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henry happened: March 2011

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Keepin' Company Thursday Guest Host

How exciting! I'm guest host today at the Keepin' Company Thursday Hop!


Thank you so much to Heck of a Bunch and Traci66 for hosting this great hop. Hope you can take a minute to go & link up - and do a little hopping!


Pro Mom: 10 Things I Learned Over 30 Years

Meet Karen Jenks - aka Mimi - the best mom and grandmother. Full stop. :)

I asked her to reflect on what she has learned over the past 30 (or so) years as our first "pro mom." She brings such wisdom and love to parenting. She has definitely been my role model as a mother - I hope I can measure up!

Read her top 10 learnings below....

Mimi with Caroline
1. Parenting continues over the course of a lifetime. Forever. And no matter the age of ones children, a parent's happiness is inextricably linked forever with the well being and happiness of their children. (This is an experiential lesson that our children will understand only after their own children grow up.)

2. Watching your children evolve, grow and blossom into their own unique person and individual is the most amazing process, filling you mostly with indescribable love and an overwhelming sense of pride. 
3. You love your children more than life. But your relationship changes of necessity as they grow into adulthood. We as parents move from a leading role to more of a supportive, secondary role as children marry, become parents, and develop social lives. The process definitely involves some letting go. And quite frankly, some adjustment and getting used to. 

4. A word about advice. When your children want it, they will ask for it. Otherwise, keep it to yourself. For the most part, kids have to learn their own lessons the hard way. So hold your "pearls of wisdom." Bite your tongue and try not to take it personally.  

5. Relationships with our adult children are now mutual and voluntary since we're not in charge anymore. And our children mostly hold the reins. Our children can determine how much time they want to spend with us - when and for how long. So keep that in mind when your children are small. One day, chickens come home to roost. Or don't, whichever the case may be.

Mimi with Henry
 6. Your adult children will bring one of life's greatest gifts into your life, and at a time when you probably need it most - Grandchildren. We're talking overwhelming love and indescribable joy! So a big heartfelt, thank you, thank you, thank you!

7. While your adult children are about their own lives, don't neglect your own. Someone once described it this way,  "remember to tend your own garden."  Stay active, involved, and interesting. You'll be more fun to be around.

8. On rare occasions, your children may take you for granted. Maybe even have moments when they forget how much they love you. Try not to worry or fret and be secure in the knowledge that they always love you.You may just have to practice a little faith for a while!

9. Get to know and enjoy your sons-in-laws/daughters-in-laws! They can greatly enrich your family. You may even come to love them like your own. (I speak from experience - Moni and Mark are the best!
10. Your kids can be some of your best teachers. My husband Pat and I have learned and continue to learn from our children. They have taught us about computers, Smartphones, blogs - giving us a leg up on all the new techie things that intimidate us just a little.  Right now Stephanie is teaching us about preparing nutritious, healthy meals while Susanna shares with us thoughts on spirituality and community. And it is my belief that our children continue to watch and absorb more lessons in living from us as they observe us navigating our life's challenges, transitions and passages. Bottom line: they still need us. So remember that your kids are watching and try to be a good role model.

P.S.  One other thing, I have the smartest, most beautiful, most talented and loving daughters a mother could ever ask for. Really. I thank God for them and what they mean to my life everyday. And one day, if you're very, very lucky indeed, your daughters become your best friends.


Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Mom Crush | Reese Witherspoon

I just heard today that Reese Witherspoon got married last weekend (I know, I'm probably the last to know). In looking online for wedding photos, I found some really cute pics of Reese and the family. They are all so stylish!

And it looks like Reese likes stripes too!

What celeb moms' style do you love? I'm also a fan of Maggie Gyllenhaal and Michelle Williams.

P.S. Don't forget to enter our giveaway from Poppy & Pinecone!

Photos via Us Weekly


Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Please VOTE - I'm nominated for blog of the month!

Hi, sorry to be asking you to vote for me (again). But I'm nominated for Blog of the Month by the fabulous For the Love of Blogs.

And please VOTE!

(I'm sure all of the other blogs are way cooler than me ... so I'm hoping for a least a decent showing to avoid painful embarrassment....)

6 Picks for Boys

It was a series of unfortunate events today - taking both kids to the doctor, no naps, pooping in the bathtub. Mommy needed wine and shopping therapy. So I indulged in my love of Pinterest eye candy when both (finally) went to bed. I feel much better about Henry's craziness when I picture him in some Godzilla leggings. A few of my favorite finds for the little guy:

1. Godzilla leggings | Original pin by Stephanie
2. Whale fishbowl | Original pin by MV Cat
3. Tool t-shirt | Original pin by Ashley Muir
4. Shoes | Original pin by Stephanie
5. Track tape | Original pin by Liz Durham
6. Raccoon storage bin | Original pin by Ashley Muir

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Monday, March 28, 2011

Rookie Mom : 10 Things I Learned in the First 6 Months

Christie Harrington has been one of my best friends since we used to watch TV on the sly together in college (TV wasn’t allowed, long story). She lives way, way too far away in Anchorage, Alaska, so I haven’t met her gorgeously chubby cheeked son, Jonah. Born August 16, Jonah just passed the 7 month mark. (Side note: Christie had the same due date as me with Caroline (Aug 29) - no fair that she delivered early!)

As a self-described “rookie mom,” Christie reflects below on 10 things she learned in the first 6 months. I’m having a little trouble picturing my squeamish friend washing off poop, but kuddos on the cloth diapers!

Great pieces of baby gear:
1. Moby wrap: At first I was totally intimidated by this cloth monstrosity and put off reading the manual.  Yes, it has a manual.  However, once I experimented with it for 10 minutes I was angry I hadn’t done it sooner.  An AMAZING baby carrier that can be used from newborn through 35 pounds.
2. Breast pump: I had taken a breast feeding class prior to giving birth but once Jonah came along I realized there was so much that no one ever told me! I wish I’d had a breast pump before Jonah was here.  My breast pump has been one of the most valuable pieces of equipment ever!!
3. Bouncy chair: Enabled me to take a quick shower while he was entertained and safe.
4. Bumbo seat: A lifesaver once Jonah was able to support his head on his own. Because the seat is so deep and supports the baby so high on their torso, they’re able to sit safely and comfortably.

Pieces that weren’t as wonderful as I thought they’d be:
5. Baby bath tub: I found it easier to use the sink and once Jonah was larger we just took baths with him
6. Tummy Tub: An item that I wrestled with purchasing. All the research I’d done seemed to say it was ideal for bathing a baby. However, once I had it, I discovered it wasn’t as easy to use as I thought and seemed to require more time preparing to use it than actually bathing Jonah. 

Other learnings:
7. Cloth diapers are not as intimidating as most of us may initially fear; they’ve come a long way since our parents used them. I waited until Jonah was 10 lbs before using them - on the recommendation of another mom who was using them (with newborns it’s easier to use disposable because you’re changing diapers so frequently and disposables have the notch cut-out for the umbilical stump). I haven’t hired a diaper service. I do all the work myself and I personally don’t find it totally disgusting. It is a little more work than simply throwing a diaper in the garbage, but I figure I’m doing my part for the environment and saving myself a lot of money! Totally worth the effort.
8. I make my own baby food and again, like cloth diapers, not as time consuming as many of us may think.  I love WholesomeBabyFood.com.
9. I believe every parent should read one or two sleeping books prior to their bundle of joy arriving.  Once your baby arrives, one thing you desperately need is some good sleep but it’s virtually impossible because someone else always comes first (a hint: it’s not mommy). Having a game plan for sleep training ahead of time will help you instill good sleep habits early, and you’ll have less headaches in breaking habits you didn’t know you were teaching. Two good books: The Baby Sleep Solution and Health Sleep Habits, Happy Child.
10. What would I do differently? I would focus much more on resting when Jonah was sleeping during the first 2 or 3 months. I can only recall taking three naps during that time and I know I needed much more sleep than I got during that period.

What are your newborn must-haves? What totally disappointed?

P.S. Be on the lookout for the next post from a Pro Mom who shares 10 learnings from 30 years of experience!

P.P.S Don't forget to enter our fabulous giveaway!

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GIVEAWAY from Poppy & Pinecone

Our first giveaway! Two lucky henry happened readers will win an 8x10 geography print from Poppy & Pinecone. Check out all of Elisabeth's beautiful art, and if you win, you can choose your favorite print!

All you have to do is leave a comment (up to 4, see rules below!) on this post by Thursday, March 31 at midnight (EST) and I’ll randomly pick two winners on Friday.

The 4 ways to enter:
1. Leave a comment on this post
2. Tweet about the giveaway with a link to this post, and leave a comment with a link to your tweet
3. Put a message on Facebook and leave a comment telling me you did so
4. Link to this post on your blog and leave a comment with a link to your post

Yes, that means you can enter four times!


Sunday, March 27, 2011

5 Nursery Design Tips for Better Sleep

Confession time: I have paid money to a sleep consultant to figure out why my son WILL NOT NAP. Things are better (but still not great) and I have largely come to terms that he will never be as good of a sleeper as his sister. Sigh.

That said, I'm still obsessed with all things sleep so, of course, keep up-to-date on my sleep lady's recommendations. She shared these tips from designer Paige Rien on creating a nursery that promotes sleep. Because they can play later.

1. Make it dark with multi-layered window treatments 
{My take: Daylight savings time is killing us! I’m already hearing, "But it’s not dark yet!”}

2. An absurdly comfortable place to sit. 
{My take: Anyone want my Dutailier rocker that I never used? Have a glider chair now that is sooo much better.}

3. Damn good lighting. So you can see what you’re doing. Ideally on dimmers, install both overhead and task lighting. 
{Steph: Lamps with dark shades work nicely too.}

4. The power to tread lightly. ... My favorite? The short-napped, easy-to-clean and replace in-piecemeal-fashion, FLOR tiles that come in a billion colors and textures. 
{My take: Also learn to tip toe and how to sidestep the creaky spots in your 50-year-old floor.}

5. Good supply chain management. ... I am a big fan of dressers in lieu of changing tables, where everything is out and about and it’s ... useless whenever your child is either out of diapers or too big to lug up there. In a drawer, you can keep an eye on the supply, and keep the stuff out of your curious baby’s hands. 
 {My take: Dressers are great until you let your child fall off while wrestling with diaper champ/genie/whatever ... then you get rid of both and go to the floor.}

You can read the full article here

I also think background music and a fan or something for white noise is a must. 

What tips do you have for better sleep?

P.S. I installed a new commenting system, so leave a comment and let me know what you think!

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Saturday, March 26, 2011

Weekend Loving & Learning: Part II

Since we are new, help us get the word out! If you like henry happened, use the share buttons to tweet, like us, or Stumble us. *thank you!*


Friday, March 25, 2011

Weekend Loving & Learning: Part I

Tape art via here


Thursday, March 24, 2011

Friday Favorites - What made you happy this week?

What a great week - if a bit weird. We are all in different cities & places. Still, lots to be happy about as I reflect on the week's events.
  • Pat coming home from the hospital. YAY. And it has been really nice to get to cook for him and Mom. Missing my kitchen though! I've been thinking lots about the ingredients I always have on hand & my favorite weeknight meals - will share next week.
  • Your comments. The comments I've gotten this week from hoppers & new readers (especially those on the endangered species of stylish moms) totally cracked me up. And I wish I could respond more effectively! This post from The Type A Housewife really resonated - some good tips in her comments that I will try to incorporate.
  • Caroline having her first sleep over with Cousin Sofia. No separation anxiety for her! I will be hearing more about big girl beds for sure. Any tips on making the transition? We've been stalling for forever now.
I'll be sharing my favorite links from the week tomorrow so I hope you can come back and visit over the weekend!

Now your turn. What made you happy this week? Leave me a comment ... you know how those make my day!


Virtual Closet ~ Me Likey Stripey

No surprise, I love black & white stripes. And they seem to be everywhere this season. Hurrah! So I'm adding them to my virtual closet for spring. 

Photos via J.Crew, Ann Taylor Loft, GOOP, Calypso St. Barth


Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Mom Spy :: spotted at the zoo

What is Mom Spy? In the ongoing quest to discover what other moms know, I'm introducing a new series to peak into all things mom related: style secrets, refrigerators, birthday parties, weekend trips, etc. 

First up, riffing on one of my favorites, The Sartorialist, I spotted this chic mom riding the carousel with her son at the zoo yesterday. I am, of course, loving the black and white stripe shirt. Add wedge sandals, pretty yellow scarf, turquoise bracelet? So jealous!

Don't you love seeing moms looking great out & about? Seems like every mom I see at Target looks stylish. Do you dress up to go to the grocery?


Tuesday, March 22, 2011

5 things I did to make my kid smarter for $15

I recently reviewed several books to help parents navigate their child's education. Ever since, I've been passing around my copy of one book to my mom friends: Testing for Kindergarten.

It was a scary, eye-opening look into IQ testing for preschoolers. But with a silver lining - there are lots of things parents can do to increase the odds of a good test outcome if you are trying to get into a gifted program or a competitive school. Or, like me, just want to sneak more learning into everyday interactions.

Here are 5 things I started doing with Caroline after reading the book:

1. I started reading more interactively. Called dialogic reading, you basically ask questions as you read and then build on your child's answer with additional questions or information. I don't go nuts, and it can actually make the 53rd reading of Curious George fun. Plus, it can vastly improve your child's vocabulary and critical thinking skills. Cost = Free

2. I made a sensory toy - a bucket full of all kinds of beans. Not only is it fun to play with, it teaches math skills (we use measuring cups), spatial and fine motor skills. Plus I made a shaker toy for Henry. Cost = $3

3. I picked up a set of BrainQuest flash cards. This one was a total flop. I could not get Caroline to sit still long enough to get interested in them at all. However, other friends say their kids love them and the workbooks. Cost = about $10

4. I tried out lots of her recommended products from the library. I couldn't get into the videos - we have a hard enough time trying to limit TV - but we found lots of great new books: Richard Scarry, Pancakes for Breakfast, Chicka Chick Boom Boom, Madeline, etc. Cost = Free (not counting fines!)

5. I bought Chutes & Ladders at Goodwill. A great tool for learning numbers. Cost = $2

And I'm still planning to make that homemade memory game....


What I'm Reading :: Claire Gerber

My mother-in-law Claire is always reading something new & interesting sounding. She's given me some of the best books I've read - The Help, Year of Wonders, Loving Frank. I wish I lived closer to her so I could invite myself into her book club too. Check out what's on her stack.

What's on your bedside table now: The Madonnas of Echo Park by Brando Skyhorse (March book club selection)

Book you can't wait to read next: Still Alice by Lisa Genova

Last book you recommended to a friend:
Pearl of China by Anchee Min

Last book that made you neglect everything else to finish: The Help by Kathryn Stockett

Favorite book as a child:
given to me by my Grandfather, my 1st hardcover young adult book, Black Beauty by Anna Sewell

Favorite book to give as a gift:
Coffee table books of cities/states where people live or are moving to or from. Such as Kentucky for you guys.

Magazine(s) you love to subscribe to:
The Week and Philadelphia magazine

Magazine you love to splurge on at the grocery:
People and US Weekly


Tips for Better Pics - of MOM

Do you have a gazillion pics of your kids, but few that include you? The Cool Moms I've featured struggle to find a recent photo of themselves. Caroline is almost 4 and I think I have one picture of just the two of us that I love. 

I asked Ashley, a great photographer, for some advice on capturing those frame-worthy moments. My tip, learned the hard way: Take a shower, fix your hair, put on make up. Your kids will always look great, so worry less about their outfit and spend the time on yourself. Read on for Ashley's great tips!

P.S. Don't you love her photos? You can see more of her work here. And no, that's not me in the photos - but isn't the little girl adorable?!

Having a family photo taken should not be a dreaded experience for a mom, but let’s face it, it almost always is. I photograph a lot of families and while it's always hard to get everyone looking good on the count of three, moms have a particularly trying time. Here are a few tips to make the shoot more enjoyable and create photographs that won’t make you cringe.

  • Think Ahead: Planning ahead will allow you be comfortable in front of the camera. That’s why children always photograph so well, they have so few worries compared to adults!  Have toys around that you know your kids love so the photographer can use them in a pinch. Style your hair so that strands can’t make a run for it when you are in the middle of the action. Make sure the kids are dressed appropriately for the weather if shooting outside. 
  • Posture and pose: It’s easy to forget to stand up straight with with your shoulders back when you have one child balanced on your hip and another child leaning against your knees. Use your core while holding a child so that you’re not leaning over to balance the weight of the baby. Slightly angle your body so that it's not parallel to the camera for a flattering angle and put your weight on your back leg to help improve posture.
  • Clear Vision: If you can’t see the camera, the camera can’t see you. I know it's obvious but occasionally parents believe that their child’s head makes a great window when really it's better used as a wall.
  • Look at the Camera:  If you and your child are in position, don’t be so concerned with making your kid smile. That’s the photographer’s job. I cannot tell you how many great group shots are ruined because the parents are looking at their children instead of at the camera. It's hard enough to snap a shot when the child has a natural smile but having to worry about other family members looking down at the child makes a group shot almost impossible.
  • Lens Perspective: Whatever is closest to the lens will be the biggest in the photograph, proportionally speaking. If you are not so happy with the size of your upper arms, be sure that they are not the closest body part to the camera. If they are it will surely draw attention to that area of the body.


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Monday, March 21, 2011

Welcome Spring With Pretty Toes

After battling the trifecta of flu, fever and infections (ear), I breathed a major sigh of relief when both kiddos went to school today.

And 5 minutes later I started to feel guilty. It was Henry's first day at parents day out & the house seemed so empty. So I decided to go to Starbucks and get a pedicure. Cue the teeny, tiny violin. 

But it is a major mood lifter to have the toes looking presentable for spring. I usually stick to bright pink (Caroline would be proud) with an occasional foray into purple. But check out these colors that are "in" for spring, according to Allure.

Would you be caught dead in these?


OPI Black Shatter
Chanel Nail Colour in Mimosa
Estee Lauder Pure Color Nail Lacquer in Wicked Green


I'm stylish! Who knew?

Thank you to My Dishwasher's Possessed! for giving me a Stylish Blogger Award! As a new blogger every bit of encouragement is hugely appreciated. Of course, ALL the props go to Violet and her awesome design.

To accept this award the recipients are asked to do a few things.
  • Thank and link back to the person who gave you this award.
  • Share 7 things about yourself
  • Award 10-15 blogs you feel deserve the award
  • Contact these bloggers and let them know about the award.
I would like to pass this award on to 12 stylish blogs that I've recently discovered:

Cherished Handmade Treasures

Mommy’s Peanut Gallery

Now for 7 things about me!
  1.  My daughter's name is Caroline Claire - she's named after her Aunt Janet Carol Ambler and Grandmother Claire Gerber
  2. My son's name is Henry Griffin - he's not named after anyone
  3. I now drive a minivan - and I like it!
  4. I have a wee bit of an obsession with Gwyneth Paltrow
  5. I love black & white stripes on pretty much anything - clothes, walls, etc.
  6. I used to work for A&W - loved the root beer floats!
  7. My family might have a blog intervention on me soon

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Meet Cool Mom Amber Carlson

It's Mommy Monday! Our latest Cool Mom is Amber Carlson. I met Amber in elementary school, and she was already beautiful and cool (lucky girl!). I tried to emulate her style, becoming obsessed with the Esprit clothes she wore, but try as I might, I couldn't quite pull off the look.

Now as a mother of twin girls, Amber is still pretty darn cool. I can't wait to try her homemade wheat sticks recipe! Read on....
Names & ages of children: Sadie Glenn and Trista Lee Carlson, 2 years and 3 months

Feel best about being a mom when: I see the girls hug and kiss each other or if one is crying the other one will pat their back.

Stopped feeling guilty about: The house NOT being clean all the time and picked up.

Favorite family ritual: With hubby we do homemade buttermilk biscuits or chocolate chip pancakes on the weekends. Without the hubby the girls and I run thru Sonic at least once a week while we are out running errands. The second one sounds a little pathetic but it's like a field trip for me!

Best family vacation: Took the girls to Florida last summer for 12 days. They loved chasing the sand pipers, sifting sand through their hands and running into the ocean. They had no fear.

How do you find time for yourself? I have an incredibly supportive husband who gives me the evening off if I want to go out or because he's off every Friday I get out for several hours and do whatever I want to do. 

Biggest mom-stresser? Trying to get my kids to eat their vegetables. The pediatrician says to stop worrying but it stresses me out way more than I thought it would. 
What do you see your kids doing that you have no idea where they got it? So far everything I've seen them do I know exactly where they got it from. :)

Go-to kid snacks: Love the dried veggies in the produce section. The girls will eat those! And Wheat Sticks that I make. (see recipe below)

Biggest timesaver: I always have whole wheat pancake batter pre-made in the fridge. And my favorite is crock pot oatmeal - put it on at night and it's ready in the a.m.

I keep organized by: I'd label everything if I could. I love my LABEL maker!

Best piece of parenting advice: Don't tell your kids what to think - let them think for themselves. Let them explore, be creative and get messy. 

What I read online: I read reviews on anything I'm about to purchase - my little brother taught me that. :) I have enjoyed listening to various podcasts. I listen to This American Life (NPR), Stuff Mom Never Told You and Truth Driven Thinking.

My mom style is:  Hands down: T-shirt and Jeans

Most special moment as a mom so far? The girls have just started saying "Thank you, Mommy" and tonight Trista said "Goodnight Mommy" for the first time. Or sometimes they will caress my face softly.

Wheat Sticks Recipe:
2 cups whole wheat flour
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup finely chopped nuts(i use pecans or even pecan meal)
1/4 cup coconut(sweetened or unsweetened)
1/2 cup ice water
1/3 cup oil ( i use canola)
Mix oil and water and then add to dry mixture to make a stiff dough. Roll out on cookie sheet and cut into squares or diamonds. I do this by using a long knife to make perforated edges but don't cut all the way through. Then when it's done baking I can just break the pieces off easily. I roll it about as thin as a cracker.
BAKE at 325 degrees for 20 minutes


Friday, March 18, 2011

Friday Favorites - What Made You Happy Today?

Happy Friday! Hope everyone has plans to enjoy the weekend - and the fabulous spring weather we're having in Louisville (if you're lucky enough to live nearby).

Here are a couple of the things that made me happy this week...
  • My new blog design! Still a work in progress, but a huge thank you to Viva la Violette. I'll be writing more about this great designer in a separate post.
  • Getting lost in the world of Pinterest - finally a place to save all of my favorite black & white striped finds! You can follow me here.
  • Celebrating St. Patty's Day with Mark - nice to get away and enjoy a burger and a Guinness together.

And my most favorite thing -
  • Pat's new heart. He came out of surgery today with flying colors the docs say. Here's to a speedy recovery. 

 What made you happy this week? Leave a comment! Those make me happy . . . .

  Photo via here


Spring Mom Uniform #2

1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7

I saw this outfit on A Diary of Lovely and wanted the clothes more than the purse. My recreation for spring.