Saturday, December 5, 2015

Interesting and Inspiring

inspring photo of a city building

It’s been a good post-Thanksgiving week, or at least, it was until I got sick. Tis the season, as they say. But let’s hope it doesn’t get any worse then it is right now and maybe we can actually get our tree this weekend? Anyway, here are a few things I’ve been reading this week:

Books + baby onesies are a match made in gift-giving heaven.

Speaking of books, here are some more gift ideas. I've put together gift guides for a couple of the magazines I've worked for and my favorite part is coming up with the categories. From this one: “For the psych major who didn’t just choose it as a default” and “For your nephew who prides himself in his nonchalant attitude toward spiders" (Link via The Fitnessista

Short and sweet parenting advice.  I love these two:

Pay attention, but not too much.

Today’s crisis is tomorrow’s funny story.

If you’re looking for a documentary to watch on Netflix this weekend, this is it. I found myself smiling like an idiot so many times. It’s such a great story and really, just so sweet.

Local link: We went out in search of bagels Sunday morning and everywhere we went was packed. We wound up at The Kneaded Bread, which doesn’t have bagels but does have amazing croissants though. Next time, I’m using this bagel-finding list.

I love a good #TBT, especially when it involves a flashback to bangs.

For the past 6 years, we’ve gotten together with our siblings and cousins a couple weeks before Christmas to watch Love Actually. These might be a good addition to the party. 

Luca is going to be way sad if this banana prediction actually comes true.

[photo via unsplash

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Taking Stock

It’s December 1! I’m not doing monthly Luca updates anymore, but I still want a place where I can record what I’m thinking/doing/wanting to do, as a way to remember the small, everyday things. 

I’ve read these Taking Stock posts in a few different places, but mostly here. And after going backwards a bit, including Bridget’s first of these posts, it looks like it started here, which is where I pulled this list. 

Anyway, on to the post:

Making: lists and lists of holiday-related things. What to buy, what to do, what to make.

Cooking: These enchiladas, for Slow Cooker Tuesday. Usually I hate anything with the word “skinny” in the title, because, I mean, is that really necessary?, but these were really good. And so, so easy.

Drinking: Water. I bought a 32oz water bottle that I fill up before and after lunch and it has made a world of difference. I swear drinking that much water makes me a nicer person.

Reading: Just Kids, by Patti Smith

Wanting:  A new camera.

Looking: Up vacation ideas for a beach trip in January

Deciding: What to get everyone for Christmas. It’s not going that well.

Wondering: When we’re going to take a photo for our holiday card. 

Questioning: Whether to sign Luca up for a music class for the winter

Wishing: I could stop falling asleep on the couch and just go to bed like a normal person.

Enjoying: Smoothies in the morning. I never thought I’d actually be able to pull it off, but using all frozen fruits and vegetables has made it way easier. This podcast was the original inspiration.

Considering: Nursery schools for Luca in September. We have one more tour tomorrow and then it’s decision time.  

Watching: The Mindy Project, as usual on Tuesdays. I’m not so into where they’re going with Danny’s character, but I really appreciate the working mother storyline and, in particular, the push and pull that so many couples feel.

Hoping: For lots of trips in 2016.

Smelling: This awesome apple-scented candle. We never light candles, but this one is worth it.

Wearing: Sweatpants + sweatshirt + blanket. And it will be this until approximately April 2016. 

Knowing: That even if I make Christmas lists now, it’ll be another couple weeks before I actually get anything done.

Thinking: About ideas and goals for next year.

Admiring: Our new rug, which we got in the Home Depot parking lot. Seriously, we did, but it was $289 for an 8x10 area rug and even though I was convinced the color wouldn’t work, it totally does.

Loving: How much Luca is learning. He makes lion sounds and horse sounds and says ‘cat’ and ‘dog,’ even though those sound like ‘caa’ and ‘daa’

Getting: Excited for our 6th annual Love Actually party

Sorting: Through the photos by brother took at Luca’s birthday party. I love them all, but want to narrow down the best for an album

Snacking: On pistachios. It’s been years and years since I had any and man, I forgot how good they are.

Bookmarking: (Can this be Pinterest-ing?) Bathroom photos, for our next major house project.

Feeling: Good. Overall, really good. I don’t feel as overwhelmed or holding-it-together-by a string-ish in this moment. Thanksgiving break felt like an actual break, where I got see lots of friends and family and relax in the middle of it all.

photo credit: This makes me all gooey via photopin (license)

Friday, November 20, 2015

Interesting and Inspiring

Happy Friday! I'm tweaking whether I want to post this on Thursday's or Friday's (like the rest of the world), so we'll see. For now, here are the interesting and inspiring things that have been on my radar this week: 

I love this inspiring read on how to do what you love. Especially: "A very wise friend recently pointed out that 'no one will notice you’ve gained five pounds unless you go out of your way to tell them'–and I think that holds true for just about everything." 

There was such power in the image of the Eiffel Tower peace sign that was being shared after the Paris attacks. This is the story behind it. 

This piece, written by a mother who's 3-month-old baby passed away on his first day of daycare, is heartbreaking. Now they've looking to fight for longer parental leave—and that is a cause I can 100 percent get behind. 

Let's hear it for even more pregnancy-approved yoga moves. 

Local link: If you're looking for a new restaurant, this quiz by IntoxiKate will help. (What a great idea for an article!) 

My travel guru sister-in-law was interviewed by the Associated Press about her traveling must-haves. And now I need to get to White House Black Market ASAP and buy one of those dresses. 


This week Slow Cooker Tuesday—wherein I finally get my act together and use the crockpot to make dinner—featured a super easy turkey chili that was Luca-approved.  

This is a fantastic idea for a website and I fully intend to pull it out next time John and I spend an indecisive night scrolling through Hulu. 

Anyone else want to move to Augusta, Georgia with me? 

photo via pretty designs

Monday, November 16, 2015

9 Things I Learned in My First Year of Motherhood—That Are True at Any Stage of Life

It’s been a year of this parenting gig. Officially now.

In some ways, it feels like Luca has always been here. That we’ve always been washing bottles and reading board books and buckling and unbuckling the car seat.

But sometimes it feels like this all started last week, maybe just a couple days ago. There are times when I look at him and think: I’m actually entrusted with making sure you turn into a functional, capable human and that you are also caring and kind and know how to do your own laundry.

I’ve heard so much about the first year of motherhood. How it’s tiring and it’s trying and it goes by fast. So, so fast. That you’ll never be happier, but also, just wait, because it only gets harder from here. How to balance work and how to balance housework and how to balance your relationship.

Some of that advice I’ve internalized and some, like everything else, I’ve had to just experience for myself. But when I started looking back on this past year, I realized that so many of the things that I did learn—or at least, have tried to learn—are just good things to remember for life, whether it’s in the parenting context or not.

Here’s what I want to remember:

No one is exactly where you are—and that’s ok. 
My biggest wish, when I was going back to work or when I couldn’t deal with all the dishes in the sink or the unmade bed or all the things and goals and thoughts, was that there was someone I could look at—someone who was in the exact same place as me—and just do exactly what she had done. I wanted someone to hand me a very specific outline of what worked for her and I wanted to follow it step by step—from her career choices to what color she painted her kitchen. But the truth is, no one’s day-to-day life looks the same. And even though I know this, inherently, it was only in taking a step back and realizing that other people’s decisions can’t be mine, did I start to gain some perspective. What does Amy Poehler say? “Good for her! Not for me.” 

Slowing down can be a good thing. 
The whole winter after Luca was born was an exercise in slower living. We weren’t running from this to that or making plans that filled up entire weekends. Truthfully, a trip to Target was basically the best thing ever—which is not how I’ve always been. Things have definitely picked up since then, sometimes too much even, but there are times when I’m sitting on the living room floor on a Sunday morning and remind myself that if all the grand plans for the day aren’t met, the world won’t come to stand still.

Get in on the group chat. 
Because who else can you message at 3 a.m. after a breastfeeding breakdown—and actually get an answer? Or exchange 867 photos with—and know they’re actually being looked at? The group chat kept me sane and made me feel less alone and was a way to stay connected to people who knew me when I was a 14 year old with a questionable blonde streak in her hair.

You’re still you, no matter what. 
I danced in a small-town bar until 2am. I sat on the beach at midnight eating smores around a bonfire. I had drinks on a rooftop in the middle of the summer. I went to kickboxing and read books in the backyard and hung out with my husband. It’s so easy to get swept up in all the new-ness, in all the must-do’s and have-to’s and the guilt, the ridiculous amounts of guilt. Sometimes it’s good to go back to the basics and back to the beginning. To do the things that make you, you.     

Guilt is almost never, ever worth it. 
Speaking of the ridiculous amounts of guilt, it was there in spades this first year. Whether it’s about going to work or not making organic purees from scratch or letting your kid your sleep in your bed cause you’re just so tired, everything you ever read or see or happen to overhear in an elevator somewhere will make you feel like your decisions are wrong, wrong, wrong. Whatever. Life isn’t static and, wait, what was that first point about ‘no one being where you are,’ again?   

Everything is a phase. 
This applies equally to baby-related things and life-related things. The guilt I felt over not making my own purees was huge. Huge. And seriously, he ate purees for like, 2 whole months before deciding he’d much rather eat real food, teeth or no teeth. If I had known how short a period of time it was going to be, I definitely wouldn’t have stressed about it so much. Same goes for just general life things. I can get so myopic and think things are always going to be one way forever and ever that I forget that really, it’s pretty much the opposite.

Accept help. 
That whole ‘it takes a village’ advice? So so so true. I cannot express the amount of true-ness in it. I’ve always been surrounded by lots of family, so the idea that people help each other out was nothing new. But I know not everyone feels this way. And oh how short sighted that is. Our parents, our siblings, our extended family, our friends—they were there for us this year in such a monumental way. I am more thankful for this than I could ever wrap my head around.  

Write it down. 
Even if it’s just on a scrap of paper that you stick in a notebook somewhere and don’t find for five or six years. Even if it’s just a note on your phone or a caption on Instagram. It doesn’t have to be some scrapbooked piece of art that you frame and hang over your bed, it just has to be somewhere. 

Trust your gut. 
I’m going to get this tattooed somewhere super visible and make myself read it, mantra-style, every morning. It’s the tried and true lesson. When all the anxiety and the worry and the fear is taken away, it’s just that feeling. Always. Listen. To. That. Feeling.

And that was just the first year. I wonder what year two will have in store.

What did you learn your first year of parenthood? What are the life lessons you stick to no matter what?

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Interesting and Inspiring

Here, a rotating roster of interesting and inspiring reads and finds and thoughts: 

I'm filing this away under must-do with Luca in a couple of years.

I don't know what I like better: Actually watching Scandal or reading Pheobe Robinson's recaps. This is from last week's episode but come on. I could read this all day: 
Mellie went in hard. Like when you get summer-reading assignments in high school, but you spent the 11.9 weeks of summer straight chilling, so you have to binge-read Beowulf, Animal Farm, and Machiavelli's The Prince the night before school starts. Mellie. Went. In. She then broke Fitz the hell down like an improper fraction and let him know how much she has given up for his sorry, trifling life.

Feel like watching an Italian movie? Here's where to find them. (L'ultimo Bacio is my Italian version of Dirty Dancing...I could watch it over and over.)

Are you a Millennial Mom too?

Local Westchester commuters, where to eat on the Harlem Line

How good does this look?

I listened to this podcast on my walk with Luca the other day and now I basically want to make a green smoothie every morning.

[photo via unsplash

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Happy 1st Birthday, Luca!

We were busy celebrating all weekend, but I wanted to stop in and wish my favorite little dude a happiest of first birthdays. 

On Thursday—his actual birthday—I took the day off from work. We started out by surprising him with a bunch of balloons. I didn't think he'd actually understand what was going on, and I still don't know that he totally did, but he loved those balloons. And he smiled anytime he saw them for the rest of the day. 

After breakfast we picked up my cousin and went to storytime at a local library. I know I've said it before, but I wish they did these on the weekends too. 

The three of us went to brunch at Cooked and Co—it's been open a few years already but if you're local and haven't been, definitely go. The unfortunately named "I'm on a diet wrap" is awesome. (As are the Nutella banana muffins.) 

We had to run a few errands before coming home and ordering pizza. Actually, another local to-try: Il Forno, which opened a couple months ago in White Plains. They don't have a website it seems, but their pizza was so good and, since it's basically a market, they have tons of Italian stuff like (my favorite) Mulino Bianco cookies. 

Our parents and siblings came over for cake and to open a few presents. We ended up just getting a Carvel ice cream cake because, I mean, #birthdaytraditions, but I had no idea that the blue icing literally stains. Luca went to town and got it on his hands and then all over his face (that might have been my fault), but I had to scrub it all off. Oh well, it was totally worth it. 

We have a few more festivities planned and, as you can imagine, I have so much to say about this first year of motherhood. More on that later.   

Monday, October 26, 2015

Ten and Eleven Months

At 10 months, Luca:

  • Weighs...more than 18 lbs? We haven't been for an official check-up, so I'm not totally sure. Now, at just a few days short of a year, I would estimate he's somewhere around the 23-24 lb mark. 
  • Eats everything. This month was huge and he now gets 3 actual meals a day, with no bottle afterward. He eats it all: pasta, chicken, vegetables, hummus, guacamole, pastina, puffs—and all without teeth. 
  • On that note, he loves food more than anyone. He's always so curious about what everyone is eating.
  • Still has no teeth. (Even my dentist seemed a little shocked when I told him!) 
  • Pull himself up on everything: the couch, the coffee table, chairs 
  • Takes everything out of the cabinets. He particularly loves the one with all the pots and pans and another that houses all his puffs, baby food pouches etc. 
  • Crawls all over the place. There's a video of him from early July where was just getting the hang of it, but now he's all over the place.
  • Loves peek-a-boo. He has a little play area on the side of the couch, and the curtains in the living room come down on it a bit and he'll now go behind them and play peek-a-boo with us. It keeps him entertained forever. 
  • Opens books and flips through the pages.  
  • Is still super good-natured. He laughs easily and smiles a ton.
  • Cries sometimes when I leave in the morning. Really it just happened after vacation, which makes sense, since he was with me for 9 days straight. But if HE's the one leaving though, he could care less.  
  • Love love loved the water at the beach. He'd laugh when he splashed water in his face and cry when we pulled him out. 
  • Climbs the stairs, but hasn't figured out how to get down yet.
  • Is super curious is about everything. 
  • Is quick to get frustrated if things don't happen fast enough 
  • Has an hour right before he goes to bed that's my very favorite: he's fed and clean and we'll play on the floor or on the bed and he's so engaged and giggly and it's the most fun ever. All day is worth it for that one hour. 
  • Ten months also marked the end of the "lying down" monthly pictures—he wouldn't do it, as hard as we tried. So sitting up it is. 

At 10 months, I:
  • Can't believe how much has changed with Luca over the past month. I don't know why, but it seems like he made the biggest leaps—the most noticeable ones, is probably a better way to put it. My little baby who was content to cuddle on the couch now just wants to be free to crawl around and explore. He's so curious about everything. He'll perk up when he hears the door opening and he always wants to know whats going on. He's a total social baby and I admit that i really love that about him. 
  • Spent Luca's 10 month birthday in Montauk for my sister-in-law's bachelorette party, sleeping till 9 and lying by the water all day, before eating dinner in a trendy restaurant with my hair done and ending it with a bonfire on the beach. It was so fun and i loved every minute of it. It's funny because I went to my other sister-in-law's bachelorette party in the middle of may— basically the start of the summer—and it felt so different to leave him then. At that point it was really the first time I had been away from him for a night and I was a little sad to go, but it also made me, in a good way, remember a little more about who I was. This time, I was looking forward to it—to eating without having to cut up someone elses's food and to sleep past 630. I missed him, of course, and I'm sure i talked about him too much, but it was nice. It's nice to be me still. 
  • Am liking working. Being a full time working parent is no joke and it's a constant adjustment and it's a constant wonder and worry, I think. But I think I've realized that being a full time, stay at home parent is not for me at the moment. Maybe one day it will be, because you never know and you can never say never and all that. But right now, in this moment, this is ok. 
  • Had a devastating loss at work recently, and it has made me question so many things. Not question so much as double check. To take inventory of my life and say: Yes, this is working or no, this isn't. To cut myself some slack for not living on green juice and hot yoga, but also to know that this is the only life and it's now or never. We don't get a second chance or any of that. It has put so much into perspective. 
  • Think this summer was one of the best. One of my most favorite, hands down. But I am so looking forward to fall, too.

At 11 months, Luca: 

  • Is still eating everything—and loving every minute of it. Aside from honey and milk, we basically give him whatever we're eating. He's had pulled pork and burgers, gnocchi with pesto sauce, spaghetti sqaush, lots of meatballs and let's be real, ice cream, cake and, at least once, the inside of a cannoli too. 
  • Says mama and dada. He did this awhile ago actually, but I don't think I wrote it anywhere. 
  • Crawls everywhere and can easily get up and down. When we're home, he has free roam of the kitchen, dining room and living room, which is all open. 
  • Can go up the stairs, and is just learning the whole "turn around' party about coming down. 
  • Cruises around all the furniture
  • Is obsessed with pushing the buttons on the DVD player. Thankfully, we never actually use it. 
  • Puts his arms up so you'll pick him up and points to things he wants.
  • Had his first haircut 
  • Took his first steps! (It was 10/24, to be specific) 
  • Still has no teeth (Seriously.)
  • Was a ring bearer for the first time. And he slept the entire way down the aisle, while I carried him. It was always the plan for me to carry him, but we assumed he'd be awake for it. 
  • Is wearing size 18 months clothes. I don't know why I didn't record this sooner but, I'm just surprised he's wearing this size. 
  • Went pumpkin picking for the first time, saw horses and goats and chicken for the first time and ate--lucky him--apple cider donuts for the first time. We're way into fall over here.  
  • Is dressing up as a tiger for Halloween    

At 11 months, I: 

  • Wonder sometimes how long our little routine will last. In the mornings, I wake up with Luca and make him a bottle and then make myself breakfast. He sits in the corner of the couch and I'm next to him as we "eat" together. Where normally mornings are so chaotic and consist of me trying to do my hair without Luca lunging for the straightner, this part is just such a nice way to start things off. 
  • Am thinking alot about Luca's socialization. A ton of John's family was in from Italy for my sister-in-law's wedding in early October and our cousin's daughter, who is 4, was among them. She and Luca became fast friends and it was so eye-opening for me to see him interact with her. While my friends have little kids, no one in our immediate family has under-5 year olds, so Luca doesn't really get that interaction with kids his own age on a daily basis. This is where, to be honest, I wish there were more library or other programs either in the later afternoon or on the weekends—as a working parent, I can't go at 11am, but I would love to go on a Sunday morning. I did find one that I'm hoping to start with him in January. I also started looking at 2's programs at some local nursery schools for next year. 
  • Had such a good time with John's family from Italy. They stayed with my in-laws, but we were there almost every day and they're just all so welcoming and honestly, have always made me feel like such a party of their family. Plus, it really just makes me miss Italy like nothing else. 
  • Think so much about the work-life balance. Does everyone? Am I the only one who asks everyone how they do it, why they decided what they decided, etc. etc. I just find the whole topic so so fascinating. But that being said, I also know I can't focus on it so much. So much so that I lose sight of things as they are. I actually want to write a whole separate post about all that. 
  • Am in the midst of planning Luca's first birthday party, which has an "our little pumpkin" theme. 
  • Have been taking Luca on walks in the afternoon and listening to podcasts while I do it. I don't know why I've just gotten on this bandwagon now but, they're all pretty great. 
  • Cannot even believe that Luca turns a year old in a few days. There's so much to say about it and then really not all that much that hasn't been said already. Mostly, I keep thinking back to this time last year and it's just so much. It was such a hard time for me on so many levels and I'm so glad that we're here, with a happy almost-1-year old.