get pregnant and then watching her son, Fred, fight so hard when he was born at only 29 weeks, Christine Pressman needs only that first smile after the 16-month-old wakes up to jump-start her day. Wiping the remnants of fresh fruit puree off of Fred’s face, Christine, clad in a simple dress by Isabel Marant, reaches for a circa-1990s soft nylon Prada purse she has converted into a diaper bag, and the family heads out for a walk over the bridge into Palm Beach to enjoy the public gardens.
While Christine continues to pursue a career in real estate at Douglas Elliman, her mornings with Fred are a top priority. “Right now, everything is a new and fun adventure,” she says. “Palm Beach is full of so many gems to see and take children to.” Fred is a true socializer, schmoozing with people and dogs who greet him during his walk, and lovingly embracing his giant stuffed bear, which he believes is real, upon their return home.
Christine describes her approach to parenting with husband Gene as relaxed and joyful. But the family’s current state, as well as Fred’s wonderful disposition, belies their son’s difficult entry into the world. Fred spent five months in a neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) in New York City, where the Pressmans also reside. On his first Valentine’s Day, he met his “girlfriend,” Lucy, a fellow NICU resident. Though they’ve since graduated home, Lucy and Fred love to FaceTime as much as possible. “Both children get so excited to see each other,” remarks Christine.
The Queen Bee
When it comes to balancing life with her three daughters and husband, Todd, Brandie Herbst truly believes that teamwork makes the dream work. While she can never get her night-owl girls to go to sleep on time, she can always count on them to set and clear the dinner table—and to throw an impromptu dance party, fueled by a breakfast of Nutella pancakes and mixed berries.
Brandie’s pint-sized girl squad stars rock princess Paisley (9), eclectic and confident Minty (8), and playful Capri (4). For her part, Brandie encourages her daughters to strive, both to the benefit of their family and to grow individually. “My parenting style is tender, tough, loving, and authentic,” she says. “I want my girls to be strong, self-sufficient, and true to themselves.”
While her days with the girls are filled with excursions around the island, including bike rides and walks on the beach—dogs in tow—Brandie tries to keep up with her love of interior design as well. She takes on projects as time permits and also flexes that creative muscle through party planning and involvement in local charities such as Opportunity Early Childhood Education & Family Center.
Come evening, the Herbsts can be found dining at City Cellar—one of the restaurants comprising Todd’s Big Time Restaurant Group—or eating at home. Afterward, the entire family frequently piles onto the sofa to watch a movie. With three very vocal opinions to contend with, choosing a flick is never easy. But Brandie welcomes a certain amount of loving dissension within her troop, taking it as a sign that her mission to raise strong-willed girls is succeeding.
Photography by Nick Mele
Shot by Palm Beach Illustrated on location at The Children’s Library at Mandel Public Library of West Palm Beach
Makeup by Deborah Koepper, Deborah Koepper Beauty, Palm Beach
Beth (left) and Danielle’s clothing by Zimmermann; their kids’ clothing by Bella Bliss.