2014 StyleSmaller Favorites by Kate Brightbill


This blog is a far cry from a true children's style blog at this point. Kids style themselves... they love things, they don't love things, and they are happy to express it. Some days they're fashionable, other days they're eclectic. I don't regularly force my style preferences on the girls now that they have their own voices and opinions, and we all have fun (most days!) getting ourselves dressed.

Maggie became the voice for independence in fashion this year, and positively melts in sorrow when we require pants (even if it's 45 degrees out!). Sophie has told me recently she really likes having my input on getting herself dressed, and it made me feel like a million bucks. She picks the main event and I help with the extras. 

We are not fashion predictors, but we CAN tell you the biggest hits of 2014 wardrobes for these girls, and we'll probably keep buying similar for 2015, for all practicality purposes.

Hits of 2014

H&M Skinny Jeans- The only jeans that really fit my little ones. Both girls have trouble finding jeans that stay up, and these are the winners for 2014. 

Mini Boden Short Boots- Sophie's top choice for shoes this year. She wanted to wear them every single day with everything, and they really work perfectly for kindergarten.

Zara Sweatshirts- Zara and Crewcuts have several sweatshirts (on sale now!) and they are the absolute best... cozy, colorful, and perfectly wearable with jeans or skirts. I'm so glad they're back in style. 

Tea Collection Twirly Dress- Somehow all the girls' favorite twirly dresses are sold out, so I found another good option. Twirly dresses are basically the staple for both girls. The twirlier the better. 

Mini Boden Mary Janes- The most worn shoe of the year in our home goes hands down to these gold sheen mary janes. Maggie loved them so dearly and wore them so much that she was gifted another pair for Christmas. If it's cost per wear, they're the best value because they literally spent at least an hour on her feet every single day.

Zara Fur Vest- A gifted fur vest has proven to be one of the easiest pieces to add to an outfit to make Sophie warmer. She was a bit hesitant to wear it the first time, but she came home telling me that her friends loved it and has been wearing it excessively since. 

Patterned Leggings- The floral leggings gifted by Mini Boden were the absolute winner of the year. Floral leggings are suddenly our favorite cozy pant! They're surprisingly easy to match, and can be easily transitioned into spring. I'm confident there will be more options to pick up at kids' stores in January, and if I can, I will. 

Honorable mentions: sparkly clips & headbands, leopard prints, knee-high socks, tulle princess dresses, and skater skirts.

I don't know about you, but I love when my kids' clothing gets worn to bits. It means it was a worthwhile purchase, and that money was not wasted by its purchase.

There were a few misses in the mix, obviously as well, so I thought I'd highlight those as NOT popular here in 2014 (even if the fashion called for them!):


Misses of 2014

Overalls- We came, we saw, we returned. Neither girl was a fan, and they were never deeply discounted. I loved them in 1993, so I thought we might love them now, but we just didn't. Jumpers are still okay (well-loved), and so are shorts overalls, but long overalls were a no.

Flipflops- Is it just my children? They get blisters every time they wear flipflops. 

Shift Dresses- Perhaps I should clarify that this silhouette was a hit in MY closet this year, but for the littles: shift dresses were pushed aside in favor of twirly every single time. 

Minnetonka lace-up shoes- I thought these would be perfect for kindergarten, but the laces are terrible, and the shoe itself feels clunky and doesn't feel sturdy enough. We still adore Minnetonka, but we'll be sticking with the classic two fringe zip-ups from here on out. 


There you have it! A full recap of 2014 styles for two opinionated little girls... a time capsule for them to officially tease me ten years from now for letting them wear pieces so clearly and terribly 2014. I will assure them that they adored the styles and they will tell me we all had crazy taste. Ahh the relentless cycles of styles! ;)

Happy last-two-days-of-2014, friends!


Lately by Kate Brightbill


*I wrote this in a fuzzy NyQuil state and forgot to post it, in my fuzzy NyQuil state. I figured I may as well post it late anyway. ;)

Apparently Sophie turned 13 last month. This picture is like a glimpse into my future... I love it and hate it all at once. Where is my tiny baby? She turned six and lost her first tooth and is telling stories at length about this that and the other. This is definitely a good stage, but geeeezzzz, can we slow things down already? 

It's Christmas next week. Between now and then, we're reuniting with old friends, visiting new, going to a birthday party, the zoo with friends, playdates, and hosting a party. SO MUCH FUN. I love Christmas! We have been on fever/cold lockdown for the past FIVE days, and I'm a little stir crazy! We are ready to start the festivities and get out of our cozy home. 

Speaking of Christmas, do your kids believe in Santa? I'm so curious about what people do. We are Christians, so Christmas is REALLY when we thoroughly celebrate the birth of Christ and we tell our kiddos about how we share gifts because God gave us the beautiful gift of His son... that's the important part for us...

The Santa part has me tongue tied and Brian and I have had many a laughs about how clumsy we are with it. It kind of snuck up on us last year that we needed some sort of explanation for Santa. We landed on a concept that Santa is a jolly delivery man. He delivers the gifts that the family orders from him, basically. I mean, why should Santa get credit if Gramma is the one who got the gift, right? The kids have to say thank you! We totally fumble over words and stories. We don't need them putting much stock in Santa e don't want our kids being the ones breaking it to their peers that shhh, Santa is a fairytale, so we just kind of go with the flow. 

This year brought a lot of unexpected twists and turns and ups and downs. Good-- no, great- moments. Then terribly trying moments. We are already two weeks from saying goodbye to 2014, and I cannot say for sure whether I'm thrilled and ready to move on, or if I'm filled with nostalgia and want to pause time. Ahh, who am I kidding... Since becoming a mother- I'm always full of nostalgia and wanting to pause time. (Except that one time I was on a plane solo with Sophie during the holiday season and she cried for 3.75 hours straight. In that moment, I would have requested a triple-time fast-forward).

I hope all of you enjoy your Christmas  week and that we're all nice and healthy in time to celebrate! I'm excited that we're on the upswing of health and can get out and about to enjoy the season properly! :) 


December Weekends by Kate Brightbill


Ahhh, weekends in December.

My head is spinning with the flurry of activity and excitement. Yesterday I sent Sophie to a birthday party in her favorite sparkle dress, which makes sense unless the party is a pajama party, which it was... whoops- chalked up another "best mom ever" moments. It was one of those days where we probably said yes more than we should have, so I inevitably dropped the ball on some of the day's details, but ahh, HOW can we miss this party or that? It is all SO fun! 

Then we wake on Monday morning with fuzzy eyes and slow steps and wonder what we were thinking. Kind of a similar parallel to when you're eating giant bagels and say you'll do exercise to make up for it, and then you go to exercise class and swear you will never eat another bagel again so you don't have to torture your muscles in exercise class again. Deep inside, you know you'll probably do both again...

One day we'll learn balance. It just probably won't be this December.  ;)

More soon.



Shop Spotlight: Uncommon Goods by Kate Brightbill

Uncommon Goods

I'm not gift-guiding this year. I have found there are so very many guides of lovely things out there, perfectly adequate for all your shopping needs. 

I will not, however, hold back on letting you know about places to get great things, should you need a little guidance on gifting.  I have plenty of experience with little girls and what they love, so if I can be of any help, by all means- I'll try my best! 

One online shop you must visit is Uncommon Goods. Uncommon Goods is a B-Corp shop, meaning their toys are responsible for the environment, the company provides fair wages, and they give back to community... all important factors for shopping responsibly. They stock toys that are the "use over and over and over" type- which is obviously the best kind of gift. Their toys are each a little unpredictable, and I love that. My feeling is also that less is more in terms of toys-- my girls don't need heaps of toys, but they should have toys that can be used creatively and regularly. The pieces we received from Uncommon Goods all fit that criteria perfectly. Let me show you... 

Fancy Crayons | Uncommon Goods
Fingerprint Stamp Set | Uncommon Goods
Pretty Blocks | Uncommon Goods

(clockwise from top left)

  • Fancy Crayon Set- These are the perfect crayons for new tiny artists. They stack beautifully, and they are pretty. I love gifting these to 2-year-olds because they are short for their tiny hands, and they are far less likely to break than a standard thin crayon. I'm always up for encouraging the littlest ones to enjoy coloring, and these are the perfect little tool. 
  • Fingerprint Art Sets- I am SO excited to wrap these for my girls. The set creatively provides stamp pads for kids' fingerprints, and stamps to help create little figures, princesses, animals, or bugs' legs, arms, & accessories. I foresee plenty of time at the dining room table creating masterpieces from this adorable kit.
  • Blocks- Uncommon Goods has the best selection of blocks I've seen. They have blocks that are also a United States puzzle, they carry ABC blocks, robot blocks, U.S. presidents blocks, periodic table blocks, etc etc. It's a brilliant selection. Maggie is my little block-lover, so we are wrapping the beautiful puzzle blocks for her to open and enjoy on Christmas. Castle building is our favorite. 
  • Eco Dough- For molding and making anything and everything, sans the harmful chemicals. The colors are created using vegetables and are vibrant and beautiful and perfectly safe for little ones.

Ohhh I love Christmas gifting. It makes creative play SO much easier when we have fun tools and toys to work with. Picking toys for my kids is almost like gifting myself, because whatever they receive- I will inevitably be playing with them... and cleaning with them. ;) 

Uncommon goods has fabulous gifts for men, women, babies, and kiddos... be sure to take a look at their selection when you're shopping! xx

Products gifted for review, not sponsored. All opinions are my own.

Friday by Kate Brightbill


After weeks of prep, heaps of chaos and fun, and excess of baked goods... our first ever holiday hosting week has come to a close. Hearing our alarms and leaving our cozy covers was tricky this morning, and I admit to three cups of coffee today, but we are slowly surely getting through laundry and basic cleaning and back to normal. I love holidays, but I love normal too. That's a good place to be, I'd say.

We shopped Black Friday. Do you guys watch random news clips of fanatic shoppers piling up and shoving one another for goods? This is the total opposite of what our black Friday shopping is, thankfully. We start at a healthy hour of around 7 or 8am... no sense getting up too early on a day off, right? Leisurely breakfast with family takes precedence, then strolls up and down the blocks before the crowds pile up. As soon as things get busy, we're out. I can't handle chaos. It feels like old-school Black Friday to me- maybe because it's been tradition my whole life, but I can't get into door-busters and lining up. I commend those of you who save all the cash and can stick it out, but I don't have it in me. ;)

I love Black Friday though, and not just for the sales... It's the day my first little girl was born. She turned six ON Black Friday, and it was all nostalgia and memories for me being downtown on her birthday with the crowds. 

On Thanksgiving six years ago, my dad decided to take off running after some petty robbers trying to steal coins from their car, haha. I say "haha" now, but at the time we were like, DAD- you are not 21 anymore and shouldn't be chasing the bad guys, etc etc, and I will forever say that my panic mode started my contractions. Thanks dad. The next day, I still participated in the breakfast & shopping because everything was so mild for so long, but definitely avoided random friends I spotted in the city because well... the swollen-about-to-give-birth mode isn't going to be anyone's best looking day. Who wants to see friends you haven't seen for 10 years when you're looking like that? I know. No one. 

Sophie came at 6:31 that day, and with her came a wealth of fears and anticipation and excitement and incredible, unforgettable, heart MOMENTS. It's indescribable.. the whole beautiful thing. A tiny babe, so entirely dependent on us for everything... And there we were-- so inexperienced, so overwhelmed, so far from confident... She was tinier than I imagined, and our hearts fell in love faster than we ever knew possible. 

Last Friday, we sat at the same restaurant as six years ago... together with Brian's family, with mine, and with our Sophie in the middle. We each took a turn sharing one thing we adore about her, and her beaming smile and bright eyes will be etched in my mind forever. When each person finished their words, she smiled and said "thank you for saying that." I sat there blown away, and my eyes nearly burned with tears of love and pride. I don't cry about happy things, but this moment- ahhh this moment. It makes my heart nearly burst because she IS all those things. She is kind. She is thoughtful. She cares about others. She is imaginative. She is loving. 

Six is a good age. Five was too, and so were the other numbers. It just keeps getting better. My mom said it would, and whenever I think to myself that I'd like to freeze these days and keep them tiny, I do my best to remember that, and enjoy how much fun we will have together as these girls grow up too. 

We have rough days, rough moments, but the good so thoroughly outweighs the challenges. The kisses and cuddles and sweetness of motherhood and memories I wouldn't trade for the world.

Happy birthday sweet girl. We adore you. We thank God every single day for you, our little darling. Thank you for being you. 


Tis the Season by Kate Brightbill


It's here.

The most wonderful time of the year has arrived at Casa Kate&Brian. Our home has become a bed&breakfast for family, which is is exactly how we like it. We spent last weekend hustling and filling our home with Christmas cheer {a Christmas tree the week BEFORE Thanksgiving? Yes, indeed. Special thanks to Home Depot for having unreasonably early shipments of sweet-smelling trees for unreasonably early decorators such as us}... and we are spending this week with our home filled with east coast family. San Francisco is known for squishing as many people and as much furniture into tight spaces, and this week we are making it happen. We are very pleased with our recent bunk bed purchase, I assure you. Our little family is spending the week as four in a room, nice and cozy. In the course of one week, we celebrated early Christmas, Thanksgiving {!! We made our very first turkey, and it wasn't TOO dry ;)}, and our little darling turning SIX tomorrow {what?! How is is even possible that we're about to have a six year old??}

Our children are losing track of what holiday or birthday they are celebrating on a given day, being entirely spoiled with baked goods and packages, and are brilliantly pleased through it all, obviously. We're trying to curb the spoiling, but then again- it may just be one of those weeks where we need to throw our hands in the air and say to ourselves, "let it go"... and then to the girls "Just be sure to say thank you!" So far so good. 

Thanksgiving is the BEST. I've always loved it... it's the kickoff to the holiday season, the day we remember ALL the good things in our lives. Such an appropriate holiday, that's what I say. I've had plenty of easy years and plenty of years filled with heartaches, but one thing is true: there is ALWAYS a reason to be thankful. There is always a glimmer of hope and joy in our lives- God has given so much... the miracles of life and gift of family... we are so thankful.

I have about a million words to say, but we'll be up and shopping early early tomorrow, and I've been ordered to get to bed early. Ahhhh, traditions. I love them, and I'm not planning to change this one anytime soon, but sometimes I'm like, wait, why are we getting up so early on our day off again? You with me? 

More soon.