Thursday, July 31, 2014

It hurts to laugh today: a workout recommendation



I mentioned this video in a favorites round up several months ago but was finally able to try it out yesterday. Result: my shoulders and abs are soooooo sore today. Which I take as a good thing :) Means I worked some muscles!

In LA I tried to workout 3 times a week: 1 evening yoga class and 2 quick trips to the gym located in our building complex for 25 minutes of cardio and a little stretching. It was working out pretty well. But now that we've moved I no longer have a great yoga studio in walking distance and a gym in my courtyard. So I'm been trying to figure out how to get in my exercise. There are great trails right out our front door but I don't often have the time for a long hike (and it's also hard in this summer heat!). My plan has been to find ways to do my workout at home. My home office is large so I have the space for it. The question then becomes what to do. I'm not very good at taking myself through fitness routines: I get lazy and take short cuts! Thank goodness for the internet and online videos.

Yesterday I tried out this 30-minute dance workout and I started off skeptical but this thing ended up kicking my butt. I consider myself in good shape and by the end I was having to sit some poses out. So for those of you needing a effective at home routine this is a great one. I'll definitely be doing it again (and might even run through it once a week). But I do recommend doing a little stretching afterward as they don't incorporate that into this video.

And yes, that's the choreographer from Sia's amazing "Chandelier" video.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Favorites from around the web...

1) This gives you an indication of the kind of environment I grew up in (Topanga is my home town!)

2) For awhile now I've been uncomfortable with the pressure to get kids into academics younger and younger. So I appreciated this article.

3) I love the idea of this as a wedding dress.

4) Ouch! #16 makes me laugh though.

5) This is a great tip! I've always wanted to know how to manage riding a bike in a skirt.

6) This is something I never thought about before but now I am astutely aware of.

7) I've never been a big Kristen Stewart fan but this made me love her.

8) Memories...

9) Wow, this is kind of amazing but not surprising really. Something to think about next time you are out to dinner.

10) This made me laugh. I definitely didn't see it coming.

Image via.

Friday, July 25, 2014

We made it! (just barely)

We're in our new place in beautiful Ojai! And my assessment right now is that moving is stressful and we're exhausted. In retrospect I probably should have taken a day or two off of work. But wanting to maintain those precious vacation days we decided that D would handle the move while I worked and helped whenever I could. But this made the week completely non-stop. When I wasn't working or taking care of the Pepper I was unpacking or organizing or assembling. We unpacked the Pepper's things first which was the right call to make. But it meant that our things were in boxes for days which was a bit hard. I think there is an emotional toll taken to living out of boxes and feeling like things are chaotic and temporary. There is for me anyway. Plus there is just a lot of change happening and I think I haven't had time to process it. Moving out of downtown is a bug deal for our family, including all the repercussions like our little girl starting daycare. I find myself having emotions bubble up throughout the day but I don't have time to sit with them I have to move on to the next thing. I'm looking forward to having some time this weekend to reflecting on our life as it is now and processing all the feelings I have about it.

But there is a lot of good news too! We are so happy to be in such a beautiful place and in such a lovely home. We are lucky to be where we are. We're thrilled that the Pepper now has her own room which means we can finally talk in normal voices after she goes to bed. I'm so happy to have a dedicated office space where I can do my work. Our little girl seems very happy happy here too, and the transition into daycare is going better than we expected. And though this is a new town for us we already have great friends here who invite us to wonderful dinner parties and give us open invitations to use their pools.

We've definitely embarked on a new adventure, and like any adventure it is exciting and scary. Lots to take in. Lots to think about. But luckily, lots to enjoy.

Image from my Instagram. View from my new home office :)

Monday, July 21, 2014

It's happening faster than I thought

One of the things I was most intimidated by when I became a parent was the idea of potty training. I didn't understand how it could happen. I felt like it would take a lot of effort. I didn't know the best practices or the right way and it just seemed like it has to be very hard. Well, colored me surprised because it is happening faster than I could have imagined! So fast that we're not even ready for it.

Looking back we brought this on ourselves. I'm a big believer in naked baby time and we'd make sure the Pepper had time each day to run around in her birthday suit. Over time she started learning about how her body worked and would announce to us that she was going to the bathroom. Since we were starting to talk about it with her I decided to get the classic Once Upon a Potty book and it quickly became on of the most requested at story time. But my intention was to take things slow. She would start learning about the concepts and we could start talking about them and then when we're in the new house we could get her a little potty and leisurely make our way towards being diaper free.

What happened instead was that last week the Pepper decided she did not want to wear diapers anymore. We dealt with full-on tantrums every time we tried to get her changed. She demanded that she wear her pants without a diaper. She even asked to use the potty a couple times. And poor thing, we didn't have any of the needed tools. No potty. No underwear. No pull-ups. We were so not ready and with the move only days away we didn't want to get all set-up in a place we'd be leaving. So we struggled through it which meant a lot of clean-ups.

This last week was a challenging week with work and the move and the worse PMS of my life! Luckily we made it up to Ojai and into our new place (though there are still so many boxes to unpack). But the good news is we can finally unpack her potty. I have no idea what to expect. Maybe she'll just be curious about it, maybe she'll catch on quick and love it. But I have to say my little girl has impressed me. She was ready for this milestone much quicker than I was. Just a reminder that being a parent means constantly being adaptable.

Image of the Pepper from last week.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Craving some beautiful bras

One thing I always notice when I really go through my clothing is how I don't have pretty underthings. I've always gone for function when it comes to my undies and bras. In fact, my go to underwear right now are my Gap maternity thongs which are so comfortable! And I don't even have many bras. For a long time I didn't wear them because I actually didn't need them. When I entered the professional world I bought a few to wear under my business clothes, and I bought some simple cotton bras from American Apparel to accommodate the changes that come with pregnancy and postpartum. They all have served their purpose well but none are particularly attractive or notable.

But I just found this Etsy shop and now I think I'm going to have to treat myself to something pretty. Especially since in summer I like to wear loose fitting tank tops where my bra is seen a bit. How pretty would be to instead of the basic cotton to have a little lace showing instead! And they look very comfortable. I want to get this one to wear under my racer-back tanks, this one to wear under t-shirts, and this one to wear under button-up shirts and dresses.

Do you have a favorite? Any other brands you recommend?

Image of the triangle lace bralette. How pretty is the back!

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

It's moving week!

It's moving week! You may remember from this post that we are going to do an experiment and move to the country. Things are a bit different than we had planned in terms of the logistics of renting our place and such, but we're moving forward with the relocation. We can only look ahead 6 months but that should be enough time for us to get our feet wet in a new town and see if it's something we can do long term. D has started bringing in boxes and today I'm going to start packing our things away and it's really exciting! I love the opportunity to go through our stuff and do a little purge. Moving is always a great opportunity to streamline :)

I'm feeling ready to have a break from downtown. Even though I've loved living here, lately I've been feeling much less comfortable. For example, over the last few weeks the number of sirens has at least doubled. This not only means a lot more disruptive noise but also just makes me wonder what all the emergencies are. It doesn't help there there was a scary incident just blocks form us recently. When the Pepper and I walked by a guy peeing on a tree in the middle of the afternoon the other day, I knew I was ready for a change.

But there are things I'm nervous about. Ojai is only a couple hours drive from LA and we are hoping our friends come to visit, but I'm nervous they won't. I'm anxious the commute will be hard on D. And I'm feeling worried about the transition to daycare for the Pepper. I know she will love the daycare. I think she's ready for it. And we feel really good about the place we've selected. But I just worry that the transition will be difficult for her. It will be very new. She's always had one of us around and has always been at home. She's such a happy and open little girl I don't want to change that. I don't want this transition to be scary for her or to make her distrust new things. D has agreed to spend some time next week with her at the daycare to help ease her in, and our wonderful friend and nanny will also visit during the week. So I'm hoping we have a good approach and we'll get over the hump successfully.

What has surprised me most about this move is the amount of new things we have to think about. We're moving from a loft to house and that means I need to get things like a baby monitor and child safety gates. And we need a lunch box for the Pepper to take to daycare and a chair or couch for the Pepper's room. We're trying to maintain our minimalist lifestyle but turns out living in a house requires a bit more stuff. I know there is more that I don't even realize I need so it will be a learning experience.

Onwards to new and exciting things!

Image via.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Friendships after baby

Last night two of my good friends came over. I made pasta, they brought salad and dessert. Wine was had, catching up was done, we did some itsy-bitsy spider with the Pepper, and they finished off their visit by reading her a bedtime story. It's so nice when I get to have some girl-time with my friends and it got me to thinking about maintaining friendships once you have a baby.

I hear a lot of moms talk about how difficult it is to maintain friendships once they have their first child. And yes it's harder to get together with friends. But this isn't unique to motherhood. Any major life change usually has an impact to your social life. If you start a new job you may be working longer hours for example, or when you start a new relationship you'll have fewer evenings available. The biggest challenge with having a baby is the schedule. They need to eat and sleep and you try to get into a rhythm with this stuff because it's helpful to maintain a routine. But, I tried to keep our routine flexible enough that we could accommodate a lunch date or a dinner party. One thing that has helped is that our little one actually doesn't go to bed very early. She usually goes to bed between 9pm-9:30pm which means we can still get together in the evenings with friends. For example, last night the ladies arrived around 6:30 so we still have a few good hours to together before I had to get involved in bedtime.

The other challenge is that babies are babies. They need attention, they cry, they need to be changed, they can be gross. While some people don't like trying to deal with these distractions,  I've found most of my friends are very accommodating. They love my little girl! They like interacting with her and playing with her. And while it can take us longer to get through a conversation now that I often need to pause to help the Pepper with her toys, we still get there. And these friends end up developing a relationship with my child too which I think is great. I want the Pepper to have lots of wonderful "aunties" in her life. On that note, I want to give a special shout-out to my friends last night who were very gracious when the Pepper pooped on the floor in front of them.

As a mom I also found that I made new friends with parents who also have children of a similar age. And luckily those relationships can be easily kept-up through play-dates and such.  Those women are so important because we can talk about the particular challenges of motherhood and learn from each others experiences. But, I also value my friendships with the woman that I've known a long time and who are in a different phase of life than me. And with a little thought and effort (and understanding on their side) I have found it's not impossible to maintain those friendships. Which I am thankful for.

Image from a recent LA visit from my dear from New York (right). Other dear friend and her daughter also joined (left). We all became friends back high school!

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Favorites from aroud the web...

1) Wow. This is something I never really think about. Even though it saddens me and angers me, I appreciate the reminder that this stuff still happens every day.

2) This is some insight into an already mysterious celebrities life, though I think it asks more questions than it answers.

3) I love hearing about stuff like this! I hope more companies follow their lead and bring parenthood more into the dialogue.

4) I hope to one day have an outdoor area large enough for one of these.

5) This is beautiful :)

6) I love this idea. I believe in manifesting.

7) This is a good look at how far women have come, and how far we still have to go.

8) I really want to see this. It's an interesting perspective on how Los Angeles is depicted in modern media and I want to know more

9) I want this for my kitchen. I'm always googling this stuff which can be hard to do if you have batter all over your fingers.

10) This is another example of something pervasive in our culture that I guess I had become so accustomed to I never even noticed it!

Image via.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Independence!

Our baby has become such a little girl recently! Things are certainly changing and fast. It's exciting but there are also things I'm going to miss. The baby phase felt like it went by so quickly. I used to get to spend all day snuggling my little bear. I used to get stuck holding her while she napped! Now it's a struggle to get a hug from her. She's just become so independent. It's like she finally realized that she is her own person and that she has the power to decide what happens to her. We say she is a "woman who knows her own mind". An example is today when her nanny came and after some playing she decided she wanted to go for a walk. So she grabbed Auntie Kathy's hand, walked her over to the stroller and pointed at it. Then once Kathy got the stroller set up she decided she wanted to walk on her own so she walked over to the door and directed Kathy to bring the stroller and follow her. She's been doing a lot of this stuff lately: insisting she walks someplace on her own, that she uses a glass or a spoon on her own, that she wants to read one book and not another. And she's been assertively directing others to execute what she wants. She was bossing around one of the dads on the playground the other day by instructing him to throw the ball for her over and over. He was sweet to accommodate her but it made me realize we're going to have to start teaching her about saying "please" as soon as possible.

That's the balance I'm trying to achieve, allowing her to explore the word and be an independent being while putting the needed boundaries in place so that she doesn't run amok. Because of course the flip side is that when she doesn't get what she wants she gets upset which means we're dealing with tantrums now on a regular basis (she had one last night when I wouldn't let her play in the fridge). They luckily don't last very long but I feel it signals a new phase of the push and pull of boundary negotiation that is expected with a toddler.

The biggest change to our routine has been the morning. I talked here about how much I loved our morning routine because it included some quality cuddle time. Well, it's a month later and that snuggle time is no more. Now, she likes to stay in her crib by herself. She sometimes plays with her stuffed animals, sometimes she just lies there (I assume solving the mysteries of the universe). But if I ask her if she wants to go see daddy in bed she says "no no". If I ask if she wants to come cuddle she says "no no". And if I don't believe her and try to bring her to bed anyway she makes it very clear she was serious about her "no"s. So we let her hang in her crib until she asks to be taken out to play, which she does by pointing frantically at her play-mat. I love that she enjoys time to herself and I think that is a good quality to foster. But I do miss my cuddles :(

Picture of the Pepper and me from the recent long weekend.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

How much sleep do you get?

How much sleep do you get? Most week nights I get about 6 hours which are occasionally interrupted by the little one having a bad dream or something. That's not a lot. I've been feeling a bit burnt out recently and by the end of my work day I'm mentally exhausted. I'm thinking it's at least partly the result of mild sleep deprivation. Of course this is expected since I am the parent of a small child. And I know I have it better than many parents (one poor mom I know has a 9-month-old and hasn't slept for more than 2 hours in a stretch since his birth). But I still worry that I'm not getting the sleep I need to perform at the level I want to be at both personally and professionally. But how do I change it??

My company is based in Cleveland so I actually work East Coast hours. This means I get up a bit  before 6am and get right to work. In the evenings, after we've but the Pepper to bed D and I tidy up, have some adult conversation, and then try to watch a little media (right now we're watching Orange is the New Black). This is of course important time to snuggle on the couch, connect, and decompress from the day. But once that is done and I've gotten ready for bed (washed my face, brushed my teeth) it's pretty late and I end up falling asleep between 11:30pm-midnight, though usually closer to the midnight side of things. I do "sleep-in" one day on the weekends, which of course means I wake up whenever the Pepper gets up. So that buys we an extra hour of sleep or so. And I also try to schedule in at least 1 weekend nap with my baby. These are helpful but I still think I'm working with a deficit.

To could get more sleep if I went to bed earlier. But then I'd need to cut into our adult time at night and I don't want to because I enjoy that time and it's good for my mental health. So, I guess I'm just going to have to work with what I have. I know it won't be like this forever and one day I will be able to catch up on my sleep. I'm excited for that day :)

Image via.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Thinking about summer! And gelato

It's summer and there are two things that I closely associate with the season: rosé wine and gelato. And both of these have to do with previous summer adventures. As a teenager and into college I was lucky enough to be able to visit family friends for a few weeks over a couple summers. These friends lived a few hours outside of Geneva near a town called Bursinel. My time at their home was about walking through local vineyards, exploring sunflower fields, eating delicious food, and going out on leisurely boat rides. And it was also where I was introduced to rosé. For years it was the only place I would be offered this perfect summer wine and to this day I feel those memories whenever I drink it.

If rosé means summers in Switzerland, gelato to me means summers in Italy. Two years ago we took a trip to Italy so that D could participate in a music festival that took place in a town called Pavia. There is a lot I could write about that trip. Not only did we make wonderful friends while there, we also learned I was pregnant with the Pepper just a few days into the trip! But what I'm thinking about today is the amount of gelato we ate during our stay. Pavia has an amazing gelateria that we frequented on an almost daily basis. And we weren't the only ones. It was late afternoon on the first day of our trip and as we were exploring the city I started noticing how many people were eating gelato. All different sorts of people (families, girlfriends, men in business suits, teenagers, elderly couples) were enjoying an evening stroll accompanied by a cone of delicious gelato! I would often joke while on the trip that I wanted to do a photo series of men eating gelato and I so regret that I didn't follow through! Upon seeing this D and I decided we had to adopt this wonderful routine ourselves. And our regular gelato excursions became some of my most cherished memories from the trip.

It was not something we replicated when we got him but a new gelato place opened up just up the street from us and D was nice enough to bring home some pistachio and salted caramel for me the other day. As I sat at my work computer enjoying my treat I was taken right back to sitting next to the magnificent San Michele Maggiore and enjoying my day's selection of gelato in the soft evening Italian light.

Enjoy your long holiday weekend and your own summer traditions!

Image via.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

What does your partnership look like?

A family is like a team and every family I know manages the roles and responsibilities of their team differently. These days anything goes, it's about what works. But of course our histories and family of origin have an impact on what we expect from our home life. I've been thinking about that since I read this article about how woman who grow up in households where the dad participates in the housework are more ambitious in their careers. I guess I'm one of those women. Both of my parents worked. My mom was lucky to be able to be with me for the full first year of my life, but after that she continued working as a psychologist and pursued her PhD in psychology. I had wonderful nannies, and then a great preschool I still have fond memories of. But I also saw my dad at home a lot. He worked as a camera-man and editor and he did his editing out of a home office. His schedule was therefore flexible. I remember him cooking dinner. He would sew up rips in my clothes. He helped me with my homework. And he also worked in this cool room with large screens and a computer and I would go in there and watch him cut and type. I guess I saw him do everything. And I saw my mom do everything too.

And without even consciously choosing to turns out that is the situation I have now with my husband. We both work, and we both take care of the household. We've fallen into certain habits that makes the system efficient. For example, I'll write up the grocery list and then D will get the groceries. He'll do the dishes in the morning and start the dishwasher and I'll unload the dishwasher in the afternoon. But we both cook (depending on who feels like they have the most time that day). We'll both do laundry. We'll both clean (or we sometimes treat ourselves to a cleaning service). It works for us. I know other families have other situations. Luckily I work from home so I can take a 10 minute break during the day to make the bed. And D works for himself so he has the ability go grocery shopping in the middle of the day. It's a constant dance but luckily we do have the ability to fit things in when we need them to get done. And I am constantly thankful that I have a partner in this and that we can work as a team.

How did the family you grew up in effect how you have structured your current family? What works for you and what doesn't?

And on a separate but related note, this is an interesting piece about the sometimes negative effects of societies preference for two-parent households. Worth a read.

Image via.