December 24, 2016

The Happiest Of Holidays To You and Yours….

 

“MIKE,” I said urgently into the phone, “Can you come home RIGHT NOW?”

“What? Babe? Yes!  What happened?  Is everything OK?  Are you OK?  I’m coming home now…”

[sounds of feet shuffling, a bump]

Oh.  Riiiight.  When you are married to a breast cancer survivor, the drama ramps up quick.

“Ummm…” I began, sheepishly.  “There’s only ONE tree left at the corner market and it’s too big for me to haul and WE DON’T HAVE A TREE YET, MIKE” (I am gathering steam now) “and it’s almost Christmas and nothing is baked and the kids want to decorate something and WE DON’T HAVE A TREE!!”

There is a long pause.  I hear some deep cleansing breaths through the phone.  “Babe” he starts.  “Baby.  Work is nuts right now.  I can’t just up and leave…” his voice trails off.

Stony silence on my end.

Mike heaves a great sigh.  “Ok” he says.  “Let me see what I can do.”

In the end, he left work roughly 43 minutes early on a Friday (#whoscounting) and showed up on our doorstep, tree in hand.   SWOON.  My hero.

I don’t often pull the Pouty-Pouty-Princess Routine, but the situation was dire.  (Not, mind you, cancer dire, just holiday-stress dire.  I was, to quote a dear friend, “appropriately upset”.)

So Mike came home and we decorated a tree (by “we” I mean “the boys” and by “decorated” I mean “threw on stuff”).  The tree looks EXACTLY as one would imagine a tree might when decorated by two boys under the age of 9.  I’ll post a pic on IG – it’s hysterical.  (And bottom heavy.)

And then my mother, who is always attune to me in some weird way, mailed a Box of Happiness:  three types of homemade Christmas cookies, Chex-mix (she has the best recipe), candy from Donkers, and….the piece de resistance: Nanaimo bars (for you Canadians out there).  So of course I sobbed.  Had myself a good cry, surrounded by wrappers and cookies, and a few broken ornaments.  And then I read the seriously wise comments on last weekend’s post and cried a little more.

The holiday season can be hard on so many levels.  For me, it represents another year come and gone.  I see my two little guys changing before my eyes, I see my parents showing their age, I see Mike and I evolving (slooowly) into real adults and carrying the proverbial torch that my dad once wielded with so much energy and strength….and it’s almost as if I can feel the earth spinning.  As if the passing of time is a physical thing, slipping through my fingers.

If only I could grab it and hold on.

So instead I grab my boys.  My lights.  I squish what’s left of Pax’s chunky thighs, and kiss their freckled noses.  I wrap my arms around Raines’ lanky frame, realizing that his shoulders are getting broader and that sometimes, he wraps his arms around me.

I have no answers at the moment.  No theories or new understandings or meaningful insights.  So I read and re-read the wise comments on last week’s weekend post from mums more experienced than I:

My only wisdom to share this holiday season, and it’s so applicable: PRESENT, NOT PERFECT. The best gift we can give to out families is not a stressed-out mama but a calm, happy one. She might not have homemade cookies to feed her kidlets and a perfectly decorated house, but she’s pleasant and loving and knows what her priorities are.   -Laura

 

For us, we have focused on the relationships. The world will always be there to push and pressure and remind our children that to be successful they (and you) need to be doing more, having more, experiencing more. But the thing the world isn’t so good at is helping our children learn how to have good relationships. What matters isn’t the gifts or the parties or the decorations but what you taught them along the way.  -Renae

 

I think you have to be more intentional about things as they get older, and really make decisions about what’s most important to your family. I ask my kids what their most important Christmas traditions are so I can make sure we get to them. -riseuppup

 

We moms have an endless ability to acclimate & adapt! What seems crazy-busy at first just becomes the new normal of parenting that age/stage of children–& we handle it. Just like we always do.  -Shan

 

The final thing for a perfect Christmas is love. Really the kids just remember that you were together and you did stuff and laughed. -MJ

It’s like that Walt Whitman quote I love so much:  “We were together.  I forget the rest.”

This.  This will be my mantra for 2017.

Mike and I have managed to pull off a small Christmas miracle (assuming we don’t screw it up in the next 24 hours):  in lieu of gifts, we’re taking the boys to Colorado.  We leave the day after Christmas.

And the best part?  It’s a SURPRISE.

I realize this might be the last year I can blog about surprises like this, but gang:  I’m so freaking excited I had to tell SOMEONE.  Over drinks a few weeks ago, Mike and I came up with a Percy Jackson inspired prophecy that the boys will open up on Christmas morning.  From there, they’ll have to decipher and search for a set of clues that will help them understand the prophecy.  We’re using those Russian nesting dolls as the “oracle”.

Want to hear the prophecy?  [clears throat]

Two mountain born must answer the call

In the early morning hours, the world will fall

Away from the ground to the city in the sky

Where through the pow you carve…or cry.

OMG SO FUN, RIGHT???  I’m seriously over-the-moon.  And thank goodness for Pinterest – there’s a ton of fun scavenger hunt ideas for kids.

So that’s what’s happening over here!  I’ll probably be posting mostly to Instagram over the next week or so (find me @shanachristine), but the rest of the TME team has a few more posts planned for the remainder of 2016.  Cam has one more styling fail to share with you (but the fix is perfect for NYE), we’re already keeping an eye on post-holiday sales (which have started, geez), and I have a few NYE outfit ideas involving….turtlenecks. Because unlike our quickly-growing children, some things are constant.

The last weekly newsletter of the year will be coming out tomorrow…and with it, what the TME team is *planning* (hoping?) to read over the holiday break.  You can subscribe to our newsletter here.

Readers, we feel so very lucky that you have taken time out of your busy schedules this past year to read this blog, to comment, to share, and to make this little corner of the internet an inspiring, hopeful place.  On behalf of the entire TME team, we wish you a holiday filled with peace, laughter and love.  May you and yours be all together…and forget the rest.

All our love,

TME

 

 

 

By December 24, 2016 6 No tags Permalink
December 20, 2016

Last Minute Toys For Kids (STEM, STEAM and Fun)

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When the boys were really small, I had Christmas down.  We did holiday-themed art projects, advent calendars, Christmas stories, and went to see Santa right after Thanksgiving.  Their stockings were filled with carefully curated items, and Christmas cookies were baked.

I’m slipping.

For the last few years, Christmas seems to take us by surprise.  Now it’s as much of a Christmas tradition to have Mike and I on Amazon at 1AM three days before Christmas chanting, ‘Prime shipping!!  Filter on prime shipping!!”

So.  If you are riding the crazytown train right into Christmas, turnaround and say hi.  We’re sitting one row behind you.

Happily, Amazon does have some seriously amazing options.  We’re talking really and truly special gifts with high levels of Morning-of-Excitement, and even some toy options that were included in this year’s STEM guide (available to newsletter subscribers), but are worth talking about again. (Also check last year’s STEM guide – most of the products featured come with prime shipping options.)  Additionally, I found a few subscription-based gifts perfect for little (or teenage) engineers and artists.

Without further ado….here are a few last-minute gift options that will make it look like you’ve been planning this all along…

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December 17, 2016

Holidaze Weekend

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Gang, Christmas is one week away and not only have I not finished my shopping…our house isn’t decorated.   At all.  Mike managed to grab one of the last few trees from the corner store.  The poor thing is now propped in a corner of the living room, the lower half decorated with lights that Pax put up.  But we haven’t had a hot second to get out our Christmas books (much less read them), no cookie baking, tree decorating, Santa visits or caroling (hahahaha – that one only happens in my dreams).  Instead we’ve been in a whirlwind of school (and research papers?? REALLY THIRD GRADE TEACHERS, REALLY?), hip-hop dance performances, ski team and….huh.  I don’t even know what else.  But I sense time flying by and it makes me want to grab my quickly growing boys and hide.

Any advice, experienced moms?  Is this how it is, now that both boys are in school?  (Lie, please.  I’m so not ready for the truth.)

Anyway, considering my looming to-do list (1. Create Christmas Joy Now, 2. Repeat,  3.  And Oh Yeah, Laundry)….this weekend post was looking awfully sparse.  Happily, the rest of the TME gang had enough fun links for all of us.  Friends.  They’re seriously everything.

SHOP

Need a gift for a book nerd? Cam came across this article,  Clever Artist Transforms Your Favorite Books Into Adorable Pieces of Jewelry and had us all swooning.  Which book would you pick?  Peter Pan is one of my favorites – so cleverly written, but the quote from Pride & Prejudice made me tear up a little.

Abercrombie is now restocked and is 50% off.  We can’t believe what Abercrombie has done to themselves.  We LOVE it.  If you haven’t seen the updates, both Scotti and Cam have covered it.

LOFT also has 50% off EVERYTHING.  I especially love this oversized, ice-blue sweater, this seriously chic puffer coat (I mean wow), and the velvet swing dress (now back in stock!!)  Of course, I’ve been wearing the heck out of my faux-fur scarf, so if you haven’t yet grabbed one, now is the time.

Throwing a NYE party?  Jess found some awesome photo props at Crowd Signs.  So fun – and it’s owned by her friend Dani.

ALSO, THIS…

Laura has been reading  The Cozy Life.  It’s about “the Danish concept of hygge. LOVING it…since I pretty much wish I were Scandinavian. It’s about discovering joy through simple things, like curling up in comfy slippers with a hot drink and good book, your favorite candle burning. It’s a good reminder for this time of year and a short little read since we’re all so busy.”

Do your kids still believe in Santa?  I’m worried that this might be R’s last year.  Thankfully, Laura found this article, How to Tell Kids About Santa that made me tear up.  It’s about transitioning your kids out of believing in Santa by teaching them to be anonymous gift-givers.  So perfect.

We have hot cocoa on the brain.  Laura, who is obviously our holiday overachiever (so jealous!!), made her own marshmallows using this recipe:  Homemade Hot Cocoa Mix + Cinnamon Maple Marshmallows.  Dear god, girl.  If only you lived next door.

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Cam, on the other hand is going for Fluffy Pink Unicorn Hot Chocolate.  IJustCan’tEven.

Jess has The Hungry Gentleman on the brain.  His IG feed is good.  In many, many ways. (wink wink)

Leave it to the data nerd to find this Most Popular Baby Names by State 1910 – 2015 infographic.  Thanks, Mike!

Still need decorations?  Amanda is going to make these Star Wars Snowflakes.  My boys would freak.  And?  There’s a video.


 

 

Happy weekend, you guys.  I gotta go get my Christmas on.

xo,

S

 

By December 17, 2016 10 No tags Permalink
December 16, 2016

Foolproof Christmas Gifts For Girls, Guys….and Kids

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Happy Holidays, you guys!!!  In honor of the season, Nordstorm asked me if I’d share my favorite gifts for the holidays.  So I did:  I rounded up the best, most foolproof gifts for girls, guys and kids.  Not only is Nordstrom’s selection totally and completely amazing….but their shipping is fast, free, and their return policy unparalleled.

So yeah:  these gifts are good.  And coupled with Nordstrom’s return policy…

Totally and completely foolproof.

I’m beyond excited to share this list with you guys – it’s been a ton of work but it’s a fun one, and (hopefully) has something for everyone.  Enjoy!!


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On me (shana):

red headband |Equipment Cashmere Turtleneck Sweater (xs) | jeans | polaroid camera

On Scotti:

gift headband |Equipment Cashmere V-Neck Sweater (xs) | faux-leather leggings (m)

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By December 16, 2016 11 No tags Permalink
December 15, 2016

Holiday Gift Guide for the Golf and Tech Guy

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Okay, let’s play a quick game of The Mom Edit connect the dots: Jonathan, my other half, is the younger bro of Mike, Shana’s hubby. And as Shana can attest, Jonathan is probably the most difficult person in the family to shop for. Where I might say he’s “picky shopper”…he says he’s an “educated shopper.”

Jonathan agonizes and researches every. single. purchase. he makes, down to cutting boards and trash cans. Since there’s no way I can afford the only thing he truly wants this year for Christmas: a $10,000 golf simulator (shock, gasp, faint), I got him to sit down with me and pick out a few slightly more humble (but still kick-ass) gift options.

The theme? Golf and tech.

When I first asked him to help me create a gift guide that other guys might appreciate as well he said, “I’m not sure other guys would want the same stuff as I do,” to which Shana and I replied, “uhhh, I think that’s what most guys want for Christmas,” so without further ado, here is a Jonathan approved Holiday gift guide…

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December 12, 2016

It’s PJ and Loungewear Week: My Favs

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Hey there, holiday-loving Mamas!  We’re pretty excited about this week.  This week has been declared PJs & Loungewear Week (by, uh, us),  so every day this week, someone from the TME team will be posting about their favorite loungewear, sweatpants, leggings, or jammies.

I mean….pretty dresses and high heels are great and everything, but WE KNOW WHAT YOU WEAR THE MOST, MAMAS.  WE KNOW.

So.  Whether you are visiting the in-laws for the holidays and just want something cozy and cute to wear in the mornings (without worrying about wardrobe malfunctions), or you need something bright and cheery for Christmas morning photo ops…by the end of the week, consider yourself Shopping. Enabled.

It’s all for the greater good, of course.  Because what makes a better gift than jammies or sweatpants?

NOTHING.

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December 11, 2016

12 Gifts For Your Most Stressed Out Friends

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This year especially, we can all use a little more comfort and joy as we wrap up a tumultuous 2016. As a hardcore Type-A stress puppy, I feel pretty confident that any of these gifts can bring some moments of zen to your most frazzled friends.

I found the most gorgeously soft blanket, cozy microwaveable(!) slippers, a beefcake “activity book” and more to bring on the good kind of winter chill.

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December 10, 2016

Happy Weekend.

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Hey, there!  My sister (Scotti) is visiting for the week, with baby Greenlea and hubs in tow.  We’re having a blast (and my makeup is obviously on point, one of the benefits of having a makeup artist for a sister, haha).  We have an Ugly Christmas Sweater party to attend on Sunday, so last night we had friends over and made terrible sweaters with glue guns and $40 worth of crap from the Dollar Store.  Booze was obviously involved, and It. Was. Glorious.  I’ll throw my um…”masterpiece” up on Instagram soon (@shanachristine).

Shop

My favorite parka sold out at Nordstrom, but thanks to a few readers, it’s also been found at Zappos, here, on sale for $145 with free shipping (all sizes and colors in stock)….and Bluefly, here for $129 (all sizes but small available).  Thanks, Guys!  (For reference, I wear an XS, and it IS warm.  I originally thought it would not be super warm, but I’ve been wearing it all week and it’s perfect.)

The Isabella Oliver Maternity Sale  is still going on.  Cam and I both swore by this brand throughout our pregnancies.  You can see Cam’s picks here.

J.Crew is having an insane sale.  If you do nothing else, go buy these PJs before they sell out.  (We’re kicking off Loungewear week on Sunday, so you’ll see me in them.)  I might put together a quick sale round-up…there’s seriously good stuff (like this plaid night-out top).

Laura has updated her Editor Picks boutique…including this J.Crew coat in a gorgeous rust color (now 40% off).

Having trouble with Liketoknow.it on Instagram?  You can see my full stream here.  Once you login (it’ll prompt you to create an account if you haven’t already), you’ll see all of my liketoknow.it-enabled posts, with clickable links.  It’ll look like this:

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Here are the streams for Scotti, Cam, Laura, Jess, and Amanda, too.

Also, THIS….

Amanda found Childs Play Charity, where you donate directly to children’s hospitals across the country with either cash donations, or by choosing something from the hospital’s Amazon wish list.  Amanda says, “I just sent gifts to one in our city & where my hubs grew up for his “white envelope” Xmas present.”  Love this.

Cam says,  “Do any of you watch This is Us?!  This was me after the season finale … O.M.G. THAT SHOW.”


 

Hey, where’s the daily newsletter??? We’re having a few technical difficulties, but it should start up this week.  (The weekly one is fine.)  You can sign up here.

I was so moved by my friend Lane’s recent post on how things change as children grow.  Cue alllll the memories, you guys.

 

Jess just moved into a new house.  We’re obsessed with her fireplace makeover.  Here’s a before-and-after:  (you can see more on her Snapchat, @jesssbobesss)

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Lastly, this might be the very best reason to have eight children….


Happy Holidays!!
xo,
S

 

By December 10, 2016 5 No tags Permalink
December 9, 2016

Baby Gifts for the Design-Minded

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Lucky me… I got to round up adorable baby gifts! It can sometimes be tricky shopping for the itty bitty ones at the holidays though. You want to get something fun for them, but depending on how tiny they are, they may not be super into toys yet. Sometimes for the littles you’re essentially gifting to the parents, so you want something lovely and cute.

I tried to include a good mix of toys and special items to help ya out this year when shopping for the 0-2 year old loves in your life. Check them out here…

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December 8, 2016

Living The Sweat Life: Gift Ideas and Inspiration

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I’m feeling really good these days.  Really, really good.  It’s funny, at my last visit to my Oncologist, I told her I was aging backwards.  Which isn’t as crazy as it sounds, considering that I started chemo as a hot young new mom, and finished months later as a feeble, gray-faced, bald old lady.

At least that how you feel, post-chemo.  The three years since my last treatment have been about me finding myself again.  I’ll never again be that young mom who walked naively into her first (and only) mammogram, but neither am I ready for the fast-forwarding of life that the chemo seems to do.

One thing that has played a major role in my long-term recovery has been Pilates.  During chemo I relied mostly on yoga and running, but at some point – after it was all over – I started to realize how broken my poor body was.  I still had a small diastasis from pregnancy (something I didn’t really have time to address before the cancer nonsense started), and the mastectomy left my shoulders rounded and my chest tight.  I was literally curling up, curling inward, with no core muscles to speak of, and terrible posture that I was unable to correct on my own.  I would see pictures of me taken from the side or from behind and I’d just…cringe.  Something needed to change.

Ultimately, that something was Pilates.  Pilates has been more like physical therapy than a workout.  But unlike physical therapy, there’s no graduation day.  You know you’ve made a major healing step when the workouts get harder.  I spent the first year (at Belly Pilates, if you are on the mainline) rarely working up a sweat.  Instead, it was a frustrating mix of finding (and reconnecting) to my core muscles – including my pelvic floor – trying to figure out how to breathe, and fixing some basic posture problems.  Oddly enough, despite the lack of sweat, my bum and arms never looked better.

Once we moved into Philadelphia, I had to find a new studio.  Pilates is a rather….picky sort of workout.  Most studios require a few private lessons before they allow you into group classes (this philosophy protects both you and the equipment).  I wandered on in to Urban Front Pilates, and was set up for lessons with Sue.  Sue is a mom of three (including twins!!), has a dance background, and could see my “cheats” from a mile away.

She lets me get away with exactly nothing.

As a result of working with Sue once a week, I’ve never felt better.  My core is stronger than it’s ever been (even before kids), Mike refers to my bum as a work of art [snort], and my posture?  Well.  We’re still working on that.  But it’s improved dramatically.

The fact that my guys, Mike and my little ones, have allowed me – no, encouraged me –  to get healthy, to take time (and money, let’s be real) to focus on my own health has been the greatest gift I could ever ask for.  Any mama knows how hard it is to create time and space for yourself, and the fact that they’ve never once made me feel guilty…well.  That’s been everything.  So if there’s one silver lining to All That Cancer Nonsense, it’s that Mike and I have both started making our health a priority.

Now if only we could get his ski boots fixed…..

(BTW – huge thanks for the comments on my earlier article – I’m calling that guy in the Poconos stat.)

Keep reading for some seriously fun pics from my latest Pilates session with Sue, as well as a little round-up of items (for girls and guys) that would not only make perfect gifts, but serve as some serious inspiration to live The Sweat Life in 2017.

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