August 8, 2014

My Daily Beach Uniform and a Few Fun Links (Happy Friday!)

I swear.  Only in Michigan.

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The sun does warm things up….eventually.  Nothing like hot sand on skin to really feel like summer, right?

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wearing:

sweater: Marc Jacobs James Sweater (size XS/S)

shirt: Free People FP ONE Fly Away Tank (size XS) – Nordstrom also has a patterned version

shorts: Ugh. Abercrombie, simply because I’m still searching for a good low-rise pair.  Some readers have recommended the Dolphin shorts by Free People, actually. (A bit longer than their shark bite hem shorts.)  May still be too high-rise for the pair I’m looking for.

bikini:  J.Crew Neon bikini in Neon Papaya (currently 40% off with code DEPTOFSALE.)  If you’ve got a small bum I actually prefer the Neon Shrunken Lowrider bikini…and while my bikini top is gone, the Neon papaya ruched french top is pretty cute (or a classic halter).

shoes: Soludos Sand Lace Up in woven sand (on sale for $43 at Zappos) – I love the oxford vibe of this canvas shoe.

backpack: Makr Farm Rucksack.

 

Friday Links!!

Ok, first of all, J.Crew is having a sale that *I think* ends today.  It’s 40% off all sale items, AND 40% off a selection of full price items with code DEPTOFSALE.  Which brings me to my next point:

I created a sale shop.  Whenever I find something fabulous that’s currently marked down, I’ll add it to the shop.  Currently, there are some pieces in the shop from the J.Crew sale, and few from Nordstom, and – so exciting - Shopbop has a ton of expensive t-shirts marked down.  You know how I love an expensive tee.  See the shop for my picks.

I loved this NPR segment on the link between play and brain development.  “Countries where they actually have more recess tend to have higher academic performance than countries where recess is less.”

Are you reading Mother Mag?  You should be – they’re fabulous.  I’m now contemplating Mommy-and-Me outfits (no seriously – check ‘em out I’m tempted!!), loved their round-up of cool sneaks and their fresh take on a mom-uniform.

Courtney emailed to let me know that Elle Macpherson has a lower-priced line at JCPenny.  Cute stuff!

Kim emailed about Rent the Runway’s new Pro subscription.  For $30/year, you can add additional dresses to each order for free (and get free shipping).  It looks like they’re also offering a new Unlimited subscription which basically works like Netflix DVDs, but with designer clothes.  Oooooooo…..I think I should try it.  In the name of “research” of course.

 

As you can probably guess from the pics, we are up in Michigan enjoying my sister’s new baby and having WAY too much fun with old friends and family.  Lots of summer bliss happening, for sure.  Hope your August has been relaxing!

Happy Weekend!

xo,

S

ps.  A thank you all SO much for your amazing ideas on yesterday’s play post.  I’m now trying to figure out how to get a big pile of dirt, PVC pipes, and tree stumps into my yard.  :)

August 6, 2014

Wanna Be The Cool Kids on The Block? Try These Play Ideas…

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I got an email recently from Leslie, titled, “Please help make us the cool kids on the block!” She wrote:

We recently moved to Billings, Montana, and my five year old boy and three year old girl are having a bit of a hard time fitting in.  I think we might need cooler toys.  Everyone around here has a trampoline, or an xbox and we are not there yet.  I do want them to have fun outside, and fit in.  What do you, your friends, and readers love? I did a small amount of research and bought them Strider balance bikes last year, but we didn’t have too much luck with those.  I have to be careful about the price to appease my mechanical engineer husband; although I tend to agree with your theory, cost per laugh would be appropriate here. I would love things that I could involve the neighborhood kids with too. I will consider anything, and promise to send pics of our choices. Thank you so much for your ideas.

Leslie, I don’t know if we’re the cool kids on our block, but I do know a bit about moving across country with two kids and trying (desperately) to make friends.  And I’ll admit that in our current neighborhood, we now have kids swarming around our pad pretty much 24/7.  In my experience, you don’t need money or expensive toys (I mean seriously check out our decrepit aka free swingset above)…you just need a spirit of…wildness.

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From my  experience, kids play better when there’s this sense that they’re in charge.  They direct the play. With that in mind, here are the “rules” we live by:

1.  We Say YES.

When you are playing over at our place, I almost always say YES to the following questions:

Can we use the hose?   

Can we use the sprinkler?

Can we dig a hole?

Can we make mud?

Can we use this old log/stick/piece of wood?

Can we use some rope?

Can we use a hammer?

Can we take art supplies outside?

Can I draw on myself?

The key has been to figure out how to say yes.  For example, digging a hole in the middle of the lawn?  Yeah – that’s a NO.  But giving them a section of the garden where they can dig to their hearts content?  YES. play

2. Make Open-Ended Materials Available

Forget toys, the smartest thing I did this fall – from a play perspective – was buying a few bales of hay.  (I mean yes OK it made a huge mess that we are still cleaning up and we have sworn NEVER AGAIN but live and learn, right?)  But the good news is that there are a ton of open-ended materials that are much more containable than hay. Open-Ended Materials We Stock Up On:

  • Pieces of wood (these make fantastic ramps, jumps, forts, etc.)
  • Rope (the kids have used these to make everything from ‘animal traps’ to hacking up swings on our poor old tree).
  • Bungee Cords (we go through these things so fast – they use them for freaking everything)
  • Extra-Large Rubbermaid bins (fill ‘em with dirt, with water, leave ‘em empty.  The kids will figure out what to do in about .2 seconds)
  • Umbrellas  (these Totes stick umbrellas from Target are big, fairly durable, and the neighborhood fav for outdoor forts)
  • Old Sheets or Blankets (perfect for fort building)
  • Duct Tape
  • Stuff From Our Recycling Bin (empty yogurt containers, cans, etc.)
  • Boxes
  • Pulleys (you can find a bunch at any Home Depot type store)
  • Old Pots/Pans from Goodwill (there was an issue one day when I failed to realize that the kids were playing soooo very nicely with my husband’s favorite All Clad pan.  Talk about sh*t hitting the pan when Mike came home.  I mean fan.  Sh*t hitting the….fan.)

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3.  Don’t Make Them Share.

There’s nothing lamer than some adult hanging over a group of kids going, “Susie, you’ve had your turn. Please give the ball to Johnny.”  Sharing sucks.  IT SUCKS.  (And I’m not alone - check out this book) A strategy that’s worked for us?  Prevent the conflict in the first place by hitting the dollar store for multiples of:

  • Water Guns:  I suggest buying multiples of the EXACT SAME guns if you can….but if not, at least make sure you have enough guns for everyone (and throw in extras for the adults). These are our favorites.
  • Bubbles:  You can get the big sizes for refills, but also buy a bunch of the individual bottles so each kid can have one.  I buy – no less – than 25 each summer.
  • Balls – basketballs, soccer balls, dodgeballs, wiffle balls, and especially these little soft balls that are intended to be water bombs in the summer.
  • Pool Noodles:  These are such a huge hit, and they’ve never even seen the inside of a pool.  Amazing how open-ended these are.
  • Sidewalk Chalk:  Crayola’s Sidewalk Chalk is the best.  The colors are – hands down – the brightest.
  • Buckets and Shovels
  • Flashlights (or headlamps):  They seriously go nuts for these.  This may not be a dollar store item, but totally worth it.  We’ve been collecting these over the years and now have about 8.  Flashlights are one of those items that seem to be too hard to share.
  • Foam Swords:  You really can’t have enough of these.  (And girls love them too.) Amazon carries sets of 12.

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4.  Keep It Accessible….Even When You Aren’t There

Once the weather warms, I store all of our water guns, bubbles, pool noodles, chalk, buckets, shovels, swords and outside balls in bins on our front porch.  The rule is that anyone can use them, anytime.  (We also have a rule that they must be put away when you are finished, but that’s a tough rule for young kids, so it’s more of a general guideline than something we try to strictly enforce.)

outdoor-toy-storage   outdoor-toy-storage-closeup

 

Land of Nod Flea Market Wire Ball Bins (2)

Land of Nod Down To The Wire Floor Bins (1)

Similar planter and hook

 

5.  Toys Worth Spending Money On

There are a few toys that have been worth their weight in gold.  They are:

  • Skateboards - real ones!!  Penny boards are a great first skateboard that will last for years…or if adults want in on the action, try a longboard (the kids ride it on their belly, or Mike will ride double with the kids).  The super cheap ones don’t last, and a barely functioning skateboard isn’t fun for anyone.
  • Scooters - Razor Kick Scooters are our favorites and work with many ages.
  • A Tee for T-Ball (and several bats, and a whole ton of whiffle balls) – The Little Tikes Tee is a good choice for the very young, but we’ve found that once the kiddos hit 5, you’ll want a real tee.
  • Portable Soccer nets - we love this one by Step2.
  • Basketball Hoop (one that can be lowered…but not the baby version once they approach 5.)
  • Swingset - I tend to think simple is better….but I’m having a heck of a time finding one with enough swings to replace our old, worn-out set.  Maybe the Flexible Flyer “Swing and Play” Swing Set?
  • Real, Kid-Sized Yard Tools (Rakes, Shovels, Brooms, etc.)  Melissa and Doug makes a set, but we think it’s better to go with several individual kid rakes.

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Of course, if you really want to grab the neighborhood kid’s attention, you could always go the route of over-the-top-water fun:

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Works every time.

(This smaller double-pool-and-slide is what we used to “bribe” the neighborhood kids over when we first moved in.   We had kids from ages 1-7 going crazy on this thing.  It didn’t last long, but it was the best $40 we ever spent.)

 6.  None Ya  (As in “none of your business”)

Finally, we try to stay out of the kids’ business as much as possible.  Dispute over a truck?  Yeah, I’ll empathize.  That stinks.  How frustrating!!  Or I’ll employ a trick from Raines’ amazing preschool teacher, Lauren*:  “Are you telling me because you want me to do something, or because you just want me to know?”  You’d be surprised at how often kids just want to be heard.  Many times the kids respond with “I want you to know!!” and then run off to play.  In the event that they are looking for some action, Lauren suggests coming back with:  “What have you tried?”  At this point, they’re totally bored and typically will go work it out themselves.

The times I intervene are when I’m worried someone will get hurt, or if I notice that my own children are so tired they are terrorizing the neighborhood *cough*Pax*cough.

So there you have it.  Our “rules”.  Snort.  As you can imagine, many of our neighbors think we’re nuts.  But, you know…walks like a duck and all that.  There are worse things than a few shades of crazy, right?

Readers – any other ideas?  What do you guys do to bring all the boys&girls to your yard?  (Besides milkshakes…hahaha).

xo,

S

*local Mamas, Lauren just joined forces with the insanely fabulous Creative Clubhouse and is starting her own preschool program this Fall!!  (You can find it under “Creative Corner”.)  Knowing Lauren, it’ll be an awesome blend of Reggio Emilia, Montessori and Waldorf all wrapped up with a huge dose of outdoor time.  My preschool-dream-come-true.

By August 6, 2014 53 No tags Permalink
August 5, 2014

Blogger Favorite: Levi 501 Denim Shorts (A Review)

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There’s always a pretty marked difference between the blogging world, and, uh, reality.  For example – have you ever seen someone wearing an ironic cat t-shirt in real life?  For really reals?  (Not gifting a cat t-shirt, but actually wearing said cat tee.)   And I’m not totally convinced that cupcakes/macaroons/doughnuts are actually part of anyone’s daily diet.  Despite the number of instagram pics to the contrary (including my own – cringe).

But once in a while us bloggers get it right.  We focus on a trend (or perhaps even…dare I say it…create a trend?) that actually works in the everyday.  And the latest one I’m all over?  Levi 501 denim shorts.

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These are old-school Levis, with a higher waist and that classic Levi bum.  And?  I think I like them.  At $58 a pop, they’re a far cry from the $200 denim shorts I’ve been coveting/debating.

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wearing:

tee: J.Crew camo tee…long gone, but love J.Crew’s printed tee or this bright camo linen tee at ASOS

shorts: Levi 501 cut-offs, on sale for $39 at Zappos

shoes: old ShoeMint…love these on-sale Dolce Vita sandals (in any color)

necklaces: Gorjana Taner Collar Necklace, and my mom’s old necklace (try Gorjana’s honeycomb necklace)

sunnies: Madewell Hepcat Shades (on sale)

clutch:  Stella & Dot leopard print wallet (on sale!)

on Raines: FabKids tee and pants, Vans Kids Half-Cab (on sale at 6pm), my fav Raybans

 

But I think denim shorts are, in many ways, trickier than actual denim.  My closet has denim shorts that range in sizes from 24 – 27.  Some bloggers have specified that these particular shorts should be bought big, but I was skeptical (that high waist!!).   So I ordered a bunch and did a bit of research.  Here are the results:

 

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levis25 levis26 levis27

wearing: old jcrew tee….try this similar one, levi 501 cut-offs, Bite Beauty high pigment pencil in Quince

 

I actually didn’t mind the hugely oversized look of size 27, but the 26s just looked strange.  It’s like they were big, but not big enough to pull off the look.  The 25s were close – I loved how they looked folded over at the waistband (an old trick from the 90′s thankyouverymuch), but I didn’t like how they looked without the fold.  The 24s were the ones I ended up keeping – they looked cute fully buttoned, or buttoned and folded over.  The bum is shockingly flattering – especially from the side.

Soooo…I like them.  In hindsight, if I had to do it all over again, I’d probably pick a lighter, more destroyed wash, simply because that’s more my style.  Something like one of these:

 

Has anyone else tried these old-school Levis?  Thoughts?

xo,

S

 

ps.  Thanks for the feedback about the image loading problems.  We’re working on a server upgrade, so stay tuned (and don’t be too surprised if we have some up-and-downs for the next couple of days).  Your patience and FEEDBACK is hugely appreciated.  Seriously.

 

August 4, 2014

10 Seriously Gorgeous Nursing Bras For Summer (Let Them Peek Out)

I have been with my sister this last week, basking in her new-baby bliss.  Both Scotti and baby Greenlea are doing great.  Scotti has actually managed to get out of the house with Greenlea a few times, which, if I recall, seems a Herculean feat, right?  Not just for all of the new-baby stuff (diapers? Check.  Wipes? Check.  Stroller and car seat and paci and carrier and nursing cover and nipple cream and extra outfit and sunscreen and baby blanket and hat and baby sunglasses?  Uh…checkcheckcheck?) but dressing yourself, at 10 days post-partum sucks.

A pretty nursing bra, one that can actually peek out underneath a summer tank or maxi dress goes a long way (if for no other reason than to feel pretty).  This was my favorite trick post-partum.  It’s hard to dress for post-partum and nursing in the summer without showing some bra.  So…maybe show bras like this?

 

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TOP ROW:

1.  Le Mystere Sexy Mama Nursing Bra, $66 at Nordstrom

2.  Elle MacPherson Beach Babe Nursing Bra, on sale for $35 at ASOS

3.  Cake Lingerie Balconette Nursing Bra, $64 at Nordstrom

4. Anita Wire-Free Nursing Bra in polka-dot, $49 at Bare Necessities

 

MIDDLE:

5. You! Lingerie London Maternity Nursing Bra, $38

6.  Amoralia Cupcake Nursing Bra, $54 at Journelle  (also comes in a gorgeous petal pink)

 

BOTTOM:

7. Cake Seamless Nursing Bra, $49 at Nordstrom  (This style often looks like a layered tank top.)

8. Elle MacPherson Momamia Nursing Bra in stripe, $70 at ASOS     (A few colors in this style are currently on sale at Gilt)

9. Mamalicious Colorblocked Maternity Nursing Bra, $61 at ASOS

10. Elle MacPherson Cloud Swing Nursing Bra, $68 at Bare Necessities (love the mint green and navy colorway on this one)

 

Happy nursing!!

xo,

S

 

August 1, 2014

My Current Date-Night Uniform (For A Strangely Cold Summer)

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Silky tops, boyfriend jeans, killer heels:  my fav combination.  But with lows in the 50′s….hello sweater.

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wearing:

sweater: Marc Jacobs James Sweater, $198 (part of the Nordstrom Anni Sale – ends Sunday!!)

silk top: J.Crew Striped Carrie cami,  40% off already reduced merchandise, so….$35ish)

jeans: Blank Denim Relaxed Straight Leg Jeans, $88

heels: Sam Edelman Palma Sandal, $99 (part of Nordstrom Anni Sale)

bag: Antik Batik Buffalo Clutch, $149 (on sale at Shopbop)

necklaces: Tiffany pendant $250, Bauble Bar Long Arrow Pendant, $32

 

It’s the last weekend of the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale!  Some of you have asked what I actually ended up buying. Other than the pieces I’m wearing, I’m still deciding on boots (those Rag and Bones are wonderfully flat and comfortable – especially with super thick socks, but I do wear the heck out of rainboots on the east coast) and how many expensive sweaters I can actually afford.  That turtleneck cashmere sweater fits SO nicely under coats, which is a rarity for swingy sweaters.  And so does the Marc Jacobs, actually.  I keep staring at variations of faux-leather pants, and I may pick up a pair of the sweatpants despite my current, erhm, sweatpant collection because so many of you have asked about styling them, there’s typically one final random purchase Sunday night and oh! The Steve Madden snake skin sneakers – I have those, and yeah.  I’m rambling.  But we’re in the final days of the most exciting sale of the year so……  [incoherent mumbling]

 

Happy weekend!

xo,

S