January 24, 2013

Hello, Friday. We’re (Barely) Surviving The Chill.


Mamas, I apologize for the light week.  I had intended to post the promised hair article, but man.  I'm wiped out.  Mike has been gone (since Sun!!) on a business trip, and in his absence, I've broken one coffee cup and two plates, lost the car keys six times, left Pax's winter coat somewhere in Easton, PA (Crayola "Experience" – LAME), and have had to deal with snotty noses and freezing weather ALL WEEK.  Ugh.  (To make matters worse, Mike's trip took him to freakin' HAWAII, so my week has been peppered with super annoying texts like, "Aloha Baby!" and pictures of the big waves on the North Shore.  Awesome, but GAH!!!)

During weeks like these, our Kiwi Crates (full review here) are worth their weight in gold.  If you haven't checked them out in a while…they currently have a charming limited edition crate for Valentine's Day.  It comes with enough (pop-up!) Valentine's for an entire class and is nicely gender-neutral.  But be warned:  unless your little one is pretty dexterous, gluing on the pop-ups is a challenge.  R did exactly one, loved it, and then went about just making his own (non-pop-up) cards.  (Kiwi Crate, if you see this, we'd love more regular cards next year.  And more gem stickers.)  I ended up supplementing with plain folded cards (aka cut-up paper, LOL), and am planning to pick up a few sheets of gem stickers to continue the fun.  

I've been perusing through Laura Barr's list of Games That Make Children (and their parents) Smarter.  Raines is just starting to get into games (the old-school board game kind) and if this cold front keeps up, I may be making a large Amazon game purchase.  (R keeps asking for a chess set after playing a bit at the Art Museum.  How awesome is that??)

Also?  I'm feeling fat and old.  Fat, because my body is no longer making all of those holiday goodies magically disappear (GET WITH THE PROGRAM, aging metabolism!!) and old, because next week is my thirty*cough*somehighnumber*cough* birthday.  WOO. HOO.  To invigorate said metabolism, I signed up for Barre3's 28-to-great program…however, I have only managed to work out THREE times since the beginning of Jan.  Therefore, in order to complete my "goal", I must workout 25 more times before Feb 1.  Right.  Shouldn't be a problem.  

And thank you to Refinery 29 for these tips on how to eat healthy in the dead of winter.  Soup, here I come.

In the midst of one of my (many) pity parties this week, I bought myself a cute, cozy sweater.  (With hearts on it.  For $30.)  It's now sold out, but SheInside is my new favorite place for cute & cheap.  This might be my next purchase.  Of course, their things sell out in roughly 10 minutes, so…..

I also can't stop thinking about these Keds snow boots.  They have a super cool 70's vibe, and would be a fun change-up for anyone sick of their serious snowboots.  Did I mention they are on sale for $30?

Lastly, the highlight of our week was Martin Luther King Jr. Day.  If any of you follow me on instagram (@shanachristine) you'll know that I brought the boys to the art museum to see EB Lewis read from his latest book, Each Kindness.  Well.  Add this one to the List of Books That Make Me Cry.  In this very amazing book, the main character frequently rebuffs the attempts of the "new girl" to be friends.  In the end, the new girl moves away, and the main character realizes too late how she had not chosen the path of kindness.  The book ends with, "I watched the water ripple as the sun set through the maples and the chance of a kindness with Maya became more and more forever gone."  Heavy, right?  But I think it was good for Raines to hear that sometimes, when you make bad choices, you can't always fix it. Since then, we've been talking a lot about kindness, what it means to be kind, and how very small acts of kindness, when added together, really can change the world.  During Mr. Lewis' reading, he mentioned that the concept of kindness is so important that he wished we focused on it for longer than just a day.  I couldn't agree more.  So.  I've decided to act like the time between Martin Luther King Jr. Day and Valentine's Day is Kindness Month.  (I know it's not really a month, but still.)  I've been brainstorming ideas with the boys, and we're trying to do something kind everyday.  I'd love for you to join in – it's always so nice to get inspiration from others.  I'll be posting what we do to Instagram and Twitter with the hashtag #kindnesscounts.  

Happy Weekend, Mamas!!  I can't wait for the love of my life to get back home…and I know he picked up some dried mango at the ABC store.  Yay!






November 1, 2012

Friday Update….(Talking About Hurricane Sandy With The Kiddos)

Mamas, we are all fine.  Happily, we never even lost power.  It was a crazy night – I could actually see transformers blowing when I looked out of our window, and watched an entire block of our neighbors' houses suddenly go dark. 

If you've been following us on Instagram (@shanachristine), you may have seen the picture I took of Raines and I.  Raines, who will be five in Jan, was intensely curious about the storm.  So we ventured out, just to get an idea of the winds.  It was simultaneously awe inspiring and terrifying to experience Sandy…and we hardly bore the brunt of it!

Raines, who is fazed by *almost* nothing was actually pretty nervous that night.  I mean – we did all sleep together on the first floor, so he knew something was up.  And even at four, he can certainly pick up on bits of the news…which frankly, in the days that followed, was heartbreaking.    In hindsight, perhaps we should've shielded him a bit more…but I'm also a firm believer in being honest with my kids.  (My own imagination tends to get the best of me….and is almost always worse than reality.)  Any child psychologists out there who want to weigh in?

In any case, we were one of the lucky ones.  Despite our nervousness, our time with Sandy passed as quality family time.  As a bonus, we were finally able to read all of our library books, which – oh crap!! Are now overdue. (Am I the only one who brings home 45 books?)

Anyway, in some weird cosmic coincidence, two of the books we had sitting at home were about Hurricanes (WHA???).  And these books have actually been really great, allowing Raines to hear about hurricanes from another perspective, talk about what it could have been like, and generally process the event.  (Again, child psychologists, feel free to weigh-in here.)

Anyway, I thought I'd share, for those of you who might be dealing with a similar situation.

Hurricane! by Jonathan London

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This book is (I believe) based on an experience the author had as a kid.  He and his family are living in Puerto Rico, and a hurricane comes.  They pack up quickly, spend a night in the shelter, and return home to pick up the debris.  Happily their house is still standing, and the book ends the way it begins: with the two brothers running happily back into the ocean.  

The illustrations are beautiful, and the night in the shelter is pretty touching.  But I think Raines really likes the whole 'life goes on' aspect as the book comes full circle.  Also, the book is a fast read – the author doesn't dwell, which keeps the suspense down (at an appropriate level) for young kids. 


100 School Days
by Anne Rockwell

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This is an awesome book for helping kids (4 and up) understand quantity.  Each day, one of the kids in the class get to put a penny in a jar.  Whenever the jar hits a multiple of 10 (10,20,30, etc) that kid brings in something to correspond (10 matchbox cars, 40 baseball cards, 70 sunflowers, etc.)  Randomly, at the end of this book, once the class has collected 100 pennies, they decide to donate their pennies to help victims from a recent hurricane rebuild.  It was a perfect segue into talking about the hurricane, what now needs to be done, and how we all can help.  

Crazy coincidence, no?

Anyway, Mamas…I hope you and your loved ones are safe and healthy and happy in the aftermath of Sandy. 



ps.  We'll be back to a regular posting schedule next week.  Thanks for your patience!!



By November 1, 2012 4 No tags Permalink
October 24, 2012

Little Boy Style Inspired by a Book: Iggy Peck, Architect

Mamas, do you know the book Iggy Peck, Architect?  It’s awesome.  Not only does the entire family love to read it, but it’s pretty much guaranteed to inspire a spurt of creative block-building in this house.

Raines loves that Iggy builds with dirty diapers (among other things).  I love that this book reminds me that passion is everything, and that breaking the rules sometimes is a fabulously important life lesson.

But the other reason I love this book?  It has style in spades.  Whether you are marveling at the architectural engineering, or the mod, mod decor, or the fabulously dressed characters…there’s plenty to inspire.  I particularly loved the little boy style – it hits the right mark between nerd and cool, yet is still so joyfully boy.

Iggy Himself

Cowl Neck Sweater, $40 | Gap Black Skinny Jeans, $30 | Converse High Tops, $30 | Yellow Socks, $3


Iggy’s Classmate

I so wish I could have found his striped pants…at least the red cord gives off a similarly cool vibe.  And how I love the quirky socks in this book!

Gap Fair Isle Sweater Vest, $30 | Polaryn O Pyret Slim Fit Cords, $50 | White Tee, $15 | Striped Socks, $9 | See Kai Run Christopher Shoe, $45


Mr. Gingham

We are all (Raines, Pax and I) obsessed with red sneaks lately. Love the shirt buttoned all the way up and the big cuffs.


Gap Faux Selvidge Jeans, $35 | Crewcuts Secret Wash Shirt in Gingham, $40 | Red Converse, $35


Birkenstocks and Socks Guy

This little dude?  Is awesome.


Levi’s Plaid Shirt, $28 | LLBean Cords, $30 | Birks, $40 | Lafont Kid’s Frames

Fab, no?

Also, we’ve done this before.  You might want to check out Little Girl Style Inspired by a Book – Charlotte Zolotow’s I Like to be Little.  And Mamas, if you have any recommendations for our next literary style article, please let me know!!



September 20, 2012

Goodbye Summer


Oh, Mamas. Summer's lease hath all too short a date.  R is in pre-school, mornings have a chill in the air, and time marches on.  This was likely my very last summer with a baby.  Good things are ahead, certainly, but I can't help feeling a little lost. I'd like one more beer at the end of the dock, please.

If the back-to-school routine snuck up on you…here are a few good things I found:

An awesome list of back-to-school books.  The title "Hooway For Wodney Wat" cracked me up.

Raines' new backpack.  The half-pack size is perfect for pre-school, the nibbler size for younger.  If you are local to Philly, Nest has them in stock.

We've been using Skip Hop's Bento lunchbox and it's awesome.  It's technically a bento, but simpler and less intimidating.  I can still throw a sandwich in there (cut up into fourths) on busy mornings.  I actually bought this set a while ago, but somehow* lost all of the lids.  When I called Skip Hop for replacements, they sent me out a new set – gratis!  

Also, this thermos keeps soup warm for five hours.  Perfect for grabbing something out of the crock pot in the morning.

I'm so happy with the pre-school we found for R.  They go outside everyday, regardless of weather (except for insanely cold temps).  We have to keep a pair of rainboots at the school, so I wanted to find something cheap-ish, yet durable and cool (no crazy animals or cartoon characters, please).  These plain black Tingley Stormtrack rainboots were only $14, and are awesome.


What are you up to this weekend?  I think we're going to try and catch Philly's Open Air exhibit, which lets you record a voice message, and then uses robotic lights in the night sky that will react to your voice's frequency and volume.  No joke.  They even have an iPhone app.  R will be totally geeked out (and so will we).

Happy Fall!



*Pax went through a "throw things in the trash" phase.



By September 20, 2012 9 No tags Permalink
June 14, 2012

TGIF, and Bringing Up Bebe

Henry and his cake

With the end of school and the first official day of summer just around the corner, the vibe has already relaxed around our house. But we’re left with a bit of time to fill, so H. and I have been experimenting in the kitchen during Little Lou’s post-pool naps as the baby man sits and gurgles at us. All this week—our first official, full week off from school—we’ve started and tossed a sourdough starter and whipped up some delish crème fraiche to top off H’s first (mostly) solo cake.

Yogurt cake

I read Bringing Up Bebe: One American Mother Discovers the Wisdom of French Parenting a few weeks back and wanted to try the yogurt cake recipe. H. and I already love cooking together, but Bringing Up Bebe points out that baking helps kids feel a sense of accomplishment and teaches deferred gratification (the book extols the benefits of teaching children to wait and be patient). The recipe uses the yogurt cups as the main form of measurement, so babes can easily whip up the cake on their own. It was a blast to act as baker’s assistant and Huck is beyond thrilled to be taking a cake he made all by himself to our Friday play date. It’s also super yummy and I actually learned how to make crème fraiche, which is way easy and much more tasty than store-bought.

As for the book itself, I was intrigued by a lot of the ideas in Bringing Up Bebe, but in short, this is a love/hate book for me. Love the idea of getting kids to sleep through the night, teaching our kids to be more patient and independent, assimilating children into adult culture rather than the reverse, providing a strong framework and relaxing our expectations of ourselves as super-parents who always put the kids first. Hate that so much of what is possible in French parenting is perhaps less so here: it’s probably a lot easier to make yourself, your career and your relationship a priority (and stay calm!) when you have access to free childcare, five weeks of paid vacation, unlimited sick leave and an actual 40-hour work week. So, I’m struggling a bit with its relevance in American culture and whether in fact I should just move to France.

I thought the sourdough idea from Monday’s Mom Street Style might be fun, and it was, until it started smelling and I realized I’d basically taken on responsibility for yet another living thing. I can barely remember to feed the dog, let alone a fermenting lump of dough on my windowsill, so I guiltily dumped it in the trash. I’ll revisit in fall when school’s back on and the weather is cooler.

Apparently I’m obsessed with food right now, because I became absolutely giddy when I saw this on Pinterest the other day: hash browns in the waffle iron. Total. Genius.

OK, but to get back to to style.  I am droolng over FabSugar's Summer Street Style roundup.  It's a must read for sure, Mamas! 

– M.

May 30, 2012

A Hauntingly Beautiful ABC Book (and Wall Prints)

Mamas, I know I said we'd be taking it easy for a while, but I just came across this and had to share.  It's something so jaw-droppingly stunning and unique and wow.  Just…wow.

Kim Krans (who happens to be my mom's BFF's daughter…follow me?) is an amazing artist.  She recently created an ABC book for kids.  Instead of primary colors and juvenile B is for BORING BALLS and S is for SNOOZEFEST SNAKE (or whatever)….Kim's book is filled with black and white illustrations that strike a perfect balance between sophistication and whimsy.  The result is hauntingly beautiful.  Each page is, quite literally, a work of art. 

Here are a few of my favorite prints from her book:

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Each letter is available as a 12" X 16" print (pictured above) or collectively in Kim's book, aptly named ABC Dream.

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ABC Dream can be purchased on Kim's website, The Wild Unknown, for $25.  I can't imagine a more perfect gift for a new mom, a budding artist, or a curious, inquisitive toddler on a rainy summer day.  (You can see more of the book in this charming video.)

And I'm dying for the LOVE set of prints ($120).  Awesome for a nursery, and cool enough for a living room.



ps.  Mamas, thank you SO much for all of the love and support regarding my recent travel woes.  Your comments seriously cracked me up.  Life is funny, no?

By May 30, 2012 6 No tags Permalink
May 15, 2012

Reading | Ain’t No Mom Jeans on Mom.me

Header-mommeThe days have been busy here at ANMJ HQ, Mamas, and this blog has opened up some amazing opportunities!  We're now writing articles and putting together galleries for Mom.me (mommy?), the newest (and best, besides ANMJ ; ) sanity break for moms. 

Mom.me is produced by BermanBraun, the company responsible for magazine-like, glossy digital lunch break reveries à la Wonderwall.com (the cah-razy-good celeb news hot spot), and Glo.com.  My fav current Glo gallery is a toss-up between The Hot List – 8 Steamy Page-Turners (I'm half way through 50 Shades of Grey and now realize that, with three babes four and under, a mama may need some inspiration from time-to-time), and the drool-worthy Great Escapes.  (While Kasbah Bab Ourika may be a dream-come-true destination, the Postcard Inn at St. Pete's Beach in Florida seems a tantalizingly attainable getaway treat.)

We've created a bunch of content, but what's out there now includes How to Hide a Postpartum Pooch, Beauty Essentials for New (and Tired) Moms, and Handbags that Double as Diaper Bags.

We can't even begin to tell you how lucky and honored we feel to be included in a project like this.  The level of sophistication and variety of content are a testament to how far the culture of moms has come in the past few years and we're proud to be a part of it.  We hope you'll check it out!

– M.


April 11, 2012

Reading | Parenting.com Fashion Tips from Mom Bloggers


So here's what we're reading this week, Mamas.  Parenting.com's "11 Fashion Tips from Mom Bloggers."  Hint: two of them are from Ain't No Mom Jeans (yay!).  Check this great story out for chic and easy ways to rev up your mama style from some of our favorite mom fashion bloggers.

– M. 

March 26, 2012

S Gets Crafty For Easter (Prepare to Be Jealous)

Mamas, it's all about the children.  I sacrifice and I sacrifice and I sacrifice for the children.  Those precious, precious children.

As proof-positive of said sacrifice and of my worth as a mother (do they not go hand-in-hand?), I give you this, my latest ridonkulous creation my masterpiece:



I've titled it:  "Smug Mummy's Easter Basket."

Do you not see the calligraphied "R"?  The "R" for Raines?  Such that on our Easter morn I can don a pastel hairbow and inquire of my precious boy, "Raines?  Can you find the R?  Can you find the R, Raines?"  And lots of rejoicing will follow all of this natural learning – even on Easter morning, Mamas.  We learn.  

Do you not see the glass?  It's non-toxic, even when heated.  And the organic soil?  And the real, growing grass?  Plastic?  Pshaw!!  Never would I let those tiny, gentle hands touch something so base as plastic.  And on Easter?  Horror.

Go ahead.  You can Pin it.  I know you want to.  

But in all seriousness Mamas, I SO wanted to have real Easter grass for Easter this year.  But when I concocted this idea in my "big stwrong brain" (as R would say) it looked more like this:



Ahhhh….now I see!  I'm just missing a bow.

Continue Reading…

November 7, 2011

Reading: Refinery 29’s Beauty Advice From Glam Moms

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I love when moms get a little credit in the media.  Especially in a supportive, cool, or even glamorous way.  I mean, c'mon people – not all of us are posing on the sidelines of the playground gossiping about the latest "mommy war" or wearing patchwork denim vests.  (In fact, I don't have a single mom-friend who is the 'mommy war' type.  Not. A. Single. One.)  

So YAY for Refinery 29 who did a post last week featuring glamorous moms' timeless beauty secrets.  Including pictures of happy moms and happy daughters.  While I'll admit that the mother-daughter relationship is complex….it's also very powerful.  So read it in part for the fun beauty tips, but also for the proud mom-and-daughter pics.  And my very favorite piece of advice?  It came from the mom of Refinery 29's New York editor, Annie Greenberg (both pictured above):

"When asked how old I am, I always add five to eight years to my age. The response is always: 'Wow, you look soooo great!'"

I love this.  LOVE THIS.

Soooo…have I mentioned that I'm 42?