Monday, April 30, 2018

Pre-baby splurges

We made a couple of indulgent purchases for ourselves right before the baby arrived, since we figured that we'd be spending more time at home for the foreseeable future. We stepped things up in two specific categories, both of which directly related to being new parents:

new coffee grinder

Caffeine - we'd been using a 20 year old coffee grinder that we inherited from my parents over a decade ago. It had finally gotten to the point where it needed to be held together while in use, because otherwise it popped apart and spewed coffee everywhere. It took us six months of debate to finally pull the trigger on a really nice (and very expensive) coffee grinder (the Baratza Virtuoso), but I have no regrets. Our coffee tastes better, the grinding is quieter, and it's much easier to use and clean. We've been putting it through its paces since we went on parental leave and I'm keeping my fingers crossed that we get many years of use out of it.

new bedding

"Sleep" (it's probably more accurate just to say "bed" since these days we spend a whole lot of time in bed but NOT sleeping) - when it comes to sheets I like having just one really nice set that we use every day (plus a set of flannel sheets that we'll use if it gets really cold in the winter). It takes up less storage space, and I don't mind just washing them every Sunday and putting them straight back on the bed (no folding!). I'm a little crazy about sheets and I tend to read a million reviews before purchasing. I want to feel like I'm sleeping in a hotel, and I want them to be crisp and heavy, nothing sateen. I splurged on a set of Parachute's percale bedding a little over two years ago, and we really liked the sheets. They had a good texture and held up well to daily use, but two weeks before the baby was born they finally gave in and the fitted sheet ripped right through. I considered just repurchasing the same ones, but decided to give Matteo a try instead. They have a showroom in Los Angeles, so we made a trip over there to check the sheets out in person before committing. We ended up getting lucky and we were able to find the exact bedding I wanted in the showroom, which meant we got 50% off (and I think there was some additional discount? I was extremely pregnant and not super aware of the math, but it ended up being so much cheaper than I expected). If you love heavy hotel bedding, I highly recommend Matteo's Nap line. I can't speak to their longevity yet but they are thicker than the Parachute fabric and I'm sure they'll last at least as long. And yes, we did discuss how insane it was to purchase new white bedding with a dog and a baby, but I really, really love a stark white bed and we decided to just go with it and see how bad it got. A few weeks in and we're doing fine, although I have stepped up the washing to twice a week for the time being (this is definitely necessary because we're in bed at least 14 hours per day, it feels like, and I've given up and now eat some meals in bed too). I have to say that having really great bedding makes the long, sleepless nights and the bleary eyed breastfeeding sessions feel much better.

And yes, that is the SNOO next to our bed, and yes, I will definitely be posting a review once I have a better sense of how it's working for us. Technically, this is our biggest indulgent purchase (although we got it on a big holiday sale and I have high hopes that we can sell it once she outgrows it). We've been using it since we brought her home and I *think* that it helps her sleep longer, but at this point we're all still adjusting to life and every single day is different, so it's hard to really say how big a difference it makes. But I'll update! I know I scoured the internet for reviews when I was trying to decide if we should purchase.

P.S. NOT a splurge but the accidental best purchase we made is this lightweight Gladom side table from Ikea - it's super simple, looks decent, weighs almost nothing and you can pull the top off and use it as a tray (which I do if I'm sitting on the larger couch). We got one for the nursery and one week after Adrian was born we realized it was so indispensable that we ordered a second. They are both in constant use, and we move them all over the house. I never start a nursing session without one.

ikea side table

living room set up

P.P.S. - It hurts my heart a little to have all these cell phone photos on the blog and this morning I alllllmost broke down and got out my real camera because I miss having real pictures, but the process for getting actual photos up is so much longer (my phone uploads directly to Flickr for me whereas getting photos off the DSLR is a four step process that requires loading Photoshop on my ancient computer). Perfect is the enemy of good, right?

Thursday, April 26, 2018

Welcome, Adrian Elaine!

This little girl is just over two weeks now, but it feels like she's always been here.


I went off work the day before she was due, but she decided to take her time arriving. I was fine (and appreciating all the extra naps) until I hit 40 weeks and 4 days and I suddenly woke up feeling like I was going to crawl out of my skin. My doctor had already made an appointment for an induction at 41 weeks and 1 day, and I finally just gave in and accepted that nothing was going to happen before then. We used the extra time to see friends, mostly just trying to keep me distracted.

I was surprised by how disappointed I felt when I realized I might not go into labor naturally. We'd done zero labor prep (no classes, no reading, nothing) and I was feeling really unprepared and I had no birth plan other than knowing I was going to go for an epidural, but somehow the idea of being induced made me feel like I'd be leaving something unfinished. I'd made it through this entire pregnancy, and I wanted that moment when I would suddenly realize I was going into labor. But I made it to 40 weeks and 6 days with absolutely zero signs of labor approaching so I was increasingly resigned to the induction.

Well, at exactly 41 weeks I woke up to a painful contraction. By mid-morning I knew I was for sure in labor. I held out for as long as I could at home, but in the early afternoon I told D that I needed to go to the hospital. I couldn't tell if my contractions were six minutes apart or three minutes apart (it turns out they were three minutes apart but every other one was super strong), but they were getting increasingly hard to handle and it felt like they were ramping up quickly. At the hospital they hooked me up for the standard 20 minutes of monitoring, confirmed that I was 4.5 cm dilated and they went ahead and admitted me (probably partly because I was already a week overdue). Within 30 minutes of being admitted, I had an epidural placed and when they checked me again (about 45 minutes after my first check) I was 7.5 cm dilated. At this point, things suddenly started moving really quickly - the nurse got me an oxygen mask and asked me to put it on and started to say something about the baby and then the doctor on call came in and introduced himself and told us that the baby wasn't handling the contractions well and her heart rate had gone way down. He strongly recommended that we do a c-section right away, especially because of the umbilical cord (they'd found out that I had an SUA at our 20 week anatomy scan so we'd been doing extra monitoring during the third trimester). He was willing to let me try laboring a little longer but he felt 90% certain that we'd end up doing an emergency c-section. All of this feels really blurry but Dustin and I both interrupted him and just told him to take her out, whatever they needed to do. I remember feeling panicked, thinking that I'd carried her for so long and there was no way I was going to fuck it up at the very last minute. Since I already had the epidural placed they wheeled me straight into the OR. We had been in the hospital for maybe an hour.

I hadn't done any reading about c-sections so I was surprised when they strapped my arms down and I started to panic. Between the arm restraints and the oxygen mask and not being able to move my legs I was feeling really claustrophobic and I was terrified that I'd throw up and I wouldn't be able to take the mask off. They kindly found me a nasal canula to use instead of the oxygen mask which made it a million times better. Everything felt like it was moving at warp speed. They had the baby out in mere minutes and the NICU team started evaluating her and D was able to go back and forth between us and show me pictures and videos. It took another 20 minutes to close me back up, which felt like an eternity but I was able to relax as soon as they told us that the baby was okay and then the doctors started talking about their weekend plans and I remember thinking that I was probably not going to die because they would definitely not be chatting casually if anything was wrong.

Once the surgery was finished they brought Adrian over to me so I could hold her and then they wheeled us both into the recovery room. Everything had happened so quickly that I was in a bit of shock. We hadn't even had time to tell our families that we'd been admitted to the hospital. I was having a hard time believing that this was the baby who I'd been carrying all these months. She had a full head of jet black hair and the longest fingers and toes. I remember feeling overwhelmed and happy but I didn't have that instant sense of recognition that some people talk about. She was just this sweet, adorable stranger that we were suddenly in charge of. Over the next few days we slowly got to know her and fall in love with her. It feels like the craziest thing, creating a human being, bringing her home. Even at two weeks in we're still constantly turning to each other in disbelief. We have a baby, an actual BABY, who is going to become a tiny person and then an adult. I want everything to speed up and slow down at the same time. I love listening to the little noises she makes and we're already noticing how she changes from day to day. This is going to be such a crazy ride, guys.

Adrian, 2 days and 2 weeks
{two days vs. two weeks}

P.S. - I'll probably post about c-section recovery once I'm a little further along. Unsurprisingly, I hadn't prepared myself for a c-section so I had no idea what the recovery was going to entail. I'm incredibly lucky in that I also hadn't spent any time preparing for a vaginal birth (apparently I was just hoping this baby would magically appear?), so I didn't have any major disappointment that it worked out this way, but dealing with the recovery is more intense than I anticipated.

Friday, March 9, 2018

Around here

I have lots of thoughts about pregnancy, and how strange and sweet and scary it is but I have zero time to write about them. So here are some photos, and then a few thoughts at the bottom, which are probably pretty scattered.

painting in progress

tiny clothes





Things I want to write about: body image during pregnancy, anxiety during pregnancy, the annoyance of nearly constant contractions that apparently don't mean anything, the fact that I've been so busy at work that I forgot to sign up for any of the classes our doctor asked us to sign up for and now it's too late and I feel like I'm already a bad parent, how our house basically hasn't been clean since my first trimester, that I seem to have lost my ability to read for pleasure because my brain is all over the place all the time but not the least bit foggy (thank god) just thinking about a million different things.

What I can write about:

- We painted the nursery! We decided on green pretty early on but then spent over a month painting more and more swatches on the wall while we tried to figure out the perfect shade and tone. I would like to say that the one we finally selected is absolutely the best thing ever but actually it was more just that we finally realized we had to make a decision, any decision. We have since second guessed it a million times but there is no way that we are taping up all that woodwork again, so I have decided I love it. (I do think it looks good, honestly - more pics once we have everything else in place in 3 years or so)

- I've been overwhelmed by all the love from our family and friends. It's been so amazing celebrating with everyone over the last month or so and I feel so grateful for the people we have in our lives. I had the most beautiful family baby shower (a joint one with my cousin - we are due less than a week a part, which is so much fun!) and then last weekend Emily hosted a gorgeous lunch with some of my dearest girlfriends. I tend to get really uncomfortable with being the guest of honor, but both of these parties were so thoughtful and felt just right (still can't get over the fact that Em made my favorite cookies, which are a huge pain and a true labor of love).

- I have been taking photos pretty much every week, which is so weird for me, but it's fun to look back. The one above is from 35 weeks. At this point, I'm not even sure how much my belly is changing. It doesn't seem noticeable bigger week to week lately. Maybe something crazy is going to happen during these last few weeks, though.

- Starting last week I feel like going to the hospital is my second job. I'm there 2 - 3 times a week for non-stress tests, growth scans, and regular old appointments. We had a complication (an SUA which seems to not be causing any problems, fingers crossed!), so there is a good reason for all the extra screening, and I'm so grateful that they are keeping a close eye on her, but man, it is a lot of appointments.

- I am on some kind of crazy fruit bender. Basically all I want to eat is blueberries this week, but last week it was oranges. I honestly haven't had much in the way of cravings* or aversions, but I think I'm going to bankrupt us with this produce habit.

 * Except for wanting Caesar salad ALL THE TIME throughout the entire pregnancy, which is hard because most good versions have raw egg and I've been trying to be good about following the rules even though it kills me to give up runny egg yolks. I can't tell you how many restaurants have gotten phone calls from me asking about their dressing ingredients. In a pinch, I'll make it at home using Brianna's Asiago Caesar, which is the best bottled version I've found.

Friday, January 5, 2018

Christmas 2017

It was a pretty emotional holiday season this year. A lot was the same - we had the gingerbread house party, I baked a million cookies, we decorated the house.

cookie assembly line

christmas cookies 2017

christmas cookies 2017

christmas gifts

gingerbread house party 2017

holiday mantle

yule log 2017!

Yayoi Kasuma

But a lot was different too. I'm pregnant, and it felt extra special during this season. Something about pairing the holidays with this fleeting period in my life felt big. I mean, yes, it was a little sad to skip all the festive cocktails, and I had to buy a couple of holiday maternity dresses that I'll never wear again, but I was extra aware of how short this time is, and it felt crazy to think that this is the last year it will be just the two of us.

My sister moved back down right before the holidays and the best part of the season was getting to spend a ton of time with her family. My niece and nephew light up our lives, and being able to see them for casual hang outs or to have them stay with us for a few days is so, so sweet. I'm not sure how we survived apart for the last three years.

And yet, it was the first year without my stepmom, the first year where we didn't go to my dad's house and sit around the tree. It's been the hardest part of the pregnancy, knowing that I can't tell them this news, wishing we could all be together again. I waited a long time to announce to our families and friends, because telling people really highlighted the fact that I was missing two of the most important people. I take comfort in our time with family, and knowing that my dad and Claudia would have been thrilled. I'm in this crazy space of feeling happy and excited and broken all at once. I navigate it as best I can.

A few more prosaic notes about the holidays this year -

I made a lot of cookies. This year I did my usual almond crescents, melomakarona, and gingerbread, and then added in my favorite rosemary butter cookies and some peppermint pinwheels (which are so cute and tasty, but I only make them every few years because I forget just how annoying they are - the dough always wants to crack and rolling the layers up sucks, and usually one roll looks perfect and the other one is all wonky and sad). As usual, I packaged them up using boxes from Papermart and then printed some labels for them (I just buy some full sheet labels and cut them up after printing). The little decorations are from my stash of wrapping supplies. We made the laser cut snowflakes a few years ago, and the mini ornaments are from Ikea.

Emily and I were able to make our yule logs together this year and it was so much fun. Also a little exhausting. We followed my notes from last year and it went pretty smoothly.

We didn't exchange any gifts but we did get a few things for the kids, and we bought a bunch of lottery scratchers as a Christmas Eve activity (buying scratchers in bulk really proves how terrible an investment it is - we've done this two years in a row and have never come close to making our money back but it's fun).

The week after Christmas D and I waited in line for five hours (!!!) to get tickets to Yayoi Kusama's Infinity Mirrors show. I'm normally incredibly impatient about lines but I can do it if I'm mentally prepared. It helped that the Broad is so close to Grand Central Market, so I took a couple walk breaks to grab good coffee and finally got breakfast sandwiches at Eggslut (which I've always refused to do because the line is usually 40 minutes long, but when it's a choice between waiting in one line or waiting in another it's less frustrating). The show was really fun, and I think the baby will appreciate that we documented her first (?) time in a room of adorable stuffed phalluses.

I'll be back with more posts soon, although they might be about pregnancy for the time being. I'm not sure what else I would write about, since I've more or less stopped cooking, and I'm currently just re-reading the complete collection of Miss Marple mysteries.

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Gingerbread house party 2017 - toddler edition!

Whew. It's been a while, guys.* But I can't let December close out without documenting this year's gingerbread house party, which was pretty special. When I was looking at our guest list (um, two weeks ago, because this fall has been insane and I feel like I'm constantly behind) I realized that all our regulars have kids that are old enough to more or less work independently. So obviously it made sense to make this a toddler focused party, which is both much more fun and much more chaotic.

gingerbread house party 2017

gingerbread house party 2017

gingerbread house party 2017

gingerbread house party 2017

tuckered out

We had 7 toddlers (okay, one of them was a straight up baby, so he didn't participate this year) and 19 adults, which I was afraid was really pushing the limits of our house but it worked out so well. We only made houses for the kids, since even I am not crazy enough to try to tackle close to 30 gingerbread houses. Having a kid focused party was a little different than anything we'd done before, so I wanted to make sure that we had things set up for them.

The biggest adaptation we made was to set up a toddler height table, and this was a lifesaver. I had nightmares of trying to prevent kids from falling off of benches and chairs the entire afternoon, and bringing the game down to their level meant that we could supervise without having to hover anxiously. We just pulled out our long office table (which is just an Ikea tabletop) and temporarily swapped the hairpin legs for simple coffee table height legs which D picked up at Lowes for $30 ($5/leg, 6 legs needed for a table our length). The legs take up almost no space, so we can easily stash them away which is good because I think this is what our party is going to look like for a few more years.

I also ditched the pastry bags, because let's be honest, even adults have some difficulty managing those things and we didn't want to deal with royal icing explosions. I originally ordered a few squeeze bottles that have icing tip adapters (I ordered these ones from Michael's - I looked alllllll over to find ones that weren't teeny tiny, since most are intended for decorating sugar cookies and only hold a few ounces) but then realized that the kids don't really need fancy tips yet, so I also grabbed a six pack of condiment bottles from Smart & Final for way cheaper. The tips on these are pretty narrow, so I snipped them off a bit to get a wider opening. To fill them, I loaded the icing into a pastry bag and then piped it into the bottles (the necks are a bit narrow, so spooning icing in would take forever). These worked great! The kids still needed some help, but we had zero explosions.

We also covered our rug in plastic tablecloths, for obvious reasons, and put all appetizers (and the hot spiked cider) up on tables out of kid reach.

It was a little nutty in the best way possible, and I think the kids ended up having a really good time. I'm glad we managed to pull it off, even though it was a little last minute this year.

(See lots of details on past gingerbread house parties here, including the recipe I use, how I do the stained glass windows, and how we glue the houses together, and a general overview post of the party logistics)

* I miss this space! I miss you guys. Thank you for the sweet comments and concern. This year has been a little crazy and I'm barely keeping up with general life but I do want to make a point of getting back here more often. I'll have a few more posts up soon, on general holiday and life stuff.

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Ladies' trip to Palm Springs

Jumping back in time to the beginning of May, when I got to spend a weekend with some ladyfriends from college/beyond. We don't all live in the same city anymore, and when we do get to see each other we're usually surrounded by children and husbands (not knocking this - our group is pretty fun and their kids are adorable). But getting away for a couple days was exactly what we needed. We rented an AirBnB with a pool and movie screening room and we drank and ate and talked and re-watched 10 Things I Hate About You and talked more and generally had the most relaxing, life affirming weekend. Oh, and we got massages. It felt indulgent but was actually not too bad cost-wise, since we split the rental four ways and cooked almost all of our meals.

Palm Springs

Ernest Coffee



Also, Palm Springs continues to get better and better. It's always been lovely, but the food and drink offerings were lackluster. I'm happy to report that things are looking up.

What we did (besides lying around the house, which occupied most of our time):

Coffee at Ernest Coffee - we went four times over the course of three days. It's that great. The place is adorable and has legitimately great coffee (when I was there they had a date shakerato that was out of this world) but also has boozy coffee options for late afternoons (their Irish coffee was so much better than any other version I've ever had that it could have been a different drink altogether). And here's the really fun part - the back half of the coffee house is a tiny, adorable tiki bar that opens up in the evening. Which leads me to ...

 Drinks at Bootlegger Tiki - as I mentioned, it's tiny and only has a few booths, but you can also take your drinks outside to the Ernest Coffee patio. Tiki drinks are one of those things that I would never in a million years consider making at home (so many ingredients, so incredibly sweet) but I love a good tiki bar, especially on vacation. This is a good one.

Breakfast at Cheeky's - always worth a stop.

Morning run to the Doug Atkin installation, Mirage. Running up that hill was brutal, but the sweet reward was an utterly deserted mirror house at the top. When D and I went to see it back in March it was crowded and still blew me away. Seeing it completely empty was next level. The website says it closed on April 30th, but we were there the following week and it was definitely still open (there was a guard and everything). Maybe they've extended it?

Friday, May 26, 2017

East coast vacation

Whew. This was a great trip but we really maxed it out while trying to take as few vacation days as possible, leaving super early on Saturday morning and then getting back close to midnight the following Sunday. Normally I try to make sure we get a day at home to recover before going back to work but the timing wasn't right here. We were going to a wedding in Scranton, PA so we decided to tack on a couple of side trips to visit old friends and really make the most out of it. Totally worth it.

Queen's Museum area
{flushing meadows corona park}

Posing at the Whitney
{the whitney}

Ellsworth Kelly
{ellsworth kelly at the whitney}

Samara Golden
{samara golden at the whitney}

The Happiest Hour
{the happiest hour}

Lygia Pape
{lygia pape at the met breuer}

Sol Lewitt at Mass MOCA
{sol lewitt at mass moca}

Spencer Finch at Mass MOCA
{spencer finch at mass moca}

Power outage
{power outage!}

{deer in williamstown}

Wedding cocktail hour
{wedding cocktail hour - scranton}

day after coffee
{day after coffee - scranton}

We flew into NYC and spent a few days hanging out with various friends, visiting museums and spending way too much money on drinks. But we made up for it by crashing with our friend Beth the whole time (I think I've posted this before, but I find it incredibly life affirming that you can have people you love so dearly that squashing yourselves into a studio apartment is a joy). We try to make it out to visit her every couple years and whenever we're there I have these glimpses of our alternate life. We were thisclose to moving when D was choosing a grad school, but we made the prudent financial decision to go with in-state tuition in CA vs. private school (and higher living costs) in NYC. I think we made the right call because we'd probably be bankrupt in Manhattan and I don't know how I would have managed my family stuff long distance, but I still get pangs. Lots of pangs.

Highlights of this NYC trip: 
Flushing Meadows Corona Park and the Queen's Museum (and ridiculously good dim sum in Flushing beforehand) - I hadn't seen the Panorama piece and it was really fun.
The Whitney - that Samara Golden piece in the biennial was breaking my brain but D figured it out right away.
The Met - for the Rei Kawakubo exhibit, of course.
The Met Breuer - now in the former Whitney building. The Lygia Pape exhibition was great.
Breakfast at Sadelle's - super fancy bagel breakfast. It's pricey but you could also go to the bar and order bagels a la carte.
Soft serve from Big Gay Ice Cream Shop - the Bea Arthur is my jam.
Lovely Szechuan style noodles at Hao Noodle and Tea.
Drinks at Seamstress - crazy long menu but everything we tried was wonderful.
Drinks at The Happiest Hour - the interior alone is enough to make you feel happy.
Drinks at Death & Co with my lady LMO.
A couple of exercise classes to try to balance it all out - we both got ClassPass* trials this month specifically because we knew we'd be going on this trip and it seemed like a good time to test it out. I'm happy to report that it was super easy to use. I've always resisted because I was afraid it would be a huge pain. I'm going to see if we use it enough at home to justify keeping it.

We rented a car with Beth and drove out to Williamstown, MA to visit our other dear friend (last time we were together was for her beautiful wedding!). Dustin and I met the two of them 19 years ago (!) at a really dorky educational summer camp and they are still our people. I feel so lucky to have them in my life and even though we only get to see each other every couple years it always feels like we're picking right back up. Our plan is to eventually retire together on a compound, Golden Girls style.

Massachusetts (we only had one full day here, but we tried to make the most of it):
The Clark - make sure to hike up the hill in back
Mass MOCA - mostly for the massive Sol LeWitt exhibit but the Nick Cave currently on view is wonderful.
Delicious breakfast at Five Corners - they had hibiscus kombucha on tap and it was the first time I've really understood the craze.
Pizza from Hot Tomatoes, which we were incredibly grateful for because we had just paid for our order when the entire town had a major power outage due to a sudden storm and everything closed down immediately. They finished cooking our pizza in the dark and we drove home and ate dinner by candlelight.
A morning run where I spotted a deer during the first five minutes and then got to run along the river, heaven.

Annnnnd then we proceeded down to Scranton, PA for the big event of the trip. The wedding was beautiful and so full of love and it had a great dance floor, which I really appreciate. It's kind of a blur but I don't think I sat down for more than 5 minutes. We were mostly doing wedding stuff, so we didn't get out much in Scranton but we had a really good time at the few places we went.

Backyard Alehouse - ridiculous selection of beers
Texas wieners at Coney Island of Scranton - the name, like the Texas wiener itself (which is a hot dog sandwich with chili on it), is somewhat inexplicable but I have no regrets.
Coffee at Adezzo and also at Northern Light

* I feel like they're always offering deeply discounted ClassPass trials, so maybe google for that first, but you can also get $30 off by signing up through this link (full disclosure - I also get $30 credit if you use it, so if you hate me you should probably not click on it) which might be better than the promo running at any given time.