Blog a la Cart

Category: Style

Frozen Fever

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Courtland’s big birthday present was her very own Elsa costume. She’s been asking for one for months, even though we have this one in our costume trunk. Courtland very much sees that as Sunny’s Elsa costume, and she was set on having one of her very own.

So, I once again worked with the talented Richelle of Ella Dynae to have a Frozen Fever inspired Elsa costume created for our four year old. It was a huge success – and as always, is ridiculously gorgeous and ridiculously well made. Another heirloom piece for the ages. What a dream!
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Frozen Fever Elsa Costume by Ella Dynae. For purchase on Etsy.

Sixth Birthday Rainbow Sweater // 2

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I ripped out this sweater and knit this dress up using no particular pattern for Sunny’s sixth birthday. It was a nice way to repurpose the rainbow yarn she’d picked out in Fall of 2013 since that dress no longer fit.

 

Our Lilac Fairy // 2015

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Two years ago, I shot this series of images of Sunny when our lilacs were in full bloom. She wore her inaugural Ella Dynae costume, a gift for her fourth birthday. Now that Courtland is nearly four, she’s taken to wearing the costume, especially since purple is her favorite color. Sunny suggested that we pick a slew of lilacs and stage a photo shoot of Kaki dressed as The Lilac Fairy. She took on the role of art director, and while Courtland wasn’t as interested in being “buried in lilacs” as Sunny had insisted two years prior, I love the way her cheeky personality shines through in these images.

Now I just need to decide which one to frame and hang alongside my favorite snap of Sunny as The Lilac Fairy.

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And a snap of Sunny as she directed Kaki mid-shoot… I clearly have no fun with these girls.

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My Tribe

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“For when you’re feeling S.A.D. and ‘blue,’ warm-weather gifts will get you through. F*ck the cold, gray skies be damned. Air is sweeter in caftan land. No more thoughts of ‘gimme, gimme.’ Here’s one for you, and one for Kimmy.”

My friend Amanda positively blew me away with this surprise gift from Emerson Fry (a company Kimmy and I have long adored, and our time in Sweden put us on the hunt for the perfect caftan. Amanda ended our search!)

First, I was greeted by surprise flowers in my office from a new friend and colleague, then a package of caftan awesome hit my door…

November, you got nothing on my tribe.

I am so grateful for all of the people in my life who lift me up rather than drag me down, especially during these darker days. Thank you for making my life brighter in every possible way.

(Frozen) Halloween // 2014

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This was, hands down, the most fun I have ever had on Halloween. I had my family, sister included, together, in a group costume, and the weather could not have been more cooperative (a nice change from last year’s deluge). It was a no brainer that we made use of the girls’ gorgeous Elsa and Anna costumes by Ella Dynae and James’ striking resemblance to the male lead, Kristoff. I played Kristoff’s side kick and BFF, Sven the reindeer, while Kimmy was jolly ol’ Olaf the snowman. While there were many Elsas out and about on Halloween, we delighted in our full cast ensemble.

The kids had a blast. We had a blast. It was just so good. James spent four hours making his own Kristoff vest on Thursday evening and rustled up the rope and ice pick to really complete the look. Kimmy made her Olaf hat, as well. I do love my crafty, DIY tribe. I lucked out in just sporting my great-grandmother’s fur coat and some cozy brown clothes.

While it took a few houses for the girls to warm up, Courtland in particular quickly got in to the rhythm of shouting TRICK OR TREAT!, selecting a piece of candy, and wrapping up the ordeal with a THANK YOU and HAPPY HALLOWEEN! As she’d retreat off the stoop, she’d say, “And now I go to the NEXT house!”

A very realistic Dalek from Dr. Who almost derailed the evening as Courtland was positively terrified of what was truly an impressive costume. She was ready to head home, but we were able to dodge down a new street and continue on.

As James said over and over upon returning home, “I just don’t know how they’ll ever be a Halloween better than this!” It was a special one, indeed.

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^^ELSA^^

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^^ ANNA^^

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^^KRISTOFF^^

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^^SVEN^^

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^^OLAF^^

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^^Love the life we’ve created together…^^

 

Il Vaporetto

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While on The Cape, we snapped a ridiculous number of photos on Il Vap (the tugboat, more formally Il Vaporetto) to showcase some favorite New England-made nautical accessories. Take note of our wooden sunglasses from Cape Codder and our rope bracelets from The Ropes of Maine (and our matchy matchy sister dresses from L.L. Bean (thanks to Momar)). hashtagstripesonstripesonstripes hashtagnauticalstripesforeveramen

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Cape Cod Summer // 2014

Given all of our various summer commitments, we wound up only finding one weekend when all four of us were able to visit my family on Cape Cod. The girls had a weekend all to themselves on the Cape with my parents in July, and I snuck in some time there on either end of my trip to Sweden, but we were grateful to have one full weekend of family beaching and boating Cape Cod style. And the weather sure cooperated.

We spent a full day in my sister’s world in Woods Hole, enjoying her tugboat in particular. And then had a beach day at my parents’ beach which is so private and uncrowded and lovely. I only wish we’d had more time by the sea as a family.

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^^Kimmy’s summer cottage is a riot – complete with tiki bar.^^

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^^Headed out on the tugboat, ready to go under the itty bitty drawbridge.^^

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^^Seriously, the cutest wooden boat I ever did see. They’ll be many more pix of her tomorrow.^^

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^^A SHELLY BUTTON! Har har har.^^

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^^Ice cream on the docks (where all these sister, sister pix were snapped.)^^

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^^Gladdy’s inaugural ocean swim.^^

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^^Hanging in Momar and Doda’s backyard.^^

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^^Vroom. Vroom!^^

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^^Happy retrievers at the beach.^^

Purple Hair Don’t Care

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For this year’s Reunion, I took some style tips from Madame Mim and dyed my hair purple. Jen, my stylist from Salon 290, did such a great job giving me a touch of violet without it being too dramatic or tacky. It has faded away by now, but my how I did enjoy the change. There aren’t too many lines of work where one can claim purple hair as a perk of the job.

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Many thanks to Momar for the Marimekko dress and Kimmy for those perfect purple Hunter boots!

Miraclesuit // 2

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After giving birth to two female bodies with my own female body, and now raising two female bodies, I am more aware than ever of the insane demands and pressures women face in regard to their bodies. (An English teacher would have a field day with that opening line, eh? Bodies, bodies, bodies FTW!)

That’s not to deny that men deal with their own sets of pressures and societal/cultural expectations of beauty, health, physicality, masculinity, etc., but for the purposes of these posts, I am focusing on women.

My daughters have made me take a hard look at my own behavior, my own attitude about my body and other women’s bodies, and think about how I want them to think of their own bodies and the bodies of others. My own outlook and lived example will be the most influential element on their thinking at this early stage in their lives.

The bottom line is that I don’t want them thinking about bodies at all, but about people. Whole, complete beings who are so much more than pieces or parts. I want them to think of themselves and their personhood, not about the shell that their souls inhabit. (Lord that sounds cheesy but it is so very true.)

It is so critically important to me that I raise women who love themselves. Above all else. Who understand their worth and their value is beyond the size of their jeans or the cup of their bras. Who don’t need to make excuses for who they are and how their bodies look. Who love themselves so deeply that they understand the uniqueness and particulars of their own bodies, and can celebrate them, whatever form that takes.

I want them to know the power and strength and joy that comes from regular fitness and exercise, not because it makes their bodies look any particular way, but because it gives them both physical and mental strength and reprieve. Because it makes them feel good. Just like putting fresh, unprocessed food in their bodies makes them feel fresh and clean and well. I will never deny them the joy of homemade icecream or freshly baked cookies. The only “bad” food in our lives are processed, packaged foods. Something you grow in your backyard or make with your own hands is not “bad.” It is delicious and intended to be enjoyed. Just as consuming vegetables from one’s own garden or fruit from a local farm stand is a wonderful way to make yourself feel both mentally and physically well. Healthy. Good.

Food consumption and physical exercise should never be primarily motivated by a desire to look a specific way, but rather a desire to feel one’s best. The physical manifestation of that internal, mental, emotional wellness will come as a result of caring for oneself with respect, love, and joy, not fear, disappointment, pressure or shame.

Again, so cheesy. But so true. And so desperate to be put to words in the face of all the media and noise that tells us otherwise.

I try to live that daily with my daughters, from the food we prepare (our best attempts at fresh, balanced, wholesome meals with all the colors of the rainbow)  to the way we talk about that food (I try to never refer to sweets or any food (besides processed, packaged food) as “bad” or “naughty,” as that is setting them up for dangerous, shameful thinking when it comes to enjoying food and their eating habits). We take time daily for physical play and exertion, whether on a walk with the dogs or running through the sprinkler.

I also try to exist in my body, this body now succumbing to the effects of gravity and maternity and age, with confidence and love. I walk around casually in my underwear and a t-shirt sans bra or make up on a lazy Sunday morning. I lounge in the backyard in my bathing suit on a hot day reading a book or weeding the garden. I dress up in fancy dresses and rock red lipstick for special dinners out. I dance like a fool while wearing my most tattered pair of sweatpants. I don’t glare at myself in the mirror analyzing every flaw. I don’t suck in my tummy or claim I can’t wear something because my body isn’t “right.” That’s not to say that I haven’t rotated some clothing out of my wardrobe over the past decade, but I do it because I accept that some clothes are no longer suited for this ever-changing shell and that I deserve to find clothes that make me feel comfortable, at ease, and confident. If I’m going to be fidgeting with the waist of a pair of pants all day because they no longer fit, I try to accept that reality as gracefully as possible, and I do not involve my daughters in any disappointment or frustration I may feel about it.

This isn’t to say that I don’t have my down moments, moments when I am sad or disappointed or frustrated with my body. We all do. But I have been working very hard, especially in the last five years, to keep that frustration and disappointment in check. To think about the root cause of that disappointment which is largely based in society’s expectations of what I am supposed to look like – not my daughters’, not my partner’s, and certainly not my own. A number on the scale or on a clothing tag should in no way define my comfort or happiness in my body. And I want to do my best to teach my daughters that before the world screams at them to feel differently.

And so in my bathing suit I dance with my girls, stretch marks be damned!

Details about the Miraclesuit I’m wearing in these photos plus this week’s giveaway of a Miraclesuit of your choosing at the bottom of the post! For last week’s post, visit here

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In these photos I’m wearing my favorite tankini in all the land by Miraclesuit. It’s got a built in bra to hold my post-breastfeeding pair in place so they’re not knocking my knees while I hang by the pool, plus high waisted bottoms so I don’t feel like my own bottom will make a showing when I’m seated on the edge of the hot tub lifeguarding two preschoolers. I love that I can tie the straps in a bow in front on the rare occasion when I am undisturbed in the sunshine so I can do some strap-free tanning, but that it is secure and supportive enough so that I can also chase my kids around the pool.

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This is the second of three opportunities to win a Miraclesuit or Magicsuit of your choosing. That’s a winning of up to $180! To enter this week’s giveaway follow the instructions below via Rafflecopter. Thank you for entering and for liking Blog a la Cart and Miraclesuit on Facebook and for following @blogalacart and @miraclesuitswim on Instagram. We’ll see you next week!

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Miraclesuit // 1

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I feel like I should begin this post with an apology and expression of nerves and fear. But I’d be lying if I did that. And I’d be buying into a notion that women of a certain age or size or fitness or shape should make excuses for their bodies, should apologize for the space they inhabit and the view they demand.

I’m not sorry. Or embarrassed. Or fearful. In fact, I’m excited. Excited to be given a platform to talk about women, particularly mothers, and swimwear and girl *ahemwomenahem* power and embracing this amazing, life giving, awesome body that I get to claim as my own.

I don’t see it as flawed. Or imperfect. Sadly, I can’t say that I’ve always felt that way. In fact, in many respects, when my body was most “perfect” (by society’s standards, anyway), I was the most critical and ashamed. But perspective and experience and giving birth to other female bodies has changed that. And I’m saddened that that is not more universally the case for women and mothers. I hear friends and colleagues and female acquaintances express frustration and disappointment about their bodies. Excuses. Wishes. Goals. Rarely do I hear women champion and celebrate the body that they are in here and now. And it’s a heartbreaking reality of the impossible beauty standards we put on women, of the way that we claim women as bodies and pieces rather than whole beings who are more than their thighs or their tummies or their hips or their butts or their chests or numbers on a scale.

Do I sometimes find myself analyzing one particular piece of my body, questioning if it could be “better” (read: thinner) and thus thinking about exercising more and eating less, trying to mold that part of me into someone else’s notion of what it “should” look like? Sure, absolutely. But then I tell that socially constructed, woman hating part of my mind to shove it. And I go eat an ice cream cone with my daughters, or on a walk with friends, or cozy up with our latest book club novel.

Over the course of the next month, I’m going to be rolling out a series of posts of me rocking various bathing suits and talking about women and daughters and mothers and bodies and fear and expectation and health and beauty and all the nonsense wrapped up in the image of a woman in a bathing suit.

While in Florida earlier this year, I posted the top photo of me with the girls wearing a recent swimsuit purchase. I was surprised by the number of emails I received asking me about the suit, complimenting me for my “brave” choice to post it on the Internet, and asking me to talk more about that choice.

Look, I’m not brave. First responders, our men and women in the military, doctors, The President – these are people that we can call brave.

I’m just a mama wearing a swimsuit next to a pool in Florida with her kids.

But I do have feelings about this, because I know in the eyes of many this is seen as brave. I know that many women avoid bathing suit season like the plague and go to great lengths to hide, conceal, or altogether avoid being seen out in public in a bathing suit. And, dude, the summer is just too hot for that nonsense. It pains me that women are embarrassed or ashamed or apologetic about their bodies as though their bodies are anybody’s business but their own!

I was fortunate to have a childhood growing up sailing and swimming and diving all summer long, which fed into summer jobs as a sailing instructor, so from age 8 to 24, I lived in a swimsuit as part of my daily life from June-August. I am very very comfortable parading around in a swimsuit, as I’ve been so conditioned to do so. But friends and other women have commented on this apparent confidence, especially as my body has become less and less “acceptable” and the prescribed ideal of what a woman is supposed to look like in order to wear a swimsuit in public.

I say PHOOEY to that noise.

If I’m going to enjoy the summer, I best be outside soaking up as much Vitamin D as possible and lounging by a body of water, and the optimal wardrobe for that is indeed a swimsuit.

I don’t pretend like my body hasn’t changed, especially since carrying, birthing and breastfeeding two children, but that doesn’t mean I can’t find a suit that fits my current body shape and still makes me feel confident and sexy and ready for the practical demands of fun in the sun with two kids.

I have suits from my pre-baby years, and suits from my pregnancy/maternity/breastfeeding years, but I hadn’t invested in swimsuits for post-breastfeeding, post-pregnancy, preschool-kid toting life. While on a work trip in Florida, I had an afternoon to myself and a boutique overflowing in bathing suits at my disposal. I spent two hours scouring the racks, trying on suit after suit, and ultimately landed on this gem from Miraclesuit called the Network Jena. It was, in a word, fantastic. Fantastic color. Fantastic style. Fantastic fit. It held my body in place so that I didn’t have to worry about a rogue boob flopping out of the suit mid-leap into the pool or dive into the ocean. I could chase and play and splash with my girls without readjusting straps and fidgeting and constant attention to what I was wearing. Instead I could just be, in the sun, on the beach, by the pool, and feel great.

I reached out to Miraclesuit about partnering for this column as I think about how to raise my daughters as women with healthy body image and balanced perspective on beauty and health and wellness constantly, and this suit and people’s reactions to it, gave me a new angle and food for thought. And because after trying on more styles by Miraclesuit, I am convinced that this brand knows how to design bathing suits for women of all shapes, sizes, and ages. And that is what we deserve. And maybe that confidence in finding a suit that is stylish and well-made and cut for one’s body properly regardless of size will help us women reclaim a place that is less about fitting society’s mold of beauty and more about celebrating who we are as unique individuals with life experiences that have literally shaped the very appearance of those bodies.

Maybe it’s a stretch, but never underestimate the power of a confident, carefree woman.

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Here are some images of me wearing the Network Jena at Barton Springs Pool during our trip to Austin, TX last month. I’ll roll out more thoughts and styles next week, but hop to the bottom of the post for your chance to win a Miraclesuit of your choosing. And I’d love to hear your thoughts about any or all of the above ramblings. Thanks for joining me in this month long exploration, and remember, as cheesy as it may sound, you are, indeed, a miracle.

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They’ll be three opportunities to win a Miraclesuit or Magicsuit of your choosing over the next month. That’s a winning of up to $180, three times! To enter this week’s giveaway follow the instructions below via Rafflecopter. Thank you for entering and for liking Blog a la Cart and Miraclesuit on Facebook and for following @blogalacart and @miraclesuitswim on Instagram. We’ll see you next week!

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