01 October 2015

Dear Baby, Volume 2

Dear Baby,

Currently thirty-one weeks (+ a few days) along. You are the size of a pineapple (yum), which I find both amazing and alarming. How are you fitting in there? Moreover, how will you continue to fit for another two months? Pregnancy is such a trip sometimes. You move a lot, which makes me smile. At a recent check-up, the midwife felt my belly and said you were "head down," which is exactly how you should be. Keep punching those tiny feet and fists as much as you want, but please, listen to your mama and stay in that position!

It's officially fall now, which is your season. Fall is full of cranberries and nutmeg and knit sweaters and gold and copper on the trees. I'm wondering if you'll be here--on the outside--for Thanksgiving. I love the togetherness of Thanksgiving. If you feel like arriving just a few days early, you'll be able to smell the stuffing--my favorite.

October is full for your daddy and I. He is turning 30 and we'll be traveling to an out-of-town wedding for a long weekend. I have some work commitments in the city a few mornings per week for the whole month, along with lots and lots of photo-taking of little people just like you before I put the camera and my business away for awhile when you arrive. That's actually a lie. I won't put the camera away for you. You'll be my favorite subject of all.

Recently, I'm so unbelievably tired, I can barely keep my eyes open. I know that's because you are having a growth spurt and my body is adjusting. When I am able to do so, I take a nice long pause in the afternoon with a cup of tea. We sit together and relax (sometimes I nap), which usually helps me feel a bit more like myself. I imagine we'll have a similar routine once you're born.

We had a party in your honor a couple of weekends ago. Our friends came to celebrate you and bring you the sweetest gifts. All of your clothes and blankets are washed and folded in your dresser. Your beautiful bassinet is assembled in our bedroom and I'm having way too much fun organizing your toys, books and other little belongings. Your carseat was delivered this week, and admittedly, both your daddy and I had some trouble unclasping the safety belt. It took us a few tries before we were able to get the hang of it.

I imagine that's what parenting will be like. We won't always have all of the answers or figure the tricky stuff out right away, but we'll get there. And we'll get there together, with each other, and with you.

I can't wait.

All my love,

29 September 2015

Four Years

"A successful marriage requires falling in love many times, always with the same person." 
-Mignon McLaughlin

28 September 2015

A New Mama Style Wishlist

Fall time always strikes me as a rebirth of sorts, and no matter where my life or career takes me, I doubt I'll ever be able to mentally move beyond the school calendar as an annual marker for the passage of time.

Growing up, the turn of season--and specifically, back to school--often signified a few special new additions to my wardrobe. This is the first year in forever where I haven't done much (if any) shopping for myself, mostly because it doesn't seem to make a whole lot of sense with a seven-month pregnant belly and the uncertainty of what shape or size my postpartum body will become.

That being said, I've started to think a bit about what my own personal style will morph into once this baby is on the outside! Anything I purchase in the weeks and months ahead will need to meet specific criteria:

1). Be nursing friendly.
2). Be comfortable & forgiving.

Below, a few essentials I'd love to incorporate into my "New Mama" wardrobe. The older I get, the closer I pay attention to the quality of my purchases: I would much rather spend more on a few select investment pieces that I know I'll return to again and again:

Easy-access button down shirts. I would love to add this silk version in a pretty color to my rotation for days I venture out of the house.

A nursing bra that makes me feel feminine and sexy. I have three no-nonsense ones from Target that I'm sure will do the trick just fine, but I'd love to own one slightly fancier bra to make me feel great about leaky boobs.

A new pair of high-quality (i.e. non-see through) leggings. Paired with the button down and some cute shoes, dare I say I'll look stylish?

A diaper bag that doesn't scream diaper bag. I've been advised by many fellow moms to go the backpack route. This one is pricey as far as these things go, but I love the understated style and the fact that it can be carried as both a shoulder bag and backpack.

casual shirtdress in the season's coziest pattern to pair with leggings and ankle boots.

Simple gold jewelry. Tiho gave me this much-coveted ring with our daughter's first initial for my birthday earlier this month: I haven't removed it from my right hand since receiving it.

A robe that doesn't scream "grandma." For some reason, I've always associated bathrobes with elderly ladies who watch afternoon soap operas, and thus, I've never really been into wearing one. Lately though, I love the thought of throwing on a delicate, lightweight robe while snuggling up with baby (probably over this nursing nightgown, of which I'll likely order a few).

A new gold(!) water bottle to stay hydrated while breast-feeding. I own and love the Klean Kanteen and appreciate how it keeps my beverages cold for 12+ hours. This one claims to do the same and is just so damn pleasing to the eye. I'm not sure I can resist.

High quality slip-on shoes that will help me feel pulled-together in jeans and a tee. I've got my eye on these classic leather loafers from Everlane.


Anything I'm forgetting? Here's to the goal of maintaining personal style post-pregnancy.

25 September 2015

My Baby Shower At The Love Shack

Last weekend, my mom threw us a baby shower at The Love Shack in Brooklyn. About twenty-five of our New York-based friends and loved ones gathered  to celebrate baby girl and our venture into new parenthood. It was important to me that I had a  coed "Jack & Jill" shower since so many of our close friends are couples. Moreover, I wanted it to feel more like a laid-back cocktail party where everyone could mingle rather than a traditional, ladies-only luncheon shower.

Isn't the space awesome? My mom found it earlier this summer and I immediately gave an enthusiastic thumbs up of approval. Quirky, funky, fun (and barely any additional decor needed!). Britta and Alexander Love, the owners, were wonderful,  and I would highly recommend their services and space.

Unfortunately, I didn't get a chance to take any pictures of all of the food and vignettes before guests started arriving, but essentially, that white table was filled with platters containing all of my pregnancy cravings. My mom catered in assorted grilled cheese sandwiches, potato wedges, fruit kebabs, pigs in a blanket, spanakopita, cookies, brownies, etc., along with a crudite platter, green salad, chips, candy and sparkling beverages. We also had a champagne toast to welcome and thank everyone for coming before opening gifts at the end. Party favors took on a "sugar & spice" theme with assorted rock candy and lavender oatmeal spice soap (shared here).

Upon arriving, I had no idea what was planned in terms of games, but my mom knocked it out of the park with a couple of simple interactive activities for guests to enjoy, including a hilarious toilet paper diaper derby (see pics below), a "name the nursery rhyme" competition and onesies with fabric markers for guests to write notes to the baby. My sister also gave a speech in the form of a letter to our daughter which left almost every single guest crying. (I was a mess!).

Tiho and I thoroughly enjoyed celebrating together and feel overwhelmed with gratitude for everyone's love, support and generosity.

Below,  a few iPhone shots stolen from various guests. From top to bottom, left to right:

Cousins drinking (root) beer; a special gift from my mama in the form of hand-painted chair for our little girl; me in my toilet paper diaper; us lucky ones who were diapered; baby's overflowing toy basket; my family; good friends, present-opening; and candy display.

Can hardly believe we're in the two-month countdown now: we can't wait to meet this little babe!

18 September 2015

Snapshots // September

Ah, sweet September. This has been a busy and monumental month for us. It's also the first September since 1990 where I haven't started a new school year in some capacity: strange!

A bit of life lately:

1). It's full-on nesting mode 'round these parts. I hung my new "Be Kind" banner from Matriarch Handmade and am loving the daily reminder on our living room wall.

2). Every day, I do some form of sorting/organizing with the multitude of tiny things we're accumulating. I'm a big fan of everything soft & neutral for our littlest one.

3). Speaking of baby, she has a place to sleep! After Tiho assembled the moses basket on the rocking stand, he immediately proclaimed how "huge" it was and that "she can sleep in it until she's four!" :)

4). And oh my husband: to say I'm proud of him would be an understatement. On Wednesday, September 16th, he officially became a United States Citizen after a long and arduous process (he immigrated here for college eleven years ago and we've experienced most of the steps together throughout the past six years, including paperwork, lawyers & interviews). His oath ceremony earlier this week was a very special day for both of us.

5). At this point in my pregnancy, there's not much I appreciate more than an afternoon catnap on clean sheets.

6). And last, a perfect snapshot of life right now: sunflowers, grape juice (craving it something fierce) and a belly that pokes out and gets in the way of picture-taking.

[Follow along on instagram: @exquistebanana]

14 September 2015

Grow, Baby, Grow: 29 Weeks

How Far AlongTwenty-nine weeks! 

Size of BabyA butternut squash. She's about 15-16 inches from head to toe and weighs approximately 2.5 - 3.5 lbs. 

CravingsSugar! If I make pancakes, chocolate chips *must* be included. If I drink a glass of milk, chocolate syrup *must* be squeezed into the glass first. I'm trying my best to snack on more naturally-derived sugars like pink grapefruit and Honeycrisp apples. 

Weight Gain13 lbs. Typically, women gain up to 1 pound per week during the last trimester, so I'm guessing I'll end up with a total weight gain of between 20-25 lbs. Slow to start, but making up for it now.

Maternity Clothes: Excited to transition into fall with comfy, oversized knit sweaters and leggings. Kind of sick of my summer maternity clothes since I pretty much wore them to death for the past four months.

Physical SymptomsInability to eat a lot of food in one sitting due to the fact that my stomach and digestive system is all smushed from baby. I just started experiencing "restless leg syndrome" when I'm trying to fall asleep, which is common in the last stage of pregnancy. My body temperature runs hot almost all of the time, so I mostly kick around the house wearing undies/spandex and t-shirts, much like the pictures up there convey. Every once in a while, I'll sleep with a cool washcloth on my neck. Last week was the first occasion in which I was offered not one, but three seats on the subway, so I guess the ole' baby belly is pretty obvious now.

Sleep: Nighttime sleep is still good (9 hours on average with minimal waking). I'm embracing afternoon naps when my body reminds me that I need to slow down.

Fears: I get anxious about weird things, like not fitting into my bridesmaid dress for my friend's wedding in October or my grandfather passing away at a time I'm unable to travel (he's 90 years old and pretty sick: it's predicted to happen between now and baby's arrival).

Baby's Developmental Milestones: As of last week, the biggest milestone is the fact that her chance of survival outside the womb is now above 90%. Obviously, I'd like her to stay cozy and keep growing in there for at least another 9 weeks, but it certainly brings some peace of mind knowing she'd likely be okay if she were to come early. I also reached a pregnancy milestone when I passed the dreaded glucose screening test a couple of weeks back: no gestational diabetes, hooray! 

General Mood & EmotionsI've been on an emotional high the past several days as we start to make more concrete plans and preparations for her arrival. We had our first natural childbirth class this weekend, which I loved, and we also interviewed and hired a Doula! Both Tiho and I are beginning to realize just how quickly these next 2.5 months will pass and we're feeling the instinctual urges to prepare as much as possible. I'm currently researching pediatricians and calling to schedule the tour of our hospital birth center. Additionally, I did her first load of laundry and began seriously organizing the dresser drawers and closets. Next up: purchasing and installing the carseat. October is shaping up to be exceptionally busy, so I'm trying to stay ahead of the game as much as I can.

Things I'm Looking Forward To:  Our baby shower next weekend. My mom has been planning it since June and I can't believe it's nearly here. I wanted a non-traditional, co-ed shower so that all of our beloved NYC friends and loved ones could participate. I can't wait to gather with our nearest and dearest to toast and celebrate this sweet girl tumbling around in my belly. 

Coolest Thing So Far: How my stomach visibly moves with her kicks and movements. I'm trying to see if she responds to specific stimuli, such as music, food or annoying pokes & prods from her mama. :)

"Life is always a rich and steady time when you are waiting for something to happen or hatch."
 -E.B. White, Charlotte's Web

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!]