28 August 2015

Friyay + Links

Yay! It's Friday. I reported to jury duty yesterday and was excited to see how the process worked: I might have been a teensy bit hopeful to sit on a case. But then, I was dismissed by 10:30 AM, not because of my questionnaire but because the second case they needed to fill that day was pushed back and half of us were allowed to leave by process of completely random elimination. Oh well. At least I've fulfilled my civic duty for six years.

I spent the remainder of the unexpectedly free day strolling through Target at a snail's pace, taking the time to stop and assess nursing bras, browse the baby aisles and watch lots of anxious eighteen-year-olds and their parents stock up for college dorm rooms. I was secretly eager to offer advice ("No, you don't need those twelve decorative hand towels, yes you definitely need that extra under-the-bed bin storage!"), but mostly, I smiled to myself remembering that time in my own life. After Target, I briefly ventured into Babies R' Us before retiring to Barnes & Noble for a hot chocolate and a magazine.

Below, a few links I've bookmarked recently:

Pregnant or not, this is fascinating: The More I Learn About Breast Milk, the More Amazed I Am.

Video: How to Age Gracefully. Advice to someone one year younger. (Yeah, I cried).

I also cried while reading this piece: an essay finalist writing off the prompt "Home."

Missing my own spunky preschoolers after watching this documentary: The Secret Lives of Four-Year-Olds. (Note: I understand that it's easy to make snap judgements about some of the kids and their behaviors, but as someone who knows and appreciates the nuances of 4-year-olds, I think this documentary was well done. It speaks to another interesting point on labeling young kids as "bullies:" more often than not, they're in the throes of figuring it out and will turn out just fine with the right guidance and social interactions).

Hilarious: Guy annoys girlfriend with IKEA puns.

Here's to happy, relaxing, fulfilling weekends ahead. Hugs all-around.

24 August 2015

Dear Baby, Volume 1

Dear Baby,

Twenty-six weeks today. You are the size of a head of lettuce and I am two weeks away from the third trimester and fourteen (or so) weeks away from meeting you! I can hardly believe it. Your kicks get stronger and more frequent with each passing day: you like to perform your dance routine when I am trying to fall asleep at night. I have a feeling you're going to be feisty.

Your daddy and I went to IKEA this weekend to try and get organized and also to pick up a few small items for you. We bought you a play gym, a pack of tiny striped bibs (your mama loves stripes!) and some washcloths. We also each ate a vanilla ice cream cone in your honor (IKEA tradition). I promise I'll always buy you an ice cream cone whenever we go there together. Maybe you will enjoy browsing aimlessly with me more than your daddy does. He prefers efficiency!

I had a dream last night where I was giving you a sink bath and you were clutching a rubber ducky. You were squirmy and smiley and had lots of rolls. When it was finished, I wrapped you up in a yellow duck hooded towel and we snuggled on my bed. I love the color yellow. I wonder what colors you'll love?

More and more now, I'm picturing what life will look like once you arrive. Your daddy and I are both a little worried about the lack of sleep (we love to sleep), but more than anything, we are so excited to have you here with us. We love our life together and can only imagine how cool it will be when you join us.

It is currently the last week of August, and typically, I would be soaking up my final few days of summer leisure before returning to the classroom to teach. (Your mama teaches Pre-Kindergarten in New York City). But not this year. You are coming this year(!) and I really wanted to be home with you. I am so grateful that your daddy and I were able to plan for me to take some time off. It feels a little bit strange not preparing for a classroom of kiddos, but that feeling is trumped by the fact that I can focus on preparing for you.

I turn twenty-nine next week. Twenty-eight was simultaneously one of the hardest and best years of my life. I'll tell you more about that another time, when you're bigger. I never really thought about it like this before, but I think I've been waiting to meet you for twenty-nine years. Maybe we've met before? I think we have. I think you are an old soul like me. I love you so much already.


20 August 2015

Family Session At Home | West Village

This was a dream session. Adorable baby, impeccable West Village apartment, laid-back parents, bubbles...

It should be noted that whenever I meet a fellow green-couch lover, I automatically think that person is awesome.

17 August 2015

Five Tips For DIY Floral Design

I was assigned flower duty for my friend's bridal tea over the weekend and this was the final result. It's probably one of my favorite color palettes: peaches and creams and pinks and greens.

Thank you to my local Trader Joe's for stocking a particularly vibrant selection of florals on Friday, and to Michael's Craft Store for selling oversized glass mason jars for only $3 each.

Even though I'm certainly no floral design expert, here are a few DIY tips I've gleaned in my dabbling over the years:

*Create arrangements that mimic nature: think loose & layered rather than stiff and uniform.

*Pick 2-3 complementary colors and an assortment of blooms in those shades. Look for a variety of textures, forms and shapes.

*Incorporate greenery as a focal point instead of filler.

*Always trim the stems and remove any leaves or limbs falling below the water line.

*When finished, rotate your container or vase 360 degrees and adjust as necessary to ensure it looks pleasing from every angle.

[Flowers used in these arrangements were store-bought from the grocery store. I used snapdragon, two varieties of roses, silver dollar Eucalyptus and a mini Eucalyptus...I wish I knew what specifically. Also, those yellow roses opened up beautifully. Their heads have nearly tripled in size since these images were taken!]

13 August 2015

Grow, Baby, Grow: 24 Weeks

How Far AlongTwenty-four weeks (+ a few days). Officially in the sixth month.

Size of BabyA cantaloupe. That seems so big to me. (She's about 12 inches from head to toe and weighs approximately 1.3 lbs). My uterus is apparently the size of a soccer ball now, which blows my mind. The female body is amazing.

CravingsNo real cravings. I've been trying to up my protein intake as per recommendation from my midwife, so I'm enjoying lots of eggs, whole milk, Greek yogurt, peanut butter & cheese. Can't really complain about that.

Weight GainDepending on the time of day I step on the scale, anywhere from 7-9 lbs since pre-pregnancy. Hoping that the increase in protein helps me to pack on the pounds a bit. My mom says she only gained 17 total pounds with me, and both Tiho and I are relatively small people, so I'm guessing we'll have a smallish baby? Who knows!

Maternity ClothesMostly pajamas? Unless I have somewhere to be, I don't really get dressed (oops!). It's August and it's hot. When I do make it out of the apartment, I favor my black Gap maternity dress or maternity denim shorts with a t-shirt or tank.

Physical Symptoms: Actually, nothing major at all! I think I'm in the "sweet spot" of pregnancy. I'm only a few weeks away from entering third trimester territory, so I'm trying to enjoy this magic time when I feel "normal." (That picture is ironic, because I actually took it when I was feeling sick and super low energy, which is rare). Her little kicks are far and away the best thing about this past month. She is totally on a schedule and it makes me laugh every day (kicking regularly around 9 AM, before & after meals, and from 10 PM until about Midnight).

SleepSleep is great! I am obsessed with my Luna pillow and sleep about nine hours every night.

FearsI try not to worry too much but sometimes I let my mind go to all of the horrible places. This mostly happens when I hear news stories about infants dying from SIDS or rare childhood diseases. It's so hard not to worry about the things you have no control over, but I'm also pretty good about snapping out of it and just praying for a healthy, happy kid. Welcome to parenthood, right?

Baby's Developmental MilestonesShe is getting strong! And her skin is getting pinker and less translucent. Apparently, she knows her way around in there: directionality develops at this stage, or at least a sense of up vs. down.

General Mood & EmotionsPeaceful, happy, eager. Also, ridiculously lazy. It's unbelievably nice not having to commute to work every day (save for occasional client sessions) but I am going a little bit stir crazy since I mostly hang around at home. I'm nearly all caught up on my photo editing and am watching plenty of HGTV. I wish we belonged to a pool because I would be swimming daily. The second half of August and early September is busy for us, so I should just shut my mouth and enjoy these slower days.

Things I'm Looking Forward To:  Seeing lots of friends and family in the coming weeks for a variety of events (BBQs, bridal and baby showers, my 29th birthday, cousin weekend, etc.). Also, using my new electric toothbrush! I know, so random, but I finally went to the dentist and she gave me such a good cleaning to help with my swollen gums. It hurt a lot (my knuckles were white, and when it was over, I was drenched in sweat), but now my mouth feels sparkling clean and I have zero gum sensitivity. Oh, and I'm also looking forward to packages arriving in the mail! Our registry was shared with close friends and family last week, and it's fun to see what's been reserved already (my mom and sister are throwing us a baby shower in September).

Coolest Thing So FarFeeling her kick a crazy amount when I was snuggling in bed with Tiho. It felt like she knew she was nestled right there between us and was telling us "hey!" 

07 August 2015

A Beautiful Childhood: Wooden Toys

If you're familiar with my aesthetic at all, I don't think it will come as a surprise that I prefer well-crafted wooden toys over pretty much anything else when it comes to play products for children. I've learned a lot about how kids play in the years I've spent as an early childhood educator and in my opinion, the simple truths are these:

Simplistic design breeds creativity.
Incorporating natural elements influences a calming environment.
Less is more.
Quality will never go out of style (and will stand the test of time and sticky preschool fingers).

I've slowly begun collecting items for my own daughter and am doing my best to remain attuned to the aforementioned beliefs as I make purchases (or plan for future purchases). I've put together a list of favorites below, including individual items and high-quality shops & brands I've come to love and trust when it comes to baby and children's toys. Asterisks indicate items I own or items I've included on my baby registry.

First, the resources in the above college (from top to bottom, left to right):

Rolling Elephant; Stacking Hearts*; Wooden Bowl & Spoon Set*; Play Kitchen; Alphabet Blocks; Ostheimer Wooden Animals*; Rainbow Stacker*; Xylophone*; Natural Teething Sticks*; Shape Sorter; Bird Rattle*; Paint Storage Jars; Toddler Push Wagon; Alphabet Puzzle; Moon Houses Stacking Game; Rocking Horse; Rainbow Arches; Baby Teether Ring; Modern Dollhouse

Next, my go-to online stores that stock quality wooden toys for all ages:

Nova Natural (probably my fave)
Bella Luna Toys
The Wooden Wagon

Etsy is also a wonderful resource. Some favorite shops:

Bannor Toys
Smiling Tree Toys
Miela Siela
The Wooden Horse
Little Sapling Toys
A Summer Afternoon
Friendly Toys

And last, some top brands:

Plan Toys
Camden Rose

One more thing: I fully recognize that many of these brands are more expensive than mass-market options and understand that for many people, investing in wooden toys is exactly that: an investment. However, I one hundred percent stand behind my points outlined above. Quality will always be worth it for me (and my children, our home, the environment, etc.).

Also, if you're willing to search and shop around a bit, you can often find an awesome deal. Case in point: This wooden rocking horse retails for $175. (Steep!). This one is nearly identical for only $50 + shipping.

01 August 2015

Hello, August!

A little bit of life lately, courtesy of my iPhone. Actually, not. My phone camera has been broken since late May. When I went to the Apple Store to get it fixed, there happened to be a three-hour wait when I had somewhere else I needed to be in two hours. So, for more than two months now, I've been stealing other people's phones to take photos and then sending them to myself. Priority item on August's agenda? Get the damn phone fixed while it's still under warranty!

Highlights from the past couple of weeks: Popsicles from Trader Joe's (pictured is the "fruit frenzy bar II" in grape, tangerine & blood orange...so delicious), farmers' market bouquets, Emma's birthday celebration involving a luxurious day at the spa (heaven), blueberries & peaches (just give me all of the fruit), a 22-week belly in my favorite dress, and dinners out with people I love, especially this guy.

[More on instagram!]

29 July 2015

Things I Like Right Now

I don't know what it is about this time of year, but I'm feeling especially greedy for ALL OF THE THINGS. Actually, I can identify the culprit: nesting mode is a very, very real thing and I'm totally succumbing to its influence.

From top to bottom, left to right:

1). A flutter sleeve top to dress the babe in next summer;

2). This braided up-do, because I'm trying to master how to appear stylish with my hair completely off my face & neck (humidity is no joke);

3). A sweet sentiment to hang in the bedroom, recently purchased from the MOMA store;

4). A new rug (and bold color palette!) in the living room. I keep imagining how much time we'll spend on the floor in the months to come and want to refresh the space.

5). This ceramic toast plate. Highly impractical, but adorable nonetheless.

6). Baby knits. Especially of the playsuit variety.

7). These woven placemats, because I'm tired of wiping the kitchen table down after every meal (shaking something out just sounds less arduous).

8). Chocolate espresso cinnamon rolls for when the temperatures dip and I can fathom actually turning the oven on.

9). A cozy, light-weight robe to curl up in this fall when nothing else in my wardrobe fits.

27 July 2015

Connecticut Wine Trail

I spent the weekend participating in bachelorette festivities with my some of closest friends from high school. Alyson, that gorgeous woman in blue up there, is getting married this October, so we celebrated with dresses and plentiful wine-consumption at an assortment of vineyards in southern coastal Connecticut. I myself did not sample more than a sip or two of a delicious crisp white (ahem, pregnant), but let me tell you, the creamy camembert cheese wrapped in puff pastry and served with salted caramel sauce and poached apples & pears was divine!

For those interested, we went to Chamard Vineyard and Gouveia Vineyard: I'd highly recommend both, although Chamard gains a few bonus points for the gourmet menu, engaging staff, friendly dog visitors and live music.

20 July 2015

A Natural Nursery

We aren't planning on moving out of our apartment for at least another year, which means baby will be sharing a room with us. Her "nursery" is really just the front corner of our bedroom. Our apartment is about 600 square feet, which obviously isn't large. However, it has high ceilings and giant windows in every room, making the whole place feel spacious and light-filled.

I put the following board together together to share my vision for what her space will become in the next few months.

We already purchased the wooden dresser in the spring: this is where we plan to store all of her clothing, blankets and diapers. I love decorating with baskets, and will create a small changing station atop the dresser with basket organizers for diapers/wipes/lotions and the keekaroo peanut changer in vanilla. I conducted what feels like exhaustive research on changing table pads and chose this one because it wipes clean and doesn't necessitate any extra laundry from additional fabric covers. Moreover, I appreciate the simplistic, modern design.

For the wall above the dresser, I'd like to hang a few pieces of art: I've been a long-time admirer of Sharon Montrose's baby animal prints (we already own the giraffe) and am thinking about purchasing one or two others to line up together. I'm obsessed with this metallic gold leaf garland and envision a simple gallery wall with the animal prints, garland, and, perhaps, a round, gold-toned mirror. I am enlarging some black & white photos from when Tiho and I were young and will likely frame those on a different wall in our bedroom. I especially adore this one of two-year-old Tiho in his toy car!

We aren't buying a crib until she's at least three months old. Instead, we're going the bassinet route (and who am I kidding, we'll be bed-sharing, too). I absolutely love the classic look of moses baskets and will order a rocking stand to turn it into a bedside bassinet. I am becoming a crazy person researching eco-friendly and organic mattresses and bedding for the moses basket. I can't decide if it's better to purchase everything separately, which is more cost-effective (basket, mattress, sheets, rocking stand, etc.) or just buy a set like this. We shall see. The moses basket set-up makes the most space-saving sense to me, since it can be repurposed for toy/blanket storage later on.

To round out the design, I included a few accessories I have my eye on: this adorable knitted teddy (made in France), a wooden toy camera (duh!), a plush play mat (Mary Meyer has so many cute options; I'm partial to the monkey and the lamb), a gorgeous heirloom knitted blanket, a tiny comb & brush set, and a white moroccan pouf to place in front of our glider (located in the living room).

All in all, I want to create a space that works well for both the baby and for us. My personal decorating tendencies lean in the direction of "classic natural:" I gravitate towards the same style for little ones. (Beeping, plastic monstrosities, be damned!).

I'll be sure to reveal the final result when it all comes together this fall.