Browsing Tag

Motherhood

Life

WE ARE WOMEN

Isla Bee five months with mama in the nurseryIf I could give my daughter only one thing, it would be the knowledge that she and she alone can decide her place in this world. Be strong, be kind, be confident, be true to yourself, and give zero you-know-whats about the people who wish to bring you down. You make me a better woman, my sweet Isla Bee.

In honor of this International Women’s Day, thank you to all the glass-shattering women in my life.

“No country can ever truly flourish if it stifles the potential of its women and deprives itself of the contributions of half of its citizens.” – Michelle Obama Apple picking, Hill Creek FarmsEast Passyunk Easter Egg Hunt 2015Isla Bee Seven MonthsFranklin Square Park in PhiladelphiaIsla + mamaLong Beach Island, NJRabbit Rabbit Top by Letter19Design EtsyHers and Mine: RompersMother/Daughter StyleFamily Photos with Kate Leigh, PhiladelphiaHers and Mine Tulle SkirtsResist Hate Love is Love T-Shirt to benefit ACLU

Style

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

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)

Theo is one!Theo is one!theo_is_one_12Theo is one!Theo is one!Theo is one! Theo is one!Theo is one!Theo is one!Theo is one!Theo is one!Theo is one!Theo is one!Theo is one!

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)