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The Best Mini iPAD Case for Kids | FAB 50:12

I purchased my cases for about $20 each on Amazon, here: The i-Blason ArmorBox Kido series for apple iPad Mini.

& a note on the iPads:

My parents bought these for my kids as a gift and I wasn’t sure how we were going to like/use them. We use them every so often right now as I put major limits on my kids’ screen time. Everett (18 months) isn’t really into his at all. I use it as my Kindle more than he ever has–it’s the perfect size! I’m sure someday he’ll enjoy it as much as his sister.

Caroline (4 years, as of last week!) uses hers mostly for her Pandora station, which she sometimes gets to listen to during quiet time. I set up a Pandora station with all the Disney songs and she’s in heaven. :) I also created a gmail account and added iMessaging to her iPad–which has been this device’s biggest [smashing] success yet. Since we have no local family, she keeps in touch with our loved ones using her iPad. I enabled the emoji keyboard for her and she sends emojis, pictures and all the words she knows how to spell. I am so impressed at how she has used the keyboard to advance her spelling skills. She is curious and interested (asks me how to spell things and remembers!) and there is definitely some value in learning to spell and read words that help her communicate. She has started reading and those skills are translating into her messages to our family–it’s so neat!!! I do have a couple of movies on hers and her favorite [only] TV show, Team Umizoomi. She’s not a huge app lover right now, but we have nearly everything from Montessorium and Duck Duck Moose. I don’t like junk apps, even if they are free, so I try to only have mentally stimulating apps for her to play with. Nook also has a kids ebook app, where you can get digital versions of some of the classics/our favorites. It’s pretty fun! Though nothing beats the library. :)

Oh, and I created their home screens using the BubbleFrame App. Super fun!

More on the awesome & totally useful headphones next!

-shawna- - She has her own account! :)

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Amber H - I love this idea! Thank you.

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Jenna - Glad to see you are getting some time to blog. I have missed reading, but most certainly understand why. My son is almost 2 and uses my ipad occasionally for a few cute learning apps like peekaboo barn, and watches a few shows on PBS kids app. He loves music and I would like to make him a Pandora Station too. Just wondering if you just added a station on your pandora account for her, or if you made her a separate account? Thanks :)

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The Best Headphones for Kids | FAB 50:13 » styleberry BLOG - [...] 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. [...]

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lindsay - so fun! my little boy {will be 2.5 in october} still doesn’t show much interest in the ipad or iphone yet, but i put this on my amazon wishlist for once he shows more of an interest for it. so fun to see how much e has grown! sorry to hear all about the negativity coming your way at the moment, but you still inspire me by making positive changes in your life. you have inspired me to start clearing the “junk” in my life right now and focus more on myself, my family, husband and home…right where it should be. love seeing your updates and posts! :)
lindsay recently posted..our week through the phone lens

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Kirsten - Shawna, I’m so glad to see you blogging more! And I’m glad you are staying busy and positive. Sorry to hear about all the negativity from people. We definitely need less of that. Excited to see where you and your family go in the next couple years. :)

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kelly rae - that case looks awesome! Montessorium looks really cool too. We haven’t dived into the apps for kids yet but there is definitely so many cool things nowadays.
kelly rae recently posted..Happy Weekend

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The Point.

You know, every time I log on to Facebook I’m reminded of exactly why I very intentionally have signed off. It’s just not the healthiest place for me to be. It serves its purpose of staying connected and picture sharing with loved ones far away, but is best kept as a very limited part of my life.

Several days ago I shared this article about the drug-free birth of Kate Middleton. I was, and still am, thrilled at the media attention this might stir up for those of us who are passionate about drug-free birthing. It is always great to normalize what some people consider an “out there” choice. But…some nastiness arose. Now, those of you who read my blog have come to know where I stand on a lot of topics and know the tone I bring here. I welcome other opinions and love sharing for the sake of learning but I will never tolerate judgment or negativity.

But I got to thinking about what happened and what the core of the problem really is and I’ve come up with a question that solves my own question. If that makes any sense at all. & that question is:

Why do we share information?

At the heart of most internet conflicts, I think this question is of paramount importance.

What is the intention of the writer?

Now here, I share to inspire. I share because I am passionate. I share because I want to help you or encourage you, by giving you insight or tools or new ways to solve problems. A different way to think, based on experiences I have had or things I have done or made.

When I write anything here I make a very deliberate choice to share the positive perspective. For example, “I like green.” I don’t say that I hate red and red makes me angry and I’d really not care to ever look at it again (partially true, but I digress). I choose to share that I like green. That I like green because…blah blah blah. Taking the positive perspective completely sets the tone of the discussion. My intention is never to say I like green and you should too. And if you don’t you are wrong and further, you should feel bad because you like red and I don’t. Such a simple analogy, but it is exactly what happened over on my styleberry facebook page. & it makes me just want to shut it down because I just don’t like the internet behavior sometimes–I give respect and expect it back. I have good intentions.

But I’ve learned, not all women are like me. & I am pretty naive if I think that this kind of courtesy is the norm. It is probably not their fault–there are a lot of places on the internet where you can find judgment and criticism and nastiness. My site is not one of those, and never will be.

If I have learned anything since I have tried to figure out how to minimally incorporate facebook into my life (both personally and professionally) it’s to ask myself this question again & again: Why do I share information?

On my blog, as stated above, it’s easy to share because I know exactly what I aim to do with the content. My styleberry page is no different than my blog, I share to educate, inspire, inform etc. & that is that. You’ll notice I’ve dropped off managing it a bit because the conflict that arises is just not worth my energy. I’m fairly certain that a lot of people over there never come here. & that is fine, but I hold myself & those around me (and those on styleberryBLOG and the styleberry facebook page) to standards and I will not compromise them. We will be kind and supportive and helpful. Period.

So maybe this is a learning experience for all of us. I’ll think even more before I share stuff. Personally and professionally, and decide what it is, exactly, I would like in return for what I share. I also know that I cannot control how my well intentioned information is going to be received, and that is part of what I have to expect when I choose to share so much. So if you’re with me in this well intentioned journey, I am thrilled to have you. :) The internet just needs to be a nicer place. Dammit.

& then, moments after I finished this article, I read this one: I support you. EXACTLY. As it applies to any mommy topic. Enjoy. :)

Images from a recent trip to the amazing San Antonio Botanical Gardens, my favorite place in the city!

-shawna- - Hey! I recently went back on base for our care, but I previously saw Dr. Lee at Westover Hills Family Medicine. She’s not a ped, but she was great!

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Lindsay - I want you to know that I wholeheartedly agree with you on this post. I love what you write, and like you, I understand that this is YOUR blog and what you write is a record of what YOU do. I agree with you in thinking of why the internet can bring out the nastiness of some people and I just don’t understand why people do this? I have been brought up that “if you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all.” Your blog along with others, is a personal reflection of you, and it is so touching because there are women out there, like myself, who are alone in their homes, trying their very best to be an amazing mom in the eyes of their children and an amazing wife in the eyes of her husband, and sometimes, life is just plain hard. Hearing what you have to say, helps me to realize that I am not alone in my quest in trying to do my very best. Thank you, for opening a window to your life, home, and heart, because you help us all realize, that when life gets hard, we can follow your example and realize that yes, we can do this!

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Kristen - What the heck? I guess I missed all the controversy! I saw your original post on the Kate article.. and actually reposted on my own fb page, since I as well had a natural drug free childbirth. I guess I haven’t checked in since then. Its kinda hard to find computer alone time being 8 months preggo with a 19 month old! People keep asking me if I will “just give in already and get the drugs” with this one. Like there was something I had to prove with the last baby?! People are nosy and pushy with ALL things baby. Please don’t let some negative viewpoints influence you to stop sharing – I love coming to your blog for inspiration! Its what momma does during naptime! :)

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ashley - I love your blog and find it to be inspiring and I did not have a natural child birth and only breastfeed for 6 weeks. I understand where you are coming from and wish things had gone differently than me. I am very sensitive about those things, because I wanted to breastfeed and to have a pain free birth but have never felt judged by you. Keep up the good work and inspiring me. I refer to your blog often for recipes, it helped me make my own baby food and I agree with the loosing the baby weight article. I respect mothers who share their postive experiences in order to inspire mothers.

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Emilee - I am grateful that you share your opinions so openly. I cloth diaper because of you. I always find the things you share interesting and thought provoking, even if I don’t adopt those ideas myself.

I know some people who like to read reviews and comments posted on blogs and articles. I don’t because they are so often negative. Both in the virtual world and the real world, I don’t why know some people get so angry with a point of view that is different than theirs. You don’t agree with a drug free birth? Okay, don’t do it.

I also think that people are more likely to post negative than positive comments. Which is something I’m trying to work on in my virtual and real life. If I appreciate or admire something someone does, I try to tell them.

Thanks for sharing the link to the article. I had heard that Kate Middleton was going to try a drug free birth, but hadn’t seen any references to it afterward. With someone high profile doing it, it helps more people know that it is in an option–whether they choose it or not.

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Kristin - Love your website! I am also in SA and wanted to see who your pediatrian is. You mention you have one who is into nutrition and not into over medicating. I am having a hard time finding one with this mentality. Thanks in advanced for your help!
Kristin

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Lindsay - Ahhh…the Internet. Life must have been friendlier back in the days when my mom was raising her children (I am 32). I don’t understand how it’s became okay to say something to someone on the Inernet that you wouldn’t say to someone in person. If someone doesn’t like your blog or FB page, why do they read it? Don’t us moms have better things to do then bully other moms? Is this how we are raising the next generation? Sad. If people have a problem with you, they should click that little “x” at the top of their screen and move on. I’m sorry you have to read and deal with this negativity. Life is too short. I just hope this doesn’t make you go away, because I would miss you. :)

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Tara S. - I am with you, Shawna. Don’t ever stop doing what you believe in & sharing it. You will never make all the people happy all the time. I support you 100%.

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Ingrid - Keep staying honest and those of us who appreciate such candor will continue to follow. I don’t agree with everything you write but I love your honesty and passion. It intrigues me to know more about something you write about because you ARE so passionate.

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Candace - Keep blogging please! The site is beautiful and I love all the great ideas. I used the ideas for making baby food, though I sometimes buy jarred or ‘pouches’ for my twins ;). The ideas are great and photos are beautiful. I personally believe you have every right to delete negative comments to keep a positive tone. Some people seem to be bullies online and I think its because they feel safe to do so because nobody knows who they really are and feel removed from the other person so some human compassion is lacking. It’s probably the same reason as people have road rage, there is a lack of that personal human connection that creates the opportunity for issues to arise.

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Lisa - Shawna, I would like to apologize for my previous comments. I just read Sara’s comment and she hit the nail on the head. No one should make me feel bad, guilty, etc. without my permission. That is definitely easier said than done, but it is true in theory. So with that, I am sorry that I allowed anything you have ever said make me feel like less of a person and that I took those feelings out on you. I do understand your intentions for sharing and your blog has inspired me in many ways. As of late though, it doesn’t and I now know that is because of me and not you. I hope you can accept my apology. I am a people pleaser and want to make everyone happy (hence my rant that you should as well). My intention was not to make you feel bad, but rather to show another perspective; however, you didn’t ask for my opinion and I should have kept it to myself!

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Cristin - Thank you for the post and the comments ; )

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Sara - I have thoroughly enjoyed your blog & writing style for about 18 months. I found it when my daughter was a newborn and have checked in periodically since. While we share similar viewpoints on many things, there are others that don’t resonate with me. AND THAT’S OKAY! I have taken a few suggestions from your blog & implemented them in our lives and passed on others. For the life of me, I can’t understand why people insist that a writer “made them feel” a certain way. No one can make you feel guilty, bad, like a bad mother, etc. without your permission. I can appreciate (and share in) your enthusiasm for natural childbirth, even though I had to deliver via emergency section. I share in others’ passion for Breastfeeding, even though I’ve had to supplement with formula since she was 9 months old. I think too many people want to play the victim. You are right, Facebook & the Internet in general could use some positivity and some lessons in manners.
Keep on keepin’ on. :)

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Heather F. - People who are so negative or get sensitive so easily are typically defensive because of a guilty conscience. Or they’re bored. If something about what you say is bothering them, they need to look within rather than pointing fingers at you. WE as individuals have the power to control how we take news or deal with emotions or information. Why can’t people just work on educating themselves or work to make themselves better without being accusatory? If you’re not happy with yourself or your decisions, either suck it up or change it! Do with information what you will, or don’t read it at all. Sheesh!

Shawna, you’re awesome! You’ll never make people happy 100% of the time. So just keep doing what you’re doing!

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Jenny busbey - All I have to say is YOU GO GIRL!! shawna, you are a huge inspiration to me and do an amazing job on your blog and Facebook page. Don’t let any negativity or judgement bring you down. You rock sister. Keep your chin up… Delete any and all negative comments… And keep on keepin on. Cause you are appreciated by many moms out there. *hugs* to you!!

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Kate - Shawna,
I’m so sorry that the internet world is causing you strife at the moment (but can understand why!). Just to say, I’ve loved reading everything you’ve broadcast so much over the past few years all the way in the UK. I, like other commenters, can’t profess to having managed a natural birth or to have ever even touched a CD (took me a while to work out what that meant!!), but I miss your beautiful photographs on IG since you had to add safety there, and I’m super sad that you’re now having to watch what you say on FB too.
I like to think that when I don’t find parity in someone’s blog that I come across, I leave it for others and move on. There is not much to be gained by trying to change that person, or their writing, just for ones own benefit – just like we wouldn’t (shouldn’t?) try and do the same to someones behaviour when we don’t bond with at the school gates or wherever.
I wish you and your very beautiful family even more positivity and a happy weekend after what must’ve been a frustrating week x x

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-shawna- - Lisa, I think you missed the entire point of this article and I’d guess that we may never speak to one another in a way that the other understands. My delivery is something that I am confident in, and it is with the best intention. It is also clear that you have no idea who I really am, based on some of the assumptions you have made. Clearly, this blog is not a place for you. I cannot please everyone! Best wishes.

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Lisa B. - I guess I just don’t understand people in general sometimes. If I read an article, blog, or FB post that I don’t like or agree with, I just chose to not read content from the author again (after enough chances have been given). I’m not ever going to agree with everyone 100% of the time – and you know what, that’s ok. If you don’t like Shawna’s blog, articles, or FB posts, then don’t read them, unlike her FB page, unfollow her blog. It’s not any of our places to try and change the way she (or anyone else for that matter) writes, thinks, feels, or believes. And I can already hear some of the responses to my comment, “But aren’t you trying to do the same thing with what you’re saying?” The answer is no – I can’t stop you from writing negative comments to a blogger you don’t know personally and I’m not trying to convince you to do so. Do as you please, but I don’t blame Shawna for one minute for not wanting to deal with negativity in her life. The world in general is a pretty cruddy place most of the time, filled with people just looking for an argument. I, for one, appreciate anyone who wants to focus on the positive and leave the negative for someone else.

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Joy @ Caspara - Well said! I first saw your blog on Pinterest — the famous losing baby weight article. And I really appreciated all that you *share* (even if I still 21 months later haven’t lost all my baby weight from my last baby). I work out diligently and eat very healthfully, but still am hanging onto about five pounds. But that’s okay! You have a lot of great info here which is why I follow! Please! Ignore the chip-on-their-shoulder people and keep it up!!
Joy @ Caspara recently posted..Five Favorites: My Hawaii Five (oh!)

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sara - I could say a million reasons why I love this blog & even though I dont always agree with what you say or do I STILL LOVE this blog. We are all mothers and should support each other, and if you have nasty things to say just keep it to yourself!

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Julie - Shawna,

I love your blog I have from the moment I found it almost 2 years ago. I loved reading how you cd your babies, while mine were in disposables. I loved reading about how you made your own baby food, while mine were fed from jars I bought at the store. I loved reading about both of your birth stories even though two of mine were induced and all three involved epidurals. I loved reading about your weight loss, even though I am overweight, and struggle.

I find your information inspiring and it gives me a can do attitude and a sense of hope. (For example, my 4 month old is in cd and I love it!).

No matter what the commenter Lisa says you will NEVER PLEASE EVERYONE. No matter how positive or neutral you are someone is going to read it wrong, or find fault, or try something and it won’t work for them. People just need to learn to be comfortable in their own choices, instead of instantly becoming defensive.

I have huge struggles with fB, and have been seriously weighing the pros v. cons of it in my life. If you want the truth, it is this, I do not have enough confidence in the strength of my relationships to risk leaving fB.

Maybe you could add an articles section on your website and use that to share?

I hope you will continue to share what works for you!

Much love!

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JamieA - Well said. I’m sure you already know this, but I would venture to guess that a large portion of negative responses to your content have a lot more to do with personal struggles the reader is going through and a lot less to do with you. :) Also, do you read the Momastery blog? If not, she had an excellent post about criticism and cruelty on the internet not long ago and I loved it.

http://momastery.com/blog/2013/07/01/momaquery-on-criticism-vs-cruelty/

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Gut check. | styleberry INSPIRE

School notices are coming in the mail and it’s hard to believe that summer is winding down (wahh!!) but it is! Time for a gut check. Can you put your phone down more & play with your kids? We’ve only got a few more weeks. I’m up for the challenge. Are you with me? I have been trying very hard this summer to just BE with my kiddies. Their behavior is SO much better when I choose to put my phone down.

Here are a few of the things that I have been trying hard to implement during the last few weeks:

  • No instagramming while the kids are awake. Take pictures? Sure. But nothing gets uploaded until naptime or bedtime.
  • No facebook on my iPhone. Period. FB checking allowed at naptime/bedtime. Limit status updates to 2/3 times per week to cut down on notifications/checking.
  • No facebook inbox. I recently shared that I would not be checking my FB messages & wrote in my profile to contact me by email. I will log on once a week or so to see if there is something pressing or if that is the only way I can communicate with someone I care about, but beyond that, I’m free of that obligation.
  • Lock my phone in the locker at the gym. I try to do this if I am not expecting any important phone calls/messages–those close to me know exactly when I am there so they can call the gym if there is an emergency. I will get it out if we are heading to the pool and I might have a photo op.
  • Texts get returned when no one needs me. I try very hard to ignore them (turn off sound) and they do pile up. Then I will respond when I can. I treat it more like email than instant messaging. It doesn’t need to be instant!

So tell me your tricks? How are you successfully turning away from technology this summer? Surely you’ve done something smart that I need to know about! Please share! I am always looking for new & encouraging ways to break the screen addiction!

Leslie - Ah! The battle with technology is such a big one for me. I almost wish I did not have an iPhone. I am trying to make it a point to completely separate myself from my phone as well – it does not sit on my nightstand during the night. It goes on or near the charger during the day (and on silent). In the car, the phone is in my purse. I love the notion that text messenging doesn’t have to be INSTANT. Thanks for sharing these!

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Sara - This is fantastic. I’ve been working on this for a while. I deleted a bunch of apps off my phone so I would be lest tempted to use it. I don’t get many calls or texts, so I can happily say my son knows the phone is for fun and not an extra limb on my body. My only problem is I put the phone away and then forget to take photos, or even forget to take it with me sometimes!

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angie - I struggle with this on a DAILY basis!! I often catch myself pressed to my iPhone while my daughter is in the background asking me to dance with her.. overload of emotional quilt and disappointment in myself as a mommy!! Facebook, Instagram and Email can quickly capture my focus too often. This post truly brought the reality that I NEED to join your challenge!! THANK YOU!!

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Sabrina - Very interesting post!
I wrote a comment (answering your questions), but it became so long that I turned it into a blogpost.

Btw, I like your new lay out! I’m a quiet follower, but still love to read your blog. Keep up the good work!
Sabrina recently posted..How I keep myself sane with an iPhone.

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Becky - I had facebook on my phone when my son was first born. When he was 6 weeks I was disgusted with my addiction to checking it all the time. I deleted it from my phone and save the internet for when I’m actually at a computer (when he’s asleep or I’m at work). All notifications other than text and calls are turned off.

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Kendall Stoy - I keep my phone on silent almost always! And we have a cute little tray on the counter with the chargers. When we get home- that’s where they go!

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Shannon - Yes! This is a great post! I try to do the same with Instagram. Just shoot during the day and make a few edits and post at night. I am not perfect though.
Shannon recently posted..How to do a fun project with your kids.

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HOMEMADE ICED COFFEE | FAB 50:11

Recently, a friend of mine (ahem, Ashley) introduced me to iced coffee at our brand new Dunkin Donuts up the road. I had never been to a DD but I had heard excellent things about their super strong coffee. & if you know anything about me…you know that I have one vice and that is coffee. I drink water & coffee. STRONG coffee. So I gave it a whirl one hot summer day & was she ever right! YUM! But I knew I could do it better myself. It was a wee bit bitter for my taste and still cost me a couple of dollars per cup. Way better than pricey sugarbomb frappucinos, which I am not entirely fond of, but still not perfect. So I hopped to figuring out how to make my own.

WHAT YOU NEED

  • coffee. preferably something strong & robust. (I used my faaaaaaaavorite Philz coffee, a cult classic home in the Bay Area. I’ll head to Local here in SA when I run out)
  • cream
  • flavoring (if you wish, I like mine with a dash of coconut. YUM)

HOW YOU MAKE IT

  • I used the Pioneer Woman’s Iced Coffee recipe but I upped the coffee to water ratio on my second batch. Like I said, I like it STRONG. Be sure to steep it at room temp and definitely overnight, or it will be bitter.
  • Since I don’t mess around with the strength of my coffee (I call my dad’s version “coffee flavored water”…yuck) I freeze some of my concentrate in my old baby food cubes (remember those?!) and use them as the “ice” in my coffee. I recommend filling each cube only half full, or they will not thaw fast enough to melt into your drink.
  • After I pour the concentrate in, and add the cubes, I add a splash of cream and a little less than one pump of coconut & then it’s bottoms up! HAPPY NAPTIME.
  • I enjoy mine in a starbucks tumbler & use the lines on it to measure out the amounts of liquid in my drink so I have consistency. :)

& that is all!! Yummmooo. Just the perfect perk for a hot summer’s day!

Graig Harries - Sounds awesome, thanks for that and keep up good work!

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Colleen S - I LOVE iced coffee. It has been my favorite for about 4 years now and I make my own a lot. Look I to getting a Toddy Maker. Total time saver. I think William Sanoma carries them.

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Anne - I LOVE iced coffee but hate paying for it at DD. THANK YOU for posting this!!! Definitely gonna give this a try. :)

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Moriah - Just made another batch of our iced coffee last night. I am crazy about it. I love the convenience. We store ours in a beverage dispenser so I just open the door, and fill my cup. Way too great!! I add a splash of half & half, but nothing else. Thinking I will get some of the coconut flavor. Where did you find it? And now I have to make those ice cubes, what a great idea!!

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Emily W. - This sounds great! I have just been doing iced lattes all summer with espresso. I have discovered that a honey latte is really tasty (adds just a tiny amount of sweetness with the lovely flavor of good honey). I’ll have to try a dash of coconut next time.

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Sara - Oh THANK-YOU!! I am in the early throws of pregnancy (fingers crossed this one sticks). A cup of hot coffee will not stay down! It won’t even go down. (Sobbing) then I had an iced coffee & it was my hallelujah moment. It actually settled my stomach! I’ve been trying to replicate it at home with limited success. So I know what I’m doing today!

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Jessica - Ahhh….I miss Local coffee. I was so excited by all the little places that popped up in San Antonio in the past year or so. Anyway, we make our own coffee at home too – but I’ve never made iced coffee. Maybe we’ll give it a go. After all…it’s already reaching 80 degrees in Orange County ;)
Jessica recently posted..Roasted Eggplant with Feta & Tomato

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Erin - My husband has gotten way into making HUGE quantities of homemade coldpress coffee – his last batch was 3 GALLONS. We go through a lot in our household! He uses beer brewing equipment (but not used for beer ever) and puts them in growlers or beer bottles to store them, they keep for about a month in the fridge. He actually has discussed this at great length with people at local coffee shops around Minneapolis/St. Paul, the favorite being Dunn Bros :) I really need to bring some into work but need to find a more work-appropriate container than a beer growler…
Erin recently posted..Cabin Relaxation

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Making Exercise a Priority (& a little thing called “self care”)

Self care?

Self what?

Several months ago I would have asked what “self care” was too. But the tide’s a shiftin’ over here. In a very good way. I have managed to make three major changes that have majorly turned things around. I:

…joined a gym again (& I go!).

…hired my first babysitter. (so I could…)

…go to counseling.

Life. Changing. Choices.

Turns out, I am terrible at taking care of me. I have this guilt–my major issue. I don’t let people help me. I don’t take time for myself. I don’t put myself before much of anything or anyone. & that (I found out the hard way) is not a recipe for success.

I had a little light bulb moment in therapy one day. [Side note--I have always been a firm believer in therapy. Even happy people can work on self improvement, so I applaud the decision for anyone to attend therapy. I think it is a very important part of a balanced life. AND...military mamas...Tricare covers it 100%.] My therapist said this:

We have this antiquated way of thinking about the family. [he laced his fingers together] We think it looks like this. Mom and Dad as this intertwined unit of two which becomes four or five as the children come into the picture. Tangled. Everyone relying on everyone for everything. & that just doesn’t work. What we really have, is you [he held up one fist] and all of the others that you have in your life  [he wrapped his other hand around the fist] and they add to your joy, but they do not create it.

HUH.

I can get on board with that idea. If mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy, right? & if no one can make mama happy, then how does she make herself happy?

Well, she focuses on self care. According to my therapist. (Who specializes in military families with lifestyles a lot like mine.)

What that self care looks like for each person is different. But for me, a big part of that was figuring out how to exercise again. The #1 thing I can do to help me in every aspect of my life is exercise. It makes be feel better mentally (break from children! reminders to breathe!) and it makes me stronger, in so many more ways than one. You all know that I parent alone about 90% of the time, so finding time for me is always a challenge. But that time at the gym is great for all of us. The kids love it. I need it. It really is the best possible situation for everyone.

But he hardest part of this change was setting a new routine. I think that is all that it takes (once you find a place that inspires your desire to exercise). It took a good three weeks for it to feel normal. But I shifted the way I look at the gym, too.

I used to make my own workouts and lift and do cardio & I went through my crossfit phase. But right now, I have no time for that. I need the classes. I want to show up, see familiar faces and have a teacher plan everything about my kick-ass workout. I tried a bunch of the classes that fit my schedule and chose three that I love and don’t want to miss each week. I treat them just like my kids’ activities that I pay for. I’d never miss those, so why would I miss my own classes that I am paying for too? They are on my iCal and the time is blocked off. Nothing gets in the way. No playdates, appointments, nada. That is my time. I have my iphone alarm set to go off with scheduled reminders for each of the classes so I never miss them. They are now a significant part of my life. At a minimum, I go to my two yoga classes and my weights class, weekly. If I can do more, (yay!!) I do more. But never less. Those three days are for me. & we run our errands or go the pool at the gym afterwards. (During the school year, my gym time happens on the days that caroline is at school; she does come with me on the weekend.) Each of my babes have a scheduled activity on one of the other days of the week. I leave one day open for socializing (I am an introvert by nature, so that is all I need!) and then we have Church Sundays. So if you do the math, I keep pretty busy. Just the way I like it.

Like anything in life, it’s all about priorities. I’m learning it is okay to put myself first. I’ve had plenty of eyebrows raised at my busy schedule, but you know, not many people live the kind of life I do. I have to get out of the house within two hours of getting up or my kids LOSE it! (or I lose it, seeing as though there is no one around to give me a little help or break up my day!) We’re just busy bodies. :)

So while my Losing the Baby Weight article is far & away the most visited page on my site, the role exercise plays in my life is far more significant than for vanity’s sake. Yes, I think muscles are hot. But I love being strong. & even more than that, I love being happier for the sake of my family. & for me. Exercise makes me a HAPPIER mom. a BETTER mom. & I can only hope that modeling it as a priority will help shape my children’s values for a lifetime of healthy living.

& if not, well. At least I was a lot less grumpy during their childhood. ;)

-shawna- - Our favorite gym worker has become a home sitter. We have been really lucky to have amazing care at our gym! & going at the same time every week provides stability!

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Anne - Shawna, this spoke directly to my core. I work outside the house full-time and have about an hour and a half commute each way and I always feel guilty for every minute I spend away from my little ones. I used to feel that the bus ride commute was “me” time but I’m always catching up on emails and just doing stuff to keep our household running – it really isn’t “me” time. So your post reminds me of this – I need to find time and schedule some much needed gym time. I enjoy the structure of classes so I’m hoping to find a few that I can go to. Thanks for being so transparent and honest. It really does help to know that other moms feel the same way despite the differences in our lives. :) Keep up the great work!

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33 days | Losing the Weight, BABY! » styleberry BLOG - [...] Making Exercise a Priority (& a little thing called self care) [...]

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An Easyworld - Ah Shawna, you’re back to your inspirational best. I too need to keep busy and as I’m currently expecting my second I’m wondering how I’m going to manage it all. But yes, as soon as possible I will factor in some me time. No excuses.

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Lindsey - Good for you! I remember telling my sister to take care of herself first when her children were young, too. Well, now that I have a one year old and a three year old, I know it’s easier said than done. I’m also curious, do you use the gym daycare or an at home sitter? I’ve stayed home with my boys all their lives, and I know they would have a hard time with me leaving them at the gym… ooor with a sitter they hardly know. Any tips? Thanks!
Lindsey recently posted..Sometimes It’s Too Easy Being Green…

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-shawna- - We have an awesome kids club at the gym!

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Tameeka - Fabulous Shawna! totally agree! self care has been on my mind a lot of late too. i am still working on how it looks with my life at the moment but little by little i am figuring it out :)
thanks so much for sharing what is working for you and your journey to get there
:)

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kristy - Thank you for this! In the summers I am pretty much a solo mama as well (teacher). This year I have been terrible about taking care of myself and it shows, I’m easily stressed, overly tired and I’m sure my little monkey can feel it. Thank you for reminding me it’s time to rearrange some priorities!

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Colleen S - Love your post. Who watches the kids while you have class? Sitter at home or do you use the gym sitter? I want to exercise more but struggle with using a gym sitter.

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Annie - LOVE this!!! Thanks Shawna!

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Sarah - Great post. I wondered what that yoga book Caroline has in the pictures is called?

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Kayla - This is always refreshing, as a Military wife to a man who is NEVER home I can defiantly relate to finding the “me” time unfortunately were stationed at Mt.Home AFB in Idaho but will be venturing off to North Dakota in January and there is TONS more to do. I have a 8 year old son and a baby girl due in 7 weeks and my world is about to be rocked so I feel this is great reminder, to find the me time so I can be there for my kids. * quick question because I am not sure how to contact you other wise aha, but I know you have the Summer infant Monitor the older version I was given the newer version and HATE it but I wondering if yours with the video part turns off ” to save power” or is constantly out of range even though I am right outside the door? I am contemplating selling this one some may like the battery saver of the video turning off but not the sound but I do not. I can not find any reviews on it about it so I thought I would ask. Thanks again for this post from one military wife to another !
Kayla

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Alison Bickel - Yes! I schedule my exercise like it is a part of my day, very little gets in the way of it. Mentally it is so key for me…it leaves me happy, healthy and strong. It’s all my boys have known, and now that they are older they have a respect for it as my time, they just know. So happy for you, glad you are finding your groove mama!

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Nicole Dyk - So so so happy you have made these changes on the inside and out. Love the new look. I am so excited and proud of you!!!

xo. Nic

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Nicole - Yup, I completely agree with you on all counts. We are not military, but husband works a lot and I stay home. I NEED to get out of the house everyday… I go crazy and the day is just so long otherwise. I’ve been doing the gym thing for awhile, but I just recently purchased 12 sessions with a personal trainer… first significant thing I’ve done for myself in a long time! Good for you for seeking help and putting yourself on the priority list!

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Amber Berkoski - I’m a true believer in therapy (and not just because I’m a MFT) but because it really does open a new perspective. So glad you’re taking time for you! Exercise is the best part of my day and I can give more to my kids as a result. :) Keep on keeping on!

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Melissa - Shawna,
Thank you for your transparency! I think that we all need to take care of ourselves by exercising, going to therapy, church, having a little fin with our friends, etc. I recently learned that unless I exercise I get VERY anxious, and I don’t have kids (but I’m in grad school…)

Keep doing what you’re doing :)

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Kelsey - Shawna,
Thank you for this post! I recently became a mom of 2 (my youngest is 2.5 months) and I’m really learning this idea of self-care. I feel like I’m a better mom & wife when I exercise as well! Thank you for the affirmation!

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Ahh. She’s here.

You know that feeling when your insides match your outsides?

…when you finally can say…

“YES! I look EXACTLY how I FEEL?”

You know that feeling. & right now, that is how I feel too. This design concept has been rolling in my head for years and after I saw Noomie Doodles work, and she made me some custom art of my own, I knew we had to partner for this project. She was just lovely & is responsible for bringing part of my vision to life. The berries, picture frames & beautiful green herringbone designs are her original artwork, all the way from Indonesia. I used some of her color washes to create the ombre logo that’s been in my head forever. The rest is my brainchild. Glad to finally be putting some of my college degree to good use! HA! I’m in love. It’s PERFECT.

Rustic. Modern. Fresh. Bright. Clean.

Now if only my house could match my blog…we’d really be talking.

So enough words, you can start poking around. I would love to know if there is anything that seems “off” to you. Or maybe you love it too & just want to say hello. Either way, I’m glad you are still here. I am hoping this beautiful new creative haven, as I like to call her, will inspire me to write more. It is already. :)

Of note:

  • some things will be updated over time (treasury, printable recipes & misc pages) so please excuse anything that still doesn’t match the new stuff. I’m working on it during naptimes & at night!
  • the frames above are CLICKABLE! Hooray! They will get you to the BIG topics here. (is that helpful?)
  • the tiles on the right are also clickable (roll over them for details!), and they’ll take you straight to your favorite articles. (did I miss any?)
  • see the little “subscribe” button on the right side? you can get my articles straight to your inbox if you haven’t quite figured out RSS and don’t want to miss anything. Yay!

I think that is it! I would LOVE your feedback. :) I’m leaving this post without a picture so you can just take it all in. Ahhh. I feel 50lbs lighter. WAHOOO!

Amy Renea - Now if only my house could match my blog…we’d really be talking. — HAH!! YES!!!

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Deanna - It looks lovely! well done.
Deanna recently posted..April family photo

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An Easyworld - Awesome. Glad to have you back and the site looks great. I love the colours and the roll over links to your most popular articles. My only feedback would be do you need the picture frames (which I love) AND the other headings across the top AND a link to different categories. I think with just the picture frames, a search function and maybe a treasury people can find everything they need. The only other small thing is that I would make your logo at the top a link back to the homepage. But I love it, and I look forward to more articles coming our way x

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Elizabeth @ HobbyLobbyist - Congrats, it looks great!

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Tameeka - OOoooo Shawna… it is beautiful! Congratulations on you new online home. It is warm and fresh and makes me want to sit down with a coffee and explore. I often have a little click around your site and come away feeling encouraged and ready to try something new. Thankyou

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mary - LOVE, Shawna!!! You inspire me almost daily, starting almost 1.5 years ago as I searched for homemade baby food recipes for my now 2 yo. Since then, in addition to making my own baby food, I’ve sewn pillow covers to make my home a little prettier, taken on a few more DIY projects, discovered a great pandora station, remembered to show the hubby a little extra TLC, started a project 365, tried new recipes and lastly (and say with the most pride), successfully continuing to bf my 7 month old. All with inspiration from your blog!!! Thanks! xx

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Moriah - Love the new design. Very fresh and inviting!! I have a question for you. My husband just began residency and my previous blog had our families names all over it…we decided to take it down in case patients try to search his name online. I just prefer my husband’s patients don’t know who myself or our kids are. Have you ever run into anything like that? I am thinking about just starting a fresh new blog and keeping our names anonymous. Any thoughts??? Love you blog by the way, we have kids around the same ages. WIsh you lived close so we could talk babies and being married to medicine!

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angie - I LOVE it! As a new blogger myself, you truly inspire me!

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Jordann - It looks beautiful!! I’m struggling with the same thing. I don’t know that my blog matches my insides. Maybe one day I”ll sit down and figure out a design that feels like “me”. Love what you’ve done here!!

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Ingrid - I loved your original blog so much I couldn’t imagine how you could possibly make it better! Although I still adore the original this has a more clean fresh look to it. I love it! Hope you will be writing more-I love you updates and inspiration!

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Cori - Beautiful! So user friendly. I love the clickable frames. The new berries are delicious. As is the rest of the new design. I’m so glad your vision finally came to fruition. Incredible work, Shawna! Thank you for continuing to inspire us- especially through your dedication to your most important priority: your family.

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Hannah Mayo - I love it!! Congrats :)

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Jessica - Shawna, the site looks beautiful! I love the doodles and the fresh and clean background and the cleaned up sidebar. Great work :)

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Jenna - It looks fantastic! It’s amazing how much hard work goes into designing. You would have never thought. I loved your blog before and could spend hours reading your posts, and I love it a little bit extra today! Thank you for all of your inspiration as a mother, but most of all for being REAL throughout the process. That’s one of the things I admire most about you. Happy 4th of July from a person who you don’t know but kinda loves you :)

xo,
Jenna Riley
Mama Daze Blog

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Drea - Its lovely! love it. I so need a blog make over…

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Natalie - I love the new look and feel of your blog Shawna! So fresh and simply beautiful :)

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Allie S. - The new site look is beautiful!!!! You have done an amazing job!!!!

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Paninis | Quick summer meals

Ahh. Summer. We just returned from an awesome trip back to my home, the San Francisco Bay and I have not yet had the will to pull my kids off California time. Getting up at 9:30 just seems right!? (Going to bed at 9:30 is another story…) But, gosh, what a fun time we had. I brought my fancy camera to the beach in Half Moon Bay & ah. What a sight. :)

I spent nine days rediscovering my home through the eyes of my own children. It was so fun. Monterey Bay Aquarium. Sea Lions at Pier 39. Philz Coffee. Parks, parks & more parks. Caroline pretty much refused shoes the whole trip. With the absence of Texas fire ants, she insisted on being just like “wapunzel” and so barefoot she was. This was the kids’ first time to the ocean and despite the frigid temps, I could hardly get caroline to leave. She just LOVED having sandy toes. Everett on the other hand, ha. Well, this is the one and only place where he stood absolutely still. I think I need a sandbox in my living room. Just so I can cook dinner.

I handed my fancy camera over to my brother. What a treasure. There’s just somethin’ about little boys…

But now I am back. Back to the norm. Later wake ups mean later bedtimes & this midnight oil I’ve found myself burning has been really good. I am knee deep into that site redesign I promised & I am excited. I feel a bit paralyzed by my current site. I’m frankly, sick of looking at it. It doesn’t feel like “me” anymore. Thankfully, that is going to change very soon. BUT…after asking for some feedback on the styleberry facebook page, I was inspired. Many of you said you didn’t care what it looked like here, you just wanted something new to read. So NEW it is!

I am over on The Creative Mama today professing my love of all things Panini & sharing how I make our fave “brinner,” pictured below. But I also wanted to give you ALL my favorite panini recipes, since they are a huge part of my summer staple menu. Light, easy & pretty quick if you take some short cuts. So head on over there for the scoop on my panini press & how I keep the kids involved in the process & then head back for my favorite SIMPLE concoctions all shared here.

So here they are, all my Panini recipes. Of course, better quality ingredients will make a better sandwich & I buy the best I can afford. I use fresh cheeses, veggies, bread and organic meats. These also make great lunches for the hubby to take to work if you make extra. Enjoy!

EGG PANINI

  • bread: sourdough
  • inside: eggs + cheese + bacon
  • served with: fruit, hash browns & OJ

PASTRAMI PANINI

  • bread: sourdough
  • inside: pastrami + havarti
  • served with: honey+mustard dipping sauce, sweet potato fries

CHICKEN, BACON & AVOCADO PANINI

  • bread: sourdough
  • spread (inside, on the bread): mayo + 5ish chopped garlic cloves
  • inside: rotisserie chicken + bacon + avocado
  • served with: fries or chips or a salad

TUSCAN CHICKEN PANINI

  • bread: ciabiatta
  • spread (inside, on the bread): 1/2 c mayo + 1 TBSP sour cream + 3 TBSP pesto
  • inside: chicken (I marinate overnight with my favorite balsamic, then grill first) + sliced red onion + mozzarella ( & if you wish, + tomato + greens)
  • served with: salad

BUFFALO CHICKEN PANINI

  • bread: sourdough
  • spread (inside, on the bread): 6TBSP mayo + 1/2 c blue cheese
  • inside: chicken (I broil chicken tenders, 6m each side on a broiler pan) coated in buffalo sauce to taste
  • served with: onion rings + salad

SOUTHWESTERN TURKEY PANINI

  • bread: wheat/multigrain
  • spread (inside, on the bread): 1 avocado + 2 TBSP lime juice + 1-2 TBSP chopped, pickled jalapenos
  • inside: rotisserie chicken + bacon + tomato
  • served with: fries + salad

CLASSIC GRILLED CHEESE PANINI

I hope this gives you some good summer dinner ideas! These make up a huge chunk of our summer eats. Light, easy, quick. Yum, yum. Many of you keep asking what I make for my kids and the answer is really simple: exactly what I make for me. They eat all the sandwiches above. I just lighten up on the jalapeños on the SW Turkey panini & take it easy on the sauce for the Buffalo Chicken, but they gobble them right up with us. I am a firm believer in NOT cooking separate meals for children. Why not expose them to a rich variety of flavors? :) Plus, less work for mama. Win, WIN!

I hope you summer is off to a great start! :)

-shawna- - yes! Undercooked a bit, bur definitely cooked! :)

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Anna - I am with Kristin, Is the Styleberry FB page still going? When I click on the link it just takes me to the overall homepage of FB and when I search for Styleberry, it does not show up either.

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Lisa - Um…3rd time this week paninis have made an appearance in the Willis household, at one meal or another! Thanks for the great reminder to dig out the panini press!!

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Julie - Question about the tomato quinoa soup: I don’t see you mention quinoa in the recipe. Do you add cooked, like you mentioned with the jasmine rice? Thanks! LOVE the new site!!!

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angie - Mmmmm! Thanks for posting these yummy recipes. I look forward to your re-design, but agree with the others.. more excited about NEW content. You inspire me!
angie recently posted..create :: chocolate dipped marshmallows

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lindsay - THANK YOU so much for posting this! this was one of my FB suggestions for you yesterday :) Love your SF pics, so beautiful. Miss seeing those babes in your IG feed, but understand why. Can’t wait for your blog redesign, I’m sure it will be beautiful and inspiring and it will be just the lift we need during our hard mommy days :) thank you for taking the time to share all your creative recipes for us :)
lindsay recently posted..dawson is eight months.

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kristin - Is the styleberry facebook page still going? when I click the link it just shows me back to your blog?? I would love to know how its going with your boy now that he is a bit older. Has the sleeping finally gotten better and juggling two? I ask because I am knee deep in life with a 3 month old and 3 year old and its…hard.

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& we are moving to…….

…the MIDWEST! WAHOO!!! My hubby has “matched” again, and will be spending another three years perfecting the art of fixing broken hearts. :) OOh boy. A whole new city! A whole different climate!! & a whole new challenge: being ME and making a RENTAL house a home. Eek.

I am just slightly panicking, since I have always owned my own home & made it just exactly how I want it, but it’d be silly to buy given our short stay. So…we’ll rent. & I foresee a lot of time to blog (because major household projects will be at a minimum, wah!) AND lots of new ideas on making a rental property feel like home. I know one thing for sure–we’ll be having lots of fun outside…out of this nasty heat! YESSS!!

Any tips/advice on the St. Louis area are greatly appreciated–the city is completely foreign to me! :) We will be relocating in 2014. :)

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lisa - I just found your blog on pinterest! Saw you are relocating to my town STL, how awesome! You are a very blessed and talented momma! P.s. thanks for giving me some ideas on my baby boys nursery, loved all the pics you posted of your little ones!!

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LL - I have been to St. Louis a few times for work. I brought my family (husband and two toddler boys) and they loved it! Next to DC, it has the most free family fun of any city in the states, or so I read. :)

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Sarah - My grandmother lives near there and last year we went to the Goodwill Outlet in St. Louis…. It’s amazing! You should check it out…. Quite an experience but if you go at the right times and are willing to look through stuff you can get things really really cheap! :)

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Sarah - I live in St. Louis. Moved here 8 years ago from San Diego. You will like it! Great city and kind people. Email me for any suggestions.

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Sarah - I live it St. Louis… Moved here 8 years ago from San Diego. I really like the city and people are so kind. I can help getting acclimated. Send me an email.

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Anna - Congratulations! Our last assignment was there and my husband is from the area. You will love it! There is so much to see and do, especially with kids. Eckerts is a family owned farm that you can pick all kinds of fruit and then in the winter time cut down your own Christmas tree, the City Museum is a fun place to take the kids to run around and play and at Christmas time check out the light show at the National Shrine of Our Lady of the Snows (gorgeous!) and there seems to always be a Cardinals game going on at Busch Stadium in the summer. Some good places to eat are Rooster (they specialize in crepes), Pappy’s Smokehouse (BBQ), The Shaved Duck (BBQ), and of course Ted Drewes Frozen Custard. I hope that gets you started with just a few ideas ;-)

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Emilee - No actual tips, but my sister has lived all over the U.S. and spent a summer in St. Louis. She said that has been one of her favorite places because the people were so friendly there. Good luck!

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Kristin Sacksteder - Hi Shawna!

I first learned about your blog from a high school friend (I graduated from Monte Vista in 2000) and I have been following your blog ever since. I am beyond amazed by what you do. You are so driven and talented, and I am grateful that you are willing to share your inspiration :)

I just read your post about your upcoming move! My husband and I relocated to a fantastic suburb of St. Louis called Chesterfield in February! We are still very new here, but we like it a lot! We have a 5 1/2 year-old son, an almost-four-year-old daughter and a 20 month-old son. Their transition here was a dream come true. We’ve found an amazing preschool, Gym (Lifetime!!), tons of parks, libraries, family-friendly attractions… It really is an excellent place for families :)

My husband was in the Army until 2007 and we’ve moved a couple of times for his civilian job as well. I can completely empathise with the difficulty in uprooting your life and planting it someplace new, especially when you don’t know a soul or have family nearby to lean on. Please let me know if I can help in any way :). I hope that we might have an opportunity to meet up once you are here! Best of luck with all your preparations!

:) Kristin

P.S. We’re renting a house, too! The housing market here is super active, so I’m sure you’ll find something with potential :)

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Georganne - Congrats on your match! I live in St. Louis and would love to help any way that I can. My husband finished his residency last year and we moved back to STL to be closer to family. If you email me what you’re looking for in places to live, I can definitely help you out. :)

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Katie - Woo hoo! Your fam will LOVE Stl! Ditto to the many comments praising all the great kid-friendly activities in the area & safe neighborhoods & good schools (public & private) it is also home to Cottonbabies, a fantastic cloth diapering/baby supply store (makers of Bumgenius & Flip). Happy planning in the months to come!

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Polly - We have family that live in St. Louis and only live 2 hours away so we are there quite a bit. It has an amazing FREE zoo that kiddos love. Here is an NYT article about loving the midwest you might like to read too. Good luck with the move and welcome to Missouri!
http://www.nytimes.com/2013/06/09/opinion/sunday/loving-the-midwest.html?_r=1&

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Kensey - Yay! Welcome to Missouri! I am in Kansas City – so not too far. And I hate to say it, but summers here can be pretty nasty too! Saint Louis is known for all of their FREE family activities, so there will be plenty to keep you and the kids busy!

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Shannon - awesome! blessings on a great move! you will make it amazing!
Shannon recently posted..Sweet Little Thing {The Final Curtain}

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Jessica - SO exciting! Praying for you and your family as you prepare to move! My husband is a coach in the wild and wonderful world of D1 Basketball. Therefore, we are renters. I love your positive outlook on the new adventure. :)

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Ambrosia Robert - Missouri is a wonderful place to live! Don’t let anyone let you believe otherwise :-) Late summer will be nasty hot for maybe a month, but it isnt the nasty hot you are probably used to. Just make sure to have a basement or storm shelter and your golden :-) Also – I’m not exactly sure on neighborhoods in St. Louis, but I know they have some great ones! No matter where you move, I am sure you will make it lovely :-) Good Luck!

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Michelle - Congratulations!!! Rental or not, I know you will make it a beautiful home for you and your family!! I hear great things about St. Louis!! Best of luck on this new adventure!! xo

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Sara - How exciting. Don’t get too excited, summers there are nasty, but you will definitely be getting back to the cold, snowy winters. My BFF lives in Lake St Louis. She is a hairdresser, but just finished nursing school. She likes Lake St Louis as its not right in the city but close enough. Everytime I’ve gone to visit with my 3 year-old son we’ve always found plenty to do and that’s just vacation wise. Congrats and I hope it is a fun experience for you.

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Lindsey - Congratulations on your match! I stumbled on your blog via Pinterest a couple months ago and feel like I need to say THANK YOU! I just love it – it’s so full of so much practical info! The hubby and I just started trying for a munchkin, but I’m LOVING all of your past blog posts on cloth diapering, breastfeeding, and stylish baby goodies! Thank you thank you!!

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Cindy - Congrats on your move, and change of scenery. My inlaws live in SA…north part of the city, near “The Rim”. As a native Virginian (living on the gulf coast of AL for the last 5 yrs, but moving to Winston-Salem, NC as soon as our house sells due to a corporate relocation…YEA!!), I think SA is a great place to visit, and it’s grown incredibly in the last 10 years. But for me, it’s just that – a great place to visit, although my parents-in-law & sister-in-law LOVE it. But yep, too hot and too dry for my taste. In my first strip there, I coined it “the land of little trees.” We could be renting too, which I have mixed feelings about as well. I agree, look at the up side – it will free you up to do a few other things like blogging, plus being a tourist in your new city. Best of luck!

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Jessica - Oh congratulations!!! :) How exciting and happy to know where you’re going. I lived in St. Louis for a summer after college and recall liking it but don’t have any other tips! I do understand your renting a house pain though. We bought and renovated a house in Phoenix because we thought we were going to be living there forever (we did all the work ourselves) and just got to the point of really making it ours when we moved to Texas. Since we didn’t know how long we’d be in Texas, we rented and now that we’re in California we rent again (partially because it’s so hard to afford a house here. That will be nice about St. Louis. I think the cost of living is pretty low!). Anyway, best of luck. And like your other friend said, there’s always Chicago :) That’s where I’m from and it’s not a bad drive!
Jessica recently posted..On my mind this Monday.

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Stefanie - Also, I still have many friends in the StL area (who now have preschool aged children), so if you need advice on schools, I’d be happy to ask them.

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Natalie - There is one museum YOU MUST see when you go, I know it can be a lil pricey but with two little ones, you would have a lot of fun checking it out. It’s like an indoor playground if you think about it. http://www.citymuseum.org/site/ Lots of climbing and playing involved with that one museum.

I will try and think of other attractions. I think the zoo is always a fun one and I’ve been up in the arch once, although that can be quite popular at times and long lines to be expected but since you’ll be living there, it’s possible you’ll be able to go when there’s less people touring the arch.

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Stefanie - I am SO incredibly excited for you! I live in Kansas City, but spent two years in “the Lou” for grad school. You will LOVE it there!! There are so many fun, family and kid friendly things to do there. Forest Park has an awesome (free!!) zoo, running path, museums, and summer concerts/Shakespeare festival. The Magic House is a must for littles and The City Museum is fun (and very unique), too. I nannied both years I lived there and between parks, festivals, etc, we never got bored. I lived in the Central West End, which was a great mix of Midwest and urban. Lots of little wine bars, coffee shops, and boutiques…cute, cute! But I also loved the Clayton area. St. Louis is a great place to live!! And your kids will have SNOW!! It’s still hot and VERY humid in the summer, but I’m sure nothing like where you are now. AND…they’re building an IKEA in Kansas City soon…but until then, there’s always Chicago. :) Congrats and Good Luck!!! Excited to read more on the blog!

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Kate - Congrats Shawna!! St. Louis is a fabulous town for families. If you ever need any advice or help please don’t hesitate to ask. There is so much free/cheap/fun stuff for kids-the zoo, Grants Farm, parks and so much more. Email me if you have questions. I’d love to help!!

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