Life

TWENTY SIXTEEN

Family Photos with Kate Leigh, Philadelphia{Family photos with Kate Leigh}

It’s hard to wax poetic about a year filled with so much negativity. But I want to focus on the good, which sometimes feels selfish but also may be the only path forward. So for the purposes of this blog post, I’m going to remember all the personally happy moments I can recall from 2016.

Such as ….

Isla began (and fell in love with) preschool and made a classroom full of new buddies. We threw Theo a first birthday party. My lovely friend Susie launched a new shop to bring us all a little good luck. Our kids are happy and healthy. My cousin got married! And our kids were Vanity Fair cover-worthy at her wedding. My other cousin moved to Philly! My sister-in-law gave birth to a healthy, perfect baby girl! I got dressed a lot. We spent just about every summer Friday at Happy Hour with our neighborhood friends (kids included). I vowed to stop body shaming myself and others. There is no better husband than mine. Chris and I made new adult friends and found time to connect with old ones. My 93-year-old Anya is alive and well. Chris and I took our kids with us to vote for Hillary Clinton, the first major party female candidate for president, and despite the outcome, I will, for eternity, remain incredibly proud of that vote and of the moment I shared in the booth with my daughter. And as a result of that election, I grew immensely close to a beautiful group of women and fellow moms from Isla’s school. I joined a bunch of women to learn how to brew beer. We donated about half  of our “things” to a couple of good causes.

There is a lot of uncertainty as we head into the new year. I am personally experiencing both excitement and fear. While I intend to remain vigilant, vocal and steadfast in my own beliefs, I also want to chart a positive course that affects not only myself and my family, but others both near and far. I have a lot of thoughts on how to move forward, some concrete, some a little more abstract. I’m not one for new year’s resolutions, but this seems like a good year to have a few positive goals to live by.

In the meantime, let me say this: 2016 is behind us, but it’s just a number. The ceremonial dropping of the ball changes nothing unless we want it to. As we approach 2017, let us do it together, with one eye on a bright, inclusive, prosperous future filled with kindness and generosity, and the other eye on the lookout, ready to fight injustice, speak up against hate and lend a hand to those who need it most.

Happy New Year, my dear friends. May 2017 bring you peace, love, kindness, comfort and positive change.

Here’s just a sampling of a few of my favorite 2016 moments as documented on these pages.

#TheosPartyAnimals | A woodland-themed first birthday party cake by Vanilya Bakery, East Passyunk {Theo’s first birthday party}Kid bridal party{My cousin’s wedding}theo_is_one_12{Theo’s first birthday}Ice skating at Delaware River Waterfront Riverrink{Ice skating for Isla’s second birthday}Eight Month Photo Shoot in Nursery{Theo’s eight-month photo shoot}
Rabbit Rabbit Top by Letter19Design Etsy {Rabbit Rabbit}Monthly baby photo shoot: Theo is Five Months{Theo’s five-month photo shoot}Easter 2016{Easter}Hers and Mine Tulle Skirts{Hers and mine}Isla sining Adele in nursery{Singing to Adele and Ellie}Madewell Silk Cutout Jumpsuit{Pantsuit … Nation}{Documenting Isla’s first year with Artifact Uprising}Theo Three Months{Theo’s three-month photo shoot}Franklin Fountain hot chocolate at Delaware River Waterfront Blue Cross RiverRink{Isla’s first hot cocoa}Cape May, NJ Beach{The beach with buddies}Theo Six Months | Little Lovely Company lightbox{Theo’s six-month photo shoot} Bat Boy and Cat Girl Halloween Costumes 2016{Halloween}Seven-Month Baby Photos{Theo’s seven-month photo shoot}Isla Bee{Theo’s 11-month photo shoot}10 Month Baby Photo Shoot in Nursery with lightbox{Theo’s 10-month photo shoot}Family Photos with Kate Leigh, Philadelphia{Family photos with Kate Leigh}Family Photos with Kate Leigh, Philadelphia{Family photos with Kate Leigh}{I regret my silence}Bat Boy and Cat Girl Halloween Costumes 2016{Halloween catwalk}
Memorial Day Weekend{Memorial Day Weekend}

Life

CHRISTMAS DAY

Christmas 2016I hope you all had a wonderful holiday! We spent Christmas morning at home with the kids and it was everything I had hoped it would be, despite all four of us being sick. Isla sweetly helped Theo open all of his presents and they played nicely all morning. They giggled and oohed and aahed as they opened every gift. Theo kept picking up all the unopened presents (some were bigger than he was) and handing them to us so we could help him open them. We kept the presents to a minimum again this year because I’ve found they find one they like and carry it around and sleep with it and love it so much they forget about all the others anyway. Isla asked Santa to bring Theo a scooter for Christmas and boy does she know her little brother well. He loved it! Now they both have one and as soon as his helmet arrives we’ll go cruising through the neighborhood. My parents bought Isla a Peppa Pig doll house and she carries that thing everywhere now. She even slept with it on Christmas night. She’s at the age when she can spend hours playing make-believe with all her cats and dolls and kiddie kitchen. It’s the sweetest thing. Theo also got a drum (our little musician), a pair of sunglasses to match his daddy’s Ray-Bans and he was pretty obsessed with the Paw Patrol underpants Isla found in her stocking. It was a Christmas for the books.

Happy Holidays!Christmas 2016Christmas 2016Christmas 2016Christmas 2016 Christmas 2016Christmas 2016Christmas 2016Christmas 2016Christmas 2016 Christmas 2016 Christmas 2016 Christmas 2016

Life

FOR HER: HOLIDAY GIFT GUIDE

2016 Holiday Gift Guide for HerA few of my favorite things …

1. Gigi Pip Hat. As far as I’m concerned, a person can never have too many hats. I’ve seen a lot of women wearing hats by Gigi Pip on Instagram (my favorite place to discover brands) and I sinfully covet every single one. This grey one is a beauty but there isn’t a hat on that whole site I wouldn’t be thrilled to find under our tree.

2. Habitation Cuzco Embroidered Camera Strap. I saw a woman carrying her camera on a beautiful embroidered strap a couple of years ago and I’ve loved them ever since. What a beautiful upgrade to one of my most treasured belongings. Nena & Co has gorgeous camera straps, too.

3. Harry’s Shave Set. I mentioned this in my gift guide for guys because Harry’s technically makes men’s razors but I commandeered my husband’s for myself. I’ve been using men’s razor’s since I was in high school because I’ve always found them to be more gentle on my angry skin. Razor burn is my middle name. Or at least it was. Harry’s sent me this set to try out and the difference has been remarkable. After a couple of weeks, my underarms and legs are bump free and I’m ready for summer! Or maybe a tropical vacation to escape this polar vortex!

4. Coffee Beans. There’s no better time to brew up a pot of fancy, expensive coffee than Christmas morning. Go to her favorite coffee shop and ask for the fanciest bag of beans they have and then make sure you promptly brew her a pot while opening gifts under the tree. Extra points if you can make it snow and give her a white Christmas. (Our favorite coffee shop here in South Philly is Chhaya. We buy their espresso beans. Mmm.)

5. A Special Print or Photograph Framed by Framebridge. Quick! You might still have time to order! Pick a beautiful digital photograph, upload it, pick a frame, place your order and wait for the excitement on Christmas morning. Framebridge is pretty great. You mail them a print or piece of art (for free) or upload a digital photograph and they’ll do all the work and send it back to you beautifully custom framed. Easy peasy lemon squeezy.

6. Nena & Co. Tote Bag. I cherish my Nena & Co. carryall. It’s absolutely stunning and literally one-of-a-kind. It’s one of my most favorite things. Plus, I love the story behind this gorgeous handmade collection. From the Nena site: “Our Artisan Collection consists of products constructed using newly loomed fabrics, custom created on a small-batch scale, ensuring attention to detail and quality of the highest standard. Commissioning the weaving and looming of these new fabrics is vital to the Guatemalan people, as it creates a sustainable form of income for our artisans. Thank you for helping us keep this beautiful art form alive, and supporting the wellbeing of our beloved Guatemalan artisans!” Love love love this.

7. A Great Big Checked Scarf. My husband bought me a beautiful checked blanket scarf from Acacia Scarves for Christmas two years ago and it remains the only scarf I need. I wear it every day and if we’re out and about and the kids get cold in the stroller I cover them with it, too. My blogger friend Jaclyn no longer makes my favorite scarf, but you can find them if you scour the internet (especially Etsy).

8. Half-Knit Leather Gloves. The Club Monaco website claims these gloves are for men but I’m calling BS. I guess that means they could be made for man hands, but the gloves themselves are beautiful. Last year my husband bought me a pair of CM leather gloves and they’re great. They fit like a … glove (ugh, sorry) and the leather is seemingly high quality. Isla has started stealing them because she loves how soft they are.

Life

FOR KIDS: HOLIDAY GIFT GUIDE

2016 Holiday Gift Guide for KidsOn St. Nicholas Day, Isla and I wrote a letter to Santa and put it in her shoe. She dictated, I wrote. She first and foremost wished Santa a Merry Christmas and then proceeded to create a very specific wish list: “A raincoat, Peppa boots, a bunny, a dog, a kitty cat, a piggie, a rabbit, a balloon and a scooter for Theo.” It appears Isla wants to jump in muddy puddles, move to a farm, have a birthday party and would appreciate it if her brother would stop stealing her ride. I think we can make some of that happen.

We’re really big on make-believe and learning toys around here, though it does appear Isla’s Paw Patrol collection multiplies every time we go to Target and her cats must be breeding while we sleep. Kids know what they like.

Here are a few cute things for the toddlers on your list:

(quick PSA: If you live in Philly, our favorite stores for kids’ toys, clothes, gear and more are: Tildie’s Toy Box, Cloth and Occasionette. I know the owners of all three of these shops and they are lovely. If you can support them, or the small shops in your own neighborhood, please do. Many of the things on my list (or similar and probably even better items) are sold in these shops.)

1. Micro Mini 2 Go Scooter. We bought this one for Isla when she turned two and she was already a bit too advanced for the seat. So we put just the seat in the basement and she’s been riding the regular scooter ever since. This Christmas we’re going to buy just the scooter for Theo and finally put that seat to good use until he’s ready to ride like his big sis. Though he’s pretty good already! He loves that thing and has learned to propel himself a couple inches with the kick of a foot and loves to balance on it … to Isla’s great frustration.

2. Dino Ears + Paws + Tail by Opposite of Far. I’ll never stop including Opposite of Far’s adorable animal masks and accessories in all my favorite kid toy blog posts. We really love this shop and the owner is ridiculously sweet. She may not be local, but she’s a small shop and is our favorite place for make-believe. Also, Isla and Theo are both currently obsessed with dinosaurs. Isla’s preschool spent a whole week learning about these prehistoric monsters and Isla came home and told Theo everything. He now rawrs like a dinosaur and it’s pretty stinking cute.

3. The Learning Journey Match It! Spelling Puzzles. We’ve had this box of three and four-piece puzzles for about a year and Isla loves them. She dumps the whole box on the floor and then digs through to find the pieces that match so she can put each puzzle together. I thought at first she would have a hard time, but she figured it out quickly and has gotten really good at matching the pieces and even recognizing the letters. So many skills to learn from one small box.

4. Binoculars. Isla loves to explore. She wants to go on adventures like Dora and be an animal rescuer like Diego so I think she’d love binoculars. They’re great for people watching in the city, too! Can’t go wrong.

5. Softcover Photo Book by Artifact Uprising. Isla was given an empty photo album for one of her first holidays so I printed pictures of all of her favorite people and filled it for her. She carries it everywhere and even sleeps with it. She loves that thing. It’s filled with cousins, grandparents, friends, adventures and even my aunt’s dog, who is no longer with us. Her excitement when she looks at it is still as strong as it was the day I put the pictures in it. But of course she and Theo have ripped a few of the pictures and those albums are flimsy so it’s falling apart. I love the idea of printing photos into a softcover book. It’s inexpensive and this way the images can’t be removed and torn.

6. Peppa Pig Rain Boots. Isla asked for Peppa boots so I had to include these. There’s just something about that Peppa and her muddy puddles! To be honest, I love that show, too!

7. Little Doctor’s Suitcase Wooden Playset by Janod. We don’t have this exact set, but the kids love playing doctor and Janod makes really great toys. Isla’s kitties are always getting sick and our little veterinarian makes them all better. Theo just likes to eat the little scope thingy that checks out your ears. Isla is actually sick this week so she’s been carrying around her stethoscope and listening to her own heart to make sure she’s okay. She also checked my belly yesterday morning for some reason and gave me a clean bill of health. Phew!

8. Ukelele by Janod. Our kids are music lovers, especially Theo, so absolutely any instrument or toy that plays music is a hit in this house. I thought all these loud toys would drive me crazy, but it’s pretty cute and anything that keeps the kids entertained long enough for me to actually eat a meal or do a load of laundry is a keeper.