Archive for the 'parenting' Category

Adjusting to the Light

Jane's Carousel

(kinerific’s photostream via Flickr)

Hey! Hi! I’m still here! And thanks, thanks, thanks to those of you who’ve said you missed Shiny Brite.
It means a lot.
Turns out the hiatus I announced in January was a little longer than I thought it might be…. 2012 has thrown all sorts of big-time curve balls at me. Like, is there ANYplace to hide curve balls. But, you know what, 2012?
I haven’t given up on you yet.
This post is about what’s been going on. And going down. And it’s a lot. Things will lighten up around here, though, and get back to normal — don’t worry.
Still. Here it is.
Funny how things stick in your brain. Just lodge themselves there, for your subconscious to pull up as needed.
“Losing love is like a window in your heart; everybody sees you’re blown apart” — Paul Simon. “Graceland.”
The title of this post, too. It’s what I’ve been doing — adjusting to a new way of being.
Then there’s this:
“Feel my earth turn over darlin’ till I’m rootless and unbound.” — Bonnie Raitt.
Newer still, from Florence + the Machine:
“Leave all your love and your longing behind; you can’t carry it with you if you want to survive.”
Adjusting to the light.
It’s not just the now that’s new and strange — it’s the looking back.
History seems questionable; memories look different.
Lots of uncertainty and moving parts, but the heart of the matter is clear:
Jasper + Magnolia. Jasper + Magnolia. Jasper + Magnolia.
They are here — real and present and wonderfully demanding.
There is only forward motion, with them at the center. There is no looking back.

Currently Obsessed with…. Butter London and Shabby Apple


From left: Bossy Boots, Disco Biscuit, Knackered, Slapper, and Trout Pout.

On this Friday afternoon, I give you…. Thoughts of spring and summer — they will come, one way or another.

On my mind: Butter London’s Spring 2012 nail colors. I could do with a happy shot of one of those (I’m thinking Disco Biscuit, that fab hot pink.)

And this adorable swimsuit — a bikini, no less! — from Shabby Apple. It’s only $26.

Cockatoo Island Bikini from Shabby Apple

Cockatoo Island Bikini


You’re welcome.

Last: a quote I’ve found enormously helpful lately. And I’m not really a quote-y type. I came across it while working on a freelance editorial project recently for

“There is no way to be a perfect mother, and a million ways to be a good one.” — Jill Churchill

As my friend Amy says, RIGHT ON.

Happy weekend, mamas.


Time to Hit Pause


Time to hit pause here at Shiny Brite — I hope (think!) it will be a short one, but I’ll have to see how things shake out here in the next little bit.

Mmm, hmmm.

We had an awesome month of December, so thanks for finding us and for reading! It makes me feel better to know you’re there.

Here’s a little something for you today: The Best Beaches for Families, via

More to come. Just don’t know when.

Keep an eye out!


— Melisa

Register Now! Awesome Winter Weekends with Curious Jane!

Curious Jane Winter Field Trips

Come have fun with the CJ community!

Hey, Brooklyn mamas of daughters!

Looking for fun ways to keep your adventurous girl busy in the city this winter? Of course you are!

Well, Magnolia attended an amazing summer camp this year I was so happy with that I contacted the woman who founded it about doing some freelance work for her — and the Curious Jane Winter Field Trip Series is the collaborative end result. Great trips around the city, all girls, all fun, all winter!

Come sign up! From flying on a trapeze to cooking to building something cool, here’s a brief description of what we’ve got lined up (go to Curious Jane for complete deets):

* Curious Jane Takes on The Sketchbook Project in Carroll Gardens — Have an art book published!
Sunday, December 11

* Learn to Fly at Trapeze School New York in Manhattan
Sunday, January 22

* Build Something Cool at Makeville Woodworking Studios in Gowanus
Sunday, February 12

* Whip Up Something Tasty at The Brooklyn Kitchen in Williamsburg
Sunday, March 11

* Travel to See Your Finished Sketchbook + Sample Sweet Treats from Momofuku Milk Bar Brooklyn in Williamsburg
Sunday, April 22

For full details, and to learn about Curious Jane Weekend Workshops, too, (at the CJ work space, and very fun!), hop on over to the CJ site.

For more on the camp and its founder, Samantha Razook Murphy, read my interview with her….

Hope to see your girls (with a friend or sibling) there this winter!



November 19 – 20: Weekend Links for Brooklyn Mamas

nan goldin scopophilia

Nan Goldin's Scopophilia at Matthew Marks

nan goldin's scopophilia

Nan Goldin's Scopophilia at Matthew Marks

Yesterday, I went to see the new Nan Goldin exhibition at the Matthew Marks Gallery in West Chelsea. Goldin, who lives in Paris now, was invited to photograph works of art at will in the Louvre, with total museum access on Tuesdays, when the institution is closed to the public, over a period of eight months. With the help of a French friend and a ladder for height, she took thousands of photographs — and then paired them with images from the span of her career.

Can you imagine? Free access to the Louvre?!

The result is sensual, absorbing, stirring — some photographs are even (for Goldin) oddly sweet. And, as is often the case with her exhibited work, there’s a satisfying slideshow as well. When you have a day in the city without the kids, head on over to see the wonderfulness before it closes, on December 23rd.

Here’s what The New York Times had to say about Scopophilia (translation: the “love of looking.”)

And for the kids this weekend? Oh, right — the damn kids. Two ideas, both via Mommy Poppins, so click through for the deets:

* The Holiday Train Show at the New York Botanical Gardens — it opens this weekend; beat the crowds and get your brood in there early.

* Junior Detective Day (Saturday) at the New York City Police Museum. Sounds way cool.

And now, more for mom — because, really, can there be enough to keep a mama happy?

My Friday pick-me-ups:

OPI’s Lincoln Park After Dark, voted one of the best dark nail polishes of 2011 by In Style, on my nails. Get outta muh way, people.

OPI Lincoln Park After Dark

Dark purple-y fun for your nails.

A chocolate cherry cupcake from Billy’s Bakery. Gulp, all gone. Sssweet.

Gwyneth Paltrow is on Facebook and Twitter now. And I feel better knowing that. I hope you do, too. (She’s in Beijing, right now, in case you were wondering.) That, and I am totally grooving on Coldplay’s Mylo Xyloto (say what you will — in a rare turn, I side with the masses on this one.) See a video for one of the tracks, Paradise, on their site or on YouTube.

Last: This fall picture I took in the city yesterday.

fall NYC

Color me blue. And purple. Lots of purple.

Hope there are many, many little treats, pick-me-ups, and pockets of happiness in your weekend.

See you back here next week!

The Hot List: Finding Monday’s Bliss

Shiny Brite is all about what makes our lives better as moms. Sometimes it’s got to do with parenting tips on how to make things easier or a fun, kid-centric outing; sometimes it’s all about what keeps the moms happy and sane (essential to home peace.)

Today, people, in these rough fall times — have we mentioned how much we hated leaving summer behind? Oh, right, we have — the focus is on finding little pockets of joy where we can. Here’s my Monday list:

* OPI’s “Mrs. O’Leary’s BBQ” — a deep, dark red — on my newly-polished toes. A warm fall hue for sure.

Mrs. O'Leary's BBQ from OPI

* The leek and gruyere frittata I just took out of the oven — how good it smells!

* A couple of potentially fun freelance opps I have brewing.

* How happy my kids were to see me at “Bagel Bits” (where parents get to come to kids’ classrooms and see what they’re up to) this morning at school. And I was so happy to see their math skills taking off — parental pride + heart melting cranked right on up to “high.”

* The bag of Tate’s Chocolate Chip Cookies I have close at hand. Crunch.

tate's chocolate chip cookies

Everybody needs a little somethin’-somethin’ to get through Monday. What’s giving you your little high today?

October 15 – 16: Weekend Links for Brooklyn Mamas

dior tuxedo blue nail polish

Dior's Tuxedo,, $22

When in doubt — and, boy, have I been in doubt — don’t think deep. Think nail color. In case you haven’t noticed, trends for fall point to blues like the one above, as well as varying hues of gray and green. All colors that would make Magnolia say: Uh, why are your nails that color? (Those shades will never trump red, pink, or purple in her world view.)

What else?

Cute handmade Halloween costumes you don’t have to make yourself.

The newly-renovated Hester Street Playground and Chinatown fun.

Kids’ Fall Fest in Madison Square Park, with Eataly nearby.

Keep the thoughts light. Keep pie close at hand. Keep sneaking in extra hugs and cuddles with your kids.

Happy weekend!


October 1 – 2: Weekend Links for Brooklyn Mamas

bring to light nuit blanche

Bring to Light: Nuit Blanche


Education, art, and poetry combine with The Hive Learning Network NYC at Bring to Light: Nuit Blanche New York 2011 in Greenpoint. Young NYC-based poets will be doing fun and funky things with light and digital projection in the waterside ‘hood. Impress the kids with the art, pick up a pizza on the way home, and still get everyone to bed at a decent hour. This event sounds like the kind of thing we live in New York City FOR. ie: Freakin’ cool.

Earlier in the day, drop by the Children’s Museum of the Arts Block Party — they’re finally in their new space!


Time for pumpkin picking!

Happy weekend!

Love, Loss, and What I Learned

M. with Pa Pa

Pa Pa and me.

As parents, we’re constantly self-critiquing: How could I be doing better? Why can’t I be more patient? Why did I say that stupid thing I said, and will it land my kid in therapy?

I’ve been giving that a lot of thought over the last few days. My grandfather — at age 98! — passed away last weekend and we had to make a quick trip home to Texas for the funeral.

Members of my family sat down with the pastor at my grandparents’ church in the days prior to share memories of him — the personality traits and characteristics that stood out over a lifetime — and those were part of the service.

Death and funerals put life in sharp relief. And at a time when I’m mulling many things over — trying to look at things in my life with a fresh eye — it was grounding to hear the details that stood out about my grandfather. I knew those personality traits, too, of course, but I hadn’t thought about them in a long time, and I’d never examined them through the lens of parenthood.

My grandfather wasn’t perfect — who is? — but he got a lot right. A lot about love and life’s work. He was lavish with praise and affection, and — a child of the Great Depression and a WWII veteran in the U.S. Navy — he possessed a serious, studied work ethic.

And here’s the thing: People will remember what you say and do. Your actions have a long and lasting impact. Here are some things my grandfather taught me — things that I’m going to try to remember with my kids in daily life.

You can’t tell your children too often that you love them and are proud of them. Really. It seems like a no-brainer — DUH, as Magnolia would say dismissively. But just as one negative comment can linger in our minds for years, repeated positive reinforcement lays a solid foundation for self-confidence. — “I’m so proud of you and your accomplishments. You have been such a blessing to our lives.” (Yes, “blessing” his word, and even though I don’t attend church as an adult, I can tell you, it’s pretty uplifting to know that someone who loved me felt and thought *daily* — and was never shy about telling me — that I was a blessing to him. Appreciative tears brimming as I write this.)

Things don’t get done by thinking about doing them, or pondering what to do next. My grandfather was a machinist by trade, and he worked well into his late 70s — a precise, solitary work, very mathematical. He loved it, and by all accounts, continuing to work well past the age of retirement likely helped extend his life. Again — 98! And he was very well and with it until just the last couple of years. He applied his work ethic to all areas of life, though — I want to show my kids the same thing. Be productive, take responsibility, get the job done and be kind to others while you’re doing it.

Many lessons learned from my sweet grandmother, too — but at 93, I’m lucky to say she’s still here, and I’m sure I have more to learn from her.

98 and 93 — I hope I have their genes! And I hope I’ll leave a legacy for my children and grandchildren that somehow manages to be just as inspiring.

grandma and pa pa

Thanks for everything, Pa Pa!

Back-to-School Thoughts and Goals for Fall

back to school

It’s official: We no longer have a pre-schooler. Magnolia sealed the deal on that one when she finished Pre-K back in June. Now we are the proud (and astonished — how did we get here so fast?) parents of a Second-Grader and a Kindergartener. WOW.

I’m looking forward to school starting for the obvious reason — take them, please, NYC DOE! — but a few other things are on my mind, too. Like:

* First grade was big — Jasper learned to read! Wonder what new frontiers second grade will have in store for us?

* Kindergarten is a big transition from Pre-K — much more focus on learning and meeting specific goals, and less on creative play. I hope Magnolia, who’s more than a little fond of managing her own time, can make the change easily. Gulp.

* In keeping with the new frontiers motif, M. has her first loose tooth. Already?! She *just* turned 5! According to the dentist, it’s typical for girls to start losing teeth earlier than boys. Apparently, another thing girls do first. Who knew?

* The kids are going back to school and I’m ready for…. Something else. I don’t know what. At least I’ve identified the need. Now I have to fill in the blank. Easier said than done, but I’m moving in that direction.

Also on my post-birthday To-Do list:

* Exercise more. I’ve actually (sort of) already started this, so hopefully increase it a bit and maintain.

* Cook more. We cook a lot, yes, but I really enjoy it. And I want to do more of it. Also, the moms being adventurous in the kitchen encourages the kids to try new foods. All good.

* Read more.

* Work on knowing when the right thing to say is nothing at all.

* Make more time for myself, and carve out more quality couple time for Chrissy and me.

* Surprise myself.

Well, that should keep me busy for a while!


Ready or not, here it comes.

What’s on your Fall To-Do list? Tell me I’m not alone in having one!

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