February 21, 2015

Hey Haters, Dove & Twitter Want a Word (#speakbeautiful campaign)

Several years ago, when this blog was still called Ain’t No Mom Jeans, I decided to cover a little bit of celebrity fashion.  I found a few pictures of celebrities walking their kids to school, hanging out at a park, etc.  They were wearing cute, casual outfits, ones easy to recreate.  So I rounded up a few links to similar pieces, wrote a bit of fluff and hit publish.  Then I went to bed.

When I woke up in the morning, I was surprised to see how many comments the post had received.  And even more surprised when I read them:  “OMG she looks so fat!” said one commenter.  “This is a terrible picture – she looks exhausted” said another.  One particularly mean-spirited commenter remarked that Sarah Jessica Parker’s “hands looked old”.

Her hands looked old?  Are you serious?  First of all wtf who cares, and secondly….won’t ALL of our hands look old eventually?  And please consider that right at this very second, someone else – another mom, perhaps, in the midst of spit-up or cranky toddlers or any other sort of taxing, everyday life – could be reading that comment, then look down and think, “my hands look old, too.”  Not to mention that we’ve all looked fat at some point, we’ve all looked exhausted.  What, exactly, is wrong with any of these very human things?  When mean-spirited comments happen, especially online in public forums, the collateral damage is far-reaching.

So I deleted those comments – I deleted all of them.  And guess how many times I’ve covered celebrity fashion since then?  ZERO.  It just seemed to bring out something….ugly.  And that’s not what this blog is about.  This blog is about finding ourselves as mothers, about finding our style as humans.  It’s about sharing inspiration, and understanding that what works for one may not work for another.  It’s about celebrating our unique journeys on this crazy path, and using our varied perspectives as a source of inspiration, not a point of shaming.

So I was thrilled when Dove and Twitter reached out about their #speakbeautiful campaign.  This campaign aims to change the way women interact with one another on social media.  And these companies aren’t messing around:  On Oscar night, when hateful, negative messages are at an all-time high (over 5 MILLION negative body image tweets were posted in 2014), Dove will be unveiling a new ad to inspire social media change.  And Twitter?  Gotta love those data nerds – they’ll be rolling out new technology that uses Twitter data to identify negative social media conversations about beauty and body image. When a negative tweet is posted on Oscar night, the technology will be used by Dove to send non-automated responses to real women, which include constructive and accessible advice to encourage more positive online language and habits.  Advice will come directly from social media and self-esteem experts who collaborate with Dove and Twitter to empower women to speak with more confidence, optimism, and kindness about beauty online.

Yup, that’s right:  if you post mean-spirited tweets on Oscar night, Dove and Twitter will be calling.


As a direct recipient of negative criticism, I know that it can be hurtful – no matter how thick your skin, how open your perspective.  But the thing about negativity that really bothers me, the thing that really gets me going, is how it breeds.  How one mean-spirited comment creates a veritable pile-up of negativity.  Negative comments are both a bummer to read and a bummer to give – on any platform.  There’s nothing brave about mean-spirited comments.  There’s no “truth” in actively trying to make another person feel bad for what they’re wearing, how they look or what they like.  It’s just bullying, plain and simple.  And bullying – in any form – creates a culture of narrow-mindedness and fear.

So please:  a little more #speakbeautiful, a little less hate.  There’s a world of difference between “that looks ridiculous!!”  and “I prefer something preppier/more boho/more edgy than what’s pictured – does anyone have ideas for me?”  And don’t even get me started on “her hands look old”.  It’s high time we change this conversation.






By February 21, 2015 26 No tags Permalink
February 15, 2015

Tips For Bringing a Buzz Into The Bedroom (Yup, Vibrators – Advice From Readers)



Did you have a happy Valentine’s Day?  I wanted to photoshop a plate full of vibrators into this picture (HA!), but my skills aren’t that good.  Ah, well.  So.  Let’s get down to it.   If you recall, one of the comments on our Forget Flowers: Vibrators article was from VV aka “vibrator virgin”:

So, I’m a vibrator virgin (LOL) and I just wonder how you broach this subject with your husband without bruising his ego? I’m … Intrigued. But I’m afraid my husband may feel adding a vibrator would be a critique of his prowess in bed. I can’t believe I’m asking this on a style blog, but does anyone have any advice?

I asked folks to weigh in with advice for VV, promising that I’d strip out all names so we could discuss without the fear of some future google search returning your name with the words “dildo” next to it.  [shudder]

Probably too late for me.  Anyway.  You guys had some seriously great advice (and a few husbands weighed in!!).  VV, here’s the advice from The Mom Edit community:


From The Gals

We are super open with communication and sexuality in our marriage, so my advice is to just say to hubby:  “how do you feel about introducing a vibrator into the mix?”  If he said it would make him feel weird, then there’s the answer (although I personally would explore the why in that statement and see if there was a way that both partners could feel secure and comfortable with the addition of an enhancement.)  If he’s all for it, then great! Pick one out together.


Try a vibrating cock ring. Fun for both parties involved, without bruising anyone’s ego, and that can segue to the “wand” style. They’re also less intimidating for first time users because they’re on the significant other and way less, um, intrusive.


I would just buy one, and then one night bust it out with a flirty, “wanna try this?”  Keep it light and casual and fun.


Hello there!  My suggestion would be to introduce a couple’s vibrator first…something that is meant to please the both of you simultaneously. Then you could introduce it as more of a toy to change things up, versus buying something that is only designed to please you (and therefore he may mistakenly think that you need something else besides him).  Good luck!


Ask him about it when you’re naked.


My husband used to be quite shy about discussing sex and all related topics, so I get it. I cannot have an orgasm without clitoral simulation and had committed the Cardinal sin of faking one a few times when we were dating for the sake of his ego, before I knew any better. Consequently, he was working on false information when we finally decided to move in together and make a serious go at a relationship. I really wanted a toy, but he was shy in talking about it. I was a Sex Ed teacher and my confidence and frankness about sex intimidated him.What I found most effective was saying one lazy morning when we were eating breakfast (e.g. not doing anything sexually related) that I wanted to go to this Adult store that a “random friend” happened to mention was “really great” because I might need some new “panties” wink wink and I would love you to come with me and help me choose. He was ALL IN.We drove to the store I had read about and started looking at the Lingerie to get comfortable, then I made some jokes about blow-up dolls, and eventually I “happened” to walk by the toys where I said something like, “hmmmm this looks cool, what do you think?” We picked out something together and that is the big key. Offer him a buy-in. A great toy should be fun for both of you, anyway, so pick it out together.

Definitely check the local shops before buying anything online. Depending on where you live, there may be some excellent sex positive, female-oriented shops staffed by some very knowledgable and helpful people. G-spot in Chicago, for example, has a beautiful, non-scary interior, staff that show you how to change the vibrator batteries properly, lots of helpful info about choosing the right toy, and they even offer classes in subjects like “tease” and blow-jobs (not kidding, best $30 I spent in 2013).

Sex is supposed to be fun. You never know, your hubs might be like, “I THOUGHT YOU’D NEVER ASK!”


From The Guys

I’m trying to imagine a world where I wouldn’t be OK with this….NOPE.  Can’t picture it.


Anything that makes you want to have more sex is going to be OK with me.


I guess if you brought home some giant dildo that looked like a dick, but bigger, than said you no longer wanted to have sex with me…yeah, I’d have a problem with that.  But no part of me vibrates, so I just don’t see it as competition.


So there you go.  VV, I hope this helps.  And a HUGE thank-you to everyone who wrote in.  Go, you.

We’ll get back to our regularly scheduled programming tomorrow.



ps.  Got a few questions about the legwarmers & shorts on instagram (@shanachristine)….the legwarmers are old Free People (these are very similar), the shorts are Only Hearts Venice Hipster Shorts.

By February 15, 2015 0 No tags Permalink
February 13, 2015

Why I Bring My Boys To The Ballet

While pregnant with Raines, I danced ballet as my workout 3-5 times per week.  It was something I had started almost 10 years prior, and by this point it felt necessary, like breathing or drinking water.   Dancing fills me in a way nothing else can – it is at once both meditative and freeing.  I love the exuberance, the emotion and the rigor.  There’s something about that combination of hard work and expressiveness that is hard to replicate elsewhere.  Dancing is, by its nature, a soulful activity.  You speak with your body, pulling from the very depths of your existence.  It is power and light and rage and beauty.  But is it….manly?

After class one day, I was chatting with a few of the other dancers.  We talked about how excited I was for the baby (my first!), and how I hoped (oh how I hoped!!!) that he would like ballet as much as I did.  At this point, we knew I was carrying a boy.   In a room filled with dancers, I received nothing but support.  But later, my friend (let’s call him Joe), also a ballet dancer, confessed that he was troubled.  “Shana, you have to understand what it means for a boy to grow up dancing” he warned.  “I love ballet, I love everything about it.  But growing up as a male ballet dancer in this country is very, very hard.  You might be setting him up for ridicule.”   Joe may-or-may-not have been gay (and truly, even in this context it matters not at all), he simply was a man who loved to dance ballet.

At the time, I didn’t realize how terribly, horribly sad Joe’s words were.  He meant them kindly – we were friends!  And I took them in the warm spirit with which they were intended.  It was only after Raines was born, after I started viewing the world through the lens of mother that’s Joe’s words haunted me; they broke my heart.

I don’t want my son growing up in a world with such a narrow definition of masculinity.  I want him to feel free to experience all that life has to offer – to not just feel his emotions, but to express them, express who he is – in any way he chooses!  If he chooses to express himself through art, through dance, through long soulful conversations, or through pounding it out on the basketball court or racing down the side of a mountain – I don’t care.  I just want him to know himself without the distraction of labels.  I don’t want him worrying about what it means to Be A Man – he IS a man.  He defines it by his very existence.

I would make the exact same case for girls.  There is no label broad enough to define us – we are all complex, multi-faceted individuals.  If you are a girl, anything you happen to like (baking, fashion, medicine, data mining, underwater basketweaving, construction) is YOUR version of what it means to be a girl.  So it’s….girly?  Yup.  By definition.

Of course, looking at labels this way means that they lose all meaning.


I want my boys to grow up feeling loved and accepted for who they are.  I want them to be kind and compassionate.  I want them to express themselves – their true selves – in any way they see fit.  I want them to be innovators, disruptors, pioneers.  And I want them to be brave, because the world isn’t always ready for people like this, and I want them to be brave enough to try and change it – change it by their very existence.  And so, despite the often-overwhelming messages of What It Means To Be A Real Man, I quietly fight.  We fight, Mike and I.  We fight by example, by exposure – we fight to show them that there’s another way.  That the definition of Real Man is a broad one, so broad, in fact, that it encompasses all men.  We fight to show them that some Real Men cry and some Real Men love and some Real Men dance.

So tonight, once Mike gets home from work and the scotch is poured and the popcorn is made and we’re all snuggled up on the couch, I’m going to turn on our appletv and play this video, powerfully choreographed and danced by a Real Man.

It is, quite possibly, one of the most beautiful things I’ve seen.



If any of you are Philly locals, BalletX is our very favorite ballet company to take the boys.  The Wilma Theater is small and intimate (you can hear the dancers breathing, hear their shoes on the floor, see the sweat running down), and the dance is a rigorous combination of ballet and modern, with both men and women playing starring roles.  These performances are so powerful that both of our boys will sit through the entire show (even four-year-old Pax).  Their winter series runs from Feb 18 – 22nd.







These pictures are from a couple of years ago.  Raines will still dance with wild abandon once in a while, but it’s only at home, with just us, the curtains drawn and the camera put away.  But it’s in there.  It’s in that little heart – the grace and the power and the passion. I just hope that someday, when that soft little boy face is covered in scruff and he’s big enough to pick up his Mama, I just hope when that day comes, he’ll know that his heart – exactly as it is – is the heart of a real man.




Happy Valentine’s Day.



By February 13, 2015 35 No tags Permalink
February 3, 2015

Forget Flowers: VIBRATORS.

Instead of sending new mamas home from the hospital with tins of formula, a cheap, scratchy diaper bag emblazoned with said formula’s logo, and a packet on why breastfeeding is best (hunh??)….I think every new mom should be sent home with a prescription for Premarin Vaginal Cream and a vibrator.  New Mom Sex sucks, and it takes most of us a long, LONG time (often measured in years) before we’re back on sexual track.  As I mentioned last year in The Epic Dry Spell (Sex After Baby),

“…go buy this vibrator.  It’ll buy down the ‘he’s been workin’ so hard down there and I’m not even close yet’ guilt.  Win-win for everyone.

Know what’s funny about that one little link?  It’s one of the most clicked links on The Mom Edit.  One of the Most. Clicked. Links.  So while we may not be talking about it (Have you ever swapped vibrator-shopping tips with your mom friends?? Didn’t think so.)….one thing is clear:  We’re all looking for some good vibrations.

In general, the top two brands I’d recommend are Lelo or Jimmy Jane.  Not only are the designs sleek and beautiful, but they’re made from high-grade silicon, are whisper quiet, powerful, and easy to wash (most are waterproof and can be used in the tub).

Keep reading for links, etc….



Continue Reading…

By February 3, 2015 21 No tags Permalink
January 15, 2015

Introducing…Cams (And Her Resolution to ROCK)

Introducing our newest contributor….Camille!!  I first found Cams during one of my midnight web search sessions when I came across her old blog, Life in Modification.  Her writing was witty and relatable, her outfits inspired (yet easy – a tough combination to find), and I. Was. Hooked.  So I couldn’t be more thrilled to introduce her as part of The Mom Edit team.   I feel so lucky and honored to have her here!!  Now, in her own words (and they make me want to stand up and cheer)….it’s time to ROCK.  Everybody, meet Cams.  (ps.  You can find her on instagram here.)




The Mom Edit Mom Style blog Everlane Banana Republic Seychelles outfit

I’m a wife, I’m a mama, I’m a lover, I’m a fighter (my husband will attest to that), I’m a little closer to 30 than I’d like to be and I am the first to admit that I am a style addict through and through.

…but ya’ll. What’s the deal with the constant barrage of perfection we are faced with on a daily basis? I mean…everywhere –  blogs, Pinterest, Facebook, Instagram, yada yada yaaa-da. We see “perfect” women in perfectly constructed outfits, sipping perfect tumblers of coffee all while perfectly keeping their outfits in order as they push their designer babes in their perfect $900 strollers. Don’t get me wrong, I can appreciate all of these things. Beauty is beauty is beauty and like every other human, I appreciate it and even seek it out.

…but ya’ll! The bar is set too high. Is perfection, or at least the illusion of it, really what we want, what we should be striving for, what we live for? It’s not genuine and definitely not attainable. At the end of the day,  all I want is to keep my kids alive and happy, feel hot and have fun with my husband, go out on the town every so often and feel frikkin’ good while doing those things…regardless of whether I’m wrestling the kids at Trader Joes (or wrestling someone for the last Kringle – had one yet? You must. They are as close to heaven as you can get. Definitely worth a little tussle in the aisle), grabbing diapers at Target, pacing the back of church with a squirmy babe, running out for a much needed drink with a girlfriend after a hard month/week/day/last hour, flying with two children (because I’m a partier like that), or simply having a night in. I just want to feel good, content and comfortable in my own skin.

I’ve been thinking about this for awhile now. I’m fed up with the same-old-same-old shtick we are being served. I feel bored. I want a change. This year I want to try to accept, embrace, even highlight the flaws in my life, because in doing so I think I may begin to value more what I have to give, what I have to share, who I am (and not apologize for it!) – especially when it comes to my style. So Cams. How?

The Mom Edit Mom Style blog Everlane Banana Republic Seychelles outfit work at home mom


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By January 15, 2015 14 No tags Permalink
December 23, 2014

Santa, The Tooth Fairy, and Wonder (Happy Holidays)

Do you lie to your kids?  Little white lies – the whole, “time to leave the playground because it’s closing” even though you just want to get out of there without a fuss?  Yes?  As tempting as these little white lies are, I’ve always tried really hard not to.  I’m not sure why, really (and I certainly don’t think ill of anyone who does *cough*allofmyfriends*cough*)….but there’s just something about lying to my little guys (especially Raines – I swear the kid can see right through me) that gives me pause.  When my kids ask me a question, I try to answer honestly.  Why are we leaving?  Mum’s had enough.  They want to know about cancer?  I tell them.  Death?  Yup – that too.  Raines asked about sex once, and I referred him to Mike, who answered so succinctly and bluntly (“I stick my….and then out squirts…”) that I’m still blushing.  (Raines never asked again.)

Ipso facto…..the Santa thing bugs me.  I’ve spent the last few years downplaying Santa, being awfully vague on the general topic.  I find myself repeatedly employing that annoying-yet-highly-effective deflection technique of stupidly repeating their questions back, “how does he get down the chimney?”   [Cue Raines walking away and shaking his head in disgust.  CLEARLY MOM IS USELESS.]  And I suppose it doesn’t help that Mike and I aren’t very religious – my kids have some hazy idea that Christmas is about family and love…and a couple of guys named Santa and Jesus.  [cringe]

But last week, Raines lost his first tooth.  He lost it completely without warning.  There was no discovery of a loosening tooth followed by days of progress, he simply bit into a peppermint and then complained something was stuck in his tooth.  That something happened to be his tooth, holding on by a thread.  By the time he went to bed that night, the tooth was out.

“MOM!!!  The tooth fairy is coming tonight!!  And Mom??  Can you get a picture of her while we’re sleeping?????   …Yes you can, Mom!  Jayme did when Soph lost her tooth, remember?”


And as we sat on the bed, all four of us, the boys were over the moon.  They were so excited about the possibility of the tooth fairy.  Was it a girl or boy?  Could he/she fly?  HOW?  How could it fly?  Is there more than one?  Are they invisible?  OMG ARE THEY INVISIBLE AND IN LARGE NUMBERS LIKE AN ARMY AND MAYBE THEY ARE IN THE ROOM WITH US RIGHT NOW and then at that exact moment they found one small speck of glitter on the bed and Lost. Their. Minds.

Obviously, the glitter was a sign.

So Raines got up and wrote what ended up being a love letter to the tooth fairy, complete with drawings of what he imagined he/she looked like (one of each – girl and boy) and he and Pax debated the best place to leave the letter and the tooth while I surreptitiously asked for advice on Instagram (there’s some seriously fun answers – check it out).

The boys – so full of excitement and wonder that you could practically see the wheels turning in their little heads – didn’t fall asleep until almost 11PM.  Which is how Mike ended up folding tiny origami envelops at midnight as I practiced writing a letter on a slip of paper smaller than my thumb.   When Raines woke up in the morning (5AM, naturally), he found that the tooth fairy had left a teeeny tiny letter (sealed with wax!!) that when opened, said, very mysteriously, “Thank you for the tooth and the lovely letter.  I’ve left you some magic.”  And as he looked around he found a tiny sprinkling of glitter by the window and a $2 coin (Canadian) and it was all just so fantastic I thought he might burst.

Later that day, Raines brought home a painting from school. He had drawn a snowman on a brown painted ground, and then over top of it, he had painted swirling purples, dusty blues, and big splotches of green.  Up in the corner there’s a bright yellow sun, painted so it’s half off the page, the rays streaming down and mixing in with the other colors.  There’s a random spot of red in the lower right.  I’m not gonna lie; it took my breath away.  “Mom, I wanted to make a painting like The Noisy Paintbox [a book about Kandinsky], but I still wanted it to be stuff that you could recognize,” he said with his characteristic seriousness.  “But magic, too, Mom.  I wanted it to be magic.  Do you think it’s magic?”

Oh.  He wanted magic, too, Mom.

And just like that, I understood.  Raines, despite his penchant for science and planes and World War II, needs magic in his life.  Santa isn’t about lying to our kids, it’s about leaving open the door of possibility.  It’s early training (if you must) in wonder.


Wisdom begins in wonder.

– Socrates


May your homes be filled with joy, peace and wonder during this very magical time.

All our love,

Shana, Mike, Raines and Pax


We’ll be taking a break for the rest of 2014….unless, of course, the after-Christmas sales are so good we can’t resist chiming in.  We’ll see.  I’m sure I’ll be posting on Instagram (@shanachristine), and will try to keep Holiday Central up-to-date with sale information through NYE.  In the meantime….here’s our last fun links for 2014.

We’re Looking At You, Links…..

A beautiful, heart-warming letter for when your child wants to know the truth about Santa.  “Santa is love and magic and hope and happiness. I’m on his team, and now you are, too.”

Shopbop has some seriously killer outfit combos for NYE.  In my fantasy life I’d wear the crop-top and big skirt, but in my real life I’m thinking the all-white would work.

Need a last-minute gift??  KateSpade.com is offering FREE overnight shipping if you order by 2PM today!  (I’m DYING over the space-themed new arrivals:  this rocket clutch, a telescope necklace, or the necklace that says ‘Space Cadet‘ in block letters.  I mean seriously.  It’s like the designers read my mind.)

I’ve been wearing the heck out of my Bite Beauty High Pigment Pencil in Zinfandel.  It’s a gorgeously bright color: not-red, not-pink, not-orange (it’s coral I suppose) but it seems to go with everything while looking unique and amazing.

Here’s a bit of nonsense I put on Instagram highlighting my three favorite things right now:


1. Zady Essentials Sweater, $160

This sweater is crazy warm with an insanely chic fit  (think French-girl cool) and sourced and made in the USA. (I’m wearing an XS for reference.)

2.  Bradamant Tux Bodysuit ‘the Novice’, $65

They’ve been tweaking their fabrics and fit and this bodysuit is everything.

3. Oxydo Retro sunglasses, $98

These babies are seriously cool (quirky shapes like this are usually Prada or Karen Walker) but under $100.  YESSS.  (Nordstrom is offering quick-shipping on this whole line.)

Lastly, and most happily, baby Hugo has recovered from his chemo treatment in time to go home for the holidays.  I want to stand up and cheer.

As always, thank you all for your continued love and support of The Mom Edit.  I have some seriously fun things up my sleeve that I can’t wait to share.

‘Til next year!!





By December 23, 2014 9 No tags Permalink
September 12, 2014

Thoughts on Being a Working Mom, And an INSANE Giveaway: A New Mobile Office (including a Macbook Air)

“Mom, why are you working so much?  I don’t like that you’re working all of the time” said Raines, my oldest.

I sat there, stunned by his words.  For most of his life, I had been a stay-at-home mom.  From the minute he was born, Raines was my little buddy, my partner in crime, we were never, ever apart.  We were attached, both metaphorically and (thanks to the Ergo) physically.  With Raines, I had slowed down, discovered myself and found peace.

And then Pax was born.  (I’m joking.  Ha, ha….ha)

But life is different now.  Not only have my kids changed and grown, but I’ve changed too.  There’s been this sort of natural progression of letting go and moving on.  I am no longer the only women in Raines’ life.  His teachers have become increasingly important to him, as have friends.  Our little bubble of existence – where the two of us so happily spent those first few months of his life –  has expanded.  I am still at the center, but now he is at the edges, pushing out, away from me.

I’ve heard other women, moms with more experience than I, talking about this seemingly inevitable shift.  They’ll use words like “rediscovering” themselves,  or as one friend said, “I’m just now getting myself back“.

I get it.  From the depths of my soul, I get it.  But at the same time, there’s another part of me rebelling at those words, “getting myself back,” and wanting to scream.  Because the path of rediscovery implies a loss, right?  In order to get yourself “back” or to rediscover your self, you first had to lose it.

I didn’t lose myself in motherhood; instead, I was found.   So any journey I embark on now, from this point forward, has to honor that early experience, that truth.

I am now a working mom.  Sure I work from home (with a really flexible schedule), but working nonetheless.  And while part of me thrills to put on my high heels and take the train into the city to write, or discuss collaborations in a professional, adult voice, and I think “YES, there she is!  There’s that girl I’ve been missing!”…perhaps it’s more accurate to simply say that I’m ready.  I’m not rediscovering some former self, lost among the diapers and the spitup and the 2847364 incessant questions a day from two young boys, but it’s the woman that – along the way – I grew up to be.  This woman who is ambition and drive and goals and forward-thinking…but who is also that new mom – will forever, irrevocably be that new mom.  The new mom snuggled in bed with her newborn, the light slanting into the room as she kisses a fat thigh, her heart swelling to impossible proportions.

I am all of these things.

So when Raines asks why I work so much, I pause.  I look up and see past his long limbs and crazy hair and remember that once-upon-a-time it was just him and I in the bubble; I was his whole world.  Actually, I remember it better than he does.  “I work because I want to, Baby” I say.  “I work because I love it.  We only get one chance, you know?  One life to figure out what we love to do, to make a difference.  I work because it helps me figure that out.”  We stare at each other.  He grins. “Okay” he says.  And just like that, we are back in the center of our bubble.





Mobile Office Must-Haves

Soooo…..as I get more embroiled into this working-mama-world, there are a few MVP items that have made my life so. much. easier.  Especially for working on the go.

Continue Reading…

September 2, 2014

Reader Style: Sarah’s Daily Uniform And Heartbreakingly Honest Journey On Finding Her Style

A few weeks ago, I received this email from reader Sara:

I’ve been a long-time reader (since 2010? I can’t remember except somewhere around gestating my middle child), enjoying your blogging, and your honesty throughout (cancer, clothes, mom stuff). I have an outfit for your reader submitted outfit stuff, and I also have “shit to say” about clothes and nowhere to say it except my diary. So, you can do whatever with it, but….

Dear Diary Shana:

And so begins one of the most heartbreakingly beautiful essays I’ve read all year.  Get a cup of coffee, settle in, and hand your heart over to Sarah.  By the end, you’ll be on your feet, tears in your eyes, cheering her on (I certainly was).



There’s a great episode of The Wire (which is the greatest television show ever, fyi). In it, a former city police sergeant is working in a classroom setting, interacting on a personal level with these “inner city kids”. He makes them a bet, they win, and so he delivers on the terms by taking them to a fancy restaurant in Baltimore. The kids are excited to get dressed up and go someplace nice, but once they get inside, it slowly dawns on them how out-of-place they are.

This one clip sums up a moment I have experienced at least twice a week since moving to the Washington D.C. area eight years ago. At nineteen, I’d graduated college and gotten a job in law school administration at Georgetown University Law Center. I had the city and the potential of free graduate school at my feet. In the end, it was simply demoralizing. Professionally, I could be summed up in having just enough awareness to notice that I was pulling the old black-sweats-as-real-pants-with-a-cheap-blazer trick while giving career advice to a woman in an impeccably tailored Chanel suit. I thought I would grow beyond that—with kids, becoming a stay-at-home mom and a fledgling writer—but I’m still struggling.

Just the other week, I chose to take my oldest to VBS without shoes (having not noticed we’d forgotten them until we were halfway there). Believing it to be a small embarrassment but otherwise fine, I again miscalculated the standards. I arrived, wearing cut-off shorts (they had been cut-off because they were ripped in a dirtbike/motorcycle accident while visiting my family), and a faded band t-shirt complete with skull. My nails were not done. My hair was not brushed, but knotted on my head. My child had no shoes. In front of the mirror I’d said I didn’t care, but standing there, I cared.  The other mothers watched quietly, the leaders tried to be very nice and casual about the fact that he could not attend without shoes, and I simply stood there and blistered under the dawning realization that everyone could see it again—how I was still, after all this time, country shit. I turned tail with my shoeless and sad five-year-old, and started thinking. About that moment with the lady in Chanel. About why I had a decent salary and was still wearing the cheapest clothes I could find. About why I cared and why it mattered.


“We wore sweatpants and t-shirts. When you wanted to dress up, you put on your jeans. If you went grocery shopping, in jeans and makeup, well you were just way over-dressed. You’d stick out like a sore thumb. That’s how you gained twenty pounds without noticing–you were always in sweatpants.”– my mother, during my borderline-crying phone call, about standards of dress in the rural places I grew up.


Deep down in my soul, I still truly put on jeans to dress up. But, it’s not really as simple as revising my style rules to include “jeans are, by-and-large, casual,” for to change that deep truth is to change a thousand older truths. It’s to change the place in my soul that watches the harvest of these tiny gentleman farmer hay fields scattered around me and remembers the cut of the twine in my hands, and the sweat beading on my spine, and marvels that in this warm, southerly place you can hay at least THREE times. No one else seems to notice how amazing it is that you would literally never have to worry about running out of hay in a winter! That’s the same place in my soul that praises God for the blessing of a buying a raspberry from a store in the middle of winter (my main dream as a child was to one day be rich enough to afford buying whatever fruit I wanted, whenever I wanted it). And it’s also the place that remembers the sun sweet taste of a wild one plucked off a thorny bush. I cannot simply REMEMBER SHOES or believe JEANS ARE CASUAL, because to do that, I feel like I have to forget running barefoot through the woods all summer, and forget the cost of each penny that went into boots from the thrift store for winter. It’s to forget when someone gave me a pair of flared, low rise jeans when I was in middle school and had to wear tapered, high-waisted jeans my mom had saved from high school in the eighties. It’s to forget never actually wearing those jeans because my life would positively ruin them, and I had no way to replace them.


There’s a whole person in those memories– once they start, I cannot stop them. Stories that I slip into telling before realizing everyone is staring, and not in a good way. It’s the sound of a coal train at night, and how a deer-hide feels when it comes right off a fresh kill. How the inside is so soft and how it stretches and my hands sting when I rub salt into the hide. It’s the memory of perfecting a blow-out look by coiling my hair just right inside my hard-hat and then working a twelve hour overnight shift at a plastics factory to get myself through another semester of college. It’s the hazy memory of white robes and cut eyes and a raised cross in the grocery-store parking lot. It’s of surviving when men were ill-intentioned and there was no one to stand up for me. Those things have surely driven me straight into the person I am today. As if each of those memories hinges an entire course I became destined to walk. So many memories I still cling to, without having anyone who understands. What it’s like to be alone. What a coyote sounds like in the dark, two steps away from you. The weight of an infant sibling on my hip with the blowing grass and a twisting finger of God reaching down across the low hills. I remember that moment, fleeing from harm and halfway to the safety of a neighbor’s basement. I stopped. And tipped my head to the swirling green clouds and knew I could open my mouth and swallow those winds whole. I didn’t need to run. I could withstand.


And I did.


Sometimes I sit in the air conditioning and eat my store-bought raspberries and re-blog feminist quotes on tumblr and I marvel at my privilege. I’m poor to 90% of people around me, but they don’t know what I know. I’m rich! I can pay all my bills and buy a few extras. I can buy luxury textiles to wrap my baby. And real leather boots. I can buy an orange in summer and a berry in winter. But sometimes, late at night, when I’m writing while my kids are asleep, I stop and remember. I remember who I am deep down inside and that if all my privilege falls to dust and my safety becomes a whirling wind, I will not fear, because that girl still exists, deep down, right alongside “jeans are for dress-up”.


Nearing thirty, I want different things now. I want my pediatrician to stop talking to me like I’m an idiot. I want to stop sending emails I regret to my agent (ha!!). I want to have control over who I was and how people view me. I want to sell a book and be ready for any measure of success. This is the last part of surviving, isn’t it? Growing past being a survivor? But I don’t know how, really, without losing that part of me. For every-time I forget shoes, I remember her, and clothes become a struggle between the many once and future me’s.


Occasionally, I hit on it.


In this picture I’m in Baltimore, at an appointment. I went early and took my oldest (with shoes!) around some places in the Inner Harbor. And in this outfit, I felt like I was all of me at one time. When we passed a hotel along the water, the doormen and the car service guys nodded and smiled respectfully, moving to open the doors as if I belonged. But if you dropped me beside my sister—that day butchering fresh-caught salmon and canning them for the winter in her trailer in Alaska—I could untuck my shirt and put down my bag and work alongside her. (Well, I might need a sweatshirt). If you put me in my old job, talking to the woman in the Chanel suit, I’d be seen as competent and professional. If you add “best-selling author” to my bio, I’d look like a successful woman. That’s what made this outfit a win for me.


And, I felt very Morticia Adams in it. That’s always a win.


P.S. I’ll take suggestions for replicating this into any form.



Sunglasses: Target; Tank: J. Crew from few years ago but it’s their fine-spun one (similar J.Crew tank); Skirt: ASOS (might still be on sale, but if anyone knows of a different washable skirt in this shape, I NEED IT) [NOTE From S – found a similar black skirt at Kohls, also in seriously cool stripe]; Shoes: Target from three years ago (on my list of things to upgrade); Bracelet: off the super clearance at Kohls; Bag: Fossil (similar Fossil cross-body bag). Picture courtesy of the five-year-old.



Sarah Nicole Lemon








Sarah, your words are a gift.  Thank you – so freaking much- for sharing your world.  (And I have a few thoughts on outfits for you…more to come…..)

February 12, 2014

The Epic Dry Spell (Psst: sex after baby)


What happens when you invite over 15 newish moms (one of whom is an OB), feed them copious amounts of wine and chocolate and tell them that the topic of the day is sex?

A glaringly honest, totally cringe-worthy, no-holds-barred discussion.

This is exactly what I did a few years ago, when my oldest was roughly a year old.  This wine, chocolate and sex night came about because one of the moms I hung with suddenly blurted out, “I hate sex.  Can we talk about this?”


So we opened the wine, unwrapped the chocolate, put the dads on bedtime duty and all got together to hash through the nitty gritty.  It took us roughly two minutes to reach consensus:  sex after baby sucks (and no, not literally).   Initially…we were OK with nonexistent/bad sex.  Initially, it makes sense:  your body is in recovery from the delivery, and you are so exhausted and sore that the sex moratorium imposed by your OB is often welcomed.  However, even once the sex ban was lifted, many of us moms found ourselves far, far away from “all systems go.”

Nursing, especially in the first few months post-delivery, can reduce your estrogen supply so significantly that this early nursing period was compared to menopause by our friendly OB.  The result?  Vaginal dryness resulting in very painful sex.  Lube can help, but it can only go so far.  The OB’s recommendation?  A prescription for Premarin Vaginal Cream, which basically uses local estrogen to help counteract the dryness.  You can pick up a tube from your OB in varying strengths.

Additionally, it turns out that the whole….vaginal area/pelvic floor…can actually change shape after pregnancy.  Specifically, it sags.  I was surprised to hear that this post-pregnancy shape-changing happens to both women who have had vaginal deliveries and women who have had c-sections.  Getting your pelvic floor in shape is important not only for your sex life, but for long-term health as well.  (A weak pelvic floor can eventually lead to back pain, incontinence and a poochy stomach.  AWESOME.)

But a larger issue quickly emerged, one that had nothing to do with dryness or pelvic floors.  The issue was this:  many of us would rather sleep (or pick up the house or run errands or empty the dishwasher) than have sex.

Where’s our desire?  Or….LUST?  Lust…anyone?  Anyone feel lust…..Bueller?  BUELLER?

One girl, let’s call her Daisy, eloquently (and heartbreakingly) shared that since having a baby, she felt like a part of her – the part that used to love sex – had died.  And Daisy was worried that she’d never get that part back.  “I need to come to terms with this loss, and personally, I’m in mourning” she said.  And so are our husbands.  At the heart of this issue is that fact that most of us, still young, sexy, cocktail swilling, “hip” moms, never pictured that we would be this kind of women:  the kind who finds sex obligatory.

Many of us admitted that once we get into it, it’s fine.  It’s….nice.  I was waiting to hear someone mention that they recently had sex that rocked their world…but “nice” seemed to be the order of the day.  Anyone still talking dirty?  Not so much.  A few glasses of wine later, one girl bravely revealed that an orgasm, since kids, seemed completely out of reach.  Relieved, most others quickly agreed.  Some (ok, ME) wanted to blame some kind of post-baby hormonal imbalance, but our OB quickly dashed that hope.  By the time your kiddo is a year, nursing or not, your hormones have returned to normal.  The problem is mental, pure and simple.

So where does that leave us?  Has something shifted so permanently in our brains, we wondered, that, like Daisy, we need to mourn our loss of lust?  Are we destined to a life of obligatory sex?  Why can’t we be both mothers and bad, bad girls?  Or is it that this vision of “sexiness” is actually part of the problem?  In a culture that glorifies women as wide-eyed, pouty-lipped, vapid sexual objects…what are moms?  Once we turn our backs on the sex kitten stereotype, we find ourselves, from a media and culture perspective, very much alone.  Remember the True & Co MILF debacle?  Exactly.

But here’s the thing:  I missed something, all those years ago.  I missed the fact that two of the moms who attended – the two with the oldest kids, the two who had been moms years longer than the rest of us – they weren’t worried about their sex drive.  Their biggest obstacle to sex?  Finding the time.  One joked that her oldest had recently busted into her bedroom yelling, “WHAT’S ALL THE RUCKUS?”  These moms weren’t mourning their loss of lust, they were just trying to find time to install a lock on the bedroom door.

Moms who wanted to have sex?  Moms who wanted to have sex more than they wanted to empty the dishwasher?   They were there, but I was too busy lamenting to really hear their message:  New moms, give yourselves more time.  You aren’t broken, just transitioning.

It takes time to physically become a mom.  It takes more time to emotionally feel like a mom (was anyone comfortable on that first ride home from the hospital?)  And it takes a really long timeyears, even – to reconnect who we are as mothers with who we are as people.  But when that reconnection finally happens?  When we’ve broken through the compartmentalization of ourselves as mothers vs. ourselves as multifaceted and complex individuals?  We’ll feel a whole heck of a lot better – we’ll feel like ourselves.  And, I suspect, you may even feel like a bad, bad girl.

Until then, be gentle.  Mourn your loss of lust if you must, but understand that this is likely just a phase that will eventually pass.  And, uh, go buy this vibrator.  It’ll buy down the ‘he’s been workin’ so hard down there and I’m not even close yet’ guilt.  Win-win for everyone.

Happy Valentine’s Day.



ps.  We did a round-up of the best vibrators, if interested.  A little cringe-worthy but HEY.  Life.

By February 12, 2014 60 No tags Permalink
May 3, 2013

Thoughts From America’s MILF (Snort)

Screen Shot 2013-05-03 at 10.36.39 PM

So it's a weird thing, seeing yourself splashed all over Google.  Especially when the headlines accompanying your pictures are so condemning:  "MILF-Themed Ad Sparks Anger" appears next to a favorite picture of my boys and me.  "Please, think of the Children" snarks above a picture of Pax and me sharing a sweet moment.  Or my favorite:  "MILF Campaign Has Many a Panty in a Bunch".  At least that headline took some creative thought.  Wherever I looked, there we were: Huffington Post, Uk Daily Mail, ABC News, Yahoo, Jezebel and on and on and on.  It was…dizzying.  As the story broke, Mike and I watched it spread throughout the internet in amazement.  "Whoa, Babe" Mike said.  "You're like…America's MILF."

Then we cracked up at the ridiculousness of it all.

A few weeks ago, True & Co asked if I wanted to participate in their upcoming Mother's Day Campaign.  This campaign was aimed at moms and would encourage them to get a proper bra fitting.  The campaign would use the MILF acronym.  In this case, MILF stood for "Mom I'd Like to Fit".  True & Co had sent along mock-ups of how the campaign would look, asked if I'd submit a photo or two and do a short interview.  I thought it was great.  I know firsthand what a difference a well-fitting bra can make, and I found the twist on the MILF acronym funny. (Any longtime reader of Ain't No Mom Jeans will know that we never take ourselves too seriously.)  At no point did I ever imagine that this lighthearted campaign would come under fire.

So imagine my surprise on Wednesday morning when I found myself in the middle of a controversy.  It was surreal, to say the least.  Especially over something so obviously silly.  It's the MILF acronym, for crying out loud!  How can anyone take it seriously?  Its origins were from the movie AMERICAN PIE.  But as the scorn and condemnation spread, I started to wonder.  Did I miss something here?  Was this a bad choice? 

So I thought about it.  And here's the thing…or rather, here's MY thing:  I'm totally OK with the MILF acronym.  Both True & Co's new one, obviously, but also the original MILF acronym.  Yes, it is vulgar, but at the end of the day, it's just a crass way to say that someone is attractive.  Wait – not someone, but a mom.  It's a crass way of saying that a mom is attractive.  And so…who cares?  I don't get all bent out of shape if I hear someone described as a "hot babe", and frankly, I'm no stranger to the F-word myself, so MILF really doesn't faze me. 

But there was something about the backlash that I found very, very troubling.  Many of the negative comments focused on the fact that children were involved.  Some commenters called our MILF-stamped pictures "creepy" while The Ethical Admin stated outright: "I just find that including their kids in the picture is kind of icky."


Any sane person realizes that the MILF acronym is not related to the child, OBVIOUSLY, so what exactly is "icky" about a mom being seen as a sexual object?  Are we not allowed?  Once we have children – BAM – we are relegated to being sexless frumps?  Is that it?  Or maybe Moms can have sex, but only for procreation-related purposes and then we had better NOT enjoy it, dammit.  STAY IN THE BACK OF THE CAVE, WOMAN!  THE BACK!

Adweek cleared up my confusion: "Even if you are sex positive and proud of your smoking-hot MILF status, you probably don't want to involve the kids."  Oh, I see.  Moms are allowed to be "sex-positive" – thank you for that, Adweek – but not when we're actually being moms.  Because there is nothing sexy about our lame, everyday mom-lives.  The only way to be sexy, in this culture, is to put on our f*ck-me shoes and short skirts and go tripping around a pole.  And no mother in her right mind would want her children exposed to that.  "Think of the children!" Adweek cries.  

It's sad that our sexual stereotypes are so narrow that people are uncomfortable with a women being sexy and being a mom at the same time.  Especially since sexiness is more than just physical attractiveness.  

I can't help but wonder…how would a DILF campaign go down?  If, for example, some pant retailer decided to do a "Dad I'd Love to Fit" campaign and asked everyone to submit photos of Dads in time for Father's Day…what then?  Would there be some huge backlash calling the campaign "naughty" or "shameful"?  Would people complain that it was "icky" to see attractive guys pictured with their kids?  

Yeah.  I'd hit that.


Probs not.  As I recall, the Guy-Pushing-Stroller-To-Pickup-Chicks routine is pretty standard in movies and sitcoms. 

Regardless of what the media claims, I don't find True & Co's campaign to be shameful or disrespectful.  It's this idea that moms can't be – or shouldn't be – sexual beings that is the real crying shame. 



By May 3, 2013 97 No tags Permalink