November 21, 2014

Everett Takes Manhattan.

Everett Takes Manhattan.
There it is. My tiny, bubble window frames that triumphant, iconic skyline. It never fails to give me a thrill in my gut, a rush to the head. This vast metropolis is comprised of anonymous multitudes who dream to be known, discovered and found. So much hope and promise pulsing through the subways, rising up the dizzying elevators, and reaching higher than Freedom Tower. I've admired this place from afar, lived in it up close, and today, for the first time in quite a while, am just a visitor. This time, though, everything is different. My arms are carrying the 15 most important pounds of my life and he has no idea what he is in for.

He stares up at me, almost reading my anticipation, feeling the sense of the plane landing. Can he tell what I'm thinking yet? I have no idea if a 3, almost 4-month old can intuit that profoundly. But if any of them could, it would be him. Ha. Thought every parent ever.

I brought my baby to Manhattan. And here is how it went.

We Came.
Last week we took our first family trip to New York City. I'll admit it. My excitement and anxiety for this trip were equally yoked in the days leading up to our departure. I mean, take a baby on a plane? With recirculated air? During FLU SEASON?! Ew. Ah. Oh.

We Conquered. (Not Without Casualties.)
I'll just go ahead and get to the punchline: the trip was sublime. My child did as well as a spirited 4-month-old can. Was he a perfect traveler? Oh no. HE'S A BABY. There were two screaming restaurant incidents that I'd like to pretend never happened. But for the most part, he behaved wonderfully and went with the flow so, so well. It was almost odd, because, as I've shared before, he's not the lowest-maintenance baby. But his plane rides were so good, they were almost uneventful. And our time navigating the city together was actually super sweet and special. It was a delight sharing it with him, watching his eyes widen in awe at the enormity and grandeur and shimmer and grit.

// The foliage was perfect. Gosh I love New York. //
// Top Left: Everett putting on his fight face as we trolled the town, Top Right: Family Selfie waiting while waiting for the elevator, Bottom Left: Us with the iconic Love statue (right next to our hotel!), Bottom Right: Post-screaming lunch with the baby, where an Uber cab ride and a trendy coffee comforted my soul. //
// Central Park was as perfect as I remember //
// I got free balloons! It was really fun to walk around with... until it wasn't anymore. I might have tied them off somewhere in the city... //
// His puffer coat was like a magical cloak of sleeping properties. He yelled every time I put it on him... and then he did that ^. //
// Narnia. //
// Breastfeeding in the park (lets normalize it, people), some cute guy snapping photos, and me with my Everett bus loaded down with practically everything we own. //

How We Played.
What did we do while we were there? Mostly, we just enjoyed the park and visited some dear friends. Ate some rad sandwiches from the deli around the corner (several times :)) Took Everett to FAO Schwartz to pick out a Christmas toy (we ended up with a book.) Had some random girls give us balloons while we meandered through the park (I know - what??) Had a few too many treats from Magnolia Bakery (thanks, Jess!) Did a bit of Christmas shopping on 5th Ave., although this time I found myself wandering through the baby sections and chatting it up with the other moms in the store. It was kind of a surreal weird moment (like, am I old enough to even have a baby??) Watched the Veterans Day parade. Drank coffee and dreamed of what it would have been like if we were still living in our little 1-bedroom on the Upper West Side. As much as I love this crazy mess of a town, I am so glad we aren't living there now.

Sound too harsh? I'll give you an example. Each time I came back to the hotel after spending a few hours outside, I had to wipe a layer of grime off of Everett's face. He literally had a gritty pacifier mark from just, I don't know, the outside air? It grossed me out. When I walked with him in the stroller, I desperately wanted to shield him from the everything-ness of walking down 6th Avenue, where our hotel was located. Just so many people shoving by, jaywalking, cursing, smoking, yelling, cabs honking, exhaust fumes and wayward bikers every which way. It was just a lot. A whole lot. Everett took it in stride, but he definitely had his moments where he was DONE.

Moments That Surprised Me.
I definitely found myself holding my breath as we rode in elevators, anticipating him screaming in an airless, lightless space, squished awkwardly between strangers, but that moment never came. He was calm. I kept him out a little bit late one evening to meet my friend Deb for dinner, and he let her hold him for a loooooong time, so happy and content. I mean, it was like 9pm! And he was just chilling, completely content to be surrounded by the ardent aroma of pasta and pizza. That's my little Italian. And walking around the park with him was honestly dreamy. The leaves were raining down on us with every cool shimmy of the breeze, and in one bend of the path there was a saxophonist crooning, "Autumn Leaves", while we were surrounded by the mesmerizing autumn leaves, and ... well, it was truly a moment I will never forget. Like one of those moments that isn't significant for any obvious reason, but stands out so strongly, you almost lose your breath when you remember it. It was just a tiny slice of our time, merely a fraction of the day's experiences, but I will never forget that bend in the path, with that jazz saxophone, and looking down at Everett's eyes, knowing he was taking it all in.

We stayed in Midtown, which was perhaps a nutty choice (since its the busiest area of town), but I'm grateful that we had such a central location and could go back to the hotel throughout the day when we needed a break. My child, who typically doesn't nap well, took two two-hour naps each day - that's how stimulated he was! (Unfortunately, he was just preparing to turn the tables on me, since we have been sleep challenged ever since we returned home from our trip. No one told me that coming home from a trip is actually the hardest part of traveling!)

Thankfully, we had a lot of friends who came to the hotel to see us - thank you all so much for making those visits so easy! It was so much fun sharing him with all the wonderful souls who were so invested in him all last year, long before he was even born. These are the beautiful friends who celebrated his gender reveal, showered me and Stevie with so much love and affection, and kindly lied to me when I kept asking if I was really as gigantic as I felt. Everett was a lot more relaxed and able to interact with everyone in the hotel room than in a crowded restaurant.

Even though he was slammed with work almost the entire time, Stevie and I had bits of time to enjoy some of the New York splendor, too. We scoured the lower east corner of the park, an area we hadn't discovered much together. We ate really really excellent takeout when Everett was too fussy to go out, but even the takeout in New York is spectacular. We got to see what it feels like to be parents, traveling with a baby, which... let me tell you what, it is DIFFERENT than being all fun and fancy free on your own. Remember these times? It's safe to say those days are over. At least for a while. But it's more than okay, we are embracing this season with with big thankfulness.

// Everett and all his friends :) //

When We Were DONE.
By the last day, Everett had taken Manhattan - and decided he'd had enough. He pretty much lost his mind in a restaurant in the Flatiron area (sorry, Jenna & Tara, for all the stares for all the wrong reasons), so I was happy to take my screaming, wriggling, huffing and puffing child into a cab and call it a day. Overall, I feel proud that we managed to make our way in the city without too many meltdowns.

I'll share more details about traveling with an infant next week. So many of you shared your tips and tricks with me, many of which worked beautifully. With the holidays coming up (and Thanksgiving right around the corner!), I know tons of you will be traveling with your kiddos, and I am excited to share about what worked and what didn't.

Thank You!
Also, many thanks to all of you who offered up such helpful advice about the 4-month sleep regression/transition that we experienced coming back from this trip. We are still in the throws of it, but thankfully the waking up every hour of the night has stopped. Living on a prayer, baby. And coffee. Lots and lots of it.

November 17, 2014

Everett Takes My Sleep.

This is a tease.
Last week, our little family took an impromptu trip to New York City. It was a work trip for Stevie, but Everett & I tagged along so that he could meet all his NYC friends (he has a lot of them!) The trip was a total success and I'm excited to share all about it... however. One very strange thing that my child picked up in the city that never sleeps is a new vigor to also never sleep.

He's been waking up every hour of every night for the past week. And that is not an exaggeration.

Sleep deprivation is a real, true, evil thing, people.

When my mind isn't an overwhelmed, exhausted mess of mush, I'll be back here.

Prayers, advice, thoughts on how to overcome this phase are more than appreciated. Mama is calling out an SOS here.

November 7, 2014

9 Holes of Golf (Sort of.)

9 Holes of Golf (Sort of.)
Stevie is having a bit of a moment. He has a baby boy.

So obviously, he has taken Everett out to do some man-ish things. Like throw the football. Yes, you read that sentence correctly. Meaning, he has put the baby in the stroller, wheeled him onto the  grass outside, thrown the football around the yard to NO ONE, and explained the basics of the game to my drooling, dribbling 3-month old son. I'm pretty sure Everett needs to be able to grasp Sophie the Giraffe for longer than thirteen seconds before we move on to toying around with pigskins. I watched from the window and howled with laughter. I mean, STEVIE.

Of course, that was a few weeks ago. His latest, greatest idea for some father-son bonding was to take Everett for a round of golf. Yes. Though, for this outing he decided he would need the help of his trusted assistant, so mommy had to tag along. I thought this was going to be the worst of Stevie's ideas for rushing Everett into adolescence (hello, golf balls flying through the air?? Safety hazard!!)  However, it was surprisingly fun. And quiet. We walked the course instead of carting, so it was excellent exercise. And we went at 5pm on one of those recent, freakishly warm weekdays, so we weren't rushed with people playing the course behind us. It was utterly calm, quiet and truly, stunningly beautiful. I kind of get why people like to play golf. I even chipped and putted a bit. And yes. Everett completely dug it. As much as a 3-month old can.

// Showing Everett how to practice his swing. Oh geez. //

// Sometimes daddy got boring, so... SELFIE! //
Another Family Date SUCCESS.
Is a golf course the best place to bring a baby? Maybe not. But its certainly not the worst. The fresh air, the setting sun and the spacious, quiet course. It was a green dream. And Stevie? Well he was simply giddy to be showing and explaining the game to our son. Whether or not the boy actually absorbed a single thing from it. It has been my mission to find some fun family dates that work for us in this new season of our life, and this was another great (unlikely!) one. Here's to making the most of the great outdoors before winter is upon us!

November 4, 2014

Halloween Shenanigans.

Halloween Shenanigans.
I have never been trick or treating before. Until Friday night.

My parents (and surprisingly, also Stevie's parents) weren't into celebrating Halloween back in the day. They didn't agree with the origins of the holiday, and so instead of encouraging us to dress up and trick or treat, we often enjoyed the day as a family in a different way. Many times, my mom would check us out of school and we would have a fun day going to the movies or a museum. My parents really made the day special so that my sisters and I didn't feel like we were missing out on something that all our friends were talking about. I love that about my parents. They really stuck to their guns and raised us in a way that felt right to them. They aren't the kind to cave into peer pressure. It is a really great example that they set.

So is it wrong that I still wanted to dress up my baby as a tiny little fox for Halloween this year?

I absolutely. Could NOT. Resist.

My parents shook their heads at me. Until I showed them these pictures.

Foxes. Are so in.
I decided a few weeks ago that I wanted to dress Everett up as a baby fox. Because. Well, foxes are VERY in for baby boys. They are all over toys, gear & clothing this fall. And since apparently I'm a mega sucker for tot trends, it was decided then and there, in that Target aisle, that we shall be a fox family for Halloween. Mad props to my stylist sister, who helped me concoct the costumes for this grand event. Though when I handed Stevie the sparkly hair paint so that he could be the patriarchal "silver fox", I'll admit he put up more than a little resistance. But I just told him I would dress as a vixen and most of the argument ended. Little did he know that I would be the most wholesome, COVERED vixen ever to tread such ground. Heh. Plus! I had already bought Everett a little fox onesie! And it can't be returned! Tags had been removed! Muahahhaa. Call me the sly fox, thank you very much.

I made our ears and tails by (loosely) following this amazing tutorial. Gosh Pinterest is full of so many goodies when it comes to costume creation. I'll admit that as the countdown to Halloween was impending and I was still unshowered, teeth unbrushed and haphazardly choking on faux fur, I might have resorted to just stapling our bits of tail parts together. Forgoing the much studier hot glue situation. Oh well, it all worked. Other than Everett loathed his ears, so they only lasted for the pictures. And only a few of them.

// Toothpaste, Gingerbreadwoman & the sweetest Turtle I ever saw. //
// Kitty cats and Dinosaurs. With quite a bit of pizazz. :) //
// In all our costumed glory. //
"Trick or Treat!"
We trick or treated in an adorable Mayberry-esque neighborhood with all of Stevie's brothers and sisters, parents, and of course, our awesome nieces and nephews. We went before the creepiness of dark was upon us, and we were already done with the thrill of candy rush by about 7pm. It was pretty perfect. I love this family that I am so privileged to be part of. And my parents and his parents? They've relaxed a whooooole lot about the Halloween shenanigans. In the words of my darling mother, "We did what we thought was best for you. And now you do what you think is best with Everett."

Well, I think a little baby fox is perhaps the best thing I've ever seen. Of course, I haven't dressed him up as Santa yet. OH THE THINGS TO COME.

October 29, 2014

The Many Faces of Everett + Travel Tips?

The Many Faces of Everett + Travel Tips?
I really have tried to resist over-sharing baby pictures. Yet somehow I have turned into that monsterous baby-crazed lady, snapping 100+ photos a day of my child laying, playing, sleeping, screaming. I love them all. ALL. And yet I do feel sort of coo-coo for being that way. How did this happen? TO ME. I kind of can't believe it. I was never even a baby person. Not until Everett.

And oh my, Everett. He is full of personality. Has the strongest will. He is so funny and expressive. He gets bored way too easily. He doesn't just cry, he knows how to WAIL. He wants China to hear him. He really doesn't do anything half-heartedly. He is 100% present in all his feelings. And he has a lot of feelings. Like just now. He is feeling super annoyed that I put him down in his pack n' play to write this post. He's all like, "Lady, you think this mobile is entertaining? WHO DO YOU THINK I AM." And now he's crying. Translated from baby talk, that means he's hollering at me. Confession: I always hated it when other people's children would cry. It just sounded so irritating and distracting. And like, loud. However, when my baby cries, I just feel super bad for him. I find myself asking him over and over again, "What do you need? What can I do for you?!" - as if he will open his mouth and respond. Well, I guess he does respond. We just aren't speaking the same language quite yet. Although... we are getting there!

So I had to share a few of these wonderfully sweet photos of my babe-man from the past month. He cracks me up. It's okay if he doesn't crack you up, that's understandable. But you can humor me. BECAUSE I MADE HIM.
// He likes to keep a little extra in his neck roll. For later. //
// I mean... seriously? Middle left?! BOTTOM RIGHT!! My uterus just skipped like 6 beats. //

In other news, we are heading back to NYC for a quick trip in a few weeks. Any tips on how to fly with a baby, get around a big city with a baby in tow, and any special products to pack would be suuuuper appreciated! I'll admit that I am a little nervous to fly with him because he just isn't the kind of child who will sit quietly in the corner. NOBODY PUTS BABY IN A CORNER. (Sorry, couldn't leave that one unsaid.) But seriously, he is not a docile, sleep-everywhere-all-the-time kind of kid. So... yeah. Help please.

Are you ready for Halloween? I am trying so hard to convince Stevie to do a family-themed costume for the 3 of us. So far he is putting up all kinds of "NO" to my ideas. But we will see if that lasts :)

October 25, 2014

Picking Muscadines & Scuppernongs.

Picking Muscadines & Scuppernongs.
Whew! Happy weekend to you! Our weekend got off to a bit of a shaky start. My little Everett decided to turn his behavioral clock back to when he was a brand-newborn and wake up all through the night again. This has gone on for four nights in a row. Just when I thought we were on to something! Any new mom tips on getting your child to sleep through the night are much appreciated. ALSO. I wanted to thank all of you who gave such encouraging feedback on last weeks post about Mompetition. I'm astounded at how many people have felt that icky mom-judgement. But all your kind words, camaraderie and commitment to stop judging and start loving on other mamas really touched me. Let's keep it up! Every time we have a "judgy" thought about another mama, let's squash it and take the time to encourage her instead. It's the best thing we can do for each other!

Finally Fall!
I wanted to share a suuuuuper fun Autumn activity! A few weeks ago Stevie and I packed up Everett (in his fancy new Baby Gap outfit from his surrogate Auntie Natalie) and ventured out to pick muscadines in our hometown. I can't believe I never did this growing up! It was so invigorating to finally feel a chill in the air and actually experience the weather of the season. This fall has been so different in our household... instead of apple picking and devouring cider donuts (like we did when we lived in Boston), we've been up to our ears in swaddles, lullabies and trying to get our baby to take a bottle. It's just a whole new experience this fall. So while the hayrides and corn maizes will have to wait 'til next year, I couldn't bear going the whole season without heading out to a farm and picking something. Since all the good apple farms are at least two hours away (and that drive seems a bit daunting with our spirited newborn), the next best thing was picking muscadines. Literally right around the corner from our house.

I had a vague idea of what a muscadine was (a super thick-skinned spicy grape), but scuppernongs escaped me. What a funny word to say. Try to say it out loud. SCUPPERNONG. See? It's just so silly. Anyway, I was uber disappointed to learn that scuppernongs are just a lighter-colored muscadine. There is practically no difference. The disappointment lasted for about 6 seconds, because then I tasted one. They are so delicious. PEOPLE. Why do apples get all the good press in the fall? MUSCADINES ARE THE NEW APPLE. Now go pick you some.

// Ready to dive //
// Fruits of our labor //
// My little bear slept the whole time! //
// Those bubbles. Those paws. //
// Gotcha, mom!! //
// We stumbled across this beauty in the parking lot. My favorite part might be the photo bomber, though :) //
Happy Fall Weekend to You!
I hope you have the happiest, most fulfilling, adventurous AND restful weekend. Is it possible? Hmm I like to think so. Enjoy your Saturday!