Tag Archives: steel city press

Our first children’s book: The Good Guy Lullaby

2 May


So – I’ve mentioned before that Good Guys play a pretty big role in our household. I use the term to help guide my kids’ understanding of right and wrong, and even to help them learn the alphabet (“G is for Good Guy.). It’s no surprise to me, then, that my first book incorporates Good Guys, as well.

The Good Guy Lullaby is a colorful bedtime story that allows young children to send the shadow monsters off to bed each night to ensure a peaceful night of sleep. The book features rich illustrations of sweet ― and sleepy ― creatures like dinosaurs, dragons and vampires. And with Good Guys always watching over, nighttime is more fun, and less scary, than ever before. (Click here for a preview.)

The book was illustrated by the amazing painter Hillary Scott and I had such a wonderful time working with her to bring these sweet and silly characters to life.



You can learn more about The Good Guy Lullaby at www.goodguylullaby.com. It’s available on Amazon.com.


PS: Go, us!!!


With eyes like this (grrrrr) …

13 Dec

So – inspired by finding the Christmas list my mom saved for me when I was 3, I sat down with Blake Dean this morning to write out our very first letter to Santa.

Now – I must say – I’m not a fan of encouraging kids to make huge long lists of things they want, especially when they have everything they could possibly need. Thus, when the Christmas season came upon us this year, I explained to Blake that good boys get to pick one special present for themselves, and one special present for another little boy or girl.  I want him to know from a young age that giving gifts is as fun as getting them, and that it’s important to help those in need.

Regardless, today we sat down to make his list, and I was impressed that he did in fact list only one present, even though I asked numerous times if there was anything else he wanted to add.

In addition to selecting a present for another boy or girl who misses his mommy (that’s the way Blake refers to kids who are sad/in need), he also decided to ask for one for Baby Jesus, which was sweet. We’ll probably go with letting Blake donate an animal through Heifer International rather than the motorcycle thing … but the thought was definitely there.

When I re-read the list to Blake to make sure it was accurate, he told me “grrrr” was not a truly accurate depiction of the sound the robot’s eyes should make. Let’s hope Santa knows what he means. God knows I don’t!

Merry Christmas! Wishing all the other parents out there good luck in encouraging the wonder of the season, while also maintaining the reason behind it!


[Review] 6th Annual Aimee Mann Christmas Show

11 Dec

So – Saturday, we had a chance to ditch the kids and head out to one of our fave L.A. holiday traditions – the Aimee Mann Christmas Show. We were lucky enough to hit the very first show at Malibu Performing Arts Center when we moved to Southern California. Super fond memories … although this year’s show wasn’t the best. (Sorry, Aimee!)

From the outset the show seemed promising. Aimee’s hilarious promo video won me over in a blink.

But maybe it set my expectations too high. From the moment she came out onstage, the show seemed doomed. It was slow, and confusing. I wasn’t sure which bits were supposed to be funny, and which ones were actually serious. Even the super-funny Paul F. Tompkins and Tim Heidecker couldn’t keep the show on track.

To be fair, I’m not sure the venue (The Wiltern)  was a good choice for her style of show. With a large space, it’s hard to be laid back and quirky – jokes get lost in the rafters even when things are properly timed. Subdued innuendo is difficult to see from shitty seats. (And btw, our seats were definitely shitty – even though they were $50+ each, we couldn’t see a damn thing over the people in front of us.)

However, I will say this: acoustics were great. Aimee’s duet with Michael Penn (Halelujah, I’m a Bum) is way worth a download. She also played some faves –  Deathly, Save Me, and a new song (Labrador) that she previewed up at Mountain Winery in August. (“But I came back for more … then you laughed in my face, and you rubbed it in …”)

I’m sorry to be harsh! I’m usually the nicest critic ever. If I love a singer, I generally walk out of their shows feeling like it was the “best show ever.” Not this time, Aimee! For a girl with two kids, $50 a ticket plus $60 for the babysitter = just not worth it.

Rating? 2.5 / 5.0 stars

Love you always regardless.



10 Nov

I didn’t go to Penn State, but I did grow up in Pennsylvania. PSU is central to my identity as a PA native. I met my first “real” love on the PSU campus. Outside of the Steelers, I grew up watching Penn State games every weekend.  Thus, although I know none of what I’m about to say is new, I still have to say it.

Paterno/PSU’s failure to do the right thing for the child/children in question is heinous, but it isn’t shocking. If there’s one thing this tragedy has taught us (or reminded us), it’s that we can’t expect people to do the right thing. Ever. No matter how clear the “right thing” might seem. All we can do is commit to being better than those people are as we move forward with our lives.

Thus, in the wake of the media frenzy, I feel compelled to stay grounded in the following:

Saying a prayer for the victims, wherever they may be, in hopes that they will heal and move forward with their lives.

Promising myself that if I’m ever in a situation where I witness a wrong-doing, I’ll be stronger, and better, than Paterno was. That I’ll stand up for what’s right, no matter what the fall-out might be.

Teaching my children to be their own advocates. To stick up for themselves. Making sure they know that no one is allowed to hurt them – regardless of their position of authority.

Hugging them. Every minute if possible.

Teaching them about right and wrong, and that sometimes the right decision isn’t the easiest.

Making sure they know they can come to me – always – no matter what problem they are facing.

Making sure they know they can count on me to protect them. Always.

Asking them questions if I sense something is off. And asking again (and again), even if they tell me everything is fine.

Teaching them that there are lots of different ways to ‘be a man’ or to ‘be strong’ – including admitting when something is wrong.

Never assuming, ever – ever – ever – that someone will treat my children with the same love and respect I give them, no matter who that person is, or how highly regarded they might be.

Those things might seem obvious, but – as we’ve all learned from this story – so do a lot of things.

xoxo :(

Back in time for the holidays: Safe Warm Loved

8 Nov

Safe Warm Loved: Bringing some warmth to child victims of domestic violence in Long Beach

It’s safe to say I terribly under-estimated how much having a second child would cut into my sewing time. After a long reprieve, I was finally able to jump back into sewing blankets for Safe Warm Loved. A batch of 12 hand-made blankets will be delivered 11/9.

As a reminder, I created Safe Warm Loved to provide soft cuddle blankets for child victims of domestic violence. The hand-made blankets are meant to bring some measure of comfort to the children when they enter shelter situations (in this case, at Women’s Shelter Long Beach).

A hug full of love in every blanket, as Blake puts it: for other boys and girls.

If you’re interested in sewing blankets or purchasing/donating fabric to support the project, please drop me a line via Facebook – facebook.com/jessicastonefield!

Otherwise, donations can be made via a special Safe Warm Loved link on PayPal. I won’t be asking for specific donation amounts this year – anything helps!


In love with my little linebacker …

1 Nov

My little Linebacker, Rhett Lee

With all the Comic Con talk, I realized I forgot to post a picture of my other son’s 2011 Halloween costume. Rhett Lee, already the size of a linebacker at just under 6 months of age, dressed (not surprisingly) as a football player.

I almost gave up on this costume simply because the helmet was so difficult to make. I couldn’t find any baby football helmet patterns online, which meant I had to create it from scratch. After a few attempts, I was convinced it would never look like anything but a prairie bonnet.

Who knew a baby football helmet could be so hard to make?

However, once I threw on his shoulder pads (fleece stuffing) and some eyeliner (thanks to my husband for the idea), I was in love. Total cost? $0. (I used only remnants and scraps in my sewing bin, along with clothes we already had on-hand.)

I think it might be my favorite baby Halloween outfit of all time.

Or at least, one of my favorite models. :)


Todder telepathy?

14 Oct

Toddler telepathy? It's gotta be :)

My mom died in late October, coming up on eight years ago. When we get to this time of year, I can always feel it in the air. Memories of that time seem to be lying just below the surface.  That sense of sadness is always a bit closer than I’d like.

Driving the boys to camp this morning, we passed a hospice. I had never noticed it before, because it’s tucked discreetly (and somewhat depressingly) into a nondescript office park. Still, today it made me think of my mom; she was on home hospice the week or two before she died.

As my mind went to that place of remembering how frail my mom was in those final weeks at home, Blake piped in from the back seat, breaking my sad silence. Out of nowhere, he said:

“Do you remember mommy’s mommy?”

The words gave me chills. Obviously, he’s never met my mom, but I have talked about “mommy’s mommy” a number of times. Shocked that he would remember at the precise moment I was thinking of her, I asked, “What did you say, bud?”

(A little annoyed to have to repeat himself) “I said, ‘Do you remember mommy’s mommy?'”

My eyes welled up a little, and I still have chills thinking about it. Is it possible that my 3-year-old son could sense I was thinking of her at that moment? Is it possible to share your feelings of grief (or love) with your child, an entire row of car seats away?

Whatever the case, it made me realize that my mama must have been talking to both of us today. And I can’t tell you how happy that makes me feel on this particular morning in October.


Clearly, we share a very deep, very spiritual, connection

“I need you here right now … Please toss me a dry towel”

2 Oct

I don’t want to brag, but a few decades ago(+), I was in a band named Frigid Whiskers.

It was a brother-sister duo launched in the attic of our Jeannette, PA, home. We didn’t have any instruments. But we did have plenty of time … and paper. And what we lacked in instrumental skills, we made up for in passion, evident in every one of the songs we wrote.

Frigid Whiskers: The album

Our biggest hit by far had to be “Hurricane.” At least I’m assuming that was our biggest, as we went through the trouble of making a double byline because we were soooo proud of it. Lyrical highlights include: I need you here right now / Please toss me a dry towel / To dry off all the rain / And wipe away the pain …

It's a hurricane coming on to me ... A hurricane - I'm so blind that I can't see

My next favorite was “Shipwreck on Main Street.” Just try to run … there’s no land at your feet …

"Instead of flying birdies, there're floating fish around my head."

It’s hilarious to look back at how our musical careers started, but there’s no denying that having time and space to create those songs impacted us in our later lives. We learned that we love to write. And sing. And create. Today, my brother is a kick-ass, ridiculously sick musician. (Check out Daddy Died Believing I was Good.) I mess around with my bass and write songs when I have the time. (Check out I Could Say I Will). But the music is engrained in both of us, forever.

Now that I have kids, I look back at these little pieces of my childhood and wonder what I can learn from them. For me, it just further strengthens my resolve to keep the TV turned off (except a little during football season ;) and to let my kids be weird and crazy and 100 percent themselves. You never know where it might lead.

“I want a maker thing …”

1 Oct

"I want a maker thing" - least specific Christmas request everNow that we’re all moved into the new place, I’ve been spending time on sorting and putting away all the really important stuff: old photos and memories I’ve had in storage for at least a decade.

My most recent fave is my Christmas list from – I’m guessing – 1980-ish. It reads (give or take a few scribbles):

Dear Santa,

I want a jewelry set. I want a maker thing. A hobbly hobby oven. (stet) A wonder woman suit. A thing to dry your hair with. I want just a yellow wig.

God bless my mom for keeping this work of art. I’m pretty sure I got all of those things in one form or another over the years. It might have been an Easy Bake oven instead of Holly Hobby. But I definitely got a Holly Hobby sleeping bag one Christmas, so it evens out.

Yeah - I'm pretty sure we never could have afforded this. Easy Bake oven must have been my runner-up.

And the Wonder Woman suit turned into Wonder Woman underoos. But that’s probably what I meant anyway, knowing me.

Who needs a Wonder Woman outfit when you can have Wonder Woman underpants?

For the number of times I’ve colored my hair over the years, I’ve basically had a yellow wig 10x over.

As for the “thing to dry your hair with” – also known as … a hair-dryer – I’ve actually turned into a girl who doesn’t use one, so it’s cute that I used to think I would.

So. Here’s to little Christmas wishes, and how easy it used to be to make them come true. And to moms who didn’t just take time to write out their 3-year-old daughter’s letter to Santa, but to keep it for decades, just in the off chance it would one day make that girl smile. (It totally did, btw.)


Best. Party. Evah.

30 Sep

It’s a week in coming, but I finally have a chance to post a few pics and video from Blake Dean’s rad, thrashin’ 0-3 birthday party last Friday. Special thanks to Skatedogs‘ Adam Cohen and cute-as-hell helper Dylan for giving the munchkins the time of their lives.

BD representin'

Blake "Crash" Fantin

Skateboard cookies, courtesy of Sweet Jills

Even hardcore skaters need a cookie break!

Best time ever- can’t wait til next year.


*Above pics courtesy of Doug Kline at Popculturegeek.com.