Pregnancy + Babies

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So, I’ve officially begun weaning Vivi.

Side note: Can we please find a new term for this? Weaning sounds like a loose mix of taking a leak and the noise an animal might make as it dies. Not. A. Fan.

But the point is, we’re down to one nursing session a day (right before bed), and it’s leaving me with a lot of mixed feelings.

On one hand, it’s nice to have a bit more freedom in my day. I can wear dresses that don’t button! I can take her anywhere and not worry about having to find somewhere private for meals! I can wear dresses that don’t button! I can leave her with a sitter for more than four hours at a time! I CAN WEAR DRESSES THAT DON’T BUTTON!

But while I do like this new age of freedom and independence for us both, I’d be lying if I said I was completely thrilled by the development.

Sometimes, I miss the closeness. I miss getting to snuggle up four to six times a day (or even more in the beginning) and feel so bonded to this lovely, tiny person.

Of course, that’s the nostalgia talking. I know in my brain that nursing wasn’t always to picturesque. But there is a tiny part of my heart that breaks anytime Vivi asks to nurse and I have to give her a sip of water or milk from a cup and distract her away from me.

I’m trying to focus on the good things. I was able to go to an all-day work conference for my new job (that I absolutely love). Vivi was able to spend the day with her grandparents at a company picnic on Long Island. (Though, not going to lie, sending her off in a car with someone who is not me was much harder than I expected.)

Basically, we’re all growing up. And, for the most part, dealing with it.

Just don’t grow too fast, k, Viv?

*Moccasins provided by Minimoc. Review 100% my own.

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Everyone tells you to enjoy the first few months of your baby’s life. Not just because the newborn stage is so fleeting. Not just because it’s so easy to get frustrated and take that whole time for granted.

It’s also because, well, that is the last time you won’t spend most of your day chasing the little stinker around.

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I distinctly remember the first few days after Vivi learned how to crawl. For the first time, I realized I couldn’t simply lay her on the floor on her activity mat for a couple minutes while I went to pee. No, going to the bathroom was officially a group activity. Now the baby who I set in one place would (quickly) relocate herself to somewhere else, grinning to herself all the while about what a hot shot she was.

Things didn’t slow down when she started taking real steps.

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Now, it seems like Vivi is everywhere — and fast. She can walk and climb and gets into everything. And while, yes, it is more tiring and it does sometimes make me long for those early days of wriggling around on activity mats, it’s also pretty amazing watching her turn into this person with her own agenda.

But you’re not just here for nostalgia about Vivian. We also need to talk about something important: shoes.

From the very beginning, Vivi has not been a fan of shoes. I could usually get her to keep socks on, but tights were the only way to be certain her toes would stay covered. And the only shoes she would tolerate were the fake ones stitched on to the ends of tights.

But now that she’s actually walking, I want to protect her bare piggies from the ground and give her a bit more grip on our tile floors than socks will allow.

I’ve tried a variety of soft, moccasin-style shoes from major retailers, but I’ve been wildly unimpressed. They are typically stiff, and as difficult as they are to get on Vivi’s feet (and it is so, SO difficult), she was usually able to rip or wriggle them off within minutes. (Cue my extreme phobia of losing a shoe somewhere in NYC. Those things are not cheap, you guys.)

But thank goodness for good friends, right? My friend Haley, of Beluga Baby fame, always seems to know the best baby product makers. She has been telling me about Minimoc moccasins for months, but it wasn’t until recently that I finally started listening. (I don’t know why I resisted so long, Haley! Never again!)

And, you guys? They. Are. The. Best.

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From the moment I opened the little shoe box, I actually said out loud “oooh!” The leather is so soft, and Vivi’s rose gold mocs were such a pretty, new penny color I couldn’t stop staring at them.

Then I actually put them on her feet. And I waited. And waited. And she waltzed around like she owned the joint without even attempting to pull them off.
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That? That is downright miraculous.

Suffice to say, I’ve already picked out her next pair.

I mean, I know I’m going to spend the next 18 years chasing her around…shouldn’t she at least have comfy, protected feet while I’m doing it?

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We don’t have a lot of friends with babies who live near us, but we DO have a lot of friends with babies in Long Island. One thing I’ve always liked about that whole crew is how they put a lot of work into putting together fun parties for the kids, giving them a chance to play and make new friends even at a very young age. Now that Vivi is getting older (and actually appreciating other kids), I was excited to finally take our turn in planning a fun get-together for a few little ones.

Plus, not going to lie, I really wanted an excuse to dress Vivi like a penguin.

And thus, my plans to throw Vivi a zoo-themed party were born.

Now, Vivi is only about a year old, so I wasn’t going to go too crazy. I wanted to keep the guest list as close to ten kids as I could, and I was less concerned with planning organized activities than I was for creating a fun theme and having good snacks. (And, you know, the aforementioned penguin costume.)

Here’s a run-down of what we did, ate, and wore for all you other party animals out there.

The Location

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^^The closest to “safari chic” I will probably ever get.

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I did actually consider having the party at a real zoo, but given the young age of our guest list, I ultimately decided it would be better to just create our own version in Joey’s parents’ backyard. They graciously offered up the space, and I set to work creating activity stations for the little guests (as well as just making sure there were a lot of toys around to keep short attention spans occupied, from bubbles to play tables and beyond).

I painted a few signs to hang around the yard to differentiate the areas, and my sister drew some animal prints leading up the sidewalk with chalk to guide our guests to the yard.

The yard also gave us room to have a few different areas for adults to sit, including tables, benches, and swings. (Because moms and dads gotta relax too, ya know?)

The Stations

What were these stations, you ask? First, I present The Monkey House.

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Okay, okay, so basically all I did was cover the swing set in fake vines (I got mine on eBay) and add a few stuffed monkeys (thank you, Mom, for finding all my old Beanie Babies!) for effect. But, come on. That’s a pretty cute monkey house, right?

Next up, we have The Aquarium.

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A water table, a kiddie pool full of plastic fish, and a handful of bubbles (plus some cute sea life stick-ons from the party store), and we were under the sea.

Finally, there was The Petting Zoo:

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I originally intended this to be the area that even the youngest tots could play in, but those horsies turned out to be a big hit with the older kids as well. (Plus, clearly the Boges was into it.)

What we ate

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Of course, everyone knows that decor is nice but a party is only as good as it’s food. The menu included PB&J sandwiches cut into animal shapes, Annie’s Mac & Cheese in Silly Sea Life shapes, a cucumber snake with homemade tsaziki, a hummus lion with bell pepper slices, a watermelon hedgehog, and fruit kabobs. I also put together an animal-themed trail mix for some of the tables.

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For dessert, I created Jell-O “aquariums” topped with Swedish Fish and funfetti cupcakes with animal toppers. Viv especially enjoyed her first cupcake (clearly).

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To make sure grown-up bellies were full as well, I asked each guest to bring an app and served a “jungle juice.” Because, let’s be real, we had all probably earned it.

The photo booth

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To be totally honest, the kids probably kept their costumes on for approximately half an hour. (But GOSH were they cute!) Predicting this, I welcomed each guest and then promptly directed them to the photo booth to make sure they got a pic of their little cutie dressed as their favorite animal.

To create the booth backdrop, I created a jungle of tissue paper poms (tutorial I used here) and cut-out paper leaves. To create the cage, I purchased an oversized picture frame from Michael’s, removed the glass and back piece, and strung rope-like yarn to create the bars.

Pro tip: I highly recommend a group photo at the beginning of the party if possible. By the end of the day, everyone is tired and dirty, and getting the kids to cooperate will be harder than ever. Look how cute they were when they first arrived!
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Once the pictures were taken, costumes could be ripped off, water could be splashed, cupcakes could be smushed in faces, etc. Save yourself the trouble and get the pictures done early.

What we wore

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As I said, my main priority here was getting Viv dressed as a penguin. #MomGoals

The create her costume, my mom actually took a larger penguin costume, cut off the belly and wings, and sewed them onto a black onesie. She turned the head into a little cap Vivi could wear, but it really only lasted for the pictures. (To make up for it, I drew a little yellow beak on her nose using costume makeup.) I also added a pair of yellow tights from Lunaby Baby to complete the look. She killed it, I must say.

As for Joey and me, we decided the most appropriate attire would be that of zoo keepers. Basically, we wore a lot of khaki and sun hats I found at Costco. It was surprisingly effective.

The favors

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What’s a party without a little something to take home? The best part about having a small guest list is that you can go a little more creative with the favors. Each kid took home an “adopted” animal and a box of animal crackers to keep the party going.

One other fun extra? I also created a Snapchat geo filter for the party. Totally gratuitous, but it was $5 and pretty cute! (Learn how to make your own here.) Here’s what it looked like:

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Cute, right?

All in all, we had such a blast at Vivi’s first party. Thanks again to all her friends (and their cool folks) for coming out to join!

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And a special thank-you to Aunt Yoyo (AKA, my sister Joelle of Figment Art Photo) for photographing the whole event!

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I’ll admit I’m a little burnt out on New York these days. This upcoming spring, I’ll have lived here eight years. It’s two years shy of how long I said would live in New York, but about three years longer than I thought I would make it half a decade ago.

Obviously, there are things to love about this city. But — and I’m being honest here — the longer I am here, the harder it is for me to remember those things. Or maybe even care about those things.

Do I care about the access to any kind of shopping? I buy all my clothes in thrift stores/online thrift stores or through online sales anyway. Do I care about the shows and concerts? I see something on Broadway once in a blue moon now, and I am rarely willing to battle the crowds to do anything notable going on in the city. Do I care about the restaurants? Eating out is almost as rare as the Broadway shows.

I would miss Seamless legitimately. But, honestly, that just makes me kind of sad to say out loud. I’ll miss the thing that lets me be extra lazy and spend extra money.

It’s probably not surprising, but motherhood has made me roll my eyes a little bit harder at NYC. Because it is hard to be a mom here, folks.

It’s hard to take your baby out, because you are either schlepping them on your back in a carrier (which I honestly don’t mind because at least I can navigate easily, but it is super sweaty in the summer) or trying to maneuver a stroller down busy sidewalks, through a million doorways, or up and down subway steps. It’s hard to figure out things to do with your baby because everything baby-centric is expensive and everything non-baby-centric is…not baby friendly.

I can’t tell you how thrilled I am sometimes when Vivi and I finish our errands (don’t even get me started on the difficulty of doing laundry in the city with a baby…) and I can look at her and say, “And now we don’t have to go anywhere for the rest of the day!”

I mean…that is not why I moved to New York.

So, yeah, I fantasize about motherhood in the burbs. I dream of a garage and in-home laundry and a real backyard and an accessible Target.

But I’m trying to be content and appreciate the good things (like parks within walking distance and a cute coffee shop on every corner to fuel mornings-after-sleepless-nights).

Other NYC mommas out there: Do you feel me? Do you have suggestions for making life a little easier?

*Vivi’s Joyful Thread leggings were provided for this review; opinions 100% my own.

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A friend of mine and I were recently discussing how everything about air travel is bonkers.

I mean, I recommend not thinking about it too hard, but…you’re flying through the air. In a hunk of metal. Because of air. And gasoline. Because THAT makes sense. I’m a mostly not-nervous flier (okay, maybe a teense bit), but there will always be aspects to the whole charade that I can’t wrap my head around.

You know what else seems like it just shouldn’t work? Taking a baby on that plane with you.

I’m kind of kidding. But, let’s be real: Childless passengers aren’t the only ones who take a deep breath when a baby is carried on board. So when we planned a trip to Florida to visit my parents last month, I was a little apprehensive how it would go.

Vivi has flown before. She has actually flown quite a bit for someone who has fewer than four teeth. She has even done longer flights than this, making it all the way to the Pacific Northwest and back. What she hasn’t done? Flown since she has started crawling and walking.

As we planned our trip and I began my famous packing lists (seriously, these things are intense), I struggled to remain optimistic about our chances of touching down without a meltdown. Fortunately, I thought ahead and asked for plenty of advice from fellow parents. Here are my top five tips for a successful plane ride with a baby, garnered from research and crowdsourcing all my friends. Enjoy!

1. Keep those ears clear.

Most babies will be their fussiest during take-off and landing because of the change in pressure. Ideally, you could nurse or give them a bottle to encourage sucking (and therefore ear-clearing), but most airlines insist that you hold the baby over your shoulder during take-offs and landings.

Side note: Every airline I’ve flown has told me a different way of holding my baby is “the safest way,” but all of them insist the baby be unharnessed (unless she’s in a car seat) in some way. This makes no sense to me, so I would usually clip Vivi into some kind of carrier as soon as the flight attendant was out of sight. Any former flight attendants out there who know why they recommend a loosened baby? I’m genuinely curious.

Regardless of how your baby sits, though, do what you can to encourage swallowing and sucking to keep the pressure from building up. A pacifier, snacks, and even just tapping your baby’s tongue periodically can be a big help. A trip to the pediatrician before a long flight can also be helpful if your baby tends to experience ear aches or sinus issues, just to fend off any problems.

Clearly enjoying the in-flight entertainment.

Clearly enjoying the in-flight entertainment.

2. Bring snacks.

Listen, I’m not encouraging eating your feelings. But I AM saying that a handful of puffs or a squeezy pack can be just the ticket to curb a total over-tired tantrum at 40,000 feet. You may recall that this was also one of my recommendations for road trips, and that’s just because a full baby is generally a more happy baby. My daughter is also a seagull, so even if we ran out of planned baby snacks, it was usually easy to distract her with a nibble of whatever we happened to be eating.

One thing to keep in mind: Babies tummies can get upset by the pressure changes just like yours can, so avoid anything with too much fiber or something your baby has never eaten before. The last thing you need is a diaper blowout during the beverage service.

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3. Burn before you board.

Now that Vivi is much more mobile, nothing drives her crazier than being forced to sit still. But when you’ve got about eight inches of leg room (and you’re sharing it with a stranger), there isn’t a lot of space for an almost-toddler to play. On our flight to Florida, we actually ended up having an empty seat next to us (helpful for letting Vivi get some standing time in and distracting her with the window), but even then, I didn’t like to leave her unstrapped for very long.

To fend off the ants in the pants, we got her moving as much as possible before we left for the airport and then as we waited in the terminal. She loved crawling over the arm rests on an empty bench as she watched the planes come in and out through the big windows, and we were fortunate that she slept the whole first hour of the flight.

4. Create a cozy sleeping space.

Obviously, you’re most-likely not going to have an actual bed on board with you. Unless you’re a millionaire. Or have one of these. (Has anyone ever actually tried that thing? Vivi’s too big for it now, but it seems sort of genius if you have a window seat.) What is much more plausible? Wearing that baby. Y’all know my love for the Beluga Wrap (also, squeee for week-old Vivi in those photos!!!). Vivi is about 20 pounds, so we can still use ours for walking around, but it’s even more helpful when I’m trying to get her to sleep in a new place. She just can’t resist that snuggly bamboo cotton!

I’ll typically wear the wrap from the moment I get through the security screening since it almost looks like a shirt when it’s tied on. From there, I can simply pop Viv in and out as needed, and I’m comfortable either way. Plus, Haley has even more colors since I last wrote about these wraps — including an extremely scrumptious forest green that has me wanting to get pregnant again just so I have an excuse to buy it. (KIDDING, JOEY.) Haley is even sharing another coupon code with you guys: Use “JUSTINE” for $10 off! (And remember, the site’s prices are in Canadian dollars, so the wraps are actually more like $55 for my American readers.)

5. And at all costs, keep that baby comfy!

This is not the time to dress your baby is fussy layers or excessive accessories. A baby will scream over a single scratchy tag, after all. My go-to? The BEYOND soft and comfortable baby leggings from Custom Threads. These suckers are stretchy, breathable, and custom-made from a variety of fabrics according to preference. They even have a Mommy + Me version so you can get in on the coziness. (Because moms hate scratchy tags too, right?)

I dressed Vivi in a onesie, her pants, and a pair of socks (since she would be walking over heavily-tread carpets, after all), and she didn’t fuss or pull at her outfit once. The leggings are also great for sleeping, so I can sub them for a full set of jammies while the weather is still warm. Plus, how cute is that pattern? Owner Emily is really helpful when it comes to finding the pattern you prefer, and she has tons of choices.

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So there you have it! What are your tips for flying with a baby?

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Vivi learned a dirty word recently. Of course, I’m talking about the word “no.”

Honestly, I’m not really certain she knows what it means when she says it. What she does know? That I don’t want her to say it.

Which, naturally, means she has taken to saying it All. The. Time.

The other day, we were out for a run with the jogging stroller and I heard her practicing it over and over again. To herself. Like a sociopath.

The problem is, it’s also kind of hilarious when she does it. Because she doesn’t just say “no.” She pauses for drama…and then she slowly leans into the word.

“Nnnnnnnnnnnn-ah!”

It’s really, really hard not to laugh. Like, really.

In an effort to, you know, parent, I’ve started responding to her no’s by saying, “You say, ‘okay, Momma‘!”

At which point, she’ll pause, look off to the other side of the room, and go, “…nnnnnnnnn-ah!

And on and on and on. Such is parenting.

I have found one antidote, and that is getting her to repeat a different word that is equally as fun to say. Lately, I’ve been replying, “You say, ‘yeahyeahyeah!'” And she’s usually only too happy to repeat that one.

For now.

I know the day will come when she is deliberately obstinate and intentionally asserts her own opinions. Heck, that could be exactly what she’s doing right now. I just really thought the Terrible Twos would come, you know, when she was two.

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For now, though, I think we can chalk this one up to a bit of baby silliness. Right? Okay, Momma. Okay.