Reads by Kate Brightbill

Reads | StyleSmaller

The thing Sophie wanted most out of school was to learn to read. School has been incredibly helpful, obviously. The kids have learned all sorts of letter sounds and basic reading skills, but she's grown impatient. Now, she wants to come home and open books and learn, learn, learn. 

The past couple weeks, she has been grabbing beginner reading books, and trying her hand at reading on her own, one small word at a time. I was a big-time fan of reading as a child, so I'm thrilled to see her driven to read. 

What are our favorites? Ahhh, so many. We found out that Reading A-Z is a site that has plenty of printable books perfect for our kids' exact level, so that's the best resource for her to learn... BUT, in my opinion, there's nothing like holding a real book in your hands and delving in while cuddling on the couch on a rainy morning {eeee! We have RAIN today!).

Our favorites to read together? The list goes on and on, but here Sophie's favorites for age 5-6:

Annd books Sophie enjoys for learning to read by herself:

Now obviously I'm not a teacher, but I think these are GREAT options for early readers to start really enjoying their books! When asked for a wish list for Christmas, the books were riiiiight on the top of Sophie's list. School works! :)

xx

Memory Lane & Estella NYC by Kate Brightbill

My first baby will be turning six next week. She excitedly whispered with her cousin the other day about how it will feel to be six... so much promise in a new number, a new year. She has been talking about what she will do when she is six, how she will be able to read this book, or reach that dress from her hanger "when I'm six." She is probably right. She is growing like a weed, and practicing her reading whenever she gets a chance. She is going to conquer fears, dream big, and attain goals in her next year. She makes me so proud. She is beautiful inside, and she is kind.

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Win $150 to Minted! by Kate Brightbill

Photo by  Indu Huynh

Photo by Indu Huynh

The holidays! Ahhh- I adore this time of year. We're prepping much earlier this year, because I'm hosting Brian's family and celebrating Thanksgiving AND Christmas in one! It's pretty nice because I feel like I'm on my Christmas prep A-game {I even have gifts for my family, though we're not celebrating with them until the actual holiday!}, and I haven't been shopping in crowds. Win-win! 

This week's project has been completing my Christmas card address list... I love sending Christmas cards! It's so fun to get great pictures taken and share real, stamped mail with loved ones near and far. There's something about having a fridge full of photos of dear ones in our life... physical pictures to enjoy longer than a quick post on social media.

Below is a gallery of my favorites... they really do have something for everyone! If you like one of the options, just click on the picture and it'll take you right to that card on the Minted site. Just trying to make things easy on ya! ;) 

Minted was kind enough to provide cards for our little family AND {fingers crossed} for  YOU or YOUR little family this year. 

Here's how to enter!! Five entries possible {U.S. residents only}!

  1. Follow Minted on Instagram.
  2. Follow StyleSmaller on Instagram.
  3. Post a holiday picture on Instagram with the hashtag #StyleSmallerGivesMinted. {Don't forget to tag @minted and @stylesmaller!}
  4. Visit the Minted website and comment here letting me know your favorite holiday product.
  5. Finally, please come back here and let me know how many entries we owe you for one extra entry!

The giveaway is closed. Winner is @newtonwong on Instagram. Thanks for all of your entries!

Ps. In case you're in need of a Minted flashback of melt-my-heart-cuteness from 2013... 

Photos by   Indu Huynh

Photos by Indu Huynh

Thanks to Minted for providing products for us, and for hosting this fabulous giveaway. All opinions are my own. Post contains affiliate links. Winner will be notified here, and must contact me within 72 hours with an email address to redeem, or another winner will be chosen. xoxo

Healthy Comfort Food + Thermometers by Kate Brightbill

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If someone is going to offer cooking lessons, I am going to take them. 

The Hillside Supper Club and Braun Thermometers hosted a little event in the city the other day, and I am soooo glad I went. I left with the best thermometer I've ever seen {my children cannot handle the in-the-mouth version we currently have, and this one just taps against their forehead and DONE!}, and a good grasp on making healthy hearty soup and pot pie. My family is thankful in advance, and judging by the cold and flu patterns in 2014, it won't be long before we put the thermometer to great use.  

Sometimes cooking certain dishes is entirely too intimidating. Homemade pasta? What? I could never... but oh, we did. Chicken pot pie? No way... but yes, we also did that. I think the biggest lesson I'm learning this year regarding the kitchen is to "TRY IT. You might like it!" I know that expression is generally regarding the eating aspect of the kitchen, but for me- eating diverse foods has never been the problem. ;) I just don't want to try cooking recipes that just may not taste good... 2014 says TRY. 

SO, here are the things I've learned from my day at The Hillside Supper Club

{*unsponsored, though we got goodies for the kitchen and thermometers to take home}

  • Eat at the Hillside Supper Club. I'm craving their homemade pasta so much that I've added a pasta maker to my Christmas wish list. There is nothing like it. 
  • Spend a little time at the beginning of your week prepping things. Dicing and seasoning veggies that can be used for soups or pot pies or as sides on your plate make day-of cooking that much more manageable! 
  • Doughs are not as intimidating as they seem. They're only a few quick ingredients, and you can have fresh, unprocessed pastas, pie crusts, etc etc. 
  • Don't just toss meat bones. Simmer simmer simmer, and you'll have brilliant chicken stocks. My mom has been trying to teach this to me forever, but I'm a repeat offender of just tossing the bones. No longer, my friends, no longer. 
  • GET A BRAUN THERMOMETER. I had this "under the tongue" traditional thermometer until last week. As I've said many times, my girls have been sick repeatedly this year. I avoided the thermometer at all cost-- the fits my sick little patients threw when I inserted that stick under their tongues were ridiculous. Now, my medicine cabinet has a thermometer that I merely need to press to my child's forehead {and I can allow them to keep sleeping!! Imagine!}, and their temperature shows directly on the screen. It's colored red, yellow, or green based on their numbers. I'm sold on this forever. PS. No need to worry if you have run out of germ-blocking sleeves.

All in all, a fun, successful day. Cooking classes and fabulous thermometers are my new favorite things. 

xx

Things Left Unsaid 02: Modeling by Kate Brightbill

Today, I'm staying away from the serious, and talking about a fun "thing left unsaid" in our lives. I'm sure you've seen glimpses on my Instagram, but today I'll tell you a bit about my kiddos being models. I've never come out and said it, but there you have it: they are, technically. 

There's a stigma attached to child models, and while I'm sure the nutty stage moms and pushy families exist, it has not been our experience with the San Francisco modeling community at all. Photo shoots have been a big part of our lives in 2014, but I can't guarantee next year {or even next week!} will bring any more bookings. It's fun, but it's a fickle industry too! People ask all the time if I can connect them with brands and agents, and the short answer is, "not really." Each agency has gaps in certain ages or a "look" that they would like to fill... if I refer someone who has a 5-year old to my agency who is really looking only for 3-year olds and 7-year-olds, they may not be signed. Not because the child isn't adorable, but because their sizes are just not what is needed right now. It has so much to do with timing!

So what is it like behind the scenes?

First off, bookings are not well in advance. We sometimes get notice that the girls are "on hold" for a day or a week, but sometimes we get an email or phone call the night before asking someone to be somewhere the next morning at 8:30am. It's also not a predictable industry, that's for sure. Auditions are unpaid and necessary in most situations... but once they book the job, more jobs often come of them. Maggie booked Old Navy and Gymboree every month for a lot of the year this year, and she only had to audition once for each! Two-years old is a BIG age, in our experience. They are in the prime of toddlerhood, and if they love shoots, they'll be successful. Sophie started at 4, and had several calls and shoots her first year, and then had almost no auditions for about 9 months, and now she's back to getting calls and bookings. It's really just about timing, ages, sizes and look! It's nothing we can take personally. It's all cyclical. 

All children have a teacher on every set by law. They are the child's advocate who steps in if they see children getting tired, needing a snack, etc. They also help school-age children with their school work. For the baby and toddler age, there is also often a child-wrangler. The wrangler is the entertainment for your children... the one making them laugh hysterically, entertaining them with balloons, bubbles, songs, and just being high-energy fun. It makes or breaks a shoot to have the best wranglers on duty behind the scenes. Kids absolutely adore these people, and it makes the entire experience fun for everyone. Sophie is no longer at an age where she needs a wrangler on set, but they often provide the child's song choice, and tell jokes while they shoot, and she has a blast hamming it up for the camera. 

This isn't something we're taking too seriously, but for now it's FUN. If your schedule is generally flexible, and you have outgoing children who are fine with standing still, pursue it! If your child is reserved or incredibly strong-willed, it's just not worth it.

Though my kids enjoy it, they're too young to really show whether or not they're truly passionate about it. We'll just ride the wave while we're here, and we can see whether or not it'll be something they continue as they get older. ;)

My favorite part of it is the pictures, so here are some favorites!!

xoxo.

Less is More by Kate Brightbill

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These dark mornings are brutal!! Remember just a couple short months ago when school had just started, and it was light and bright in the morning, and wakeup for school was seamless and efficient? Those memories are hazy around our home, because our mornings have become dark and cozy and no one wants to get themselves out of bed, let alone get themselves moving toward school, work, or classes. We are counting down the days until we "fall back" around our house {4!}. I think families with kids are generally adverse to changing the fall clocks, but now that I no longer have tiny babies, and my kids lovvve their sleep, we're thrilled about this weekend's clock adjustments. 

I love my sleep too. My health hasn't been great this month, so my body seems to be needing extra time to cuddle in the blankets and extra cups of coffee-- {or is that water my body wants? the lines are blurring}. Sometimes doing my best to over-achieve and get things done backfires to the point where I need to stop "doing" altogether, and take time to really and truly rest. This is where I've been... resting. My emails went untouched for a bit, and it felt totally right. My blog took the same route. The holidays are coming, and I want to be well-rested and unhurried enough to truly enjoy them. I will admit that I've already done half of my Christmas shopping, 100% online, and it's not even November yet. It's a sign of me being serious about wanting to keep the next couple months clear from distractions, and fully being present. It's far more fun to prep for the holidays without a looming deadline.

If "every day I'm hustling..." as our culture requires as the path to success, the day-to-day may lose its luster. Do I want to work hard? Do I have goals and dreams? Yes, and absolutely... but I don't want to forsake that which is beautiful and that which is directly in front of me in an attempt to push toward a bigger and brighter future. If I'm weary, I should rest... seems such an elementary concept, but much harder to implement, yes? There is a nagging fear that if I rest, I will miss out. I will not accomplish this or that, or be here or there with and for everyone.  

I'm seeking meaningful moments and thoughtful conversations with my girls and with my husband. I'm seeking true quiet time for myself during moments I would normally use to accomplish.

I'm seeking more by doing less. 

xx