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BabyLifestyles


Baby Lifestyles LAUREN HALPERIN

Publisher, Creative Director

TARA STEINLE Managing Editor

BETH MERAN

Contributing Editor

LOLA STEEVENS Sales Director

AUSTIN “Mr. Z” RAPPAPORT Website Architect

MICHAEL GUSTMAN S.E.O. Management

CONTRIBUTORS

April Beach, Joriann Maye Keegan, Kellie Mejia, Joni Lay Visit Baby Lifestyles online at www.BabyLifestyles.com for inspiration, real baby showers, birthday parties, nursery reveals, hot products, news, updats, contests, giveaways, and more Contact us at info@babylifestyles.com

Submit your baby shower, birthday party or nursery to Baby Lifestyles at www.BabyLifestyles.com For information about advertising in Baby Lifestyles Magazine and online, contact Lola Steevens at advertise@babylifestyles.com Follow us on Twitter: @BabyLifestyles1

Baby Lifestyles is published bi-monthly by Baby Lifestyles, LLC. All contents ©2011 Baby Lifestyles, LLC. All rights reserved.

On the Cover

Kiera Gilhooly has been trying to find the perfect chocolate chip cookie recipe. For her sister Lauren’s Feathering Her Nest baby shower she created these sugar cookies with royal icing. Read about Lauren’s nesting shower and the incredible dessert buffet Kiera baked up on page 39. In our ‘vote for the cover contest’ Kiera’s cookies received 53% of more than 2,500 votes.


CONTENTS July/ August 2011

PAGE 44

PAGE 47

PAGE 28

PAGE 30

PAGE 25

PAGE 52

IN EVERY ISSUE

5 LETTER FROM THE EDITOR 8 COOS AND NEWS 10 SPLURGE VERSUS STEAL 12 INSPIRATION BOARDS 16 ASK THE BABY PLANNER 55 SNEAK PEAK

STUFF WE LOVE

14 RAINBOW SHOWER INVITATIONS 17 BABY PLANNING EVOLUTION

NURSERY REVEALS 20 KIERRA 22 KNOX 25 MIA 28 REESE

BEHIND THE DESIGN

30 LITTLE CROWN INTERIORS

CELEBRATIONS

34 BIRTHDAY GARDEN 36 BABY SHOWER GONE WILD 39 FEATHERING THE NEST 42 PINKALICIOUS DREAMS 44 A PINK AFFAIR

GIVING BACK

47 OPERATION SHOWER 52 NOW I LAY ME DOWN TO SLEEP


Celebrate Everyday Moments .................

in Unforgettable Ways

.................

big smiles little kisses

first steps From birth announcements to baptisms, first birthdays and beyond, Tiny Prints has hundreds of customizable designs to make every milestone remarkable. ...................................................................


I have Shiloh Jolie-Pitt to thank for Baby Lifestyles. I was growing bored having sold my previous publishing venture

and as an entrepreneur, was unsure of where my next idea would come from. When the oldest genetic child of An-

gelina Jolie and Brad Pitt was born, lightning struck. Born

May 27, 2006, Shiloh appeared with her famous parents shortly after on the cover of People magazine. A few days

later, a small news blurb caught my eye. For her cover wardrobe, Shiloh had sported a $42 T-shirt sold by Denver

boutique, Belly. The shop owners, like everyone else in the

baby industry, had gifted the Jolie-Pitts with baby and maternity gifts to welcome her to the world. Within days of it being on the cover of the magazine, the Pots & Pans Band

in Gothic Letters shirt, which featured a skull and crossbones, an eagle, and some pots and pans, had completely

sold out. I turned to my husband and said, “Babies are the next hot thing.” I was definitely right.

Over the years, Baby Lifestyles has grown from a little hobby blog to a ‘day job’ where we speak to parents all over the world about their baby’s life. From how they celebrate baby’s coming into the world and birthdays, to how they decorate the nursery, we love hearing from readers about how they celebrate their baby’s world.

From the very beginning, I’ve discovered that the baby community is a special one. Bound by love and smiles and camaraderie, where the blogosphere should be cutthroat competitive, instead you find welcoming support and email pen pals. One of the very first “I’m liking your blog” emails Baby Lifestyles received was from Amy Belle Isle, from Stem Parties. It quickly transitioned from baby shower talk to ‘bestie’ friendship conversation. Since 2008, I’ve watched Amy grow as a party planner, to not only a pioneer in the amazing cause of Operation Shower, but put the weight of

her reputation to use and champion others to join her cause. By profiling her and her generous spirit in “Operation Shower: When Parties Give Back” I hope others are inspired by Amy, and see how they can also make a difference. Enjoy our first issue of the Baby Lifestyles e-Magazine!

Lauren Halperin Publisher & Creative Director


April Beach

Beach is the founder of Baby Planner Inc., the industry’s first and only dedicated consulting firm for supporting baby planner and maternity concierge businesses and the author of Baby Planning Trade Secrets, The Complete Guide for Baby Planning Professionals

Joriann Maye Keegan

Primarily a wedding photojournalist, after the birth of her daughter, she began capturing children and lifestyle imagery as well. She works in both color and black & white and her editorial style is modern and distinctive with a timeless, classical edge.

Wrap up the school year, and become more organized this summer!

From day planners for you and your tween, to helpful pads and home organizers . . . momAgenda has all of the tools you need to keep your hectic schedules on track.

momAgenda

®

Get Organized With Style!® www.momagenda.com

Kellie Mejia

As co-creator of Baby Savvy™ and owner of Sweet Pea Baby Planners™ in Palm Beach, brings her education and nonprofit experience, coaching and mentoring skills, as well as her knowledge of the baby planning industry to expectant mothers.


Newspaper Announcements Announce your baby to the world with a completely customizable nuewspaper!

www.NewspaperAnnouncements.com


Having guests donate to a charity is as easy as deciding where to register for your baby gifts. When you register for your baby at Justgive.org, you can help make donating to your favorite cause an integral part of your baby’s birth. JustGive's registry contains nearly 1.8 million charities. No matter what the occasion, you can create a registry and raise funds from your family and friends for charities you care about. Choose some of your most popular baby retailer registries like Target or Macy’s and up to ten percent of the proceeds from your guests’ gift purchases will be donated to your chosen charity. Or ask for tax-deductible donations in lieu of material gifts. Is your wedding gown still taking up space in your attic? Long gone are the times when brides would hold onto their dress for their daughters to wear on their big day. There’s no need to wait that long for your baby to wear this special dress. The hottest trend is converting your wedding dress into your child’s christening or baptism gown. Wedding dress conversions are a great way to have your gown make its exit from the preservation box and become an exquisite family heirloom to treasure always. Is your dress heavily embroidered or embellished in beads? Other alternatives include creating a beautiful crib pillow or the skirt for your baby’s crib. The Patchwork Bear can even create your son or daughter’s first teddy bear from you gown. As an interior designer, Rebekah feels she ‘happened upon’ the party world while planning her daughter’s first birthday party. She delved into it to broaden her design aesthetic, creating her own items and starting A Blissful Nest along the way. But since leaving her design job to pursue entertaining full time, she has felt something was missing. With Rebekah’s interior design background, her new line of Blissful Nest nursery and children’s wall artwork is the obvious choice for her next endeavor, bringing a personal expression of your child’s interests and personality into their room. “Wall art is so personal and is such a self-expression element to any room,” Rebekah said. “I feel artwork can be one of the hardest things to shop since it is so personal. I wanted to begin with wall art for kids so parents could see how to pull all the design elements of a room together- color, theme, fabric, patterns.”Rebekah decided on these three patterns as the new ‘traditional’ modern, able to adapt to any room design, with more designs to come soon. After selecting colors from the three different backgrounds, you choose from one of the 10 silhouettes for the center. Your child’s name or phrase may be added to it for extra customization. Each piece is printed on a gallery wrapped canvas and comes in 10X12, 12X16, and 16X20. You may purchase our artwork and party packages in Rebekah’s Etsy Shop.


The Perfect Baby Shower Playlist

Whether celebrating at home or enjoying a restaurant atmosphere, every baby shower needs the appropriate background music. Not having a musical backdrop is like not adding sugar to your prized cookie recipe. We’ve scoured song lyrics to create the perfect sentimental sound setting for your baby shower event.

“(You’re) Having My Baby” - Glee Cast While Paul Anka recorded the original, when this song was redone by the “Glee” cast, it had a much more fun and upbeat feel. Must Love Lyric: Havin' my baby/ What a lovely way of sayin'/ How much you love me.

'Lullaby for Wyatt' - Sheryl Crow When she adopted a two-week-old boy in 2007, Crow had survived a battle with breast cancer and a public breakup with Lance Armstrong. Must Love Lyric: The world could fall apart/ But you're my heart

“Baby Mine” – Bette Middler or Alison Krauss This beautiful ode from the Disney movie Dumbo is sure to bring a tear to your eye as you remember Dumbo rocking in the cradle of his mom’s trunk when he was missing being close to her. Must Love Lyric: Rest your head close to my heart/ Never to part/ Baby of Mine

'Gracie' - Ben Folds After writing ‘Still Fighting It’ for his son Louie, Folds felt it only fair to write a song for his daughter, lest he invite accusations of favoritism. The video featured photos of dads with their daughters, bringing a tear to viewers’ eyes. Must Love Lyric: One day you're gonna want to go/I hope we taught you everything you need to know

'Isn't She Lovely' - Stevie Wonder On tour in 2007, the soul legend introduced his now-grown daughter Aisha to crowds as the infant he wrote about in this 1976 classic. Listen to the full version and you can hear her playing in the bathtub. Must Love Lyric: I can't believe what God has done/ Through us he's given life to one/ But isn't she lovely made from love 'Sail to the Moon' - Radiohead Radiohead’s frontman Thom Yorke use to lament that he couldn’t stand dads who talked obsessively about their kids. Then he became a father himself and wrote this lullaby for his son, Noah. Must Love Lyric: Maybe you'll/ Be president/ But know right from wrong/ Or in the flood/ You'll build an Ark

'Beautiful Boy (Darling Boy)' - John Lennon The ex-Beatle frontman took time off to be with his second. The sweet lullaby starts out with comforting words to a sleeping Sean. He was murdered less than a month after the song’s release. Must Love Lyric: I can hardly wait to see you come of age 'My Baby' - Britney Spears Though at one point Spears lost custody of her two young sons, in this song, she credited her children and their love with helping her turn her life around. Must Love Lyric: I smell your breath/ It makes me cry/ I wonder how/ I've lived my life


$PLURGE The Baby Star Folding Bassinet on the left is a mere $189.

$

While the Cariboo Folding Bassinet on the right retails for close to $300.

$

The Lulla Smith Bassinet and Simplicity Swiss Batiste Bedding on the left is divine, except for the $1270 pricetag.

The White Eyelet One-Tier Bedding-only Set on the Fisher-Price - My Little Lamb Rocking Bassinet, will set you back $225 together.

Hand painted wall letters will add a touch of whimsy to any room they grace. Blue and green are common colors for a boy nursery. Per letter, one set costs $18 and the other $28. We’ll let you guesswhich is which. Cocoa Blue Boy Wooden Wall Letters(left) Gregs Dots And Stripes Letters (right)


vs. STEAL A great pair of maternity jeans are a must to get you through pregnancy. But do how much do you want to spend on a pair that will last for a year? Demi panel always skinny jeans $80. AG Jeans Stilt Secret Fit Belly™ $225.

We love diaper bags that you can use as a purse after the baby has grown. Can you guess which one is worth $145 and $450?

$

Hello wild child! The pink and zebra set on the left might exhuast your nursery budget at prices starting at $900. Save a few bucks by opting for the pink and zebra set on the right for $250.

$


THIS PAGE: 1. leran pendant lamp: Ikea; 2. driftwood mobile: Etsy; 3. sunburst mirror: Ballard Designs; 4. engraved metal armillary nautical sphere globe: Overstock; 5. decorative shell ceramic drawer knob: amazon; 6. jute dot rug: West Elm

OPPOSING PAGE: 1. gold capiz chadelier: ZGallerie; 2. ship shape print: Etsy; 3. sailor tattoo print: Etsy; 4. pacific ocean map: Etsy; 5. rope mirror: Ballard Designs; 6. century crib: Layla Gracye; 7. mariposa lamp: ZGallerie; 8. nautical rope pillow: Etsy; 9. mid century dresser: Etsy; 10. grand glider: Layla Gracye; 11. bath basket: Anthropologie


Have a question question about about Have your pregnancy? pregnancy? your

Ask a Baby Baby Planner! Planner! Ask I went maternity shopping for the first time and everything is so expensive! What maternity basics do I really need and which can I skip? When it comes to maternity clothes, you will get the most bang for your buck with black items that can be paired with anything. Try an A-line skirt, a camisole or tank, dress pants/trousers, leggings, and a dress. If you love to wear jeans, then you will want a pair of those as well. Many tops available in regular retail stores can be used to pair with your maternity bottoms. Check your closet for flowing tops that can be worn as well. Bump It Up author and stylist, Amy Tara Kotch, recommends simple basics, such as the ones listed and then adding lots of accessories like a bold scarf or multiple bracelets. "Changing the accessories can really make the simple black pieces look like entirely different outfits." Amy also raves about the Versatile Dress by Pouch. It can be worn at least 7 different ways and can be worn after pregnancy as well.

will need to wait until you know the gender of the baby before you really start decorating. Until they start the decorating process, most parents are currently using the room they select for the nursery as a working room for their own items. Spend a few weeks looking through what items may currently be in your designated nursery room and think about where they might be relocated. For safety's sake, do not move or lift any heavy items as it could jeopardize the pregnancy. Let someone else take care of the heavy lifting! Don't forget to look into no-VOC or low-VOC paint. VOCs are “volatile organic compounds” and the Environmental Protection Agency EPA reports that using these paints will improve indoor air quality and obviously eliminate toxins.

Is it better to have carpet or hardwood floors in the nursery? Which is easier to clean? Either will work, but there isn’t a clear-cut or simple answer. One important thing to remember that will make cleaning any surface easier is to take I’m three months pregnant and have been given off your shoes every time you enter your home, the go-ahead to start telling my friends. Is now the and insist that everyone else do the same! From a chemical/safety standpoint, my friends over at right time to start decorating the nursery? Now is the right time to start looking at and Healthy Child, Healthy World, a trusted resource, researching nursery furniture and thinking about a have answered this way. “QThere are inherent risks to any kind of design or theme for the room. Unless you are planning to do a completely neutral nursery, you flooring. The problem with carpeting is that it's a


convenient home to microorganisms such as mold, mildew and dust mites. It is also a reservoir for everything you track indoors on your shoes soil, lawn chemicals, lead dust from chalking house paint, asbestos fibers from automotive brake linings, animal feces, and anything else found on the ground outdoors. If you have carpeting, be sure to vacuum it regularly with a HEPA filtered vacuum and clean it thoroughly every 12-18 months. Find out tips for cleaning carpets without chemicals here. If you are looking into flooring options, we recommend an easy to clean hard surface like cork or hardwood (though, find out what types of adhesives or coatings are used) with a washable rug made from natural materials like organic wool. Still, most people like to have carpet at least somewhere in there home – and it is extremely affordable. Look for carpets that follow sustainable carpet standards like those outlined by the Carpet and Rug Institute.” My sister and mom live on the opposite ends of the country from me, and don’t want to throw my

shower from that distance. Who should I ask? Is it wrong for me to ask anyone? Etiquette-wise you really shouldn’t ask someone to throw you a shower. It’s a major investment of time and money to coordinate and host a baby shower and it just isn’t polite to ask of someone. There is nothing wrong with sharing the long-distance situation with friends. Hopefully sharing the situation with those who live near you and want to share in your happiness might prompt them to get involved in the festivities. And remember, if someone offers to host or co-host any type of celebration for you, be gracious, thankful and helpful. If there is no one to host a baby shower for you, don't despair, there are more options. Regardless of whether there is an actual party, you'll be fielding the 'where have you registered' question and those who love you will still wish you happiness with a gift. You can also host your own baby shower or celebration at home, and put your relatives name on the invitation as host. Even if they cannot fly in for the day, they will be with you in spirit.


The Evolution of

Baby Planning By April Beach For some women parenting is all they have dreamed of, with every little detail exactly as they imagined; every feeling, nursery element, relationship dynamic, physical beauty, quiet priceless moment and baby sleep plan; exactly as they had hoped. In reality, preparing for parenthood and becoming a parent are two different experiences. One of the contributing factors to the difference between expectation and reality is that we as mothers did not know who we truly were and had not yet established our own parenting philosophies during this preparation time. We looked, observed, took notes—both good and bad—and spent countless hours listening to another’s parenting approaches rather than looking introspectively. Most new moms look to each other for advice and support and have done so for generations. This tradition of asking for help and observing others has been essential in preparing for parenthood. However, in today’s society the help, opinion and traditions of our mothers and friends may not in fact be what are best for us. Gaining the support and advice from family and friends is still an important aspect of the journey, however the maternity industry has grown too much, offers too many products, raises too many safety concerns and proposes too many philosophies for someone other than an unbiased resource to offer parents the educational information they truly need to make wise choices. Additionally, the vast differences between our parents’ childrearing methods and today’s fast paced society cause some new moms to question their footing and position in regards to their own parenting style. So the

question remains, how do we find our own way? In 2002, this was my reality as I was expecting my first son. My eyes were opened to the need for information and facts and I starved for the perfect parenting plan. As with most new moms, after attempting to interview those I respected, I soon learned that there were no other mothers exactly like me. The opinions, plans and ideas of my friends were wonderful for them, but were nowhere near how I would chose to birth and parent my own little one, or what met my own innate nature to parent. After compiling months of research, methods, parenting plans and facts, and armed with information I had confidence to look within and trust my own ability to make decisions for my baby. Five years and three children later, my passions and realization that all mothers hold the answers within themselves caused me to lay the foundation for a complete new business based on parent empowerment, unbiased information and instilling parental confidence; Sweet Pea Baby Planners. We all want to be great parents. In truth, we want this so badly that we may get lost in the process, while adapting parenting choices which may not be the best for each of us and questioning our own ability to make decisions for our child. Since establishing my company, I’ve watched as baby planners have emerged to become the newest, most valuable support option for expecting families. Though everyone expectant mom could use a baby planner, many are not able to hire boutique-private planners to come in their home and offer support. Add that to the growing misconception of the baby planning industry. From those who can just


open up shop without any training to self-proclaimed maternity concierges on reality TV for the sake of manufacturing drama, the message of what a baby planner is and what we do is getting lost. With this, the primary reason I created baby planning and my vision behind parent empowerment is the most passionate message I strives to get across. With some’ s perception that baby planners make decisions for parents, tell them what to do and take the process and joy of preparation out of the parents’ hands, I set the record straight. This is exactly why I created my company, to help parents get away from the ‘you have to do this, buy this and try this’ mentality and to give them the confidence to make their own decisions. My background is in marriage and family counseling, and I strongly believe that baby planners are the answer to the excessiveness and are strategically positioned to help parents learn to rely on their own judgment. Because of my background, I’m wellversed in serving clients of the highest spectrum and happy to help parents realize their desires in pregnancy and parenting. Though some requests may seem excessive, respect for the clients’ decisions and parenting desires is the primary goal. The options are endless; co-sleeping versus not, demand feeding versus clock watching, cry-it-out versus the no-cry solution, and knowing the difference between the features of the $300 stroller and the $1200 one; all of which baby planners are experienced and available to offer decision making support. One of my favorite things to do as a baby planner is to help women to know that they don’t need to fit into a stereotype and can be the mom they want to be. It’s like telling a professional woman who runs a multi-million dollar corporation that she can wear her baby all evening long in a Moby and benefit from close contact, which may defy schedules and personalities. It’s like a thousand pounds was just lifted from her

shoulders. She realizes that its okay to follow her heart, even if it doesn’t fit the mold. This is why baby planning was created and the reason behind this new industry’s growth. Because my philosophies for parent empowerment were so impressive yet commonly practical, I was asked to create the first baby planning program for a hospital. In 2009, The Birth Place at Dupont Hospital was delivered Baby Savvy™ became the industry’s first baby concierge program for medical providers. Baby Savvy™ now available nationally, meets the practical preparation needs accompanied by important factual information and promises encouragement and support for expecting parents. Baby Savvy™ also has the potential to reach thousands of new families which may not have otherwise been able to retain the private services of a baby planner. As one of the founders of this industry, this is one of the accomplishments I’m most proud of. So, how long is it taking parents to realize they themselves hold the best answers and most perfect solutions to their parenting choices? And the real question is… Why aren’t more parents asking for help to reach these decisions and to gain the support that they really need? Simply because many parents need practical help, purchase consulting, organization and nursery set up, does not remove them from the decision making and parenting process. Just as a bride is not less prepared to get married because she hired a planner to help get her favorite flowers and best price on a wedding cake? To get to the end result of becoming the parent you want to be; a baby planner can be a valuable tool by presenting choices with clear pros, cons and options. The best way for parents to gain confidence is through the delivery of facts, unbiased consultation and ongoing support and well as through their own experiences with trial and error which every parent appreciates in the end; and baby planning companies consulted by Baby Planner Inc. deliver all of that.


Champagne Wishes and Fairy Dreams Kierra’s Feminine Nursery Retreat By Lauren Halperin

Decorating Kierra’s nursery was a cross-country, long distance project. Mom Joriann Maye Keegan was in Los Angeles, California, until her seventh month, making ordering furniture and décor items well ahead of time essential to achieve her French vintage vibe goal in Palm Beach, Florida. “I mapped it out on paper, but it was hard not standing in the room envisioning it in person,” said Joriann. Selecting the color palette aids in finding the right atmosphere. “I wanted yummy colors,” Joriann said of her selection of pink champagne, chocolate and chiffon. She found the crib first in a window of a shop in Beverly Hills and was hooked. “I had to have it. It was so different and I loved that I could position it in the center of the room.” Joriann ordered it in a custom blush-hued finish and had the bedding custom made by a couture dress designer. Because the crib had a beautiful and structural wrought iron gazebo-like top, it was safe for the sparkling crystal chandelier to be centered over the crib. “Without that, I never would have felt safe, no matter how well it was hung. My daughter loves angels and fairies, and believes that if they are watching over her while she sleeps she won’t have nightmares.” When she found the perfect guardian angel figurine, Joriann added it to the chandelier over the crib for Kierra. “Make sure you have a great glider that is super comfy, that you enjoy spending lots of time in,” Joriann recommended. “Also get comfortable matching throw blankets for you, so you and your baby can be all cuddly in it. Your baby’s nursery is as much for you as it for your baby. It should be a special sanctuary where you rock and nurse and read to your child. I loved my down filled glider so much.”


One of Joriann’s favorite parts of the nursery is the custom ‘kierra’ wall installation. These personalized letters were hand painted, each in a different design, by Joriann and her mother the night before Kierra was born. They added the ribbons and bows to them allowing them to be hung on nickel-plated door pulls for a sentimental reminder of mothers bonding. “I had the idea of bears having tea together in my mind from the beginning,” Joriann recalled. The sterling tea set was a baby shower gift, and all the little soft cookies, cakes, and tea bags were found on Etsy. The little tea bags have her initials embroidered on each tag. The bears’ little table and chair bistro set were refinished and painted ivory to match the furniture. These two bears came complete with their hats and pearls. “If you press their hands, they sing the song ‘love was made for me and you.’ But the most special part is that the little mink stoles the bears are wearing belonged to my grandmother.” Kierra’s matching ‘kitty’ bed was hand painted to match her crib. The drapes, cushions and table lamp shade were covered with remnants from her crib bedding project. Joriann’s parents got involved with designing the nursery as well, with her dad doing all the carpentry including the chair rails and the decorative ceiling medallions, and her mom custom painting and antiquing the bathroom vanity and closet doors. Her hanging christening ensemble will definitely continue to be passed down through the generations, as that was crafted from Joriann’s mother’s wedding gown. Knowing she wanted to have big girl furniture from the start, Joriann anticipated pieces staying with her for years to come. The rosette chair and make up area was converted from her changing table. “I put one of her tutu’s over the chair and tied the flower belt around the back, and voila, a vanity chair. When we removed the changing table cushion, I put an antique painted tray in its place and we put her antique mirror and brush set on it, so every night she sits there and brushes her hair. The antique brush set is Kierra’s favorite.” While they didn’t have a converter kit for the crib, when it came time for Kierra to transition to a big girl bed, Joriann refused to get rid of it. She removed one side of the round crib and her super-handy father built a box-like platform that extended from the circular part of the crib. After purchasing a twin tempurpedic mattress, Joriann went to an upholstery shop and had them custom cut it to perfect fit the round shape at the top. “In retrospect, I could have purchased a small car,” she said of the crib and it’s metamorphosis into bed. “But yes, it was worth every penny, as it is the focal point of the room, and oh so girly.”


An Eclectic Sanctuary

Stylish and gender neutral, Knox's nursery was the result of a long-distance design relationship started by sconces. Through emails discussing designs and photo attachments, mom Dina and her friend Nicole pulled off a whimsical and baby-appropriate nursery room without a design that screamed 'baby'. It was important to Dina that the room incorporated a mix of thrifted and re-imagined DIY pieces as well as sentimental family heirlooms to make it a unique and personal space for her son. The jumping off point was the Jonathan Adler giraffe sconces over the changing table. From there, a loose safari themed room emerged. "I wanted something gender neutral but not your standard duckies or frogs. My rationale was that there would be lots of time for train or dinosaur rooms later on in life. But for now, when he really could care less what the room looks like, I wanted something functional and stylish that would make me happy to walk into at 4 am." Dina said. "I loved how bright and cheerful the yellow looked against the more soothing and modern gray elements of the room. To me, it seemed like the perfect space for a little baby. It was wonderful to have Nicole to bounce ideas off of and keep me sane through the design process. With hormones ragging, I was finding it very hard to make decisions and even harder dealing with roadblocks." For her obsession with the yellow ottoman, Dina blames Viceroy hotel designer Kelly Wearstler. One of her favorite things in the room, the embroidered John Derian Moroccan leather pouf

By Tara Steinle

took several purchases--and returns--to get the perfect yellow. "I really only wanted a couple of yellow elements. Most of the room is just black, white, and gray. Only the dresser, ottoman and ties on the crib bumper are yellow. But even those tiny elements really make a statement." Her other favorite nursery item, the dresser was a labor of love. A vintage find that Dina talked down almost half off in price, it was given a major cleaning, sanding and and several coats of paint facelift to take it's current form. "I have very fond memories of working on it and feeling my baby kicking in my belly and just knowing that one day this little human would be using this piece of furniture I was working so hard on." Giant abacus art hangs over the changing table. "I absolutely adore the way it looks on this wall. For many months I was the only one getting a kick out of it, but it has recently become Knox's favorite thing to play with after a diaper change. I hold him while he stands up and slides the little beads, squealing every time they clink against one another." Knox's nursery rug showed Dina's dedication to not only the style of his nursery but also the functionality of it. When the first rug arrived, Dina unrolled it to see she loved the color, the pattern, and the size in the space. The problem came from it being one hundred percent wool, making it itchy, leaving it great to walk on an look at, but not for laying on it with a baby. After an impromptu survey of her mom friends, they all advised her she would spend more time than she thought on the floor with her


baby. "Especially later when the baby is too wriggly to trust on the changing table." Still wanting a rug to anchor the space from the wall-to-wall cream carpet, and had something to offer the room in design, Dina selected the safari rug in platinum from West Elm. "I am a huge fan of reupholstering vintage pieces. They are usually much better made than mass produced pieces available at today’s big box stores and you can get exactly what you want. It’s the ultimate in customization. Professional upholstery services can be pricey though so start off on the right foot by getting your piece at a thrift store or, even better, for free from the future grandparents garage. You’d be amazed how you can transform a tired, old looking chair into something wonderful. "I really wanted to have some secondary seating in the room and not just the glider. I wanted it to be a place where I could be feeding the baby and my husband could also sit with us and not be on the floor," Dina said of the bench she made by the window. "Originally I was planning to do a bookcase turned on it’s side but it turned out to be a bit too long for the space and my pregnant, hormone overloaded brain couldn’t deal with it being in front of the curtains. I started looking on eBay for some tufted bench options and found the perfect piece – it was even the perfect yellow. And at the very last second I lost the auction by pennies. I didn’t let that stop me though. I contacted a local furniture maker and had a bench made to my exact specifications in faux ostrich with the wipe-ability of the vinyl surface. It was $100 less than the eBay bench would have cost me." After an exhaustive search for the perfect crib bedding, Dina decided to take the challenge on herself. "The process for making the crib skirt myself couldn't have been easier. I used hem

tape and hemmed three pieces of fabric, then pinned them to the mattress supports. I totally cheated and didn’t even make a fourth piece since I knew the crib would be against the wall and no one would ever see it! The bumpers were a little more challenging but only because I had to sew all the piping and ties myself since I was looking for an exact shade of yellow. I love the color combination and I think it's a nice tailored look for a baby boy's nursery. It gives the crib a more finished appearance and, as a bonus, some hidden storage space for unsightly things like boxes of diapers." Sentimental pieces from both Dina and her husband's family fill the nursery. "They make it feel like it's our baby's nursery and not just a room we bought in an afternoon at Babies 'R' Us." Amongst the personal items are Dina's baby bottle and her baby pajamas. The little suits belonged to Dina and my brother. They were purchased in Portugal before they moved to the United States and Dina thought they deserved a place of honor in the nursery. "I love the touch of blue it adds to the room." Her husband's silhouette as an infant also hangs. "His mom had is made when he was one and I absolutely love it. And that chubberific little baby on the bottom shelf is yours truly!" The little guardian angel plaque hung in both Dina's crib and her brother's crib. Her mom kept it, hopeful it would one day hang in her grandbaby's crib. Dina had decided early on that you would take the closet doors off the hinges, which left an opportunity to inject more fabric and pattern into the room's design. "Nicole found this great shower curtain--yes, shower curtain!--on clearance at Anthropologie. I added some panels of a coordinating cotton on either side for effect. We installed a closet organization system to maximize the space a bit better for all those tiny outfits. I turned the wall to the right


of the closet and opposite the window into a little library. I like that it's a mix of low shelves that he can access as he gets bigger and some slightly higher shelves." The biggest challenge for Dina was choosing from all the incredible art available for Knox's nursery wall. "Originally I was going to do wallpaper, then wallpaper panels, then a vinyl decal, then three framed prints...but nothing ever felt quite right. Etsy is wonderful but it almost has too many options – especially for an indecisive pregnant woman! I could not for the life of me make a decision on what to hang over his crib." As a result, the wall sat blank until teh week before Knox was born, when Dina decided she was going to play Picasso. Three 12"x12" canvases from Michael's and a package of oil pastels is all it took to complete the wall. The result are the colorful animals hanging above the crib inspired by Keith Norval, whose artwork Dina has admired for years. "I like the bit of color they add and every time I look at them, I'm reminded of that last anticipation filled week waiting for my little bean to arrive!" "Perhaps the most rewarding part of putting this room together was the day I stepped into it with little Knox in my arms for the first time. It was surreal to finally have him in his room after all that planning and painting and tweaking. But I am so happy to report that the room has proved to be so functional and well laid out. I absolutely have Nicole to thank for that. Even in my sleep deprived haze, all the little touches still make me smile...and believe me, I have a lot of time to take it all in during those 4 am feedings! Having a baby and creating a nursery for him or her to come home to should be a wonderful and enjoyable

process. Don’t let it stress you out and by all means, recruit the help of talented friends and family!"

Knox’s ursery sources:

Paint: Benjamin Moore Silvery Moon Ceiling Light: Boja pendant from IKEA Crib: Jenny Lind crib in black from JC Penney Fitted crib sheet: Squares in dove grey from Dwell Studio Knit lion: Custom from PeachyPaws via Etsy Leather pouf: Yellow from John Derian, find a similar one here; Leather Mustard Pouf Ottoman (Morocco) Glider: Vintage from eBay Side table: Accordion side table from Urban Outfitters Lamp: Originally from Overstock.com and spray painted gray. Storage baskets: Branas from IKEA Custom bench: Sugar Hill Upholstery Dresser/Changing Table: Vintage from Shelton's Furniture Dresser paint: Benjamin Moore Bold Yellow Abacus: CB2, want to do it DIY? click here Wall shelves: Ekby from IKEA with Bjarnum brackets Bedtime Bus Roll Art: MySweetPrints from Etsy Brass Giraffes: Vintage but similar available in my Etsy shop Giraffe Sconces: Jonathan Adler from MisoMod Library wall shelves: Ribba picture ledges from IKEA Brass Elephant Hooks: Vintage from High Street Market Large toy bins: Industrial mesh from CB2 Area Rug: Safari rug in platinum from West Elm


CHALKBOARD IMAGINATION BY TARA STEINLE


The July 2010 Anthropologie catalog featured a bedroom with the entire wall done in chalkboard. Frames and mirrors were chalked onto the wall the same way Tom’s apartment wall was done in (500) Days of Summer. Photographer Johanna of Hanna Mac fell in love with the chalkboard wall idea after flipping through the catalog’s pages and decided that would be the featured accent wall in her daughter Mia’s modern nursery. “My Dad use to paint for a living, so he was the mastermind behind the chalkboard wall,” Johanna said. “He had to re-mud the whole wall to get rid of the texture before painting it. It was a lot of work. It took three coats of the chalkboard paint to get it right.” While many parents would shutter at the idea of doing a dark black wall in the room, Johanna counters it with vivid colors of hot pink, teal green, yellow, grey and white, chosen from the afghan that is on the glider. For visual interest, Johanna has sketched picture frames, furniture and even starting Mia learning the alphabet. “The chalkboard is so much fun. Not only is it my favorite area of the nursery because of the way it looks, but it is also very useful. I take pictures of Mia in front of it each month and it keeps all of my friends’ children entertained for hours. Mia should have fun scribbling all over it. Let’s just hope she doesn’t think it’s ok to color on all the walls!” She decided to paint the walls grey so they wouldn’t fight with all of the colorful furniture and decorations. The idea almost made her see red. “You would believe how hard it is to pick out a normal grey color that isn’t too blue or too purple,” Johanna lamented. “I had to create my own grey mix so there is no exact color name.” Johanna has always had a love of birds, even using them

in her photography logo. She hand-drew and painted small grey birds perched onto the light switch and at the corner of her mirror to tweet happy thoughts to Mia. “My husband talked me into painting them myself to make it more personalized.” The knick knacks on the shelves are a well-curated collection. The paper mache elephant, bird and squirrel book are all from West Elm. The ‘M’ is from Anthropologie and Max the knitted bunny was found on Etsy. Framed newborn pictures of Mia have also been added to the shelf. The reading area is punctuated with fun colors and looks bright and cozy. “I love how each pillow is a different color. It’s one of my favorite details.” The mirror was a reminder of Johanna’s college years. “The mirror was terrible looking before I redid it. The frame was gold and it had a mirror that read Michelob on it in red and gold. Ugly! So I got a new mirror for it and spray painted the frame.” The dresser was an antique find by Johanna’s mom. She gave it a face lift with bold teal paint, and Johanna decorated it with Anthropologie rose finials for the perfect changing table. As her last and most frustrating project, Johanna gave the Babyletto Mercer crib a custom paint job, painting the brown sides a fierce shade of pink. The juxtaposition of the vibrantly colored crib against the chalkboard wall gives it extra zest. “Mismatched colors look great and babies love looking at bright, bold colors. Mia loves staring at everything in her nursery.” For Johanna, the best part of decorating Mia's nursery was watching everything coming together. Her goal was to create a space that was modern and colorful, not too baby-ish and not too girly, not too matchy-matchy and incredibly photo-friendly. Mission accomplished!


This romantic, sky-lit nursery was originally nothing more than home storage space. Charles and Kimsey used to consider it their empty room on their second floor at the top of the staircase. The access point to their attic, it was unfinished, with no flooring, no ceiling, only insulation. Adjacent to their second story living room, it was the first project completed in their home, long before they made it into a nursery for their daughter Reese. “My husband is truly blessed with his designing skills,” Kimsey said. “He has practically redone our entire house and he totally made Reese’s nursery the beautiful room it is.” Carpenter Charles put in two windows, French doors at the entrance, and altogether moved the stairs to their attic to a different location. A Romeo & Juliet door with balcony was also added to open the room up to the living room. After the drywall was completed, he installed the wainscoting, wide plank flooring and moldings. “Both the initial design and the round wall were pretty challenging,” Kimsey admitted. “It was hard to envision how our storage room would look as a nursery, considering it was really attic space and essentially didn’t even have walls. But once we put up the molding, it added such a wonderful detail. ” The first step in creating this dreamy haven was to make their storage area into a legitimate room, with the design rotating around the idea of a circular crib. “The room was square and my husband really wanted a round crib. He came up with the idea of building a rounded wall behind the crib and a round soffit in front of the crib to really show off its shape. I think the crib area is pretty

amazing and unique. The crib fits perfectly in this round wall and molding and lighting make this area really stand out!” Charles came up with the idea of having his daughter gaze up at the sky from her crib. “We thought it would be fun. Inside the molding above the crib, we put in rope lighting, so at night it gives this area such a unique look. Originally we had planned to put in fiber optic stars, and we still have the wiring to do it, but decided against it. At least for the moment.” Soft and subtle whispers of pink grace this girl’s room. “We wanted something pink on the walls, but not super Barbie pink. I also wanted to create some texture to the wall. The paint is called Brushed Pearl. I wanted slight hints of pink throughout so that nothing would compete with the wall color. I also wanted to make sure to include other colors such as ivories and beiges to give a soft, girly and shabby feel to the room.” “I think it always best to accent in color,” Kimsey advised. “Even though we painted the room pink, it is only the top half and we can paint over for a boy’s room.” All of their larger purchases were done in neutral colors for that reason. Their glider was ordered after they hand-picked the fabric in the neutral tone. Smaller girly items dot Reese’s nursery in the form of blankets, pillows, lined baskets, picture frames and dolls. “We started the nursery as soon as we found out it was a girl. We went straight from the ultrasound to start shopping and get some ideas. We really enjoyed decorating Reese’s nursery.”


Behind the the Designs Designs of of Behind Little Crown Crown Interiors Interiors Little By Lauren Lauren Halperin Halperin By


The stunningly designed nurseries by Little Crown Interiors are heaven for those seeking inspiring nursery décor ideas. Spaces designed by the team of Naomi Coe and Gerri Panebianco are visual eye candy in gorgeous color combinations and creative details. With their personal touch on more than 60 nurseries under their belts, they have become the go-to interior design firm for today’s parents and their littlest clients. As nursery designers, they spend their days seeking out the hottest items for nurseries and kids' room designs. Their unparalleled knowledge makes them the perfect choice for parents seeking a nursery designer to create a one-of-akind room for their little one. With real life motherhood experience to call on, and hundreds of past clients to learn from, Naomi and Gerri make it easy and stress-free for parents to have an amazing space for their family. In 2008, Naomi, a graduate of IDI and Allied Member ASID, and Gerri, a UCSD educated artist, met while working for an Orange County, California, based design firm. After collaborating on numerous nursery and juvenile projects, the two realized their shared excitement for innovative design and deep love for children. These common inspirations sparked the concept of Little Crown Interiors: to focus on designing the most luxurious, innovative, safe, and well-planned spaces imaginable – exclusively for babies and children. Combining extensive knowledge and ongoing research in the industry’s new and existing products, vendors, manufacturers, and safety regulations with expertise in thoughtful design, custom creations, space planning, and matters of convenience, Naomi and Gerri have created countless one-of-a-kind spaces for stylish, adventurous and forward-thinking parents – nationwide.

As best friends, and design enthusiasts, Gerri and Naomi are attached at the hip, and have found putting their heads together on all things creative yields better results. “We are truly lucky to have each other both as friends and as business partners,” Gerri said. “We are actually very different people in many ways, and that’s one of the biggest reasons we work so well together. We have different personalities, different tastes, and different business styles which inevitable leads to some bleed over. The friendship we have outside of the office definitely comes into play at work – we anticipate each other’s responses to situations, and we challenge each other to constantly grow and improve.” As a team, they work closely together on everything, but play to each of their strengths. Naomi is more ‘in charge’ of designing, and handles all of the technical work. With Gerri’s background in marketing, she handles more of the business and marketing side of the company. The best lesson they have learned it to be truly prepared. “It definitely takes extra time to really think through every aspect of a project, but in the end, it’s time well spent when we can walk into a room and know exactly what challenges lie ahead,” Gerri said. It takes three months on average for a Little Crown Interiors project to be completed. The duo generally starts a room design when the expecting parents find out their baby’s gender at about 20 weeks. From there, three months gives them the right amount of time to get anything they like in stock, while still completing the project before the baby is born. Since there is no ‘one size fits all’ design for a room, they do not set ‘one size fits all’ pricing. Fees vary by job and take size of the room, the amount of items and work required, and all other factors into the pricing of each project.


Planning out the space is also important, whether parents use graph paper and a tape measure on their own or enlist a professional to get some high-tech help. A common misconception of designers is that they always want to design in their own taste. “We feel that it’s never our place to infuse our own personal style into a client’s room – a child’s room needs to be an expression of love by the parents,” said Naomi. “Whether a client has a firm vision or is completely open to suggestions, our goal is to extract information from parents, and turn it into a great design. It is our job to marry our own taste and knowledge with the personal needs and styles of each individual client. After all, they are the one who has to live with the design!” Naomi emphasizes that every great nursery design should start with a specific item that the parents love. “Whether it’s a beautiful piece of furniture, a fabric pattern you just can’t get out of your mind, or a memento from childhood, by starting with great inspiration, you’re sure to end up with a space you love,” says Naomi. “Placing nursery furniture can literally be a matter of life and death for your baby, so the right floor plan is crucial,” says mother of two Gerri. “For example, while flat screen televisions have become commonplace in the nursery - any mom who's been through the first few months of non-stop feedings knows why! – finding a safe place to mount one can be tricky and affect every other item in the room.” It’s also imperative for them to think about the family’s future plans to get the right approach. Part of planning includes knowing whether the room will transition to a big kid room or be

reused again as a nursery. They ask questions such as ‘Are they planning on more children?’ and ‘Are they planning on staying in the current home?’ “Once we have a feel for the future of the room, we can determine whether the transitional element should be the furniture or the color scheme or the window treatments or the accessories,” said Naomi. Up until very recently, themed rooms were “out”. Clients were specifically asking us for non-themed rooms. We’ve seen this start to turn around just in the past few months, however, and there will certainly be more to come in the future. When Little Crown Interiors was started, they were constantly asked for “non-theme,” “non-babyish” nursery designs. The idea of designing a room around a theme was totally out-of-thequestion for clients. “Now, we are noticing a rising trend in theme rooms – the sophisticated, lasting kind,” said Gerri. “The idea of a “theme room” no longer means 45 pieces of matching items from a bed-in-a-bag type of collection. Today a theme room combines lasting luxury pieces with less expensive trendy items, resulting in an eclectic mix that’s both beautiful and remarkably changeable. We rarely get asked for a specific color - usually it’s more of a tone or feeling that they want, like ‘calming and serene colors’ or ‘unique and understated.’” Wallpaper is an especially huge trend Gerri and Naomi see in nurseries and kids’ rooms. “There are so many great designers making their fabric and wallpaper designs available – it’s easy to find something fabulous for every taste,” Gerri said. “We’ve also noticed a huge trend of floor seating for nurseries. Things like


ottomans, floor poufs and floor pillows are becoming very popular. We are also seeing a definite interest in brighter colors for both boys and girls – vibrant shades of aqua, lemon and green abound in juvenile design right now.” Bright colors are essential in their gender neutral nursery designs. “Nailing a gender neutral nursery is first about choosing a great color palette,” Gerri said. “We’ve done truly gender neutral rooms in aqua and orange, in taupe, blue, and green, in plum and turquoise, and more. In the end, they all worked perfectly for the baby that eventually made the room their home, in spite of the fact that the colors were rather unconventional.” Little Crown Interiors was approached by a photographer Mark Lohman to photograph some of their nurseries. The result is the girls and their company being featured in Design Ideas for Baby Rooms, a guide for parents who are looking for beautiful ideas and the latest products for putting together a room specifically for children. There are hundreds of ideas for every taste and budget, plus wise advice for shopping for all the funishings and extras that make a baby's room safe and special. “This was a really big step in our career.” But the biggest step forward comes in the form of giving back. The day that Gerri and Naomi started Little Crown Interiors, they discussed charitable work as a part of their business plan. “It’s at the core of our souls, and is hugely important to our business,” Naomi explained. They created the ‘Hope’ Crib in partnership with Newport Cottages Furniture. This one-of-a-kind project was born out of the love and concern they feel for all baby girls who may someday have to face breast cancer. It hits close to home for Gerri, whose mom fought—and won!—her battle. The Hope Crib is a

beautiful shade of pink with customizable fabric panels on the ends. Proceeds from every sale go to breast cancer research. Best of all, you’ll be seeing this crib in a celebrity nursery very soon… In addition to the wonderful base of parent clients, Little Crown Interiors is often the call made by expectant celebrities. Currently Gerri and Naomi are designing rooms for three celebrities. One of their current really fun projects is for actress Maria CanalsBarrera, who plays the mother of three wizards on Disney’s The Wizards of Waverly Place. “She is having us re-do her seven-yearold daughter’s room. We’re taking it from a cute, pink, Parisian theme to a more sophisticated, big-girl’s room.” Naomi and Gerri also have some design ideas for the eminently fashionable Victoria Beckham, expecting her fourth child, her first Spice girl. “When we think of Victoria Beckham, we think ‘influential,’ ‘stylish,’ ‘modern’ and – in a word – ‘posh,’” said Naomi. Gerri continued, “As every nursery should be a haven for both mom and baby, we took her personal style and translated it into a modern, chic and super-stylish space that we think she’d love to spend her time in.” The luxury items that Naomi and Gerri suggest for Beckham include a leather upholstered crib, limited edition vintage dresser, red Lucite side table and a black and gold zebra rug. “We love what we do,” Gerri said. “The best part is probably the opportunity we have to see a family grow. Figuratively, although the literal growth of adding a family member is pretty great too! We love to delve into the family’s plans, dreams, their values and hopes, and then turn that information into a space that’s not only beautiful, but that functions as a hub for making their aspirations as a family come true.”


A Garden of Birthday Delights By Beth Meran Photography by Joriann Maye Keegan

A world of colorful creatures came to life for Mia’s third birthday garden party. Featuring vibrant cupcakes of bright and friendly butterflies, bees and ladybugs, this was a fantastical outdoors day. Birthday girl Mia was dressed in a cotton candy tinted ruffle skirt and magical pink and blue butterfly wings. A face painter illustrated fancy swirls and stars on the children’s faces before they flitted on bounce houses.

The botanical dessert buffet was the centerpiece of the afternoon. Sprouting frosting blooms perfect for catching the eye of a wondering butterfly or hungry caterpillar, they were a kaleidoscope of confections. Flower lollipops were the perfect spot for a ladybug to spend the afternoon and potted cupcakes in flower pots were waiting to blossom their sugary sweetness.


Baby Shower Gone Wild By Beth Meran Photography by Hal Williams Phogography

There's no more beautiful spot in the West than Aspen in summer, and Casa Tua is the most stylish restaurant to open there in years. Upstairs it's a private club and downstairs it serves exceptionally authentic regional cucina italiana. In this après ski retreat, Krisinda celebrated her baby’s arrival with a royal pink baby shower. Swirling pink linens were a sweet backdrop to the white floral centerpieces of roses, hydrangeas and lilies, accented with pink pacifiers, infant sneakers and baby pink cowboy boots. Pearlescent grey napkins were circled with magenta gerbera daisy napkin rings and baby items like plastic key rings, rattles, socks and ribbons. About thirty guests dined on mixed green and artichoke salad, lemon risotto and homemade cavatelli, and a veal scallopini and egglplant tower before enjoying a slice of the three-tier pink ruffle cake.

While most baby showers are women chatting softly and cooing over opening baby gifts, welcoming Baby Cain was a lively baby celebration party that included a magician, singing performances, dancing and even a fire-eater!


HOW DOES YOUR BABY PARTY? WWW.BABYLIFESTYLES.COM


Feathering the the Nest Nest with with Feathering Baby Shower Shower Sweets Sweets Baby By Lauren Lauren Halperin Halperin By


Baking has always been an activity for Kiera Gilhooly that coincided with a celebration or a sweet occasion. Growing up baking is deeply connected to her memories with love, family and friends. “I used to bake with my mom as a kid all the time. I distinctly remember pulling up a stool to the counter and getting to hold the hand mixer or cookie press with my sister who would say ‘I love you this many cookies worth.’” In her adult life, it’s Kiera’s creative outlet, allowing her to share with others, giving her a reason to pop in at a neighbor’s house, send a care package, or host a party. Since baking is her way to share her appreciation for someone, she shared her feelings for her sister Lauren by serving up a feast of sweets at her baby shower. Lauren has a love of birds and nature, which inspired this ‘Feather Your Nest baby shower theme. “My mom always says ‘I’ve got all my chicks in the nest’ when Lauren and I would both be home spending time with the family.” As Lauren was not finding out her baby’s gender, Feather Your Nest was an easy gender neutral theme. Invitations were ordered from Dimple Prints, highlighting a light blue mama bird cuddling with her baby bird in a nest on a mint green background. The invitation colors matched the colors of shower location, The Carltun, which set the color palette for the rest of the afternoon. The Nest banner was an easy and colorful DIY project. “We traced and cut out the letters and birds from cardboard and the different fabrics, making the fabric pieces slightly larger than the cardboard. Using a spray-on adhesive on the back of the fabric as glue, we attached the fabric on top of the cardboard pieces, tucking the fabric edges around to the back of the cardboard for a neater look. Then we used wood spring clothespins to hang them from a piece of ribbon.” Seating cards were created from green gift tags, and dressed up with blue bows and miniature birds nests complete with

miniature eggs. “My mom would have used Jordan Almond candies as eggs, but stores had put out their Easter candy, and we were much more excited to use one of our favorite candies -- Cadbury Mini Eggs.” Kiera was assigned the task of picking all the blue ones out, but assures that the yellow, pink and white eggs did not go to waste. Kiera’s favorite detail of the day was the floral birdcage centerpieces. “They were just a lovely touch that I thought brought the whole theme together in an elegant way.” Kiera’s mom added nests inside the antique-looking birdcages along with fresh hydrangeas and roses by layering them underneath the nest, bringing the classic outdoors feeling inside to the table. As a baker, Kiera excelled at creating a Feather Your Nest baby shower confection extravaganza. The ingredients for Lauren’s baby shower dessert buffet were more than simple plates and pedestals. With an architect and wood working father, Kiera tasked him with creating a three-level bakery display for the sweets of the day. Her mom sewed and pasted bird’s nest appliqués on the awning. The result was a delicious storefront bakery where baby shower guests could pick their desserts as if plucking them right from a bakery window. “The goal was to have interest on every shelf of the dessert display and the room. The top layer of featured the baby shower cake. When Kiera’s mom is not applying band-aids and ice packs as a school nursery, you can find her doing something artistic and imaginative. Entirely self-taught, her mom created the birds nest centerpiece cake. “The appeal for her was the simple, elegant design of the cake because she didn’t want the cake to steal the show.” It’s hard to believe this impeccably decorated coconut cake with coconut cream cheese buttercream could be anything less than a show stopper. The mint green fondant was marshmallow flavored and


featured delicate white sugar flowers. The cake layer of the sweet shop was surrounded by cupcakes topped with little blue birds sitting atop coconut macaroon cookies to mimic bird nests. But the cake and cupcakes were only the dessert appetizers. Kiera also made sugar cookies with royal icing in the shape of onesies, baby carriages, birds, and eggs. She also made more than two dozen homemade Samoa cookies, replicas of the Girl Scout classics. Making all the little details come to life was accomplished by planning as far in advance as possible. While The Carltun offers miniature ice cream cones as one of it’s dessert choices, which Kiera made sure guests could have as an extra special treat, her preparation made individual guest cakes a reality. “The mini cakes that we gave out as party favors were Chocolate Cake with Swiss Meringue Buttercream, covered with Marshmallow Fondant. Also, when my mom and I work together, we are amazed at how much more we can accomplish. It’s challenging in a way, too, especially because I set high standards for myself. I’m constantly trying to improve upon recipes and techniques and learn new ones all together.” *** Lauren’s nest banner now hangs in the nursery of her daughter April Elizabeth. *** Kiera is currently on a baking journey after launching a full-time career in baking and cake decorating, and a quest to achieve the perfect chocolate chip cookie recipe. You can visit her website at http://sweetkiera.com


Pinkalicious Dreams By Lauren Halperin & Tara Steinle

In the children’s book, “Pinkalicious” a little girl cannot resist pink cupcakes. She eats so many that she turns pink, is diagnosed with a rare case of Pinkatitus and is prescribed a week’s worth of green foods to return to normal. When she sneaks in and eats one more, she turns red which prompts Pinkalicious to devour everything from brussel sprouts and relish to grapes and green peas--upon which, she returns to her normal, beautiful self. Amy Shey Jacobs of Chandelier Events was inspired by this pink tome when creating her daughter Meredith’s baby naming--and wanted to bring a sophisticated palette of blush tones to life. Amy has a wealth of experience planning parties being the former Director of Public Relations for The Knot, where she once planned 14 weddings at the top of the Empire State Building. When it comes to children’s parties, she says “it’s all about adding a personal touch, being inspired and pushing the envelope on what’s possible. I love choosing color palettes inspired by the season, the elements of the space, and using lots of interesting textures and containers. Most of all, every party is about giving your guests a wonderful warm engaging experience--an event, to me, is a living moment. It is a concert of details working together to tell a story.” The recently redecorated private dining room at this historic Ho-Ho-Kus Inn & Tavern appealed to Amy because of its gorgeous caramel-colored walls, ivory moldings and fireplace. Amy called floral designer Anne Miller, and showed her pink mercury glass vases she found as the basis of her inspiration. Her ultimate dream was to have Meredith’s ‘M’ initial bedecked in flowers on the mantel. “Anne brought my Pinkalicious dream to life,” Amy said. “She created the floral monogram “M” I dreamt up out of roses and carnations, and clusters of arrangements in David Austen


Roses, orchids, grey dusty miller, ranunculus, peonies, and dahlias and embellished it with carnation fairy balls on crystal pedastals. It was knock-out-beyond-my-expectations beautiful. I have long used carnations as a design element. When packed together, the otherwise-disregarded grocery-store flower actually works really well to create special, highly textured displays. When done the right way, carnations can definitely go elegant!” Keeping the color consistent and metallic, glittering silver butterflies were used as whimsical ornamentation around the room. “I love the sparkling butterflies on the flowers. They add just the right amount of sparkle to everything they gracefully touch.” Tying the Pinkalicious theme together, Amy created menus featuring a Pink and Mocha palette. The day’s menu consisted of a strawberry-goat-cheese salad, butternut squash ravioli served in mini skillets, local free-range chicken breast sandwiches, and wild mushroom omelettes. Because her Meredith is sweet as can be, Amy wanted the guests to sink their teeth into sweetness for dessert. “I treated guests to homemade cookies, a delectable cake...and, of course, a pink Candy Bar.” She called childhood friend and candy expert Lauren Sachs to whip up a candy bar inspired by her Pinkalicious palette. Strawberry and pink lemonade jellybeans, pink rock candy, m&m’s and raspberry malted milkballs were all a delicious hit! “And of course we popped a butterfly or two wherever the space needed a little extra fairy dust.” For her first official fete, Meredith got to feast on her very own cake created by Amy’s friend Cheryl Kleinman. The exterior of the cake fit the theme of the day iced in pleated pink fondant. The inside was Amy’s own flavor creation—a layer devil’s food choco-

late cake with a layer of vanilla bean buttercreatm and another of raspberry mousse filling. “Each slice looked like Neapolitan ice cream.” “The final “Pinkalicious” touch was that each of the guests signed Meredith’s copy of “PInkalicious” so we can read their messages to her every night at story time.” Meredith’s Pinkalicious Crew: Florals: Anne Miller, Little Flower Shoppe Dessert Bar: Lauren Sachs, SweetCityCandy.com Cake: Cheryl Kleinman of Brooklyn’s Betty Bakery Venue: Chateau Room at the Ho-Ho-Kus Inn & Tavern in Ho-HoKus, New Jersey Photography: Stacey Ilyse Photographye


A Pink Affair for a Baby Princess By Lauren Halperin & Tara Steinle

A dream is a wish your heart makes. For Kim Dubach, her dream was a Disney fairytale pink baby shower. To have a pink party that was nothing short of fabulous, Kim went to Debra Hiebért of Tres Fabu Events to plan a perfect party to honor the little princess that would soon be entering the world. Guests were greeted at The Citizen Hotel with a vintage French frame on an easel with a storybook inspired welcome sign. The simple place card table was decorated with one item, a high chair for the expected princess, complete with tiara, and adorned with bow-tied ribbons and white orchids. Kim’s baby shower party room was a fantasy of dreams come true for the expectant mom and her 100 guests. “She definitely wanted pink, but wanted it elegant in an adult way,” Debra said. “We found inspiration in the Disney fairytales. She wanted to


implement the harlequin pattern that the Queen of Hearts uses throughout Alice in Wonderland, which we tamed down with pinks and white and vintage gold to create sweet and innocent look.” Nearly a dozen tables were named after animated princesses and announced in the form of standing storybooks filled with paper for guests to write their motherhood advice with feather plume pens. “I kept envisioning a fairy tale font, like in classic books where the ‘O’ in ‘Once upon a time’ is in an antique script. We used burnished gold and mixed it with the pink and white pattern to give it that royal edge.” They royally presented the table with phrases such as ‘C’ is for Cinderella and ‘P’ is for Princess Fiona. Magnificent floral centerpieces rested atop water-filled vases. Romantic roses in shades of pink and white hydrangea clusters gave each table a royal focal point. “Kim wanted over the top floral arrangements,” Debra said. “She pulled from different aspects of what she liked and Shelley McArdle of Floral Artistry created the most breathtaking arrangements for the baby shower.” Delicate, small roses tied with ribbons dripped off each bouquet near small tea light candles. Place settings featured the menu in pink script and topped with an antique baby block. As guests mingled with friends and dined on the seven course meal, their eyes were drawn to the baby stroller in the center of the room. Decorating with cascading pink ribbons and overflowing with orchids, it sat on a table covered with light pink satin and dripping with pearls. “One of the guests at the shower was a

teenager. She used to be pushed around in that carriage when she was a baby. It was such a wonderful family heirloom to display. Items like this with significant emotional meaning become so much more than a great conversation starter.” Debra combined the fantasy of princesses with the modern pizzazz of Juicy Couture stores, namely their signature candy displays. Debra spelled out Baby in gold letters against a pink backdrop table with tulle enhanced skirting and waterfalls of pearls. “Since Kim could not partake of the fabulous top shelf bar she provided her guests, I wanted to ensure that the candies at her candy bar were her all time favorites from childhood to adulthood. She absolutely adored the individual fresh strawberry Veuve Clicquot champagne mini cakes with the individual flower detail.” To make all her guests feel like treasured gems, each one left this shower with little blue boxes filled with pretties from non other than Tiffany & Company! *** We are proud to report that the DuBach family welcomed a happy, healthy baby girl they named Se'Bella. *** Pink Princess Dream Team: Event Design: Debra Hiebert, Tres Fabu Event Planning and Design Venue: Metropolitan Terrace at The Citizen Hotel Florals:Shelley McArdle, Floral Artistry Photography: CinZo Celebration Photography Little Baby Cakes: Divine Desserts


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When Par'es Give Back By Lauren Halperin

Think of how you felt while you were pregnant with your first child. Now imagine being separated from your spouse, your best friend, during this magical time. Your husband misses out on feeling the baby kick, on hearing their heartbeat on the ultrasound. In many cases, they miss the birth of their child as well as those first few weeks or months where every moment is something new to marvel over. This is what the pregnant military spouses go through while their husbands fight for this country’s freedom. Our country’s all volunteer army has 560 installations in 130 countries globally. Of them, 55% of our military are married with children, meaning that around 93,000 families are separated by deployment at any given time. Operation Shower is a nonprofit organization that provides joyful baby showers for military families to ease the burden of deployment. Operation Shower began in 2007, when LeAnn Morrissey, looking for a way to give back to her uncle who was deployed overseas, was asked to send a card to four women who were expecting babies while their spouses were deployed. LeAnn decided to try to do much more for these families. She set out with family and friends to send a “shower in a box” to the four military families who were expecting babies while the husbands were deployed. “It was a light bulb moment for me,” Morrissey says of conceiving the premise for Operation Shower. “My uncle had been deployed a few years ago when his youngest son was born while he was gone. He didn’t get to see him until six months after he was born. I was pregnant at the time and was thinking about what I was going through and couldn’t imagine if my husband was a million miles away. I started thinking about it, how hard it must have been for my Aunt. I didn’t want to send a card, I wanted to make them go wow and make their day.” LeAnn received several emails from the grateful moms in response. One sent her a picture of her sitting on the bed with all the gifts and wrote back what a great surprise it had been and how much it had meant. “My uncle shared with me the emails from the deployed men and how much it meant to them to have care packages sent to their wives, and what it gave their wives in their absence. When I saw it was helping the whole family and was something fun for them, Operation Shower started from there.” As of October 2010, the Operation Shower team has, through the generous donations of individuals and corporations and through volunteer-power, showered over 400 women, holding 12

unit-wide showers on military bases across the country for the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines and National Guard. “Military bases are doing the best they can, but with an organization that is outside the military and can solicit funds and donations, which they can’t, we are able to have more of an impact and give the women much more of an experience.” Amy Belle Isle’s great uncle was part of the troops that stormed the beaches at Normandy. Her great Aunt has always been passionately involved with Veterans organizations as a result and she’s always admired that. “Hearing about his adventures at his funeral has always stuck with me,” Belle Isle said. As a party planner and founder of Stem Parties, she understands the moment when all the planning is done and what the real reward is. “You step back and look at everything, and recognize that the guests will know that every detail was thought of and planned just for them. Being a ‘smile bringer’ is a pretty cool gig!” This is what makes her a perfect puzzle piece for Operation Shower. Stem officially started in 2007, after Belle Isle posted pictures of her friend’s baby shower on Flickr. When the Hostess with the Mostess, Jenn Sbranti, emailed her about them, Belle Isle launched her blog. “I’d always planned parties on the side and been the go-to to for friend’s baby showers and other parties. I’d toyed with starting a planning business on the side for a while, and then was moved to action after Jenn did a post on her site. I always say that my being involved with Operation Shower would not have happened if not for Hostess With The Mostess.” As both Belle Isle’s Stem and Morrissey’s Operation Shower are based in St. Louis, MO, Morrissey reached out to her for help planning an event. Belle Isle describes it as fate. “The very week LeAnn reached out to me I had told my husband that I wanted to find something to “do” rather than just always donating money to everything. When I heard what Operation Shower was doing, it was a no-brainer for me. I truly believe this is what I was meant to do.” After that first event, Belle Isle stayed on, getting completely involved and taking her role in the organization deeper, and making Operation Shower more of a success. Her involvement grew as the more she had fun doing what she loved for a great cause. “The fact that the mission is so important…thinking of moms without their husbands breaks my heart. And LeAnn Morrissey is one of the most amazing people I have ever known. Working with her is an honor and so much darn fun!”


Belle Isle is now listed as Operation Shower management with the title Chief Event Organizer. Responsible for the spectacular party planning related to the unit-wide showers and Operation Shower fundraisers, she also works to make the showers in a box a beautiful gift for each mom. Her to-do list ranges from planning every aspect of the shower parties and contacting vendors to working on getting products donated and social media posts. Not only has Belle Isle brought her own talent to the creative aspect of this organization, she put out a call to arms to the party blogosphere for their support. Because of their belief in the organization and love for Amy, it’s been a resounding outpouring of rallying for the cause. “It’s an amazing community full of the most talented and generous women out there,” Belle Isle beamed. “It means that people are responding to not just what we are doing, but the level of quality with which we do it. We are proud of that. I feel very blessed to have made wonderful friends in the party landscape that have stuck with me and joined in Operation Shower.” The Operation Give Thanks campaign was based on the idea that people want to help but don’t know how. Belle Isle and Morrissey decided to create a campaign where people could throw their own parties to benefit Operation Shower. As the online party world has taken to the organization, working with party printable vendors to create packages that people could use at their parties was an easy way to get involved—and encourage others to do so as well. Operation Give Thanks kicked off in Fall 2010 with Belle Isle choosing a group of designers to launch Thanksgiving and general baby shower printable collections. Kira and Abigail of Paper & Cake were excited for the idea and contributed a gorgeous “A Star is Born” inspired set in pink, blue, and green. Kori Clark of Paper & Pigtails was thrilled to be on board and offer her services. The first set of printables I made were for the “A Star Is Born” shower. The design was a yellow and gray color combination with tone on tone damask print, and a small polka dot star that was “hung” from a delicate ribbon. Her second set was set for Valentine’s Day, creating printables for a chocolate tasting party. Lindi Haws of Love the Day went all out with her New Year’s Eve printable collection, which included a party banner, cupcake toppers, flags, mini candy bar wrappers and more. Her collection yielded 11,000 downloads. “Because of how great she is and how the genuine connections that she makes with people, Amy has utilized that online network and she’s been great so great,” Morrissey said. “The party bloggers don’t donate their time and do what they do to for every organization. But they do it for Operation Shower and for Amy.” Before Belle Isle got involved, Morrissey described events as great in terms of the giving, but not decorated in the sense of an actual shower. “It was whatever the local military community was able to put together and we would come deliver boxes. My vision was to do much more with the ‘shower’ aspect of it. Once I met Amy and saw her skill level, she was able to come in and bring the showers up 2-3-4-5 notches. She made them spectacular. She made them a party.” The “Boxes and Blooms” event was her induction to the Operation Shower event world. It highlighted their showers-in-abox with a spring feel. “We kept it pretty simple and clean with cute graphic gift wrapped boxes and fresh flowers for the décor,” Belle Isle said. “One of my favorite aspects of this shower was the bright and happy yellow and lime green color palette. So cheery!” Next was the “A Star is Born” shower for wounded soldiers’ wives at Walter Reed Hospital. “The posters created and donated from 5

Star Baby were amazing. Such a fun touch! Inside the event we used lots of red and black with special touches like flower arrangements in popcorn containers, film reels and canisters, feather boas and other movie touches. Another highlight was the delicious cupcakes donated by DC Cupcakes own Georgetown Cupcakes!” Operation Shower took the party to the next level with the Sunshine Farms event. Held at The Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines, it included a partnership with the PGA Tour The March of Dimesand showered 35 expectant mothers with spouses in the National Guard, Marines, and Navy. The very next day, showers-ina-box were delivered to the military hospital for 25 more mothers with premature babies. With a desire for a theme that related to sunshine and happiness, this party was cheerful in colors and décor. While it was the same size as most of their others, Belle Isle was able to enlist some talented additions that elevated the whole party. The Sunshine Farms event was also the first event Belle Isle got to work side-by-side styling with the woman she credits with starting her on her path in the industry, Jenn Sbranti. “Amy and I both have a pretty a modern sense of style, so we both naturally leaned towards a "modern farm" look,” Sbranti said. “I used bright primary colors, silhouettes of farm animals and contemporary veggie patterns for the party printables and signage. There were three different table centerpieces that coordinated with the farm and baby theme: toy wheelbarrows filled with hay & fresh veggies, galvanized buckets filled with dry pinto beans and toy gardening tools, and bountiful groupings of flower-filled mason jars and hay bales! It definitely takes the design process to a new level when there's a great cause involved, and a little more pressure too. I love it when just one guest of honor gets excited about a creative atmosphere I've helped bring to life, so when there are 40+ deserving guests of honor to get excited, that's pretty darn cool!” Marie from Sweets Indeed created the most adorable farm-themed sweets table ever filled with lots of mini treats, several of which were embellished with the printable patterns and animal silhouettes, so they coordinated perfectly with the tables. “It was a lot of fun being part of the process of turning a blank slate into a fun, bright and cheery Farm theme,” Marie Dannettelle of Sweets Indeed said of the day. “The experience of donating was delightful. The details that went into the design and decor, the volunteers, seeing all the donations come together, the smiles on the guests faces…it was more than worth it. .There is such an amazing feeling you get when you step back and survey the scene that has come to life before your eyes. Knowing it is all for deserving families and their new bundles of joy is so exhilarating. I was honored to have been asked and the message behind the organization really hit home for me. I am a mom and couldn't imagine going through my pregnancy, birth and raising my little one without the support of my close friends and family and with the worry of my spouse being overseas as well. I also come from a military background and have many friends that serve.” In April, First Lady of the United States, Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden, wife of the Vice President, launched “Joining Forces,” an initiative highlighting the plight of military families and encouraging Americans to do more to help members of military families. Their first order of business was a trip to Camp Lejeune, North Carolina. Home to the largest concentration of marines and sailors in the world, it serves as a training facility for 47,000 servicemen and women. Of them, 14,400 have been deployed with 7186 having families. This means 13,217 spouses and family members are left behind at the Camp Lejeune base and in the surround-


ing communities. On April 13, Mrs. Obama and Dr. Biden joined master crafter Martha Stewart and teamed up with Operation Shower for a unit-wide Red, White and Coo event. “This event meant so much for so many reasons,” Belle Isle said. “We are thrilled with the light the Joining Forces program by the White House is shining on our military families. We are very aware that there are many organizations working hard to honor our military. So, to be chosen as a featured stop on their “Joining Forces” Tour was an incredible honor. We are a very small organization trying to do very big things so this experience was incredibly rewarding and humbling. Being in the presence of the most powerful and influential women in our country is surreal and very, very exciting to say the least.” Morrissey hopes that the validation from the First Lady translates into more national support. “We’re thrilled that Mrs. Obama and Dr. Biden understand what we’re trying to do,” she said. “To be recognized nationally for what we’re doing is really gratifying. The biggest benefit is that I hope people will get behind us and what we’re doing and what we’re committed to. The whole message of red white and coo is for everyone around the country is that there’s someway to support military families. If they’re thinking about Operation Shower they’re thinking about military families. That’s the benefit for us.” It’s not just another day at the office when you’re a party planner and Martha Stewart is one of your guests. “Yeah, planning for Martha does take thing to another level! It really helps that we treat every event as a VIP event because they are. The most important thing is that moms know they are the stars of the day and that every detail is planned just for them. But to look up and see Martha Stewart, Dr. Jill Biden and Michelle Obama standing in front of the Operation Shower banner felt like a huge accomplishment. Not many people get that experience and it is one I will never take for granted.” This baby shower for 40 expectant mothers brought out patriotic colors and more of the industry’s finest. Belle Isle again enlisted Sbranti and Dannettelle along with Chris Nease of Celebrations at Home. “I don’t think people realize the effort that goes into styling an event like this,” Nease said. “With every shower, there’s so much effort to make it look like something your best friend would have done. Amy is so great at what she does. I don’t know anyone who wouldn’t do anything for her.” This summer, Belle Isle and Morrissey are eagerly planning four Operation Shower events in the Fall, including back to back weekends. It is by far their most ambitious undertaking yet. Their plan is to continue going to as many military bases to reach as many families as possible. They will continue to honor the moms in a military family who hold it together at home, the moms who go through a pregnancy without their spouse by their side, deployed to a another part of the world, proudly serving our country. These moms deserve our support, our thanks, our love and of course, they deserve a party! “The best part of being involved with Operation Shower is knowing that what I am doing really makes a difference,” Belle Isle concluded. “That’s all I’ve ever wanted and I know that this does matter to these women. It’s worth every minute of work every single time. It’s a very emotional experience to see their smiles and to share hugs and often tears with them after an event. They don’t really know what to expect coming into an event and to have them leave feeling completely validated and “seen” for their sacrifice is nothing but pure joy.”


“Amy deserves the all accolades she’s getting. She works so hard on each shower. She’s definitely unique person. I don’t know if everyone could do everything she does.” – LeAnn Morrissey, Co-Founder of Operation Shower

“Amy is definitely inspiring! I really admire her involvement and how genuinely she loves this organization. It's definitely not just "something on the side" for her - she is truly passionate about it, and it's a serious time & energy commitment... Party planning/coordinating sounds like fun, and it often is, but it's also a LOT of hard work! I know there have been some frustrating nights and tears along the road to getting these events set up... that's the part that no one ever sees, but it's a true testament to the level of Amy’s commitment.” – Jenn Sbranti, Hostess with the Mostess “If you’re going throw parties for a living, you can’t have a bad attitude. What drew me to Amy was her sense of humor. She can be rather dry or sarcastic or silly and outrageous and I love it. In real life, she can be quite focused in the work of creating the shower. So it’s the fun moments when she’s able to let loose and be free and not focused on that her sense of humor comes out. Give me someone who can make me laugh and that sucks me right in.” – Chris Nease, Celebrations at Home

“Amy is a true inspiration. There are certain people out there that have a level of professionalism that gets the job done but are also approachable and convey a calm sense of purpose. Even with all of the bustle that goes on during prep time for an event, there was still organization and appreciation. She’s someone I hope to have a lifetime friendship with. I have so much respect for her. She has put OS at the forefront of her life and sacrifices daily for the cause, and nothing is ever half-don. She puts her heart and soul into each event leaving no detail unnoticed. There is a personal touch and a warm heart behind all of it and I know people feel that.” – Marie Dannettelle, Sweets Indeed “I think baby showers are so important to help moms and dads realize how many people out there love and care for both them and their babies, and to feel the support surrounding them as they go through such a life changing event. Having an organization that makes sure our military families feel the love and support during this time is so important!” – Kori Clark of Paper and Pigtails

“There are so many organizations out there that do wonderful things and I am so happy they exist, but there are not many that go beyond taking care of immediate needs to celebrate such a special event in a family's life, especially deserving military families. Amy is so lovely and talented, when she asked me to participate, I was honored by the request and happy to help.” – Lindi Haws, Love the Day


Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep R e me m be r a n c e P ho t og r a p hy By Lauren Halperin

Photography by Leila Jones and Katie Moos

If you are a mother, you know what it is to carry a child and to get to know them as they grow inside you. You get the nursery ready. You select names. You are showered with presents. You long for the day when you get to meet this little person you have so many hopes and dreams for. And then you find out it’s not to be. Your baby’s gone. What would you want if this happened? For the more than three million stillborn babies born each year and the four million others who pass within 28 days of coming into the world, Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep (NILMDTS) offers them beautiful remembrance photography they can see and hold onto forever, an eternal reminder that though these children were here so short a time, they were important and loved. Maddux Achilles Haggard was born on Feb. 4, 2005, with a condition called myotubular myopathy that prevented him from breathing, swallowing or moving on his own. On the sixth day of his young life, his parents had to make the excruciating decision to take him off life support. But before they did, they called photographer Sandy Puc to take black and white portraits of them cradling their son. Puc photographed the couple with Maddux at the hospital before he was removed from life support and after–when he was free from the tubes and the wires that had sustained him. “That night was the worst night of my life,” Maddux’s mother, Charyl Haggard said. “But when I look at the images, that’s not what I’m reminded of. I’m reminded of the beauty and blessings he brought. Our cherished photographs show the love we shared and gave to our son. They show he was here and that he will forever be a part of our lives–no matter how brief his stay on earth was. This is our way of honoring and remembering our precious baby boy.” Those tender photographs documenting Maddux’s eternal connection with his parents inspired Cheryl Haggard and Sandy Puc to found the nonprofit organization that has provided thousands of families of babies who are stillborn or are at risk of dying as newborns with free professional portraits with their baby. Named

after the children’s bedtime prayer, NILMDTS administers a network of more than 5,000 volunteer photographers in the United States and nineteen International countries who are willing to devote personal time, money and heart to help families in need, providing a helping hand and a healing heart. When photographer Michelle Powell moved to Arizona, she started doing newborn photography at local hospitals. One day she watched a nurse sit for almost an hour calling area photographers to take remembrance photos before becoming so frustrated, she took the job herself. Now the area coordinator for Phoenix, Powell says she tries to capture photos that will bring comfort to the family and in the long term, give them peace. “I attempt to have no emotion in the room, but simply, quietly capture all that is happening and tell the story,” said Powell. “Some days I do as many as five in one day and it is entirely too much and it takes a toll on you in the long run.” Talking about a particularly moving shoot, Powell recalls the Turner family, who were experiencing their second loss that year. The baby was born at 18 weeks and severely disfigured. “The parents apologized for asking me to take the photos,” Powell said. “I felt such love and sorrow for these parents; that during this grief they were concerned for me and what I was about to see. I treated their baby like a special angel, like she was the most important thing in the entire world. The joy in the parents face was overwhelming and on several occasions, I caught the parents watching me to see the look on my face, to see if I was disgusted by their baby. I showed no expression and handled the baby like the special angel she was. I made it to my car before I broke down.” In another occurrence, a Mother delivered while her husband was away. Powell took images of her with the two other siblings. These images are the only tangible items that this Father had of the experience that his family was going through. For families overcome by grief and pain, the idea of photographing their baby may not immediately occur to them. Offer-


ing gentle and beautiful photography services in a compassionate and sensitive manner is the heart of NILMDTS. Photography is capturing a moment that is so fleeting forever on film. It is what life is all about. As human beings, our memory is so unreliable for all the details, capturing all those images can help preserve the memory that might be lost over time. Remembrance photography is significant in this healing process. They allow families to honor and cherish their babies, and share the spirits of their lives. Everything provided to the families is free and includes their session and a CD of full resolution images; some photographers even include a DVD slideshow set to music. Powell’s most memorable session was of a 38 week baby boy. The only thing wrong with this perfect child was that his umbilical cord got knotted. “It’s unimaginable that something so simple could take your perfect little baby from you. I walked in the room behind the nurse to see the baby’s uncle crying his heart out. On the outside, I was calm and collected and started getting my equipment ready. Inside, I wanted to hug this man and cry with him. The baby was beautiful. I’ll never forget him. His parents were very calm and accepting of their fate. I can only guess their faith is incredibly strong. He has a big brother who is thankfully too young to really know what happened. One day, he’ll understand and get to see his baby brother through the pictures I took. I know that pictures alone could never fill the void created by his passing, but I know that they will never have to try and remember him. All they have to do is look and see what a perfect little angel they held in their arms for so brief a time. And I hope that brings them comfort. The goal is to capture an image that will not look like it was in a hospital. Images are often taken in black and white to achieve a timeless, classic look. They are very careful with asking the families if their child can be moved. They never want the focus to be off of the family and work very hard to give breaks or private time if it is needed. Before Paula Massey became a professional photographer for My Sisters Smile Photography, she was a nurse, making her a perfect fit for NILMDTS. “The photography session seems to add some normalcy to the chaos and trauma the parents are going through,” Massey said. “The parents can be very emotional during the session as they gaze lovingly at their little one. For some, it seems calming. My nursing experience has helped me stay on track and do my job. I have gotten emotional but I get control over my emotions by focusing on the technical side of the photo session.

The parents don’t need to take care of me; I’m there to take care of them.” Both Powell and Massey agree that whether they are giving or receiving a gift by volunteering with NILMDTS is up for debate. “It’s truly been a blessing in my life as it is in the lives of the families I’ve photographed,” Massey said. “I never expected to feel so rewarded from my experiences. I am so much more appreciative of life and my family. And I am appreciative of the burdens that have not been placed on my shoulders; the burden of losing a child and carrying that grief with you every day.” As area coordinator for Northern Los Angeles, photographer Leila Jones believes that her years of struggle to have her own children were training grounds for the services she offers with NILMDTS and meeting expectant parents like David and Mary Jo Peterson. The Petersons learned early on in their pregnancy that their son A.J. was diagnosed with a chromosomal condition called Trisomy 18. Jones first met the Petersons when they volunteered to speak to a group of NILMDTS photographers in training and quickly matched them with area photographer Katie Moos. “Having a parent at a training session is invaluable to the organization,” Moos said. “It helped me realized that as much as we as photographers might feel obtrusive there with the family during their loss and how it may feel awkward to be taking photos in the first place. These parents want these photos and they may or may not know what they want at the time, but they are counting on us to get them.” Moos’ first meeting with Peterson was hard because “when she walked in all cute and pregnant nothing about her made me think the baby wasn’t going to make it–she looked so healthy and like a great Mom. My heart just ached for her and what these past months were like and what the next few to come might be like. I thought about ‘what if this was me?’ They are so brave to come and talk to us about something so personal and so painful, but that was the other surprising thing. They seemed at peace with the outcome. I loved that about them. They knew they were doing all they could as parents to bring their baby to term and the rest was out of their hands.” “There was an immediate connection with Mary Jo,” Jones agreed. “She knew her time was short and valuable with A.J. I am still so amazed in how brave she was in approaching the unthinkable. The Petersons looked at their fate and decided to tackle it with all the reality that could possibly occur. To look at A.J. at birth, you would not guess that his life was to be so short,” Jones


said. “With the Petersons, they looked at reality, about the future for A.J. At diagnoses they really planned out the moments they would have with him to make sure they were uncluttered with decisions. They cherished every moment that A.J. lived.” Leila Jones, Katie Moos, and Mary Jo Peterson have shared many hugs and tears and will always share those priceless moments in their lives where they were invited to document the few precious hours of A.J.’s life. Jones will always remember the Peterson’s son Joey saying to his grandmother that his brother had gone to heaven. “Katie told Joey that she would get him a portrait for his room of him and his little brother. While we were in the waiting room with the family, Joey was fascinated with the images that he was looking at in the back of the camera.” NILMDTS photographers look for items that are special to the families and their baby that are in that room. In the case of the Petersons, they made sure a special charm necklace with baby booties on it was in several pictures. David had purchased it for Mary Jo just after they received A.J.’s diagnosis. The two now have a profoundly deeper connection through their shared experience with the Petersons. “They have such a wonderful perspective on life and time on this earth,” Moos said. They spent their tender moments with smiles, hugs and kisses, laughing and loving. They did not waste A.J.’s time mourning, but rejoicing in him! They also have the unique perspective that they can help people even when they themselves are grieving and need help themselves. They are such a warm giving and loving family. When I drove home from the hospital I remember thinking I am the only person on this earth that has photos of A.J. It feels like you are giving someone their child back [in photos. It's huge and really humbling and deeply touching. When I first heard about NILMDTS I thought to myself how could anyone do this, meaning how can a photographer go in to a hospital emotionally and do this? And it didn't take me long to realize...how can we not? I will never forget A.J. and the Peterson family. They are in my heart." The photographers of NILMDTS bridge the gap on the healing process. Jones says occasionally there are mothers that say

they haven't held their baby yet or they don't want images with them. "In most of my experiences, the mother decides to hold the baby for just one photo, which tends to lead to more. Cheryl Haggard, the co-founder instructs during training sessions that 'you can't go back and decide later that you want this.' I tell Mothers in this situation that if the images are taken, they can choose to not look at them, but I don't want them to regret not having taken them. In all my experience with this there is not one Mother that has regretted." There is probably no greater intimate moment to share with a stranger, but the connection the photographers feel validates the notion that we are all the same: human. "Every living being instinctively knows how to grieve," Jones said. "It is learning how to heal that some need help with." The photographers of Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep offer a priceless gift to a family in need. "These families are leaving the hospital empty handed after saying goodbye to their child," Jones concluded. "They are so thankful that soon they will have professional images of their child. I think for most families the day they learn that their child is not going to live is the worst day of their lives. I have had more than one parent say that when they look at the images created by NILMDTS that this not what they are reminded of, they are reminded of the beauty and blessing on that day as the day their child that came into their lives." Co-founder Cheryl Haggard was once asked the question 'When did my healing begin?' "My first thought of course was to say 'When I first looked at the images Sandy did of my son, Maddux.' But I gave this question just an extra second of thought and I can honestly say: "For me, my healing began knowing a photographer had rearranged her schedule and was on her way to our hospital to photograph our last moments with our son."

To learn more about the Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep organization, please visit their website: www.NowILayMeDownToSleep.org


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