Our Bubbles & Brunch Pamper Party

This past weekend we hosted our Bubbles, Brunch & Blooms party. Thank you very much to all the participating vendors:

How do you stoke your fire?

As we start a new school year and wrap up the dog days of summer, we look toward our new schedules. Routines that we hope to implement, habits that we look to improve. As a professional who has worked with families for over a dozen years, the school year starting is my calling for a renewed start with a reprieve at the holidays. Then we take a break to pause - indulge in the holidays - and relaunch with the New Year. I've thought a lot this summer about how to stoke our fire - nudge what inspires & ignites us. 

What do I mean what I encourage you to stoke your fire? It applies to many habits, routines, wants or needs. Let's apply it to your child's eating habits. If you have a picky eater - or one who wants not the healthiest of foods before their fruits & vegetables - stoke the fire. Allow a little of the saltiness to tease their palate and when their appetite begins to ignite, introduce the full meal. Why not a small bowl of olives if it invites a hungry belly to wake up? Let's apply it to your community. This is a fire you have to fan. It's not a muscle that takes shape without practice. Could you lean in just that much more? Take a few coffees that don't perfectly fit into your schedule but will be worth the investment? Could you raise your hand to say, "I can't be room parent, but please do let me know when you need help. I'll say yes as I can." Your children see these ways that you give back, and in turn your life becomes fuller....and easier. Let's apply it to your sex life. Could you put it on your calendar and make an investment in connecting with your partner, tired as you might be? Think about how you stoke your fire. How can you tease the inner you, ,to ignite passion as it applies to parenting & partnership. 

Tonight we have a support group for parents who have kids with special needs or sensitivities. Please, come if this applies to you. It was a really incredible meetup last time we hosted & we so look forward to tonight's group. 

Rent the Runway

I have used Rent the Runway throughout the past few years for special events with great success. After having had my (massive) babies my body changed tremendously and it was daunting for me to order online as I never quite knew how things will fit. Well, my relationship with the product  changed when RTR launched their unlimited subscription. With a hub located in Neiman Marcus in San Francisco, I am able to take 4 pieces out at any given time. I can use the app or drop by to return & pick up new pieces. The 4 pieces can cycle throughout the month - so if you are efficient, you could take out a dozen pieces a month! 

Last week I popped in to find a dress for my husband's 40th birthday. The event called for cocktail attire but I wanted something a bit special - and I found just that. I was met an adorable gal in the shop who helped me navigate pieces. Available to you are casual to formal wear, jewelry and handbags.

The main reason I joined RTR unlimited was because I wanted to organize my life in all aspects - which means purging and keeping a smaller wardrobe. I have limited time to shop, so I was forever spending on impulse purchases or whatever I could gather in a 30 minute kid free shopping experience. Inevitably it would be a fair weather purchase & in a pile on my floor of discarded pieces in no time. With RTR, there's no wasted funds on clothes that you no longer love - simply send them back. 

A few other perks I am loving: 

  • You can book an appointment with a stylist & they'll help you navigate trends (what's that?!). They have also launched maternity & you can meet with a maternity stylist. How many of us wanted to burn our coveted 12 piece maternity wardrobe by the end of our 9 months?! RTR to the rescue. Wear & Return! 
  • Its really fun to accessorize economically - you can borrow earrings, necklaces & clutches! I even tried on a fun Zac Posen Backpack - super fun!
  • It's helped me organize my calendar. I used to spend a lot of time digging (literally) through my clothes to figure out what to wear. NOW, I look at my calendar and order the outfits I need for that week or two. Fun committee or work dinner? Rent a blouse
  • I'm falling back in love with fashion. I get excited to wear a Shoshanna or Sail To Sable dress. Having watched these two brands flourish in NYC, I get to tap back into my inner Carrie. 
  • When I am in the shop, I try pieces on & have the gals mark them as my favorites. Then, when I have an event I just check my list & pull from it.
  • It's encouraged me to get out & be more social. I feel better about myself now that I have outfits planned & I look forward to putting engagements on the calendar. The busier I am, the more I get done! 

Use my code for $30 off your first order.

See two of my most recent rentals to the right!

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MSM Capsule Summer Shoe Collection

You've likely heard all about the capsule wardrobe movement. The idea is to purchase fewer pieces & create a mini wardrobe of highly versatile pieces.  They are ideally high quality and not so much fast fashion. And ideally, you LOVE to wear them. To compliment the capsule summer wardrobe I am creating for my summer travels with the family I have rounded up my capsule summer shoe collection. Read below to find out where I am wearing them: 

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Allbirds

Price $95

Where am I wearing them? Everywhere. Allbirds are made of wool, breathable enough to keep you cool in the summer while traveling. You can also toss them in the washing machine to clean them. They pack flat but I'd recommend wearing them on travel day as they slip on & off easily. I love them paired with boyfriend jeans or J.Crew chino shorts.

No better way to show off your toned legs on the ferry over to ACK than with nantucket red shorts & your Allbirds!

 

 

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Superga SF: 

Price $65

Where am I wearing them? Everyone who knows me can attest: I am a Superga addict. I generally visit Claudia Volpi's Fillmore Street Superga shop quarterly and buy a few seasonal pairs. I buy them in all different colors & textures (canvas, leather, metallics). I buy them in low tops AND high tops. For the summer, I love a crisp canvas low top. I love pairing with my Everlane Wide Leg Cropped Pants.

I'd sport these kicks at every picnic, beach bbq & certainly on the playground. I'd also make sure to match my kiddos sneaks at 4th of July! 

 

 

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Birdies

Price $140

Where am I wearing them? I love these updated loafers with handmade tassels & a quilted sole. I'm likely tossing them on with jeans & a thin cashmere sweater early morning when I run to Levain Bakery in Wainscott for their baguettes with butter & jam. Okay fine....I'll also be buying a half dozen chocolate chip walnut cookies & the cinnamon brioche. If Meghan Markle loves them....well then you should too. 

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Rothy's

Price $140

Where am I wearing them? Talk about a pep in your step! These comfy and stylish shoes come in three styles: round toe, pointed & loafer. Eco conscious, they are made of recycled bottles & can be washed! Enjoy yours at work, on the playground or anywhere in between! I just ordered a lighter color as I have worn my cranberry Rothy's through the winter. Receive $20 off using my promo code: https://www.talkable.com/x/HXBUEy

School tours coming up? Rothy's are your friend: sophisticated yet super comfy! 

 

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Tom's

Price $110

Where am I wearing them? I'm loving these suede cutout sandals by Tom's. In addition to supporting their cause, you can elevate your sundress collection. Easy side zip - these are no fuss. 

You'll see me wearing these at a summer wedding we are attending. You can chase the kids in them and still be in style. 

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Slip On Sandals:

We are loving both the budget and splurge approach to the Slip On Leather Sandals this summer.  These Joie sable sandals ($125) are gorgeous and easy to slip on while running around & hanging casually. These faux leather sandals by Old Navy are a fraction of the cost at just under $20

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Miron Crosby:

Price $850 +

Here's the splurge you won't regret - for years to come! Miron Crosby was founded by two sisters in Dallas, TX. I feel fortunate to have befriended Lizzie when our husbands were in business school together at Columbia. We visited the Means family ranch near Marfa, TX for their wedding and so began my quest for the perfect shortie cowboy boot. These handcrafted cowboy boots will meet your needs year round & only get better with time. They also boast mini boots. Because is there really anything cuter than smocked anything with matching boots?! 

I would wear these to Goop's Pop Up in Highland Park for Cleaned Up Snack Time.

 

 

 

 

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Birkenstocks

Price $100

Where am I wearing them? Anywhere that the heat warrants them. Leave the flip flops for the beach & the gym locker room. These are study, sporty & stylish. Use your creative license to pack a punch with the color you choose. I'm absolutely wearing them at the farmers market & likely with my Sonnet James playdress

Pushing Pause.

It's a social norm. How are you? For the past two weeks it has been refreshing to answer: I am pushing pause. Sometimes boldly and sometimes sheepishly, but it feels authentic.  People seem intrigued - tell me more. So here it goes:

About two weeks ago I hit a wall. I sat down one Friday afternoon and gave myself the pep talk I have given myself so many times before. I've always been the "show must go on girl" but this time, my hustle was gone. The elbow grease I was used to digging deep for just wasn't there. I physically couldn't rally. My tank was empty. The evening I had to dig deep for was a MSM panel on rebuilding your body post baby & I left recognizing I needed the majority of the experts on the panel to piece me back together. Pelvic Floor PT, check. Nutritionist, check. Strength Training, check. The next morning, our nanny gave notice. 

I am a firm believer that my HP (12 step lingo for Higher Power) does for us what we can't always do for ourselves. What I could not do what admit that I needed to push pause. Because I owned a business (or two). Because I had a caregiver who relied on the income our family provided. Because my identity is that of an entrepreneur. The reality was that four and a half years into parenting and thirteen years into entrepreneurship,  I had fallen out of love with myself. It all sounds so dramatic but I am embarking on Project Push Pause because I know I am not alone. 

Pushing Pause means returning to basics. As a parent we are preached self care ad nauseam. It's not a one size fits all solution. The first part of pushing pause is to create a list of self care actions that you can hold yourself accountable to on a weekly basis. For me, this was : 

  1. Returning to AA Meetings & seeking out a sponsor
  2. Eating three meals daily
  3. Working out twice a week
  4. Buying clothes that make me feel good & dressing myself daily
  5. Hydrating
  6. Creating a skin care regiment that feels good (wash my face & apply sunscreen?)
  7. Spend time with my husband. Childless. 

The above might seem incredibly elementary, but remember: I had hit a wall. I was running on bagels & coffee. Also remember: I know there are more of you out there. I can't be alone in this. I can't be the only one who felt emotionally estranged from those closest to me because I was just moving through the motions of life as quickly as I could. And the checklist was never getting shorter. My children weren't getting younger.

The second part of pushing pause is identifying women in your life who you admire and setting a coffee date calendar. This is a challenge : which means it might feel uncomfortable, lean into that. I am blessed to have worked with women who I respect and admire intimately over the past dozen years. I set an aggressive calendar of 40 coffees in 60 days. I emailed women - some of whom I knew well and some of whom I watched from afar - and I asked if they would have a coffee with me and talk about their journey through motherhood. What pulled on their heartstrings? How did they learn to be a partner in parenting and marriage? What worked for them and what didn't? How the fuck did they do this thing called motherhood because it's so fucking hard? 

The third part of pushing pause is embracing the moments you weren't taking time to breathe into when your wheels were spinning. I often caution women on working alongside parenting - in the absence of childcare - as you will either resent your children or your work. When pushing pause, you can bring intention back to your parenting. 

The fourth part of pushing pause is taking as much as you can financially afford to off your plate. This looks different for everyone. In my case, I am not wanting to stop working. However, I need space from my business to recharge my batteries. I am craving having enough space in my life to show up for friends. To wrap a present properly. To send hand written cards. Outside of work obligations and tasks you find personally fulfilling, you must exercise saying no when pushing pause. You are likely someone who everyone covets having as a part of their cause, but you'll need to kindly explain that you are currently pushing pause. This means that you can enjoy volunteering in a homeless shelter, but you can't sit on a committee currently. Serving others will serve you, but your cup needs to be refilled before you can pour again. 

Finally, we will examine systems. We are likely in over our skis. Therefore, we can't hand over the reigns to someone else. I recently had a home organizer over for an analysis and I fully admitted the house was a disaster before she arrived. I don't know that she expected there to be no systems in place though. Having kids wreaks havoc on our cadence. We will navigate through systems for our home & family life to find a new - organized - normal.

Throughout May and June I will blog about my journey Project Push Pause. I invite you to sign up for my MSM Pushing Pause Newsletter.  I will be sending a newsletter weekly chock full of interviews, conversations & workshops. 

Here's to finding the light inside of you - and me! Namaste.

My kid didn't get into pre-school & I turned to Brene Brown

Earlier this week an incredible soul in our community recommended Brene Brown's newest book, "Braving the Wilderness : The Quest for True Belonging and the Courage to Stand Alone." As I embarked on this week ahead I decided I would download the book and give the gym a shot. It had been years since I had belonged to a gym but I needed the structure and to the point of Brene's work: to belong. As my endorphins kicked in on the treadmill her words left me charging forward. I felt like I was in an AA meeting and identifying with every turn the speaker took in their story. And then I wanted to so badly to keep high five-ing her as she passionately read aloud the impact of her parent's disappointment in her and I couldn't "me too", because my parents offered me quite the opposite. And then I recognized what she was doing : empowering me to own my story.

Brene writes:

"Not belonging in our family is still one of the most dangerous hurts. That's because it has the power to break our heart, our spirit and our sense of self worth. When those things break, there are only three outcomes: 

1) you live in constant pain and seek relief by numbing it and/or inflicting pain on others. 

2) you deny your pain & your denial ensures you pass it on those around you and down to your children 

3) you find the courage to own the pain & develop a level of empathy & compassion for yourself and for others that allows you to spot hurt in the world in a unique way. 

... Our sense of belonging can never be greater than our level of self acceptance. 

I write about how my father's parenting here and I'd dive into that a bit deeper below. Larry Wauchope was an intentional parent who lived by the motto "Don't let the bastards get you down." He was as happy to couch our sports teams as he was to assist with makeup for our theater program - and he took it equally seriously. One year he was a farm for Halloween. This was well before pinterest and he had an entire landscape on his face, completed with a white picket fence from ear to ear. 

The difference between how Brene recollects her parents reactions and how Larry parented was that not only was he okay with us being an understudy but he'd be there to coach us along. I had to call my mom to verify, but I am fairly certain I did not make the travel softball team. I guess I was confused because I am positive dad was a coach. My aha moment: Dad was there to show us that it's okay we didn't make the cut. Dust off your pants and continue to be a part of the team. Being bat girl and celebrating victories with the team made me feel just as much  a part of & therefore bolstered my self worth. 

So I think about the parent that I want to be for my child. In a city that seems to be breeding exclusivity, how do I connect my child to others by love and the human spirit? It's our job as parents to protect our children and be their advocate, right? So then, when we as a family are not accepted or selected, how do we not pass that shame or disappointment onto our children? How do I ensure that my bumpy child is part of an ecosystem where they have true connection and maintain authenticity. It's easier for me to try and correct C's behavior than to celebrate his zaniness at times. But wasn't that the child Larry celebrated in me? 

I've often thought I should write a book on Larry & Kathy's parenting theories and what that might look like. With five children, each 18 or 24 months apart in age, they managed to celebrate each of our gifts. Miraculous I would say. That is because, as Brene points out: they gave us tools to sport hurt in the world in a unique way. That, is a gift. So we fast forward to today. I wanted so badly for my children to be accepted into an inclusive school environment for transitional kindergarten and I'm kicking myself for thinking that was a reality. We're at a wonderful school currently but as a working mom who manages his OT schedule: all under one roof gave me the hope that I could actually work again. And then that email Cam: no niceties, just the notice that there's no room at the inn. But Brene and Larry : they would tell me to turn it over and not let the bastards get me down. They'd say that if what I want is for my child to be included, he must include himself. They'd say that to belong in our family is the most important moment of acceptance we can pass on to our child. So with that, I am close my computer and head home to high five my kiddos & charge onwards. We have toes to get sandy & mountains to romp. 

xoxo

Vanessa

 

Hawaii: Our Happy Accident

If you know me, the story of how our family ended up in Hawaii versus Mexico will not at all surprise you. Here's how it unfolded: a mom in our school posted on facebook that her friend's timeshare in Mexico was available for a specific week in March which magically synced up with ours. Duncan & I had both been working like crazy and agreed that this was just what the doctor ordered - vitamin d, babies in bathing suits & some computer-less days. I rushed to get Kaitlin's passport with two weeks before the trip & started planning for shorts weather. 

The night before we were leaving, we were out to dinner for a relative's birthday. My mental checklist was going & I couldn't shake that somehow I couldn't find where I placed my own passport. I had carried it all week for verification (unnecessarily) as I moved through the checklist to obtain Kaitlin's. Sure enough, Duncan & I turned the house upside down and at 3am : it was still not there. We were back at it, at the crack of dawn and still nothing. Then it occurred to us: we would not be able to go to Mexico but there was nothing stopping us from Hawaii! 

We had never purchased a time share before and while I was in a heap of depression on the couch, a light bulb went off! Maybe the timeshare broker, whose information I had in email, could assist us with another timeshare....enter Kris Shotwell. From the moment I heard his voice I had faith. He explained that he was in Florida and due to ref a hockey game that night, but he'd stay at his desk & try to get the job done. The unimaginable happened : Kris secured us an incredible time share in Mauii & United Airlines changed our flights for $50 per person. As you might remember, we purchased the first time share from a friend of a friend - at a discount. Given that Kris was able to offload inventory at the last minute, both time shares only put us slightly over budget. Our bags were already packed & after a good night sleep we were off to the airport. 

The skinny on Ka'anapali Beach Club

We couldn't have fallen into a more perfect scenario for our family. With two children, 1.5 & 3.5, the property was a wonderful combination of convenience & comfort. Here's what we loved: 

  • Accommodations: Our timeshare was 1000 sq feet & a one bedroom suite. We had a full bedroom, a queen size pull out couch & a kitchenette. Our balcony overlooked the pool & ocean, so that when the kids went down to sleep or Kaitlin was napping - we could be on the balcony enjoying some alone time. The bathroom was very large, with a jacuzzi tub & a stand up shower. 
  • Food options: The buffet breakfast was $13 per person, which was an incredible way to start the day. We would wrap up half eaten muffins & take a banana for mid morning snack. The buffet was right beside the beach and therefore we took turns sitting to eat and wondering with kids & sand toys. Either way, not a bad way to enjoy your morning coffee. For lunch we would eat from the pool bar & for lunch we explored local restaurants. 
  • Convenience: On day two, Cam got an ear infection. Within minutes, we were across the street at the urgent care & were thankful we were in Hawaii - using our health insurance & without a language barrier at the doctor's! Out of earshot & eyesight, but only a quick walk is a wonderful shopping center where you can load up on groceries & convenience items - as well as a wonderful ice cream shop, the urgent care & other niceties. 
  • Communal BBQ's : we used the communal BBQ's for a late afternoon lunch/early dinner with another couple we met on the property. It was so fun for the kids to get to know other kids that they could play with. This is a nice way to save a bit of money while on holiday with kids - it was great to have the bbq's accesable. 
  • Kid Fun: The property does have kid activities & while they are generally for slightly older kids it was nice to have downtime activities. We really enjoyed checking out the mini golf sets & playing on the roof top! 
  • Luau on the property: The Luau on the property was perfect for our kids ages. The performance was really engaging, the food was authentic & good - and it wasn't fussy at all. The kids could run around & enjoy the surroundings! Not having to get into a car was huge!
  • Easy access to the south side of the island : we had a blast visiting old friends & Sensible Sitters clients at the Four Seasons Mauii. It was so fun to see kids I used to babysit playing with my kiddos! 

More to come on tips navigating Mauii with kids in tow, but suffice to say we can't wait to go back!

Everything I needed to know, I learned at The Biggest Baby Shower

I know what you are thinking: slow your roll, Vanessa. That's a massive statement. But when it comes to the world of babies, it's true. I do not take for granted that I started Sensible Sitters in tandem with the launch of Risa Goldberg & Leslie Venokur's genius: Big City Moms Biggest Baby Shower.  Well before my first child (8 years) I could tell you which bottle was easiest on a gassy baby's belly, how to unfold most strollers in 30 seconds or less, and assist you in finding the right carrier for your build & baby. I could help you to navigate the world of gear given your lifestyle and your space constraints. That's all thanks to the informal education I received from attending a dozen years of Biggest Baby Showers! I NEVER experienced anxiety around registry or gear and if I did get anxious, I referred back to brands that Risa & Leslie's team trusted. 

Here's what I can assure you it will do for you: 

  • alleviate stress related to gadget & gear purchases - everyone is there to show you there product, with the understanding that the world of babies is not "one size fits all". You can test drive it all pre baby!
  • allow you to learn about new products that weren't out when you had your last baby - like the Snoo, for example. 
  • allow you to try on multiple baby carriers & learn what feel natural on your body.
  • allow your partner some insight into the wacky world of baby gear - you guys can do this together! Let your partner be a part of the process. The earlier you let them in, the more bonded they can be - the more helpful they can be!
  • gives you a chance to win amazing prizes! Strollers, high chairs, cribs!

The Biggest Baby Shower brings to you all the gear companies & services, under one roof. In conjunction with the expo are informational speakers on a myriad of topics. On February 7th, The Biggest Baby Shower will take place in South San Francisco from 5:30-9pm. Having started my involvement so long ago, it's really rewarding to have been asked to moderate the panels this year! Speakers will include: 

Deeanne Akerson: founder of Kindred Bravely

Laura Brown: Certified Babywearing Educator: Ergo Baby

Michelle Davenport: Founder & CEO of Raised Real

Wendy Sue Swanson: Spoonful One

Ashley George: COO Sprout San Francisco

Dr Harvey Karp: CEO of Happiest Baby

Esther Kestenbaum: CEO of Day One Baby

Sharone Nassi: Founder, Carmel Blue

Dr. Tracy Shafizadeh: Nutritional Scientist & Baby Gut Expert: Evivo

Promos for Main Street Mamas! 

  • Use the code 1mamas for a free general admission ticket.   

  • Use the code mamas for $15 any

  • Fill out this form once you buy your ticket: we are making Main Street Mamas Stroller Tags for you to pick up at our table!

Attending the biggest baby shower was a great experience. As a second time mom it was great to see new things from brands I knew and trusted but also experience new brands, test products and speak to people with intimate knowledge of the products. Aside from the numerous vendors, the ticket price more than pays for itself when you see what comes in the gift bag. My friend and I were completely blown away by not only the quantity of items but the usefulness and quality of we received. A must attend event for any expecting or newborn mom!
— - Jessica, mom to a toddler & infant twins
I loved attending the biggest baby shower as a second time mom because it gave me a chance to see a bunch of new products that have come out in the last few years. The gift bag alone is worth the visit! So many awesome samples & products to try out! I found new things for baby #2 I would have otherwise not have known about!
— Megan, mom to a toddler & infant
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Things I am crazy for right now:

brown paper packages tied up with strings, these are a few of my favorite things: 

Well Mama Cookbook: Author, Caroline Zwickson is the founder of Well Mama. Let's be real: motherhood is HARD. Especially when you don't feel comfortable in your body, or when you feel disconnected from your partner, or when you can hardly even remember who YOU are. I have an easy and affordable remedy. My dear friend Caroline Zwickson just opened enrollment for her group program Well Mama—for women want to take excellent care of their health & their hormones while reviving and re-connecting with the woman behind the mom! Check out all the program details here: http://www.carolinezwickson.com/well-mama-enrollment-id106 

Lush Ro's Argan Body Conditioner: I just re-discovered this soothing body conditioner. It is warm & almost feels forgiving in this chapter of motherhood. One less step: simply scoop up a dollop and generously moisturize while still in the shower. Rinse off and enjoy the aroma all day long! 

Rothy's: Talk about a pep in your step! These comfy and stylish shoes come in three styles: round toe, pointed & loafer. Eco conscious, they are made of recycled bottles & can be washed! Enjoy yours at work, on the playground or anywhere in between! I am jazzed that they match my holiday wardrobe! Receive $20 off using my promo: http://rothys.refr.cc/vanessawauchopewelst

Primal Pit Paste: I know what you're thinking. Really? You're bragging about deodorant? But yes, this has changed my ability to enjoy life! I went so far as to call my dermatologist about botox in my armpits when a friend recommended this deodorant. I can not believe it, but I haven't had a worry - or ruined silk shirt - since! 

Oribe Dry Shampoo: I made a big mistake and bought cheapie dry shampoo last week. After going to a meeting smelling like Calgon body spray, I'll never cheat on Oribe again! You gain a day of not washing your hair (win!) and smell like you have just left a salon! Perfect stocking stuffer for any lady in your life!

The Perfect Bar: a refrigerated protein bar that has perfect - simple- ingredients. I first fell in love while ravenous at Costco and needing a mid shop snack. The rest is history. As I load up for a solo cross country flight with two toddlers next week, I will have MANY perfect bars in my bag! 

20 Days of December Giveaway: Rossi & Rei

San Francisco Main Street Mama, Elisa Rossi, founded Rossi & Rei. Mother to 5 year old son, Lucas, Elisa has kept her family's Italian heritage close to her heart in the decisions her family has made. Her son attends an Italian immersion school in San Francisco and her business boasts artisan's from her home country. I share Elisa's story below as so many moms can relate to her re-introduction to their old self that she talks about. For the next week we will raffling off a gorgeous hand-crafted satchel , a $595 value. On Tuesday, December 12 at noon, we will be announcing the winner. 

ELISA'S STORY

Throughout my childhood in Italy and most of my adult life, I’ve found that the objects surrounding me are filled with a certain energy. In 2011, I was living a busy life as a Silicon Valley executive. Like most busy women, I compromised a lot when it came to my style; athleisure became my unofficial uniform. Then one day my friend Veronica, a skilled milliner who moved to Paris to open her own atelier, gave me a gorgeous, custom-made hat. I was at Heathrow airport wearing my “travel uniform,” but something changed as I worked on my laptop beneath Veronica’s hat. I felt as though I had embraced a part of myself I had neglected for too long. It was then that Rossi & Rei was born. Working with hand-picked, skilled artisans to create personalized styles, I’m dedicated to helping women who, like me, no longer want to fit the mass-produced mold of fashion and instead want to evolve a truer sense of self through craftsmanship and connectedness.

Name *
Name
Do you follow @mainstreetmamas? If so, 1 extra entry!

Sonnet James: The Playdress, your new best friend!

I first learned about Sonnet James from a Main Street Mama: Whitney Miller. Whitney is an incredibly stylish, yet down to earth & playful mom to two young boys so when she reviewed the dress - my ears perked up. The family photographer mentioned that you could breast feed and the dress didn't lose shape. I had to explore. I reached out to Sonnet James, owned by one incredible mama, also a Whitney, and based in Palo Alto. Over the past year my Sonnet James dresses have been my goes to's for most anything where I want to be comfortable yet stylish. Some examples are as follows: 

  • I wore the Playdress - appropriately coined - below, paired with a faux fur vest & black booties to church during the holidays. Then out for brunch with the kids!  (Similar style here )      

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  • I wear this dress for everything! Park play, office days, with a shrug over it for a baby shower, or for big hugs (as seen below). The integrity of the fabric is remarkable. You can basically work out in them, they are so pliable. Yet their shape remains intact. They wash wonderfully, so don't worry about little fingers.   

The dresses are incredibly versatile, especially if you pick a solid or stripe. You can play it down with a pair of Supergas. Dress it up with fun jewelry and a bootie or kitten pump. As mentioned, they stretch very well, and also allow you to filter for maternity on their site. As you build your capsule wardrobe, these are a must have. Add them to your Holiday Wish List! 

Parenting in recovery - some tools I learned in AA & apply to every day parenting.

Someone told me when Cameron was born that I would forever have my heart walking around outside my body. It's days like today that I am reminded of how raw parenting is. How visceral your response to your child is. How hard this job is. On the other side of the equation, I feel privileged to be present to this small human being when he needs me: however distorted and cruel it may appear in the moment. 

I went into pre-school drop off knowing I would leave in tears, it was that kind of morning. I celebrate two years of parenting two children simultaneously this week as Kaitlin turns two and Cameron is a newly minted four year old. And yes, four year olds are tricky. Cam currently runs on all fours - as you would if you were a two headed dragon transformer. Or a tiger. Or (insert aggressive animal that snarls and sends your moms anxiety through the roof here). I catch myself cringing - sometimes secretly and sometimes quite publicly. Why can't my kid just stand in line? Why can't he keep his hands to himself? Will he always be a child so sensitive to his environment? 

But then I am reminded of the story that my neighbor tells of my five year old self. I sat under the pine trees that lined my driveway for a whole Saturday morning. I watched as many of my classmates drove up our hill to the end of the cul de sac. I watched as they attended a birthday party for a neighbor and classmate, my same age, that I wasn't invited to. My neighbor suggested to my father as she watched the tears stream down my cheeks: maybe Vanessa just needs to be taught to tone it down. I was twenty when my father passed away and Nancy sat with me by the water: a scene I liken to the illustrations from "The Trumpet of the Swan". She shared with me that my father never wanted to dampen my spirit. That he was adamant that no one tell me to be less or be more - that I was who I was meant to be. I was twenty one, a year later, when I got sober. It was hard, getting sober without my cheerleader. Dad always got me - he understood my quirks. I still don't know how my parents had the patience to let me be me while parenting four other children.

As I left drop off in tears, trying to stay present for the two year old who is all ears in the backseat, my dear mom friend reminded me that all four year old have their quirks. It all came together: I get to be present to honor my son's quirks. And suddenly there's a new spin on Cam and it's not such an attack on me. I remind myself frequently that I have a few more tools, as a gift of working Alcoholics Anonymous, than my parents had. If I stay present and practice self-care, I can honor my father's story and help Cam to show up for #allthefeelings.

Here's a few takeaways from my experience in recovery as it pertains to parenting: 

  • HALT: Hungry, Angry, Lonely, Tired. When we feel uncomfortable we check in with these feelings. Have we eaten? Are we upset and we need to chat it out? Do we need to be among others? Do we need to rest our bodies? 
  • Soul Fever & Hooky Days: Sometimes our hearts just need to stay close to home. My friend Alice helped me to learn this term and I had an "Aha moment!" My father used to give us a "mental health day" and let us play hooky one day a semester. 
  • Use your resources:
    • We love our Occupational Therapist & implement her suggestions in C's steady environments (home & school) 
    • In San Francisco there is a phenomenal resource called Talk Line. Talk Line has a physical location in the Upper Haight where complimentary childcare is offered from 10am-2pm Mon-Thurs. You do not need a reason to use Talk Line childcare, but you do need to meet with a case worker & fill out some paperwork. You must stay on premise, but give yourself the moment that you need as a person to show up as the parent your child needs you to be. 
  • Find community in your tribe, and use it. I founded Main Street Mamas, which has been my saving grace, but find a parent group to call upon - and then call upon them. Maybe you need a suggestion, maybe a meal, or maybe you're in a position to be of service. 
  • Be of service. The best way to get out of your own head is to be of service. Find a way to give back in any way. Be an ear, make a meal, provide childcare to a mom in need. Today, after having a hard drop off, I enjoyed being of service by holding a 3 month old at Story Hour while his mom was present for her fifteen month old. It made me grateful for my independent two year old who allowed me to be our service to another mom. 
  • Move a muscle, change a thought. It has been scientifically proven that if you can calm the body to calm the mind. Yoga, stretching, breathing, dancing - all get our bodies moving and re-calibrating. If you are having a tough time try taking a walk around the block or playing tag - it's bound to help you all feel better.  

Now, back to my afternoon coffee while I count the minutes before Kaitlin wakes up from her nap...

xoxo

Vanessa

 

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Minted Photo Op : Reviewed by Bethany

The beauty of Main Steet Mamas is the mom huddles that are continuously built around the city. As we know, this is no small feat. It comes with a lot of hard work! Minted & Main Street Mamas gifted the following photo session to Bethany as a thank you for all her hard work. She is creating a community for moms on the north side of the city that is incredibly appreciated! Thank you, Bethany!

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I had received all of the mailings from Photo-Op By Minted, the emails, the online Social Media Ads and had no clue what they had to offer other than really nice Holiday Photo Cards. I had been frantically searching for a Holiday Mini Session that wouldn’t break the bank and not sacrifice quality! When suggested by a friend to try Photo-Op By Minted I was happy to look into the suggestion! WALAAAA…. just like that I found exactly what I was looking for but remained insanely skeptical because of the price and ease of booking. I’ve got to admit I’m a bit of a control freak… and this just seemed too easy! My friends have all been busy hiring photographers to capture the most perfect family holiday photo to mail off to relatives and friends… Usually spending $250-$1000. Minted allows you to book a 30 minute session and based on zip code provides you with different locations to take your photos ( In your home, Palace of Fine Arts, Chrissy Field… several others)… wait for it… for $100!!!!!!!! 

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We arrived at Chrissy Field to be greeted by Brian the photographer, a friendly fellow San Franciscan who was more than happy to accommodate whatever request we had! He did a fantastic job and was even a good sport when our friend rolled up cheering behind our photoshoot in his classic car! Brian laughed and happily welcomed the car into the photoshoot to use as a prop with my husband and our 9 month old! All with the Golden Gate in the background what more could you ask for! Two days later our photos arrived and I was shocked! For $100 (Kindly gifted from Main Street Mamas) we had about 25 professional photos that we’re edited and ready for Holiday Cards! We also received the remaining unedited photos to keep! Minted also creates Holiday Cards for you based on their favorite photos that you have the option to edit and purchase! I enjoy making our Holiday cards so I have chose to personalize ours on my own using Minted. They are the same price point as the other online photo card options with a ton of sales and savings for the Holiday season! Not to mention the customer services was phenomenal! To sum this up… I booked our session on a Friday, had photos taken on Sunday, received my photos on Tuesday and now Holiday Photos and Cards are complete the week before Thanksgiving. That my friend… to me… Is a Mom Win! Follow this link to book your session for the Holidays and receive $25 off your $100 purchase! Photo-Op By Minted I just booked a session to gift our wonderful Nanny and her family because I was so impressed with the outcome! Happiest of Holiday to each of you and I look forward to seeing your favorite family photos!  -Bethany

Cabana Life...

It tickles me to be so enamored with Cabana Life nearly ten years after having met the founders. Here we are, our journeys having taken us from young entrepreneurs in New York City to established business owners and mothers. We have made decisions on behalf of our families that have taken us to Florida, San Francisco and Dallas - but you can't take the New York out of the girl.

Well before I had children, I fell in love with CL for myself & now I am even more in love for my family. I think at our very first pub lunch, Melissa hooked me with the following statistic: an average t-shirt blocks on average 7% of UVA/UVB rays. As one of five fair skinned children, I grew up with the notion that a t-shirt and sunscreen was protection enough. Fast forward 30 years, and my sister has already had melanoma surgically extracted from her leg. We need to work toward broader education, and Cabana Life is at the forefront of that. 

Cabana Life has become a staple for fashions that take you from the sand to sidewalk. The collection of 50+ UPF clothing offers a variety of sun essentials including bathing suits, dresses, hats, cover-ups, tunics, shirts and pants for boys, girls and women.

My children have been wearing adorable Cabana Life garb since they first dipped in a pool and today, we are enjoying our East Coast road trip in Mommy & Me numbers!

Through September 3, enjoy the promo code "mainstreet" for 20% off. 

Learning to love my kids differently is okay

The past two weeks we have been on a road trip: Boston, Connecticut, Long Island & now Maine. The east coast sun has been incredibly energizing & restorative, allowing me to reflect on the past year & a half with two children. I have been able to really look at the way that my children need me differently & I relate to them differently.

It sounds strange to admit that I need space from my children. But this is my journey and I am coming to terms with it as it unfolds before me. I am learning, my children have presented their own temperaments and personalities to me. I have the privilege of dancing with them. And boy, it's nothing short of a mind fuck.

When Cam turned two, Kaitlin's scheduled c-section date was 10 days a way. I had better managed expectations this time. I knew I was growing a large baby (read: 11+ lbs) and I knew what c-section recovery entailed. I had done a lot of work and come to terms with a fed baby being best, regardless of how they are fed. I had enlisted help, knowing that family was far. What I wasn't prepared for was the influx of emotions that comes with loving your babies differently. 

I show up for my children in different ways, and that's okay. Cam has always been a big personality. He's intense in an incredible way. While I know he craves alone time with me, he's super social and it took me a long time to figure out what it was he enjoyed doing in his "mommy & me" moments. The library - not so much. Trader Joe's trips to get "little nibbles" and chat to every passer by...now we are on to something. In all his fury, he appreciates routine and adores school. He likes to know his schedule and where we will go after school, so he can anticipate it all day. As awesome as he is, I am a better parent to him with some space. 

When Kaitlin was born, she nursed on the operating table. She was the attachment parent's dream baby. To the mom who has always had to fight for my cuddles, she was the koala baby I never knew I needed. And suddenly, I didn't want to give her up. I didn't want to spend my days away from her. I didn't need as much space. She didn't crave as much autonomy. 

Anyone who knows me might argue that this reads wrong, as I adore my first born. It's not that I love either of them more or less - it's that I love them different. They also love me different. Cam loves me intensely, with a bit of distance. We sing together - loudly. We run and jump and splash together, literally and metaphorically. We are the best kind of weirdos together. Kaitlin and I sit and read. She nuzzles in my lap. And in my neck. And tucks herself into a ball that can be enveloped by my two arms and tucked underneath my cardigan. She's a puppy. She needs little distance, but is enjoying navigating her own space. The word "no" is her friend, in all her toddler glory.

Given that our children spend their days somewhat separately, the summer is also an amazing agenda-less way for them to navigate their relationship. In between headlocks and taunting pinches, the photographs are what will be left. Barefoot toes and late afternoon dips in the lake, that's what summer are made of. 

#momhuddle soiree

When I first started Main Street Mamas, I didn't quite know the strength it would possess one day. I knew I needed mom friends, I knew I wasn't alone in craving community, and I knew that there was a ripple eager to make a wave. What I didn't know was the magic that we were on the brink of. Three years later, with over 6000 mom in the San Francisco circle, it was time to dig a little deeper. We did this in the name of a backyard dinner party. 

Hosted at a gorgeous residence in the Mission, we invited 20 moms from different neighborhoods to share their parenting stories with us. We were intentional in asking moms who were like-minded yet whose paths might not cross otherwise. A motherhood salon if you will. Kendra Nixon of Nomad Nixon sprinkled her magic on the aesthetics and ambiance. 

We spoke about our identities as we navigate the world of mothering and parenthood. We are now much more than a professional and a partner. We are a part of a modern day village. It was fascinating to hear how we each navigate the same city with different vantage points. While there were close couples, there were many first meetings. The result was nothing short of remarkable.

Our guests enjoyed delicious fare prepared by Freida of Sacred Weddings & Noe Valley's LeCupboard. The tables were delightfully adorned by strawberries which were provided by Good Eggs. Between these three sustainably-minded sources, our moms of all dietary restrictions were beyond satisfied. We noshed on eggplant falafel with romesco, beet salad with quinoa cashew cheese and slivered oranges, marinated skirt steak, herbed chicken, & apple skewers with dates and argon oil-infused almond butter - among much (much) more. Post dinner we enjoyed a cup of Ritual coffee, brewed by roasting mastermind Eileen Rinaldi. These gorgeous photos are thanks to mama, Robin Weir

At the end of the evening, giddy with new friendships and percolating with ideas, our attendees left with Lulu Frost x Lesley Piece astrology earrings. Each lady had a personalized constellation earring. I have not taken mine off yet - it's so fun to wear! Match the other side with a stud or a dangle, they compliment your outfit whether at the park or an evening out.  

We can't wait to bring simple, yet sophisticated evenings of facilitated conversation to your neck of the woods! If interested in attending or hosting, please be in touch.

Babyzen Yoyo part two: The Buddy Board!

Thanks again to being a Stroller Traffic Scout, our family has enjoyed the new Babyzen yoyo+ board. We have always enjoyed our Yoyo (see review here), but now this is our main stay! Retailing for $125, the buddy board carries up to 44lbs. Staying true to all their features - the buddy board is insanely easy to install. Its a one-handed pinch to clip it on or off of the stroller. The saddle is easily removable, allowing for your child to sit or stand. My bike obsessed toddler can't wait to jump on the board when I pull the stroller out of the car!

I recently joined a friend at the zoo who has a 5 month old & 3 year old. They had brought an infant car seat & stroller for the 5 month old and the yoyo for the 3 year old. Perfect scenario to adapt the buddy board: once their baby is old enough for the yoyo, they only have to attach the buddy board for their toddler. The best part for an environment like the zoo, is the ability for the toddler to jump on and off.  We now use this stroller for trips to the beach (it's SO light!), to the park and on every excursion! 

My only bit of feedback in the event that you are on the shorter end, is that the buddy board can make the stroller a bit trickier to steer. I am 5'6'' and found that steering one-handed, while walking to the side was easier & quite doable given how manoeverable the yoyo is. 

For reference, my children are 1.5 & 3.5 in the photos below.

This weekend: West Coast Craft, Sunday Streets in OS & Charity Khan!

This weekend is chock full of fun. Here are a few reasons to get out with your MSM community and family:

West Coast Craft: 

Summer 2017 West Coast Craft is THIS weekend: June 10 & 11, from 10am-6pm at the Festival Pavilion at Fort Mason Center! Imagine Etsy, curated and west coast inspired, come to life. With the breathe and air that the backdrop of the Bay inspires, it's an incredibly innovative environment.  

San Francisco MSM, Sara Ewick is thrilled to announce a number of new-to-West Coast Craft vendors this summer, including Counter-SpaceMazama WaresNancy PearceIjjiBathing CultureSana AlouiBaby Cats of California, and Pen + Ink Pottery (among many others--see their complete list of vendors here). 

Plus, the show is built for families, with a kid-friendly lounge set up by Mothermag.com x Lonny Magazine.  826 Valencia will also be in the lounge doing some creative writing workshops for kids.

Best of all?! It's completely FREE

Sunday Streets in the Outer Sunset!

Hooray!  Sunday, June 11 is the annual Sunset/Golden Gate Park edition of Sunday Streets, which means that from 11 AM to 4 PM families will be out west enjoying car-free fun and a slew of fantastic activities. The folks at SundayStreets have also made this great Explore Local guide, a nifty list of some of the best and brightest landmarks and businesses in the neighborhood for you to check out as part of your Sunday Streets adventure.

At Avenues Dry Goods (on Irving between 42nd and 43rd) from 11-4 they'll have our friends and neighbors from Churn Urban Creamery popping up in front of the store with their bounty of both traditional ice cream and dairy-free flavors. Stop by for a scoop or two and snap a photo. Don't forget to tag #msmmoments

Join Charity Khan as she embarks on her FOURTEENTH year of family concerts at Beach Chalet!

Once tuckered out on the Great Highway, meander down to Beach Chalet to hear Charity & The Jam Band from 3-5pm on Sunday, June 11. Reminder: drinks are easy to purchase on a crowded day but food is only served to tables, which are first come first serve. Don't be scared off: pack snacks and a blanket - as picnic-ing is welcome. At the end, you'll see the incredible (almost) sunset and scoot home in time for bath & an early bedtime! 

Using a Sensible Sitter to fill in the gaps!

As parents we have way more hats to wear than hours to switch them out! It occurred to me, 3 years into parenting, that the Sensible Sitters I have used are capable of so much more than babysitting. It was in a recent coffee date with Keatyn that we chatted about her love for keeping a house in order - from organization to laundering. Music to my ears! After share care at our house with two toddlers for two weeks, we were in need of some help in the play room so, the next week we gave it a go! 

Sensible Sitters: Solutions. (Click here to inquire about additional services) 

Keatyn arrived just as Kaitlin, our 1.5 year old, went down for a nap. I gave her a smidge of direction: I wanted the playroom to look less than like the garage sale it currently looked like and more curated. I wanted it to invite creativity. Below were the results and what Keatyn did:

  • Repurposed existing materials : nothing was bought new for storage purposes
  • Created themed vignettes in the storage cubes 
  • Put large, like minded, toys in the storage baskets so that kids could easily find what they were looking for 
  • Small pieces/toys went in small containers to be easily found 
  • created a book nook in the corner of the room with large throw pillows
  • Removed toys that were too small, which are now neatly stored for coffee hour at the Main Street Mamas coffee hour. 
  • Stored baskets of toys for rotation in the closet!
  • Simple solution: turned a basket on it's side to create a book shelf in the living room 

I knew that when my son came home from school he would be excited, but this has changed our lives in a profound way. The kids have learned to play together this week as their playroom is clutter free and they can navigate their play stations so easily. They have also taken pride in putting their things away. 

Playroom B&A

Good Eggs Dinner Kits: Take Back Dinner!

Having landed at midnight on Monday from Hawaii (more to come on our trip!), this beautiful package could not have arrived on a more perfect evening. I had taken a week off work and while the vacation was perfect, I was a crazy combo of exhausted and behind at work. The kids were conked out early, we had a glorious sunset beaming through our kitchen window, and the doorbell rang. Enter, Good Eggs Dinner Kit. Let me walk you through my experience:

  • Delivered in a box and a tote bag, I first unpacked all the greens. The fresh produce came in a tote bag - as if I just stopped by the farmers market! Wrapped in a bio bag & labeled with a sticker for the corresponding recipe.
  • As I opened the box, I was first met with a dinner playlist. No detail left unattended!
  • One of my favorite elements of the dinner kit is the theme: Take Back Dinner! A beautiful nod to this is the wooden "Buh-bye box" that is introduced on top of the refrigerated goods. It's fun to put together and reminded me of the wooden airplanes we bought as children. Now my hands were busy and the worries of the day behind me.
  • My next layer was recipes and fresh, refrigerated groceries, perfectly parsed out. As I pulled the recipes out from the envelope my mouth watered and I was so inspired by the gorgeous photography.

We decided on the spring pasta with english peas, pesto and pea shoots. It was truly as simple as it promised (20 min cook time: TOTAL) and I had zero mom guilt about not having made anything from scratch. This past week my husband and I talked a lot about the mom guilt that I attach to way too many areas of my life. Good Eggs read our minds. The need for a dinner hour full of fresh, nourishing, food and void of our ever-running to do lists. My husband and I had different worries and weights from the day, but we both left them in the buh-bye box and enjoyed our meal.

The meal kit made enough for us and both children! It was bright and cheery, with lemon and mint notes in the pesto. The pasta, sourced from The Pasta Shop, was perfectly satisfying. Garlic greens and peas, cooked together, created an fragrant dish. Accompanied by fresh greens and a balsamic dressing - this was just what we needed to center us as we settled back into life in the fast lane.

Some additional facts about the Dinner Kits: 

  • Customers who sign up for the dinner kit receive 3 meals, which can be ordered and delivered at the same time as their weekly groceries. (Subscription not required.)

  • Kit options change weekly.

  • Cost $69.99

  • 1 meal = 2+ servings

  • Each weekly menu comes with a Good Eggs Kitchen seasonal green salad mix & dressing that can be paired with any meal. (Pairings suggested on recipes)

  • This spring, there will be 2 omnivore meals and 1 vegetarian

  • Coming later this year: vegetarian and other options

Enter below to win one of THREE Good Eggs Dinner Kits. It's easy! Just follow Main Street Mamas & Good Eggs on Instagram and leave your email address. 

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Sign up above to enter to win a Good Eggs Dinner Kit!