Wednesday, November 30, 2011

I'm Not a Girly Girl, But . . .

Growing up while my elementary school girlfriends were obsessing about training bras, when their periods would start and why their mothers wouldn't let them shave their legs, I was more interested in plotting how I was going to attend space camp and become a business woman.

Yes, I was a nerd!

I remember my dad trying to convince me to carry a purse after asking me if I had lotion or a tissue which he needed and letting me know I was supposed to have those types of things on hand. I didn't understand why if he needed those items so badly why he didn't carry a purse!


So yeah, I wasn't racing towards discovering my femininity, but now that I'm older I appreciate girly things like make-up and the importance of carrying a diaper bag purse. And while I don't wear make-up everyday there is one thing that I believe makes a world of difference on my face (not sure if it works for everyone so please let me know!) and that is . . . . 

Eyeliner.

I can have nothing else on my face, but once I put on eyeliner my face becomes alive! I used a crayon-type liner for years and would get compliments, but it always smudges. My sister Ariane introcuded me to Sephora's liquid liner over the summer which Mr. Love Bird LOVES on me, but now that I've seen this tutorial I think I seriously need to give powder liner a try.



How to Be a Girl: Cat Eyes By Magic! from The Hairpin on Vimeo.

Tell me this isn't amazing. Just say it isn't and see what happens!

Saturday, November 26, 2011

A NYC Thanksgiving: Love Bird Style



Me and my family at Rockefeller Center - Mr. Love Bird had to leave right before we found a stranger to snap this =(
This Thanksgiving was jam-packed! Being the Type A person that I am (thanks mom!) I wrote an itinerary that in the end wasn't really followed but gave a general sense of what we had wanted to happen. I guess having an outline always makes me feel better!

Anyway, my family arrived Wednesday afternoon. I kept telling Nia they were coming, showing her pictures and pointing to the door to explain. When the intercom rang several times as they brought stuff in then again later when my Harlem-based sister Ariane arrived a bit later, she went NUTS! She was running up and down the hall shrieking and of course acted shy once they stepped through our door.

She warmed up soon enough . . . 

My mom sang her to sleep soon after they arrived
When Nia woke up from her nap we headed down to the Natural History Museum to see the parade balloons inflation. It was so cold and crowded so we only went through the first row of balloons, but as soon as we got there Nia started pointing and was very excited!

I love her little face!
A quick family photo in front of the Pillsbury Dough Boy
My favorite balloon: SpongeBob SquarePants
Nana B and Nia with "Eyes of Wonder"
I love this shot of Sonic with the throngs of people in front of him!
Mr. Love Bird, a native NYer, said this expressed exactly how he felt about seeing the balloons!
Thanksgiving morning I put Nia in her new skirt that had just arrived the previous day courtesy of Baby Making Machine's contest I won from Dapple Gray Designs. My mom styled Nia's hair which resulted in a few tears, but she loved the end result and went prancing around the apartment and catching glimpses of herself in the mirror!

She kept touching her hair because she knew "something" was different
Nia in her full Thanksgiving outfit at my sister's office (a bit fuzzy from playing!)
We then headed to Ariane's office for the ultimate hook-up: watching the parade along the route indoors. It was glorious! Nia's bday date twin Jerve was there too with his family and as soon as I said his name after parking the stroller she was trying her best to break free so she could go see him. They were so cute together and more interested in running through the halls chasing each other than watching the parade!

Nia watching the parade with her bday date twin! She called the balloons "puppies."
Me and my "twin" sister Lauren
We didn't see the balloons head on, but it was still cool!
I liked how it looked like this Smurf was walking down the street
My absolute favorite shot from the parade viewing; what was going through her mind?
{If anyone's a nerd like I am you can check out these posts here and here about the history of the parade. I didn't realize it used to go through Harlem!}

After the parade my family went back to our place to finish cooking and Mr. Love Bird, Nia, my sister and I headed down to B & H to take a look at their cameras. I caught this cute moment of Mr. Love Bird and Nia:

I have no pics of food to share or fancy tablescapes, but we just put everything out buffet style and went to town: turkey brined in bourbon, sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes, homemade stuffing (Mr. Love Bird's now a convert from the boxed stuff!), collard and kale greens (came out perfectly in our new slow cooker), mac & cheese (America's Test Kitchen's recipe is the BEST!), homemade rolls, cornbread and homemade cranberry sauce (and the canned stuff too). Dessert was my sweet potato pie, my sister's chocolate pecan pie, my traditional pecan pie (sadly I dozed off and it overcooked by 10 minutes) and my dad's apple pie. 

What's crazy is Nia refused to eat pretty much everything except egg nog! She just kept wanting to nurse. I just knew she'd love mac & cheese. Oh well, we'll keep trying . . .

Anyway, Mr. Love Bird and I ended up making our Williams-Sonoma brined turkey the following day, and he deconstructed it so quickly (following America's Test Kitchen's instructions) that I didn't even have time to snap a pic of it fresh out the oven!

Yes, Mr. Love Bird put a star anise on the top as garnish!
After the itis wore off we whisked Nia down to 125th ST to see her first movie: The Muppets. Nia was so happy and stayed awake the entire time although she got a bit restless towards the end and kept wanting to nurse.

Awkward shot in the theater!
We crashed hard after then the following day my family shopped while I stayed behind and cleaned. Mr. Love Bird had to go to work, but that night we met my family at Rockefeller Center. Mr. Love Bird couldn't stay the entire time so unfortunately we didn't get any pics of all of us =(

The unlit tree; I'm taking Nia on Thursday to the lighting!

Mr. Love Bird captured this cute pic of his girls!
For dinner we went a few stops to Sammy's Noodles in the Village. It's one of my favorite Chinese food restaurants which Mr. Love Bird introduced me to years ago even before I moved to NYC. My family loved it too!

Nia and Papi in the Village; she was having a good time!

The next morning we had brunch at Kitchenette in Harlem, my brother departed for TN then my mom and I headed to Pins & Needles to get some sewing supplies for a few projects (can't wait to blog about them!). When we returned the rest of my family packed up and drove back to Baltimore. Nia ran all through apartment afterward exactly as she had when they first arrived! 


Coloring with Papi at brunch
One final thing to share . . . 

Friday night, at the recommendation of my sister Ariane, we watched Where the Woodbine Twineth - an Alfred Hitchcock episode on Hulu. It reminded me and my family of the Twilight Zone, which we're obsessed with! It was about a little white girl who would trade places with her black doll and was so weird that nearly all of us had trouble sleeping that night. I think now this episode will be the overarching theme of Thanksgiving 2011 so whenever one of us says,  "Where the woodbine twineth," we'll think back to this year. A random memory!
{You can check out the episode and more details on the history here.}

Hope you and your families had wonderful Thanksgivings as well (if any of you have a quirky memory to share like the Woodbine Twineth, please do!).



P.S. We also put up Nia's tree (same as last year), but I'll do a separate post on that later this week!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

How the Love Birds Do Thanksgiving

I am in awe that Thanksgiving is today; it came up SO fast!

This year feels more like baby's first Thanksgiving because Nia is so much more responsive and seems to be taking everything in with eyes of wonder. Just the other day the preview came on for the Muppets movie (btw I just have to pause and say I can't stand Kermit's new voice) and Nia froze in place, looked at the TV and exclaimed, "Heeeeey!" as in, "Oh yeah I almost forgot that was coming out!" 

I tell you our Lil Love Bird cracks me up every day!

Anyway, this is how we celebrated Thanksgiving last year:

The Love Birds with Uka's Aunt
{you can read the full post here}

Now for an even further look back . . .

In 2006 Mr. Love Bird and I had our first Thanksgiving in Boston (you can go to the way, way back machine here to see those pics) . . .

Yes, that glint in Mr. Love Bird's mouth is braces (shhhhh! don't let him know I told!)
Then in 2007 my family came to NYC for my first year living there. . .

A striking resemblance to Shrek at the Thanksgiving-eve balloon viewing
2008 was with Mr. Love Bird's family in Baltimore . . .

Mr. Love Bird and his nephew, sister and niece
2009 was our last Thanksgiving in Ohio . . .

Little did I know I was pregnant!
And finally 2010's was in Queens then NJ with Mr. Love Bird's family, and now we're back in Harlem! We thought we'd be down in Baltimore with my family this year, but with our upcoming trip to Nigeria they decided to cut us some slack and come up here. Niiiiiice!

My parents, sister Lauren and brother Michael drove up from Baltimore, SC and TN, respectively, to come be with us for Thanksgiving. Since my sister Ariane is also in Harlem our siblings are staying with her and my parents with us. It all works out so well!

Now comes the fun part . . .

My family has quite the obsession with the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. We've gone like 4 or 5 times already, but it never gets old! I remember our first time it was rainy and couldn't see anything except for a sea of umbrellas. Regardless, my mom kept pestering me to take pictures. I told her they'd come back as a sea of umbrellas and sure enough they did!

Also my family likes to do things to embarrass me like take pictures on the subway and do weird things in public that make me give them the side eye . . .

That's my sister Lauren in red; can't remember what she did, but I didn't approve!
One of the best memories was going to see the balloons the night before. We did that in 2007 and did it again last night. Nia loved it just like I knew she would (full recap to come!).

My view of the parade in 2007 at Columbus Circle
We're watching the parade from my sister's office along the parade route. I've always wondered who were these lucky folks getting an eye level view of the balloons from high up while remaining nice and toasty warm, and I'm so excited that I finally will be joining their ranks. Thanks Ariane!

After the parade we'll come back, finish up cooking (a lot of it was done yesterday), eat, take a snooze after the itis sets in then go see the Muppets movie. I'm already knowing it's gonna be a perfect day!

Unfortunately, Mr. Love Bird has to work tomorrow (I have never personally known anyone to have to work the day after Thanksgiving but alas he does as the market is open), and my family will be up early shopping. Not sure if I'll brave the crowds with Nia as I'm more of a Cyber Monday shopper, but we'll see.

Saturday Mr. Love Bird and I want to do some shopping in Chinatown, I'd like to go out with my family and perhaps see the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree (it doesn't get lit until November 30) then Sunday is church and the race to Christmas continues!

Overall, I am most thankful for my family this Thanksgiving and feel so blessed that we're all able to be together again.

Have a wonderful holiday everyone!
 

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

The Incredible Shrinking Mrs. Love Bird

Mr. Love Bird is a former professional athlete, and when we were dating and subsequently married we always had a mutual agreement that we would "maintain ourselves." I know many women say, "It's not about what I look like - a man has to love me no matter how I may change physically." 

Yes, that is the truth.

But it is also true that what first drew Mr. Love Bird and me to each other was what we looked like. I also understand that men are visual creatures. Obviously that is not all there is to it, but that is an important piece of the Love Birds' puzzle!

So yes, I try to maintain myself the best I can. I grew up playing sports and went through my pre-marital years going to the gym 5 days a week (I was a freak that woke up at 5a.m. to go workout).

We canceled our gym membership in my first trimester (instead we infrequently did P90X) and now with Nia here it definitely doesn't make sense to have one since the location near us doesn't have childcare. Mr. Love Bird and I have such limited time together throughout the week let alone handing off our Lil Love Bird for gym time.

Anyway, Mr. Love Bird bought a scale a few months ago, but we've since found out that it's not calibrated properly after I visited my dr. and found out that I've lost 8 lbs since August. The scale was calculating us as 10 lbs heavier! Needless to say when I was weighed at the dr.'s office I was shocked. I don't weigh myself that frequently as I'm more likely to go by how my clothes fit.

The weight loss was completely unintentional. Friends and family had been telling me for months that I keep getting smaller, and while my clothes have been getting looser it didn't really hit home until I saw myself in pictures, especially this one from my recent date night post:



Understand that I do not work out. I just breastfeed. That is my workout in a nutshell! Well, that and walking all over NYC with Nia usually either wearing her or more recently, pushing her in her stroller (and carrying her in said stroller up and down lots and lots of NYC stairs!).

To put it into perspective I've lost 12 lbs since January and am now 10 lbs lighter than I was when I got pregnant and since being weighed at my dr. a mere 8 lbs away from my wedding day weight. To me this is crazy! As surprised as I was to be so tiny on my wedding day (my dress was slipping right before I was to walk down the aisle and some cutlets saved me!), I do believe the shape of the dress came across much better in photos on a slimmer version of myself than the heavier version that first tried on the dress.

And to drive the point home further, here are some pics of my transformation over the past couple years:

2009 during my wedding week

My wedding day - June 26, 2009
My post-partum self - beginning of 2011
Rather than losing more weight, I'd like to focus on gaining muscle mass since I miss feeling physically strong. I do have to confess though that one of my goals before trying for baby #2 was to get back to my wedding day weight. Starting out on the slimmer side would feel better for me. I gained 35 lbs when I was pregnant and got up to nearly 175 lbs. I know this was all part of being pregnant but actually seeing that # freaked me out. Seriously! I think seeing 155 would be much easier psychologically. Yes, this is one of my weird quirks and I know we shouldn't be tied to a #, but while I'm not having baby #2 any time soon, I get comfort knowing that I'm so close to my goal without really trying.

The real surprise will be seeing what happens when Nia weans. While I LOVE food and don't do diets, I don't eat massive quantities of food so I don't think it'll be too rough, but I know I'll probably need to make a few adjustments to my eating habits.

I'm looking forward to seeing what transformations are in store, but for now I'm reminiscing over the booty I used to have . . .

With my family pregnant and looking like a duck!
My booty of yore

















 

Monday, November 21, 2011

See, I'm Not the Only One!

As an update to this thought I wrote on my A Few Things post:


I came across this story in my Facebook feed courtesy of BlogHer: The Gift of Comments under the Holiday Gift Guide. The author explained:

The greatest gift you can give a blogger isn't a new computer or a year-long membership to self-host their site. . . It's the gift of the response: comments. . . What do writers want most of all? They want eyes on their work and a response to their work. Bloggers crave traffic because traffic equals human beings all enjoying the words they've strung together. And they like comments because no one wants to speak into a vacuum. We want to know that our words were heard and know how the reader received them.

As with many of the commenters I gave a wholehearted, "Amen!"

I don't post just for comments, but I do think blogging is definitely give and take. Some super successful bloggers like to say they blogged for years without a comment and I totally agree that in blogging it's best to put your nose to the grindstone and focus on the purity of your craft without working too hard to please outsiders or gain traffic. I've found when I'm in my "blogging element" (aka not trying too hard!) opportunities and comments find me. I like that!

The other night Mr. Love Bird thanked me for blogging. I thought it was sweet. He really likes to go back and see how our lives have evolved since we were married and for me it goes back to when I was 7 and first started journaling. Blogging is somewhat of an extension of that, albeit much more public. 

I definitely have seen an improvement in comments since installing my new commenting system. I now feel more connected to my readers, and I want to thank you all for coming to check out my corner of Harlem!


P.S. Speaking of thanks, I'll be having an amazing giveaway coming up soon to show my appreciation so if you're not a follower already please click the Google Friend Connect or Networked Blogs buttons to the left to make it super easy for you to be entered to win.





Friday, November 18, 2011

IRL: Nat the Fat Rat

I spy Mrs. Love Bird! {Photo Credit}
I am about to share the beauty of the internet and just how small NYC really is . . . 

I had mentioned that on Saturday I attended a house concert at a fellow blogger's apartment. The concert was given by Mindy Gledhill - a beautiful artist with an angelic voice (check her out here).

Anyway, the fellow blogger was Natalie, of Nat the Fat Rat. I've been following her blog for about a year and her son Huck is so wonderfully chunky! I enjoy seeing Natalie and Huck traipse around NYC as they too live on the west side and often remind me of Nia and myself.

Last week I attended Pins & Needles crafting night and while there I saw an ornament that read "Huck" and immediately thought of Natalie. When one of the associates mentioned that there had been another baby there earlier who was very interested in eating the craft pieces as Nia had been I knew that indeed it must have been that Huck who I was thinking of.

I scoured Natalie's blog to see if there was post about the crafting event but alas there wasn't, but I saw this which caught my eye:


{Source}

This looked like the perfect respite from playing nurse to Nia so I asked Mr. Love Bird if he minded and I emailed Natalie who responded yes, there was still room so I headed down to see the concert a mere two express stops away on the subway.

It was a delightful evening and so cool to meet Natalie "IRL" (in real life). Natalie was a great hostess with all sorts of yummy snacks and Huck was in his PJs looking scrumptious as ever.

I only stayed the first hour but the warm, cozy environment and soothing voices of Mindy and the opening performance of Spencer was so relaxing for a Saturday night. I slipped out quietly but saw the recap posted on Natalie's blog the following day. I don't think I would've been so brave as to invite internet strangers into my home, but I'm glad Natalie did!

One touching part of the evening was when Mindy asked if anyone in the room was a blogger and I identified myself and she mentioned how the blogger Nie Nie's tragic story inspired her song "All About Your Heart" that was on the video of her testimony. This prompted me to go home and find it, and I've posted it below.

After watching it Mr. Love Bird and I ended up having a serious conversation about cherishing life and being thankful in all circumstances and yes, a few tears were shed.

I highly recommend you watch it:

Nie Nie's testimony
 


Have a good weekend everyone!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

My Sick Lil Love Bird

My poor baby!
I had mentioned on Nia's 15 month update that she was sick last weekend. When I researched about breastfeeding I learned how it boosts the baby's immune system. Well, Nia's only been sick one other time, which in 15 months is not bad!

Nia fascinated by the crunchy paper
Nia's temperature shot up overnight on Thursday and despite two cool baths and Tylenol her fever would not stay down. When I called her dr. on Friday morning they asked to see her immediately. The dr. checked her ears, breathing and eyes then took a look in her throat and proclaimed, "Aha! Coxsackie!"

I was like, "What did you just call my baby?!"

He then explained it was a virus going around NYC. I shared the news over the phone with Mr. Love Bird who was at work who proceeded to Google for more info:

Coxsackieviruses are part of the enterovirus family of viruses (which also includes polioviruses and hepatitis A virus) that live in the human digestive tract. They can spread from person to person, usually on unwashed hands and surfaces contaminated by feces, where they can live for several days.{Source}

Oh wow! I suddenly lost my appetite.


On our way home from the dr.
For the rest of the weekend we canceled our plans and stayed home. I did get a bit stir crazy so Mr. Love Bird watched Nia while I met a friend for coffee Saturday morning then attended a concert at the home of a fellow blogger that night (separate post to follow).

My Love Birds
Nia wanted to nurse nonstop, and I'm still feeling the effects of it on my supply. Right when I think we're getting close to weaning something else pops up, but I'll stay patient especially as our trip to Nigeria nears. I think nursing will help the trip go easier so I'll keep being patient for now. 

Anyway, Nia took ibuprofen interspersed with Tylenol for two days then her fever broke and she was back to her normal self being silly, dancing and playing.


My Lil Love Bird's recovery pose
So happy to have our Lil Love Bird back in good health.

Hope my readers are staying happy and healthy!


P.S. Speaking of "sick day" Kelle Hampton over on Enjoying the Small Things wrote poignantly about her baby's sick day. The description of her as a little koala clinging to her hip was exactly how Nia was with me. She shrieked when I tried to put her down and was my little shadow even more so than she normally is. You can read her post here.

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