Saturday, July 30, 2011

Yep, We Go Out!

Love Birds Know How to Have Fun!
Warning folks: I'm about to go on a rant!

I get highly annoyed by parents who lament how they don't go out since having a baby like it's some "holier than thou" sentiment. When I was pregnant with Nia I wrote about how I intended to keep it moving when she was born and indeed both Uka and I have done so. 

We learned in premarital counseling at our church that it was very important to have a scheduled date night that was non-negotiable. While this is nearly impossible for us, we do things impromptu based on what's going on in NYC. From MUG, to Skint and Flavorpill there are so many wonderful listings that keep us abreast of all the things to do and most often they're free or low cost. 

Some of the fun dates we've had since Nia was born was simply going to the movies - one of our first dates was seeing Harry Potter while my parents watched Nia. We also went out for Valentine's Day and just recently our anniversary. Lately, a dear friend of mine offered to partner with another friend to watch Nia so we can see the last installment of Harry Potter, and while our summer schedule is already bursting at the seems Mr. Love Bird and I are chomping at the bit to go (we also want to see Captain America too!).

At times I do get stir crazy staying in with Nia, but when Mr. Love Bird and I are able to put something on the calendar to look forward to it makes us very excited!

We love our Baby Love Bird, but when we do go out it's not like we're sitting there talking about her constantly or checking our phones incessantly for messages from the babysitter. Yes, we're attached to her, but we like our space sometimes too, and I'm sure she does as well!

So, yes, Uka and I go out and we plan to continue to keep it moving!

Speaking of keeping it moving, we're off to Baltimore in a couple hours for our brother and sister-in-law's at home reception (they were married in Las Vegas on April Fools' Day - how fun is that???).

Have a good weekend everyone!

Friday, July 29, 2011

Everyone Knows My Mr. Love Bird!

Uka, the man everyone loves to know!

My husband is quite the social butterfly - he wasn't born this way, but it really came about when he started playing basketball in college. Everywhere we went around Boston people recognized him and would stop us - even on dates - to talk to him! He would be so gracious and kind while I often would stand to the side fuming. "You're waaaay too kind," I would tell him.

Now with his new job, his extroverted personality is paying off and even outside of the workplace, he is excelling as President of our local Toastmasters Club (he's recently been re-elected!). I guess the issue is that even still, no matter where we go, even if it's another neighborhood, state or country, nine times out of ten we bump into someone we know. 

Here are a few examples:
  • A few years ago when passing through the Las Vegas airport we bumped into someone he used to play basketball abroad with
  • A couple months ago he came with me to my high school's alumnae event at Lincoln Center (mind you, I went to high school in Columbus) and he bumped into someone from his alma mater, Boston College (there were only about 50 people at the event!)
  • We went to visit Columbus, Ohio one year and at my church he bumped into someone he knew from NYC
  • We went for BBQ with our church group in Harlem last year, and he bumped into someone from BC
  • Even the man my sister is now dating knows him a sports program he coached at in high school!
  • A few weeks ago we went to the new Shake Shack in Battery Park, and he bumped into someone from BC
  • Last weekend we were running late to catch our train to Long Island and I was waiting patiently near the train as he tried to purchase our tickets before we boarded; unfortunately the line was waaaay too long so he came bolting down the stairs and we jumped on the nearest car right before the train departed and guess what??? We found seats right across from his coworker. WOW!
You get the gist!

As a result I think Mr. Love Bird should run for office! No, just kidding, but seriously, it never fails that wherever we go someone knows who he is. 

I told him recently that he has to be on better behavior than me because of this while I can just gallivant all over NYC doing whatever I want. He was alarmed when I said this (I tend to have dead pan delivery!), but he quickly figured out I was joking. 

As we prepare to head to Baltimore this weekend and Columbus the following weekend I already know we are going to encounter the exact same thing. I will try not to get annoyed, but just realize this is how my husband is: Mr. Social Butterfly!

Do any of our readers have the same dynamic in their relationship? Do you find this as weird as I do?

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Go, Fire Feet, Go!

Since Nia was in the womb she's been such a strong kicker! I could tell when she used to make angled protrusions like this that she'd have strong legs:

Mr. Love Bird and I have really solid legs too and sure enough our Baby Love Bird has solid legs too. In the video Stomp, Stomp you could see how much she loves to stomp and we also say to her "Go, fire feet, go!" and she takes off kicking. She would do this on her changing table ever since she was very small (as seen here). 

Last night I took this video of her splashing in her bathtub. She usually isn't a big splasher - she just plays softly with her toys and sings to herself for the most part, but I wanted to see what would happen if I employed, "Go fire feet, go!" as I usually do during diaper changes. Sure enough her little fire feet went to work (I love her expression when she briefly looks up at me!):

P.S. The way her little wet fro looks makes her appear to have a lumpy head but I promise you, she does not! LOL!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Nia and Gwyneth : "Father's Daughters"

I know a lot of people like to hate on Gwyneth Paltrow, but I actually like her. I guess she's a girl that other girls love to hate! Her Goop newsletter (yes, I subscribe!) is often the butt of jokes as her recommendations are unattainable to most, but being the Type A woman that I am, I can appreciate it.

While her PBS show with Mario Batali fared poorly, I enjoyed it and was fascinated by how much Gwyneth appeared to eat and how she seemed so genuine - I guess this goes back to the article I mentioned in the post about 

Anyway, Nia's middle name "Adanna" is Nigerian and means "father's daughter" in Igbo. While I was scrolling through the new issue of Lonny Gwyneth Paltrow's new cookbook "My Father's Daughter" jumped out at me. 

{Photo Credit: Amazon}
I noticed on the Amazon reviews that the cookbook's named one of the best books of 2011. Wow! Is there nothing that Gwyneth doesn't excel at?! The reviews are pouring in and they're mostly positive with an element of surprise as seen in the titles:

Does no one have faith in her?!

The comments on these articles are scathing:

These are good reasons, and I want to believe you, and I'm sure her ghost writers are the best of the best... but I really, really don't want to give my money to this self-absorbed cow.

She's a self-absorbed hypocrite. The only time she wants anything to do with the American public is when she wants their money, be it with karoake style singing or a ghost written cookbook. She should've released this in the U.K. instead.

Do you believe she really cooks all that or her hired cook? 

But I'm sure as she's used to with all her endeavors she's letting this hate roll off her back and laughing all the way to the bank!

Monday, July 25, 2011

Something to Brighten Your Monday!

Friday, July 22, 2011

Sun Deprived?

Making a silly face in my window-less office in 2007
Has anyone seen that Chili's commercial lately with the people coming out of the office and surprised by the sun? Well if not, here it is:

I LOVE this commercial! While it's almost 2 years since I've been in an office environment, I do not miss this aspect AT. ALL. Although with this current heatwave Nia and I have been indoors mostly this week, I like the freedom to move about and experience the sunshine! There's nothing more soul-crushing in an office environment than to not be near a window during the day. The worst is in the winter when you wake up and it's dark and you come home and it's dark.  I also used to lament how I'd be so busy even in the spring and summer that I wouldn't be able to step out at lunch and have to eat lunch at my desk. Ughhh!

When I did the Modern Bride of the Year Contest, those 3 days in July were a welcome respite from the indoors. Each day we were chaufferred around meeting with Kleinfeld's staff, making handbags at a custom boutique, going to fabulous restaurants and moving between the studio and outdoors for our shoot. It was great! I guess that was what being a celebrity feels like, but more so than that the experience solidified that I need to be in charge of my own schedule and my own destiny! If I want to catch up on e-mail in the park, write in a coffee shop or check out a daytime concert or lecture, then I want to have the flexibility to do that.

Not everyone likes that lifestyle. I've had friends who have told me they looooove working in an office: being in a cube, going to meetings, having office supplies - the whole thing - they absolutely love it. Me? Not so much!

For now I'm happy having my "office" be NYC with me and my Nia! 

Do any of my readers feel like the officemates in the Chili's commercial? What are your strategies for sneaking in some vitamin D?

Thursday, July 21, 2011

It's Time? Deciding to Wean

My little eater!
As Nia's first birthday approaches I have weaning on my brain. The fact that we've had such a long, on-demand breastfeeding relationship is truly a blessing, and I've pretty much rolled with the punches.

Although Nia's been signing "milk" since 7 months old, about a month ago she started aggressively pulling my shirt and lunging towards my boobs for milk. Mr. Love Bird does not like this one bit and honestly, I don't either as it's very embarrassing in public and once she even ripped the strap off one of my favorite dresses. She also will try to pull my breast out of my shirt when I'm holding her! I've taken to holding her hand and reinforcing the sign for milk and asking her, "What do you want?" She'll then go, "Hmmmmm?" and do the sign.

A couple weeks ago I thought it was ok to start gradually weaning as her interest in solids increased, but then I was slammed with her sudden increase in demand for milk I believe it's due to the fact that she started walking, a couple back teeth are starting to push through and we're in the midst of a heat wave.

I've read on KellyMom about the various ways to wean and how weaning abruptly can really damage a baby's future development. While Nia is now eating 3 meals a day and snacks, her need for breastfeeding is also about comfort. Although walking is exerting her independence she still very much is a baby who needs the closeness that breastfeeding provides (and I love the snuggle time too!) - she's just more aggressive about asking for it now!

Several months ago I had scheduled an allergy testing appointment for the end of August as a push to force me to start weaning Nia as it can only be done when not breastfeeding. Now as that date is nearly a month away I'm thinking I may have to reschedule. I'm leaning towards BLW (baby led weaning), and I think this is the best method for Nia based on her current increased interest in solids.

Honestly, I really, really want my body back, but I can go a few months more and do what's best for Nia. In reality, as Sherry over at Young House Love pointed out, the WHO recommends breastfeeding until the age of 2 and in many other countries children are breastfed until 3 years of age. I really hope not to go that long, but if that's what Nia needs, then so be it.

Besides Sherry's recent post on her 14 month breastfeeding relationship with her daughter Clara, I've found this post from La Leche League very helpful: in Letting Go: A Weaning Story I completely identified with the author when she wrote: 

I see how nursing my baby has helped him flourish. I see how comfortable he is in his own skin because he has gotten the kind of comfort he wants. I see how helpful it is to both of us to be able to breastfeed him when he's not feeling well, when we're in the emergency room with croup at 11 pm, and he's feeling hot, scared, and confused. 

I see how he finds his peace. Orders his world. I see how blissful it is to sit with him at dawn and nurse him into another day. I see how breastfeeding him for comfort has made him more comfortable in general. More patient. More respectful of my needs. More able to calm himself. More centered. Happy. 

I see how it has made me more patient, more centered, able to calm myself. I see the look of deep knowingness in his eye, as if we've been walking the planet together for a couple of hundred years. I see how breastfeeding has become part of our rhythm, our rhyme, our understanding of each other. How it has given our relationship a whole other layer of connectedness. And how that connectedness has influenced my parenting choices, how I perceive him, and how he responds to me.  

{La Leche League also has a good post about BLW here too.} 

Overall, I'm very happy that Mr. Love Bird has been supportive of my breastfeeding relationship with Nia and that I have other mommy friends who also breastfeed. A supportive community is very important to a successful breastfeeding journey!

For those of you who have weaned or getting close to weaning do you have any other thoughts or resources to share?


Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Next Up: Summer Travel (and a Word on Lovies)

Mr. Love Bird and I have been gearing up for summer travel! I had written at the beginning of our summer about our plans and while not everything's panned out, Uka did get his trip to Vegas in and we're heading to Long Island this weekend, followed by DC the next and Columbus after that. While we're taking LIRR to Long Island, Bolt Bus to DC and flying to Columbus, in consecutive order, we definitely didn't intend to progress in distance/difficulty traveling but now I realize it's a good thing especially with Nia. Each week can be practice for the next which is very important because  . . .  

It will be Nia's first time flying! I have a list of helpful posts I've come across that I've been reading little by slowly to help prepare for the journey (I'll share in a separate post). I'm very thankful that I'm still breastfeeding and I'm 100% positive that this will make the flight easier. Last night Uka lamented how he thinks flying with Nia will be a disaster because of the effect of pressure on her ears, but I reminded him how she has a high pain tolerance (she's always face planting, barely whimpers when she gets her shots, busts her lip weekly and bumps her head constantly with nary a blink).

Besides breastfeeding the other key to an easy trip I believe will be her lovey! I never knew that was a term until I was pregnant with Nia. I guess I had one as a kid - his name was Poopsie (a stuffed white seal) - but I always thought it was kinda corny to purposely get a baby hooked on an object of affection only to have to wean her off it at some point. I've been thankful that Nia didn't take to swaddling/sleep sacks, binkies or bottles because for us, that's meant less things to wean her off of! However, she's discovered her own loveies: a stuffed monkey and a stuffed bear.

I mentioned in her last Life With Nia post how she's suddenly started showing affection towards everyone and everything and out of the blue she's latched onto her monkey and bear showering them with hugs and kisses. It's actually very precious! They help her get to bed too; when she sees either in her crib she wants to join it and will snuggle up beside it and go to sleep.

Today she was playing (taking CDs in and out of a storage box) then suddenly ambled over to her bear, laid down and snuggled with it. Doesn't this make your heart melt?

Anyway, if you have any travel tips to share please do and also let me know what your opinion on lovies is!

Monday, July 18, 2011

I Confess . . .

{Photo Credit: Babycenter}

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Did I Really Send My Husband to Las Vegas?

Love Birds' First Vegas Trip in 2006
Yes, indeed I did! He's been there since Wednesday and gets back later tonight. Mr. Love Bird works so hard and needed a vacation badly so when he and his best friend turned 30 this year I suggested they go to Vegas. He was a bit skeptical at first and thought I was setting him up for a trap, but alas I wasn't!

I had gone to Vegas with a girlfriend a few years ago and I have to say while I thoroughly enjoyed the many Vegas trips I've had with Mr. Love Bird, going with a girlfriend is a whole other story! A story that stays in Vegas, actually . . .

My favorite Vegas photo!
While I expected not to hear from Uka, the first three times he called me I missed his call and the 4th time I was in the library and couldn't talk! I guess I didn't expect him to call so much. Secretly, I think he misses me and Nia!

Throughout the week I've been getting pics of his meals at In-N-Out Burger (I think Shake Shack is slightly better!) and Terrible's (they have an amazing chicken dinner under $10) as well as his fabulous room at Hard Rock (one of my favorite casinos) and his visit to the Red Rocks. It truly looks like he's having an amazing time!

We've been to Vegas every year since Mr. Love Bird turned 25 except for 2009, when we got married. I'm really hoping I can go for my birthday this year (Uka hinted at it a few weeks ago!), so we'll see.  

Engaged in Vegas 2007
By the way, a few friends commented on how amazing it was that I was "allowing" Uka to go to Vegas. Ummmm, he's a grown man and we are not into the whole "permission" thing. It was just something I know I enjoyed with a girlfriend and a place he likes yet has never been with a guy friend so I suggested it. The end!

{You can see an album from our several trips to Vegas over the years here}

Nia Gets Fresh at Her Playdate

Earlier this week we visited my friend April P., mom to cutie pie Aiden:

Too cute!

    Friday, July 15, 2011

    Neelys Bring REAL BBQ to NYC!

    Remember when I had posted Down Home with the Agbais? Well the Neelys just opened up a joint here in NYC! I think it's kinda odd that it's on the UES; I didn't expect it to be in Harlem, but the UES? Seriously? I won't let that deter me though from checking it out. 

    According to the comments on their Facebook page, it looks like they're having a rough start so I may wait until the end of the year to check it out. I promise a full review!

    Check out this video from the opening night:

    Speaking of the 80s . . .

    {Photo Credit: Amazon}
    Nia's first birthday theme's got me SO excited that I wanted to share a few funny old school Sesame Street videos. They're not exactly 80s but they continued to be shown in the 80s although they were created in the 60s and 70s. Nia received volume 1 of Old School Sesame Street from our dear friend Melissa P., and while I wanted to wait until she was two to let her watch it, I couldn't help break it open a few weeks ago. Boy, does she LOVE it!

    We were watching the following clip and I was so surprised to hear her laugh at it too, just like Joey in the clip! Nia has an advanced sense of humor! I'd like to try to get a video of her watching it, but that would take a bit of coordination with Mr. Love Bird.

    And of course Nia loves John John as much as I did:

    Nia responds to this clip with wide-eyed wonder; she looks at the screen like, "I want to play with these little girls! Why didn't they include me?" I used to adore this clip too when I was a child:

    I do have to say that while I love Sesame Street there are some clips that now watching as an adult I completely believe were created under the influence of drugs such as these:

    The dandelion image freaked me out as a kid! I still shudder when I see it!

    Finally, I have to share my two all time favorite Sesame Street clips:

    I wanted to live somewhere where the kids were this diverse!

    I used to imagine me and my mom in this scenario! I used to wonder how a little girl was allowed to go to the store all by herself - I had no concept of NYC bodegas. LOL!

    Am I missing any of your favorites? Does anyone remember these?

      Thursday, July 14, 2011

      Pt. 2 of How Mr. Love Bird Surprised Me

      I totally forgot I didn't divulge the remaining details of Pt. 2 of Mr. Love Bird's surprise for me last week! {You can read about Pt. 1 here.}

      He didn't want to tell me until we went to depart, but because logistics were getting complicated he had no choice but to spill the beans . . .

      {Photo Credit: Lehigh Valley Live}
      We went to Sands Casino in Bethlehem, PA! I had guessed that we were going to Atlantic City and I was very close (my parents actually went there the same weekend to see Sade).

      It was kinda funny that Mr. Love Bird chose this destination as they were a former client of mine! I had been there a few times before during construction and various phases and had noticed their new developments in posters on the Path train when I went to visit Uka at his job for the first time with Nia a few weeks ago. I pointed them out to him, and he didn't even bat an eye - sly fox! 

      What was so momentous about this trip was that it was the first time I had been away from Nia overnight. Since she's not weaned and I rarely, if ever, pump, I was a bit concerned. It turned out she was fine (thanks to my sisters watching her!), and I didn't leak until it was time to return home the following morning (I had to hand-express my milk). It was so nice to be able to sleep uninterrupted! 

      Although we didn't win anything, it was cool to see the casino finished. It took forever for PA to pass table games, and they were definitely a big hit with the July 4th crowds.

      Another highlight of our visit was eating at Carnegie Deli. It was on my list of places to eat in NYC, and it's kinda funny that it took going to PA to try it! I had a pastrami sandwich, and while it was a better value than Katz's I have to say I prefer Katz's. Carnegie's meat wasn't hot or as tender and juicy as Katz's, but I like their quantity of meat and bread more.

      Overall it was a fun trip and despite it being just one night, it was well worth it!

        Sneak Peak: Nia's First Birthday Theme

        My talented sister Lauren hooked Nia up with an awesome image for her custom Evite:

        We're doing an 80s theme! We figured that 1 year olds don't remember their first birthday anyway and since most of our friends are also 80s babies we'd make it fun for everyone and do a throwback party. 

        SO excited to eat Pop Rocks and drink Tang!

          Wednesday, July 13, 2011

          UPDATE: Video of Nia Walking is Fixed!

          You can watch it here.

            Tuesday, July 12, 2011

            Life with Nia: 11 Months

            Looking like a wise baby!

            • Baby's Weight: I'll find out mid-August for sure how much she weighs, but her tummy's getting more "Pooh-like" so I'm thinking just over 20 lbs now
            • Baby's Height: She seems to be lengthening before my very eyes - I can tell by how her legs dangle in her high chair. I remember how they barely touched the bar and now they're beyond it!
            • What size of clothing does baby wear? Still 12 months 
            • Any milestones baby reached during the month:  
                • WALKING! (UPDATE: I'm fixing the video tomorrow)
                • Language: she signs "more," says "some" in place of more, shakes her head no when she doesn't want something
                • She can hug, kiss and blow (yes, I'm helping her practice for her first birthday!)
            • Special outings baby had during the month: Just continuing to be out and about NYC with a visit to DC thrown in
            • What are your thoughts about the past month? A switch has been flipped and Nia's personality in on full force! She's my little shadow and follows me everywhere. I can't believe how quickly this year seems to have gone already and I'm sad to see her leave baby-hood. I love Nia so much and I tell her so all the time.
              • What was baby's routine? With walking, Nia's routine has been a bit off. She does not want to go to bed because she wants to explore! We're still good about getting her down before 9p.m. but she wakes up between 4-5a.m. UGHHHH! We cannot get her to sleep for more than 7-9 hours overnight. Once up she goes back down in the morning and will sometimes take an afternoon nap as well.
              Nia in our bed at 5a.m.
                • Reflect about the highlights of the month: Walking has been bittersweet because I feel like I'm losing my baby. I think that's why she's suddenly been wanting to nurse more despite us upping her solids. She'll eat everything we eat in addition to breastmilk! She seems to burn it all off walking around though!
                My little shadow
                  • Did any big changes occur, such as baby started daycare, stopped nursing, slept through the night, etc... I started the weaning process slowly but walking and teeth coming in kinda messed that up - she has 8 teeth now and about 2 more coming in. It's making her want to comfort nurse.
                  • What are baby's favorites - toy, food, person, etc... She's showing attachment to her stuffed animals suddenly especially Patrick the Pup, her "monkey pet," and her Bahia doll (from our neighbor). It's so cute when she carries them around with her and talks to them. 

                    Monday, July 11, 2011

                    Something New: Jet Black Hair

                    Those of you who follow me on Twitter saw my new look a little over a week ago:

                    Post relaxer and cellophane rinse
                    This change was a suggestion of Mr. Love Bird. Yes, he was the one who had suggested my box color a few months ago and unfortunately, that was short lived. As fast as my hair grows and my grays come in I cannot keep up with the lighter color and despite what the box says, it's EXTREMELY damaging to relaxed hair.

                    So . . .

                    I ended up getting a jet black cellophane rinse, which is non-damaging to relaxed hair. What's so awesome about it is that you can get it at the same time as your touch-up. I get my touch-ups every 8 weeks and because my previous color was so light, I'll need to get it the next time around but can skip it the time after that. 

                    It's amazing to see how my hair's progressed:

                    Natural blown dry in October 2010
                    Relaxed (and uneven!) November 2010
                    Both my mother and the hairdresser said jet black was too harsh of a look for me, but honestly I like it! I've always gone lighter, but I think for now my plan is to stick with dark and keep growing my hair out. I don't plan on doing a big chop for many, many decades to come. Mr. Love Bird is very happy with my hair, and I am too!

                    I definitely credit biotin and Jane Carter scalp serum for minimizing the damage of my color mishap.

                    You can get both on (use my 20% off coupon code to the left!):

                    This is actually on sale now - 43% off!
                    Love this!
                    I'm well on my way towards my goal length/style:

                    Sunday, July 10, 2011

                    No Chunky Baby for Me

                    As Nia's first birthday fast approaches and I've been looking back at photos of her I've come to realize that I will not have a chunky baby. Nia officially reached her "maximum chunkiness" around the 5 month mark:

                    The most rolls Nia had as a baby!
                    While I was pregnant I had posted a few times about my Baby Agbai prototype and while obviously that didn't happen I still get a little sad about leaving behind my hopes of having a chunky baby as Nia approaches toddlerhood. 

                    The Baby Agbai Prototype

                    Mr. Love Bird and I were not chunky babies so I guess it wasn't in our genes to make chunky babies, but at least I was hopeful. Although he said he really didn't want a chunky baby, I sure did!

                    Baby Love Birds
                    Besides our genes, I think the other reason why Nia wasn't chunky was because we decided to breastfeed her. While I was pregnant we met a family who had very large baby girl who told us they pumped their daughter up on formula mixed with cereal to get her to sleep through the night and recommended that we do the same when we had our baby. I had done enough research on Kellymom to know that I wasn't going to do that. 

                    I've definitely noticed a difference in chunkiness levels of breastfed vs. formula fed babies and often DH and I have tried to guess when we're out and about whether or not babies we come across are breastfed vs. formula fed. If it's in the right environment and we're able to ask the parents 9 times out of 10 we're right.

                    The other night at dinner as I complained of not having a chunky baby, Uka reminded me of the health benefits of exclusively breastfeeding Nia for as long as I did especially in terms of childhood obesity. I agree I'd much rather take the long term benefits of breastfeeding vs. the instant gratification of a chunky baby!

                    I don't know if it's scientifically proven or not, but I definitely think Nia being "light on her toes" was one of the factors that contributed to her walking as early as she did. I also love that she's still very portable; sometimes I can even take her on errands just carrying her in my arms on the train without back pain or strain!


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