June 11, 2017

How I Ended Up In Both Charleston and Nicaragua For Spring Break

“…my children are not truly mine. They don’t belong to me; they’ve simply been entrusted to me. They are a gift life gave to me, but one that I must one day give back to life. They must grow up and go away and that is as it should be.”

My mind is a big old scramble right now.

Queue the tears, right?

This excerpt is from The Passion of Parenting.  It was the piece, from just before a certain weekend, in a certain year, that absolutely wrecked me as I was processing how, exactly, being divorced from the kids’ dad was going to ‘work.’  The kids were 1, 3 and 5 years old.  I was a stay-at-home mom that had given up a great career to be ‘that mom.’  I had rarely spent a night away from them – only to give birth to their siblings!  But part of what divorce means is shared custody….for better and for worse. (You get the joke, right?)

The Passion of Parenting genuinely touched me. It broke my heart and gave me hope simultaneously.

Letting go is hard for me to do. I must let go, but my heart feels hollow. I can’t imagine me without them.

That freaking hollow is just so relatable. To all of us, for whatever the circumstances: divorce, work, responsibilities, life, kids growing up – all of it.

I’ve only been at this parent thing for nine years now. But I’ve been at it for nine full years, the first six of which were non-stop day-in, day-out, no breaks and I liked it like that.  And then I made a choice for my own life, one that effectively created this seemingly gigantic void where every other weekend I am physically without my kids, without my heart.  And Thursday nights.  And half of all holidays and vacations.  And they are without their mom. And that?

Just sucks.

I remember reading once that you get less than 1000 Saturdays before your kids leave for college, so use them well.  I checked the math. It’s true.

That’s just not that many.

And I cut mine in half.

What the f&%# was I thinking???

Hollow is a word that I think describes well how that makes my heart feel.

And yet…I read that NYT piece and thought, ok…maybe this is an opportunity (or at least I better make it one).

First, make them count.  Cliche, right?  But when you can actually assign a numeric value to time – and you appreciate that there isn’t much of it – holy moly does it become exponentially more meaningful.

And then: own this crazy notion (from NYT author’s brilliant mother) that my kids don’t belong to me. Own that it is simply my job to do the absolute best I can while they are with me, and then to let them go.  And DO IT.

Next: spend my hollow/off time so well that I am the absolute best person I can be both without them and when I am with them….and genuinely engage in being their mom – with the determination and focus I gain from whatever I do in the hollow.

And finally: APPRECIATE that I will get 500 practice tries at turning them out before I have to actually do it when they go to college or life or wherever they go. Maybe then, it won’t feel so hollow. (That’s just the optimist in me.)

The realist knows it’ll still suck.

So almost four years into this self imposed void of divorce and custody sharing, I’m trying. I genuinely make it count when I am with the kids and I also try to genuinely make it count when I’m not. Which is how I landed in Charleston, South Carolina and Nicaragua last month, for spring break, without the kids.

Ten Days without kids. Can you imagine? EVERYONE – like every single one of my girlfriends – has a DIFFERENT response to that idea, ranging from full-on horror to dream-come-true. The custody schedule says spring break every other year, last day of school through return to school and so I had a gigantic, first ever, 10-day-hollow-void to fill and so:

Romantic weekend getaway to Charleston, South Carolina, and a Girlfriends Adventure in Nicaragua.

Done.

And absolutely A-MAZING.

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By June 11, 2017 6 No tags Permalink
June 4, 2017

When Three Moms Fly To Southbeach, Miami….

On L (left): La Blanca Top
On M (middle): Cocoship
On A (right): Salinas Bottom Salinas Top

I see you new moms out there.

And I feel you.  Genuinely.

Do you have a boob group?  Or a new mom group?  Or an infant play group?

Best new mom survival tactic ever.

Those…first days with your first child.  THOSE are the ones where you need other women, going through exactly what you are going through, spending their time exactly as you are, living your very same life, for the sake of sanity and support.  In general, I am not a ‘groups’ kinda girl – a more seasoned girlfriend basically signed me up as a ‘gift’ – and gift it was.  My group saved my life in those long, clueless days (and longer sleepless nights).  We found the laughter in the tears, and figured out how to care for babies, how to get everyone to eat, sleep, and exist – together.  It was just so much more rewarding because it was shared, both the great and the really challenging.

Mom groups:  our modern day ‘Red Tent.

While there are plenty of new groups in our city now, at the time I had my first child, there was one in our neighborhood:   Hall Mercer.  The next great place that opened here in Philadelphia, Nest, came after my third child was born, but was also such a wonderful place of support.  And of my original, first child, graduating class of moms that lived through the thick of those first months with a first child with me, I’m so lucky for 5 of us (actually 19 of us:  5 moms, 4 dads, 11 kids and counting), continuing, 9 years later, to still have dinner once a month (or every six weeks because, well, interference), life celebrations shared, an annual family tent camping trip, and…wait for it…our annual Moms’ Weekend Away.  Our kids consider each other ‘frousins.’  We consider each other sisters.  The hubs have come to love and laugh and adventure with the whole crew of us.  And once a year we take it on the road, or sometimes on a plane – just the moms!

This year was Miami.  With 2 missing for the first time ever:  Zika.  Enough said, you do the math.  So then there were 3.  And here’s how 3, advanced-maternal-age-9-years-ago-when-we-delivered moms do Miami:

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By June 4, 2017 9 No tags Permalink
May 11, 2017

Tick Tock, You Don’t Stop…

Pause. Or go.
I honestly don’t know which.
Right this hot minute.
This is what’s on my mind: Time.

Have you ever spent time in a hospital? Or with someone in the hospital? Or days on end, for the umpteenth time with one of your three kids? The one with the chronic disease?

I know you have. I know that too well. And I know you know this:

Time.
Stands.
Still.

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By May 11, 2017 16 No tags Permalink
January 23, 2017

The Women’s March – Next Steps

 

We had quite a weekend.  Mike and I brought the boys to the Women’s March taking place in Philadelphia.  March organizers expected the crowd to be only around 20,000 (we’re so close to D.C. that many headed down to the main event)…but at last estimate, more than 50,000 people marched in Philly!  (And thanks to those of you who stopped to say hi – so fun meeting you!)

The energy of the march was incredible – people from all over the world, joining together in peaceful protest.  It was unlike anything I’ve ever experienced before, and prompted so many interesting discussions with my boys.  They each made their own posters (Pax picked Love = Power, and Raines picked Wild Feminist – I suspect because his Dad has that tshirt), and we talked about what it means to be a feminist (equal rights for all).  They seemed surprised to hear that it’s a thing.  “Of course women should get paid as much as men, Mom.  You do EVERYTHING around here!” says Raines.  (BWAH HA HA – score one for mom.)

But we also talked about ‘Black Lives Matter’ and ‘We are all Nasty Women’ and ‘The Future is Female’  and the nuances of what these slogans are really about, and the important historical context that goes with each one.  As a parent, it was so rewarding to see the light of understanding dawn in their eyes, and then to see them resolutely march forward.

Here are some of our favorite pictures from the march in Philly….

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By January 23, 2017 34 No tags Permalink
October 18, 2016

Interesting Cardigans, Fresh Air, and Brave Steps

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cardigan (c/o Modcloth) | top (c/o) | gloves (c/o)

Coziness. That’s pretty much all I can focus on clothing-wise right now, especially with a trip to the coast. (Think: cold, windy, rainy). And I love how even a quick trip to the shore is so renewing and refreshing…there’s just something about fresh air and being near a body of water. I forget how much my soul needs these little day trips to the beach.

I recently had a dear friend visit for a week (you may have seen our adventures over on Instagram @elletrain).  She lives in Toronto and our time together is far too little. She left a few days ago and I’m feeling pretty bummed. It’s tough when good friends live far away, even with technology. And I think it gets harder as moms, wives, and business women to find time to foster friendships. The kind of friendships that reflect our best selves back to us. It’s too easy to lose ourselves in our families. And while it’s a very noble cause, I sometimes wake up and think “Wait, what happened to me? Where did I go?”

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September 30, 2016

Nursing-Friendly AND Post-Partum Friendly Fall Staples

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Hey mamas of tiny ones…this post is yours. New mamas and all of us with still-soft tummies want a fall update, too. There are some lovely finds this season that are still kind to feeding babes and feeling fab postpartum.

Rounding up some of these finds made me a little nostalgic about those early days with Sienna. She was an adorable little bundle, with the roundest cheeks you ever did see! She started saying ‘hi’ at about 8 months old….and hasn’t stopped since.

Confession: I still have and wear a pair of my favorite maternity jeans. Nostalgia is a powerful force.  

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July 9, 2016

My Piece on Comfort (Featured in Sapien Magazine)

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A few months ago, Jordan, the founder and Editor-in-Chief of Sapien Magazine (a new, online publication) reached out:  “I’m in the process of starting my own magazine” she wrote.  “It’s going to be all about exploring what it means to be human, and what it looks beyond the phone and computer screen. Embracing messy homes and burnt attempted recipes.  Trying to stray away from all things curated, but still praising the beauty and prettiness in mistakes.”

Jordan asked if I would submit a piece on the theme of comfort for the inaugural issue.  Her goal of creating something beautiful and real – something untethered by Pinterest perfection – really resonated with me, so I said yes.  Yes to the messes and to the mistakes and to finding beauty in our everyday reality.

So I cleared my schedule, made some coffee, and sat down to write.

Writing, however, is a funny thing.  I don’t really consider myself a writer – blogging is inherently different; you simply write about whatever is on your mind at the time – but a writing assignment?  Did I, in fact, actually have something to say on the topic of comfort?

My early drafts read like a dreary senior essay, What Comfort Means to Me.  Good lord.  So I threw it all away, and closed my eyes.  “Comfort” I thought.  “What comes to mind?”  My comfort is my boys, their arms wrapped around my neck, the heaviness of their bodies in my arms.  The scent of my husband.  His scruffy face on my lips.

Opening my eyes, I started to write.  It turns out I did have something to say.  And true to form, the writing was a release.  An acceptance, of sorts.  And I was so honored by Jordan’s words on the piece:

If you haven’t already, be sure to check out the very personal essay written by @shanachristine on our blog last week. In it, she writes about the comfort she- and her young son- found in her body after a life changing event. Her piece is both funny and heartbreaking, and highlights the resilience of survivors everywhere.

If you’d like to read it, my article can be found here.

Hope you are all enjoying your weekend, and, despite recent events, finding comfort.

xo,

S

By July 9, 2016 19 No tags Permalink
February 5, 2016

So This Is Forty

40th-birthday

 

Last Friday, I turned forty.  An age I remember my parents turning.  An age, I assumed, that would also mean predictable routines – dinner at 6, helping kids with homework, weekends of soccer and checkbook balancing and yard work – all of the things that scream Responsible, Stable, Forty-Something Adult.

 

NOPE.

40th-birthday-party

Forty seems like a strange age.  It’s an age we’ve been conditioned to accept as ‘old’, yet it comes so quickly.  It sneaks up.  It sneaks up so fast that you swear you were just twenty-seven, like, three days ago.

Roughly.

But I don’t really feel twenty-seven.  At least, I don’t feel like the Unmitigated, Hot-Mess of a Disaster my twenty-seven year old self was.  With my Judgy-Judgements of Parenting Techniques, Know-It-All Attitudes, Crushing Expectations, Paralyzing Anxiety, and Too-Often Inappropriate Work Outfits (thanks for nothing, Ally McBeal)….thank god blogging hadn’t been invented yet.  The last thing the world needed was the inane blatherings of my twenty-something self immortalized forever on the internet.

Rather, I feel like a mythical version of my Twenty-Seven Year Old Self.  The cool-girl portrayed in movies – all sexy and wise.  The very best version of myself.  And I do feel like the best version of myself these days.  Perhaps that’s the gift forty brings.  I feel like I’ve lived enough life to have something interesting to say, but I’ve also lived enough life to know when to shut up.  And despite the scars from c-sections and breast cancer, the loose skin on my stomach and the wrinkles on my face….I’ve never felt so beautiful.

I’ve heard that beauty is wasted on the young.  I totally disagree – it’s when we need that beauty most.

It’s amazing, as you age, how beauty becomes a fluid, living thing.  That waking up to a little hand patting my cheek makes me feel like a goddess.  “Wook at me Mommy,” Pax says.  “So I can see yurs beauful face.”   Or how Raines, my eight year old, will blush and walk into a wall (grinning like a fool) when I throw him a flirty wink.  “Why do you wear all that makeup?” he’ll ask.  “I just like your face.”

Forty feels gorgeous.  The sex?  AMAZING (we’ve come a long way since this post-baby sex article).  And forty with kids-recently-out-of-diapers is especially delicious.  I swear, leaving the house without that giant diaper bag is more freeing than cruising down the highway in a red convertible, top down, wind in your hair and road stretched out in front of you.

40th-birthday-party-what-to-wear

 

If you can’t tell by the pics, Mike (with the help of my sister, Scotti and our nanny, Gwen) threw me an EPIC surprise party.  I have never – ever – been so surprised.  Friends and family flew in, locals kept the secret for months while simultaneously riling me up, “I’m sure Mike will do something for your birthday, Shana.  It’s your fortieth!  You can at least expect him to make dinner reservations, right?”

Mike, if you haven’t guessed, is not typically what I’d call, ‘A Planner’.

And in hindsight, there are a million little things that should’ve tipped me off.  Typically my sister doesn’t scream, ‘YOUR MAKEUP MUST BE PERFECT!!!” and have a mini-breakdown while we’re getting ready to go out.  Mike doesn’t usually text constantly through my birthday dinner and get annoyed when waiters are slow.  My friends don’t usually take such an interest in helping me pick out something to wear – I’m a forty year old fashion blogger, I GOT THIS.  Even Gwen followed me upstairs suggesting in her sweet voice that I might want to “rethink the plain sweater.”

So when we walked into Hotel Monaco’s rooftop bar, I really shouldn’t have been so surprised.  But I was.  I couldn’t believe how many people came out to help me celebrate – I felt like the luckiest girl in the world.

Forty.

this-is-forty

what-to-wear-40th-birthday

 

Let’s do this.

xo,

S

 

By February 5, 2016 45 No tags Permalink
February 5, 2016

Refocus Northwest: A Creative Business Retreat in the Pacific Northwest

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Hello there! I’m excited to share my latest venture outside The Mom Edit (which I am having a blast being a part of, btw…I love this community of people!!).

This venture, Refocus Northwest, sprung up out of my little brain last summer and is finally becoming a reality, April 29 – May 2, of this year. When Sienna turned two last May, I found myself ready to start finding my creative next step. I wanted to attend a retreat or event that would help me revamp my current graphic design/art business and help me find a new direction in which to take it. I searched everywhere, but after not finding the right fit it dawned on me that I could create one myself!  Here’s the official wording:

Refocus Northwest is a creative retreat in the Pacific Northwest for people wanting to refocus, re-inspire, or revamp their creative careers. It’s a get-away to get serious about your creative next step. Join us for this weekend of learning, sharing, making and camping…in amazing vintage trailers at the infamous Sou’wester. We’ll learn from rad entrepreneurs who have built successful creative businesses, we’ll have fun creating some very cool projects and we’ll be inspired by the beauty of the NW coast. We’ll drink coffee, sit by the campfire and have a superb time.”

I’m fortunate to have partnered with some amazingly creative friends who have built successful businesses. I live in a beautiful area that inspires me daily.  All of this came together to create what I think will be a fabulous weekend. Some of our workshop details include: inspiration by artist/illustrator Lisa Congdon, weaving instruction by textile artist Janelle Pietrzak, branding/social media tips from Nicole Hudson, iPhone photography help from Posy Quarterman, and brush lettering instruction from Rachel Jacobson.

(You might recognize some of the pictures. The photos from my introductory post are from our amazing retreat location, the Sou’wester, and are by my friend, incredible photographer, and workshop leader at the retreat Posy Quarterman.)

Above photo, credit: Posy Quarterman Photography

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Cape Disappointment, WA – near the retreat

If you have a creative business, are hoping to start one, or know someone who is doing the same, I hope you’ll check it out! We’d love to have you join us. For more information and retreat details, visit: refocusnw.com and you can follow us on Instagram at @refocusnw as well.

Thank you for all being so welcoming here and for letting me share this other venture with you!

xo,

Laura

 

 

 

January 27, 2016

My Fav At-Home Workout: A Review of The 21 Day Fix

21-Day-Fix-2

 

So around the 4th or 5th time that I had to be taken out of a class at the Y because Greenlea wouldn’t stop crying in tot watch, I knew something had to change.  I wanted to get back in shape, but….how?

A few of my friends were posting on FB about “The 21 Day Fix” and how great they looked and felt and blah blah blah and I thought to myself, “yeah yeah, they look great . . . but I’d never stick to it.  It’d be a waste of money,” and then I’d go back to my giant bowl of popcorn and glass of wine.  One night I realized I had eaten an entire bowl of popcorn by myself (we’re talking a HUGE bowl…..with tons of butter if I’m being completely honest) while Zack was putting G down and I ordered the 21 Day Fix immediately after.  HA!

I started the workouts the very next morning (using the on-demand feature because the DVD’s hadn’t arrived yet) and?

I loved it.  I could do a workout in the morning (get it over with while G was eating her breakfast), and then be DONE for the day.  Each workout is 30 minutes – that’s it.  Even better: each exercise is 30-60 seconds and they have a timer for you to watch as you’re doing them.  If the move was more difficult I’d be staring that timer down . . . but 60 seconds and it’s over!
21-Day-Fix-7

I just do the workouts in the middle of my kitchen.  It’s a small space, so you don’t need lots of room.  You do need weights and a mat (and if you’re like me, you’ll need access to a door so you can run outside to cool off because you’ll be sweating your booty off).

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By January 27, 2016 28 No tags Permalink