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2014: DO MORE WITH LESS.

It’s getting real. REALLY real. 2014 was always the number. It marked the end of residency. THE goal. The moment we could breathe. The year we could look forward to. I’m going to pretend (for just a moment) that there aren’t several even harder fellowship years right around the corner, and celebrate. Somehow, we made it. This six year Texas chapter is very close to being over. We MADE it. We grew roots. I grew two babies. I grew into my very own shoes. I am not the same person who set foot on this brand new foundation in 2008. & I never want to go back. These four walls we’ve loved in have brought the highest highs and lowest lows. Emotionally. Physically. Looking back, it seems like a volatile chapter, but somehow what I remember clearest, is the sunshine. Through the infertility & career struggles & challenges of being married to someone who just isn’t physically present & sleep deprivation beyond my most awful imagination…I still see the sunshine. The dark days have made me who I am, and the sunshine got brighter. & there was plenty of it. Literally and figuratively.

As I took down the Christmas decorations, I started the process of taking down everything personal in my home. Staging is right around the corner and that means that it’s time to purge & pack away. I am holding & lingering upon frames full of images that mean so much to me. They take me right back to the quiet of the first baby I brought home. The chaos of the second. The crazy that has been our lives in between.

With each passing year my outlook seems to shift just a little bit. When I built this house, I was in a dark place. The cabinets are dark. The paint colors were dark. The furnishings were/are dark. It’s lightened up over time, but I’m ready to move on to something different. I used to be a collector. I liked stuff. I still like a cozy & decorated space but at this point, where the overwhelming-ness of two small children and all the stuff that goes with them rears its very messy head, all I am looking for is negative space. I want less. Can we get by with just ONE plate for each? & just wash them often? ONE water bottle? Can we just please have an EMPTY room to play? The former me would have wanted rooms filled. Stat. Oh, how kids change you at your core.

As we prepare to move & downsize, my motto is very clear:

do more with less_styleberry

LESS furniture? MORE space to play. LESS stuff to clean? MORE time to do something fun. LESS toys? MORE imagination. LESS time on a screen? MORE time to engage face to face. LESS home? MORE intentional space planning. It seems like all my goals come down to having less right now. Pretty much the opposite mindset I’ve ever had before.

So that is the goal for the start of 2014. I recently read this article & the thing that stuck with me most (as it relates to paring stuff down) is asking yourself one simple question: “Would I buy this today?” If the answer is no, donate it! :) So I am on my fourth car full of stuff out the door. It’s so easy to purge using that mindset. SOOOO easy.

& at the strong urging of my read-a-holic husband, we’re starting a book club. Just the two of us. We’re reading a book together and using it to help each other grow & find stuff to talk about in our fairly narrowly focused lives. Our first book, which is absolutely fascinating, is The Power of Habit. I have several new habits that I am implementing (habits being the behaviors that we consistently do over time to achieve goals). I believe in them & they have already brought about a positive mental change. The simplest, but possibly most impactful so far, is making my bed. I’ve never been a bed maker, but it really seems to boost my productivity. (The book claims it does). So a small win for Shawna. I need all of them I can possibly get.

& the super fun part I’m dying to share…before I started transforming my home back into a house that someone else wants to buy, I insisted on having a very special kind of photo shoot. I begged Gina Zeidler to take a trip down here and do a “live in” session with me. I wanted to have her photograph every bit of this home where we became a family–& us living in it. & I was so blessed by her. She spent a few days with me and gave me the most incredible gift anyone could right now. You know all those little moments with your children that you have burned in your memory, but you just never have a picture of? THOSE moments. The little stubborn chin to shoulder move, that you’ll never catch on camera. That sweet nose nuzzle after a bath, that just never lives as anything but a memory? THAT. Sweet Gina. She just hung out while I did my regular ‘ol routine. & she had her camera. & every time I look at these precious images, I cry. Some of these include the tiniest important detail that only I notice. Facial expressions that I can hear loud and clear the moment I see them. The moments so intimate, the ones I never thought I’d ever be able to show my children, don’t just live in my memory anymore. These are such a gift. The epitome of real. So perfectly & casually, US. Gina, thank you. I could not share even half of them here, but these are some of my favorites. What treasures. :)

styleberry by Gina Zeidler_630 For more information about Gina’s incredible Live-In sessions, check out her website: Gina Zeidler. I cannot even begin to tell you how wonderful our experience with her was. & then the pictures. Oh, the pictures. This was a splurge for me, and one I know I will never regret. Priceless!! :)

Happy 2014!

Angie - I love these photographs! What a precious way to capture your everyday life! Hoping you’ll return to blogging soon.. You’ve been my inspiration :)

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Janalin - Your post had me saying, “amen, amen, amen.” I too have transformed from the dark and rich interior phase to the light and airy. (Although the hubby has yet to embrace the idea.) I have been paring down and purging over the past year but still feel as if there is a LONG way to go to get to my simple ‘happy place.’

Love, love, love your photos!!! What a treasure. I have found a transformation also in my style of photography… coming from a person that loved styled sets, lifestyle is now where I am at. And I have a hard time believing that I will ever leave this place. The raw truths of photojournalism are what life is all about.

Best wishes to you in 2014! xo Janalin
Janalin recently posted..Realistic Expectations

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Joanna - Your post today really hit home with me. My husband just graduated from a 28 month Nurse Anesthesia program. In the last three years, we had a baby, moved 700 miles, lost two immediate family members, almost lost our minds, celebrated (finally), and moved 700 miles back to where we began. It was definitely the best of times and the worst of times. I have been through so much that I have been having a hard time finding the words to describe it. So I appreciate what you wrote today, as it really reasonates with me. Best wishes as you move on. As always, I look forward to reading about your journey.

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Lisa Humphries - After having lost our rental & all our belongings in a terrible housefire in late June 2013, we are finally getting ready to move into our new home. That we’re buying. And it is muuuuuch smaller than we ever imagined buying. BUT…it is a heck of a deal, esecially for California, and we can’t pass up this opportunity to own our own home. So, instead of a 3bed/2bath like we had planned on, we’re moving into a 2bed/1bath that has great potential for future add-ons. But for now, we’re going to nestle into our small home and be thankful that we have a roof over our head and new/used belongings that we so generously donated by our friends, family, and community. Less house means less cleaning, which means MORE time for play!!

Plus, I am really looking forward to welcoming our 2nd babe in our new home sometime late June :) Fresh starts are fun!

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Veronica Midgley - Ohhhh, I was crying myself looking at these. These moments SO familiar, SO close to my own heart. I would love to have someone capture these moments for me. What an amazing gift! <3 to your sweet family, Shawna.

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Sara - The images are absolutely priceless. Authentic. Life itself. As a Minnesotan-I may just have to commission Gina. Can’t wait to see what 2014 brings you and yours.

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stylebabyLOG Small Business Saturday Sale!

SMALL-BUSINESS-SATURDAY

& just a side note–I am very low on inventory. (yay! thank you!!) I will not have inventory again until some time this spring. We have a crazy seven months ahead with our upcoming move. If you NEED a stylebabyLOG anytime soon, I would suggest grabbing one, as I do not have a date that I can firmly say they’ll be available again, after they are gone.

Thank you for your tremendous support of my small business! Thanks to you, thousands of mamas around the WORLD are keeping better track of their sweet babies.

THANK YOU!

*Update 12/2–I have just a small bit of inventory left after the sale & I will leave the “add to cart” button up there until I am completely sold out. Thank you for your support!

Sara - Well now I’m super disappointed I missed this. My baby is due in February & this was on my registry!! I’m so happy you sold out, but really bummed for myself.

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Christin - Well, it is not bringing up anything when I get to the Paypal page. I really want these.

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How to Pick a Preschool

I love education. I love reading. I love learning. I love school. I always have. But for some reason, I have a really hard time picturing my children in school. Weird, I know. Cut the cord already! But I have always considered myself their primary educator, and I take my job very seriously. We learn and read and do projects a lot. Some days more than others. Some days not at all. Some days, they are into everything I am doing, and we make it as much of a learning opportunity as we can. We are curious creatives. & I don’t ever want to stop doing what we do here. styleberry_preschool_6

I know what you are thinking…and I am not going to say what some of you probably want to hear me say…because I am just not a home schooler.

I believe in school–outside of my home. I want my children to learn to navigate a rich social environment. I want them to have access to more learning materials than I can provide for them. I want them to learn to listen with others, to others. I want them to learn how to collaborate. For these reasons, I believe in school outside of my home.

Now that doesn’t mean that I will stop teaching….It just means I need to find the right school! styleberry_preschool_2

What is the right school? Only you can answer that for you. (more on that in a minute.) But I think there is a perfect school for every family, based on wants, needs and values. I am looking for some specific things, and those specific things I cannot find in a public school. I am sure there are good public schools out there, but we are choosing to send our children to private school. This will be a very big sacrifice for us financially, but one we are willing to pinch pennies to make. There is little that is more important to me than the education of my children. I will happily wear Target clothes and drive my ten year old car if it means my kids can get the education that I feel is best for them. styleberry_preschool_1

Here in San Antonio, we do not have a lot of school options. Most of the options on my radar are a good 30-50 minutes from my home, which has significantly limited my pool (puddle?) of choices. We have had wonderful educational experiences during our last two years of school, but we are at a turning point because…we are moving. (!!!)

This summer we are relocating our family to St. Louis, which has the second highest number of private schools in the US, behind Boston. We just got back from a trip up there to tour our top choice school options and it was such a unique experience that weighed so heavily on me that I really feel that I have to share what I learned. It is not every day that you get to research dozens of schools, whittle that list down to a half dozen, and squish six school tours into two school days. It was a whirlwind. A super fun whirlwind. My anxiety over the whole thing quickly turned to excitement and gratitude. I have never seen schools like I did in St. Louis. I never even knew schools like these existed! & I am SO excited about the opportunities that lie in front of us. styleberry_preschool_3

The first thing I did was look at a variety of learning styles. I have read extensively about the Montessori and Reggio Emilia methods of education. These were atop my list of “search terms” for finding the right school. I really like what they have to offer young learners. I also look at, but am not limited to, certain certifications. NAEYC is a big one for me, but I also know that certification isn’t everything. Amongst Montessori schools, I looked at AMI & AMS certified programs. I also looked at Christian Schools. I am fond of the programs Handwriting Without Tears and Singapore Math, so those were two little curriculum boosters for me that were found in some of the Christian (and nonsecular) schools that I have looked at both here and in St. Louis. But regardless of the education method or certification, I looked for some very specific things on each tour. Making my decision was easy, when each of these was just right:

  • What does my gut say? Do I want to bring my kids here every day? Does it feel like an inspiring place? How do I feel here? I know whether it feels right within the first five minutes at a new school.
  • Are the children moving? I like to see self directed learning–children picking their tasks & moving through them. Bonus if they are collaborating with other children. I also look to see if any children look bored and how that is handled. I also really want to see them play, as I think that is a fundamental part of school.
  • How does the teacher speak to his/her students? I think you can learn a lot from tone of voice. I like to observe the one on one interactions and see how much the teacher asserts authority vs. lets the child figure things out on their own. A school is only as good as MY child’s teacher.
  • What does the classroom look like? Is it tidy and appropriately “lived in.” Is there a variety of materials accessible? What kind of work is displayed? This shows me the values–if there’s one version of the same craft, done by each student, I am not impressed. If there is child directed creativity–where no two look the same even though you can see they are essentially the same themed project, I am inspired. Is there an art studio? How much time is spent in the various corners of the room?
  • Tell me about the average day. Start to finish. Is there a separate “motor skills” class or structured physical education component? Foreign language? Music class? Art class? Or is it woven into the curriculum? I want to know how the day is broken up.
  • How much learning takes place outside the classroom? Can I come on field trips? What kind of learning opportunities do these field trips present?
  • How are parents included in the learning experience? I don’t necessarily want parents to be IN the classroom regularly, but I want to see a reasonable amount of parent involvement in extracurricular activities surrounding the school and fun seasonal events. I don’t want to see other parents teaching my children (I pay my tuition for extraordinary certified teachers!) but I like to find a sense of community amongst the parents at our school. I like school to be an extension of home, and I want to be part of the process, within appropriate limitations.
  • What happens next year? So once this school year is over, do next year’s hours and days fit my family’s needs? How about when the second child starts school, do they arrive at the same time? Pickup at the same time? Is it just a preschool or is this the beginning of a complete early, elementary, middle and high school education? A cohesive education is important to me.
  • What is the application process? While it may seem cumbersome and ridiculous that my four year old is “reviewed by committee” before acceptance into a program, I have learned to significantly value this step in the process. Knowing that a school takes a level of care and thoughtful examination of their applicants before constructing their classes is very encouraging to me. The more they ask about my child  before acceptance, the more I can have faith in the matching of our values to the school’s values.

So all that being said, I am sure you’re wondering about what I chose & have chosen in the past. For the sake of safety, I always keep my children’s place of education private. I also don’t want to influence you and your decision making process, as I really am just a parent who reads a lot about education and happens to have a platform to share. This does not make me an expert on anything other than what I feel is the right education for my own children. styleberry_preschool_4

What I can tell you is that last year, I made the mistake of not paying attention to what happens the following academic year, and ended up switching Caroline to a different school (an NAEYC, high parent involvement school) for her second year of preschool. I was not ready to send my barely four year old to school from eight to three. She has done fine with the switch. She still goes just three half days per week, and that works great for us. She misses the Missouri Kindergarten cutoff by eight days, so she will be doing a THIRD year of “PreK,” which I am totally fine with. My challenge has been finding a place for her next year that will challenge her beyond where her reading/writing four year old self is right now. I have read so much about Montessori and while I agree with a lot of the principles on paper, I have not yet visited one that “felt right.” I don’t know how else to put it, but it’s just not the right choice for us right now. I love what it has to offer elementary students, but all the schools I have toured significantly lacked the “warm and fuzzy” feelings I need to experience for it to be the right fit for us. I love the Reggio Emilia style and have found a school that is an amazing example a joyful, meaningful, experiential learning environment. I really would love to go to school every day right along with my children if we get manage to get in! styleberry_preschool_5

If I can encourage you to do one thing, it is to go visit as many schools as you can. Watch the teachers. Talk to the parents. See what the school means to them and see if it is the kind of place that fits your family’s vision of education. We don’t all want the same thing, and the wonderful part of education is that we have choices. These choices come with sacrifices, but I know these sacrifices will not ever be something I regret. Education is everything to me–and cultivating a love of learning is my number one priority for my children.

Good luck on your search! & for those of you new to this, know that every community has different application deadlines and processes. I have found that most of the time, you want to be looking at schools by Fall (some have open houses, which is a great place to bounce questions off current school families) and come to your final decisions by January. Applications are usually due and reviewed in February and March. Happy school shopping!

Oh, and one last thing. Sir Ken Robinson is one of my favorite education researchers (I recommend watching every one of his TED talks!) & this is a talk that has influenced how I view education:

Aarti - Not related to the topic, but can you point me to any of your posts that describe your
own teaching philosophy and/or what kinds of things you do with your kids? My son is 2, and I’m feeling a little stuck with our activities. Thank you!

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-shawna- - I love this! :)

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-shawna- - I think it is a really personal decision. For us, it was more of a social thing than an educational thing. It took caroline six months to speak a single word to her teacher last year (she was super shy!). By the end of the year she read a book aloud to the class. & this year, she’s doing great in the classroom. Her social development was amazing–we first started a week after her third birthday. For us, with a new second baby, it was a wonderful place for her to go & experience some new adventures of her own. :)

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-shawna- - You are exactly right. I will be paying SIX times what I do here if we get into our top school next year. I joke (thought I am not joking) that STL is land of the $15k kindergarten. I could come up with a dozen schools that top that. Talk about sticker shock! :/

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Jessica - I really appreciate you sharing your thought process. When we were in Texas, I spent a lot of time researching and looking at teaching methods and schools. I toured a few schools and based my decision on that “gut” feeling you were talking about. It was a great choice and Gracie had a really positive year of school. She loved attending, I felt great dropping her off every day. I haven’t quite found that yet here in California where cost is more of a consideration. Some of the schools here are five times the cost of our school in Texas (FIVE times! Isn’t that nuts?!?).
I hope the school in St. Louis is a terrific fit! One of my best friends grew up in STL and explained to me that everyone who can attends private school there.
Jessica recently posted..Baby Spinach Salad with Dates and Almonds

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adri@dreambookdesign - Love all of your posts. Just curious- at what age do you think they should go to pre-school? Do you think there is a magic age, or just dependent on each child to an extent?

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Sara - I have been blessed to work at the University of MN and have been even more blessed to have made it through the 20 month wait to get our daughter into the Reggio Emilia/NAEYC daycare program. People thought I was crazy to go on the waitlist at 12 wks pregnant but it was so worth it. We absolutely love it. My daughter is thriving and the providers are so wonderful with her. Cant say enough about it. One of the faculty members in my department traveled with the Director of the program to Reggio Emilia a few years ago and saw it all in action. Convinced me that its where we need to be.

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A. Berkoski - Love this. Just the right amount of information and I could tell you were careful as always, while still being true to you, not to make it sound preachy or like you were better than anyone else. That is so rare to find on the Internet! We chose to put our kids in public school and enrich them in different ways but I can totally appreciate your approach to the way you made this choice. Good luck in STL! It’s one of my favorite American cities, I lived in Columbia, MO for many years and try to visit STL whenever I can. You’ll love it!

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Silver Sage & a DIY Herringbone Headboard

I’ve made a pact with myself that I am not going to start another blog post with an apology for the lack of a prior blog post. There is nothing to apologize for. I am still creating at about the same pace as I used to, I just choose to keep creating, instead of stopping to blog about it. I still haven’t figured out how to do it all and I have thoroughly embraced this season for what it is. The end of having my kids both home all day is way too close for my comfort and there is so much to be said for living this life, not talking about living life through a screen. Which brings me to my four month old project…that I love… :)

I’m in the thick of preparing my home for the market. (side note: should you, or someone you know, be looking for a home in San Antonio in June, mine will be turn-key ready!!) Staging my very personalized home is at the forefront of my mind. Given my own background in home staging, you’d think it’d be easy. But it’s still a struggle when it is your own space. That you love. With your babies faces smiling at you from every wall. :) I digress. But I do love pictures and they are all over!! I think the rule of thumb is, if they look like they belong in a magazine, leave them. If not, depersonalize, depersonalize, depersonalize. That being said, I am lightening and brightening everything. I am neutralizing. I am de-wrought-iron-ing (is that a word??) Regardless, early 2000′s wrought iron be gone. It’s not my style anymore and my bedroom (my, first furniture we ever purchased together, bedroom) needed a serious facelift. You may remember my old bedroom back when I talked about how to place a rug under a bed. Well, I physically could not look at the bed anymore. If I was doing it all over again, I’d NEVER buy a 5pc bedroom set. Never. The old me was matchy matchy. That was ten years ago. These days, the more imperfect, the more beautiful. But this darn furniture is so solid & such good quality that I just don’t have the heart to ditch it. Well, nor do I have the budget to replace it.

So I had to get creative.

I tossed around a ton of ideas as to how to cover up the space that was left empty after I removed the wrought iron (see 2nd picture below) & after consulting with my best design-y friends (thanks, Beth!!) trying a fabric covered panel, a wood panel, even a blank space, my bestie Nicole got my creative juices flowing. I have to give her credit. This was all her idea. I just executed. & gosh, I love it so much I kind of want to do a lighter, rustic, horizontal striped version for everett over an entire headboard! It was so easy. & so cheap. Here’s the scoop.

styleberry_herringbone headboard_5

MATERIALS:

  • 6- 12 packs of wood shims (that were $1.50/ea!)
  • wood stain
  • wood glue
  • mounting whiteboard
  • spray wax
  • wood screws
  • hand saw
  • circular saw

HOW I DID IT:

  • First, I measured the board to fit in the space. The precut wood was just shy of being tall enough to cover the open space, but perfect after I mounted in on another board. This made it nice & sturdy for mounting, too.
  • Second, I laid the wood shims out in the pattern I wanted. Shims are thicker on one side than the other and have the most beautiful texture! Some pieces were broken or just poor quality, so I bought two extra packs to account for the duds. These are only meant to be functional, not pretty, so I had to be selective!
  • Once I figured out how many I needed, I started to stain. I grouped them into thirds. Each set getting one, two or three coats of stain, so I could get a nice variation in color. I also stained the board I was mounting on, since I knew parts of it would show through.
  • After the shims were stained, I laid them out and began securing them after I made sure they were perfectly centered and lined up top to bottom. The hardest part, for sure! I used a foam brush to paint on the glue, only because my bottle was plugged from the last time I used it!
  • Once I got down to the little tiny corners, I used a hand saw to cut some smaller pieces to fit in. I tried to cut the shims with a shears, but they cracked. A little handsaw goes a long way. I did not cover the tiniest portion of the board. You can’t tell at all.
  • Once the board was completely covered in my herringbone pattern, I watched a few youtube videos to finally conquer my fear of the circular saw. I knew this project wasn’t going to get done if I didn’t just do it myself, so it was time to learn! & I did it. In a dress, nonetheless. ;)
  • Once it was trimmed, I applied a couple of coats of spray wax, let it air out for a good week, and then mounted it to the bed frame with my wood screws and I was done! (almost)

styleberry_herringbone headboard_6

Part of my decision to keep this bed this color (I almost went crazy and painted all my furniture…thank goodness I didn’t) was how pretty the insert came out. I loved the texture & color variation that was missing from before. & who doesn’t love crisp, neutral bedding next to some pretty wood?!

The last step of this transformation was chopping off the foot board. I have this thing for foot boards. It’s my ultimate pet peeve to have bedding falling off the end of the bed & seeing as we only need a quilt a couple months out of the year, that duvet is mostly for decor. & I do love it, so it must stay. A foot board is a necessity. But, I wanted it to be a lower profile and I was SO surprised how hacking a foot off changed the entire feel of the room. It opened it up SO much! It complimented the bedding and diverted your eye. It drew you right to the headboard. I’m thrilled!

styleberry_herringbone headboard_1

Now we have that darn couch that I refuse to get rid of because I know we’ll have the right place for it in our next home. For now, it lives there, but when we show the home, it will go into storage.

I made over this room on a major budget. I ended up getting a store credit for a massive Homegoods rug that fell apart and decided to do this whole thing using that gift card. Thus, beyond wood and paint, I was limiting myself to ONLY Homegoods for accents. I managed to grab the ikat pillows, sunburst mirror, six curtain panels (!!), lamps and new mirrors over the dresser for the value of the card. Score!!

I changed my “accent walls” (from this art, seen here) and framed out the window with a few mismatched frames I got several years ago for $6 on clearance at target. They were a fun size, but all different colors, so I greywashed them & put 5x7s in them. This one is actually an instagram that I blew up!

styleberry_herringbone headboard_3

I replaced my “factory” dresser mirror a long time ago (you can see the “before” above in the IG images!) but after I painted, I needed something with more contrast since the paint was lighter. I found these amazing old “windows” turned mirrors at Homegoods, and there happened to be three, which was perfect! Eventually I want to replace the vase with sometthing made of reclaimed wood and some natural flowers. I’ll also replace the hardware on the dressers with some rustic pulls. I plan to remove the bottom drawer from each nightstand and replace it with a basket, to add some more visual appeal, too.

styleberry_herringbone headboard_2

& speaking of paint color! I have seen this gorgeous chameleon of a color in several of my friends’ homes and absolutely loved it. If you aren’t yet acquainted with Restoration Hardware’s Silver Sage, then give her a look. Is she grey? green? blue? She can’t decide. She looks completely different on every wall. I specifically did not run any actions on these images because I wanted to show you how different Silver Sage looks on each wall in this room. The color is just as dynamic in person as in these images. I just LOVE that about it! It even feels like it gets lighter in the morning and darker in the evening. I’m doing everything in my power not to paint my whole downstairs Silver Sage before we move…!! I had it color matched at Lowe’s. It’s beeeeeautiful!

& something to note–I took a picture of the herringbone pattern from both angles, because the texture is different depending upon the side you view it. I love that. But just expect this if you do this pattern on something!

styleberry_herringbone headboard_4

I really think you could go crazy with this technique. Tables. Trays. Full headboards. Shims come in several sizes, and the combination of wood stains is endless. I can’t wait to do it again, a little differently!

Happy woodworking!!

Syreena - Hi shawna. You’re right, there is absolutely nothing to apologize for. I’ve followed your blog for a while and you inspire me to keep pushing on and create whenever possible. I’m a momma of two boys 2 and 4 and a new baby girl 4 months old. Your post are fresh air to me. I understand completely when you started scaling back on your blog post and even when you made your Instagram private and began to purge your followers. I, unfortunately, have been a lurker and not connected to let you know how much I love seeing your post etc. and so I was one of the followers to go. This is my shameless plea to ask if you’ll allow me to follow you again…lol. Your everyday with your kiddos makes me smile and I’m hoping you’ll add me again. I used to blog which I put on indefinite hold since my life with three is a lot right now. But I do have an instagram and my username is syreenab and hopefully I’ll get to see one of your post come through my feed someday soon. Oh yea and, I LOVE this headboard! You’re the best!

I’m writing all of this in your comments section because I know you’ve said it’s the best way to reach you. Now all of my desperation is out there for errrbody to see. But it’s worth it. :)

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Brooke - I’ve been wanting to do a shim piece above my fireplace for a year. Maybe this is just the motivation I need to get it done before the holidays! Looks fab!

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angie - LOVE this beautiful update you did to an outdated piece of furniture!! When my husband and I renovated our home seven years ago, we too purchase several pieces of “matchy” furniture that we now regret. Our style has changed so much over the years, and yet we can’t afford to purchase all new stuff. You’ve definitely inspired me to make some changes.. thanks :)

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Amanda - This is a gorgeous room. Beautiful work!

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stylebabyLOG Shipping Update | Domestic US only

Hello friends! I have so many comments to moderate and so many things to share, but my little people sure do need me right now. I know that I am going to be sending them both out the door to school before I know it, thus, I am cherishing this time with them.

I know, I know. Same old story. It’s true. My real life is getting my energy. Not my Internet life. Happy. Sad. (but mostly happy.) :)

I just want to alert you to a new stylebabyLOG update. With all of our major life changes ahead, I am streamlining some of my business practices. One of the decisions is to suspend International shipping of the stylebabyLOG. This may not be forever, but for at least the next year, I will only be shipping stylebabyLOGs to Domestic United States and APO addresses. A trip to the post office and customs paperwork may not seem like a big deal, but it takes away valuable time from my kids (and stresses me out!) every week. During this season, it’s just something that I need to take off my full plate. Thank you for understanding.

Should you wish to place one last International order, you may purchase here until Noon CST on Thursday, October 10, 2013. I will be making one last trip to the post office this week.

Thank you, again, for your incredible support of my business. I wish all you organized mamas lots & lots of SLEEP!

stylebabyLOG

San Antonio Mini Sessions with Gina Zeidler!!

Hey local friends–we are in for such a treat!! I have talked the amazingly talented Gina Zeidler into a trip south for a live in session with me…and she’s added some mini sessions so you can all enjoy the gift of her talents too! She’ll be here in November and will have mini-session images ready in plenty of time for your holiday cards. :) She is incredible–modern, vibrant, authentic. You know I won’t just recommend anyone. She’s only got a few spots left and I am sure they’ll be booked in no time–so hop on over to her blog for details. She’s got her current availability listed too–and the list was empty 48h ago. So if you are interested in this special opportunity (I know you’re always asking me for local photog referrals!!)–you’ll want to book quickly!

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CLICK HERE FOR DETAILS

A Birthday Book Swap & Kiwi Favor Fun!

Yes, I fully realize that as I sit here & share this, I still have not finished everett’s first birthday images. Poor, sweet second child. I’ll share soon enough, but my first baby just turned FOUR! (sad!!) & we wanted to do a little something different for her this year. :)

My husband and I have decided that as we raise our children we want to make their holidays and birthdays about experiences, not stuff. Kids have enough stuff and birthdays, to us, don’t mean the accumulation of more junk. What do kids really NEED anyway? I have one answer to that question: BOOKS and FUN. Well, babies and blocks and trucks and crayons too, but mostly, BOOKS. & some fun as a family. At least in our household. So what we decided to do for caroline’s fourth birthday is to each give her some precious one on one time (in the form of a new experience) with each of us AND change it up at her birthday celebration.

My little bookworm started to read last spring, so we are constantly encouraging her love of learning through flipping pages. So how best to share our love of reading with our friends and nix the birthday junk? Enter The Birthday Book Swap! In lieu of gifts, we decided to ask each of our little party guests bring their very favorite book, wrapped. We asked for one for each child attending the party, so no one was left out. I bought a couple of our favorites to add to the swap and after cupcakes we confused all the kids royally, by handing them a gift. :) Each child opened a brand new book to take home and so did we! There were a couple of last minute adjustments (as a couple of kids got books they already had, so we swapped those out, WHEW for extras!) but overall, I’d say it was pretty successful! I went home with a couple of great new books and NO JUNK. Win Win! Cloudette (by one of my favorite illustrators) is a new fave. :)

On my continuing quest to ban the junk, we opted for these AMAZING Kiwi Crate Party Favors to send home with our guests. Again, gifting an experience! I had no idea these were part of what Kiwi Crate had to offer–but when they offered to send me some wings I jumped–because we adore all things Kiwi. & I kid you not, by the end of the day nearly every single guest of mine sent me a picture of their kids in the wings that they made together. They were a MAJOR hit. Totally better than a bag of junk.

I took my sweet girl to her first yoga class–so so fun. We do yoga together almost every day, but this was her first studio experience. She was smitten! We had a blast. I hope we can do this together for many, many years to come! :) Lisa teaches a great kids class at San Antonio Yoga Center, for you locals!

For her real birthday, my sweet girl requested a trip to the Children’s Museum and a sweet treat at her faaaaaavorite place, Bird Bakery. I surprised her with a special mini cake in her favorite color. We LOVE Bird! It’s the cutest place in San Antonio. It’s a good thing I don’t live closer. ;)

Those baby blues take the cake…

Ah, so much fun. Now hopefully I can share some of the fun BOY details from everett’s first birthday soon…seven months later. HA! :)

Hope you are having a great back-to-school week!

-shawna- - The DK books that start with “my first” are huge faves! As are the slider DK books & brown bear, brown bear. & any truck book! :)

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Courtney Reeves - Hi Shawna! I absolutely love your blog and all of the beautiful pictures you post! I was just wondering if you could share some of your favorite book titles. I feel like my son, Jameson and I are in a book-rut. He will be 18 months in two days, so he and E are very close in age. Any recommendations would be great!
I also love the birthday book swap, such a great idea!

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Ann - I love everything about your blog. LOVE it. I’m not a mother right now but have been reading your blog for over a year., You offer such great ideas, advice and honesty that I can’t help coming back and reading more from your archive. Thank you for all that you do! You are an amazing woman. :)

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Ashley - Sorry if this has already been asked before, but do you have yoga DVD recommendations to do with toddlers? My little girl is only 15 months old – when did you start with Caroline?

Thanks!
And love the party pictures!

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Lyndsey - Love love love the book swap!! Cloudette is such a sweet book!! what an awesome post!

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Emilee - I love the book swap idea. I haven’t had a birthday party with friends for my daughter yet because so far she doesn’t like a lot of attention focused on her. But if she ever wants one, I’m going with the book swap idea. So much better than worrying about her getting presents that I don’t want her to have. And making a birthday more about fun and giving than just getting stuff.

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Kirsten - Shawna, I totally agree with you! And I wanted to share with you some other fun giving back ideas that I’ve recently encountered. A couple families I know set up a donation to help orphans in Africa instead of presents. And another family has set up a link to donate money to a little girl who is currently going through treatment for kidney cancer. I love seeing these different ways to teach our kids that life isn’t about stuff or ourselves. It’s about giving back and loving on others.

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lindsay - what a lovely idea! i’m trying so hard to be intentional these days and i love looking to your blog for inspiration to what family should be about. i love the direction you are going these days, but i do have to admit i miss see your dreamy IG feed and frequent blog posts ;) however, i understand why. can’t wait to see e’s birthday post. would love to see how you party for all things boy :)
lindsay recently posted..rawley is now in a TODDLER BED!

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nicole - Such good ideas all around! Love it. I NEED to do this kiwi crate deal! love the goodies!

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Jessica - So sweet! I love the idea of the book exchange. When I first read about you gifting an “experience,” I told my husband and we’re totally doing the same thing this year. Thanks for sharing :)
Jessica recently posted..Orange Cookies with Sweet Glaze

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Marie - i love this idea! thank you for sharing. totally going to do it for my kid’s birthday! =)

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Jenn - You are so right in this. I’ve asked for years that people not bring gifts to our children’s parties and instead make a small donation to the children’s hospital where my son was treated, and they STILL bring gifts! I realize it’s very sweetly intended, but it’s not the message we want to send. Glad to know we aren’t alone here :)

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The Best Headphones for Kids | FAB 50:13

I purchased ours on Amazon for $20 each, here: Kidz Gear Wired Headphones for Kids. I also have the Belkin RockStar 5 Way Splitter–(each listener gets sound in BOTH ears!)-so we can all enjoy the same movie on the plane. I have each kiddo’s iPad loaded with different movies since neither of theirs can hold all of the movies in our library. For more on our mini iPads and the cases above, see The Best Mini iPad Case for Kids.

Seriously, the only headphones my kids have ever kept on, and we’ve tried a bunch!

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Ingrid - Hi Shawna! want to thank you for recommending a great product. I just got this for my 28 month old and he loves them. I will be flying alone with him and my other 5 month old son soon. Do you have any tips for traveling solo with 2 little ones-I would greatly appreciate it. it is totally stressing me out and you have a way of making things work so thought you could help this mama out! TIA!

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Carrie - We bought these a few months ago for a road trip with our three year old – he loves them. I love that they are such a good quality product and not some cheapo headphones. I’ve used them, too and the sound quality is perfect!

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