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RESIST HATE: A FEW THOUGHTS AND AN ARTIST SPOTLIGHT

Resist Hate Love is Love T-Shirt to benefit ACLUI want our kids to grow up in a world where everyone gets affordable healthcare and a quality education. Where their friends with two moms are considered a typical family. Where no one thinks twice about the girl in a hijab sitting next to them in class. Where hearing someone speak another language makes them want to learn that language, not shun that person as an outsider. Where climate change isn’t a polarizing partisan issue but a recognized side effect of human existence that can be collectively reversed. Where every person has the opportunity to earn a livable wage, not just to put food on the table or make the rent from month-to-month but to enjoy life and make it better.

I want my daughter to know her brain is more important than her waist size and her hard work and opinion is as valuable as her brother’s. I want my kids to know that no human being is “illegal.” That no skin color is better than another. That their kindness is worth more than their belongings. That their lives are no more important than anyone else’s.

I want our children to be guided by a shared sense of humanity.

We do not currently live in this world I want for my children. But I believe it’s possible. I don’t think it’s too much to ask.

Despite the chaos, confusion and fear, I’m heartened to see friends who previously loathed discussing politics now getting actively involved. People are calling their members of Congress, joining grassroots groups, donating to worthy causes and staying informed. I believe less in what I’m going to call the “Facebook approach” to the shit show unfolding in Washington and more in the idea that every single action, big or small, counts.

I have three of Sen. Pat Toomey’s office numbers on speed dial (and here’s the White House comment line: 202-456-1111). Chris and I regularly donate to causes we care about. We read enough news from a variety of sources to stay informed on what’s happening beyond the 140 characters dominating entire news cycles. We vote in every election (we’re coming for you 2018, however unlikely the odds). And we’re trying to get involved locally in ways we hope will have a big impact in the long run.

Avoiding politics is so 2016.

It’s this notion that every little action matters that leads me to my t-shirt and the point of this post.

My friend Ben Pinder is an artist who’s using his talents to respond directly to this new administration’s policies. Ben created an online shop called Resist Hate to sell clothing emblazoned with original designs featuring messages of both solidarity and resistance, and is donating 100 percent of the profits to the ACLU. I asked Ben what motivated him to create and sell his designs for the ACLU and what kind of impact he hopes they will have on those who wear and see them.

Here is what he said:

“I started Resist Hate for two reasons. First, I wanted to fund the ACLU because they seem best at fighting for people and groups threatened by Trump (which includes many, many different types of people). Every penny I make I donate to the ACLU. Second, I wanted to visually amplify resistance to the Trump administration by putting protest slogans on clothes people could wear every day. It can feel risky to wear a shirt supporting, say, Muslim Americans or LGBTQ rights if you’re in a red state or county. But it’s important for people to realize they are not alone in this. We are the majority! Sometimes it’s easy to forget that, so visual reminders are important. I try to keep things positive and not dwell on snarky messaging. A collaboration with my friend Jenny, of  Your Soul Style, helped keep the focus on love and rising above.”

I picked the “Love is Love” design (from Ben’s collab with Jenny) specifically because I thought Isla would love the rainbow and ask me about it. I was right. This simple t-shirt sparked an adorable and important conversation with my three-year-old about love and acceptance. I’d say that potty talk (we have our most in-depth conversations while potty training), was worth every penny.

Ben is both a working artist and a stay-at-home parent, which makes his decision to donate all profits to the ACLU pretty incredible — if you ask me. Thank you, Ben, for using your talents and precious time to raise money and awareness for a worthy cause.

(Note: This t-shirt was NOT a gift and this is  NOT a sponsored post in any sense of the word. That would be ridiculous. I purchased my shirt to benefit the ACLU and I’m featuring Ben on this blog because I hope to see his designs walking around Philadelphia and beyond.)

{Resist Hate shirt; Old Navy shirt; Gap jeans; Sam Edelman boots (on sale); Made by Mary necklaces (Lana bar + charm); Ray-Ban sunglasses}

Resist Hate Love is Love T-Shirt to benefit ACLUResist Hate Love is Love T-Shirt to benefit ACLUResist Hate Love is Love T-Shirt to benefit ACLUResist Hate Love is Love T-Shirt to benefit ACLU

Baby

FIVE TIPS FOR TAKING MILESTONE PHOTOS OF YOUR BABY

Sponsored by Pampers: 5 Tips for Taking Milestone Photos of Your Baby{This blog post is sponsored by Pampers. As always, all thoughts and opinions are mine. Pinky swear.}

I have taken so many photos of my kids, my husband had to buy a separate server to store them all. I just can’t help myself. One of my favorite things to do is look back at the images and remember the moments and milestones that now seem like a lifetime ago.

When Isla was a baby I started taking photos of her in the nursery to commemorate each passing month (I call it 12 months of Isla). She wore a one-piece with the corresponding number for her age on it and I let her play with her favorite toys while capturing as many of her facial expressions and mannerisms as possible. Then I wrote down all the things she learned and did the previous month and made them into a hardcover photo book so I’d never forget my first baby’s first year. She loves that book almost as much as we do so I decided to do it all over again with Theo, this time using a light box to indicate his age. Trying to photograph a moving baby with a rambunctious toddler around is no easy task but the pictures are priceless.

Almost every mom I know takes some sort of photograph of her baby to commemorate each passing month, so I’ve teamed up with Pampers to share a few tips for how to take fun monthly photos the whole family will cherish. I am by no means a professional with a lens, but after two-and-a-half years of baby wrangling I have a few tricks up my sleeve!Sponsored by Pampers: 5 Tips for Taking Milestone Photos of Your Baby

1. Choose a unique backdrop/setting. I recommend finding a space or backdrop you love, whether it’s your baby’s nursery, a playroom, the living room or even a little corner filled with your baby’s favorite toys and a fun blanket to be used as a backdrop. I knew right away I wanted to take these photos in our kids’ room. It’s my favorite room in the house and it gets the most natural light, which in turn produces the best quality photos. I love the design on the rug and the overall colors in the room make for bright, happy photos. The sofa, in particular, holds special meaning for me so I knew I wanted the kids photographed on/with it. It’s been passed through my family for decades; we have photos of my mom on that sofa when she was a teenager and plenty more of my sisters and me throughout our childhood during visits to my grandparents’ house. Seeing it in my kids’ room brings back beautiful childhood memories. Sponsored by Pampers: 5 Tips for Taking Milestone Photos of Your Baby

2. Find a milestone prop. As I mentioned, my daughter wore a one-piece with her age (“7 months”) ironed on it for each of her monthly photo shoots. One of my dearest girlfriends made us a 12-month set and they were the perfect way to document her age. I wanted to change things up for my son so I bought a light box with changeable letters and shapes so I could spell out his age. There are so many fun ideas out there you could try, like spelling out the month with kids’ blocks, crayons or even flowers, or, if you’re good with graphics, you could simply add the words to the photograph later. The possibilities are endless and Pinterest is a great place to find cool ideas.Sponsored by Pampers: 5 Tips for Taking Milestone Photos of Your Baby

3. Use repetition. Looking back at how quickly these babies change and grow is bittersweet. Time truly is fleeting. As a way to document your baby’s monthly growth, consider including the same stuffed animal or favorite toy in at least one photo every month. For example, each month, I take a few photos of Theo lying on the floor with his favorite kitty stuffed animal so I can look back and see how tall he’s getting. In the beginning that cat was bigger than he was! Now that he’s older (10 months), I can’t quite get him to lie still long enough for a photo, but the kitty is always close by. The sofa serves a similar purpose as I watch him learn to sit up on his own and soon he’ll be climbing on and off of it!risa_page_for_pampers_114. Be candid (and flexible). I’ve found my kids take the best photos when they’re playing together in a calm, comfortable environment. I dress them comfortably and in their Pampers diapers so they can move around easily (Isla’s in Pampers Easy Ups now because she’s potty training like a pro and loves her “Dora pants”). If they want to dress up in fun costumes I’m all for it, but I don’t force it. Comfort is the key to a happy baby and a much more pleasant photo shoot. Of course, I try my best to be funny and goofy to get those gummy smiles and giggles, but I stopped begging them to “say cheese!” or “look at mommy” a long time ago. In the end, I love the candid photos so much more anyway because their personalities shine through when I let them be themselves. In these digital times, you can always delete any photos you don’t want so I recommend you snap away, stay calm and hope for a few good ones.Sponsored by Pampers: 5 Tips for Taking Milestone Photos of Your Baby

5. Have fun. Smiling moms and dads = smiling babies. This one goes along with number four. My favorite photos are the ones with cracking up babies and parents. We sometimes play music, sing songs or play games to get the kids laughing. Isla loves to ham it up for her brother and I love when we can catch it on “film.”Sponsored by Pampers: 5 Tips for Taking Milestone Photos of Your BabySponsored by Pampers: 5 Tips for Taking Milestone Photos of Your Baby

Bonus tip: Theo’s one-month photo shoot was chaotic because Isla was running around like crazy, stealing Theo’s cat and mixing up the letters on the light box (all while he slept). This was my first attempt at baby photos with a toddler in tow so there was a bit of a learning curve. If you have a toddler, try enlisting him or her for help while you take photos of your baby. Giving the older sibling a “very important task” might help you reign in the chaos a little bit as you try to capture these sweet moments. Isla has a kids’ digital camera so she likes to take her own photos of Theo while I take mine. She also loves loves that light box and will sit and smile sweetly if I let her hold it for Theo. I’ve used it for other holidays, too, because it’s sometimes the only way I can get them smiling together in a photo! And there was that one month when she moved the letters around, misspelling “months,” and I didn’t realize until I looked at the images on the camera later. Those are now some of my favorite photos because that’s a true depiction of life and motherhood!Sponsored by Pampers: 5 Tips for Taking Milestone Photos of Your Baby

I hope you find these small tips helpful when taking photos of your little one. When all is said and done, it’s those big baby smiles you’ll cherish forever.

Happy snapping!

(p.s. striped blanket c/o Max + Moose)

Kids

ONE-ON-ONE TIME

Roxy Theater Family MatineeOne of the hardest things about having a second child is making time for the first. As a stay-at-home mom I’m with both kids all the time so, naturally, they get lots of good mommy time all day long. But it’s easy to forget that one of those babies is used to being the only one and making time to spend with just her is incredibly important. Isla’s never had to share my attention before, and while she adores her brother and has done incredibly well with the transition (for the most part), I’ve been trying to set aside some time to spend with just her. Sure, I love our short walks to get coffee together while Theo stays with dad, but I was hoping to make time for something more.

I received an invite from the Philadelphia Film Society to take Isla to a kids’ movie during one of their family matinees and it couldn’t have come at a better time. Every Saturday and Sunday afternoon they show family friendly movies at The Roxy Theater at 20th and Sansom for $4 for parents and $1 for a child. You can’t beat that! When Isla and I went they were showing “The Lorax.” I wasn’t sure she would last through the whole movie, but I was excited since neither of us had seen it before. I think she was a little overwhelmed with the big screen at first, but she settled in and lasted through the whole thing! We shared Raisinetes and she cuddled on my lap for the entire second half. Afterward, she was so excited she repeatedly thanked the man selling tickets and candy and even told the neighbor kids “I fun movie!” when we saw them outside on our way home. It was super sweet and I’m so glad we were able to enjoy her first movie together and have a special girls’ day. There’s a showing of “An American Tail” coming up and I’m so tempted to take her again. That’s one of my all-time favorites.

I hope to do much more of this with both kids as they grow. Whether it’s a movie date, a trip to the park or lunch for two, I want them to always know how much I love being with them and how important they are to me. And I’d love for this one-on-one time to evolve and perhaps help keep the lines of communication open with our kids as they enter more challenging phases in their lives.

Roxy Theater Family MatineeRoxy Theater Family Matinee

Kids

HOORAY MAIL

Hooray MailThe other day a small red envelope arrived in the mail for Isla. It was from a cute, little service called Hooray Mail and it was addressed from “Mom and Dad,” even though we had nothing to do with its contents. Inside we found a card that read “Yummy Yummy In My Tummy” with a picture of a pizza, which just happens to be Isla’s favorite food. On the inside, the card featured a fun, simple activity for her. Here’s what it said:

“Hi Isla Bee,

Hope you had an awesome day! What is your favorite food in the whole wide word? What is your favorite healthy food? What is your favorite special treat?

Love you lots, Mom and Dad
P.S. Don’t forget to eat your veggies!”

The instructions for parents told us to talk with Isla about table manners and table settings, and to practice with real plates and utensils. Then it asks us to help her color her favorite meal on the drawing of a place setting. So we did!

First and foremost I had to wrangle Isla to let me read the card since she doesn’t let anyone read things except for her (and by reading I mean she sings her ABCs to determine the letters). Then I got some crayons and we drew bananas, strawberries, blueberries and peas (she’s a fruit girl mostly). Then I asked her about broccoli. Never have I ever seen Isla get so excited about broccoli. “Yea, broccoli!” she exclaimed, when I asked her if it was one of her favorite foods. In real life, she shakes as much grated cheese on her broccoli as she can and then pushes her plate onto the floor. But at least it’s fun to draw! Hooray!

Hooray Mail is a service that sends kids an activity in the, you guessed it, mail, twice a month. Isla loves getting things from the mailman so this was a nice treat for her and would be a fun, thoughtful gift for young kids. We had a lot of fun completing the exercise and I’m going to hang her colored fruit and veggie plate on the fridge to remind Isla of all her favorite foods. Maybe she’ll even give broccoli a try since at one point in her life it was her absolute favorite!

Thank you Hooray Mail for sending us this yummy activity to try!Hooray MailHooray MailHooray MailHooray MailHooray MailHooray MailHooray MailHooray Mail

Baby

DOCUMENTING ISLA’S FIRST YEAR WITH ARTIFACT UPRISING

Artifact_Uprising_Baby_Book_4I bought a standard baby book to document Isla’s milestones not long after she was born and I don’t think I ever removed its packaging. I knew I wanted to create a book for her eventually, but I couldn’t put my finger on how I wanted it to look. Then I found photo book maker Artifact Uprising on Instagram and slowly the idea took shape. I decided to turn my monthly blog posts (12 Months of Isla) into a book, complete with a few pictures from those fun nursery photo shoots and the text from each post, as well as her weight and height that month, if I had it.

I’ll discuss the book itself and my thoughts on Artifact Uprising in a minute. First, let me tell you how sweet it was to sit with Isla and show her the book when it arrived. I wasn’t sure she’d be interested and was very concerned she’d rip the pages, but instead she was so gentle and loved looking at every new page. Funny story though, she kept saying, “Mommy, Daddy, Theo!” She thinks every baby she sees is Theo and will not be convinced otherwise.

The book itself is 50 pages of Isla’s first year only. I started with a personal note to her explaining the book, then added photos from her professional newborn shoot, followed by her birth story, the monthly photos and text, her professional first birthday photos, two pages of my favorite Instagram images from her first year and, finally, my favorite family photo of the three of us on the beach. Each page is absolutely gorgeous, and I’m not just saying that because it’s my sweet bee’s face on each one.

And this brings me to Artifact Uprising. I had a wonderful experience making this book. I found the online editor to be for the most part — minus a few glitchy things I’d change or add — very user-friendly and intuitive. Mostly, I loved that I could log into my account, work on the book and save the project for later when I needed to walk away or tend to the kids. It took me a few weeks to get all the text and photos aligned exactly how I wanted them and the perfectionist in me rejoiced at being able to stalk my project and continue tweaking it until it was exactly how I envisioned it. The editor offers a bunch of great templates for photo layouts so you can customize each page, but since my book included quite a bit of text I was own my own for some of the pages. As a result, I got stuck a few times when text and photo boxes weren’t lining up exactly (the lack of a ruler when creating your own template was the one element in the editor that was lacking for me). I contacted customer service for help and was thrilled when the woman offered to take a look at the book herself to help me make sure everything looked right and she even sent me a PDF when I was nearly finished so I could get a better idea of exactly how the book would look when printed. That was incredibly helpful.

A few details: I chose the 50-page, hardcover book with a landscape layout, full dust jacket and ‘smoke’ colored fabric. I used size 11 Theano Dido font and my friend Susan, of Letter19Design, created the monthly ‘chapter’ headlines and cover title.

In the end, the book arrived looking stunning and I couldn’t be happier. I’ve already started working on Theo’s first-year book, a wedding album (because I never bought one!) and I think the kids need one of these books documenting every new year!

I only hope Isla finds as much joy looking back at these memories as I felt living them.

Keep scrolling for a peek at how it turned out.

{Disclaimer: I contacted Artifact Uprising about working together so this book was a gift from them and I offered to share my thoughts here on the blog. Those thoughts, as always, are all mine. Pinky swear.} 

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