- Arranged layovers in Hawaii on both ends and used that time to adjust to the time change by staying up late/going to sleep earlier and enjoying the outdoors. We also took an evening flight to Japan and a redeye back, which meant Violet slept nearly the whole time on both legs.
- Checked on food safety due to the radiation to figure out what to avoid. There is a lot of worry regarding radiation in food from people outside of Japan, while there seems to be little worry within the country due to the strict food safety standards.
- Memorized/wrote down simple phrases so we'd know how to ask for things like milk and diapers (or how to avoid foods you may be allergic to) and asked flight attendants and hotel staff for help on the correct pronunciation.
- Explored kid-friendly places we could take Vi to, including restaurants and community playgrounds.
- Made rough itineraries of things we wanted to do and see that left freedom for flexibility, key when traveling with small children.
- Packed some comfort items for Vi, such as her blanket and a couple thin light books.
- Downloaded kid-friendly apps and films for the airplane for Vi.
- Downloaded the LearnJapanese app as well as city subway & road maps that work offline.
- Opted to pack as light as possible, which meant hand washing clothing at the hotels.
- Decided to stay in contemporary or hybrid hotels versus traditional Japanese ryokans so that we didn't have to worry about noise, broken shoji screens, etc with a toddler.
- Packed enough diapers for the first couple days and a tetra pack of milk as backup (Vi loves her miriku!)
- Got our flu shots! There's nothing worse than getting sick while traveling.
- Earplanes: pressure reducing ear plugs that are available in kid sizes.
- Saline nasal gel: my pediatrician recommended it as a means of preventing illness by keeping the nose moist. Good for adults too!
- Lavender oil: massage their feet with it to relax them and to help them not get backed up. Pressure from flights can cause bad gas pains and constipation in babies.
- Wipe down the tray table, TV, armrests, etc. with antibacterial wipes or spray so that when baby's eager hands start touching everything, you won't have to worry about what germs they might be incountering.
- While I was told it was unnecessary to wake a baby to feed during takeoff and landing, my personal opinion is that if your baby doesn't take pacifiers (which Violet won't), definitely wake them up to feed for the descent. We have encountered a couple late night crying fits when we didn't wake her.
As the mother of two small girls, I had to share this feminist campaign video from FCKH8. Its message is a strong one–what's more shocking? A sweet little kid dropping f-bombs or the sexist and hateful history that continues to plague our country (and really, our world). (Click here to go to Buzzfeed if you don't see the video).Read more link text
Have you ever noticed how challenging it is to figure out if a hike is kid or stroller friendly? When you have a toddler who is too heavy to carry in a pack or walks slowly, a jogging stroller is a great option, but locating stroller and kid friendly trails is tougher than it should be. I've been on countless "family friendly" trails where a few stairs or too big tree stumps have blocked my path, or I've wanted to put my toddler down only to have a dangerous cliff nearby.
With that said, I'll be writing about good stroller friendly hikes when I come across them, and if you have any suggestions please send them my way!
Trillium Lake is about a 90 minute drive from downtown Portland at the base of Mt. Hood, making it a great hike pre or post lunch at Timberline Lodge. Parking is $5 and is plentiful. The trail runs the perimeter of the lake, providing gorgeous views of the mountains, trees and water, and it's an easy walk for children and most strollers as it's flat and fairly wide.
One of my favorite parts of the hike was seeing all of the fun activities people were up to on the lake, from fishing to canoeing and paddle boarding. I'll definitely be back with my swimsuit!Read more link text
Two years ago Tim Kreider wrote an article for the New York Times titled The 'Busy' Trap which talks about the issues within our modern-day culture of constantly busying ourselves–if only as a means of seeming productive, desirable and meaningful–and how it leaves us with little time to reflect, rest and live in the moment. He wrote:
"Idleness is not just a vacation, an indulgence or a vice; it is as indispensable to the brain as vitamin D is to the body, and deprived of it we suffer a mental affliction as disfiguring as rickets."
Reading this article woke me up to the fact that I was, indeed, in my own self-inflicted busy trap, and I started to step back from all the tasks I had lined up for myself and quickly felt like a more focused, peaceful human being. Of course, between moving states, buying our first home, having our second child, raising a toddler, and everything else life throws at you, it's been easy to fall back into that busy trap.
This last week Kate Murphy wrote an article for the New York Times Sunday Review titled No Time to Think which delves deeper into Kreider's thoughts on the negative impact of busyness by looking at some recent studies in psychology and neuroscience. By studying people's reactions to being left alone and their response to it (i.e. shocking themselves as a means to not just sit in boredom), it was made quite clear the lengths to which people will go to avoid their own personal thoughts by busying ourselves. Not surprisingly, the more we avoid our negative thoughts, the more power we give to them and the more we need to busy ourselves to avoid them. And the less time we spend resting our mind, the less creative, empathetic, and joyful we become.
Overall Murphy's article is a great reminder of what Buddhists have said for ages–meditation is important for our health, and not just spiritually. Especially in this day and age when our constant observation of each other affects our perception of reality and we suffer from relative deprivation and FOMO, it's easy to get caught up in the negatives and not see the power our minds play in our happiness. I'll end on one of my favorite quotes:
"Happiness lies in the mind, not in external circumstances". - Geshe Kelsang GyatsoRead more link text
Two months ago Beatrix Maia was born! It's been both a challenging and wonderful summer so far and I love observing Beatrix's personality emerge and develop.
I'm also happy to report that Violet has been an incredible big sister and seems genuinely in love with Beatrix and excited to have her around. More to come!
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Some of the sweetest moments we've had with Violet was seeing her love for our dog, Oakley. Oakley passed away in December and there are few days that go by when she doesn't ask where Oakley is or talk about playing with her. It's endearing how connected pets and children can be.
Photographer Rebecca Leimbach captured this connection between her daughter, Harper, and their English bulldog, Lola, in these wonderful photos. One of the most touching aspects of their story is that Rebecca struggled to conceive and once she had Harper she worried about her not having a sibling to bond and play with. That role was filled by Lola.
To read more of their story, go to Today!
Looking at these gorgeous shots makes me want to run out and get another dog for Violet!Read more link text
Sunglasses may seem like a novelty for babies and small kids, but they're actually quite important. As my friend Divina–owner of the wonderful Children's Eyeworks and mother of two–pointed out to me, children have more sensitive eyes than adults do and spend more time outdoors, so sun protection is a must.
Last summer Divina invited us to do a photoshoot for her new selection of eyewear and I was instantly impressed with how wearable and adorable her selection is. Unlike most cheap store lines, her sunnies stay on well, are made of lasting high quality frames and have 100% UV protection. When you think of how much sun damage is done in the first 18 years of life, you realize the importance of protecting our kids' little peepers! Check out her online store and blog at childrenseyeworks.com.
(All images belong to Children's Eyeworks.)
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Nick and I planned our Japan trip to encompass three days in Tokyo and four in Kyoto. Three days is not much time in Tokyo, especially when accounting for jet lag and a slow moving kid and pregnant lady, so we focused on some of the key places we wanted to check out and decided to play the days by ear depending on our energy levels.
HOTEL & FOOD
Exploring Tokyo with kids means altering your expectations a bit as its not the most friendly city for small children, but it can be very budget-friendly and fun nonetheless. Where you decide to stay, eat and visit is largely dependent not only on your budget, but also on your child's temperament and what makes you as parent(s) and them feel comfortable. In deciding where to stay, eat and sleep, consider the personality of your child; if you know they will not sleep on a futon or eat soba for breakfast, staying at a ryoken is probably not a good idea. At the same time, I think it's important to teach kids to be adaptable, so my rule of thumb is typically to keep something familiar on hand in case your kid doesn't take to new experiences well, but to still introduce them to new things within reason.
With that said, we decided to stay at a traditional western hotel in Tokyo in order to ensure good sleep and some typical comforts. We got an awesome deal via Jetsetter for the Conrad, which is undoubtedly more posh business chic than family-friendly. The hotel is located next to Shinbashi and Shiodome stations with underground walkways to both, which makes it quite accessible to other parts of the city. The rooms are well-appointed and incredibly comfortable (and seemingly sound proof) while the access to Shiodome means restaurants and shops are close by. The most helpful of these was a convenient store right near the base of the hotel which carries food and drinks for kids, like milk, fruit and simple sandwiches, as well as goodies for adults, like well-priced whiskey and chips. (Yes, the rooms have mini-fridges.) When we arrived it was a weekday and we were surrounded by business types, but by the weekend we saw other families with young children staying at the hotel. That said, I would not recommend this hotel for families with screamers or runners as it's quite quiet and upscale.
The Conrad is across the street from the lovely Hama-Rikyu Gardens, which has multiple pathways for kids to explore as well as a cute teahouse near its center. Our first morning in Japan we took Vi here to run around and sort of ease her into her new surroundings after a long day of traveling. I would imagine it's even more beautiful in the spring!
(The Conrad also has easy shuttle access to Tokyo Disney.)
One of my favorites parts of our stay was the buffet breakfast in a gorgeous well-lit room with views of the city. The menu includes a wide array of Eastern and Western foods; Violet loved having smoked trout and croissants while I enjoyed trying a little bit of everything. We always had stickers, coloring tools and the backup apps for her just in case she got stir crazy and that allowed us to have a leisurely morning brunch, right in step with vacation, even with a two-year-old!
In general, we found that there are cafés and convenient stores all over Japan where you can find coffee, tea, pastries, yogurt, western-style sandwiches and other easy brunch foods, so even if you stay somewhere without breakfast, affordable and easy options are not hard to find. (Like .60 cent mini croissants!)
For lunch and dinner, there are plenty of options and you can always have your concierge make reservations for you. Since we were taking a more spontaneous approach to traveling while in Tokyo, we opted to just roam around neighborhoods and stop at various restaurants that looked interesting. There was one spot where we sat down only to get back up and leave ten minutes later when we realized none of the food was edible for a pregnant lady or Violet, but overall the spontaneity was fun. Although, coming from a family of six kids, I can say that trying to find a place for everyone to eat when you have a large family is definitely a lot more complex and necessitates some more planning!
One of the afternoons we had lunch in a traditional restaurant hidden in a shopping center (as they all tend to be) with tatami mats and a private room. We ordered set lunches that came with an assortment of fermented vegetables, fish, miso, rice, sashimi and tea which we shared with Violet (about $20 per person). I recommend doing this at least once as a means of experiencing traditional Japanese cuisine and dining.
For specific restaurant recommendations, check out the NY Times, TripAdvisor, travel publications and fellow blogs. There is a lot out there and it is quite easy to have a $10 dinner in Tokyo!
With so much to see and so little time, we opted to have our local friend choose the sites with one exception, we wanted to check out the Tsukiji Fish Market. I soon learned that to many locals this is akin to traveling the world to go to a farmer's market, but she was game to show us nonetheless. While the early morning tuna auction is what the market's most famous for, it's also a sprawling fish market for locals with a neighboring vegetable market and restaurants. What impressed us most about the market was the vast array of fish. Violet was delighted in seeing all the different "fishies", calling out octopi and starfish and such, and we enjoyed sampling some of the products from the vendors.
We were lucky enough to be toured around by my college roommate's friend, a ninja in regular clothing (seriously), who took us through some back alleys of the market while keeping an eye on our safety. It was one of the most interesting and exciting parts of our trip!
Before going I read a lot of different information about whether or not the market is safe for kids with most people (as in Americans) saying they're not allowed or shouldn't go. I confirmed with my friend that it was okay to bring Violet but she did warn me that if Violet wasn't cooperative we'd have to stick to the outer markets and that I couldn't bring a stroller.
After going I can confirm the following: The main inner market is, in fact, a decidedly dangerous place to visit due to the fast moving carts that won't stop for nothin'! If you have a kid you can't carry or can't trust to hold your hand and follow close next to you, stay in the outer markets or do not go. But, if are used to navigating busy cities like New York with a child and aren't phased by all kinds of transportation whizzing by, it's not such a big deal. Look both ways before crossing the alleys of the market, make sure to let people who are busy working pass, stay alert and you'll be fine. If this sounds intimidating, there are still the outer markets to check out which have restaurants, shops and a vegetable market.
Another site we visited with friends is the Sensō-ji temple in Asakusa. It was nearing the New Year, which is the holiest time of year, so the district was crowded and hard to walk through, but we managed to check out some of the little shops along the path to the temple and found a place for Violet to run around bit. The temple itself is the oldest in Tokyo and one of the holiest in Japan, and therefore a famous place to visit for Japanese tourists as well as international ones.
One of the funniest things that happened to us while in Japan was outside Sensō-ji. We had a few Asian tourists in Oahu and Japan ask us if they could take pictures with or of Violet for being, as they said, "kawaii" or cute, but we never expected the spectacle that happened at Asakusa where a crowd gathered to take photos of Violet as she hammed it up for cameras. I thought it was maybe the blonde hair, but even my local friend thought it was all quite strange.
There is a plethora of cool shopping in Tokyo, but I must admit that we did very little of it because, apparently, shopping is incredibly boring to Violet and that was the one activity she had little patience for, and because we didn't want to make it a priority. However we did do our fair share of window shopping and if I could go back, I would love to explore more of the Muji flagship store in Yurakucho and the incredible design shops inside the new Kitte mall (a great respite from the rain).
If you have any specific questions about visiting Japan or Tokyo, comment and I'd be happy to reply. I'll be writing a post on Kyoto next! In the mean time, here are some more tips.
• I highly recommend having someone local tour you around for a day or two, specifically in you want to visit Tsukiji Fish Market. In main tourist areas there are information booths where you can find free tour guides. You pay for their transportation and food in exchange for a free guide (and they get to practice their English).
• Reputable hotels can arrange sitters so you can go to fancy restaurants and check out the bar scene or see a show. Keep in mind that rates are rather steep.
• Unlike your pre-child days, you'll probably find that you cannot fit that much into a day, whether from exhaustion or moving at a slower pace or making frequent stops, so it's best to limit your activities early on so that there is no disappointment or pressure.
• Fly into Haneda instead of Narita. You can take a short $60 taxi into the city versus lugging tired kids and luggage on the train or taking a $200+ taxi.
• When paying for your subway tickets, pay the exact fare as the tickets will not be returned to you after leaving the station. If you make this mistake (as we once did), there are attendants on hand to issue refunds.
• There are some great free apps for offline tokyo subway and street maps as well as conversational Japanese. Japanese people are very kind when you try to speak their language.
• There is no tipping in Japan, in fact it's considered rude to tip, so whether you're at a hotel, restaurant or in a taxi, leave just what is asked and nothing more.Read more link text
Last month Nick, Violet and I traveled to Kyoto and Tokyo on vacation. We had a wonderful time in Japan site seeing, visiting old friends, trying new foods and experiencing Japanese culture, but not surprisingly, traveling with a toddler–and while pregnant–is not without its share of difficulties.
One of the most frequent questions I was asked before our trip was "Are you bringing Violet?" Many people cut back on travel when they have kids, and while we have scaled back our expectations and make fewer plans, so far the reward of travel far outweighs the difficulties for us. Of course, organizing an international trip with long flights plus different foods, language and customs requires some planning especially when you have children.
Before leaving for Japan we...
Overall I found that most things were much easier than expected. Signs in Japan are often in English and use universal graphics, which makes traveling through the airport and subway a breeze. Hotel staff in the cities speak at least enough English to map you to local convenience stores, pharmacies, restaurants and more. And Japanese people make a real effort to communicate with foreigners and seemed to genuinely appreciate the attempts at their language. In addition, a lot of guides on Japanese customs had me anxious about messing up and being that obnoxious American family, but we found Japanese people to be incredibly friendly and helpful and we witnessed Japanese children having crazy tantrums just like kids in the US do, so in the end I realized I was silly to worry. (Although I think it's important to try and practice local etiquette while in any country, as a foreigner you're not expected to know every rule.)
Jet lag wasn't an issue since you basically lose a whole day and Violet was very well behaved overall and enjoyed the scenery, not to mention that she loves sushi, seaweed and sashimi so she was well fed. I was blown away by all the great design and Zen aesthetics, not to mention the gorgeous shops (granted, that was the hardest part…trying to shop with a 2.5 year old!). And Nick was completely absorbed by the delicious food and fantastic hospitality. Carrying one suitcase between the three of us and packing light was much easier than bringing a few smaller bags, and we found we could have packed even lighter, with one exception...
We opted to carry Violet in an Ergo versus bringing a stroller because we heard a stroller could be a hindrance in subways and on cobble stone, but Tokyo is crowded with rushing people and Kyoto has bike lanes on sidewalks, so slow walking and weaving toddlers are not so safe. Hence, we ended up carrying Violet everywhere and by day 5 I was limping in pain. So my advice to you is bring an umbrella stroller!
Although I didn't see very many children in the cities, every place we went to was very accommodating and kind, from restaurants supplying children's dish ware and forks to people entertaining Violet with silly faces on the train. Many of the restaurants with counter seating carry highchairs, so don't be afraid to peak inside and ask!
If we had the time we would have definitely visited one of the many Tokyo amusement parks, which I'm certain Violet would have loved. In the city center, however, we found it a bit challenging finding places for her to run around and be a kid indoors, but one solution was toy stores and toy sections at department stores. As many parents realize, kids need time to play and explore and they are much better mannered when they get this time, so I was pretty committed to finding places where Vi could relax and be "free". The one day we didn't manage a little "Violet time" was the one day over our twelve day trip that she, understandably, was very upset about being carried around all day in the cold rain and had a tantrum…her worst ever.
A helpful guide for me when planning where to go in Tokyo was Tokyo Urban Baby which also has some tips on where to nurse, find diapers and formula (pharmacies), milk (any local 7-11 style shop) food safety, and where to eat with babies.
Kyoto was a bit easier in regards to finding kid-friendly hangouts. There are playgrounds scattered throughout the city which you can find information on here, including a great community indoor/outdoor playground near the Imperial Palace called Kodomo Mirai Kan which Violet loved, an aquarium, and plenty of temples where kids can meander at their own pace. Another good resource for activities and kid-friendly places to eat in Kyoto is Chubby Hubby.
I think the trickiest part of travel but also one of the most exciting and rewarding is the great unknown. When you don't know where exactly you'll end up in a day, or what a sign says, when you get a little lost and frustrated and then end up some place incredible and off the grid…these are all the fantastic bits that make it fun. You just need to carry a few more things with kids! You also need to adjust your expectations. There are many amazing things to see and do in Japan and going without kids would have been a very different trip (more booze, late nights and shopping, per say), but that doesn't take away from the great experiences we had as a family and the joy we had watching Violet say "Kon-i-chi-wa".Read more link text
Happy 2014 (almost)!
These last few months I'd taken a break from blogging to focus on family, but I'm happy to be coming back with a lot to share in the new year. 2013 was a busy year filled with some wonderful times and some difficult times, and looking back it's hard to believe how much Violet has grown and how much our lives have changed moving to Portland and making some big adjustments in our lives. And I'm excited for all that 2014 has in store, mainly the birth of baby #2 in late spring (I'm pregnant!) and watching Violet grow and say new things.
Below are some of my most memorable moments from 2013.
Hope your 2014 is a great one!
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Next week Vi starts (play)school and, like most schools, it is requested that you label all of your kid's clothing. It's a little costly to buy custom made labels, especially when they're so simple and affordable to make yourself.
1. Buy a couple sheets of iron-on transfer paper, such as Avery Printable Cotton ($6.50 on Amazon).
2. Create a letter sized document in a design program or word (whatever you have and feel comfortable using).
3. Type up your child's name and repeat it, leaving extra space around the margins for printer errors and space in between the words for cutting and ironing on. I used ~1.5 x .5 inches for each label.
Play around with color and fun fonts, just keep them legible.
4. Print, cut, iron on. You're done!Read more link text
I'm a little behind here (after all, Valentine's day was last week), but had to share this adorable video. These kids are so well styled!Read more link text
People keep reminding me of two things:
1. Violet will not remember her first birthday.
2. A child's first birthday is really for the parents.
Recognizing these things, in about a month I will attempt to play hostess to loads of adults while simultaneously creating an environment which is fun and stimulating for Violet in the present. I love entertaining and planning events, so–as #2 so poignantly points out–this party is an excuse for me to do just that. It's also an opportunity to use all of those playful, girly decorations I never experienced at my own childhood parties.
I used the free service Paperless Post to send invites. Unlike evite (which lacks good design functionality) and Facebook (which seemed a bit too impersonal), I could upload my own design and use cool layouts with Paperless Post, and track who has received the invite or not. (The service has great cards too!)
The next step is buying decorations, so today I'm heading to a craft store to buy a bunch of supplies and attempt to create them myself. While my sister keeps telling me that I need to abandon control and let other people help more, I keep thinking about how my many years in art classes and art school should make me well prepared for a world of crafty DIY projects. With Amy Atlas as my inspiration, we'll see how that turns out!
Lastly will be the food, which I will gladly accept help with.Read more link text
My mystery birthday trip was an incredible four days in Los Angeles with amazing food, plenty of sunshine and a wonderful group of friends who came out again and again to surprise me. I feel lucky to have such a thoughtful and supportive husband who planned it all. I didn't know where we were going until I narrowed it down on the departures list after going through security.
Even though I didn't know where exactly I was going, I planned for warmth and packed a lot more color than I usually wear. When we got to the Hotel Erwin in Venice Beach, I knew I had packed well. I felt very "LA" in my blue shoes and polka dot jeans. I love how color is such a big part of everyday wardrobes in LA, where mixing pastels and fluorescents is common place.
The location of the Hotel Erwin has undergone some immense changes in the last ten years. What used to be an ugly boring Best Western that happened to be on the beach is now a cool mod Joie de Vivre boutique hotel with a rooftop bar. And it is baby friendly; they wheeled in a cute little crib for Violet.
Our first stop after checking in was to Larry's around the corner from the hotel. It was a great spot for some yummy food, outdoor dining and delicious beer; I had the very awesome Point the Way IPA from LA's Golden Road Brewery. Later we walked to Abbott Kinney and checked out all the cool design stores, like Huset and A + R. It inspired us to get some Scandinavian pieces for our new home.
At night Nick told me we were going for dinner with friends to Gjelina–one of my favorite local places to eat when we lived in LA–and when I walked in I was surprised to see a big group of friends. It was the birthday surprise I always wanted. Great food and great people. Later Nick took Violet back to the hotel while I lived it up with some local friends. Everyone we met that night was so warm and charming it was almost cult-like. It made me miss Los Angeles a lot.
Bidding the coast adieu, we headed to Beverly Hills and stayed at the L'Ermitage; a traditional-meets-modern hotel with minimalist design, a rooftop pool and baby friendly amenities. For the first time in 18 months, I actually read an entire magazine in the sun. And for dinner we were fortunate enough to have a good friend babysit while we went out to the wonderful Osteria Mozza. We had been to the Pizzeria before, but this was something else. This was an experience. I have been obsessed with the cookbook Mozza for months, and this just brought it to another level. (I may just have to spend a year cooking every recipe.)
And for my actual birthday, April 16th, we relaxed and explored the city before having yet another surprise dinner with great friends who were all in town for Coachella. The fact that they had the energy to come together for dinner, surprise me and get a cake after a wild weekend made me feel very loved.
I love you all. Thank you.
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First off can I just say dude! Violet is already nine months old. What happens to the time? The last year has been the most vivid time of my life, where every day–however seemingly similar–feels remarkably interesting and different as I watch my daughter gradually develop into a jabbering, nutty little wonder.
There is a lot of personal psychological change in the first year of parenting too. I find the hardest thing for me is not feeling guilty when I leave Violet for a few hours and remembering that it's okay to want and need time to myself. My next step is to leave her with someone else for the night. With that said, now on to...
Things I Learned In The First Nine Months Of Parenting
1. Don't pass judgement, because you'll be doing the same thing in a month.
Every kid is different and every parent is even more different. You learn a lot about judgement when you have kids, like how we should leave it at the door. This is well articulated in the recent Huffington Post article Apologies To The Parents I Judged Four Years Ago by Kara Gebhart.
2. Instincts should be followed first.
There is never one way to do something, yet when it comes to parenting a lot of books oversimplify, take out the gray areas, and make it seem like there is a right and wrong way to everything. Take sleep for example–should you Ferberize or co-sleep? Make sure the kid is asleep by 7 every night or let them stay up till 8:30 because they don't act a damn bit tired till an hour later? These things seem pretty basic but they get pretty confusing and complex when you're in the thick of it. I say to get a variety of opinions, try some different things and find what works for you and your family, not everyone else's.
3. Napping is my friend.
I've never been one to nap...until now. I have to force myself to let go of all the tasks I could get done in the little time Violet is asleep during the day in order to recharge my own batteries. I can't be a good mom if I can't open my eyes all the way.
4. Competitive parents are insecure.
What else could it be?
5. When strangers tell you that you look really tired, they are trying to be sympathetic or sell you an eye cream.
Remember this when you want to punch someone in the face.
6. There seems to be a direct correlation between the difficulty of parenting and the reward.
At nine months old, Violet cruises all over the place, trying to eat my library of books, pulling things down from tabletops, smashing avocado into her hair. She has a bad case of separation anxiety and doesn't like to sleep without us. She has become a fussy eater. Etc., etc. At the same time, she is becoming more exciting, cute and entertaining by the minute. She dances when she hears music, smiles constantly, gives hugs and kisses generously, she loves exploring outside with us, she laughs easily; all things which seriously brighten our days.
7. Modern mothers try to take on too much.
Motherhood is much more tiring and time-consuming than any other job I've ever had. And I've worked at some crazy places. I am not alone in trying to take on too much every day while trying to perfectly balance work-baby-home-husband-play-cooking-cleaning-hobbies-family. Sometimes I wish there was an off switch.
8. Get advice from someone who has had multiple kids.
Single-child parents–myself included–are much too concerned about every little thing that could go wrong or right with a kid, whereas parents of multiple children have learned to relax and go with the flow. They tend to trust their instincts more, not panic every time their kid eats dirt and understand that parenting and perfection do not mix.Read more link text
This last week I got two new pieces...a rad black silicone rubber and gold Marc Jacobs watch and a beautiful handmade gold filled bracelet by Etsy designer Nurit Spiegel which says "VIOLET" on it. Now I have a watch that doesn't hurt my kid when I pick her up and a bracelet to show my love for my new addition.Read more link text
I'm kind of flipping out right now. How have I never seen Zara's kid collection before? Their baby stuff is amazing! I am going to have to get Violet some cap toe and polka dot shoes immediately! I'm also in love with their asymmetrical button downs and mod style dresses.Read more link text
Over the last few months a ton of friends have gotten pregnant and had babies, providing the perfect opportunity to shop for creative, unique onesies. They make a great shower gift!Read more link text
This week has been tough. Violet's cold turned into an ear infection while Nick and I got whatever horrible cold Violet had. Finally we are all now on the mend just in time for the weekend!
One thing you don't think about until it happens is that when you're sick with kids, you can't just lie around, hibernate and take a lot of boozy drugs till you feel better. Instead you have to stay alert, moving around despite how uncomfortable you are.
In this case it was Violet's first illness and our first bad cold in years, and it had me in the SF Bay Pediatric clinic first thing New Years Day (great clinic and staff!). While there I was chatted up by another mom with a sick kid who was incredibly friendly/invasive and asked me if I felt really bad about bringing Violet on an airplane when she had a cold. Not only was Vi's cold not that bad at the time, but she was showing no signs of an ear infection either, and her pediatrician said there was no way of knowing if it was connected to that or if she even had one when we flew. (Apparently ear infections can show up quite suddenly.) Regardless, I couldn't believe someone would just come out and ask a stranger something like that. I think I responded by saying that she didn't have a bad cold on the way back and that we had to get home...then tried to get away from her and her myriad of questions and judgments asap.
Anyhow, in the last couple weeks I've had 5-6 people-including this women-strongly recommend the NoseFrida Snot Sucker. I couldn't bring myself to use one, plus continuous steams and a bulb syringe worked fine, but given that it has such great reviews on Amazon, I may have to invest in one of these...hehem...snot suckers. (Side note: every mom I've talked to says that their kids hate having their nose cleared, so don't feel bad if you have to pin them down...the cleaner their nose, the sooner they'll be healthy.)
Now to talk about something else...
Tomorrow Nick and I have a date night for the first time in a long time and then we're hoping to fit in a hike at some point. What are you up to this weekend?Read more link text
A few months back I wrote about flying with a newborn, and now that I've taken 8 flights with Violet (and 6 of them being 5+ hours), I have a lot more to say on the topic. While the difficulty of traveling with a baby depends on the personality and health of your child, the length of the flight, airplane conditions, etc., there are some things you can do to make everyone's life easier and healthier:
*Go in organized and pack light in order to make everything as seamless and easy as possible. Nick takes a small suitcase on board while I check a larger one for Violet and myself. A few days before flying I always track the number of diapers/food Vi has in a day so that I know how much to bring. I also merge my purse and diaper bags. If you don't need to bring a car seat, clearly that lightens the load a lot too. Less to carry is less stress.
*At most airports you can now go through security with your baby in a carrier, making it much easier if they are sleeping and if you need your hands free. Security will ask for an additional screening which is just a simple hand swipe. It's also always a great idea to wear slip on shoes.
*The more active and alert your baby, the more fun materials you need to keep them happy and not kicking the seat in front of you. But fun materials can be anything from a book (mini books like the small Dr. Seuss and Mr Men ones are ideal) to a small toy to a spoon. Small toys are easier to pack, lighter and less stress.
*While most people know to have a baby feed from a bottle while ascending and descending, some other useful things for keeping them healthy are:
*With babies who get bored easily, stimulating them pre-flight is helpful so that they are sleepier inflight. This is as simple as walking them around the airport to look at things in the stores.
*Dress them in cozy clothes that are easy to take on and off.
*Remember when flying used to be fun? Try adjusting your mindset so that the lines, security measures and long waits don't frustrate you. Instead try to make it a fun activity (like it used to be).
*As before mentioned, chill! Try not to stress about whether or not your baby will cry or fuss inflight (they all do at some point and most do while descending) and what everyone around you is thinking when they do. The more stressed you are, the more stressed your baby will be. You can lighten the mood by commenting on how you're working on settling the baby and thankful for their patience. Whenever I do that people respond with things like "I have kids, I know how it is" or "No problem. Flying makes me uncomfortable too".
*Get your baby their wings! Just ask the flight attendants and they will give you wings for your little ones. Fun keepsakes for their baby books.Read more link text
This past week has been a whirlwind. We've been in three different states, seen friends from three other continents, are celebrating Christmas four times in total...all with an ever active and mobile baby who has just, sadly, come down with her first cold. Like every holiday I end up feeling like it was all worthwhile but that I definitely want/need to spend the holidays at home next year.
We started our trip with a quick stop in New York; just enough time for a rich and delicious hot cocoa with a giant marshmallow from City Bakery, dinner with friends at Hudson Clearwater (whose Duchess drink has turned me on to gin), and a lovely long holiday meal at Gotham Bar & Grill (which is big and glamorous like new Las Vegas restaurants but also does a very reasonable $25 pre fixe menu).
Then we headed up to Nick's mom's in Connecticut, a charming and cozy place to relax, spend the holidays and get plump. Violet seems to have entered a new phase of babydom. She's nearly crawling, can pull herself up, sits up, talks even more, etc. etc.; so it was amazing to have her using a high chair at Christmas so that she could actually join us at the table (which pleased her greatly) and sit upright to "open" presents.
I made a point of visiting the local mall to introduce Violet to Santa Clause. Initially Nick wasn't too keen on the idea since technically it was really something for me and not for Violet, plus he kept imagining long lines and crazy holiday mallrats. And though I'm not a mall person nor did I visit Santa as a child, I had it in me that Violet had to get a classic first photo with Santa. To our surprise, not only was there only a five minute wait but Violet loved Santa Clause, which made the journey to the mall two days before Christmas actually fun. (We also met a great Santa & Mrs. Clause...they had been married for thirty five years and Santa had been playing Santa for forty years!)
Christmas was-as usual-filled with all the lovely British traditions Nick grew up with and which I've grown accustomed to; mince pies, crackers with paper hats and bad limericks, bread sauce, bacon sarnies & a chocolate log. My favorite part was crowning Violet-she seemed to recognize that she was officially part of the gang once she had her paper hat on.
Now back in New York for a couple days, Violet has been introduced to winter cold season. Stuffy and rosy cheeked, she seems to have a combination of heavy teething symptoms and a common cold. Steam, eucalyptus vapor and infant Tylenol are getting her through it, but I pray she is "unstuffed" for our upcoming flight home. Too much holiday merriment!Read more link text
Last week this amazing book meets music experience was released by the band Breathe Owl Breathe called The Listeners/These Train Tracks. What makes this book so beautiful, intriguing and fun is that it's two books in one (you flip over the book to start the second story), the illustrations are made with copper block prints, and there is <good> music on a 7" vinyl to accompany the stories! (The music label RAD has been creating records, skateboards and tees since 2007.)
The mastermind behind the project, artist/musician Micah Middaugh, has been writing children's books for years and has spent nearly three years working on this project. Amazing piece of functional art, wouldn't you say? This is a rad gift for the holidays!
(Images via What Is Rad on Flickr.)Read more link text
Though my recent trip to Maui had a bunch of hiccups (such as half of us getting a mean cold), it also had its share of happy moments. There are few places more naturally beautiful in the world and so filled with rainbows!
Five tips for traveling to Maui tropics with a baby are...
1. Get chemical free sunscreen and an umbrella, or pick beaches that have a fair share of shade. Many guides and snorkeling shops will know where to send you. Also plan your days so that you're not outside when the sun is the strongest.
2. Leave the Road to Hana off the agenda. I went years ago and loved it, but that's because I was able to hike down to waterfalls and swim and lounge around all day. The long windy drive is not worth it when the paths to the waterfalls aren't baby friendly and you have 3+ hours in the car with an infant!
3. Plan the sleeping situation in advance so that baby is sleeping well once there...whether it's renting a crib or bringing a pack and play or similar. We got a Kidco Peapod Travel Bed because it's small enough to pack in a suitcase, weighs five pounds and could be used for a bed and on the beach to protect Violet from the sun. So easy!
4. Bring a small arrangement of toys & light books. You don't need to bring a lot but if you bring 2-3 toys that are quite different (like Sophie the Giraffe and a Lamaze toy) and a couple lightweight books (the Mr. Men & Little Miss books are perfect!), you'll be better prepared to entertain a kiddo on the plane and in the car.
5. There is a Costco and Whole Foods on Maui, which means you can get baby gear for cheap in bulk and you can get organic baby food and formula too (the formula at WF was 20-30% more expensive than in California, but all else was about the same). Local markets carry diapers in small bags of 5-6, so if you need just a few they are a great place to try.
And now for the pictures...Read more link text
Natural Buggy Mobile Wood Toy, $18 at SmoochBabyDesign.
Wooden Alphabet Block Set, $40 at SquidMonkeyProject.
Free Bike Rides Drawing Baby Onesie, $15 at TrulySanctuary.
Baby Shoes Red & White Raindrops Slippers, $28 at BusterBooKids.
Sheepskin Mittens, $16 at BornBeSpoke.
Sleepy Hedgehog Plush Toy, $40 at RileyConstruction.
Aloha! I am currently on my way to Maui for ten days to celebrate the holidays. Hawaii is one of my favorite places in the world, where I feel the most serene, happy and myself. I am thrilled to surf, snorkel, bask in the sun, hike and eat fresh fruit every day...and to spend some quality time with friends and family.
We are staying in central Maui on an Aromatherapy Farm. The upcountry is quite majestic and peaceful. I usually like to be closer to the beach, but this time around I'm excited to be away from the touristy areas. I may even get to see a double rainbow!
(Image by Eric Rolph.)Read more link text
This week Violet turned twenty weeks old! As crazy as it is to think of how much she's grown and changed, I feel like my life is so much more memorable now that it actually feels like a good amount of time has passed. There were the first weeks when we were just figuring out who this little peanut was and how little sleep we could survive on, the first smiles, the first laughs (my favorite), the first toys, the first foods, the first nights out without her, the first plane, the first train, the first boat ride, etc. etc.. I have literally taken thousands of pictures which probably only I really think are all uniquely special.
So what have I learned about babies, about motherhood & about myself in these last few months? Well I'll tell you...
Ten Things I've Learned Since Becoming A Mom: Week Twenty
1. Supportive friends & family are crucial.
It's really special when people make an effort to meet and get to know your child. I think it speaks to how deeply they care for you. Life would be much, much harder without the love and support of these people. Thank you! (You know who you are.)
2. Having a kid has helped me set boundaries and end bad relationships.
Being a mom means being a major role model, which has in turn made me better at vocalizing my concerns and ending bad relationships I should have let go years before.
3. Mom groups can be a great form of comfort, laughter and support...and they can also suck.
I have a friend who was belittled at a new moms group for bottle feeding her baby. She adopted her daughter from an American couple who were severe drug addicts, and yet she was getting put down for not trying harder to breastfeed her.
The majority of the new moms I've met have been amazing-fun, caring, empathetic, open...but every once in awhile I'll meet the same sort of women-judgmental, uncompassionate and condescending. They've reminded me to not cast judgment so easily and to surround myself with women who know how to laugh at themselves.
4. It really is the little things that matter most.
When I'm having a bad day, all I have to do is look at Violet smile and I feel better. Angry people should look at babies.
5. When it comes to parenting, there is no one way to do anything.
And people who live in glass houses shouldn't throw stones.
6. Having kids doesn't have to be the end of your social life.
A few times in the last few weeks I've read passages in baby books that say something to the effect of, "Now that your baby is three months old, you may be thinking about when you'll start seeing your friends and going outside again...". What? This is crazy! Having a baby doesn't have to mean not going outside and seeing your friends. Nick and I have been taking Violet out to eat with us since she was a couple weeks old. She loves it. And when I want to see my girlfriends and take a short break from my role as mom, Nick stays home with Violet or we get a friend or family member to watch her. Not a big deal.
7. You really don't need much to raise a baby.
All you really need are the basics...diapers, wipes, a few sets of clothes and food. (Oh, and health insurance is pretty helpful.)
8. When you have no time to get ready, stick to the basics.
My five minute plan is...hair: throw it in a bun, don't even worry about brushing it; clothes: tee, jeans, flats, cardigan; makeup: concealer, mascara, chapstick. Easy!
9. The best way to get back into shape is to live on a hill in San Francisco.
I am happy to report that I am four pounds away from my pre-pregnancy weight and I attribute my weight loss to two things-portion control & more importantly-living on top of a hill. There are few better full body workouts than pushing a baby and two grocery bags in a stroller up a steep hill.
*(Note: If I'm being honest, I was a it over my normal weight when I got pregnant so I still have a ways to go ;-) Damn chocolate!)
10. There are few funnier things than a baby's expression when they're pooping!
Halloween is in less than two weeks! Do you have plans? What are you dressing up as?
Having grown up in England without a Halloween, my husband Nick sort of hates the holiday, but now that we have Violet he's ready to start participating again. I'm not entirely certain what our plans are yet, but I think it includes a dead rockstar costume party & then dressing up as different jungle animals (with Violet as a cheetah).
Searching on Etsy for Halloween gear is funny; a definite reminder of why there is a site called Regretsy. But in between the horrifying display of handcrafts, there are a few gems. Here are some of my faves...Read more link text
A great source for organic baby clothes is Kate Quinn Organics. Not only are their pieces high quality, earth friendly and super soft, but the textiles are beautiful. Some of my favorite items of Vi's are from them because they are so cozy, practical and lovely!
Three stores in the city that sell their baby clothes are Natural Resources & Speesees in the Mission (a block away from each other on Valencia), and Mabuhay Kids in Noe Valley. They also sell clothes for older kids as well as bath & bedding pieces. I recommend their two piece pajama sets-they are insanely soft and will fit for longer than onesies-and make great gifts!
(TIP: Though prices are a bit steep for baby clothes, their online store often has great sales.)
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Part Two of the Wonderful Adventures of Violet Florence.
(If you missed Part One, go here.)
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#9: Vi starts the day with a stroll through Madison Square Park, then pauses to take in the glorious smells emanating from Shake Shack.
Last week I mentioned how I created a photo-adventure project of Violet while we were back east. I got the idea from the gnome in Amelie as Violet's my little gnome. My plan is to continue this project and create printed books for Violet of all her adventures.
Day One of the Wonderful Adventures of Violet Florence...
#4: Violet watches Gemma play soccer at Chelsea Piers and dreams of the day she will make it out on the great lawn.
#6: Violet celebrates Rosh Hashanah with a pickle at Katz, then learns she's not Jewish.
-The End to Part One-Read more link text
The other day I discovered the Zadig & Voltaire shop at Bloomingdales and instantly fell in lust. I'm a sucker for gray & black, cozy sweaters, elbow patches (in gold leather & sequins!), leather detailing, typography & skulls à la Alexander McQueen, so their fall and winter collections charmed the socks off me.
One of the guys working there explained to me that Erin Wasson was the designer's muse and that the French line was named after the designer's favorite author & book (as in Zadig by Voltaire). As one of my favorite books is the satire Candide by Voltaire, this won me over even more.
Along with women's clothing & accessories, Zadig & Voltaire designs men's & children's clothing. And although the price point is very high for fast-growing kids, I can't help but want one of their cashmere pieces for Violet. C'est très joli, non?
For the ladies...
For the babies...Read more link text
How great are these booties?! They would make a fun & unique baby shower gift, especially as you can personalize them with your own fortune or message. The company, SushiBooties, also makes booties that look like pieces of sushi (hence the name) and these fortune cookie ones were on Martha Stewart. Pretty adorable.
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I just ordered a few pairs of leg warmers for Violet, which are really easy when you want something warm to pair with dresses and tees, to protect little crawling legs or to make diaper changes easier. I found some really fun pairs on Etsy (as well as some crazy ones) and now I want a pair.Read more link text
What's great about Etsy is that you can fulfill just about any kitschy desire, from mug covers to homemade soaps to sticking your favorite animal on anything. I think the kangaroo is moving up and could just replace the bird, so put a kangaroo on it!Read more link text
Flying with a two month old was much easier than I had presumed it would be. Though it can depend on the personality and fussiness of the baby as well as the length of the flight, with the right planning it can be quite simple and surprisingly quiet (especially with the help of the white noise from the plane).
First: Pack appropriately.
Don't try to carry too much on the plane. (We asked for them to check our bags at the gate so we didn't have to pay, and it was helpful for getting on and off the plane.) Always bring a change of clothes for the baby, diapering gear and a big burp cloth (as there is a lot of extra jostling around through security and such). Organize it in a way that it is easy to access.
Second: Plan accordingly.
Give yourself some extra time to get to the airport and get to the gate. Try to take direct flights so there is less to worry about.
Feed, burp and change the babe pre-flight then try to keep them awake so they sleep during the flight. The window seat is best for propping the baby up and privacy if breastfeeding but the aisle is best if you need to get up a lot. On a longer flight where you want to walk around a bit, the aisle might be better for you.
Know how to breakdown your stroller quickly and, if possible, with one hand. But don't be afraid to ask for help.
Wear slipons!! In general I'll wear them when flying but it is especially helpful when carrying an infant and trying to remove and put on shoes while holding a baby.
Third: Know airport & airline regulations for parents.
The only thing you need to bring in terms of identification for the baby is the boarding pass which identifies that there is an infant traveling with you. No birth certificate or anything else is needed when flying domestically. While most airlines allow you to select that you are flying with an infant when you purchase your ticket, for some airlines-like Alaska-you should call after purchasing the ticket to add the infant on to the reservation. (Perhaps you can also do this at the airport.)
Going through security was surprisingly delightful because-for one of the first times- TSA agents were actually friendly and helpful! Some airports will put bottles through additional screenings, while others just see that you have a baby and let you go on your way. They can also help you with the stroller if you are flying alone and need an extra hand.
Airlines let you check your stroller and car seat right before you get on the plane, and when you exit it's waiting for you outside the plane (and typically the strollers are opened up for you already too). Simple!
*Note: if we had known it was this easy, we would have taken our car seat with us instead of renting one from a car rental, which ended up being crappy and much too big for Violet.
Fourth: Don't forget to feed the baby when ascending and descending.
If the baby is asleep, don't worry about waking her, but if she's awake use a nipple, bottle or pacifier while going up and coming down in order to keep any painful ear pressure at bay.
If you're struggling to close the stroller while going through security and have fifty eyes staring at you and a fussy baby, laugh it off, ask for help and breath.Read more link text
Yesterday Violet turned eight weeks old, and looking back at the last two months I realize I've learned a lot about her but also about myself. Pregnancy, childbirth and new motherhood pushes your body and mind in ways you never knew possible. I never knew how much pain I could endure, how little sleep I could survive on and how a beautiful little smile could make it all worth it.
With that said, here are Ten Signs You're A New Mom:
1. All you talk about is breastfeeding.
(Breastfeeding is hard! A great resource for pregnancy and breastfeeding questions and support is the Pregtastic podcast on iTunes.)
2. You forget what you're talking about mid-sentence.
3. Everything you wear is easily removable, pull-downable and cleanable.
4. You have no idea what abs are or where they should be anymore.
5. You can't remember when you last showered/ate/went to the bathroom.
6. You find yourself feeling stranded on the sofa, as if on an island, when you need something mid-feed.
7. You bombard social media sites with images of your baby.
8. You jump to your sleeping baby every time you hear a funny noise.
9. You send most of your emails between the hours of 2-5am.
10. You obsess about how long your baby is sleeping and pray that they sleep longer soon.Read more link text
Do you remember what you were doing right before you found out that you were pregnant?
I was at the Greek Theater in Berkeley seeing Arcade Fire for the fifth time, jumping up and down, high on life.
Nine months later I blasted their music to help me through labor (which worked for about an hour).
And today I use their albums to soothe Violet. I played them for her in utero and it seems to have worked. She's a big fan!Read more link text
I've had my hands full with this little insomniac munchkin today, who I unintentionally dressed up as Luke Skywalker. Hope everyone had a lovely weekend and start to the week!Read more link text
This last week I started working just a bit again. And even though it was just a couple hours here and there, it came right during another growth spurt for Violet, which meant middle of the night wake up calls every 1.5-2 hours and longer feedings. I soon realized I was a bit nutty for trying to take on so much so soon; a very American thing to do.
I'm lucky in that I work from home and can spend a good amount of time with my daughter even when I do return to working more, but it's still a juggle which will take time to figure out...and even then with a baby there are always surprises. It is very interesting and helpful to hear the perspectives of other working moms and see how they find balance in their lives with all the different roles they take on, and so I really appreciate this series by Joanna Goddard of A Cup of Jo where she interviews different moms to find out how they juggle work and motherhood. I like that she mentions that we all need to be nonjudgmental to other moms and gentle to ourselves. So true.Read more link text
When it comes to Violet I have little willpower. I just got these lovely Tea Collection outfits on Gilt for around 40% off. San Francisco brand Tea Collection makes beautiful prints that are playful & stylish and often pull from classic ethnic designs.Read more link text
It's taken me nearly four weeks to sit down and write about Violet's birth, but I certainly have not forgotten anything about that big day. Initially I was going to give a detailed account, but I think this format will be more concise and just as informative.
#1. Induction is not as invasive as I had thought it would be. It took 10 hours for me to feel any contractions and the nurses were very patient with everything. That said, under no condition should anyone be induced without painkillers. Absolute torture. Honestly if I had to choose between doing that again and water boarding, I'd choose the latter. My mom had a quick labor with two kids and from her observation of what I went through in transition, my contractions were insanely long and close together. There was absolutely no time to catch my breath or rest and I went from 4 to 10cm in about three hours.
#3. Yoga helped me in early labor, it helped me have no fear, it helped me push Violet out quickly and painlessly, but nothing could help during transition. Nothing! Every new mom and I agree-when the real pain kicks in, no amount of classes or methods are going to help you.
#4. Though I was lucky to have a "natural" birth versus a c-section (as was originally planned), I was not lucky to have been induced on this crazy day at the hospital (it was a full moon!) in which emergency after emergency prevented me from getting an epidural and Nick and I were basically left to our own devices for hours. In a way we got a feel for what a home birth would be like.
#5. After all was said and done, Violet was delivered safely and is a very healthy, happy "good" baby. When I start having cold sweats and flashbacks from labor, I just focus on that!
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The last few weeks I've learned first hand just how difficult postpartum dressing can be. Pre-pregnancy clothes are too small, pregnancy clothes are too big and the last thing you want your clothing to focus on is your belly.
Through this transitional period my main solution has been to buy waist-forgiving dresses one size bigger than my pre-pregnancy size so that I can just belt them when I get back to my normal size. I've also been wearing skinny jeans with stretch and more loose fitting woven shirts, which always look classic together. Something that incorporates both of these things is a shirt dress. I like the simplicity of this Levi's one, which can be easily dressed up or down.
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Levi's Made & Crafted Officer Cotton Shirt Dress, $195 at Net-A-Porter.
Reiss Lloyd Buckle Detail Flat Sandals, $172 (orig $215) at Reiss.
Stella McCartney Black Quilted Crossbody Bag, $525 at Shirise.
Today Violet is four weeks old and the little wonder blessed me by sleeping just a bit extra last night, allowing me to get in some longer stretches and a total of 9.5 hours of sleep!! (In increments of course.) I feel like a new woman.
Just a few days ago I was hitting my first wall. Violet was having a growth spurt and barely slept for a couple days, which left me feeling exhausted and zombie-esque. This coincided with Nick returning to work and the end to helpful guests, which meant that not only was I grumpy, but I was alone with Violet all day, somewhat incapable of doing much more than move from the sofa to the kitchen. As cute as she is, it's hard for anyone to go from being super active to immobile for hours on end.
I started to feel isolated. I wanted to go out but aside from short walks it seemed difficult to sort out myself. And so for the first time I started to feel hints of what Post Partum is all about and how it starts. Exhaustion coupled with isolation is the perfect recipe for anyone to feel down, even with an incredible new baby. Throw in the fact that your clothes don't fit, your body is changing constantly and you barely have time to eat at times, and it's clear why Post Partum Depression is so common.
After discussing this with some friends going through the same emotions, I decided to be proactive about it and do some things to stop any PPD/boost myself up. I'm already feeling better and so I wanted to share these tips with you...
• Make dates to do things outside with friends. Since scheduling things is so hard with newborns, I invite people over and we leave the house as soon as Violet's been fed. (If you can't meet up with friends, skype with them!)
• Get some exercise! I just started running again and the cardio completely relaxes me. I feel better and I sleep better. I plan my runs for when Nick gets home and on the weekends.
• Go to sleep early(-ier)! Even if you know you're going to be up again in an hour or two, turn in by 9:30-10pm.
• Drink a ton of water.
• Take your vitamins. Especially B vitamins! I've been taking prenatals with DHA and just added an extra dose of B complex, which has helped my energy and mood.
• Get out of your pajamas! A lot of books say to stay in your pajamas so visitors know not to stay long, but I think getting dressed-if only in cute gym attire-can make you feel better about yourself and motivate you to get outdoors.
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Happy Independence Day everyone! Tonight we're staying pretty mellow and having a small barbeque and then watching the fireworks from Grand View Park. Then I'll be catching up on some much needed zzzzz's with my little boo.
Hope you have a wonderful holiday weekend finale!
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Since Nick and I were keeping Violet's name a secret until she was born, it wasn't until this week that I was able to put the finishing touches on her room and put her name up above her crib. We had a lot of fun putting her nursery together and focused on an animal-safari theme. For the most part we wanted to keep the colors gender neutral so that if we have another child who's a boy, we can reuse everything.
One of our favorite things about the room is the light coming through the bay windows. A couple years ago Nick got me a Kikkerland Solar-Powered Double Rainbow Maker which we've put in Violet's room. When the sunlight hits it, the room fills with rainbows. Really fun!
Aside from some awesome pieces we got at the baby shower, we found a ton of great things at Land Of Nod, Giggle and Amazon, as well as cool vintage pieces from the flea market and The Other Shop in NOPA.
For the changing table, we took a vintage dresser we had in our guestroom, painted it and used thick velcro to secure a changing pad and diapering basket. For the side panel, I took wallpaper from Amber's shower gift and glued it in to make the dresser more playful.
One project that's still in process is the origami mobile I'm making for Vi's crib. Right now it's just hanging in the window until I have the time to actually make it mobile.
This mid-century modern chair we found at The Other Shop is my favorite chair to feed Vi in...surprisingly comfortable!
Lastly, the crib...Though Vi is sleeping in our room in a bassinet for now, her crib is obviously a major nursery piece. We chose this Babyletto Mercer crib because it's modern and simple, it comes with everything to convert the crib for older kids and it has storage. Love it!Read more link text
It's easy to wake up in the middle of the night when you have this one staring back at you and wanting to cuddle.Read more link text
Awhile back I featured one of NYrika's adorable knit coverall hats and today I wanted to share some different designs she makes. From animals to Yoda, for costume or a cold day, her knit hats are really fun and unique (as clearly seen by her super cute baby). Which is your favorite?!
(Click on an image to be taken to her store.)Read more link text
Wednesday night under a full moon & a lunar eclipse this little wonder arrived. We are smitten!
(More about her delivery coming soon-ish.)Read more link text
Found this amazing artist Jane of Hazel Village on Etsy. Based in Brooklyn, she hand makes all of these beautiful organic woodland animals and creates stories for them. You could build an entire nursery theme around her designs. They are incredibly cute!
(Click on an image to be taken to her store.)Read more link text
Today I am between 8 and 14 days past my due date (judging by fetal measurements vs first date of last period). I am huge, I am achy, I have about two outfits left, but the most irritating thing has become the swarm of texts, emails, calls and Facebook posts from well meaning friends and family asking, "Is anything happening?! Is she here yet?!!!" Believe me, if anyone is eager to get things moving, it's me. And from the last week of attempting a variety of natural measures to help this baby out, I can tell you that she is very passionate about staying in for now.
One issue with pregnancy in the US that I continue see and experience is this misunderstanding that the due date is the date by which a baby should come, versus the average date around which a baby should come. Once my due date rolled around many people were surprised and I began getting the "Congratulations?" emails. In reality, it's normal to give birth two weeks before or after your date, only nowadays people are so eager to give birth as soon as possible (in keeping with American culture) that many are opting for inductions before or immediately after their due dates.
I'm 5'2" with 25 pounds hanging from my waist, hip muscles that keep feeling like they're going to give out and rib pain from my kid's feet, so believe me I'm uncomfortable, but even so I can't imagine voluntarily saying, "You know what, let's just get her out as soon as possible". Seems really unnatural and disruptive to me.
Of course, now I've gotten to the point where induction is a serious question. It's possible I'm just 8 days late, but it's also possible I'm up to 14 days late, so the longer I stay pregnant the riskier it may be. My mind has been in a bit of a turmoil about all this. First I had to prepare for a c-section at 38 weeks and now I'm between 41-42 weeks and having to prepare for a possible induction. Bloody hell! I've read a ton about it and it's really hard to understand the true pros and cons when the variables fluctuate so much from one woman to the next. For instance, induction has to be different for someone who is 37 versus 41 weeks pregnant.
So today I have the non stress test and BPP to see how the baby is doing, after which some real decisions have to be made. As natural as I want everything to be, when I haven't progressed at all in a month, the baby hasn't dropped and I can still run around Golden Gate Park unfazed, one has to wonder if this baby has any idea how old she is. (I kid.)
Whatever happens, I just hope she's safe and healthy.Read more link text
Yesterday I saw these baby Tom's at Shoe Biz on Haight. How cute are they?!Read more link text
Yesterday Nick & I finished packing our hospital bag. It's an interesting process and gave me chills much like I had before I got married. I kept thinking, "My life will never be the same when I get back from this journey". And packing for the unexpected is difficult...What size will she be? What size will I be?
I decided to call a friend who delivered at Marin General a few months ago to find out what I really needed and what I could leave at home. As every hospital is different and every person is different, it was good to have a real world view on what to bring as opposed to following a baby book list, which tend to be ridiculously long. The key things she mentioned were flip flops, nursing pjs and champagne & a bottle opener to celebrate with. She also said to hide any prenatal vitamins from the nurses because they won't let you take any drugs/vitamins that they don't give you (and bill you for) and that many things (like underwear and diapers) they hospital provides.
So I pulled a little from books, a lot from my friend and added some Sara necessities, like special mixes I made to either energize or relax me during labor depending on my mood.
Here's my list:
• flip flops or slippers (some women's feet swell)
• a comfortable outfit for returning home (sweats and a t-shirt, nothing fancy)
• nursing bra
• socks (preferably non-skid)
• toiletries (there's nothing worse than bad conditioner on curly long hair)
• happy massager (for when Nick's hands tire)
• nursing pajamas (or even just a v-neck/easy access top)
• 2 outfits for bébé, 1 newborn size and 1 for 0-3 months, plus socks, mitts and a hat
• Aden + Anais swaddling blanket
• protein bars
• camera & charger
• iphone with all my favorite music, 2 mixes & charger
• journal & pen
• champagne/wine and bottle opener to celebrate!
The car seat is installed, the bag is packed, I'm in the slow process of pre-labor and now it's all a waiting game!
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This past weekend Nick and I stayed at Gaige House in Glen Ellen for our "babymoon". On our way we went to Hopmonk Tavern in Sonoma, which is a nice brewery with good food, great beer on draft and outdoor seating.
Once we got to Gaige House we were ready for some real R&R. We swam, took baths in this amazing deep stone tub, listened to rain trickling on stones in our little private Zen garden and cozied up by the fire. It was really relaxing and fun to get away, to waddle around a new town, and to feel removed from everything if only for a couple days.
Now back to the waiting game...Read more link text
My obsession of the week is Kit + Lili, makers of beautiful and fun printed pieces for kids and for women. I especially adore their sunsuits (or rompers), which are the perfect pieces for girls who want to be free to climb trees but don't want to dress like tomboys. Some of their bolder prints remind me of Orla Kiely. Lovely.Read more link text
I realized this week that I started The Fog Line just over a year ago. So much has changed since then. Since becoming pregnant nearly nine months ago, Nick and I have been dealing with two cases of cancer, multiple surgeries and doctor visits, two moves, an IRS audit (they wanted proof I went to school and thank goodness I did!), an OMI eviction and a bunch of other random WTF moments. It's been a tough year with some shitty luck (or karma perhaps) but I think it's also taught us that if we can be happy and still enjoy life while being bombarded by madness, then we're in a good place. And of course the silver lining is that despite all the bad stuff, in just a couple weeks we'll be experiencing one of -if not the-happiest moment(s) of our lives.
Speaking of which, last week I got some pretty rad news. In the last four weeks my placenta "moved" from about .7cm to nearly 4cm away from my cervix, so I no longer have placenta previa and I no longer need a c-section. Though I have to admit I was getting pretty used to the idea of not having to deliver naturally, I am very happy with the news and feel very lucky that my body corrected itself in such a short amount of time and that the baby & I are not in danger. It's been a weird couple weeks since Nick and I were preparing for the baby to come next week as opposed to in 3-4 weeks.
If this last year has taught me anything it's that I despite how much I may think I can control my life and my body, the only thing I can really control is my mind and my reaction to what goes on around me. It's actually quite a freeing feeling, one that has brought me back to Taoism and the concept of wu wei, or "non-action", which basically entails going with the flow. Probably a very important concept to live by when you have a child!
As I enter age 2 of The Fog Line, I want to say thank you to my readers and contributors. This has been a fun place to share and I'm looking forward to seeing what happens in the next year.Read more link text
A small collection though it is, I am very happy that Steven Alan has jumped onto the kids clothing bandwagon. His prints are gorgeous...Read more link text
Back in the early 70s, my mom studied Aikido at Saito Sensei's dojo in Japan. This was always very exciting to us kids, especially when Karate Kid came out and my mom whipped out her own personal head scarf and taught us how to do rolls. Years later she was randomly googling herself (we all do it), and found this site dedicated to the dojo. She submitted some of her own photos to the site and now there is this rad collection of her Aikido crew. It's something I really look up to and admire about my mom-that she set off by herself to a foreign country to study martial arts. Aikido in particular is a an art I really admire. Aikido: Ai = harmony, Ki = spirit, do = the way or path.
What do you love about your mom?
(My mom, Mary is the last person on the top row.)Read more link text
A week ago Nick got a call from our landlord telling us she is moving back in and we need to be out on July 1st. Obviously this came as a huge surprise to us and could not have come at a worse time given that I'm having the baby in three weeks and have placenta previa.
After stressful talks with family and lawyers we found out that what the landlord was doing is illegal but that since our lease is up in a few months anyway, we may as well just move now and avoid any court battles or increasingly stressful situations (like the plumbing being crappy for weeks without the landlords doing a thing about it). Of course, since June or July 1st is not an option for us, that meant moving now!
So as of tomorrow Nick, Oakley and I will be moving (again) into a lovely Edwardian apartment near Golden Gate Park.
Despite how incredibly difficult this last week has been, I am staying positive and looking forward to being closer to friends again as well as restaurants, shops and grande parks.
Here's a peak into our new place...Read more link text
I had some fun this week making these custom tees and onesies for my friend's adorable daughter Savannah. A little bit of Illustrator, a little a bit of printing, a touch of the iron and voila!Read more link text
Good morning! I'm 34 weeks along today and over the last few days the baby had completely moved up my belly. It now gets uncomfortable to eat more than small amounts at one time, to lean forward and even to laugh hard (as she seems to be on my diaphragm). In order to continue to get enough good food and nutrients throughout the day, my mom had the great idea to start using a juicer. She brought over this ol' big guy yesterday and it works great. I started my day with carrot apple juice and am out to get more veggies to juice for the week.
Though I've read that drinking fresh juice is the most nutrient-rich, it would be a great idea to make big batches and store them up for the week (freeze them as they go bad quickly); a great time saver that is perfect throughout pregnancy and also while breastfeeding/strapped on time.
TIP: My friend Kate likes to mix juices and smoothies with Whey To Go protein for energy and extra sustenance.Read more link text
Last Saturday Amber threw me an amazing baby shower in her gorgeous flat in North Beach. It was an intimate affair with a few close friends & family and tons of raunchy jokes to get out before the baby comes (sorry mom!). While Amber's sister Kim made a beautiful cake and cookies, Amber decorated her home with pink balloons, handmade streamers and pastel candy and hor d'oeuvres. With some roses from my mom and my gardens and some champagne from Nick, it all came together perfectly!
To view more images and see some baby shower decor ideas, visit iamswell.
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Saturday Amber planned an amazing shower for me that couldn't have been more ideal. Intimate, charming and fun, it was a terrific way to spend a birthday while 8 months pregnant. Posting pictures soon but want to send a shout out to Amber for all that she did-I LOVE you!Read more link text
Growing up I had an early introduction to "ethnic" foods. My father was a chef who owned Indian/Pakistani restaurants and my mom lived in Japan in the early 70s, so I grew up eating things that most of my friends thought were strange. Of course, nowadays everyone is familiar with things like seaweed, tofu and curry, but back in the 1980s you wouldn't find things like vindaloo sauce at the grocery store. In general you could say that I had a very early appreciation for different foods and trying new things.
Nick had a similar experience. Growing up in England, curry was much more common place than in the US and he traveled a lot, which meant he had to be open to different foods and came to love trying new things.
Thirty years later and we're hoping to instill this same passion for food in our kids, which brings me to this awesome book called Jojo Eats Dim Sum, written by James Kye. James is a good friend of ours who is very humble about his talents. We had no idea what to expect until we saw the book for ourselves and realized that not only is he extremely intelligent, witty and kind, but he is an amazing illustrator and author as well. The book is beautifully designed, with elements that make my design heart flutter (large format, incredible drawings mixed with photographs mixed with duotones, creative use of type) but are also great for kids.
Jojo Eats Dim Sum takes you through a day in the life of a child who goes out to dim sum and loves to try new things. A charming and unique story perfect for teaching kids to learn to try, accept and love new things...and hopefully help them to be open-minded eaters. I am buying it for all of my friends with kids-you should too!
The book is available on amazon here.Read more link text
Two weeks ago I posted some items on Etsy that benefit Japan. With the recent news about the radiation levels being as or more dangerous than Chernobyl, I felt the need to showcase another series of items that benefit the people of Japan.
Shop for a cause!Read more link text
I've always had a soft spot for giraffes. They are extraordinarily tall, their coat is magnificent, and they seem rather buddha-esque in demeanor, so what's not to like? Recently though I've become a wee bit obsessed with them. It started when I became pregnant and Nick and I decided to do a safari theme for the nursery. I found wall decals, stuffed animals, sheets, clothing...and no matter how much giraffe paraphenalia I buy, I never seem to tire of it.Read more link text
This weekend I couldn't hold out any longer. When I realized that 98% of my closet didn't come close to fitting me and the other 2% made me look like a bag lady, I knew it was time to go shopping.
In order to not end up buying things for just eight weeks of wear, I decided to go one or two sizes up in cozy, flouncy dresses that I could belt and cinch later. Two amazing brands for this are Splendid and Velvet, which use high quality cotton that does not pill or stretch out and therefore looks good through multiple washings.
Thanks to a birthday gift card for Bloomies, I ended up with three great dresses:
Splendid's Venice Stripe Tee Dress and Velvet by Graham & Spencer's Katia Mesh Tank Dress and Latrice Baby Jersey Tank Dress with Rosette Detail. Not only are all of these incredibly comfy, but they pair well with different things, making them very versatile and perfect for a city like San Francisco where microclimates have you layering up and down constantly.
Next up was pants; by far my greatest challenge in pregnancy. Every belly sits differently, on top of which too tight of waist bands can cause discomfort whereas too loose of waist bands give you baggy bottom (or just fall off). Finally I found something stylish, comfortable and well-fitting: Gap's Demi Panel Skinny Cargo Pants. They are soft and fitted, easy to pull on and off and can be dressed up and down. Plus, for someone short with hips like me, they help balance out your silhouette so you don't look like one big belly.
Finding the right sizing can be tough. While many companies say to go with the size you were pre-pregnancy, I found this to be true only in the second trimester but not when well into your third. With your hips (and other bits) expanding, even if you're at a healthy weight it's likely you'll go up a size or two in maternity clothes.
My next step in the third trimester clothing hunt will be for cute shoes that are supportive. As much as I love to wear flats, I've realized that my Nike Free Runs are the only shoes that allow me to walk around all day without getting backaches or round ligament pain. Of course, these would look terrible with most of my clothes! I've been adding inserts into my shoes but it's just not the same. Have any suggestions?
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This morning Nick and I toured the maternity ward at Marin General Hospital, where we'll be having our baby. It was The first time I didn't feel nervous in a hospital, in part because it was quiet and surrounded by green, and also because we were there for good reasons.
After learning that they have the best (or one of) hospital lactation services in the state, they leave the baby on your chest for an hour plus directly after birth, they allow you to be with the baby constantly but also have a great nursery, they have only private rooms and they have the mountains as views, I knew we'd picked the right place.
• I've been told they have an awesome nursing staff.
• A mini fridge in every room.
• Armchairs that convert to single beds for partners.
• A seriously cute baby store in the ward.
• A park across the street in case anyone needs some fresh air.
• Good food options close by.
This week has taken it out of me, so I retired to be bed as soon as I wrapped up an afternoon meeting. Of course I am the worst napper in the world so I ended up hunting on Etsy for nursery items and I found this incredible Spanish illustrator Blanca Gómez. Her prints have a serious vintage style that I adore. I'm hoping Nick feels the same way
as I'd love to get a couple of these prints for the nursery...or even our bedroom.
To view the full Cosas Minimas collection (called blancucha on etsy), click here.
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Diane von Furstenberg is doing maternity now! There are only four pieces online, but it's a great start. Her wrap dresses and slinky fabrics are perfect for pregnant ladies.
In addition, the rumor mill is saying that DVF may do a line for Gap Kids. Fingers crossed!Read more link text
C-sections are not a topic I thought I'd ever write about, but on Monday I found out that I am almost definitely going to have to get one due to a low lying placenta (basically borderline placenta previa). After 23 weeks in prenatal yoga learning how to breath, position myself and battle my fears of pain, I was feeling ready to have a natural birth. I had learned a ton about the cons of c-sections--how they are unnatural, increase the chance of infections, can affect the baby's health, and so one--and I was committed to avoiding one. I never thought I'd be part of that small percentage where a cesarean is the only safe option.
Needless to say I was quite disappointed with the news, but in the last day I have had a ton support which has really helped me feel better about all of this. When my yoga instructor--a total advocate for natural all the way--agreed with my doctor's approach, I felt more acceptance of the new plan. Should natural birth not be an option at all, at least I know that the cesarean is not for the doctor's convenience or the hospital's liability, it's so the baby and I don't die.
So with that morbid bit out of the way, I wanted to list some pros of having a planned c-section for all of those women out there who wanted to go natural but can't and need a bright outlook on things. Most of these I've gotten from the many wonderful women in my life. I love you ladies! If you have any more to add to the list, please let me know ;-)
The Benefits Of Having A Planned C-Section:
1. You can plan your life better. When out of town family members are calling and asking you when they should come, you can actually give them a date.
2. You can return to bedroom activity sooner.
3. You can go into the hospital with your hair and makeup done (and you don't have to shave your legs).
4. Since you know the day of your child's birth, it'll feel like Christmas Eve every day leading up to it.
5. You won't be exhausted by the time you get to see your child.
6. You don't have to worry about incontinence post-pregnancy.
7. No episiotomy!
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This video has gone viral, but just in case you haven't seen it, I thought I'd share. This makes me really excited to have a kid. These twins are too funny!Read more link text
A segment on pregnancy that I wrote at 20 weeks...
How To Feel the True Girth Of Your Belly:
1. Go to the beach, set down your towel, lie down on it, sunbathe a bit, now flip over. Oh wait! You can't lie flat, can you? Here's an idea: lift your towel, dig a hole the size of your belly and lie back down. There you go!
2. Put on your last remaining pair of jeans that (you think) fit. Walk out of your room and listen as your significant other/friend says "Babe, those don't look comfortable. I think you should stick to dresses".
3. Get pumped about surfing, go out with an instructor in the ocean, awkwardly try to lay flat on your board. Now from a flat position, try to reach your right leg through your body, past your belly and lift, all while balancing low on the board. Fall over and listen to your instructor yell "This is your last sport! You're too pregnant!" Ah that's too bad. And here you thought you could be so athletic, but alas your girth has proven you wrong.
4. Get on a bike, peddle, then try to do something basic like ride over a bump. Oops! Did you fall? Are strangers asking if you're okay as you clean the gravel out of your hands and legs? Do you feel like a seven year old learning how to ride a bike for the first time? Looks like the belly has thrown your balance off my dear! (Don't worry mom, I didn't fall on my belly and I'm fine, just gravel-y.)Read more link text
Over the weekend I found this awesome London-based kid's store online called Little Lunalu. The shop carries a bunch of stylish and fun brands from Europe and the US, including two awesome Swedish labels Mini Rodini and Let Them Eat Cake. The background behind how creator Adina Belloli got started is quite cool too. Wanting to merge her passion for charity with her love of fashion, she started the Lunalu Foundation to better the lives of underpriveleged children. 5% of all sales from the store goes to this charity!
I love finding a shop like this. Not only is the gear unique and playful, but it benefits a great cause as well. If you're ever looking for shower gifts and want to give back while you're at it, Little Lunalu is a great fit.
(P.S. David Bowie baby is rad, right?)
Ensemble Poet outfit by Talc.
Moon from Okido Magazine.
Shirt from Swedish brand Mini Rodini.
Blue Tutu from Little Lunalu.
At nearly 29 weeks, I've come a long way in my pregnancy (yet still have another three months to go). The entire process has been eye opening to me and taught me a lot about what it is to be human and the beginnings of what it means to be a mother. I've been sending updates to my family and friends expressing some of the oddities and wonders of pregnancy and one of these friends suggested I share it on The Fog Line. So here goes...
(Title somewhat borrowed from the great graphic designer Stefan Sagmeister.)
Things I Have Learned In My Pregnancy So Far
• Control Is Overrated. The more pregnant I get, the less predictability and control I have over my life and body. I don't know how I'll feel when I wake up (which means planning activities is tough), I don't understand why fat is developing in non-belly regions where I never battled fattiness before, and I can't stop my hair from thinning. The process reminds me of the book Tuesdays With Morrie in which Morrie learns to let go as he ages, likening getting older to slowly reverting back into an infant and learning to accept and enjoy the process as much as possible. I'm starting to realize it's a much more relaxed way to live, letting go and not trying to control everything.
• It's Okay If the Only Thing Holding Up My Pants Is A Hairband. If it works, go with it! Better than trying to find pregnancy jeans when you're 5'4" and half your body is belly.
• The Easiest Way To Get An Ass Is To Get Pregnant. Enough Said.
• I Don't Like To Follow Rules. I go in hot tubs, I eat raw fish, I have the occasional glass of wine...and guess what?! My doctor said all of this is perfectly fine, he just doesn't tell most of his patients in case they blame him for their baby being sick (even if it doesn't apply to any of these things).
• Feeling A Person Moving Inside Your Belly Is Pure Insanity. There's nothing that compares to it. It's pretty awesome, especially when you can see your belly move and feel flipping and such. Some people say it's like having an alien inside of you. I wouldn't know anything about that, but I can say it's like having the craziest stomach grumbles of your life.
• People Who Have Obnoxious Kids Should Not Dish Out Unwarranted Parenting Advice. Just saying.
• It's Best To Just Laugh At Yourself. One day I feel like great, the next like an old lady, hips aching and unable to get out of a chair without momentum. Then there's the fact that I now say nonsensical things, forget what I'm doing in the middle of an action and am seconds away from being unable to tie my shoes. I went for a run the other week at the gym and as I looked over at my reflection I thought "Humpty Dumpty, that's who I look like!" You may call this cute, but it's pretty damn hilarious looking too. In the words of my father, I like to say "Fuck it!" (you have to lift one arm up and flick your hand as you say this for ultimate effect) and smile.
• Yoga Is My Best Friend. One week without it proved that I would be in a lot of pain and discomfort if I hadn't started taking prenatal classes five months ago. It's also pretty awesome to be in a room of 20 bellies; it's taught me the importance of community.
• The Elderly Have It Rough. Pregnancy has awoken me to what it will feel like to be an old achy women with multiple ailments. So tough. Open doors and lift things for the elderly!!
• Just Because I'm Craving A Cupcake Doesn't Mean I Should Make A Whole Batch For Myself.
• There Is No Such Thing As Too Big Of A Pickle. Regardless of how much room they take up in the fridge.
• Heightened Sensitivities Make For One High-Maintenance Person. I know I'm theatrical, but I've never considered myself high-maintenance until now. It kind of sucks to be so sensitive to everything and have so many ailments. Sorry guys. It will be over soon.
• Single Moms Have It Rough. I know I'm not officially a mom yet, but I can't imagine having to take on all of this without Nick. He's been wearing many hats these days...masseuse, chef, therapist, personal assistant. And it's only going to get harder. Props to single moms who do it all solo and props to supportive husbands too!
• I Probably Should Have Chosen A Career In Research. I can't even tell you how many books, websites, films, tv shows and podcasts about pregnancy, birth and parenting I've read and listened to in the last few months. I'm obsessed. It's as if I think it will actually make me a better parent.
• Pregnancy Is A Ten Month Project. Not nine, no no. Don't be fooled. 40 weeks people, 40 weeks!
• There Is No Way Pregnancy Brain Is Just A Myth. No way. Unless I'm getting dementia.
• The Best Way To Avoid Revealing Your Baby Name Is To Make One Up. Thanks Mom for the awesome gift of Sonoma Williams.Read more link text
There is never a shortage of cute animal gear on Etsy regardless of your animal of choice. And who doesn't love an elephant? As a kid I remember buying my dad a stone elephant for his birthday to remind him of Kashmir. He said, "Honey, I love this, but when family comes I have to hide it because it is a Hindu idol and I'm Muslim and I'm not supposed to have these things".Read more link text
ETSY is my goto spot for nursery decor. They have a great selection of prints, many of which can be personalized, plus they are available in a variety of sizes and prices to fit any room size or budget. Enjoy!
(Click on an image to be taken to the store.)Read more link text
Although mentally it's nice to think about having new clothes for your new baby, it's also pretty expensive to dress someone who changes sizes every couple weeks or so (or really every day, right?). A great way to save money and have a plethora of nice outfits for bébé is to start thrift store shopping. Some boutiques will offer used clothes, but they are usually just as expensive as new. The best place to find nice, clean, and even new baby gear is to get out of the city and go to a place like Napa or Petaluma and score the vintage/thrift shops there.
Thanks to my mom, one stop at a shop in Napa and I ended up with adorable, fun, practical and new baby clothes for as little as .25 cents! While pieces by brands like Gymboree are the most "expensive" at $1.50 for a dress, fancy but unknown labels usually go for under $1. In other words, these shops are goldmines for baby clothes!
Of course, when you bring the clothes home they don't have quite the new clothes smell, so just wash the used clothes in a baby-safe detergent and you're good to go. With an entire wardrobe for under $15, the detergent will probably be your most expensive purchase. Plus, buying used is the most eco-conscious option (provided you don't drive 50 miles to get to a store) and any chemicals in the cotton and dyes are typically gone by the time you buy them.Read more link text
If you're looking for unique baby finds, Olliebollen is a great online source, with a great selection of clothes, toys, books and furniture from European and American designers.Read more link text
Last week I had the pleasure of spending a few days in Seattle for a mix of work and play. My younger brother and his fiance live in Fremont and he toured me around some areas I haven't seen yet. He also took me to The Land of Nod, the incredibly cute childrens store I wrote about a few weeks ago. So far there are only four stores in the country, with three in Illinois and one in Seattle, so I was stoked to be able to see all the cool merchandise in person. I got a bunch of fun things for the nursery and finally feel like it's coming together!
At 24 weeks it was a bit of a challenge to travel, mostly because walking a lot and sitting for extended periods of time makes for one sore lady, but all in all it was manageable. However, a couple incidents at the airport pissed off and I thought I'd get the word out for fellow pregnant travelers...
First off, two SFO TSA agents asked me what was in my "pockets" and then patted their bellies. They seemed to be allowing all children and their mothers to go through the regular screening, but even though I was wearing a tight shirt which clearly showed that I am pregnant, they idiotically kept asking me to empty my front pocket and made me go through the full scanner. This was more annoying and silly than anything else.
The second incident really pissed me off. Apparently a lot of airlines have a policy where the flight attendants won't help you with your luggage due to liability measures, which I was not aware of. I ended up flying to Seattle on Virgin America, who were awesome, and on the way back with United. Since I was carrying a laptop in my suitcase, I didn't want to check my bag (or pay the fee to), so when I got to the terminal I politely asked the attendant at the counter if I could pre-board and have someone help me lift my luggage into the overhead compartment. Basically I was trying to avoid holding up a ton of people. Not only was the attendant snappy and passive, barely looking up at me to communicate, but she said, "Well you can pre-board if you want to, but we can't help you with your luggage" (then smirked), "You could see if another passenger will help you". WTF! What kind of policy is that? Then right after I left the desk she went on the intercom and announced that they were doing free bag checks at her counter. I couldn't believe 1.) She didn't even explain United's policy to me and 2.) She didn't offer to check my bag.
Not only does this show United's bad customer service, but it shows how f**king ridiculous certain policies are. There should be a free bag check for people with medical conditions or the elderly. It is unfair to charge people for bag checks who can't physically lift their bags over their heads.
The whole situation made me angry and saddened for really sick and elderly people, and also upset that a fellow women would not understand the limitations of being pregnant and at least offer to check my bag for me. Needless to say, I'm putting United on my boycott list.
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Spring is near, which means beach weather is approaching soon. Growing up by the ocean, I was always a big beach bum and had no problem jumping into the cold ocean to body surf and boogie board. My only concern was sharks.
When I was younger the Jaws movies were huge, instilling fear of the ocean into even the most knowledgeable ocean swimmers. I made the mistake of watching them right around the time I learned in school that our nearby bays are breeding grounds for Great Whites and that they can swim in very shallow water. When giant oral shark skeletons that I could easily crawl through were brought into class by marine biologists, my fear of sharks solidified.
A few years back I went sea kayaking with my mom off the coast of Kona. Everything was going well until she sliced her foot on some lava while snorkeling. Blood started gushing everywhere. I started screaming "Mom, get in the kayak! Hurry!" I climbed back into our little boat faster than you could yell "Sharrrrrrk!" while my mom slowly made her way over. I was completely freaked out for the rest of the journey that we were going to have sharks tracking us, and of course nothing happened. After this experience I knew I had to conquer my fear of sharks, mostly because I love nothing more than being in the ocean, and I bought a gold shark tooth necklace-which I wear all the time-as a symbol of this goal. Now, I love sharks! (Just, errr, not big ones next to me while I'm swimming.)Read more link text
Um...have you seen Topshop's maternity collection? It's badass! Not only do the clothes look comfortable, but they are fun and completely on trend. I love the cinnamon colored dress, the crochet, the prints! Check out more of their items here.
Yellow Knitted Short Sleeve Swing Top, $56.
Grey Baxter Jeans, $80.
Terracotta Slouchy Button Front Dress, $100.
Nude Mesh & Lace Nursing Bra, $36.
Nude Mesh & Lace Mini, $12.
Butterfly Blouse, $92.
Rose Paperbag Waist Tapered Trousers, $85.
One of the coolest kid's stores in San Francisco is Giggle in the Marina. Their shop is well curated (online and in store), they have the most stylish baby gear and they have a wide range of products from books to clothing to strollers. They also give free shipping on online orders over $75.
It's refreshing to walk into a kid's store and see modern and well-designed things!
Our Picks: Babycook: $149, Boxy Backpack Diaper Bag 'Springtime in Surrey': $167, Sophie the Giraffe Non-Toxic Teether, $23, Giraffe Shoes: $29, Coco Stylewood Baby Lounger & Snug Seat Liner: $240, and Animals Everywhere Board Book: $7.
(*We've read great things about the Babycook and Giraffe teether especially!)Read more link text
Have you checked out Crate & Barrel's online kid's store The Land of Nod? They have a huge collection of great kid gear from tons of different brands and free shipping on many of their items.Read more link text
Chic & Cheap Nursery is having a bunch of giveaways which end this weekend. The one I'm entering and keeping my fingers crossed for is this amazing Stokke giveaway which includes a Sleepi Crib with mattress and bedding plus a Care Changing Table (worth about $2200!). I've been mildly obsessed with this crib for months now. Isn't is rad?!Read more link text
A few years ago I was taking this intense eco-science class at CUNY Graduate Center and ended up writing a mini-thesis on the cotton industry and the struggle of farmers to switch to organic due to competition, technical issues and US subsidies. Cotton is one of those crops that farmers use a ton of pesticides to grow (25% of the world's pesticides), not to mention that in the US dangerous genetically modified organisms (GMOs) are allowed in order to better compete with other country's cotton productions. Not only are these harsh toxins in cotton products, but the process of growing them endangers the lives of cotton farmers and surrounding communities because the chemicals seep into their bodies, water and food supplies.
Even though at times it is unclear whether organic is always really the best option, when it comes to cotton it's safe to say it's the best option ethically and at the very least it's environmentally safer. Additionally, organic cotton tends to be softer and more durable due to longer fibers.
As you can probably tell, I'm pretty gung ho about sticking to organic cotton products as much as possible, especially for babies, who have very delicate skin and like to suck on everything! Here are some tips I've learned along the way as well as some great organic cotton products.
•Bedding: Organic crib mattresses are pretty expensive at $250+, but babies spend most of their early lives sleeping. Another option would be to pair a more affordable mattress with an organic cotton mattress pad & sheeting. Before the baby comes, air out the mattress for a few weeks to release any toxins and then add the pad and bedding.
•Clothing: Stores like H&M, American Apparel and Target carry affordable organic baby clothes, but for anything that is not organic you can wash your child's clothes in a non-toxic detergent before they wear them to release some of the toxins and soften them up. The same goes for inorganic bedding & gear. (Used versions are a great option as they have probably released any toxins already.) Beware of brand name detergent companies making "Green" products as many times these are still filled with chemicals. Opt instead for products like Method, Dr. Bronner's and Meyer's. It may be more expensive, but it's probably much more concentrated and longer lasting.
Under the Nile Organic Cotton Monkey, $13 at Under the Nile.
Halo Sleepsack Blanket, $25 at Halo Innovations.
ErgoBaby Organic Cotton Sport Infant & Toddler Carrier, $118 at Amazon.
Serena & Lily Organic Maggie Crib Set, $275 at Serena & Lily. (They're having a sale! 20% off sheeting.)
Splendid, maker of super soft tees, now have a line for Target. I checked the pieces out in person and they are just as soft and stretchy as you'd hope they would be. Love this collaboration!Read more link text
I've spent a lot of time recently researching gear for kiddies, and three items on my dream list are:
1. Madsen Cycle: A seriously cool bike in terms of style and function, the basket is perfect for kids and groceries!
2. Hushamok Dream: This gorgeous hammock-bassinet is eco-friendly, simple, safe and supposedly quite cozy for kiddies.
3. Mabo Drawstring Pants: There's nothing more comfortable to me than my jersey sweats, so I love the idea of having some for bebe as well.
Every pregnant women struggles with figuring out what to wear as their belly grows bigger. First you're too small for maternity wear and too large for your normal clothing, next all you can find are frumpy items that make you feel like a tent. The key is to stick to the basics first, like leggings and fitted tops, and add complementary layering pieces like button down shirts (borrow your partners!), sweaters and dresses. Just don't pair baggy bottoms with baggy tops!
And you don't have to spend a lot of money. For tops with stretch, a lot of times just choosing a size or two up works and is cheaper than shopping in the maternity department. And for bottoms, there are always belly bands to convert your normal pants to maternity ones. If you're missing out on new trends in clothing and shoes (such if your shoe size is changing), there's always accessories like bags and scarfs to spice up your wardrobe. I just got this beautiful handcrafted organic thread tote from Fabric & Handle to add some print to my wardrobe.
Maryl Tote Shopping Bag, $39 at Fabric & Handle (10% off when you sign up to receive their newsletters or visit them on Facebook).
ASOS Maternity Exclusive Kate Indigo Jeggings, $45 at ASOS.
Polo Ralph Lauren Denim Shirt, $125 at Ralph Lauren.
A couple weeks ago I wrote about origami and how I want to design a mobile for my daughter's nursery out of paper origami. For inspiration I went to Etsy and found a bunch of really cool mobiles, made with everything from paper to driftwood to repurposed materials. There are so many different directions you can take depending on your style. I'm a sucker for origami so I'm going to attempt that route.
(Click on an image to be taken to the Etsy store.)Read more link text
A couple days ago I had a mini-accident on my bike and completely tore up the palms of my hands and my right knee. Luckily I wasn't going fast and when I toppled over I caught the ground with my legs and hands, and my belly didn't come close to hitting anything, but it was still scary. My belly is rapidly growing right now and I don't think I noticed how off balance I am. I figured cycling was a safe exercise provided I stayed on trails, but my "girth" has proved otherwise.
The biggest bummer is that I go to yoga regularly and I have to skip it until my hands heal, or at least are not huge open painful wounds. I go to YogaWorks in Larkspur and Mill Valley and love it. The teachers are amazing and I'm starting to feel like part of a community, especially in my prenatal classes, which by the way have become an integral part of me feeling comfortable, sane and prepared for pregnancy and birth. I highly recommend them!
My mom started practicing yoga as a kid (she was obsessed with all things Indian, including my father) and so my brother and I grew up playing around with it, but it wasn't until I reached my twenties that I started practicing more regularly. I really have to work at it, while my brother Kaleem is somewhat of a natural. I took this photo of him a few years ago at a lake in Yosemite. One day I'll get that strong and flexible, but for now, I'm going to go on a walk!Read more link text
Yesterday Nick and I went to our 20 week ultrasound and found out that we're having a girl! I had a strong feeling it was a girl, but would have been happy either way. I have to admit though that I think it will be easier to have a girl since I've had some experience with three younger sisters.
I'm also thrilled about dressing a little girl and making her clothes, and right now I'm on the hunt for cute, practical and soft organic items. I went to a number of stores this last week and most of what I found was made of cheap material or overpriced. On Etsy, on the other hand, has so many great options with unique and fun handmade designs.Read more link text
Though I promised my friend I would not turn this blog into a purely baby-centric one, I will be sharing tips and finds here and there. Now that I'm pregnant I've realized how difficult it is to find cute pregnancy clothes, cool baby gear, etc., and I can't leave my fellow mamas in the dark!
So one of the things I've had a hard time with is finding a nice diaper bag that's functional and stylish. I have a nice brown leather bag with good lining that I plan to use when I don't have to carry too much, but I will definitely need something for traveling, even if it's just a day trip to Napa. I hate carrying multiple bags, so one idea I have is to get a diaper bag that is gender neutral so that my husband doesn't mind carrying it. But I also love great prints, like this adorable safari theme one by LeSportsac that perfectly fits our nursery theme. And then the fact that this cool quilted leather shoulder bag by Storksak looks nothing like a diaper bag but rather an awesome traveler is quite appealing as well.Read more link text
My older brother Kaleem and I have always been a bit obsessed with origami and mobiles. Every time there's a Calder exhibit, we're there. And as kids we always had origami kits handy. The Hexrug I posted about yesterday reminded me of this rad sculpture Kaleem made a year ago, which led me to an idea...why not mix mobiles and origami! I'm clearly not the first person to think this idea up, but with my brother's insane paper folding abilities and my design background, I'm thinking we can come up with something great for the nursery. Handmade, homemade, geometric and yet organic.
(Kaleem's Paper Art, 2009. Please credit this photo to my bro if you reuse it!)Read more link text
I've been doing a ton of research on important foods for woman to eat during and after pregnancy, and with New Years resolutions coming up I thought I'd share some of the top foods to eat...
Fish is incredibly important while pregnant as it has key minerals and oils (omega fatty acids) that help the baby's visual and brain development as well as the mother's skin, energy and hormonal balance. Many woman don't eat enough fish for fear of mercury, but it's all about picking the right fish. Salmon is typically a very safe option, whereas species like albacore and swordfish are high in mercury. To learn the mercury content in seafood, visit gotmercury.org.
Like most green veggies, broccoli is filled with antioxidants, folate and calcium...all important for the baby's (or babies) development.
Nutrient rich with things like folate, calcium and B vitamins.
Super rich in antioxidants as well as nutrient rich, great for brain development and the immune system.
Filled with fiber, folate, b vitamins and helps woman fill up with milk while nursing.
Full of omega fatty acids (different than fish), which are important for visual and brain development.
I highly recommend oatmeal with blueberries and walnuts for breakfast. Delicious and helped my nausea!Read more link text
Since I've been pregnant I've been spending much more time exploring Etsy's baby and kids stuff. I love how much cute handmade stuff there is as well as vintage finds. Some fun holiday gift ideas for kids and moms...
Peony the Woodland Bear, $28 at SleepyKing.
Falling Leaves Baby Mittens, $21 at Qute.
Reindeer Baby Beanie, $8 at SmallCappello.
Fireflies Tee, $22 at TwiceStudios.
Natural Buggy Mobile, $16 at SmoochyBabyDesign.
Handmade Pudgy Bird Stuffed Animal in Aqua, $12 at BubbleTime.
Moon Jellyfish in Wool, $20 at Awkward.
Vintage A Big Golden Book: Rudolph, $8 at VintageSurplus.
Modern Christmas Soak Proof Bib, $10 at MimiAndLola.
In the midst of November madness, I had forgotten how fun holiday weekends can be-filled with good food, great company and cozy fireside chats. Thanksgiving was relaxing and surprisingly easy to host, despite an ill-timed bout of extreme nausea minutes before eating time. Friday we all went on a hike, my older brother committed to finding chanterelle mushrooms in the forest while Nick and I sat overlooking the incredible open space before us. Marin is 70% reserved open space, thus an amazing place to escape the crowds of Black Friday. The temperature was ideal for hiking, and we could see the city skyline in the background behind miles of green. My happy place.
Though we didn't shop at all on Friday, Saturday we ended up making a very large purchase, a new car! We traded in our VW GTI for a Jetta TDI Sportwagen. Though Nick is sad to see Speedy Gonzalez go, we are stoked with our new car and also in a sort of "shit-we-are-officially-adults-we-own-a-family-car" daze. While Nick loves the fact that it has a turbo diesel engine that gets up to 50 mpg on the highway, I love the heated seats, large sunroof and GPS. I also love the fact that I won't fall each time I try to get out of the backseat because there are now four doors.
Saturday I also went to my first prenatal yoga class, which was a great pleasure not only because it relieved a lot of tension but also because I met a group of incredible women and for the first time in my pregnancy was able to converse with other pregnant women. I can't tell you how comforting that is! Later at night we went to my dear friend's house for dinner and was introduced to her friend who is just 3 weeks more pregnant than me. Again-so nice to have someone to relate to. Also amazing to have a cozy dinner in a warm wood house surrounded by Redwood trees (I wish I had taken pictures). Another happy place.
As this long weekend comes to a close I hope that you have all had a lovely holiday and a great end to November.Read more link text
I adore this Scandinavian nursery I found via The Style Files. The deer duvet cover is from Nord and the Kili crib from Danish brand Sebra. Though our nursery is bound to end up much less minimal, it's inspiring nonetheless.Read more link text
Last week I woke up and realized that nothing in my closet was fitting me. I threw on this dress I bought at a boutique in Nolita 4-5 years ago, then fussed with accessories and such. I told my husband "I feel like I look like a bag lady". Well apparently that style is in because I ended up being shot by Fashioni.st later that day. I'm very shy and uncomfortable in front of the camera and ended up spilling some huge beans to the photographer...I'm pregnant! To see the full post, go here.
I think I had some of a Tartine croissant on my chin ;-)Read more link text