fifty shades of grayish blue

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Throughout our home, it’s clear that we love gray in all it’s forms: neutral greige, barely there gray, moody charcoal, glossy graphite. I like to play with pops of color in home accents and the occasional bold paint choice, but the one color that makes an appearance in almost every room is some shade of gray. Inspired by the blue washer and dryer we bought when we moved into the house, we immediately zeroed in on the type of palate we wanted for the new mudroom. So, we were off to select our perfect shade of grayish blue.

Here are the factors that we considered when making our selection:

  1. Our washer and dryer are a shade of blue that’s between sapphire and navy. We didn’t want the hue on the wall to be too close to that of the appliances.
  2. We were obsessed with the gray tile for the floor that we selected and again, we didn’t want select a paint color that was too similar.
  3. The one source of natural light is via eastern exposure. After some research and experience with the paint choices in the rest of our house, we’ve learned that rooms with eastern exposure tend to read a little cool. We wanted to pick a shade that had a touch of warmth to it, so that the space didn’t feel cold or stark. I love this piece on how light affects color.
  4. It’s a space that gets an extreme amount of action every day, so we wanted to pick a color that would feel welcoming.

Side note: When we moved into our house 5 years ago, we painted every single room, but for the kitchen, including all of the trim. I am a firm believer in painting swatches on multiple walls, so you can see the way light hits the color options differently and how it pairs next to trim, flooring and other fixtures.

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I probably should have started this blog when we were in the thick of our mudroom project and garage addition, but alas, it was just a vague idea at the time. So of course, this is the best photo I have of all of the swatches.

Mineral Alloy

Mineral Alloy, by Benjamin Moore

I am IN LOVE with this color and totally want to use it somewhere else in our house – perhaps on cabinetry or a piece of furniture? It’s the perfect calming yet welcoming tone, which is ideal for the space that is our primary family entry and full of chaos. It feels grounded and not too cool, sophisticated and upbeat but not in your face. Mineral Alloy for the win!

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On a somewhat related note, per request, I want to touch on how the herringbone tile connects to the hardwood in the kitchen. The mudroom used to be the spot for my hubby’s car in our former garage.

To keep our costs as low as possible, we didn’t mess with the ceiling that was already in place from the garage. That did tie our hands a bit, thus the mudroom is one small step down from the kitchen. It took about a day to get used to it and our one-year-old got the hang of it in no time. In response to a reader comment: I think the junction between the two flooring materials would have been totally fine even if there wasn’t the step there. There’s other tile in our house that meets flush with the hardwood and it works because the tile defines a separate space.

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Entry from the mudroom into the rest of the house, after the door was removed.

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Small step connecting the two flooring materials.

Next up for this space, open shelving next to the upper cabinets. Stay tuned!

xoxo

finding my voice

 

 

 

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My sugary gumdrop.

When I first set out to start this blog, I had a clear vision of the range of subjects I wanted cover – complete with an idea burst on the back of scratch paper, 3 months worth of blog ideas and a few pre-written pieces. In my blogging research, I read that it’s important to have a pretty specific and narrow subject. I’ve definitely deviated from my initial list and I’m not sure how narrow my subjects have been. I’ve steered off the original path that I planned, touching on subjects that are much more sensitive and personal, but those are the ones that seem to resonate the most. I’m writing about the things that feel relevant, hoping that they connect with others. Reflecting back on the pieces that I’ve felt most strongly about, I think I’m also working on finding my voice not just in writing but in life, in a way.

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Initial sketch of blogging ideas.

I’ve always been very outgoing and outspoken, probably to a fault. It’s like I feel the need to fill silence, in an effort to deflect from my flaws. If I keep talking, maybe no one will notice that I’m not feeling very put together or polished. Part of it is certainly a defense mechanism of sorts, but I also genuinely love connecting with people, be it having a conversation with a stranger or digging deeper with the people in my life. I also don’t have much of a filter. Believe me, I’ve tried, but it’s like I just don’t have the ability to not put all of my cards on the table. I’m terrible at poker. I might be able to smile through frustration and people please with the best of ’em, but typically I’m an open book.

While I anticipated that this blog would center around my favorite products, experiences in renovating and styling our home, parties that I love to host, my career, parenting and pretty little life details, it’s taken an additional path that probably shouldn’t have been much of a surprise. Life isn’t always full of fab details and it’s much more than just the outward appearance of things being polished. There’s always something beautiful in the mundane or simple, even if it’s just gratitude for being in that moment and being alive.

Since starting this blog a few months ago, it has helped to keep me accountable in my goals, like being nicer to myself or the constant struggle for work/life balance. The pretty things should have their moment in the sun, sure, but digging deeper is what makes life rich. I’m always looking to make things better, with my life, my family’s experience, my home and my career. Be it broad, I guess that’s my blogging direction; constantly growing and improving. Writing about more introspective topics or taking an unglamorous yet honest tone has been cathartic and now that I’m seeing how this is developing, I want to stay true to that.

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Currently.

What types of posts would you like to see more of??

xoxo

go the **** to sleep

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How did I not know about this giraffe sooner?? We haven’t ever been successful with a formal sleep training program and “cry it out” has never worked for our kiddos – they just escalate and get even more hysterical.

Henry was a not-so-great sleeper until somewhere around 11ish months and then it just clicked. He’s been an amazing sleeper ever since and he regularly goes down with a routine that’s less than 5 minutes long and stays asleep for 11-12 hours. So, with Graham, I committed myself to the idea that it would just click at some point as we got closer to his first birthday. Fast forward 15 months and he was still waking in the middle of the night and never able to get himself back down. Every. Single. Night. That was until about 6 weeks ago when this little magic giraffe arrived. I randomly snagged it during an Amazon haul and OMG. Game changer!!!

You squeeze his belly and he plays classical music for about 20 minutes with a soft glow that lasts about 5 minutes. {I definitely haven’t timed it, so these are just estimates.} It has made going to bed for both naps and night time a breeze, and when he wakes in the middle of the night, he’ll give the giraffe a nudge to start the music and soothe himself back to sleep! {Full disclosure: he still needs a snuggle to get back down every so often, but this is a MAJOR improvement.} Another big change is that he is not consistently waking every night, anymore – he’s staying down for 12 hours more often than not. It might be that it just started to click around the same time we got the giraffe, but the giraffe could also deserve the credit!

I’ve read several sleep books and articles and I know that you’re not supposed to give babies a “sleep crutch.” HOWEVER, when you’re in the trenches of exhaustion and on the brink of insanity, it’s easy to gloss over what you’re supposed to do in lieu of finding something that just works.

What works for us is this formula: binky, blankie, white noise machine on the ocean setting and the giraffe, making sure that we get him down pretty early (6/6:30) so he doesn’t get overtired. And hallelujah, we are now slightly more rested!

Wishing everyone a well-rested weekend!!

xoxo

epic deviled eggs, mimosa punch & traditions

Our first formal hosting of Easter festivities was brought to you by family traditions, Costco and Target. I love hosting family occasions. I mean, I love love love it. I get excited about building new traditions, revisiting some of my favorites from childhood, breaking out pretty dinnerware, menu planning and just the general warm and fuzzies that come from having our house full of loved ones.

Which brings me to this past weekend’s Easter celebration. We made a weekend out of it. On Saturday, we did our weekly trip to Costco to pick up the household essentials and special items for hosting the following day. {How much wine and champagne is a reasonable amount of booze for Easter Sunday??} And then we came home and dyed eggs for the first time with Henry, while Graham napped. I know, I know; we probably should have done this before age 4, but we just never got around to it before now.

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Easter Egg Prettiness

I’m a big fan of the way this ombré egg turned out. I haven’t dyed eggs in about 20 years, so I forgot how easy this technique is. Next year, forget the stickers and wax crayons. This was by far the prettiest of the dozen.

After the kiddos went to bed, the Easter Bunny was in full prep mode. While stuffing plastic eggs with all sorts of candy for the hunt, I realized that when Henry was Graham’s age, I micromanaged his Easter Egg content so carefully – only cheddar bunnies and organic mini cookies. Not this year. We went full monty with super processed bunny shaped colorful marshmallows, chocolate, jellybeans; the good stuff. Life is too short. I went a little overboard in the Tar-Jay Easter department and just the store in general. It’s amazing how fast inexpensive items add up!!

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About a quarter of the goods.

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Go get that super processed, inorganic sugar, G. Get it.

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Loved this little chalkboard sign from Target!

This was Henry’s first outdoor Easter Egg Hunt – they’ve only been minimal and indoors until now. One of my favorite childhood traditions is when my we would do a big outdoor hunt with most of my cousins. Maybe in’s because he’s a little older now, but there’s something about the outdoor element that came with more excitement and anticipation than our indoor hunts of the past couple of years. We were able to easily hold off the boys from going after the eggs by just not opening the doors. Win for the backyard!

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Mixed heirloom vintage dinnerware.

I’m all over any excuse I have to break out my Grandma Jayne’s Wedgwood and some of the heirloom vintage stemware I’ve inherited. {I have more vintage stemware than is remotely reasonable.}

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Mimosa Punch

For bevvies, I wanted something with bubbles, so I threw together some things that sounded like they’d be a good combo and landed on this yummy mimosa punch! I’m terrible with measurements, so if you want a “wing it” kind of cocktail recipe for brunch, try this!

  • 1 Bottle of Champagne or Prosecco {we went with a $6.99 bottle of Kirkland Prosecco}
  • Approx 3 cups of peach-mango juice, to taste {Again, from Costco}
  • Approx 1 cup of pineapple juice, to taste {Costco, of course}
  • Frozen mixed fruit as needed for garnish, flavor and chilling {Yep, from Costco!}
  • Stir, pour, add more bubbles if you want, cheers!
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Epic Deviled Eggs

Without further ado, here are my upgraded deviled eggs. My sister-in-law actually said that they were the best deviled eggs she’s ever had. Commence patting myself on the back, even more than when I tasted this goodness while playing around with the ingredients.

  • Half a dozen eggs – once cut in half, this will yield a dozen deviled eggs. {If you’re like me, boil a full dozen so you have extra and room to mess up.}
  • 4 tbsp mayo {for 6 eggs}
  • 1 tbsp dijon mustard {for 6 eggs}
  • 3-4 pieces of bacon {crispy and chopped}
    • Bacon prep tip! If you haven’t tried cooking bacon on a cookie sheet in the oven, try it. Put parchment paper or foil down into a rimmed baking sheet, then place the bacon on top. Easy peasy clean up and no splatters around the stovetop.}
  • 2 tbsp chives {chopped}
  • 1-2 tbsp white or black truffle oil {to taste}
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • A few pinches of black truffle salt as garnish
  • 1 Ziplock bag or piping bag

TIP! When peeling your eggs, add some salt to the water. Keep the egg fully submerged in the salt water as you peel. This should help the shell come off more easily. {Also, don’t put the egg shells down the garbage disposal. Oops!!!}

Cut the eggs in half and scoop the yolks into a bowl. Mash with a fork, back of a spoon, or use a mini food processor. Blend mashed yolks with all other ingredients, setting aside some bacon crumbles and chives for garnish. Taste test the mixture and add the appropriate amounts of salt, pepper and truffle oil as needed.

Put all of this yumminess into a Ziplock bag or piping bag if you’re fancy. Cut the corner of your ziplock bag and pipe the mixture into the egg white. Top with bacon, chives and a tiny pinch of truffle salt.

Serve them on a wooden cheese board for a bit more traction or snag an egg platter like this.

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If you don’t love deviled eggs, give these a try. Mind blown.

Hope your next family get together or brunch with friends is full of yumminess and warm and fuzzies.

xoxo

storage upgrade: new pantry reveal

When you buy a house, you can be so blinded by charm and character that you overlook little things that ultimately can turn into very big things. For us, that would be the pantry. Our kitchen is large and there is tons of cabinet space, so coming from a two bedroom condo in the city, we were wowed by the amount of storage we’d be gaining with a move to the burbs. But the pantry. Dear Lord. I did the best I could to make it functional but anyone who knows me has likely heard me bitch about this skinny ass, inefficient, sad excuse for a pantry.

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This pic gives me anxiety. Organizing a broom-closet-turned-pantry is next to impossible.

We have yet to delve into a major kitchen overhaul, but when we decided to build an addition for a mudroom, we took advantage of that project and included new storage solutions, including a pantry. Someday we’ll get around to giving our kitchen a facelift, but now we can just skip right over that tiny joke of a pantry and head around the corner to the new space!

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What used to be part of our garage. The space started to take shape with two separate pantries and an alcove for an auxiliary fridge. {i.e. the beer fridge}

The original idea was to have one larger walk in pantry, with double doors and wrap around shelving. We ultimately decided to break it up into two separate spaces so we could have one area to house bulk Costco items, the vacuum, broom, etc. while the other space would be the food pantry.

I began plotting the organization strategy long before construction was complete, but the current version is the result of many iterations, after seeing what worked the best as we lived with it. I looooove organizing pretty much anything, so this organization project was a dream for me! I’ve titled my organization board on Pinterest, “OCD” because, if the shoe fits.

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Organizing: it has to get ugly before it gets pretty.

For me, when I get any space organized, I start by pulling everything out and spreading it all over the floor, so I can get a clear vision of what I’m working with. The right containers are essential in any organized space. Containers buy you more real estate on your shelves so that you can ultimately fit everything nicely, but moreover, they help keep like items together.

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Pantry Organization = Happiness

For organizing this space, I utilized items that I already had and made a couple of trips to Target. We don’t live near a Container Store anymore, which is probably for the better, because I would have spent a small fortune with all of the OCD candy that is happening in that place. From The Container Store, we already had these canisters, this shelf organizer, and a stacking basket similar to this. I grabbed all of the random, unutilized baskets around the house and put them to work. From there, it was off to Tar-Jay!

On the left side of top shelf, you’ll see this jar peeking out from around the corner. This is the perfect spot for fruit snacks, suckers and other kiddo sweets.

I discovered that these wooden chalkboard milk crates in both large and small are perfect for a pantry. They conceal less-than-cute packaging, multiply available surface area and make labelling super easy.

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I’ve been back a few times for more and more of these canisters in multiple sizes. They are great for pasta, nuts, raisins, you name it. They’re also great for breaking down all of those huge items from Costco. {I’m looking at you, 20 pound bag of rice.}

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One cannot have too much storage, IMO.

Our love for Costco runs deep. I realize just how suburban this fact is, but we definitely do the bulk of our shopping there now and it saves us a lot of money overall. Did you know that Costco brought in more revenue last year in organic items than Whole Foods? We call this the “Costco Closet” and rightly so: bulk paper products, bulk canned goods, extra items to fill pantry canisters, the totally ridiculous barrel of pretzels the hubs just came home with, etc. This is also where our steamer mop, broom and vacuum live, along with the recycling bin and reusable grocery bags.

These wire milk crates, in different sizes, are great for keeping some of those items contained.

I love this little storage tip for canned goods, so listen up! Take a desktop file basket, like this, and pop the cans in on their sides. Labels are still visible yet it’s much more concise than keeping them in the original bulk boxes.

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And there you have it! I’d love to swap out the light fixture in the pantry to something a little prettier, perhaps with a pull string instead of the switch that’s on the opposite side of the door opening. {Logistically, that’s the only place the switch could have gone, but it’s not exactly convenient.} I have a few other tweaks on my list, like adding some additional shelving, paint and wallpaper, but even without those touches, this space makes me super happy!

xoxo

the other side of the filter: my girls

 

tribeDo you ever look at social media and feel like your life isn’t as pulled together or as beautiful as it should be? I love a pretty Instagram post as much as the next gal, but sometimes I start to look at my surroundings and question myself. I’m sure that I’m guilty of the humble brag and putting perfection-panic inducing material out there, but I think we could all use a little more honesty. With honesty and substance, we build each other up, rather than focusing on a heavily filtered highlight reel, that ultimately makes others feel less than amazing about their own lives.

There are those people in your life who remind you to embrace and appreciate your own imperfections, that those are the things that make you beautifully human. Because perfection really isn’t a thing; it’s just some lofty ideal that no one can ever attain and constantly reaching can be exhausting and sometimes demoralizing. Over the last several years, I have learned to do some filtering of a different kind: I have stepped away from the negative voices and now make a conscious effort to surround myself with people who exude love and support.

I have incredible women in my life and in honor of International Women’s Day this week, they are my highlight reel. These are my people.

 

COLLEAGUES 

The wedding industry is filled with a high percentage of women and I am lucky to work so closely with colleagues whom I have admired for years. Our industry, on a whole, is one of support rather than competition. In a time when it’s still not uncommon hear stories from working mothers who have been discounted in the workplace or have not been able to take a reasonable amount of time after giving birth or adopting, I think that sometimes women can be toughest on each other. In my colleagues, I have found nothing by the strongest of supporters as I navigate the complexity of working motherhood. Through an unshakable camaraderie, they give me strength to tackle challenges, however insurmountable they may seem. They inspire me to have even bigger dreams, to think outside of the box and to set lofty goals. With them, I believe that anything is possible and feel a sense of pride and drive to leave my mark. They are more than just colleagues, they are friends, family.

 

FRIENDS

 

My friends don’t fit into one tight little group and I couldn’t possibly upload photos of all of them, or it would take up this entire post! They are scattered throughout close individual relationships and a few different clusters. Some I have known since childhood, others I have only just recently met and some I used to rely on heavily as mentors and now count as friends. There seems to be an ebb and flow with friendships and you may go months or even years without connecting, but you can still pick up just where you left off. My friends are moms, students, teachers, scientists, designers, volunteers, entrepreneurs, marketers, musicians, artists, foodies, yogis and more. Some of them can check many of these boxes all at the same time! As different as they all are, they carry similar qualities and have had a profound impact on my life. They are therapists {well, only one is technically a therapist!} and they always seem to know the right thing to say to help pull me out of a rut. They are confidants and keepers of my embarrassing moments, my heartbreaks and my insecurities. They inspire me to make the world better and they shape the way I parent. They love me as I am, which helps me love myself. Friends are the family you choose.

 

SISTERS

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I grew up with one younger sister – just the two of us. Marrying my husband gave me two more sisters, and for all intents and purposes, another sister who is technically a cousin. There’s something about growing up with a sister that holds a steadfast bond, even if the tides take you in different directions. You may have memories of intense conflict over stealing borrowing clothing, but right next to those memories are ones of inside jokes and sidesplitting laughter. Your sisters are there for you when you need them and in an instant, they’ll swoop in with a meal or help take care of your kiddos. You are connected to your sisters in a special way; your heartbreaks are their heartbreaks and your joy is their joy. Your history is shared and your lives are intertwined. Sisters are all about honesty, even if the honesty is brutal, you’re stuck with each other!

 

MOTHERS 

Mothers are everything. They are support systems, cheerleaders, confidants, advice givers, hand holders and beyond. I have three of these special ladies in my life: my mother-in-law, my stepmom, and of course, the incomparable original. My mother-in-law is the whole village in the phrase, it takes a village. Living nearby, she is a constant presence taking care of my children and taking care of our family in general. I would not have gotten through my last pregnancy and 12 weeks of bed rest without her. She is truly an extension of our parenting system. Now, stepmom is a word I only recently started using and I think it’s one that she’s only recently been comfortable hearing and using herself. But over the last ten years since they’ve been married, she has become so much more than just someone who makes my dad happy. She is my friend, my foodie resource and a mentor. It’s hard to find the right words to describe it, but she occupies a space in my heart that didn’t feel empty before, but now feels complete.

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And then there’s my mom. Where do I begin? How do I put into words what my mom is to me. My mom is my best friend. We talk multiple times a day and she is my go-to for just about any question I might have. I have a respect for her that cannot be matched, even when both of our strong-willed personalities butt heads. She has walked a path that was far from easy: as a woman working in a scientific field rampant with misogyny, a single mother jumping through fire for her daughters, a woman with an open heart and mind challenging those with closed minds, just trying to make a difference. She loves my children as if they are her own and spoils them like any good grandparent would do! She has set a lifelong example of the importance of character and compassion. Though we are very different in many ways, she has influenced me beyond measure.

The women in my life have all impacted the woman that I am and hope to be. It’s so important to build each other up because we women are fierce and we can move mountains together. When we support each other and drop the pretense, we are ultimately making our own lives richer.

xoxo

surround yourself

uncomfortable issues: bias, privilege & quiet racism

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Privilege does NOT mean that you haven’t had to work hard to get where you are or that it’s been an easy road. It also doesn’t mean that you are racist. Via.

This isn’t a direction that I pictured taking my blog, but there has been something weighing heavily for me lately and I feel like I need to write about it.

I think Chris Rock made an excellent point in his opening monologue at The Academy Awards, that I can relate to my own environment: Hollywood isn’t “burning-cross racist” or “fetch-me-some-lemonade racist” and neither is my world. But passive, marginalizing comments are too frequent. There are lots of marginalized people, but what I have seen in my news feed lately and the casual statements I’ve heard are specifically toward African-Americans. I’ve seen Facebook debates over the “offensiveness” of Beyoncé’s Formation video and Super Bowl performance; debates over the validity of the #blacklivesmatter movement; debates over the second consecutive Oscar whiteout; debates over whether or not we are living in a post-racial world. The fact that these debates are taking place at all illustrates that we are most definitely not living in post-racial society. 

All of this has me thinking a lot about the types of things that will influence my two young kiddos. I can’t handle the idea of them growing up to become adults who perpetuate this status quo. As a parent to two white boys, how do I begin to make sure that they are raised in a mindful way? Mindful of their inherent privilege and the dynamics within our society and history. Mindful so that they can be part of change. This keeps me up at night. I find myself bringing this issue up in conversation a lot lately. I don’t know why I keep broaching a subject that makes people so uncomfortable, but I think it’s because I’m searching for the light in a dark room.

The reality of inequality, privilege, bias and prejudice is an uncomfortable reality for my fellow white folks. The way I see it, there are two ways that we can process that discomfort: 1. We can pretend the issue is not there because it doesn’t have a direct negative impact on our lives. OR 2. We can acknowledge it and be part of the change. As ugly as a truth as it is, if we default to choice #1 then we are part of the problem. Choice #1 just perpetuates the situation, but it’s the easy choice; it doesn’t ruffle any feathers. As I write this, I’m not sure if I’ll hit the publish button for that very reason.

Upworthy posted an great piece regarding two sets of white girls who were given black dolls. The original video that spawned the article is quite disturbing and eye opening about just how early children pick up on racial bias and unfortunately, I’ve seen it first hand. These children will grow up to be adults that will perpetuate these issues and this type of climate we’re living in now. A mom and blogger with Rage Against The Minivan also posted a response video to the original, featuring her two daughters and their dolls. The fallout is heartbreaking.

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Me with my bestie, Harmony Anna, posing for our formal Olin Mills family photos. This picture has been the cause of many a snicker over the years. Apparently it’s hilarious that my favorite doll was not white.

I know a little girl who was in a store and picked out a doll, a black doll, and an adult with her put the doll back on the shelf and replaced it with a white one. A few years later, that same little girl was playing a game of Guess Who and she commented on not liking any of the “brown faces.” This story shatters me. My oldest little guy is at the age where he is picking up on everything, even nuance, and I know that these observations will shape the person he grows into. It’s our job, as parents, to be aware of any kind of influence in our children’s environment, especially our own influence of modeling behavior. I want my sons to be the type of people who will stick up for the kid being bullied at school or fight for causes that aren’t necessarily their own.

I believe people tend to approach things with negativity when it’s something they don’t understand or can’t relate to. So, if the latest from Beyoncé and her dancers makes you feel offended or uncomfortable, shouldn’t you consider WHY you are offended and uncomfortable? Is it possible that she is acknowledging a societal reality that has not impacted you a negative way, so it’s just not a reality that you can imagine? Is it because when faced with these realities, we white people, have to think about how the structure of society has benefitted us? It’s uncomfortable. It’s icky. But it’s also just fact. I’ve learned that there is still a lot of confusion about our nation’s history and questions about why racial tension is still a talking point.

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Putting things into perspective.

I heard a great explanation of the #blacklivesmatter movement, in relation to people responding with #alllivesmatter. The Black Lives Matter movement isn’t saying that black lives are more important than any other lives, it is just calling attention to a specific issue; much like going to a fundraiser for breast cancer awareness. Responding with all lives matter would be like going to that breast cancer event and proclaiming that all cancer matters. That would be ridiculous. This movement doesn’t diminish white lives or Asian lives or Hispanic lives. It is just calling attention to a very specific plight of a group of our fellow citizens who continue to be marginalized, treated unfairly and even killed.

Regarding the Academy Awards: A few friends have mentioned confusion at the dust storm surrounding the whiteout. More than one friend stated that the roles are just not there, to which I suggested this read that points out notable times the roles have been there and have still gone to white actors. The Economist noted that a “statistical glitch” leading to a whiteout would be “hugely unlikely.”

“The chances of no single person of colour being nominated across two ceremonies would be exceptionally small—even during a 15-year span, the odds of seeing at least one sequence of back-to-back whiteouts are around one in 100,000.”

– The Economist

 

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It’s easy to look the other way, but once you start paying attention, it becomes a screaming chorus of disturbing beliefs and comments. You might not see burning crosses, but even just hearing the words THEY and THEM is unsettling, as though anything other is unsavory.

I’m certainly not an expert in this subject and I don’t have a solution. I have more questions than answers, but I think that acknowledging the issue(s) and not being okay with the status quo is a good start. I just want to do right by others and most importantly, do right by my children. I want to raise them to be the light in a dark room.

 

 

Good Reads:

Chicago Now: Talking about race with young children

Do Something: Important facts

Rage Against The Minivan: White privilege

More Rage Against The Minivan: 7 action steps

 

 

when are you going to try for a girl??

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My little men.

Thank you for your interest, clerk at the grocery store/lady behind me in line at Target/valet attendant/schmoozer at an event/friend, but why is this still a question people ask?? I am a #boymom and for some reason, the most common question launched my direction is if I want a girl or when are we going to try for a girl. I don’t even know where to begin with this. One of my friends and fellow boy mom, told me about an acquaintance who asked, “What? You didn’t want a girl?” To which, she responded, “Oh! I didn’t know you could choose!” Brilliant.

When I was pregnant with my second baby boy, I just looooooved the people who responded to the news in disappointment. I mean, I was still pregnant and there was a clear pattern of audible let down from would-be-well-wishers. 

IF my husband and I decide to have another baby it would be only because we want a bigger family and not because we are holding out hope for a girl. My last pregnancy was a bit rough, complete with 12 weeks of bed rest. As much as we would love to have a big chaotic family buzzing around the house and though we have envisioned having three children for years, I don’t know if I’m ready to sign up for another tricky pregnancy again. Pregnancy issues aside, the years of the littles are tough and we are in the thick of it. We’re finally starting to feel slightly less sleep deprived and that we have a good system going, but some days we still feel like we’re barely treading water. If we were to add another baby to the mix, would we be ready? So, if we do go down the road of trying to have a third, it will be a well thought out decision and NOT a whim for the possibility of having a girl. 

For as long as I can remember, I’ve always dreamed about being a mom. I even made a book of my future family, by cutting out pictures from catalogs and then writing a story of my life as an adult. {I would have a daughter named Stephani – HELLO 90’s! – and then I’d get divorced and remarried and have twins, Molly and Peter. AHMAZING!} Truth be told, I have always pictured having a daughter. I grew up with just one sister, my cousins are mostly girls and my mom is one of four sisters – women rule the roost in our family, so I hadn’t ever pictured not having a daughter. But, my motherhood reality is that I have two sons; two loving, snuggly, funny, happy, healthy BOYS and my heart is full.

After over a year of struggling to get and stay pregnant, learning that my first baby was a boy was neither here nor there. We were just thrilled to have a healthy pregnancy. Following a miscarriage, we had that same feeling of gratitude when we found out that there was another healthy baby boy on the way. This time there was also a sense of understanding that we are officially a boy family and I am a boy mom. There has definitely been a process of letting go of the idea of having a frizzy-haired mini-me, running across a ballet studio, but in no way have I ever felt disappointment. Sure, it would be great to have the experience raising “one of each” but at the end of the day, for us, that’s not a reason to have more kids. Even if we do try for another, who’s to say it wouldn’t be a third boy? If a third baby happens, I can guarantee you that it would be because we want another child. 

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Frizzy-haired me, running across a ballet studio; circa mid-80’s.

So, back to the question at hand: how are these types of inquiries and comments still a thing? Don’t we all know better? Maybe that boy mom isn’t pining for a daughter and she is just happy to be a mom, period. But maybe she is still holding out hope for a daughter and your comment is salt in the wound because it’s not something she can control. Or perhaps that mama has lost a daughter. I just recently learned that a family we know with three boys, actually had a girl first who passed away as a baby. At the very least, the “you need to try for a girl!” comments are silly and uninformed. At their worst, they are hurtful.

Some days our family feels complete and perfect just the way it is. Some days we daydream about having another little one. {Usually those are the days when the kiddos are remarkably well-behaved and we are well-rested!} When thinking about my dreams for our family, I think about the closing scene in the tv show, Parenthood. Zeek and Camille take a step back, looking at their four grown children and grandchildren, all interacting with each other, in a sea of voices and commotion and they say to each other, “We did good.” I want that. So whether the “we did good” feeling comes from having two boys or a bigger family, it certainly isn’t continent upon having a daughter. I just want a family full of love and I feel beyond thankful to have two little boys that fill my heart with joy. 

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I couldn’t ask for more.

essentials for the kiddo commuting circus

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Our last city outing with the kiddos at Christmas. Santa and Zoo Lights!

I love living out on the furthest edge of the burbs. I love the stars, open spaces, the quiet, the deer in our yard and the homey vibe. Being out here makes my small town heart happy and it’s definitely where my country boy hubby and I feel the most centered. But, after living in Chicago for more than 10 years, I became a bit of a city girl and still work in the city twice a week.

We’ve been bringing both boys into the city since they were tiny because we don’t want it to feel like a novelty for them. It can be intense, but sometimes it’s a necessity thanks to our ever-changing schedule and hodgepodge childcare situation. We are super lucky to have someone who is more of an “auntie” than a babysitter, who will open her apartment to hang with our boys while I’m in meetings. After I’m done with work, I scoop them up and we have family time before heading home. {Bonus: we avoid rush hour!}

This week, the boys are going into the city with me for the first time since December. I’m feeling a little anxious because it’s been a while, so it got me thinking about all of the things I need to pack. I’ve tried to whittle down all of the items so that there’s the least amount of schlepping possible. We used to bring 837 bags: kiddo bag, diaper bag, cooler for food and milk, my handbag, my computer bag and my breast pump bag. I’ve been able to eliminate the pump bag and diaper bag and by upgrading to a larger kiddo bag, I can fit everything we need in there. It’s still a bit of a circus though!

Thus, I present our Essentials for the Kiddo Commuting Circus!

 

commuting must haves

1 – The stroller is key. We need something that holds both kiddos side by side, because our 4-year-old is in the 90th percentile for height and weight, so the tandem strollers don’t work for him. We also wanted a stroller that collapses easily and has a small footprint when it’s folded for easy travel. We landed on the City Mini GT, by Baby Jogger. {On sale now!} I love how it goes through doorways easily and has a great turning radius. The only down side is that the pocket under the seats isn’t as large and easily accessible as I am used to with our UppaBaby Vista. We still use our Vista a lot, as a single stroller with the PiggyBack attachment but the City Mini GT is better longer hauls or if we want to make sure that both boys are strapped in.

2 – Lovies. Our boys have both grown quite attached to very specific Aden + Anais swaddle blankets. The Silky Soft Swaddles are dreamy to snuggle with, so I don’t blame them for having a preference! They both have the regular Aden + Anais blankets, but they have a clear preference and have been known to completely freak out if they are in the laundry.

3 – Baby G loves his WubbaNubs. These are great because he can find it easily on his own at night or in his car seat. Can’t leave home without them.

4 – This wet bag was an impulse purchase, but it’s gotten a lot of mileage. It’s great for dirty clothes, especially if they’ve been spilled on, so it keeps the mess contained. It’s also a good size, so our city sitter can throw some diapers and wipes into it for outings without lugging an entire diaper bag around. I love things that can pull double duty!

5 – I love this little bento box! It’s great to pack snacks or lunch for the kiddos. I do usually send something else in addition to this, like a sandwich or something, but this is a concise way to pack small bites.

6 – We have tried a million sippy cups in our 3 years living in sippy cup land and these are the two clear favorites. We have several Nalgene water bottles for the 4-year-old and the 1-year-old will graduate to one shortly. In the meantime, we’ve found that this Avent penguin sippy is the easiest for him to hold onto but also doesn’t spill. He has one sippy that looks cool, but it’s essentially a milk paint brush. Awesome.

7 – While big brother isn’t interested in pouches anymore, they are a daily staple for little brother. Even more so when we’re on the go! We love Ella’s Kitchen.

8 – While we try to keep it simple with the big gear, we always miss it when we forget to bring our lobster claw phil&teds seat. We thought we’d use this more for restaurants, but it’s most helpful when we go to other people’s houses, because usually high chairs are not as readily accessible.

9 – A great bag to tote all of this stuff is an absolute must. I love these bags from Lands End. I’ll be stuffing this bag with all of the above plus these odds and ends…

  • Winter outdoor accessories to bundle up on walks.
  • A change of clothes for each, just in case.
  • A pair of pajamas for each, so we can get them bed-time ready before the drive home. {If you’re looking for a fun, family bonding activity, try changing two wiggly kids into their pj’s after dinner, in your car. Favorite.}
  • Enough diapers and then some.
  • Wipes, Aquaphor, Etc.
  • Food for lunch and snack, plus extra snacks for the car to keep the peace.
  • Little people utensils along with the sippy cups.
  • A bottle of wine for mommy, to help recover from the whole process. {If you don’t know me, this one is obviously a joke, although not my worst idea! I mean, the hubs will be driving home!}

xoxo

winter skincare overhaul 

 

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My new skincare must haves.

I have a new skincare jam! Being the product junkie that I am, I have to spread the gospel. I have super dry and sensitive skin and it has been misbehaving for the better part of the last year, but things are finally in check!

On one side of my extended family, the women outnumber the men by almost double. We ladies have a lot in common: our laughs, our smiles, our voices that carry, and our deep-rooted love for beauty products. So, maybe it’s part of my DNA, but I have a bathroom cabinet filled to the brim with scores from Sephora. I had a stint working in skincare with the cosmetics department at Nordstrom. I don’t claim to be an esthetician, but I will say that my product habit, paired with that hot Nordstrom minute have helped me to understand my skin and how to care for it.

Rewind to my postpartum skin last year. Dry, angry and reactive to just about anything I put on it, even just simple vitamin e oil. I had this stubborn irritation that popped up in April that I initially attributed to stress acne, but acne treatments just caused it to flare up even more. I was never able to diagnose it, even after a few visits with different doctors, skincare consultations and prescription topical creams. We ruled lots of things out, but never identified the culprit. When I wasn’t focused on battling this angry skin situation, my face still just looked dull and my wrinkles/fine lines seemed to be more pronounced. I stressed for months and simplified everything to try to keep my face from waging war against me. The irritation finally cleared up around September/October, thanks to cortisone. Since then, I’ve slowly added things back in and built a new skincare routine, piece by piece. After all that, I’ll be damned if I stray from this lineup anytime soon!

Fresh Soy Cleanser

Soy Face Cleanser, by Fresh

Cleanse: This cleanser by Fresh was one of the first things that really calmed down my skin this past summer. I think the cleanser I had been using had grown too harsh with my changing skin. This is so soothing and gentle and it also removes makeup, easy peasy. In the mornings, I use this cleanser along with my Clarisonic cleansing brush with the radiance brush heads. {Although, I do have my eye on a new cleansing ‘brush’ that I’m planning on snagging in the near future – stay tuned!}

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Flashmud, by GLAMGLOW

Exfoliate: I’ve mentioned this mask before and I will sing its praises again! I use this guy 2-ish times a week. Once a week, I’ll use one of its sister masks that deeply cleanses pores. I always multitask when I’m doing a mask, because who has time to just sit and meditate for 15 minutes?? Lately, I’ll throw it on as I’m getting ready to jump in the shower and then rinse it off at the end and there seems to be something good happening with the steam from the shower. Full disclosure: showering does not happen daily, because #momlife. Sometimes I only get to do a mask once on the weekends and skip the weekdays completely, but when that I happens there is a noticeable difference in the way my skin looks and feels.

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Rose Water, by Poppy Austin

Tone: I’ve recently fallen hard for rose water. It’s super hydrating and I love the scent. I’ve been using this straight up rose water toner lately but I also love this one that is blended with healing witch hazel and hydrating vitamin e. The big thing I’ve learned with toner is to be sure that it is alcohol free.

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Truth Serum, by Ole Henriksen

Serum: We need to talk about the magic that is this vitamin c serum by Ole Henriksen. {Pronounced Ooh-la.} The texture is perfect and vitamin c is known for protecting the skin from irritants in the environment and also brightens. I use this guy only in the mornings and another Ole serum at nights. What I like about the night serum is that unlike retinol, it’s safe to use when you’re pregnant or nursing and I just stopped nursing within the last week. I am officially hooked on this line and can’t wait to try out more!

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Sheer Transformation, by Ole Henriksen

Moisturize: Did I mention I have crazy dry skin? Another goodie from Ole Henriksen, this moisturizer by totally does the trick without feeling heavy or greasy. I also love that it doesn’t have any ingredients that react to my tinted moisturizer when I’m doing my makeup. {Ever notice tiny balls beading up when you’re blending makeup? That’s a reaction between ingredients in your moisturizer and your foundation/tinted moisturizer/bb/cc.} I use this morning and night, and just switch up my serum. I need to mention that you don’t have to have aging, dry skin for this moisturizer to be worth a shot – our nanny, Young Mary Poppins, actually introduced me to this and is using it herself. We both are newly converted groupies for Ole, even though there’s a 12 year age difference between us.

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Benefiance Wrinkle Resist 24, by Shiseido

Eyes: This eye cream is my new winter staple. I have a feeling it will feel like too much in the summer, but it has totally hit the spot like I’ve never experienced before in an eye cream. It’s really rich and ultra hydrating. I haven’t had a problem with using concealer or other makeup on top of it. It is a heavier consistency, so I tread lightly with the application and I lightly swipe, even though I know you’re supposed to tap. I have been using it for about 3 weeks now and I’m already noticing a difference in the lines around my eyes, I believe that is due to finally getting a solid level of hydration that really penetrates rather than just sitting on top.

All of this takes less than 5 minutes, after I rinse the exfoliating mask.

When it comes to makeup, I have a dirty little secret: I keep my makeup bag in the console of my car and just throw it on at red lights or in the drive through lane at Starbucks. My poor vanity desk isnt getting any love these days! My makeup bag lives in the car because again, #momlife and I would have to move the pile of clothes off my vanity chair even if I did want to be civilized about my makeup application. But the great news is, lately I’ve been skipping makeup altogether, save for some mascara and lip gloss!

What skincare products do you swear by?

xoxo