Jeanine's Blog Posts

Founding Member
A Michigan native and die-hard Wolverines fan, Jeanine is an Indy transplant. After time spent in the marketing business she is now living the dream with a fabulous job that allows her to spend time with her two adorable kids. In her free time Jeanine feeds a small Anthropologie addiction, strikes a pose like a true yogi and is the Digital Editor of Indy's Child Parenting Magazine. Follow Jeanine on Twitter @themomista.

At Long Last: Disney’s Beauty and the Beast Arrives in Theaters

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Tale as old as time… true as it may be. Barely even friends, then somebody bends. Unnnnnnexpectedly.”

So, is the title track for Beauty and the Beast now in your head? GOOD. Because it’s been stuck in mine all week and now I can finally let it out.

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Pattern Mixing

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This month I am sharing one of my favorite fashion tips and tricks that really elevates the style of any outfit: pattern mixing. If you know me in real life, then you know I love me some pattern mixing. I find outfits composed of mixed patterns to be pleasing to the eye. Depending on the prints you choose and how you combine them, pattern mixing can bring a level of playfulness, daring, or elegance to your ensemble. I realize that pattern mixing may be outside many of your comfort zones, but never fear, I am going to give you some guidelines so that you can dip your toes into this fashion trend and not end up looking like a toddler that dressed themselves.

 

1. Start Small

For your first foray into pattern mixing, start small, with an accessory like a belt, scarf or even handbag. I really consider animal prints a neutral (seriously!) so try adding something like a little leopard print to your outfit. Here. I added a skinny zebra print belt to my skin print top and jeans. With a little front tuck, the belt just peeks out a little and adds a tiny bit of pattern mixing to my outfit.

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If you want to go a little bolder, you can do a scarf like the leopard one I did here, paired with a striped top.

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 2. Treat Stripes as a Neutral

This is one of my favorite pattern mixing combinations. A basic black and white striped print looks striking with a bold floral. Here I just tied a striped top around floral patterned skirt.

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I really feel like just about any pattern can be paired with stripes. Here I added a blanket scarf with an oversized plaid pattern to delicate black and white striped dress.

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 3. Play with Pattern Scale

Another fun way to incorporate pattern mixing into an outfit is to use the same basic pattern, but have a contrast in scale. So think, big bold floral paired with a small delicate floral. Or wide stripes paired with skinny stripes. Here, I added that same large print plaid pattern scarf to a small print gingham button-up.

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 4. Have a Common Color

If you don’t want to look like you got dressed in the dark, make sure that each pattern in your ensemble shares a common color. Here I have two pretty bold floral patterns, but they both share the bright pink color so it works.

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I hope that you feel a little more comfortable mixing things up in your closet. No matter what, if you are bold and confident in your choices, you will be able to pull it off. Now go be playful and have fun with your clothes!

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Summer On A Schedule

School’s out! Now what?

If you’re anything like me, you may find yourself asking that question right about now. I have been blessed to be able to stay home with my kids since they were babies. This past school year was the first time all three of them were in school full-time, so I am really going to cherish our time together this Summer. However, it is a big adjustment having them home all day again, and I did not want to fall into the habit of letting them waste half the day staring at a screen. I am a very organized person who thrives on routine so I created a weekly summer schedule for us to follow. It ensures that we DO something every day and also lets us explore the greater Indianapolis area, a still new-to-us city.

 

Our weekly summer schedule looks like this:

Make Something Monday – This could be anything from crafts to cooking. One week my youngest son decided to create a Power Rangers costume out of cardboard and we all helped with it. This week we are making homemade lemonade. I love that we are starting out the week by getting our creative juices flowing!

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Take a Hike Tuesday – So far we have literally gone hiking on Tuesdays, but this will also be our day to just take a quick day trip. One of the great things about living in Indiana, “The Crossroads of America,” is that there are so many fun places to visit on a tank of gas. So far we have explored Brown County State Park and the Nashville, IN area, as well as Eagle Creek Park. We plan to visit Chicago, Cincinnati and the Indiana Dunes as well.

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Water Wednesday – Wednesdays we’ll do anything from swimming at the pool at the Y, to visiting the water park at the Monon Center, to just running around outside with water guns or playing on the slip n slide. Luckily, it’s been blazing hot this summer so Water Wednesday has been very welcome (say that 5 times fast!)

Thinking Thursday – Thursdays we visit the library to stock up on new books, and then we head to piano lessons. We plan to do some fun science experiments on Thinking Thursday as well. Requests so far are for the exploding watermelon and the Mentos/Coke experiment (I see an explosion theme here.)

Fun Friday – Fridays could be anything…just playing with friends outside or doing something fun in the Indy area. Last week we headed downtown and had lunch at Bazbeaux’s and then climbed to the top of the Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Monument.

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I recognize that we all need our down time (mama included), so I also set up some ground rules for access to screens. Every day, they have a checklist of tasks they must accomplish before they can have screen time. I wanted to be sure that they didn’t experience too much of that summer slide in knowledge, so I included things like reading, math worksheets, and musical instrument practice. They also have a daily small chore to do so that we stay on top of housework since having three boys at home all day can equal chaos.

I hope these ideas will help you organize a fun and fruitful summer with your kiddos. Make like Phineas and Ferb and find a good way to spend those 104-ish days of summer vacation, before school comes along to end it!

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Back-to-school recipes + $100 Walmart gift card giveaway!

Here's the truth: As moms, we need all the help we can get when it comes to healthy snack ideas. I've seen our theCityMoms members sharing pins and links these past few weeks as we all prepare to send kids back to school or beef up our own recipe books.

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And since we were already fans of Shamrock Farms mmmmilk {see Emerson indulging in their On-the-go mmmmilk 2% strawberry flavor above?} I decided to try out some of their Roxie's Midday Menu snack recipes to see if my back-to-schoolers would, well, bite.

Shamrock Farms aims to inspire busy moms and dads by creating the Roxie’s Midday Menu – the recipes are protein-packed, simple to make and pair perfectly with the milk varieties. 

 

Recipe Tryouts #1: Fruit Kabobs

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My son - ever the picky eater - was helpful in assembling the kabobs, but did NOT want to eat them. It wasn't until he noticed his younger sister tossing the blueberries into the air to catch in her mouth that he decided to join in the fun. Snacktime ended with a clean kabob and the Shamrock Farms mmmmilk 2% strawberry was gone in a heartbeat. Get the recipe.

 

Recipe Tryouts #2: Banana Roll-Ups

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This might be cheating: We are already head-over-heels in love with banana roll-ups and they dot my kids lunchbox at least once a week during the school year. But this great recipe from Shamrock Farms mmmmilk upped the ante - I never thought to add a little cinnamon and the kids loved it. A fight broke out over the chocolate milk too. Luckily I still had one hiding in the fridge. Get the recipe. 

 

Recipe Tryouts #3: Healthy S'mores

ShamrockFarms-HealthySmores.jpeg"Um mom, I'm not eating that." This was my GOOD eater logging her complaint. I began to panic until I realized I had forgotten the chocolate chips and promptly pulled them out. Her eyes grew wide, she sprinkled a few large handful of them on her s'more {that's still considered 'healthy' right?} and ate the entire thing in one sitting. These turned out better than I expected and my son willingly asked for more about an hour later. I WAS SHOCKED. Get the recipe.

 


 

To celebrate the launch of Shamrock Farms mmmmilks in Walmart stores, one lucky reader will win a $100 Walmart gift card! Here's how to enter:

 

 

 

 

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CityMom Report + GIVEAWAY: TCM After Dark
Date nights. Who needs them, right? Well, hubby and I did for one. I think the last time we had gone out solo was for a viewing of John Wick in theaters {i.e. months ago}. Then we caught wind of The Children's Museum Of Indianapolis After Dark events. An adults-only opportunity to live it up in THE Museum after hours? We hightailed it. 

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Photo credit: Kasey Lennox
The Children's Museum After Darkis a monthly activity open to adults ages 21+. It allows attendees the opportunity to visit select exhibits of the Museum in a more casual setting than during regular hours. Bless them but NO kids, just adults milling around socializing and enjoying the low-key atmosphere.

In addition to exhibits, admission includes lights appetizers and one FREE brew from SunKing  - add'l beer and wine is available at $5/each.

We giggled as we walked in {well, figurative giggles - my husband isn't a 'giggler' per se} because it was the first time we'd been to the Children's Museum without a shrieking 7- and 4-year-old skipping enthusiastically through the tunnel from the parking garage. Although truth be told, we felt like skipping thanks to the solo date night.

Our After Dark fun for the evening included the new Transformers: Robots In Disguise exhibit, plus a spin around Dinosphere. We had been through Transformers earlier in the year with the kiddos, but the opportunity to see it ourselves - and at our own pace! - was quite welcomed. 
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{L-R}: Hubby pointing out a Transformers toy from his youth; our 'drink ticket' for the evening which was SO cool, I wanted to keep it; After Dark attendees trying their hand at line drawings of Transformers
Looking around, we saw groups of friends in their 20s, co-workers {including one of mine from Anthropologie}, couples, friends in their 40s out for an evening together and more. All of them had a little gleam in their eye that said the same as ours: We have the Museum to ourselves. 

Best part? The event is short and sweet, allowing you an opportunity to enjoy it then scoot off to other plans for the evening. In all, it's a great way to spend a Friday AND reignite the kid in yourself. 

MORE INFORMATION: The After Dark program runs monthly at the Children's Museum Of Indianapolis {located at 3000 Meridian Street, Indianapolis; 317-334-3000}. Admission is $25 for Museum members; $35 non-members. Corporate discounts are available. Visit childrensmuseum.org/visit/calendar/view/hot-wheels-racing-after-dark for more details.

With thanks to our incredible friends at The Children's Museum Of Indianapolis, we are thrilled to offer this giveaway:
Two tickets to the May 15th After Dark program, featuring the brand-new Hot Wheels: Race To Win exhibit! 
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The winner of the giveaway below will receive:
  • Two {2} tickets for entry* to the After Dark program on Friday, May 15, 2015 - a $70 value!
  • Two hours to yourself with a friend or date 
  • Access to the Hot Wheels: Race To Win and Dinosphere exhibits
  • Complimentary snacks
  • Complimentary non-alcoholic drinks
  • One free drink ticket 
  • A membership discount to the 1925 Society, the Children's Museum organization for young professionals
  • Learn more about this activity at The Children's Museum website
*There will be no physical tickets for this giveaway - winner's name will be provided to The Children's Museum Of Indianapolis for entry at the door.  Giveaway open until Tuesday, 5/12/2015 at 11:59pm. Winner announced Wednesday, 5/13/2015. Tickets provided courtesy of The Children's Museum Of Indianapolis. 
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CityMom Report: IMA Dream Cars
This post on the 2015 Indianapolis Dream Cars exhibit includes details specifically geared toward what adult visitors can expect to see and experience - Moms afternoon out? Couples outing? Read on. For more information on what kids will experience at the exhibit, we're spilling all the info over here at Indy's Child Parenting Magazine
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Firebird 1; on display at the Indianapolis Museum Of Art until August 23.
I'm from Michigan. Birthplace of the first mass automobile {hellllo Model T} produced. Home to the Motor City. Land of concept cars. Where most everyone knows someone working in the auto industry. Yes, car design, production, pride and well - drive to use a timely pun - is in my blood. 

I am also a mother and art enthusiast.

I tell you all of this so that my next statement has some merit:

The Indianapolis Museum Of Art has knocked the Dream Cars exhibit out of the park.
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A 1951 General Motors LE Sabre XP-8: designed by GM great Harley Earl; at the Indianapolis Museum Of Art until August 23.
I wasn't sure what to expect walking in to the IMA on Press Preview Day: Could they live up to my {okay, exceptionally high} expectations when it comes to an auto-centric exhibit? The budding design techniques over the years? The technological advances? 

"As a city who shaped automobiles as we know them, plus as the racing capital of the world, it's our pleasure to bring this exhibit to Indianapolis," Dr. Charles Venable, the IMA Director and CEO spoke before our crowd. "We remember that in the day, technology wasn't what was coming from our cell phones or the Internet, but our automobiles." 

I felt like Dr. Venable was speaking directly at me. The skeptic.

SIDE NOTE: What is a dream car? It's a pet term for a prototype 
- vehicles created to push the ideas of styling, technology, power, design or more. And while a quick search indicates this term was primarily used to describe concept cars in the US around the 1950s-1960s, I had heard it used with affection during my years in the Detroit automotive industry as recently as 2010.

After more statements and a brief ribbon cutting, we stopped to grab handheld audio tour sets, then were let loose into the Dream Cars: Innovative Design, Visionary Ideas exhibit. And I quickly ate my skeptic words - er, thoughts.

So until you are able to witness it yourself in person, here's a sneak peek to curb your curiosity:
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1936 Stout Scarab; on display at the Indianapolis Museum Of Art until August 23.
The 1936 Stout Scarab was what we now consider the predecessor to the minivan: It seated up to 7 passengers, had a couch in the backseat and  included a fold-out table. 
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1934 Voison C-25 Aerodyne; on display at the Indianapolis Museum Of Art until August 23.
The 1934 Voison C-25 Aerodyne is impeccably detailed and was concepted with a new look and feel following the 1929 crash of the stock market.
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1956 Buick Centurion; on display at the Indianapolis Museum Of Art until August 23.
This 1956 Buick Centurion is stunning in person and comes with a surprising feature: A rear-mounted camera with a screen inserted into the dashboard. What, did you think your modern car was the only one with a rear camera?!

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Me rocking the audio tour headset. Ignore the dark circles under my eyes, mmmkay?
Each stop in the exhibit comes equipped with a large informational billboard, select designer sketches and a number for your audio tour device. 

Resembling a large iPhone, I briefly wondered about the durability of the audio tour machine for little hands but was assured they are tough. And then dropped mine by accident, putting it to the true test. {It survived.}

But I highly recommend the tour: It can be versioned by Adult or Child depending on the visitor and adds extra details not included on the display boards. 
I should also point out that the IMA has developed two apps to further the experience of the exhibit at home, but didn't have time to check out the one in the main display. So keep your eyes peeled for iPads toward the end of the route and try them out yourself.

In all: The IMA has done a magnificent job of outlining just what makes this a fleet of Dream Cars and why this exhibit makes sense for Indianapolis. Indy may not be THE Motor City, but this exhibit sure exemplifies our city's rich history in, passion with and continued drive for all things automotive AND the arts.

Consider this skeptic silenced. Now get yourself there to see it in person already. 

MORE INFORMATION: The Dream Cars: Innovative Design, Visionary Ideas exhibit opens May 3, 2015 at the Indianapolis Museum Of Art {located at 4000 Michigan Road, Indianapolis; 317-955-2339} and will run through August 23, 2015. Exhibit admission is included with general admission fees but available by reserving a timed ticket either online or in person. Visitimamuseum.org/exhibitions/dreamcars for more details.
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One, two, tie your shoe...
We're at a point in my family's growth where some of the bigger milestones have passed: Eat solids. Learn to walk. Be potty trained. Sleep through the night... well, my 7-year-old ALMOST has that one down. But the big goal at home lately has been learning how to tie our shoes. So imagine the excitement when we discovered that Nordstrom at the Fashion Mall hosts a monthly Kids Shoe-Tying Clinic! zHero.png
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The clinic {which sounds well, clinical, but is actually quite casual!} takes place every 3rd Saturday of the month before the store opens. And because we wanted to share the fun, we snagged a few spots for our fellow CityMoms families to enjoy along with us.

Upon arrival, the Nordstrom Kids Shoe Department employees measured each child's feet and had moms jot down addresses on a postcard. "We mail these postcards to you in 3 months to remind you it may be time to size up," Department Manager Adele informed me... that's her below in the scarf!

 

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Nordstrom employees help demonstrate two methods during the Shoe Tying Clinic.
As the clinic kicked off, Adele and her staff gathered the kids on the floor around a huge pile of Converse shoes. These would become the practice shoes. The staff patiently explained a technique, demonstrated it to the group a few times and then took turns going from child-to-child for individual help. Practicing at home was encouraged many times, as we knew kids likely weren't going to walk away from this having mastered shoe-tying in one morning. Thankfully the instruction was easy enough to follow for all our little learners. 

 

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Hunter, manager Adele and Emerson show off their smiles
At the conclusion of class, each child received an award, a balloon, a goodie bag complete with fun swag from TOMS shoes + a coupon for a free cookie with the Nordstrom eBar.

I was a little surprised that Nordstrom doesn't include a coupon of any sort in their goodie bags - afterall moms with wallets are a powerful thing and an extra incentive to purchase is never a bad idea! - but it was a wonderful way to spend our Saturday morning + help push us toward our next milestone.

MORE INFORMATION: Kids Shoe-Tying Clinics are offered free each 3rd Saturday of each month. RSVPs are required. Call 317-810-9809 to reserve your spot for the next one and let them know theCityMoms sent you! 
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How to simplify in 2015: A Mom's Guide
New year, new you. I hear that phrase everywhere at the turn of the year. And I get it: January is usually about resolution and reinvention. But this year, why not make it about simplifying our lives? As moms we have so much coming at us - ways to parent, ways to be a better parent, how to manage a household, how to balance a family and career. In 2015 though, one of my 'resolutions' is to find ways to simplify my busy life and schedule, even if the upfront work is hearty. So I turned to my momma tribe theCityMoms for answers on how this new year can help shape my new you. What were their tips? Well read for yourself:

Identify what stresses you, then take a leap to change it. 
  • Lizz: "In 2014 I ended a toxic friendship that made me feel horrible and guilty about myself and my life. . . I realized I can't change them, I can only change how I am affected."
  • Marcie: "I quit my crazy busy job. Took a large pay decrease but it has been so worth it to be able to spend this time with kids and reinvesting in my family. Best decision I've made as an adult." 
  • Melissa: "I'm done with drama in my personal and professional life. Instead of looking for what is next, I want to invest in what is going on now and make that the best situation possible." 
  • J: "It drove me mad that between work, daycare pickup, dinners and late nights, I didn't have time to exercise. I gained 10 pounds last winter and was so unhappy. Finally one night I mentioned it to my husband and discovered HE had been worrying about his own weight. We made a pact to alternate days at the gym after work and together one day on the weekend. While it cut into our time as a family, it drastically improved our mood at home and with each other." 
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Downsize where you feel comfortable.
  • Ashley: "We made the decision to move to a much smaller {and cheaper} house. I had always had the mindset that a big house was something to work toward and be proud of, but having 2400+ square feet came at the price of me having to stress more about money, spend more hours away from home working and unintentionally made us focus more on acquiring more to fill the space. It was so freeing making the biggest donate pile I've ever made, getting rid of things I thought I needed until we downgraded to 950+ sq. ft. I thought it might be difficult, but really I just feel free and more organized."
  • Lauren: "We got rid of cable. Such a money saver. We got Roku to stream Netflix on our TV and are loving it."
  • Sarah: "We found new ways to entertain ourselves for free or with less money." 
  • Jess: "When giving gifts, we do pictures for everyone and ask for nothing in return {not everyone follows this but at least we know we're not pressuring anyone to spend money they shouldn't."

Purge around the house. Or take time to organize what you have.
  • Kathleen: "I am setting out to rid our house of STUFF and focus more on experiences. I plan to do a massive housecleaning/stuff detox and donate useable things we don't need to a local charity (like thrifty threads)." 
  • Jeanine {that's me!}: "Every January I set aside a weekend to really audit the things we've accumulated over the past year. Haven't used it in 12 months? Gone.  Saving something for the once-in-a-lifetime occasion where I might need it? Not necessary. This mentality also helps me think twice when purchasing items and if it isn't going to be used frequently, I won't buy it."
  • Enny: "{My daughter's} been getting a lot of toys composed of a million pieces. I finally bought one of those toy organizers with detachable buckets and started putting them away in tupperware."
  • Enny again: "The Wreck Room... a playroom is what everyone calls it but I really need a room where my toddler can bash, drop , throw, scream etc without me trying to control her every move. We have nice laminate floors that have gotten a couple of nicks from rough play. We've set up a recreational room in 2 carpeted (open floor plan) rooms for her and her friends to play. It also contains my elliptical and a spot fot for her own tv so I can start watching my own stuff again."
  • Christy: "I keep a list of which organizations around the city take which things - art supplies for my daughter's preschool, diapers for our church's food pantry, etc - and then keep bins in the basement marked and ready. So it's as easy as dropping the things in throughout the course of the year, and loading them up in my car to donate."

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Simplify your schedule.
  • Damie: "I simplified socially. I can't make as many events, and I don't feel bad about it anymore. There's only so much time in a week, and my family has to come first. Plus I know my true friends understand." 
  • Kaitlyn: "I've made one day a week where we just stay home All day. No trips to the park, errands, dr appointments or friends. It's been a blessing to just be home and my kids have really benefitted from it."  

Identify the little things that can help make things easier.
  • Michelle: "I am using a simple to-do list to help me keep the house tidy. Each day there is a task that we should not spend more than 20 minutes on. ie. vacuum and dust the living on room Monday, tidy master bath on Tuesday etc…"
  • Megha: "I started cooking on Sunday during nap time, so I can spend the evening with the kids, and hubby. This also allows me to spend 10-15 min on me everyday as well."
  • Michele: "My in laws have begged to take my kids for a couple hours each week since we moved to Indianapolis. Last fall I finally took them up on it and found I had time to do all those little things I never had time for before: Iron, sweep under couches, NAP."
  • Jamie: "I get up an hour earlier than my family every morning. It gives me the time I need to write out my to-dos for the day, and feel organized enough to take the day on." 
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And lastly, just unplug.
  • Melanie: "I have a 2-3 hour period each day where I hide my phone. It's usually between 5pm and whenever the kids got to bed. I focus on togetherness and cooking/eating dinner at the table. It's made big difference, since that's the time of day the kids are usually wound up anyways." 
  • Lauren"I started plugging my phone in to charge in the kitchen overnight rather than on my nightstand. It's nice to go to sleep and wake up 'unplugged.'" 
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Last Minute {Local!} Holiday Gift Ideas

Christmas is staring us down. In less than a week, all those beautifully-packaged gifts will adorn a tree skirt and if you're anything like me, there are still last-minute needs on your list. 


And while we know Amazon can ship what you need in a matter of minutes, there's always a special touch when your gift comes with some local love. Here are a few of our favorite stand-by gifts with some local flair:

The Gents: Dads, Husbands, Brothers and more
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  1. Bacon of the month club, courtesy of Goose The Market. I mean really. Who WOULDN'T love this? 
  2. An evening out to Books N Brews of Fishers. Half gently-used book store, half craft brewery, this spot features literary-inspired brews, live music and plenty of reads.  
  3. Fine. We'll spill one of our favorite secrets. It's a boxed subscription service created by a local who now operates out of Texas. CityBox allows you to 'discover a city from your doorstep.' Past boxes have included goodies from Kenra, Sun King, Bee Roaster Coffee and Silver In The City.

Honorable mentions:
 Anything from James Dant in Irvington, beginning brewing class gift certificates at Great Fermentations and the delish bacon marmalade from local Scratchtruck food truck {available at Monon Coffee Company locations}.

The Ladies: Moms, Aunts, Sisters or Friends
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  1. An afternoon date at the Little Nail Shop - whether a pampering pedi or a mini hand massage are on the gift list, the incredibly sweet and accommodating ladies at LNS take wonderful care of their clients. {Take a peek at our recent evening with them here.}
  2. A Blue Capri candle in Volcano scent, courtesy of Girly Chic Boutique of Broad Ripple. 
  3. For the daring and brave woman in your life, this suggestion comes with the most confidence-boosting photo session imaginable: Cindy Johnson Boudoir Photography offers gift certificates in any amount. Her photos are individual works of art and will make even the shyest of females feel alive and in her most gorgeous state. 

Honorable mentions include: Any fun finds at the retro101 pop-up shop at Fashion Mall at Keystone, stylish wares from a new CityMom fave Karisma Boutique of Noblesville or class packages with Invoke Yoga & Pilates for a little 'om'. 

The Kids: Friends, neighbors, or your own
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  1. BobalooKids is always my go-to for kiddo gifts. This crayon apron has been gifted to too many family members to even mention and rumor has it there are plenty in stock for quick shipping. 
  2. A gift certificate to The Urban Chalkboard might not be the most exciting to unwrap but this fun play cafe located in Carmel has hours of entertainment for kids. The staff in friendly and engaging and there are plenty of activities for kids to enjoy. Bonus: Wi-fi for the working mom. Learn more here.
  3. Here's a 2-prong suggestion: Peewinkle's Puppet Studio in downtown Indy stocks plenty of kid-friendly marionettes in the lobby of their theater. While you're there, pick up tickets for an upcoming 2015 show and package all of them together. Read more about Peewinkle's here


Honorable mentions: A trip to Earth Explorer Toys in Zionsville or Mass Ave Toys on {you guessed it} Mass Ave is worth every minute spent. The staff at both spots encourage play in-store and will pepper you with millions of wonderful suggestions. 

The Little Ones: For all the babies in your life
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  1. Local line Vivie & Ash offers clothing in whimsical prints like this "Let's Go Camping" hat. Order through her Etsy store OR visit her this Saturday {12/20} at West Elm Indianapolis for some up-close-and-personal views! 
  2. The Nawgum teether - designed by a Michigan-based mom - has been a hit for our CityMoms. The long 'arms' on the sides cater to older children dealing with molars and the smaller knobs for teething infants. Nawgum is available only at Little Green Bean Boutique {10th and Rural Streets}. 
  3. Another crafty local momma runs a line of homemade goodies called Scraps N Threads. From her Cabbage Patch Kid-Style wigs to zippy cup cozies, there is plenty to choose from. Gift certificates are available.

Honorable mention: Pop over to nurture baby & toddler on Mass Ave and owner Ashley will pepper you with tons of great suggestions! 

The Family: Yours OR someone else's 
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  1. A 3-bounce pass at BounceU of Fishers is a win-win for parents and kids because it usually equals an afternoon nap on the car ride home. Retailing for $19.99, this pass is good for any open bounce session. TIP: Check out the Parents Night Out program while you're there! 
  2. Green BEAN Delivery is a year-round local and organic produce delivery service that services the greater Indianapolis area. 'Bins' are delivered according to your schedule and can be customized to your family's needs or likes. Great way to introduce the family to new types of produce AND support local farmers. 
  3. A family membership to the Indianapolis Museum of Art. First things first: YES, we too were surprised by the announcement last week that the IMA will begin charging an $18 admission fee. And the news has taken our members into a conversational storm as well. But theCityMoms have had the incredible fortune over the past year to frequent some of the IMA-offered, family friendly-programming such asWee Wednesdays and Art In The Park.  We've had a one-on-one with their inspiring Director of Innovation and staff. We sat in on their presentation of 2015 programming which includes an immense collection of family-friendly activities designed to continue engaging little ones, kids, teens and more with this cultural powerhouse. And if the price tag of a single family visit to the IMA after April 2015 worries you, the annual cost of a family membership is worth a review: $75 for an entire year of admission. 



Honorable mentions: We're all about gifting with 'experiences' in this category like memberships families can use all year round. Some of our staples include The Children's Museum or Conner Prairie. For the musically-inclined family, consider a Rhythm Discovery Center membership. Or for the outdoors-minded crew, an Indiana Department of Natural Resources State Park pass cannot be beat. 

Extra credit: Teachers, postal workers, newspaper delivery folks - any extras you'd like to gift! 
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  1. Yums at Just Pop In!. From the 'standard' cheddar cheese corn to the innovative 'Elf the Movie Buddy Blend', there is always something new in-store. Buy 2 - 1 for your recipient and 1 for the car ride home.
  2. Goodies from the delightfully new Cake Bake Shop of Broad Ripple. A slice of caramel cake would be absolute heaven to a hard-working teacher deserving some "me" time. 
  3. Gift cards to the Monon Coffee Company {two locations in Broad Ripple and 25th/Central} will keep your extra credit giftees warm throughout the winter months. 


Honorable mention: Silver In The City on Mass Ave features oodles of unique gifts and the staff has always been amazing with suggestions. If downtown Indy is too far to travel, visit their pop-up location inside Mass On Main in downtown Carmel. {And check out other Mass Ave faves while you're there!} 
So there you have it: Our best suggestions for last-minute local gift ideas. Did I miss any? Leave a comment below.
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RUN, don't walk to The Urban Chalkboard
It's a buzz we've heard for weeks {scratch that, MONTHS} on our CityMoms message boards:
"WHEN IS THE URBAN CHALKBOARD OPENING?"
And if you've never heard of The Urban Chalkboard, missed the buzz yourself from your friends or completely overlooked the teaser sign on Carmel Drive just west of Keystone, let us be the ones to tell you:

THIS IS OFFICIALLY YOUR NEW FAVORITE STOP. 
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theCityMoms received the ultimate honor of visiting The Urban Chalkboard last week to help 'test drive' their facility and provide feedback on improvements before the official public opening. And we're thrilled to share these sneak preview photos with you! 

So how do we describe it? Well, let's see: It's a cafe packed to the gills with healthy goodies.
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Wait no, that's not the selling point. They have staff members with more energy than a roomful of kindergarteners.
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Wait, that's not it either. Let me try again:

The Urban Chalkboard is a new, learning-based play cafe located in Carmel. What may appear at first glance as a modernly-outfitted spot for coffee, mom chat and kiddo play is much more. {Although the Orla Kiely-bedecked wallpaper is enough to make you go home and rethink your own home decor.} 

Each nook and cranny of the space has been strategically planned out by owners Tonya Bergeson-Dana and Jessica Beer. With 2 PhDs in child development under their belts, they claim kids will be having so much fun that they 'won't notice they're learning and developing important cognitive, emotional, social and motor skills!'
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What will kids find to do? Tons like:
  • A kitchen area for imaginative play
  • Large table for arts and crafts
  • A miniature house to climb in and out of or commandeer as their own 
  • Train tracks to build
  • Blocks to architect
  • An infant-focused playscape 

 

 

 

 


Then there are teepees, tents, chalkboard areas for budding artists and sticky walls for fun puzzle play like what Thomas, Grant and Hunter enjoyed below:
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A grand and windowed studio space lines the play cafe and provides a perfect spot for TUC's weekly classes. Our crew was treated to a special kids yoga program with instructor Victoria, a performer with the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra who incorporates music into her practice. Classes will be available at an extra cost.

For right now yoga is the solo class offered, but keep checking their website as new ones become available.
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Drop-in crafts are available daily, as is a kids book club which meets under the large tree in the Library corner. TUC is blessed to have local educator and actor Craig on staff, who treated our CityKids to a fun story during our visit. All daily programs are published on the large chalkboard wall you see pictured below. 
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And yes, there are table and chair sets lining the entire play area, perfect for moms to take a much-needed break OR observe their little ones at play. {Wi-fi is available for moms needing to knock out a little work!}
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Did I mention the staff? Let me do it again. The staff is amazing. Their willingness to jump in and guide kids at play was incredible AND made us want to take them home with us {Craig, consider yourself on alert!}. Don't call them babysitters: Their role is much more impactful and engaging while kids play. 
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In all, our statement above stands. This will be your new favorite stop. Just don't wait too long to visit or else you'll really be missing out. 

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MORE INFORMATIONThe Urban Chalkboard is located at 452 E. Carmel Dr, Carmel, 46032. Phone: 317.815.5711. Admission costs are $8/day for the first child, and $6/day for each additional child. Monthly memberships are also available but at the time of our visit, final pricing was still TBD. Members receive 10% off classes and cafe purchases. Visit www.theurbanchalkboard.com for more details and let them know theCityMoms sent you!  
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