Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Nia and I are in VA!

Yesterday Nia and I took an $8 Megabus to visit my parents right outside of DC in VA. I had a really hard time getting out the door (Nia's super clingy, and I was so flustered that I forgot my key so when I return I'll be locked out - I'll ask the super to let me in!).

It's cold and rainy here, but Nia and I are having fun with my parents including putting Nia in an old baby bonnet my mom came across:


Don't you love how she's wearing boy PJs?
We're hoping to get out to see the cherry blossoms tomorrow despite the rain so we're gonna bundle up. I have no idea why spring is taking FOREVER to get to the east coast, but I'm at least glad the trees have budded!

On another note, our elevator is up and running at last! I look forward to taking Nia out in her stroller when I get back this Friday. 

I'll update with more pics and updates this weekend!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Then and Now

An online forum I'm a member of recently asked members to pre/post-partum  pics of themselves. While I didn't participate, I do believe that the way a man finds the woman he marries is how he wants her to stay (for the most part). I've discovered this the hard way through Mr. Love Bird's reaction to the changes my body has undergone not only from being pregnant (and no longer being pregnant - meaning the loss of my booty!), but also the self-inflicted changes such as cutting my hair.

I came across this picture of myself from three years ago, and it makes me miss the old me:

Obviously, I've since chopped my hair (I know I owe an update on how it's doing - growing like a weed actually thanks to biotin and Jane Carter's scalp serum), but I feel like my face is waaaay chunkier now. I tend to carry my weight in my chipmunk cheeks and mid-section (the shirt in the picture hides it well!). 

I do think that breastfeeding has saved me from the worst of what could have been post-partum as I'm still only about 7 lbs away from my pre-pregnancy weight and can wear my size 4 pants still, but I know I have to step up the cardio and strength training for sure so I can tone and tighten. The metabolism of the thirties is not the same as the twenties!

While I can really get down on myself for how I've changed physically, I look at who I now have in exchange, and it's all worth it:

Monday, March 28, 2011

VIDEO: Nia's FINALLY Signing "Milk!"

I have been signing to Nia since she was 3 months old and at long last she finally returned the sign for milk! Uka saw her do it last night and while he didn't have milk to give her, he fed her jarred fruit and she was in heaven.If she can continue doing this it will ease my nerves from her humming/wailing then lunging headfirst into my boobs, which is what she currently does when she wants to eat!




{She had been eating a rice cake then finished when she started signing. When she went from signing to whimpering I scooped her up, fed her and she promptly fell asleep. I'm taking a break from folding laundry to post this!}

Ugghhh, I Have a Girl!

Before I knew my baby's gender I really hoped that I was having a boy. Now of course now that I have Nia I couldn't imagine having a boy, however I do go back and think about why I had this feeling to begin with. I am the oldest of four children - three girls then a boy. Watching my sisters compared to my brother taught me one thing: girls are DRAMA! I learned this from attending single sex schools from 8th grade through college as well. Honestly, I think I just wanted to avoid the drama!

There have been a couple articles in the news lately about the struggles of raising girls including one from WSJ which mentions how young girls are trying to be sexy and glamorous like the girls of The Hills, while their parents often encourage this behavior. 

The author of the article "Why Do We Let Girls Dress Like That?" addresses this question with her own theory of "how conflicted my own generation of women is about our own past, when many of us behaved in ways that we now regret. A woman I know, with two mature daughters, said, 'If I could do it again, I wouldn't even have slept with my own husband before marriage. Sex is the most powerful thing there is, and our generation, what did we know?' "

Now this article has caused a firestorm which I'm not surprised about in this age of double standards and our celebrity centric culture.

Another author who's been getting a lot of attention from writing Cinderella Ate My Daughter, discusses how the obsession with pink and princess culture is a flip on the feminism of the 60s and 70s. It's almost a reversal of what that generation fought for, but most importantly she emphasizes it's just a phase that young girls go through. {You can read the full NYT book review here.}

I definitely didn't have a princess phase - I disliked all things frilly and girly, but tolerated them for the sake of my mother. I had a pink bedroom and was dressed in crinoline, bows and ruffles. This was the #1 reason why I chose a very simple wedding dress with no decoration! 

I wonder if Nia will have a princess phase and if she does I don't want it to be from the things I push on her. I want her to develop her own likes and interests. She doesn't have many toys now, but walking by the toy aisle I cringe seeing how everything is pink and frilly for girls and blue and gray for boys. So annoying!

In contrast to these secular viewpoints is the author Dannah Gresh featured on Focus on the Family who advocates a movement on allowing girls to be little girls. She wrote Six Ways to Keep the "Little" in Your Girl. She champions modesty, manners and allowing girls to blossom with as little pop culture influence as possible. I really like this approach, but I do no want my daughter to grow up naive as I felt I did. This is where living in NYC comes into play. I'm not sure how long we'll stay in the NYC metro area, but I definitely know kids here are more cunning and have more street smarts than kids from other parts of the country. However part of me loathes thinking I'm raising a NYC little girl. I don't want her to be snooty and precocious like many of the kids I see out and about who demand Starbucks and act so entitled!

I was searching for what others had to say about the topic and came across another blogger at Clover Lane who has a very long post about this issue. She's raising an 8th grader and laments:

Sexy, sexy, sex, sex, sex.  Everywhere. Walk by any teenage store.  Half dressed pouty sexy models with hardly any clothes on, or worse yet are the giant posters with boys and girls laying all over each other with hardly any clothes on.  The TV shows I hear these girls talk about watching.  Parents letting their children watch!  Have you paged through Seventeen magazine lately?  It's not our Seventeen magazine that's for sure. TV, Hollywood, the music industry...oh barf.  Pure barf all of the time.  PG-13 is the new R, what a scam.  Why would I want my 13 year old to see such trash let alone my 16 year old?  Once it's in their minds, it's never out.  It makes an impression whether they or YOU, are conscious of it or not.  Every image, every act, every word, it's in their brains forever.  Why would I want my children's minds filled with trash?  ALL these little impressions...day in and day out...add up to a difference in the way girls view their purpose, their bodies, their sexuality.  (If you have time, watch this on advertising and women....and just a tip of the iceberg.)

Like I said, I'm willing to fight the fight but it's a weary, sometimes lonely battle.  I dream of a revolution.
I fear what the future holds.  Can it get worse?  Oh, yes it can.  It seems the trickle down effect is moving at a faster and faster rate.  High school girls look, dress, experience what college-aged girls did in our generation, junior high seems like high school,  these little 4th and 5th grade girls all read, see, hear, dress like girls growing up too fast. Childhood ends now in what?  First grade?

There are over 200 comments on this post and many of them mention the same challenges. What do I have to look forward to in 12 years? I know each generation wrings its hands about how bad things are, but our culture is increasingly hyper-sexualized. For one thing I know I will be praying hard! My mother prayed a protective covering over me and I believe it worked.

For those of you with little girls how have you fared handling these challenges? Any tips on what I have to look forward to?

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Household Safety

My best friend Van and I were recently talking about how important it is to own a safe (with a lock and key as well as a combination), and this Young House Love post came to mind. They share the suggestions from a family who tragically lost their home to an awful fire earlier this year.

Some of those suggestions include:
  1. Subscribe to an online data backup service
  2. Take pictures and keep hyperlinks of all expensive purchases, including jewelry
  3. Put phones in a consistent place each night
  4. Scan each photo and receipt, again keeping them offsite, or on an online backup service

Mr. Love Bird and I recently purchased an external hard drive since our computers are on the fritz and new computers aren't in the budget right now. We at least wanted to back them up in the event they crash. I've lost a hard drive before and it's something I truly mourn because 10 years of memories were on it including over 10,000 songs. Ughhh, I hate thinking about it. 

Fortunately, I haven't been in a home emergency situation, but I know how important it is to be prepared, especially as a renter, which most people are in large cities. in 2006, Mr. Love Bird lived in ground floor apartment in Boston, and I told him how important it was to have renters' insurance. Thank God he did, because right in the last 2 weeks of his lease it flooded, and he was able to get reimbursed for his damaged items. 

Do our readers have any additional tips from personal experience?

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Ahhh, The Royal Wedding

I've posted before about how I'm obsessed with all things British, and when I saw an ad for Wedgewood's Royal Collection pieces I had to click through. 

Here's what's featured:
Wedgewood Royal Wedding Plate
Wedgewood Royal Wedding Trinket Box

Wedgewood Royal Wedding Satyr Vase

Wedgewood Royal Wedding Mug
I don't even know what a satyr vase is, but it's 500 pounds - WHOA! The mug is more manageable at 35 pounds, and I really want it. I've always felt connected to Prince William because we're about the same age and have always paid attention to him in the news and tabloids. I've always thought he was handsome too luckily taking after his mother more than his father although he did inherit his father's dreadful thinning hair. I hope his and Kate's children have her thick hair! 

Anyway, now I just have to convince Mr. Love Bird to get that mug for me which goes on sale in a week . . .

Friday, March 25, 2011

Library Lust

I have nearly 30 draft blog posts in my blogger queue and one of them was inspired by Diane von Furstenberg's library featured in the August 2010 issue of InStyle:




I literally had these tearsheets sitting on my desks for months and never scanned them but happened to come across a post on Elements of Style and Erin beat me to the punch! She had the privilege of hearing Diane speak and definitely take the time to stop by her blog for a recap of Diane's vast career.

I'm constantly editing my bookshelves and each time we've moved I've given so many books away. Our local library doesn't take book donations and I've found it's harder and harder to give away books, however I have no desire to give in and get a Nook, iPad or Kindle.

I dream of not having to get rid of books in the future and being able to store them all comfortably in my home library. When I was a kid and saw the scene of the Beast's library in Beauty and Beast I could totally relate to Belle gasping when she saw it:



Another real-life library I lusted after recently was featured in High Gloss magazine. Similar to Lonny, High Gloss is a digital shelter magazine. Isn't this spectacular?:

Photo Credit: High Gloss Magazine Feb/Mar 2011
Any other library's to share?

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Clingy Baby Nia

Nia's turned a corner and is suddenly very clingy. That's the reason why I haven't had much time to write. I want to cuddle and kiss her, but I also want to give her room to play, explore and (finally!) learn to crawl.

She's lunging a lot lately for things she wants but ends up face planting then rolling over to her back - poor baby! Regarding solids, she barely takes them from me (because she wants milk), but finished a jar and a half of sweet potatoes and applesauce the other night for our friend who babysat her. That night she slept the entire night without a peep; she usually wakes up at least once then we let her soothe herself to sleep.

Despite Nia's clinginess keeping me from blogging we've also been very busy with church commitments, Toastmasters and visiting friends. The good news is Mr. Love Bird passed his Series 66 last week and now we have more time for family.

I honestly just want the weather to warm up so we can spend more time outside, but unfortunately, our building's elevator has been out for over two weeks so I haven't been able to take Nia out in her stroller on the sunny days. We're near Riverbank State Park, and I'd love to go to the track and get some cardio in. I think my body's hanging onto to a last bit of chub around my middle while I breastfeed, and I want to it melt off already! Five more months of breastfeeding to go then I can work on weight loss for real. For now, I don't want to adversely affect my supply. 

I have a few more posts coming this week, but just wanted to give everyone an update on what's been going on!

And of course, I won't leave you without a picture of Nia. Here she is with her soul-searching eyes:


Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Steal This Idea: Sand Jar

I was over on I Heart Organizing and came across this adorable sand jar to capture beach trips. Isn't it cute?:
Photo Credit:  I Heart Organizing
I used to be big on beach vacations thinking only warm weather locales were the only places fit for travel until a fellow Wellesley alum and good friend Noelle M. turned me onto Europe by inviting me to London with her. Since then I've been throughout Europe thanks to Uka's past basketball career. Granted my wedding was in Puerto Rico, but I really have frequented that many beaches since getting introduced to London in 2005. I'm thinking I may start again just so I can collect sand!



P.S. I have to give a shout out to my mom for putting me onto I Heart Organizing; she has such great posts!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

My Lil Sis is 21 Today!

  
My sister Lauren turns 21 today - she reminds me so much of myself because of her determination and self-discipline, and out of my three siblings I think we look the most alike:


In fact years ago she returned to my high school, Columbus School for Girls, to play against their basketball team and one of my old teachers nearly jumped out of their skin thinking I had returned as a student again! (Not that I was a terror or anything!)

When I see Lauren I still think of her as she was when she was a baby - to me she still has her babyface! I have to remember now that she's legal and yes, this makes me feel so old.

Lauren was such a cute baby!
Lauren's heading to NYC with my brother and her friend later tonight, and I'm excited to see her tomorrow when she'll come over to visit and watch Nia with my other sister Ariane and brother Michael while Uka and I go on a date (thank you in advance Lauren!).

Lauren's currently a junior at Anderson University in South Carolina where she does field events. She's extremely talented and humble about it. My family and I have to press her for details on how she does and it's always, "Oh, I PR-ed" or "I set a school record last week." Ummm, hello?! I'd be shouting it from the rooftop if it were me. LOL! 

NCAA Div II Athlete of the Week in 2009
Because of her athletic ability and strength I always know to stay on Lauren's good side. I was joking around with her once and she booty bumped me and nearly knocked the wind out of me! Besides her athletic talent, she's an oustanding artist as well majoring in graphic design. Look at this piece she did of my parents:


I'm so excited to see what the future holds for her.


Happy Birthday Lauren (or "Boo" as I still call her!).

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Life With Nia: Seven Months Old

Nia is officially closer to one year old now than to being a newborn, and this makes me a bit sad. I squeeze her extra tightly and cherish her babyness all the time. I ask her, "Are you my baby?" and she looks up at me with those sweet brown eyes, and I want to cry. This time is so precious, and I realize it's already slipping by too quickly.

Ok, ok enough of this sentimentality, on to the update:
  • Baby's Weight: Nia won't have her next appointment until 9 months, but I can already tell she's put on quite a bit of heft in the past month thanks to the introduction of solids. I'd say she's already 17 lbs. On the topic of weight, I'm getting tired of people in public remarking that she's small for her age. She isn't - she's long and slim AND she doesn't have a melon sized head like I see most babies her age have (BTW her dr. said her head circumference, weight and height are perfect!). Just cause my baby's gonna look like a supermodel when she grows up doesn't mean you have to make comments! ;-)
  • Baby's Height: I'm sure she's still hovering around 26."
  • What size of clothing does baby wear? She's wearing 9 months comfortably and still 6-9 months mostly. I realized she had a bunch of clothes I had packed away and suddenly brought into rotation, including the jeans in the last post.
  • Any milestones baby reached during the month:  
      • She can say mama and dada specifically to each of us. When she wakes up she calls for me immediately most times, "Mamamamama!" It's so cute (for now!).
      • Not a fun milestone, but she had her first cold for about two weeks; it was so sad to see her sniffle, but the NoseFrida was such a help
      • She's starting to lunge for things she wants from a seated position (she actually made it out of her bouncy seat while I was showering - a reminder to ALWAYS strap her in!)
      • She can crawl backwards (not very consistently!)
      • She's (finally) rolling from back to tummy
      • Here are some pics of her recent poses:
Finally lifting her pelvis off the floor!
Go ahead and crawl already!!!
This is how she was posing when she woke up from her nap!
She loves to throw herself backwards so pillows are a must
She's bustin a move! LOL!
  • Special outings baby had during the month: She went to her first Baby Lapsit at our local library; she was completely overwhelmed by all the children but did enjoy the experience. When we walked into the children's floor she looked all around and a huge smile spread on her face as though she was thinking, "I've dreamt of such a place my whole life!" It was so cute I almost cried! I have such a great love of reading, and I hope she will too. 
  • She also went to her first track meet at The Armory to see UVA women's team run the DMR (I always call it the DNR thinking of "do not resuscitate" and what would happen to me if I attempted it!):
  • What are your thoughts about the past month? I say it every month but it's true: she gets impossibly cuter as each month goes by. She is such a dream!
  • What was baby's routine? We're keeping up with story time followed by playing her mobile to signal bedtime then laying her down. When she hears her mobile she starts to whimper (kinda reminds me of Pavlov's dogs!). Once we get her down between 8-8:30p.m. she's down until 12-1a.m. and depending on the cry I feed her otherwise she self-soothes then is up again around 5a.m. (when Uka gets up). The only part of the routine's that's changed is having solids before nursing. At first we were nursing first then solids, but I like the reverse better. She's very clear when she's done with solids and will lunge for milk!
  • Reflect about the highlights of the month: Story time was the biggest highlight! Regarding solids she's now eating:
    • Brown rice cereal, sometimes with bananas
    • Bananas in her mesh feeder 
    • Apple cinnamon rice cakes
    • Peas
    • We've also given her tastes of apple, cantaloupe, grapefruit juice via spoon (she LOVES it!) and banana gelato (Shhh! Don't tell her pediatrician!)
Excited for 1st time with peas
Mastering the sippy cup
First rice cake
  • Did any big changes occur, such as baby started daycare, stopped nursing, slept through the night, etc... We introduced a new brand of cloth diaper, Econobum, and she's doing well with them. They're prefolds and surprisingly, make a better overnight diaper than the BumGenius 4.0s. A full review is forthcoming!
  • What are baby's favorites - toy, food, person, etc... She still likes her musical toys, and I've given her a vibrating doodle bug that she enjoys (it was hanging from her shelf and she kept eyeing it!):

Here's a video of her enjoying her first banana in the mesh feeder (you can hear Uka start to bless the food right before I shut off the camera - he was hungry!):



    P.S. I've now noticed after posting all these pics that either all of Nia's tops are meant to be 3/4 sleeves or she has really long arms like her father!

    Wednesday, March 9, 2011

    Silly Nia!

    I was folding clothes on the sofa and gave Nia a cloth diaper to "fold":


    By the way, this was her first time wearing jeans - I think she looks cute!

    Tuesday, March 8, 2011

    Snotsucker Love

    Nia's just now getting over her first cold she's had for over a week now and the one tool that has really helped us get through it is the NoseFrida Snotsucker

    Photo Credit: Amazon.com

    Much more efficient than the bulb aspirator from my childhood, the NoseFrida is a tube sucking device that uses your mouth's sucking action to draw the nastiness from a child's nose. At first I was completely grossed out by the description and didn't understand how it worked without getting snot in your mouth, but when Nia's cold was making it unbearable for her to breathe, I knew I had no choice but to break it out.

    I was concerned about Nia's reaction to it but surprisingly she didn't cry! She just made a gasping sound of annoyance. The tube doesn't go in the child's nose like the bulb aspirator; instead it lays right at the edge of her nostril. There is no way I can suck too hard and boy, is it effective! I can see all the contents coming into the clear tube. My baby makes a lot of snot!

    Now back to the possibility of snot going my mouth: this doesn't happen because it has a sponge filter that keeps it from getting to your mouth. The product breaks down easily for cleaning and disinfection (a bit of alcohol in the tube cleans it quickly).

    Overall, I highly recommend this product and will continue to use it for Nia's colds. 

    Wanna see it in action? Check this out:



    *I was not compensated for this review; it was a product I happened upon on my own.*

    Monday, March 7, 2011

    Post-Ikea Trip

    A couple weeks ago I posted about needing to go to Ikea. Well on Saturday after meeting up with my sister and BFF at Eataly (I have a bit of obsession with this Italian bazaar!), I headed to the Elizabeth Ikea to get curtains for Nia's nursery entry.

    I set out to get brown curtains and ended up with these instead:
    Photo Credit: Ikea
    I reported to Uka on my way back that I bought gray curtains, and he was a bit nervous thinking they were light gray, but was pleasantly surprised to see they were more of a graphite color. Here they are hanging in the doorway:


    I had purchased brown Ikea curtains in my first NYC apartment and wanted to try a different color especially if we end up taking them down and moving them to our living room window which right now is curtain-less. {On a side note: this really irks our parents whenever they visit. They are concerned that people are staring at us at all hours, but there isn't a direct view into our apartment, and we can't see anyone in the building next to us, just shadows behind their curtains. We love how the light floods into our apartment!} Anyway, the curtains would match our Ikea kitchen shade too, if we indeed end up relocating them:


    Anyway, back to the hallway pic: I really don't like our hallway and now I'm thinking of other ways to spruce it up without painting or investing in art {again, we're in the midst of a landlord dispute and don't want to put anything up on the walls just yet}. Perhaps a new runner? I've had our current one since moving to NYC in 2007 and it's a bit dingy. I'm thinking of replacing it with one of these:

    Photo Credit: Overstock.com

    Photo Credit: Overstock.com
    Photo Credit: Target.com
    I'm leaning towards the last one since I think it'll tie in best with the curtains and if we end up decorating the walls I'm thinking of graphite frames lining the long hallway similar to this:

    Photo Credit: akincarroll.blogspot.com
    We have a bunch of frames we received as wedding gifts and I plan to put them into good use once our housing situation is settled but they're of different materials so I'm thinking of just using those for our large living room window sill and picking up frames from Ikea for the hallway.

    I also have this print  by Jim Datz to frame and hang in Nia's room; it will replace the Keep Calm and Carry On poster:

    Photo Credit: Three Potato Four
    Isn't it cute? I've been hanging onto it for over a year now, but it's an odd size and I've been having a hard time finding a frame and custom frames are SO expensive. I like how it looks framed on the shop's site:


    So those are my post-Ikea trip ramblings. 

    Any thoughts/suggestions/comments are much appreciated!



    P.S. Ikea does not sell stovetop tea kettles. Who knew?! A store associate confirmed it for me while I was searching high and low for one there. A Twitter friend suggested I go to Marshalls on 125th ST so I'm going there next weekend to try and find one.

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