Category Archives: life

Reality Check

 

 

IMG_1053I have an alter ego. When I’m having a particularly “mom jeans” day — you know one of those days where you’re covered in kid goo, pushing the stroller of screaming children uphill (both ways!) and can’t remember my last shower — i think about her. She splits her time between London and Italy. She has a high powered job that doesn’t require her to work that hard. She has a gorgeous, shiny apartment full of glass, breakable objects, and white suede couches. Her closet is to die for. She always looks amazing… And uh, no kids, no husband! Just gallery openings, sipping Negronis in outdoor cafes, and parties with friends for that girl.

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Judge me if you wish, but I actually find this fantasy to be an entertaining bit of therapy some days (c’mon it’s no worse than being a little too caught up in a romantic comedy and don’t tell me you haven’t been there). I’m never going to be going about my day in stilettos and the latest runway designer fashion but dreaming about it does the trick.

Lately, I’ve been thinking about other ways to trick myself when it comes to fashion. Again, reality check, there’s a lot of beautiful clothes out there that just don’t make sense for the lifestyle of a toddler mom. But that doesn’t mean I can’t enjoy my latest fashion obsessions.

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When it comes to  fringe for example, there’s a lot of fringe to be found. I love these Aquazzura boots. They’re amazing right? My alter ego is wearing them on the private jet to Gstaad. Those boots have no place in my life. These Sam Edelman ones however are a lot easier to run around in, they work with (mom) jeans, and they don’t have an overly precious price tag that would prevent me from taking them to the playground.

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Ulla Johnson is a designer I look forward to each season and one who has yet to find a hanger in my closet. Her clothes are so pretty and evoke a carefree, designer hippie vibe that I love. This dress would be so pretty for fall — an evening perched at the bar in some hipster restaurant. Alas, I really don’t need another expensive dress that I only wear on nights out. The same color paired with some metal accents is another story. A cozy burgundy sweater or even a simple tee with some gold earrings or a necklace (love Madewell’s budget and kid friendly options) is a look I can pull off every day. The jumpsuit isn’t the same investment as the dress and would be a killer evening look with earrings and heels. Or daytime with boots and a cozy cardigan.

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I’m not a huge fan of knock offs and fast fashion (someday I’ll write a post on that) but occasionally I’ll find a piece I can’t resist. The original Isabel Marant sweater is amazing and not something anyone wants to wear around sticky hands. This Topshop knockoff allows you to wear the look and not worry about what your day/child throws at it.

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Flats people! I love wearing heels. It’s such an easy way to feel polished and chic and womanly. It’s also an easy way to feel overdressed, uncomfortable, or… slow. Even when I’m just going out with my husband, we’re so often walking places or I’m standing at a cocktail party. Or it’s a family friendly holiday party and I end up with a baby on my hip all evening. You don’t regret flats. Especially if they’re sparkly and gorgeous and fun. You can wear them with jeans and a sweater on Christmas morning or to a fancy wedding. Regardless, you’re guaranteed to feel festive and comfortable and smart.

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Clockwise from the pom-poms: Topshop velvet pompom,  JCrew snow leopard,  Loeffler Randall blue snakeskin,  Chiara Ferragni Winking FlatsSophia Webster butterfly,  Loeffler Randall Leopard Lace UpsJCrew tartanNordstrom glitter mary janeBoden embellished velvet (image from Instagram).

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My final word of advice. Get a new scarf. Am I the only one who wants a new scarf every fall? Scarves are such a simple way to feel fresh and current and every year I find one that feels exactly right. I throw it on with everything and anything and feel pulled together and cool and whatever else I need to feel that day. And the great thing about scarves is there are so many to choose from. Whether you’re after a fresh tartan, a touch of fur, some more fringe and boho, there’s a scarf out there for it.

Top row: Modcloth Chunky Knit, Block Shop Printed, Eribe Fair Isle. Second row:JCrew Buffalo Check, Matta Pom-Pom Trim, Zara Faux Fur Third row: Boden Giant Pom-pom, Zara Plaid, JCrew Bright Tartan

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European Vacation

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We took a trip to Europe earlier this summer. It was a little crazy to be traveling so far away with two toddlers but it ended up being a wonderful trip. We lived in London many years ago now but are still close with our best friends from that time — the bulk of our trip was spent with them. Being with locals really made the trip work for us as there were so many daily decisions that we didn’t have to worry about. For the part of the trip where we weren’t with our friends, we were with my husband’s parents so our kids were outnumbered. In other words, we weren’t crazy enough to go traipsing across the continent just us and our toddlers!

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We started with a couple days layover on the East Coast, something that I think helped immensely with jet lag. And, we had to meet up with the grandparents for our international flight to London! Our overnight flight was quick and smooth though the adults didn’t sleep nearly as well as our Benedryled children (we tried it ahead of time to make sure they didn’t get jazzed)  We spent five days in London — some with the grandparents, some with our friends and their baby boy Fergus (how cute is that name?!?!), some days we went into the city and others we played in their neighborhood in South London. From there we headed to our friends’ family home in a village near Bordeaux for five more days of sightseeing, swimming, and mellow summertime activities. Finally, we met back up with the grandparents for three very hot days in Paris.

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We had our highs and lows, but overall it was so fun to be abroad. I remember nursing my first son when he was a newborn and feeling chained to the couch. At that moment in time, the idea of strolling the streets of Europe (or anywhere else in the world) seemed like an absolute fantasy. I seemed like it would be forever before I’d get a chance to travel again and that made me crave it even more. Many friends prior to our trip said nice things like “hopefully you’ll get a chance to go out for dinner without the kids” and I really felt like that wasn’t the point. Simply being able to pick up fresh baguettes for breakfast or pushing the strollers down a foreign street admiring the shops and cafes was amazing — so inspiring and refreshing. It was also entertaining to do something new with our kids. Houlton and I checked out numerous library books about London and Paris (Madeline, Hippo says Hello, A Walk in London, A Walk in Paris, Paddington Bear, This Is London, etc) so that before we left, he knew many of the sights and monuments. The delight he expressed at each new place was so fun to share.

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So it was amazing — catching up with old friends as if no time had passed, watching our babies and their baby play together, exploring the Transport Museum with my boys, making new friends at new playgrounds, catching a quiet hour at the Picasso Museum…

…and magical — sipping wine on the terrace at twilight, buying cheeses and groceries at the village’s Saturday outdoor market, enjoying a leisurely pub lunch with friends, and sharing Notre Dame at sunset with the grandparents.

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And also totally real — asking in broken French to retrieve my three year old’s shoes from the staff only area where he’d thrown them, or not having actually bought a ticket for our lap baby on the flight and having to “start over” ten minutes before our flight was boarding, or having the kids pass out at 5 only to wake up at 8 super cranky and refuse to go back to sleep until 2am.  And did I mention the heat in Paris? 100 degrees?!?! it was like standing under a hand dryer. We were all just surviving at times.

Despite the low moments, I am so happy we were crazy enough to take the trip, so grateful for all the family and friends who made our trip such a success through their thoughtfulness and hard work, and so fortunate that we were able to travel like this. The boys’ grandparents were seeing Paris for the first time too and that made it really special.

You can see a few more pictures on Instagram (this photo from Bordeaux was one of my favorites) . And I’ll be following this post with more details about what I packed and wore while abroad.

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Pumpkin Patch

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It’s hard not to love fall right? A trip to the pumpkin patch is so nostalgic for me and of course who doesn’t love a chance to wear some wellies?

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Any big plans for Halloween? Houlton is going to be an astronaut and Chester is going to be a pumpkin. I’m happy that we can keep things light still though we will probably go trick-or-treating this year. We chose Houlton’s costume simply because it was a gift but then he randomly started telling people he was going to be a green dragon. We finally got him straightened out and a trip to the library for space books has helped pique his interest in his adorable orange jumpsuit. But I’ve learned my lesson — clearly next year he will be in charge!

Sweatshirt: Steven Alan (from last spring), Jeans: J.Brand (old), Boots: Hunter

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STL

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Chester and I made a quick weekend trip to the midwest to visit my almost 96 year old grandmother and see my brother and his family.

His introduction to my grandmother was rather magical. She cannot see well or hear well and she’s very fragile. Chester nuzzled into her face as if he knew exactly what he should do. They had the sweetest connection.

 

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St. Louis is so beautiful — I’m thinking they must have the prettiest neighborhoods in the country. It’s obviously a lovely time of year to visit with fall just getting started.

 

 

 

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Aside from lovely walks down tree-lined streets (oohing and aahing at the gorgeous brick homes), we had a blast with my nephews. Even though Ches is too young to get involved, he was so excited to see them. We will all be together for the holidays and I know these four little boy cousins are going to have a blast together. I also enjoyed traveling without a toddler and a delicious steak dinner out.

How was your weekend?

 

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My sister-in-law has a great sense of style. I loved how she threw a leather jacket over a simple sweatshirt dress (from Zara) and leggings. Comfortable and super cute.

 

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P.S. This happened. Don’t tell anyone.

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Scenes from a Saturday Morning

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The kitchen was a mess. The house was a mess. But we ignored all that (I think my husband could ignore it permanently!) and headed out to Fort Funston for a “hike” amongst the sand dunes. Houlton’s preschool is big on nature and the importance of children having “unsupervised” outdoor time to connect to nature and explore. We were so inspired by the Head of School’s comments at Back to School Night that we’ve decided to try and have one good outdoor activity every weekend.

 

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I packed up a cappu to go and some homemade trail mix that was a delicious combo: dried mango (cut with the kitchen shears), almonds, walnuts, and mini white chocolate chips. My former boss used to make her own trail mix as an office snack and often threw cut up beef jerky into the mix. Yum.

 

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A short drive later and we’re worlds away from our to do list and the house enjoying sunshine and blue bird skies along the coast.

 

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The downside of this “hike” is that Houlton doesn’t move very fast. Every two feet he finds something to immerse himself in. We got a lot of “I’m busy” when we tried to coax him down the path. He didn’t have a single toy with him but could have spent hours playing in the sand and dirt. Obviously this is the whole point — he explored and played in a very different way from what happens at the playground or in a room of toys. And we sat a short distance away and enjoyed our coffees.

 

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I’m wearing an old pair of Athleta jeans. Pretty cute, kinda dorky, super functional. They’re made with Schoeller fabric (if you see this on a hang tag know that you’re getting awesome quality/technology) that makes the jeans highly water and stain resistant. In fact Muddy drooled on my pants (while he sweetly rested his chin on my leg) and the drool rolled right off. I’ve been wearing them more lately on days when we’re off on an adventure. Sure, I could wear normal pants and be totally fine (minus a little extra laundry effort for grass stains etc) but sometimes it’s nice to have one less thing to worry about, right? Not to mention the pants have loads of thoughtful pockets and such. Search for my jeans and similar styles here.

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First Day Of Preschool

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First Day! Officially today was visit day so we got to go with Houlton to meet his teachers, classmates, and their parents. I’m so excited that he’s starting school and a bit nostalgic too. My little boy!

Houlton picked his outfit (so much for a cute preppy button down). I wasn’t sure what to wear. I mean, I’m a grown up now right? I tried to look a little polished while still being preschool appropriate.

Shirt: J.Crew, Jeans: old J.Crew (similar), Scarf: LemLem (similar), Shoes: Loeffler Randall* (here, here, here)

*The shoes are a big coup. These are the pair I lusted after this spring/summer. I love snakeskin – it’s such a fun neutral and this white version was a bit 80s (love) and would look good with all the denim and chambray I’ve been wearing. I just found them on Amazon at 70%. How random is that? Just one pair, just my size. My shopping tip: when you love a specific style, look for it by name on shopstyle.com or just google the name – in this case Loeffler Randall Milla.

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Speaking of Backpacks…

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Now that we’re contemplating backpacks as the next fashion statement, have you ever been backpacking?

I have. It feels like another life now but years and years ago I used to do a fair amount of it. I trekked in Nepal, I’ve hiked the White Mountains of New Hampshire and the Bob Marshall Wilderness and as if that wasn’t enough, I did a four month guide training program in Canada. For fun. Go ahead, laugh. These days I’m not sure I’m related to that girl!

Many girlfriends have asked me about being a parent — girlfriends who aren’t quite to the point of starting families yet and are curious and a little scared (as I once was!). After a few conversations along these lines, it came to me. Being a parent is like backpacking. When you go backpacking, you do things you never thought you’d do. Perhaps things you never thought possible. Whether enduring a grueling climb to the top of the mountain or enduring one pair of underwear for two weeks straight you push yourself beyond your limits.

As a parent, I’ve done a lot of new things and a lot of unexpected things. Whether a totally gross diaper change in public, coming up with a MacGyver solution to fix my broken stroller or inventing a new game to convince my toddler to keep moving down the street, I’ve done a lot of things in the past two years that I’ve never done before.

I’ve been challenged in so many ways and just like a trek through the great outdoors, there’s a moment every week (sometimes every day!) when I think the situation is impossible. IMPOSSIBLE. But we always make it through the day. We keep going, we keep trying and and we make it through “the wilderness.” And just like reaching the summit and taking in the breathtaking views, we’ve had a lot of sunshine moments of our own. There’s always a well timed smile from the baby that makes me break down into lovey dovies or a funny remark from my toddler at just the right moment.

I’ve been struck too by the uncanny timing of assistance from other people. One day recently for example, I was at my wits end trying to get the kids in the car. I was so furious and frustrated. And just after I’d strapped them in and shut the doors, a new acquaintance walked by and came to say hello. She’s a mom too but we didn’t even go there — something about a little friendly adult interaction snapped me back to fine at the moment I needed it most.

Anyways, parenting, just like backpacking, is totally worth it.

P.S. This post from Kate Baer totally got me. She’s right on.

 

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September Issue

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While it’s crazy to think that by mid summer the stores are already shifting to the next season, the early arrival of fall fashion has always been one of my favorite things about August. Lying lakeside in my swimsuit, reading the September issue (once Seventeen at summer camp, nowadays Vogue or Elle) and dreaming about cozy sweaters, tartan scarves, corduroy and boots is both nostalgic and heavenly for me — definitely a late summer ritual.

I’ve completely switched over to my iPad now (love Next Issue — a nursing mother’s dream app!) and since I’m chasing after two these days, I didn’t exactly get to sunbathe and read magazines (these photos are from two years ago!). But I’m still enjoying my September issue…

I hope you are too!

P.S. Have you seen the documentary? It’s really cool.

 

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Backseat Driver

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Did you have a good weekend? We had a great weekend minus two long drives back and forth to Tahoe. While we’ve taken a fair number of plane flights with kids, turns out we need a little more practice with road trips. After too much crying, we resorted to me riding in the backseat wedged between the two carseats where I could reapply pacifiers, smile and giggle, assist with iPad usage, etc.

So how do you do it? What are your tips for long drives with kids?

What am I wearing? Oh a swaddle blanket. No big deal.

A few more vacation pictures…

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It’s a foggy San Francisco morning and I for one can use a little sunshine today. Perhaps you can too. Here are a few more pictures from our recent trip to Hawaii. It’s such an amazing place — so much gorgeous color! The air smells incredible, the warm breeze… ahh… take me back! Traveling with kids is never easy, even in paradise. We had the grandparents with us and we were all pretty busy taking care of the two boys. But when childcare means swimming in the ocean and the kiddie meal happens outside at sunset, you really can’t complain.

I’ve skimped a little on outfit credits as it’s mostly older things but leave a comment if you have any questions!

In beach related style — check out this slideshow on Refinery 29. It’s real women on the beach and they got some great shots. The women are a) wearing cool, inspirational outfits, b) from places you and i shop and c) look like healthy gorgeous normal women. No super models in sight. I love the mix and match suits.

Click on the images below for a pop up tropical slideshow.