October 18, 2016

Interesting Cardigans, Fresh Air, and Brave Steps


cardigan (c/o Modcloth) | top (c/o) | gloves (c/o)

Coziness. That’s pretty much all I can focus on clothing-wise right now, especially with a trip to the coast. (Think: cold, windy, rainy). And I love how even a quick trip to the shore is so renewing and refreshing…there’s just something about fresh air and being near a body of water. I forget how much my soul needs these little day trips to the beach.

I recently had a dear friend visit for a week (you may have seen our adventures over on Instagram @elletrain).  She lives in Toronto and our time together is far too little. She left a few days ago and I’m feeling pretty bummed. It’s tough when good friends live far away, even with technology. And I think it gets harder as moms, wives, and business women to find time to foster friendships. The kind of friendships that reflect our best selves back to us. It’s too easy to lose ourselves in our families. And while it’s a very noble cause, I sometimes wake up and think “Wait, what happened to me? Where did I go?”

October 17, 2016

Survivorship Issues and The LOFT Cares Card For Breast Cancer Research


Pax is looking at old pictures.  “Who is that, Mom?” he asks.  I look over his little shoulder, allowing myself a brief moment of silence for the death of yet another Baby Pax Phrase (rest in peace “WHO DAT”), and then turn my attention to the photo. 

It’s me.  The women he’s pointing to…is me.  The picture is an old one, but it’s of Pax and I.  Pax’s chubby face is smeared with brown smoothie (I went through a terrible kale-and-strawberry smoothie phase – don’t recommend it), and my face is snuggled up into his neck.  My hair – or lack thereof – is a dead giveaway.  It’s only two inches long, but other than that, I look healthy and happy.  I’m shocked Pax doesn’t recognize me.

“Remember when Mum was sick all of the time?” I ask Pax.   He nods, slowly.  He knows he’s supposed to know this.  His older brother saunters over, glances at the photo.  “Yeah….that was Mom’s chemo, Pax.  But you were just a baby.”  Raines’ tone is flippant.  He flops down next to us, with all of the swagger of an 8 year old boy.   Then plants a sweet kiss on my cheek.  “I’m glad that’s over, huh Mom?”

Um.  Yes.

My boys’ view of my breast cancer can be summarized like this:  it happened, it sucked, and now it’s done.  Bye! 


But the thing about breast cancer is that it’s never really over.  There are genetic tests to be run, Tamoxifen side effects to be managed, fake boobs to be groped periodically, and – if things get really exciting – uterine biopsies “just in case”.  And ultrasounds.  Oh, the ultrasounds.

In the last two years, I’ve had more ultrasounds than both pregnancies combined.  At first, the ultrasounds were really depressing, not just for the typical reasons – hello, stirrups – but because they seemed like some sort of bad cosmic joke.  A haha, she thought she was going to have another baby but instead she got breast cancer – at least the ultrasounds are the same!! kind of joke.  I would lie there, blinking back tears and resentment.

But life goes on, and our new normal actually started to feel…normal.  Fun, even – with two growing boys there is plenty of fun.  So we adapted to our new normal,  which for me, means ultrasound after ultrasound after ultrasound.  For my last one, I decided to make the best of it and brought a book.  “I’m just going to ignore you” I informed the ultrasound tech, lifting my feet into the stirrups and scooching my butt to the edge of the bed.  “It’s nothing personal, I’m just trying to carve out some me time.”

I mean.  Desperate times.

A friend of mine refers to these breast cancer….extras (extra worries, extra tests, extra sleepless nights) as “Survivorship Issues.” 

I LOVE this phrase, Survivorship Issues.   I love it because it reminds me that I’m one of the lucky ones.  Yeah, the ultrasounds suck, and there are too many days where I battle my own anxieties (it’s a totally weird thing, calculating the age you can safely die knowing your children will be OK – my mother assures me this is both totally normal AND completely effing meaningless), and the phrase Survivorship Issues reminds me that all of these anxieties and tests and extra appointments and – yes – even the Tamoxifan side effects are all because I made it.  I survived.  I’m a survivor. 

So yeah.  Bring on allllll the issues.

By October 17, 2016 8 No tags Permalink
October 17, 2016

What To Pack for London: 12 Style Essentials



The British have a saying about their weather, “Four seasons in one day,” and it proved to be more than true on my recent trip to London.  We arrived in the middle of a heat wave – hot and sweaty the first few days – but by the time we left, the weather had turned chilly and rainy. And of course, I had packed mostly for colder, Autumn weather, so a lot of my organized, careful packing went out the window.

The packing list below is a combination of what I wore while I was there, plus a few items I didn’t pack but wish I had.  Hindsight is 20/20, right?  Also, in honor of the high street clothing brands, I’m featuring lots of Topshop, River Island, Warehouse, and Oasis, because sometimes it’s fun to see what affordable fashion looks like on the other side of the pond.

So here’s a packing capsule wardrobe for London – versatile, functional, comfortable and stylish.  (Of course, I packed extra items, but I stripped the list down to the items that I truly relied on.  Next time I’ll pack light.)

By October 17, 2016 11 No tags Permalink
October 16, 2016

ThirdLove: Seriously Amazing Online Bra-Fitting


Few things are more disheartening than trying to find a well-fitting bra.  I mean….OK:  there are worse things.  Swimsuit shopping, for example.  Root canals.  When you come home to find that the dog was sick everywhere (hang in there, Scotti!!).

But bra fitting deserves a place of honor on my Top Ten List of Things I Don’t Wanna Do.  I don’t have time to go into a store –  especially since most bra boutiques require advance appointments, a policy that completely defeats me – and I’m sick of the random guessing game that goes on when ordering online.  To further complicate matters, my post-mastectomy breasts have….settled (for lack of a better word), making them a completely different size than they were a year or two ago.  I’ve attempted to cope by switching to bralettes – XS, S, M, L – it *almost* doesn’t matter.  I’ll often order one of each, only to send back what doesn’t work.  Depending on the brand, my size varies wildly, so yes.  Feel free to come shop my bralette drawer – I’m sure I have at least one in your size.

The situation worsens for real bras with actual cup sizes.  I’m LOST.  Even many of the online bra-fit quizzes depend heavily on the size of your existing bra.  They don’t know what to do with my wide range of bralettes.  And I’ve yet to come across a choice in those fit quizzes for Used To Be Flat Chested, Then Had Kids And Giant Melons Sprung Forth For Nursing, Then Got Cancer and Cut Them Off, Then Plastic Surgeon Promised a B Cup But Was More Like a D Cup and Now They’ve Settled And I Have No Idea.

Where’s that checkbox?

So when ThirdLove reached out saying that they had developed an iPhone app which uses “patented technology to provide a simple virtual sizing process that calculates a woman’s precise measurements…” the nerd in me freaked out.

Allow me to translate:  You take pictures of yourself in ThirdLove’s app and they calculate your exact bra size.  And it works….perfectly.

Even better?  Based on the data they’ve collected, the ThirdLove Bra Engineers (I just made that up) realized that the bras themselves needed to change in order to provide a better fit.  So ThirdLove also introduced….HALF CUP SIZES.  I mean….cartwheels, people.  This is exciting stuff.

By October 16, 2016 25 No tags Permalink
October 14, 2016

Happy Friday



Well, well, well….it’s been quite a week.  I flew (with Mike) to Lexington, KY to attend a dear friend’s wedding, gambled on horses, watched the most depressing presidential debate EVER,  wrecked two batches of quinoa pizza crust, comforted a crying 8 year old about homework stress three times, assured a 5 year old that he would “get to do homework someday” four times, discovered that #repealthe19 was actually trending on Twitter, drank mayyyybe a little too much bourbon last night (thanks for my latest obsession, Kentucky!), and went to a class parent meeting this morning.  Without coffee.  Someone get me a medal.

Weekend Links


Let’s kick things off with a turtleneck.  This cozy sweater by Velvet is the softest, lightest cashmere ever, has a subtle fringe detail, and is marked down at Nordstrom Rack for 65% off retail.  I bought a small.

Also, glitter.  I’ve been totally intrigued by Sole Society’s glitter flats and their 42 5-star reviews.  Apparently they are very comfortable after a short break-in period?? One reviewer got it done with thick socks and a blow dryer and I. Am. Tempted.  Because…glitter.

It’s getting colder.  H&M has the faux-leather jackets for boys.  I like this one for Raines and this one for Pax.


So maybe Mike deserves the medal.  He was recently interviewed in US News about predictive analytics and healthcare, and how he went from missiles to medicine.


Hey, New York.  If you’ve been following me on IG (@shanachristine), you may already know that Mike and I attended the opening of Theo Who Lived, a documentary about Theo Padnos, an American journalist kidnapped in Syria.  He was held for two years, then released.  His story is harrowing, but Theo’s ultimate message is one of love (and the power of a good sense of humor).  Truly a powerful film.  It’s showing now in NY, and will be opening in LA next week.

It’s been an interesting week to be a woman.  This old article from Buzzfeed on what it means to be a “cool girl” got me thinking about how we often tie together “cool” with unaffected.  I know I’m guilty of this in the past – letting blatant sexism slide because I prided myself on the ability to remain calm, cool, unaffected.  I really loved how Michelle Obama addressed Donald Trump’s latest remarks about women.  Especially this:

“The shameful comments about our bodies. The disrespect of our ambitions and intellect. The belief that you can do anything you want to a woman,” she said. “It is cruel. It is frightening. And the truth is, it hurts. It hurts.”

She’s right.  I don’t know what’s worse – the comments themselves, or the attempts at normalizing them.  “To dismiss this as every day locker room talk is an insult to decent men everywhere.” she continues.  “The men that you and I know don’t treat women this way. They are loving fathers who are sickened by the thought of their daughters being exposed to this kind of vicious language about women. They are husbands and brothers and sons who don’t tolerate women being demeaned and disrespected.”

Sing it, Michelle.  This isn’t about women, it’s about all of us – our sons and our daughters.

Even worse, the US isn’t alone.  The Prime Minister of Australia, Julia Gillard, delivered a (now famous) speech to the Australian parliament, where she took her opponent to task for sexist remarks.  “I’m offended,” she stated, numerous times, unapologetically.  By the time she was finished, I wasn’t sure if I should cheer or cry.  So instead I bought this tshirt.  You can see the full clip on GOOD.


Fall in Philly is the best.  I can’t decide if we should head over to Dilworth Park’s Octoberfest (foozeball tables, food trucks, picnic tables, a DJ, and beer) or head over to our fav, Morgan’s Pier, where they’ve turned the beer garden into an “autumn wonderland” complete with pumpkins to carve, hay, and heat lamps.  So fun.







By October 14, 2016 27 No tags Permalink
October 13, 2016

You’re Gonna Want these Suede Leggings from Express’ Sale


I’ll keep this short and sweet because EVERYTHING is 40% off right now at Express.  Including my favorite new leggings . . . they’re faux suede, super soft & comfy and also available in black (and I’ll admit I bought both after seeing how comfy they are).  I love Express and have featured it many times on the blog.  For example, that time I wrote about these comfortable, affordable jeans, my favorite nursing-friendly shirt and my favorite versatile cami . . . and this sale is the perfect time to stock up!  (Zack also gets all of his suits from Express during sales like this – he likes the Photographer for it’s modern, slim fit).

By October 13, 2016 0 No tags Permalink
October 12, 2016

What to Buy At Shopbop’s MAINEVENT Sale




jacket | gray cardi | cream cardi | bag | boots


Hey there!!  Shopbop’s MAINEVENT sale has just started, and it’s really good.  Take 25% off purchases up to $500, and 30% off purchases over $500.  They have a few of the really big ticket items: Stuart Weitzmand lowland and highland boots, IRO leather jackets, but in addition, a ton of really interesting cardigans, cozy sweaters, gorgeous blouses and dresses perfect for the holidays.  As promised, I’ve also included a few maternity pieces.

Keep reading for links to all of my favorite pieces….

By October 12, 2016 5 No tags Permalink
October 11, 2016

Denim Skirt, Multiple Ways



I have fond memories of an old Abercrombie and Fitch denim mini.  It barely covered my butt, the Abercrombie CEO had yet to attack anyone size 12 or up, and life was good.  But styles changed, Raging Assholes came to the forefront, and that little skirt?  I haven’t the slightest clue where it is.

I’ve been meaning to replace it ever since.

But they’re tricky.  Adrienne from Looks Good From The Back has had a love/hate (well, mostly hate) relationship with denim skirts for years – she’s complained about how the skirt rotates around your waist as you walk.  One of our editors, Cam, has also tried the denim pencil skirt – really, really tried – but ended up chopping it off because the length was too hard to style (even on her very tall self).  I still maintain that J.Crew’s Frayed Denim Pencil skirt is THE BEST denim pencil skirt I have ever tried (pics here)….but to Cam’s earlier point….it really needs a pair of heels to look good.

But.  The A-line denim mini is a whole different ballgame.  It’s flattering (even with flats or sneakers), and as long as it’s fitted at your real waist (think: high waisted denim), it doesn’t rotate around when you walk, and has a sort of gamine French-girl vibe I’m loving.  Here are three ways I’m styling this piece…..

Whoops: I didn’t style it with sneakers!  Can you believe it?  I’ll try to throw a pic up on Instagram soon (@shanachristine)

By October 11, 2016 6 No tags Permalink
October 10, 2016

How to Choose Oufits for Family Photos, Picky Kid Edition


It seems like fall is the perfect season for family photos – the ‘golden hour’ light is literally golden, the kids won’t be sweaty uncomfortable subjects and the pics are ready just in time to order holiday cards.

Choosing outfits for the kids is the hardest part for me – coming up with a cohesive look is hard enough and if your kid is highly opinionated like mine, multiply that difficulty by infinity.  Shopkins fever has hit hard in the first month of kindergarten, mamas, and it ain’t pretty.  My oldest has exactly one pair of those leggings which she always wears on Monday – guess what I pry out of her insistent little hands every. following. day. of the week?   However, we’ve successfully taken family photos the last two years with nary a character or pajama piece in sight.  Magic?  Nope – mom strategy. (And maybe a little bribery.)

Here are some tips for getting kids to wear outfits you both like for family photos, while letting them express their individuality.

October 6, 2016

Cropped Pants and Socks….And A Philly Ghost Tour (With Kids)



The kids had a couple of days off of school for Rosh Hashanah, so we took advantage of the later-than-normal bedtimes to do a walking tour in Philly’s Old City.  We needed a later-than-normal bedtime because the walking tour was actually a Ghost tour.  Oooooo…..

Of course nothing ever goes as planned, so Pax fell asleep on the Uber ride over to the restaurant (5:30PM #PartyLikeParents), but thankfully dinner was at a seriously accommodating tapas restaurant within easy walking distance to the ghost tour.  Amada, whose staff didn’t blink at our request to sit at hightop tables near the bar (with a sleeping Pax in arms), has two kinds of Cava by the glass (yessss), a killer happy hour menu, and tapas reminiscent of our trip to Barcelona.   Once Pax woke up, he promptly asked for a plate of chorizo while Raines pounded octopus tapas and Mike and I smiled nonchalantly, all We Are Successful Parents Because Our Kids Are Worldly Eaters….Suck It, Everyone Else.

You’ll forgive us the obnoxiously smug behavior.  Typically our kids are NEVER the Worldly Eaters, rather the I’ll Just Have More Bread, Please or, my personal favorite, Black Burgers Wuf JUST A BUN kids. (This was based on the ONE TIME I tried to sneak a veggie burger onto their plates.  It was a slightly different color and they never quite recovered from the shock.)  So please allow us our one moment of parenting glory.  AND OH, THE GLORY.  The waiters were all very impressed.  (Ok fine one waiter.  The one waiter was impressed.)

In any case, many of you have been asking about cropped jeans + socks for the upcoming winter months, and it just so happens that I was rocking a rather warm and cozy cropped jeans + smartwool sock combo that night.  Slightly unusual, but I think it worked!  Keep reading for a few more pics from our seriously fun night….

By October 6, 2016 16 No tags Permalink