Life

HAPPY THANKSGIVING

Professional Family Photo, Philadelphia, Kate Leigh Photography

“As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words but to live by them.”

– John F. Kennedy

I hope your holiday is filled with laughter, kindness and love.

Thank you, from the bottom of my heart, and Happy Thanksgiving.

{image by Kate Leigh)

Life

I REGRET MY SILENCE

I am willing to accept that many people who voted for Trump are not racist, sexist, bigoted, hateful people. People we love and care deeply about voted for him. People I respect and hold in high regard voted for him. People I consider to be powerful role models for my children. What I cannot understand is how those very people could justify that vote. I respect my republican friends. We have long, thoughtful discussions 365 days of the year about issues that matter. I have learned from them and they from me to look at things from different perspectives. That nothing — NOTHING — is black and white. I may live in a liberal bubble, but I appreciate and seek out other viewpoints. People around this country are hurting and I believe ALL their voices matter.

This election wasn’t about politics for many of us. It wasn’t about policies. I happen to agree with Hillary’s policies. I happen to think President Obama is a great, decent man, though I most certainly do not agree with every single thing he did as our president. But even if you don’t like their policies and couldn’t bring yourself to vote for Hillary, how did you vote for Trump? He threatened to ban all Muslims and subject them to religious tests. He said he’d punish women who have abortions. He retweeted white supremacists and let his campaign be run by one. He stoked the flames of racism. He encouraged people to beat up protestors at his rallies. He thinks climate change is a hoax started by the Chinese. He defrauded students, used his foundation to benefit himself, refused to pay the very people who built his buildings. He tried to delegitimize this country’s first black president. He said he’ll implement Stop and Frisk and lied about its failures and racist consequences. He called Black Lives Matter a “threat” and wants to suppress the movement. He called Mexicans rapists. He stands accused of sexual assault. Repeated sexual assault. And he admitted it. On video. We all heard it. His Vice President Mike Pence believes in gay conversion therapy and hides behind his bible to justify taking away a woman’s access to affordable health care. He passed a law encouraging businesses to discriminate and refuse service to LGBTQ people. He is responsible for an HIV outbreak in his home state.

These are facts, not opinions. But people voted for him. Good people. Kind people. People I love. This is hard to reconcile.

My daughter goes to a Jewish preschool in a liberal city and her classmates are walking past swastikas on their way to school. How do we explain that? And how do we as a society accept this? Don’t tell me it’s not Trump’s fault. People are responsible for their own actions, absolutely, but when you run on a platform of hate there are consequences. Where is Donald Trump today? He’s tweeting that protests against him are “unfair” when he should be using his platform to denounce every single act of violence being committed in his name all around this country.

To those of you who wish this would all just go away, who keep telling us to move on and get over it, and who never wanted to “talk politics” in the first place, I will not be silenced. My voice will only get louder. To those who think we should accept this outcome and move on, I ask where were you when Mitch McConnell and his team of obstructionists vowed before Pres. Obama was even sworn into office to block every single thing he did? Don’t tell me to support this president if you didn’t support the one we have now. That is the definition of hypocrisy.

I don’t like politics, but I pay attention to what’s happening in Washington and in my home state and city every single day. This isn’t about politics.

I voted for Hillary Clinton for countless reasons that have everything to do with her values, her character and who she is as a human being; in recognition of the great work she has done for her entire life. I voted for her because I agree with many of her policy proposals. I voted for her not because I thought she’d spend her term bettering the lives of only liberals around this country, but because I genuinely, with all my heart, believe she would have fought for every single person in this country. I voted for Hillary Clinton because my daughter woke up this morning and asked if she could wear her brother’s bat wings and be a super hero and I want her to know she can be anything she wants to be. That her voice matters and is valuable. That no one can touch her body without her permission, or holler at her on the street or disregard her intelligence because she is female. That she should fight for what she believes in and for everyone around her. I vow to fight for my little super hero and to teach my son to fight ALONGSIDE his sister. To be the man his father is. I vow to get more involved. I feel deep shame for not doing enough to stand up against hate not just during this election but throughout my life so far. For staying quiet because my Facebook friends were sick and tired of hearing everyone talk about politics and because this is a blog about pretty things.

I will never make that mistake again.

Kids

THEO’S PARTY ANIMALS | A WOODLAND-INSPIRED FIRST BIRTHDAY PARTY

#TheosPartyAnimals | A woodland-themed first birthday party cake by Vanilya Bakery, East Passyunk

Remember that time you decided to throw your child a really low-key, chill, no frills first birthday party but then you accidentally opened Pinterest and the whole thing just got away from you? I have no idea how that feels.

Just kidding. The struggle is real people.

Theo turned one last week and we decided long ago that our kids’ first birthdays would be a big deal but then things would just go down hill from there. Okay, maybe not down hill, but you know what I’m saying. Or at least that’s my justification for the carpal tunnel I got cutting paper trees and random tiny animals and spending too much money on tree stumps and weird-looking, prickly hedgehogs made out of sticks. Which, by the way, was totally worth it because Theo’s woodland-inspired birthday party was awesome! We had a lovely day with all our friends and both kids had the best time ever.

Since a lot of our friends have kids Isla’s age I wanted to have a toddler-friendly activity that would entertain them for at least five minutes. We already had a bunch of cool animal masks (which you’ve seen a dozen times if you read this blog or follow me on Instagram) so I decided to make a photo booth. I cut triangles and made tree garland to hang on the wall for the forest backdrop and my friends at Opposite of Far sent me some really amazing masks the kids could color themselves. There were four animals (a deer, fox, owl and raccoon) and I printed them on cardstock and cut them out ahead of time. After the kids were done coloring we taped the masks to dowels so they could hold them up and get their picture taken or just run around like tiny crazy people (which they did for hours!). The masks turned out so cute and the kids loved them! And so did I! Our niece, in particular, was in heaven. She’s older than most of the kids (she’s 5) so it was the perfect activity for her and her masks were beautiful. She colored all four animals and shared them with the other kids. It was super cute.

The coloring masks are a new idea Opposite of Far’s owner, Jessica, has for her shop and we’d like to give her a special thank you for letting us test them out! They were a hit!

I also bought some woodland animal party ear headbands on Etsy. Oh, and I had a hashtag (#TheosPartyAnimals) because I obviously have an addiction to Instagram.

I asked our local baker (Vanilya Bakery) if she could make me a cake with a bunch of trees in various heights and shades of green. Kind of like a forest. The result was unbelievable. I contemplated not even cutting into it because it was so gorgeous! But of course that would have been a crime because that beauty was delicious! If you live in Philadelphia and need someone to bake you a cake, call Bonnie. Seriously. You will not be disappointed. I might have eaten cake for lunch the day after the party. And maybe dinner, too. I’m not sorry.

For Isla’s first birthday party we went a little overboard with the food, specifically sweets, and we had a lot of leftovers. This time we went a bit simpler with the snacks and ordered our favorite pizza in the city (Santuccis). We had forest berries (strawberries and blueberries), twigs (pretzels), popped acorns (popcorn), hedgehog hummus, trees (broccoli), porcupine peppers, chipmunk cheese rolls, bunny treats (carrots), caribou cookies, bear pee (beer), dew drops (water), pond punch (wine) and poisoned apple potion (apple cider).

I’m just kidding you guys. I didn’t name the food until I was writing this. I could not be bothered to make up little food signs. I was too busy cutting out tiny, ridiculous hedgehogs. My hands still hurt. But how funny would that be to offer our friends bear pee? I’m totally going to find another reason to do that.

Anyway, below are a few party details and picture overload because kid birthday parties are way more fun than I ever imagined they’d be.

Party Details:
~ felt animal masks + printable coloring animal masks by Opposite of Far
~ woodland trees cake + cupcakes by Vanilya Bakery
~ ‘Woodland Friends’ print from Occasionette
~ DIY tree garland + hedgehog garland + woodland animal cupcake toppers
~ invitations by INVITEDbyAudriana
~ animal ear headbands by PartyEars
~ light box by A Little Lovely Company via Rich Hippies
~ acorn chalkboard + wooden hedgehog + tree stump food stands + tabletop trees from AC Moore (all on sale!)

#TheosPartyAnimals | A woodland-themed first birthday party with Opposite of Far animal masks and photo booth#TheosPartyAnimals | A woodland-themed first birthday party tree cake by Vanilya Bakery, East Passyunk#TheosPartyAnimals | A woodland-themed first birthday party Etsy invitations: InvitedbyAudriana#TheosPartyAnimals | A woodland-themed first birthday party with Opposite of Far animal masks and photo booth#TheosPartyAnimals | A woodland-themed first birthday party with Opposite of Far animal masks and photo booth#TheosPartyAnimals | A woodland-themed first birthday party with Opposite of Far animal masks and photo booth#TheosPartyAnimals | A woodland-themed first birthday party with Opposite of Far animal masks and photo booth#TheosPartyAnimals | A woodland-themed first birthday party#TheosPartyAnimals | A woodland-themed first birthday party photo booth#TheosPartyAnimals | A woodland-themed first birthday party with Opposite of Far animal masks and photo booth#TheosPartyAnimals | A woodland-themed first birthday party tree cake by Vanilya Bakery, East Passyunk#TheosPartyAnimals | A woodland-themed first birthday party photo booth#TheosPartyAnimals | A woodland-themed first birthday party with Opposite of Far animal masks and photo booth#TheosPartyAnimals | A woodland-themed first birthday party tree cake by Vanilya Bakery, East Passyunk#TheosPartyAnimals | A woodland-themed first birthday party with Opposite of Far animal masks and photo boothwoodland_birthday_party_decor#TheosPartyAnimals | A woodland-themed first birthday party with Opposite of Far animal masks and photo booth#TheosPartyAnimals | A woodland-themed first birthday party with Opposite of Far animal masks and photo booththeos_woodland_first_birthday_cake_8 #TheosPartyAnimals | A woodland-themed first birthday party with Opposite of Far animal masks and photo booth

Baby

THEO IS ONE!

Theo is one!The other night at bedtime I was sitting on the sofa in the kids room nursing Theo. Isla was nuzzled under my free arm twirling her hair and sucking her thumb. The only light was from the moon shining through a crack in the curtains. It was a sweet, quiet, rare moment. Suddenly Theo pulled away, looked up at me with that huge trademark grin of his and said, “Mama!” When he realized Isla was there he instantly flung himself on top of her and nuzzled his head in her neck. She yelled, “THEEEE-OOOO!” and they both giggled. He did this about 10 more times. He’d look at me and smile then throw himself headfirst on top of his sister to cuddle with her before popping back up to nurse a little more.

These tiny, short, unexpected moments are the ones I never want to forget when our kids are grown. Between all the toy stealing, biting, pushing and craziness that is life with two kids, it’s these sweet moments that make me feel like we’re doing something right.

Theo adores his big sister. She refuses to share with him, grabs everything he touches the second he touches it and scolds him all day long. But she’s the first to say, “Great job, buddy!” when he climbs the stairs by himself, or “You can do it!” as he takes his first uneasy steps. He wants to hug her and kiss her and slobber all over her all day long, and she’s constantly teaching him new things and supporting him in her own toddler-ish way.

They spend much of the day playing side-by-side, her building things and him knocking them over to her great frustration. “NO BABY MONSTER!” she yells when he tears apart her train tracks, EVERY. SINGLE. TIME. And he screeches, “ISLA!” and then bites her (hard) when she steals from him or just when he misses her. If he wakes up before her he yells her name, pronouncing it almost perfectly, until I hear them both giggle and realize reluctantly, exhaustedly, joyfully that our day has begun.

Theo is one today.

It feels like just yesterday Isla came to the hospital to meet her new baby brother for the first time, yet the whole year feels like a blur. It’s hard to remember a time when Theo wasn’t smiling at us, yelling Mama and Dada and Isla, barking at his meowing sister, climbing on the furniture or turning the pages of his books all by himself. Before he was crawling or talking or feeding himself. When was that? So long ago. Just yesterday.

I dare say bringing home a second baby was scarier than the first. One baby, two parents. We got this. Or so we thought. Adjusting to life as a parent can be challenging. But when Theo came home I was suddenly outnumbered when Chris was at work or away. Two hands are not enough! At the same time, Theo was easier than Isla, calmer than Isla, chiller than any human I’ve ever met. Eventually we found our groove. I found time to shower and make sure both kids were fed. We figured out how to get to the park, take morning walks to get coffee and even managed to visit fun places like the aquarium or zoo. Somehow, outnumbered, we made it.

Though each new stage brings its own challenges for each child, we survived. No, we more than survived. These kids are thriving and we get better every day as parents. There are those days when Theo is covered in his sister’s pee because he found her potty before I had a chance to clean it out. The days when I yell at Isla too many times because she just will not listen. Or those days when they both watch too much TV because I just cannot get through one more minute and keep my sanity. Days when we feel like we’ve failed as parents. But at the end of those days these two nuzzle each other, giggle together, exchange goodnight kisses and remind us that it’s all going to be okay. Our kids love each other. They’re best friends and eternal companions. And they know how much we love them. All is right with the world.

If you can’t tell, I’m on a roller coaster of emotions right now and just typing when comes out of my fingertips because this is my last monthly update for Theo and I can’t deal. But thanks for listening and let’s get to it.

Last month Theo dressed up as Bat Boy for his first Halloween and celebrated his birthday early with my side of the family by throwing his piece of cake on the floor without so much as a lick. We went to the pumpkin patch and bowling, had daily dance parties and spent a lot of time with family. Theo TOOK HIS FIRST STEPS the day before Halloween, is learning new words every single day and is hell-bent on asserting his independence every chance he gets. He adores his book about dogs and loves to howl (at the moon) and cook naked in the kiddie kitchen. He insists on standing while dancing at music class (and gets very frustrated when all that booty shaking makes him fall over), loves climbing into his sister’s bed to snuggle with her and will no longer be carried up the steps because he must climb them by himself. He throws things onto the floor so he can say “uh oh,” says “oooooooh” every time he’s excited about something and points to animals and pictures when he wants us to tell him what they are and what sounds they make. He head butts us (hard!) and bites us when he doesn’t get his way and is like a bull in a china shop. He finally loves bananas, steals and drinks his sister’s milk and is showing no signs of wanting to wean. He only sleeps through the night when he feels like it, smiles constantly and leans in to give sweet hugs to all his friends.

Our Theo is sweet, loving, stubborn, hilarious and fiercely independent (he gets that last one from his sister). We’re looking forward to celebrating Thanksgiving and Christmas with him and watching him learn to walk, talk and develop into his own little self.

Sweet Theo, you bring us more joy than we could ever explain to you in words. Your kisses and smiles brighten our darkest days. You are a gift and I hope you always know how much we love you. We hope you grow to be kind, loving, loyal, open-minded and accepting of everyone you meet. We hope the name we’ve given you makes you proud and reminds you that life is too short to take for granted. We hope you and your sister protect each other and remain friends and loyal companions for eternity. We hope you fiercely support each other and stand side-by-side through all of life’s challenges and greatest joys.

We love you to the moon, Theo Jon.

HAPPY FIRST BIRTHDAY!

(Theo at eleven monthsten monthsnine monthseight monthsseven monthssix monthsfive monthsfour monthsthree monthstwo monthsone month andhis birth story)

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Style

RABBIT RABBIT

Rabbit Rabbit Top by Letter19Design EtsyWake up, wake up, wake up, it’s the first of the month …

According to some really old British superstition, the first thing you’re supposed do on the first day of every month is say the words “rabbit rabbit.” I once owned one of those rabbit feet on a key chain things, like everyone else in the 90s, but I had never heard of this until about a year ago. I’m not really superstitious, but it can’t hurt, right? That being said, I’m going to assume starting out the month by wearing one of these shirts designed by my friend Susan is the equivalent of drinking a whole bottle of Felix Felicis (also known as “liquid luck” for those of you who live in a hole and have never read Harry Potter). Bonus luck if you actually wear it to bed and wake up in it on the first.

If you like supporting small shops and wonderful people, please consider checking out Susan’s new shop on Etsy called ShopRabbitRabbit. She’s selling apparel and other goods featuring designs of her own creation (including the one I’m wearing), which will absolutely maybe bring you good luck!

{Susan is an incredibly talented designer responsible for the look of this blog, her own line of wedding invitations, Isla’s first birthday invitations and other cool stuff under the name Letter19Design. She gave me this shirt as a gift for helping with her Etsy shop and I offered to tell you guys all about it on this here blog because it’s a cute idea and I like supporting my friends. I will not receive any compensation, commission or otherwise from the sale of her products.}

{On Me: Dallin Chase jacket (similar); old chambray shirt (similar); ShopRabbitRabbit shirt; ASOS hat; Zara jeans; Made by Mary necklaces (Lana bar+charm); Sam Edelman boots // On Isla: Old Navy top + hat; Zara trousers + sweater; Gap boots (similar)}

Rabbit Rabbit Top by Letter19Design Etsy Rabbit Rabbit Top by Letter19Design EtsyRabbit Rabbit Top by Letter19Design EtsyRabbit Rabbit Top by Letter19Design EtsyRabbit Rabbit Top by Letter19Design Etsy Rabbit Rabbit Top by Letter19Design EtsyRabbit Rabbit Top by Letter19Design Etsy