Cozy Up With Walmart’s Hottest Toys This Fall

As summer comes to a close and the first brisk gusts of wind swirl through the towering New York City skyscrapers, we pull out our coziest flannel pajamas from storage and huddle under our fleece throw blankets. We guzzle down warm apple cider and eat oven-baked cookies, delighting in the splendor of the upcoming holiday season. At this time of year, New York City kids start spending more time indoors as the temperatures outside continue to plummet. And as their afternoons at the playground begin to dwindle, parents scramble to find this season’s best toys in desperate attempts to keep their children entertained within the confines of their small NYC apartments. But with a market super saturated with toys and children’s items, it can be overwhelming to sift through all the options. I’m so thrilled to have partnered with Walmart, America’s Best Toy Shop, to share with you this Fall’s newest and most highly coveted toys.

Play-Doh Kitchen Creations Popcorn Party Play Food Set with 6 Non-Toxic Play-Doh Cans

I’ve never seen more excitement in Evan’s eyes than when I presented him with this Play-Doh Popcorn Play Set. He loved twisting the crank, watching the “popcorn” fall into the basket below, and utilizing his imagination to mold Play-Doh Oreos and chocolate candies. Like most Kindergartener’s, he loves the feeling of Play-Doh between his fingers and was so enthusiastic about creating these make-believe tasty morsels.

PLAYMOBIL Park Playground

When frigid temperatures prohibit trips to the playground, why not bring the playground to your kids?! Both Evan and Chloe loved using the figurines in the PLAYMOBIL Park Playground to re-enact their favorite playground activities, even including going down the slide head first. It can be difficult to find toys that interest both a 3-year-old and 5-year-old, but this toy kept them both engaged and encouraged them to play alongside each other.

Some of my other favorites at Walmart are as follows:

VTech Myla the Magical Unicorn Electronic Pet

Because what little girls these days are not fascinated with unicorns? Children can dip Myla’s magic brush into the butterfly palette to choose a color and then use it to paint her eyes, wings and horn a variety of colors. This is perfect for children who are obsessed with Mommy’s makeup and gives them the opportunity to practice mixing colors. I just added this Myla the Magical Unicorn to Chloe’s wish list and you should too!

PLAYMOBIL Noah’s Ark

I love toys that promote learning, which is why I was initially drawn to this toy.  As kids guide the animals up the ramp two by two and onto the floating vessel, it becomes the perfect opportunity to introduce them to the beautiful biblical story behind the toy. And get this – the PLAYMOBIL Noah’s Ark actually floats so it can even be used during bath time! 

LEGO Friends Dolphins Rescue Mission 41378 Building Kit with Submarine

I also love toys that bring awareness to global issues and send positive messages to our youth. When playing with the LEGO Friends Dolphin Rescue Mission Building Kit with Submarine, children will embark on a mission to rescue a trapped dolphin and find the hidden treasure throughout their underwater adventure! I just love how this toy teaches our children about the importance of caring for animals.

Little Tikes 2-in-1 Food Truck Play Kitchen with 20+ Accessories

In a city where food trucks line the avenues, the Little Tikes Food Truck Play Kitchen encourages role-playing and gives children hands-on experience serving up the tastiest treats. I love that it fosters interactive play and encourages children to play together. Even with their relatively short attentions spans, I can easily see this providing hours of entertainment for my kids this Fall.

LINCOLN LOGS Classic Farmhouse

Never has another toy made me feel so nostalgic about my own childhood than the Lincoln Logs Classic Farmhouse. This toy encourages kids to think outside the box to create structures of all shapes and sizes and even introduces the concepts of spatial awareness and problem solving. I’m always amazed at how focused my children suddenly become when they’re building and creating! 

LEGO Architecture Empire State Building 21046 Model Skyscraper Building Kit

My children are endlessly fascinated by the Empire State Building and other iconic landmarks of NYC that they see so frequently while growing up in this heaping metropolis. The prospect of constructing the LEGO Architecture Empire State Building Kit may seem overwhelming at first, but reinforces the importance of patience and working together to finish a task. Children will feel so proud when it’s complete!

 

Here’s the Scoop: Evan’s Fro-yo-licious Birthday Celebration

The hours may be long, but the days are most definitely short. I can hardly believe that my sweet boy is turning FIVE! To celebrate Evan’s milestone birthday, it was only fitting that we throw him a party that would be sweet, sugar-coated and oh-so-sticky, just like him. For as long as I can remember, we’ve been frequenting our favorite neighborhood dessert destination, 16 Handles, where we love watching both Evan and Chloe revel in the most decadent sweet treats. It was a no-brainer that this was the perfect venue to host a birthday party that would be most memorable and personally meaningful for him.

There’s something about frozen yogurt that bridges the gap between childhood and adulthood. It’s a delicious indulgence that neither young nor old can resist. So I knew that both Evan’s friends and their parents would be elated to attend his sweet celebration at 16 Handles, where they boast 16 fro-yo flavors and a toppings bar that knows no bounds. Nothing makes me feel like a kid again quite like visiting my favorite fro-yo destination!

The 16 Handles location on 64th St. And 1st Avenue proved to be the perfect space to accommodate our party. The oversized party rooms facilitated easy transitions from one activity to the next and kept all of our guests feeling comfortable. A long table in their party room comfortably sat 20+ kids with plenty of standing room for adults. And adjacent to that is another area where we set up a shark themed table complete with food, drinks, party favors and other party paraphernalia.

When the entertainer arrived we shuffled the kids into yet another room lined with benches, which is the ideal space for watching any kind of entertainment.

Making birthday parties for my kids has always been a source of anxiety for me, but the staff at 16 Handles succeeded in making Evan’s birthday party a stress-free experience. They were so incredibly helpful to ensure that the party ran smoothly and executed all of the details with ease. It was clear that their staff members are very experienced in hosting special events and private parties. They maintained composure and organization even in the presence of 20+ children with balloon swords on sugar-highs.

It filled us with so much joy to watch Evan and his pals devour more fro-yo flavor and topping combinations than you can ever possibly imagine. Cookie dough pieces, cheesecake bites, and rainbow cookies, oh my! A veritable heaven for those with even the most discerning sweet tooth. 16 Handles even offers sugar-free fro-yo and fresh fruit toppings for those who’d rather not have sugar coursing through their veins.

As the party winded down, I couldn’t help but marvel at how my baby boy has blossomed into the sweetest, most nurturing soul I have ever known. Being Evan’s mommy (and Chloe’s too!) continues to be the greatest privilege in my life. Thank you, 16 Handles for making this birthday a sweet celebration we will all remember.

With locations all over New York City and the New York metropolitan area, 16 Handles is the perfect venue for your child’s next birthday party. Click here to start planning your own!

10 Things Nobody Tells You About Losing Your Mother

After my mother’s sudden passing two years ago on this date, I’ve haphazardly stumbled my way through the grieving process, having spent much of the past two years adrift in the wreckage of unfathomable heartache and a sea of designer shopping bags. But despite the mood-boosting qualities of impulse purchases, my new wardrobe additions have failed to piece back together the shards of my own shattered identity. As I’ve struggled to find meaning in a world that seems predictably unpredictable and utterly cruel at times, I’ve come to the conclusion that what has emerged is the stark reality of ineffable loss and the endowment of a profound wisdom understood too early. Acutely aware that the 2nd anniversary of her death has been quickly approaching, I’ve spent countless hours reflecting on all I’ve ascertained about life and my mother’s premature death and today I’m sharing ten internal revelations nobody ever tells you about losing your mother. 

  1. Her passing will become a defining moment in your life.  You will start to organize the memories of your life into two very distinct repositories of experience as if plotted chronologically on a timeline – when your mother was alive and after her death. In fact, as the calendar pages flutter in the breeze, a decreasing segment of my closet is now mom-approved.
  2. You will search for ways to make full the void before realizing that such a gaping injury to your heart is ultimately irreparable. Even the Bergdorf’s after-Christmas sale will fail to rehabilitate your aching spirit as you struggle to adjust to a life that feels forever incomplete.
  3. Life is now fractured through a prism, dampening light as never before. That fierce pair of Louboutin boots at Barney’s you were eyeing suddenly just seem like a superfluous irrelevance. You will make that purchase another day.  
  4. The person you were before she died is forever altered by this cataclysmic event; you will morph into a more vulnerable iteration of yourself, emerging with a deeper appreciation of life and enhanced compassion for others. This reservoir of tenderness for others will translate into a deeper empathy for others and you are poised to become a better mother, spouse, friend and neighbor.
  5. You will emerge inherently mindful of life’s complexity, and forever feel more grown-up. When my mother, keeper of my childhood memories, passed away, I was recklessly catapulted over an invisible barrier to a requisite maturity.  I was just 35 at the time. Although a mother myself, the child in me was inextricably tethered to my mother. In her absence, I often find myself foraging for her spot-on guidance, wisdom and unfiltered critiques of my wardrobe choices I so desperately still need. 
  6. You will begin to contemplate the transient nature of all living things and develop a vivid, visceral knowledge of your own fleeting mortality.  You will examine and parse out what critically matters and re-formulate your core values. You will become less willing to put up with people who waste your time. And you will learn how to draw hard lines, unapologetically say no, and engage in guilt-free pampering sessions.
  7. Sadness will wash over you at the most unexpected and inconvenient times. Discrete circumstances can cause you to sense your mother’s absence more acutely, such as when your child reaches a new milestone or you stumble upon a pair of Manolo’s at Off Fifth and experience the dire urge to share it with her.  During such vulnerable moments, the wound is re-opened and triggers what may best be described as “mommy-missing feelings.” 
  8. You will find solace in doing the things she loved doing. My mother was an excellent cook. After she passed away I discovered her hand-written recipes tucked in a drawer, a proverbial cheat sheet to create her signature delicacies. With this revelation I’ve since been able to celebrate her life by cooking the recipes so sweetly reminiscent of my childhood. As the aromas that I so deeply miss waft through my kitchen, I’m comforted by my mother’s presence. 
  9. You will come to understand that it’s not solely the relationship you had with your mother that you grieve, but also the relationship you could be having now.  In motherhood, when the ambiance may fluctuate between peace and pandemonium instantaneously, my mother was my pillar of strength. I long for the powerfully soothing tone of her voice assuring me that I’m not alone in the world. 
  10. You will learn that love is more potent than death. My relationship with my mother is one which transcends the limitations of the physical realm. It will endure in perpetuity. Her essence impacts virtually every decision I make and the principals and morality she so deeply ingrained in me escort me through each new challenge I now face without her. I detect glimpses of her whenever I peer into the mirror. And by living my life in a manner I know would make her most proud, she will continue to live on through me always.

Top 7 Parental Pet Peeves

Top 7 Parental Pet Peeves

The Never-ending Bedtime Routine

There was a time when I’d tuck my children into bed and whisper sweet nothings like, “I love you more than all the stars in the sky” or “I love you all the way to the moon”. We’d kiss, hug, give each other fist bumps and then they would peacefully drift off to sleep.  I really do remember this happening. . . maybe twice. Let’s be honest – more often than not, bedtime consists of negotiating with my tiny, demanding CEOs for different books, sips of water, and last-minute trips the bathroom. This is a seemingly never-ending sequence of events, and once the light turns off and the door gets closed, all hell breaks loose in their secluded mischief chamber. Through their deafening cackling, I can hear them using their mattresses as trampolines as they playfully hurl stuffed animals at each other. The years may be short, but somehow bedtime is 576,923 days long.

Masterful Mess Makers

Whether they’re excitedly rummaging through my makeup drawer or converting the walls of our home to crayon-based mural drawings, only one thing is certain – my toddlers love exploring the world one mess at a time. My very own apprentice demolition crew, I can always count on them for wrecking any semblance of order in our home. Like pint-sized dump trucks, they load up purses and other containers with junk from their play area and haul it to other rooms, where it will be dumped, dismantled and ultimately abandoned. The cumulative effect of this behavior results in the transition of our orderly apartment into a treacherous Lego minefield. And speaking of messes, does anyone else spend an inordinate amount of time daily touching things in your home and wondering why they’re sticky?

Melodramatic Mealtime

Much like the uncertain outcome when leading a horse to water, there is never any guarantee that my children, who have willingly arrived at the dinner table, will actually consume the food they’ve been given. Mealtime wouldn’t be complete without at least one of my kids refusing to eat what’s been served, even if it’s exactly what they asked me to cook for them. Sometimes it even seems like it might just be easier to cut out the middle man, throw away an entire plate of food and squirt ketchup all over the floor. With a promising future in quality control, my toddlers will examine their food, searching for any inconsistencies in color, texture, or shape before protesting anything that fails to resemble the usual mealtime offerings.  I wish I was as brave as my 2-year old who proclaims her tummy is too full to eat her dinner, but then asks me for a snack five minutes later.

Walking Petri Dishes

The careless touching of contaminated surfaces is behavior I will never comprehend. Despite my excessive warnings not to touch germy surfaces, my toddlers seemingly can’t resist dangerous play dates with pathogens. A ride on the subway isn’t complete without caressing every square inch of the train car and tracing shapes with their fingers on the murky brown window panels. What better opportunity to taste each finger than after pressing the elevator button inside the Times Square subway station? These unsanitary habits make me cringe, and once the germs enter our home it’s only a matter of time before we find ourselves battling a household epidemic. Actually, spending all day recuperating in bed doesn’t sound so bad, Oh wait, I’m a mom! Scratch that idea. 

Unrealistic demands

Just once, I’d like to wake up with the same renewed sense of optimism as my 4-year old who just asked me for the 20th day in a row if he can have M&M’s for breakfast. I now realize that all of the things my sweet babies were trying to tell me when they were infants were probably just demands for more snacks and toys. When my 2-year old optimistically asks to bring her tablet into her crib at nap time, she seems genuinely bewildered as I tell her “no” for the 427th time.

Declarations of Independence

Shortly after they begin walking and talking, toddlers develop a ferocious determination to do things on their own. “No, let me! Let me!” is a phrase I’ve heard at least 10 times even before my kids get out the door in the morning. Toddlers seem to have a warped sense of reality when it comes to their physical limitations and often don’t have the necessary skill set to complete more difficult tasks without help (although offers to help are usually met with resistance). For instance, my 2-year old will often demand to change her own diaper even though clearly this is a recipe for disaster. Only after a 5 minute standoff (and maybe bribing her with my phone) does she relinquish diaper changing duties to me. And explaining to my 4-year old why I cannot allow him to drive our car feels like bargaining with a tiny dictator. But I have to be flexible. When he insists on pouring himself a cup of milk from the 1-gallon jug, I take a step back and feign a smile as my whole life flashes before my eyes.

The Backhanded Snot Wipe 

Despite frequent hand washing and our best efforts to sanitize everything that comes through our door, it always seems like we are fighting a losing battle against an endless onslaught of runny noses and low-grade fevers. No need to panic, however (or buy tissues, for that matter), as most toddlers have mastered the haphazard movement of snot across their faces by utilizing the back of their perfectly dimpled hands. This maneuver defies all logic and often leads to bothersome irritation of toddlers’ sensitive skin. That glistening coat of dried mucus often masks cheeks that are chafed, crusty, and in dire need of some TLC.

Black Friday Cheat Sheet

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Black Friday: the day when people trample others for deep discounts mere hours after giving thanks for everything they already have. And for those of you itching to deplete your bank accounts even before you consume your colossal plate of food, you’re in luck, as Black Friday sales no longer begin on Friday, but rather on Thanksgiving or even before!! Black Friday is an enigma in the truest form. In a real life manifestation of The Hunger Games, people emerge from their turkey-induced comas and all common decency is abandoned as they compete for price-slashed luxury goods. Unless armed with helmets and shoulder pads, battling hoards of overzealous retailers is a dangerous sport not meant for the faint of heart.

The first and most critical rule for Black Friday shopping – STAY HOME.  There, I said it. With few exceptions, shoppers extraordinaire can access the same deals online as in stores. This year, stay in your pajamas, grab some spiced cider, and get those fingers ready to furiously type in your credit card numbers.

Below is my ultimate Black Friday Cheat sheet – You’re welcome!

& Other Stories is offering 20% off everything through 11/24.

7 For All Mankind is offering 40% off sitewide through 11/27.

Alternative Apparel is offering 30% off sitewide through 11/25. Use code THANKS30.

Aritzia is offering 50% off select fall/winter styles through 11/26.

ARO  is offering 30% off sitewide with code THANKYOU from 11/22 to 11/26.

ASOS will give you 20% off with code HELLO20 and free shipping worldwide.

Ban.do is offering 30% off sitewide with code THIRTYOFF through 11/27.

Barnes & Noble has a bunch of deals going on: Get 50% off the best young adult books of 2018, toys and games for BOGO 50% off, and 50% off Moleskine items, plus more all through 11/25.

Baublebar is offering 30% off through 11/24.

Benefit Cosmetics is offering 25% off everything plus free shipping with code BENEBINGE through 11/24.

Betsey Johnson is offering 35% off sitewide through 11/25.

Blank NYC will give you 30% off sidewide with code BLACKFRIDAY from 11/23-11/25.

Bloomingdales is offering 15% off $100+, 20% off $250+, or 25% off $400+ on items labeled “buy more save more” through 11/24.

Boohoo will give you 60% off fashion and accessories with free returns!

Charlotte Russe is offering Select Sweaters for $15 through 11/22 at 3am EST. And get Long Denim, Boxed Shoes, and Outerwear items for $20 from now through 11/25 at 3am EST.

Chinese Laundry is offering 30% off sitewide excluding best seller items — use code HOLIDAY.

Club Monaco has the following offer: Spend to Get 25% off $150 30% off $250 35% off $400 on purchase with code: CMBLACKFRIDAY18. Valid 11/21-11/24.

Coach is offering 50% off select bestselling handbags starting today and lasting until they’re sold out! And get 30% off select styles with promo code THANKS18 through 11/27.

Cole Haan is offering 50% off select boots, bags, and outerwear plus 30% off everything else through 11/24.

Converse is offering 20% off clearance styles through 11/22.

Dear Frances is offering 25% off sitewide through 11/27 with code BF25.

DKNY is offering 30% off your purchase with code YESPLEASE through 11/28.

Dormify will give you 25% off with code BLACKFRIDAY2018 through 11/25.

Dorothy Perkins is offering up to 50% off select lines through 11/22.

Draper James is offering 25% off sitewide with code GATHERROUND through 11/26.

e.l.f. Cosmetics has the following offer: Get a $25 value holiday gift when you spend $25 from 11/19 to 11/26 on elfcosmetics.com.

Eloquii is offering 50% off a $75+ purchase with code EARLY.

Etsy is having a Cyber Sales Event with items for 10-60% off through 11/26! Click here to visit the sale.

Express is offering 50% off absolutely everything through 11/24 at 2:59am ET.

Fashion Nova is offering 25% off select styles!

Frances Valentine is offering 30% off orders of $200 or more with code FVGIFTS30; Excludes Kate bags and preorder items.

Gap has the following offer: Black Friday! 50% off Everything! No exclusions! Use code BLKFRIDAY at gap.com. Restrictions apply. Ends 11/24. And get an extra 10% off everything with code TREAT through 11/24.

Garage is offering 40% off all orders from now through 11/26 at 7am EST!

Genuine People is offering 30% off sitewide through 11/26 with code TAKE30.

Giorgio Armani Beauty has the following offer going on: Enjoy 20% off all Giorgio Armani Beauty products. Receive complimentary shipping when you spend $75+. Receive a complimentary full sized lipstick with any order of $125+. In addition, receive a makeup palette with any order of $200+. Use Code ARMANI20. Valid 11/18-11/28.

Gorjana has the following offer: From November 22-24, spend $100 and get $20 off; spend $150 and get $50 off; spend $250 and get $100 off.

J.Crew is offering 40% off select styles through 11/22 with code TOGETHER.

Keds is offering 30% off full priced items and 20% off sale items through 11/27.

Kurt Lyle is offering 25% off sitewide with code ART25.

Lands’ End is offering 50% off full price styles plus free shipping on $50+.

L.K. Bennett is offering 30% off $250+ with code HAPPY30.

Lancome is offering 20% off and free shipping on any order through 11/27! Use code FRIENDS.

Levi’s is offering 40% off all items plus special daily offers through 11/26.

LOFT is offering 50% off your purchase with code THANKS starting at 5pm and lasting until 11/22 at 11:59pm.

Lord & Taylor is offering an extra $25 off your purchase of $200+ with code BONUSthrough 11/25. And they have an extra 40% off newly reduced prices through 11/25.

Lulu’s is offering 25% off sitewide plus free US shipping — use code BF25 through 11/24.

Lululemon is having a big sale with markdowns starting at just $9!

Luv AJ is offering 40% off sitewide for multiple days with code BLACKFRIDAY.

Macy’s is offering 20% off Black Friday Sale items and free shipping on $49 with code BLKFRI through 11/24. Their deals include 40% off Anastasia Glow Kits (through 11/28), 5 pairs of womens boots for $100 (through 11/24), 60% off petite coats (through 11/24), and the UD Naked Smokey Eyeshadow Palette for $25 (through 11/26)!

Maje is offering up to 30% off plus an additional 25% off through 11/25.

Marc Jacobs Beauty is launching an exclusive Black Friday collection! Also, get a Mini Velvet Noir, mini Highliner in Blacquer, and mini Lip Crème in Slow Burn + makeup pochette with orders over $75 through 11/24.

Mavi Jeans  is offering 30% off site-wide through 11/26.

M. Gemi is offering 25% off your entire order through 11/26.

Modcloth will give you 30% off $100, 40% off $200, and more! Plus there are tons of items on sale across the site. All valid through 11/25.

Nasty Gal is offering 60% off sitewide!

Net-A-Porter is offering up to 50% off sitewide all week.

Nicole Miller is offering 25% off site-wide from 11/23-11/25.

Nike is offering 20% off select styles with code THANKS, plus free shipping!

Nordstrom is offering up to 60% off select items through 11/26!

Nordstrom Rack is launching major new deals every single day this week with prices up to 70% off so check the site daily to save!

Old Navy  is offering 50% off your entire purchase through 11/23.

Opening Ceremony is offering an additional 20% off sale items with code OCBLACK20 from 11/23-11/25. 

Poppy Lissiman is offering 25% off site-wide (excluding pre-order items) from 11/23-11/26 with code BFCM.

Prive’ Revaux is offering 25% off all orders of $50+ with code Prive18 through 11/26.

Puma is offering 30% off select styles with code PUMAFRIDAY through 11/25.

Rag & Bone is offering 25% off sitewide plus free shipping through 11/26.

Reformation is offering 30% off sitewide through 11/26.

Saks Fifth Avenue is offering up to $200 off your purchase with code SAVENOW on 11/21 only! They’re also offering up to $150 off a Women’s Denim purchase with code DENIM2018 through 11/25. They also have the following deal: Black Friday Exclusive! Earn a $75 Gift Card with your $150 purchase. Use code THANKFUL. Valid 11/23-11/24.

Saks Off Fifth is offering 50% off all coats, men’s and women’s cashmere, boots, designer jeans, hats, and gloves and scarves, all through 11/26. Designer sunglasses buy 1, get 1 50% off; 50% off Women’s boots; 50% off cold weather accessories including hats, gloves & scarves, all through 11/26.

Sam Edelman is offering 30% off select styles online and in stores with code SAMSGIVING2018.

Sandro is offering up to 30% off plus an additional 25% off from 11/22-11/25.

Scotch & Soda is offering an additional 25% off sale merchandise through 11/24.

Sephora has select items for 50% off with different items on sale each day until 11/26.

Shopbop is offering 25% off full-price items and 75% off sale items from now through 11/25 — use code MORE18.

Splendid is offering 30% off sitewide through 11/25.

Stila has the following offer: 30% OFF Site-Wide and Free Shipping No Minimum starting Thanksgiving Day thru 11/24! Use Code: 30BFSALE at checkout.

Sweaty Betty is offering 30% off site-wide from 11/22-11/26.

The Outnet is offering up to 85% off plus additional discounts with code BLACKFRIDAYon 11/23.

Toms is offering 30% off everything, and free shipping when you spend $60, all through 11/27.

Topshop is offering up to 50% off select items from now through 11/26 plus free shipping on all orders!

Torrid is offering 40% off full price and 50% off clearance for Torrid Insider credit card holders — use code SHOPFIRST.

Under Armour is offering 30% off all fleece and select shoes, plus free shipping!

Urban Outfitters is offering buy one, get one 50% off entire site through 11/23.

Vera Bradley is offering 30% off your entire purchase including already reduced items through 11/27. They also have their Exclusive Bright Tote for $44 through 11/27. And all items ship for free!

Walgreens is offering an extra $10 off $60 with code CELEBRATE10 through 11/21. Also, fragrance, cosmetics and personal care gift sets are BOGO 50% off through 11/24.

Fall Fashion That’s Off The Chains

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Made popular by Versace’s opulent designs, the chain print motif remains one of the most universally recognized clothing patterns. From haute couture to ready-to-wear, we’ve seen this trend blazing down the runways of Versace for decades. These designs are equally feminine and edgy, often incorporating Medusa heads and gold chains, all at a price unattainable for most. But with the evolution of fast fashion and online commerce, this trend that oozes sophisticated glamour is finally accessible for budget-conscious shoppers. The elaborate print has made its revival and brands like Zara, Asos and Topshop are among those designing garments that make an equally bold fashion statement without the sky-high price tag.  Scroll down to see some of my favorites at all different price points! Treat yo’self.

Tops

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Jackets

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Dresses/Rompers

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Bottoms

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Scarves

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Terrible Two’s, Threenagers and Fournados: A Parents’ Guide to Taming Temper Tantrums

We’ve all been there – peacefully meandering through the aisles of your neighborhood food market while pushing a seemingly jubilant toddler in the stroller.  As he proudly identifies a myriad of items on the shelves, you think how fortunate you are to have such precocious and blissful offspring. Suddenly, you turn the corner and find yourself entering the dreaded grocery aisle of doom. Kit Kats, Reese’s Pieces, jelly beans, oh my! You desperately attempt to swerve off the path, but it’s too late – he’s already recognized the wrappers prominently gleaming. He begins bucking wildly and lunging at the shelves nearby, determined to escape from the confines of the stroller and dislodge a package of M&M’s from a shelf. The delightful cherub you were amorously admiring 30 seconds ago has morphed into a demon-child, threatening a campaign of terror if not immediately satiated with chocolate. A daunting wave of panic washes over you and as the first bead of sweat trickles down your face, you may experience an overwhelming impulsion to abandon both your shopping cart and your boss baby. But this isn’t the first exhausting, melodramatic temper tantrum, and certainly won’t be the last. Parenting is much like navigating through an emotional minefield with unforeseen hazards at every juncture. And for reasons yet to be revealed to mankind, children prefer to stage such outbursts in public forums, resulting in the maximum destruction of your sanity. However, armed with patience, resilience and an aresenal of my tried-and-tested techniques elaborated below, it is possible to tame the beast and survive even the most shameful moments of public humiliation with your tantrumming toddler.

Hug It Out: Because giving your toddler a spontaneous crash course in anger-management just isn’t feasible during a mega tantrum, I often trust my most primal instinct, which tells to cradle my children in their moments of distress. It’s important, however, to take the proper precautions when attempting this maneuver by promptly removing your child’s shoes or any objects that could potentially become flying projectiles. The next best thing to a size 3T straitjacket, a tight embrace effectively restricts flailing limbs and helps restore the hormonal balance inside an impassioned child’s body. The deep pressure of a tight hug can have an immediate calming effect and can be used to diffuse even the most agitated toddler. Full disclosure – forcibly hugging a child in mid-tantrum can also result in an exacerbation of said tantrum into fiendish demonic possession, as tactile-defensive children may turn hysterical when their movements are thwarted.

Ignore It Although it’s difficult to ignore your child’s deliberate attempts to sabotage your day and wreak havoc on your eardrums, it’s also inconceivable to fit a 28-minute tantrum into your hectic daily schedule. Ain’t nobody got time for that! In my personal experience, tantrums most commonly occur at moments a child is reminded that he is not the epicenter of the universe, like when you give him a waffle for breakfast despite his demands for ice cream with chocolate syrup (in the green bowl, not the blue one). In my personal experience, the resulting tantrum provides an excellent opportunity for moms to file their nails or indulge in at-home spa treatments while Junior exercises his self-soothing techniques. If you struggle with pervasive mommy guilt, remind yourself that this experience is laying the groundwork for your child’s healthy acceptance of limits, boundaries, and the development of frustration tolerance. If tantrums are consistently met with apathy, a child will learn that throwing a tantrum will fail to produce the desired outcome. And preventing these tantrums from reoccurring should always be your ultimate goal because hell hath no fury like a toddler who wanted a green sippy cup instead of a blue one.

Embrace the Tantrum:  Tired of fighting an uphill battle? Try this novel approach. Let the tantrum wash over you and soak up all of its satanic glory. Kick back and let it run its course while you watch from the safety of the sidelines in shock and awe. As your child thrashes uncontrollably on the floor, silently applaud him on his agility and vocal range. He’s going to sleep well tonight.  As you see the tantrum de-escalating, calmly ask him if he’s done yet, at which point he will most likely stand up and agree, having already forgotten about the irrational reasons for his volatile public outburst. At this point, indulge your child with affection and praise him for taking control of his emotions and conquering his existential hissy fit like a champ.

Match the Intensity: Parenting toddlers is a real-life depiction of the whack-a-mole carnival game. Igniting metaphorical fires wherever they go, my toddlers are mischievous, fearless, and strong-willed. As soon as I extinguish one flame, another one appears while the last one is still smoldering. Sometimes the inherent frustration of parenting causes us (myself included) to be dismissive of our children, especially when they unabashedly launch into inconvenient torrents of rage for reasons which seem preposterous to us. But while we may not think dropping a cookie on the street warrants a 15 minute temper tantrum, we must be careful not to trivialize our children’s feelings. “I know, you were so excited to eat it and now it’s gone. It’s OK, blah blah blah…” Most parents would suggest keeping calm and whispering words of understanding and encouragement to your child, but validating your child’s emotions alone isn’t always a silver bullet. In order to show your children that you truly comprehend their feelings, sometimes you need to match their intensity. While huffing and puffing and arms flailing, “You’re UPSET! You wanted to eat the cookie, but then you dropped it and I won’t allow you to eat it off the dirty street! IT’S TERRIBLE! That delicious cookie just lying in the street! You’re just plain ANGRY! The absolute HORROR of it all!” Such a grandiose display of emotions will show your kid that you understand precisely what he’s been trying to tell you for the past 15 minutes. Tantrum over.

Let’s Make A Deal:  Move over, Houdini. There’s a new escape artist in town, and her most perilous breakouts typically ensue during the apex of her most explosive temper tantrums.  Having mastered the art of shimmying free of her stroller’s shoulder straps, my 2-year-old doll-faced fugitive will attempt to kamikaze-dive out of a moving stroller when her demands for my cell phone prove unsuccessful. Because her safety is my foremost priority, in these unique situations I often resort to bargaining with the twenty-pound terrorist to prevent her from swan-diving from her stroller onto Second Avenue. I confess to promising her everything but ten million dollars and a getaway helicopter so long as she remains safely seated in her stroller. I am not at all above bribery and let’s be honest – parenting toddlers is fundamentally an amateur form of hostage negotiation.

Bait & Switch:  As most parents can attest, there is a very brief window of time at the onset of agitation where steps can be taken to prevent escalation into a temper tantrum of epic proportions. But all too often we miss these tell-tale signs and instead find ourselves face-to-face with a bona fide demonic possession. Fear not – the same tactics we use to prevent a temper tantrum can also be helpful for abolishing them. At any given time, my diaper bag contains an arsenal of small toys and snacks that would pacify even the most discerning toddler. Some could crudely interpret the desperate introduction of novel objects as inadvertently rewarding bad behavior – to which I would respond – nobody likes your unsolicited advice anyways… haters. If a bag of cheddar bunnies distracts my child from a rage-fuelled burst while forcibly putting on winter jacket in below freezing temperatures, how can this be a bad thing?

Surrender: Admit defeat and give him/her your phone.

One of the most valuable pearls of wisdom I’ve acquired along this journey is that we must seek out our own moments of gratification, and that sometimes this can be found in the most unexpected places. For instance, one of my guiltiest pleasures is stumbling upon other toddlers in my neighborhood whose unabashed lack of impulse control rivals that of my own toddlers. In these moments I savor the confirmation that there are others who share my children’s penchant for gratuitous tears, inconceivable contortions and fondness for writhing on the floor. If you see me discreetly chuckling as I pass by, please rest assured – I’m laughing with you, not at you.

WHAT WE’RE WEARING:

Swanky One-Shoulder Ruffle Top in Blue

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AE Ne(x)t Level High-Waisted Jegging Crop, Indigo Shadow Destroy

AE denim

Gucci Rhinestone Sunglasses

gucci sunglass

Chloe “Isa” Frayed Denim Espadrille Sandal, Blue/Coffee – SOLD OUT 

Chloe espa

SIMILAR HERE:

See by Chloé “Glyn” Leather & Frayed Canvas Espadrille Wedge Platform Sandals

chloe glyn

Steve Madden “Venus” Wedge

steve madden

Gymboree Heart Striped Dress

gymboree

 

 

Mom’s Best Health & Beauty Must-Haves

VIIcode Eye Mask

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As a busy mom of two very active toddlers, it’s difficult to get as much sleep as I’d like and it sometimes feels like I’m burning the candle at both ends. Much to my dismay, my first glimpse of the mirror in the morning often reveals unsightly dark under-eye circles and puffiness. Eager to combat the signs of aging while desperately clinging to my youthful appearance, I embarked on a quest to find a product that would erase my under-eye bags and tired expression. After discovering the VIIcode product line, I was most intrigued by the VIIcode O2M Oxygen Eye Mask, an 8-hour overnight treatment. I  experimented with these masks 2-3 times per week over the course of three weeks, and it couldn’t have been easier – simply peel, stick and sleep! I stored the masks in my refrigerator and the cool jelly strip was so refreshing upon application. Despite clocking an average of only 6-7 hours of sleep most nights, my under-eye areas appeared visibly replenished with increased elasticity and hydration. Why hide behind dark sunglasses when you can trick people into thinking your kids let you get 8 hours of beauty sleep every night?

 

VOLO GO Cordless HairdryerVOLO2

Imagine a world where you can pack your child’s lunch for school and blow-dry your hair at the same time. Introducing the VOLO GO – the world’s very first cordless hairdryer that enables moms everywhere to further fine-tune their multitasking abilities! The VOLO Go’s innovative technology and sleek design allow you to move around freely without being tethered to an electrical outlet, and you can forget about tripping over bothersome tangled cords! Powered by the same lithium-ion battery cells found in electric cars, the VOLO Go is energy efficient and utilizes quartz infrared light and heat to dry hair from the inside out, reducing the time you spend drying your hair. Not only is VOLO Go faster, but its also protects your tresses from breakage and nourishes hair like no other dryer on the market. Click here to pre-order your own!

 

Outdoor Voices Compression Leggings

Outdoor voices leggings

As expectant moms, we know our lives will never be the same, but we are seldom prepared to accept our post-baby bodies. For nine months we endure the rigorous physical hardships of pregnancy, but then our babies are born and we are expected to immediately snap back into our pre-baby shape.  In reality, new moms have little energy to care for their newborns, and understandably exercise is no longer a priority.  New moms – fear not! I’ve discovered game-changing active wear that will help you fake it ’til you make it. Outdoor Voices’ line of compression leggings sculpts, lifts and tones to conceal problem areas and give you an instant confidence boost. Rest assured, these leggings aren’t manufactured from conventional stretchy mesh. The thick textured polyester/spandex blend applies gentle pressure that not only makes you feel locked and loaded, but also improves blood flow and circulation.

 

Bellabeat Health Tracker

Bellabeats

To the unassuming onlooker, the Bellabeat Health Tracker appears to be nothing more than a decorative pendant.  Only upon further digging did I discover the wide range of capabilities this pendant boasts, all designed for monitoring and optimizing women’s health. The perfect harmony of beauty and functionality, the Bellabeat Health Tracker is poised to revolutionize women’s preventative healthcare. Much like other activity trackers on the market, the leaf tracks steps taken and sleep quality. When paired with the app, however, you are also given the opportunity to view your ovulation, premenstrual and period days at a glance. And a soothing voice offers guided breathing and meditation exercises to help you take control of stressful situations, setting it apart from other fitness offerings. Finally, women everywhere are able to take their health by the reigns without having to wear a bulky plastic apparatus!

Pretty In Pink – Spring’s Hottest Hue

The blazer is truly the most transformative article of clothing. No other wardrobe staple will instantaneously upgrade your ensemble to chic and polished quite like the blazer. Even denim becomes dressy with the addition of this universal wardrobe staple. A blazer’s flattering, streamlined silhouette is timeless, elegant, and oh-so-feminine. Layer over a basic tee and pair with destroyed denim and booties for a look that is equal parts sophisticated and edgy. With Spring in full bloom, I’ve scoured the racks of my favorite Upper East side boutiques and mega retailers in search of the most fabulous pink blazers. Below are a some of my favorites and all below $200! Treat yo’self.

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1. Ivanka Trump Zip Pocket Open Front Crepe Jacket  2. Forever 21 Buttoned Bell-Sleeve Blazer  3. LOFT Sateen Long Blazer  4. Bardot Tuck Sleeve Blazer  5. Banana Republic Classic-Fit Lightweight Blazer  6. Women’s Willow & Clay Quilted Blazer  7. Forever 21 Striped Double-Breasted Blazer  8. Vince Camuto Ruffle-Sleeve Jacket  9. BCBGeneration Drape Front Jacket  10. Miss Selfridge Military Blazer  11. AQUA Open-Front Blazer 12. Ivanka Trump Ruffle Full-Zip Top  13. Free People Uptown Girl Blazer  14. Mural Slouchy Boyfriend Blazer

 

Life Is Short – Buy The Shoes

It’s highly improbable to traverse a few blocks in Manhattan’s Upper East Side without encountering bubbly mother-daughter duos jointly pushing strollers along the avenue, bonding within these precious moments, the lines of mother/daughter having blurred. I recognize them virtually everywhere I go, these tickled twosomes creating indelible memories while hand-picking baby’s layette, enjoying dual pedicures, or brunching at Bergdorf’s. Peering in on such enviable moments now tugs tenderly on my heartstrings. At the store I lift up a pair of 6-inch studded Louboutin wedges for closer inspection. “Are you out of your mind?” emphatically reverberates from within an internal monologue. I could always count on my mother’s unfiltered opinions to dissuade me from making capricious purchases and guide me through a myriad of life’s more crucial dilemmas. It’s been exactly 365 days since my mother’s sudden passing. Only now am I beginning to soak in the magnitude of my loss.

Although death is arguably the most unpredictable event of life, the loss of a parent is truly an inescapable rite of passage, an all too tangible manifestation of the circle of life. As children, we are taught that we must all lose our parents, but take comfort in the likelihood that it will be 7, 8 or even 9 decades before needing to cope with that loss. My mother’s startling and premature death obliterated the timeline I had always envisioned, leaving me feeling as if I had recklessly spun out of orbit.  My mother was “home” – the first place I ever lived and the universe from whose substance I was created. Now that she’s gone, I’ll never be able to truly return. I’m untethered, yet expected to safeguard my own children in today’s turbulent world. It’s bewildering to ponder that I’m their stability while often feeling like a palm tree swaying in hurricane-force winds. I often wonder if my mother ever felt this way – dismantled by life’s circumstances, but resolute to persevere for the sake of her children. There are so many things I wish I could ask her.

Life after a loss is simply perplexing. One of the greatest ironies, I’ve discovered, is that the loss of your mother typically constitutes the most grown-up experience you’ll ever have, yet there is no other experience that will make you feel more like a child. The trauma following such a tragedy is a quintessential ordeal she would have helped us to overcome. Yet somehow, we are expected to absorb the initial trauma, endure the heartache, and re-emerge more resilient. But grief does not follow a linear trajectory and is, in all actuality, a dynamic fluid process. It has long been said that time heals all wounds, but we seldom consider the residual scars that remain. In my personal experience, the more time elapses, the more deeply I ache for the past.  I stitch together flickers of childhood memories into hazy photographs, as if illuminated by a crackling, vintage projector. And I fear that as time continues to pass, the latticework of these fragmented memories will dissolve, slipping through my fingers like sand in an hourglass.

Losing my mother so suddenly has moved me to contemplate the transient nature of all things living, acutely aware of our world reeling on its axis. As summer passed, for the very first time I wholly appreciated vibrantly colored leaves fluttering to the ground, and in the depths of the New York City winter, I felt comforted by the promise of Spring’s technicolor aura. Through unfathomable heartbreak I’ve found meaning in life more rich and profound than ever before. Every instant of joy feels more pure – its undiluted beauty radiating throughout each fiber of my being.  I am often overcome with elation as I watch my children erupt into unbridled laughter. And as I tuck them into bed for the night, the sensation of undeniable warmth envelopes me. Inside me churns a cauldron of heightened emotions and I drink them all in – the despair, the exhilaration, the sorrow and yes, the happiness. My life is now far more beautiful, impassioned and complete, not despite my loss, but because of it.