Sunday, March 15, 2015

thoughts on not eating cheese for 5 months

I feel compelled to share this and I'm not sure why.

For the the last 5 months, I have completely eliminated what also happens to be my absolute, most favorite foods from my diet – cheese, milk and butter. Or anything made from cow's milk. Let me repeat – no cheese, milk or butter in 5 months. No joke people. I do deserve something for this, right?!

Pretty soon after we arrived home from the hospital with little Bear, we were told by the doc that he had a very common "intolerance" to a protein found only in cow's milk (which I was eating and was coming through in breast milk). This would make him fussy and basically vomit all day. And apparently it's very common in infants and they eventually outgrow it. So, after a ton of research on this, I decided I would listen to my doctor and cut out all cow's milk/dairy from my diet for a few months until he could hopefully digest it again. After all, the blood in his stool kept proving that he had an intolerance to it. (Basically, if I eat anything with cows milk today and then I breastfeed him, he will be sick/vomit all day tomorrow.) Sad for him, sad for me. 

Anyone that knows me, knows how much cheese I eat. It's my ultimate weakness in life -- Cheese. On. Everything. Tacos, pizza, burgers, mac n' cheese being my primary foods of choice. And I'm really bad at diets and "cutting back" on things. And just to be honest, I basically have zero food willpower. (So maybe this was karma for the years of over-indulging in cheese?) But, I guess the decision to cut it out is pretty easy when your tiny, 9 lb. baby is throwing up all day. So, out it all went. And thank goodness this Buzzfeed list was there to inspire my new non-dairy lifestyle. And being "dairy free" is a lifestyle folks. A lifestyle of constantly asking - "Does this have milk in it?" "Are you sure there's not butter in this bread?" Because usually it's there. In EVERYTHING. It's shocking how many foods have milk or butter in it that you wouldn't expect. English muffins have milk in them! Most pre-packaged foods are made with some kind of milk. Special K even has milk in it! Everything at Starbucks is basically out of question (unless you use their new coconut milk - yay). Every cookie, cupcake, lots of cereals, dressings (ranch, blue cheese dressing, sour, breakfast sandwiches and a million other foods that are cooked in butter are off limits. The "may contain milk" list is endless. And it's daunting to think about when you are faced with eliminating all dairy.
photo: Tristan Prettyman

But I slowly started to learn that there are actually many dairy-free options that I could get behind. Chips and salsa. Hummus. Potato chips. Black beans. Avocados. BBQ chicken. Fresh baked breads/bagels. Eggs. Meats. Vegetables. Fruits. Brownie Mix! Marshmallows! And OREO'S, y'all! Surprisingly...there were lots of things I could still be happy with. I would be a sort of vegan, which is definitely something I never imagined possible. I like cows. I would now search far and wide in grocery stores for the "non-dairy" products by Amy's Organics, Daiya (thanks the good lord for the Daiya brand!), etc. I would eat lots of pasta and red sauce. I would eat LOTS of Amy's black bean burritos. And lots of Chipotle with no cheese and sour cream. Lots of salads and fruits. And LOTS of almond and coconut milk. Ultimately, a healthier diet.  

So, it happened. I stopped eating all milk, butter and cheese and now 5 months have passed and I've never been prouder of myself for being able to stick with it, because it is REALLY hard for me. Life should only be lived with cheese I've decided. Burgers without cheese are basically a waste. Tacos without cheese or sour cream...also a waste. Pizza without cheese...not possible. Life without cheese = not life.

Weirdly, I feel no different having eliminated these MAJOR foods out of my diet. Shouldn't I have more energy, better skin, better "digestion," and be super skinny...or something?! Ok, maybe I lost a few lbs (but I better have for suffering through weeks without butter), but I'm a bit surprised how I feel no different. We are the only species that drinks another species milk. That is weird when you think about it, right? Why do we consume so much cow's milk? I guess because it's way too delish, but it's something to think about. And the alternatives can be pretty amazing. Almond milk and coconut milk especially...awesome. And I think I'll even stick to those from here on out.

I've learned that I don't need these things to be happy (I think). I can have a baked potato plain with a little pepper and some canola oil based butter and it's pretty darn good. I can somehow have tacos without cheese and love them. I can eat more vegetables and fruits. I can say "no" when a plate of cheese is in front of me. It is possible. 

And for my child, I would do anything obviously, for as long as I needed to because that's what I've learned that parents do. They make sacrifice after sacrifice for their kids. Lots and lots of hard sacrifices. Hopefully someday he will thank me when I tell him the pain I had to endure when I couldn't have a good slice of pizza for months. Actually, mama is printing this here blog post for him and sticking in his baby book as proof of just how much I love him. I love him more than cheese. And pizza. And tacos. 

Saturday, March 7, 2015

and then there's this...

One year ago, I could have never imagined having this little face stare up at me. I have totally become one of those mom's who post photos of their baby constantly, but that's ok.  I think he's pretty darn cute (and honestly -- what baby isn't who wears a bear hat like this?!). It's little moments like this where I realize why people suffer through countless days of little sleep and decide to have more kids. The feeling is truly indescribable. 

Monday, February 16, 2015

four months

When I think of the last 4 months, I honestly can't wrap my brain around half of the stuff that has happened or how my life has drastically changed (the "4th trimester" is a real thing, y'all!). Everything is still a bit fuzzy, yet every single moment I've had with this little guy is as clear as day. Every day that goes by and every onesie that gets put away because it no longer fits, I am reminded that time really doesn't ever stand still. Nothing shows passing time quite like a new baby. Just today he pulled the pacifier out of his mouth and put it back in - all by himself. The smallest possible thing, yet such a big deal. 

And this is why there have been very few blogs in the last couple weeks - because nothing quite compares to just sitting and playing with baby. And frankly, I'm too tired to write blogs after a long day. Hopefully this will change one day in the near future...

So, these are some things I am reminded of about the last four months with Bear:
  1. The long nights. If anything stands out in my mind about these months, it will be the long, long, did-I-say-long sleepless nights. Not all of them were sleepless, but lately, many have been, thanks to the amazing 4 month sleep regression. And the exhaustion is like nothing I ever thought I could handle. And somehow I am. Because he's cute.
  2. No dairy. For the last almost 4 months, I have had no cheese, no milk, no butter. No dairy. For the sake of Bear and his intolerance to cow's milk, I have had to give it up until he is about 6 months (hopefully). Considering cheese, pizza and tacos (with cheese/sour cream) are my favorite foods and 90% of my diet before, this has been a major life change. And did you know that milk/butter/cheese is in almost EVERYTHING! Thankfully I lost a few lbs. But just isn't good without cheese. I don't care what anyone says. (Although...Oreo's and gummi bears are non-dairy fyi.)
  3. Time. My life is all about time now. Naptime, bedtime, awake time, feeding time, work time. Schedules. Time. And this "time" thing really does fly.
  4. Working mom. If anything else stands out about these months, it's about my transition back to work and becoming "a working mom." While some days have been "easy," many have been challenging and exhausting. It's hard ya'll. The guilt is real. When I'm at work, I feel guilty for being at work. When I'm home, I feel guilty for not being at work (or leaving early). The guilt sucks. But ultimately, I am making it work and I am happy about that. And of course there's the whole office "pumping" thing. That's a topic for a whole other post. 
  5. Joy. Nothing at all compares now to the feeling I have when I see this baby every day. It truly is indescribable. I guess it's the reason why we put up with all the poopie diapers and long nights, because the joy we get in return is priceless. His laugh, his smile, his big, curious eyes. His tiny hands and strands of hair. It's just miraculous. I could go on and on. I could take 1 million photos and it still wouldn't be enough to capture the feeling. Motherhood is truly amazing. And hard. And ultimately, awesome.
So, that's a little 4 month "review" if you will. Onwards!

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Bear Ryan: Platinum Air Miles Member (Almost)

Bear is now 3 months old and has become quite the jetsetter. I'm kind of jealous of his life. He earned his "wings" at 2 months when we flew on his first trip to Lake Tahoe, CA, to visit my family for the holidays and this past week we returned from an amazing weekend in St. John, USVI, on the annual trip through my company. Bear isn't even 100 days old and he's logged quite some air miles. I hope he remembers all this...oh wait, he won't! 

Let me just say - traveling with a newborn baby is many things. It's exciting, nerve-wracking, sweaty and also really fun. And traveling without my husband to Lake Tahoe was a whole other experience that I can't describe. Having a husband/partner to travel with you is the key to the happy baby travel experience. Traveling alone...not so much.
Caneel Bay, USVI
But I am really happy we made these trips. Both were awesome trips and allowed Bear to be in new climates (hot and humid in USVI and cold/snowy/dry in Lake Tahoe). His ears never popped on the plane, which was my biggest worry and he slept through the whole ride. I now want to take him everywhere while he's this young. Wanna go to Tahiti, Bear?!  Yes - I think so. Traveling with a toddler will be WAY harder. 

Things to remember when traveling with a small baby:

    So glad THEY got to nap.....
  • Always feed your baby on takeoff and descents to prevent the dreaded ear pain. Or make sure they're sucking on something.
  • Book a seat for baby if you can. I held him the whole way to/from Lake Tahoe and it wasn't so easy. I cannot imagine if he was any bigger.
  • Disposable changing pads are GREAT.
  • Bring some bottles just in case it's too strange to breastfeed where you're sitting (i.e., a huge weird man sitting next to you...)
  • Pack as light as humanly possible. Repeat: Pack as light as possible. ONE carry on bag folks. This bag I now swear by. I got this after learning the hard way. (I totally took my Boppy on our very first flight. Not cool.)
  • Let the security folks know that you're bringing on milk. They will then swipe your hands for some explosives test. 
  • You will have to break down the stroller/car seat to go through security. Ask for help if your by yourself. Make sure everything is out of the stroller. Breaking it down and putting into the gate check bag, with a baby on your chest is HARD. Insert husband or partner into this part...or ask for help.
  • Get a gate check bag so your car seat doesn't get beaten up with the bag guys.
  • Window seat if you want privacy nursing. Aisle seat if you think you'll need to get up a lot. 
  • You must let the airline know you're traveling with a lap baby. They have to note it on your reservation.
  • An infinity scarf doubles as a GREAT nursing cover.
  • Take a few changes of clothes for baby AND an extra shirt for you.
  • 1 diaper for each hour of travel
  • Dress comfy! I was sweating because I was so nervous the first time...keep that in mind.
  • The changing tables that pull down in the airplane bathroom are actually kind of big and decent.
  • Ask the flight attendants for some "wings." Throw it in the baby book....
So get out there and don't be scared to travel with the baby. It's pretty exciting and not too bad. 

Safe travels! 
lake tahoe, ca!

Wednesday, December 31, 2014


2014 was obviously a life-changing year for us. To put it simply: We added another human to the mix. Major!

I always love looking back when all is said and done to see what I've accomplished (and didn't accomplish). What an incredible year it was. 2014 was the year of little Bear Ryan. "We" got pregnant and had him all in the same year...and it was truly the most wonderful and exhausting experience of my life. This will surely go down as one of the greatest years of my life and I am truly grateful. 

In 2014:

We got pregnant.
My mom and I spent a long weekend in Puerto Rico on my company trip.
We spent Valentine's in San Francisco (and a quick stop in Napa Valley).
We skied in Lake Tahoe.
We finally moved to a new apartment after 10 years in a 4th floor walkup.
I was given the most dreamy, lovely baby shower by my best friends.
We had a baby.
We made a trip to Cincinnati for Josh's brother's graduation.
We traveled to The Exumas Islands.
Josh ran a bunch of races, including the Brooklyn Half Marathon (Manhattan Half is in early 2015.)
The company I work for was honored at The Tech Awards in Silicon Valley
We had Josh's family in NYC for Thanksgiving and cooked a big ole' Turkey.
And I spent the most wonderful 3 weeks in Lake Tahoe for the holidays with my family (photo above).

Happy, happy 2015 everyone... it's truly amazing what can happen in a years time and how much your life can change. Who knows what's in store in the next 365 days! I think I will go by this for 2015.
My fave photos from 2014:

Sunday, December 21, 2014

10 Things I Swear By For The New Mom

The Ergo carrier...essential (for pretending to run marathons).
Now that I've made it through 9 weeks as a new mother (wooo!), I've realized that there are some essentials you should highly consider splurging on if you don't have. If I were to do a baby registry over again, these would be at the top of my list. Of course it's different for everyone, but this is what I couldn't have lived without these first 2 months. 
  1. The Ergo with infant insert (or any good quality baby carrier) - I started using this with the infant insert pretty early on when I was home alone during maternity leave. I love how supportive the Ergo is on the back and I found it super easy to use. And Bear loves taking naps in it. Totally essential for me. Now I do know that people love the K'Tan, the Bjorn and some whatever works for you. Just make sure you have something. I also have the Solly Baby Wrap which I love. (Tip: The Ergo Infant Insert placed on your lap is pretty awesome for plane trips!) 
    This Ergo Infant Insert doubles as a cocoon! Who knew?!
  2. My Breast Friend nursing pillow, the Boppy AND the Boppy Lounger. - Ok, so this is a lot of pillow action here, but I used all three A LOT. I originally chose The Boppy as my breastfeeding pillow of choice, but when my lactation consultant recommended the My Breast Friend, it changed everything. It literally taught me to breastfeed and I used it religiously. I have since gone back to the Boppy now that we're on a roll and the Boppy Lounger I use all day every day when I need to put him down. (He sometimes sleeps on the Lounger too...) I highly recommend them all! 
    The Boppy Lounger...the best! Bear's onesie...even better!
  3. Boudreaux's Butt Paste Diaper Cream or the Honest Healing Balm - Y'all this stuff is MAGIC with a capital M. 
  4. Sleepers. Sleepers. And more sleepers. When you have a baby shower, you receive all these super cute baby clothes (which is the best!), but what you REALLY need are sleepers. Like this. And this. Get a bunch of newborn (NB) size and 0-3 months. You will use them A LOT. Bear sometimes goes through 3-4 outfits a day, so they really don't need to be cute at this age. And I prefer ones with zippers so you don't have to unsnap a million little snaps in the middle of the night. 
  5. Water wipes - (i.e., "the worlds purest baby wipe") - We now use any kind of wipe, but for the first few weeks, we used these and they helped so much to prevent diaper rash on that newborn skin. Highly recommend.
  6. Aden & Anais swaddle blankets and one really nice, soft cuddly blanket. Must have.
  7. Pacifiers - I always hated the look and idea of pacifiers, but on Day 2 we decided they were pretty much genius. And apparently they're good for them to learn to use. These "soothies" worked really well for Bear. I still hate saying "Paci" though...don't ask me why.
    Not quite a swaddle here, but these Aden & Anais blankets are the best.
  8. MammaBaby App - I still use this every day to track feedings, sleeping time, etc. There are tons of apps out there like this, but this seemed to work for me.
  9. myBaby Sound Spa Portable - We use this religiously and I swear the noise works. I love the "brook" sound too.
  10. Wine. 

I'd love to know, what are your MUST HAVES for a newborn?

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Bear Hearts NYC

Let me just say – Bear Ryan has A LOT of awesome NYC gear. I mean...this blog is called "Manhattan Emily." He does love this city (I think?). When we're out strollin', he sleeps through the loudest sirens, taxi horns, garbage trucks and more. It's impressive really. I guess he got used to that quick in-utero! 

Sometimes I really can't believe we had a child in NYC. Wherever this little Bear ends up, he will always have that...and that's pretty nifty. And so is the $17,300 bill I just got today for his hospital birth (thank you dear Lord for health insurance). Even still, it is worth every little penny. Happy 8 Weeks, Bear! You're coming along quite perfectly (but I might be a little biased). 

Bear is 8 weeks old today (and over 12 lbs!) and I honestly can't even talk about. It's all so bittersweet. Being at home with him every day these last 8 weeks has been the best time of my life. I never want it to end. And every day...I contemplate that there will be an end to this time. I feel so grateful for 12 weeks of sheer awesomeness/exhaustion. I'm not sure how people manage with less maternity leave. 3 months, I think, will just scratch the surface. I still haven't figured out how to shower during the day and get out of my pj's. Hopefully I can figure that out in the next 4 weeks before I return to work. Until then, I will continue soaking up every ounce of this little guy.

More non-baby-related blogs to come...someday. I hope. 

Monday, December 1, 2014

hi december

Well, it's December and I am so overwhelmed by the fact that little Bear Ryan is 6 weeks old and that the holidays are upon us. Time seems to be going way too fast and we're really trying to soak up each maternity leave day here (note the lack of blogs). We had a wonderful Thanksgiving here in NYC with family. I cooked a lovely 12-pounder turkey and we bought a bunch of pre-made sides/pies. It was perfect. And it snowed! We will be in Tahoe for the holidays with my family and I can't wait (to ski!). This holiday season is all about family and nothing makes me happier.
our first family selfie...we will be trying this one again! haha!


enjoy every single moment this holiday season, because soon it will be over. Put down the phone and talk to those around you...well, that's my goal at least. 

happy december! 

(I also wish you lots of good Cyber Monday deals. I somehow saved $96 today on Shutterfly. Not bad.)

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

21 Favorite Moments During the 1st Month of Motherhood

A baby sleeping is about the sweetest thing ever, right? And can we all agree that Bear is a back sleeper?! 
It does seem like yesterday that I was riding the bus to the hospital on October 16th, drinking my usual coffee (I should have known when I got it from Au Bon "PAIN" that day) and not sure if my water had broke (and it definitely had...). Seven hours later, we had a son and my world completely changed. The first 4 weeks have flown by and I am so grateful to have made it through it. It's been an incredible, overwhelming month...and one I hope I'll never forget.

Some of my favorite (or memorable) moments from the last month...
  1. When Josh gave me these two little silver bear rings before I went into labor. I wear them every day and they mean so much (and how he finds such great gifts always is beyond me). People ask us a lot "why the name Bear?" and here's what I usually say: As crazy as we probably are to choose this as the official name on the birth certificate, we just really like it. That's really it. For years it had been "Jack," but then we somehow kept coming back to Bear. We thought it sounded "cool" and strong, even though it's usually a nickname. And so it just stuck. We also thought Bear Grylls was a neat, adventurous guy (although we didn't choose it b/c of him). And Bear Bryant...just a coincidence. We ultimately figured that anyone named Bear will probably be a cool guy and definitely stand out. So that's really it. And then we found out that Alicia Silverstone and Kate Winslet just named their sons Bear too, so I didn't feel as crazy. And now, I can't imagine it any other way. 
    bear rings
  2. Minutes after giving birth my doctor literally said the following to me: "If you don't keep still, I will sew you up crooked." Not my "favorite" moment, but one I'll certainly remember. I love NYC doctors...
  3. When I had my first ham/swiss sandwich in over 9 months in the hospital. Best. sandwich. ever. Same goes with having my first unpasteurized fresh orange juice after getting home from hospital. Heaven. In the end, I cheated on a lot of the pregnancy food rules, but I never ate deli meats/hot dogs or drank unpasteurized juices. 
  4. I'm not gonna lie, the day that your "milk comes in" is pretty exciting. They say it "comes in" around Day 4 or 5 and man does it come in! Hello there! (TMI, but the woman's body is an amazingly cool thing.)
  5. When he took breast milk from a spoon in the hospital. Spoon feeding at 2 days old...
  6. Watching him sleep. Probably the best thing ever. See photo above. 
  7. When he smiles in his sleep. (Babies don't truly smile at you for awhile, but they do smile in their sleep and by accident quite a bit.) 
  8. The first time I washed my hair after getting home from the hospital...priceless. 
  9. When he was weighed at his 3-week appointment and was finally back to his birth weight (and as of today, 9 lbs 9 oz)! Very exciting stuff, folks. (Babies usually lose weight after birth and then it takes a week or two...or three to gain it back.) It was really stressful for me that he wasn't gaining it back quick enough, but then he did and all is ok. Pediatricians, I think, need to chill just a bit sometimes. 
  10. The first "mustard seed" diaper. Yes...this was exciting. Poop colors those first couple weeks are an interesting thing. I'm talking a Pantone spectrum of colors here. 
  11. Having my mother here to help for the first two weeks. Forever grateful. There were a couple late, late nights when she was there to take Bear for a few hours and I do believe she was the "baby whisperer" that first week...instantly able to calm him down.  
  12. When he squeaks, grunts, sounds like a goat or makes some other odd noise. Babies make CRAZY noises and they're pretty awesome. Sometime they freak us out, but apparently they're normal.
  13. Seeing my husband hold him...never, ever gets old. 
  14. Reading his first book to him - Black & White Animals (If you want to see the simplest book ever, then get this one...). I'm not so sure he even noticed the book, but it was the thought that counted.
  15. Putting him in a cute outfit. And then having him pee in it 5 minutes later. 
  16. His first bath. This little guy LOVES the bath and that makes me so happy. He never flinched for one second when water was poured over him. I think he is basically ready for the ice bucket challenge now. Or scuba diving. 
  17. When he stares for hours at the black and white picture frames on our living room wall. It's so true what they say about babies loving black/white. I can verify.
  18. Our first walk to Central Park. A perfect fall day. (I always had this little dream, probably since college, that someday I would have kids and I would stroll them in Central Park. Most of my life has NOT gone as planned, but this did and that was cool.) 
  19. When I decided to turn off all notifications on my phone (at least for the first few months here). Life-changer.
  20. The incredible generosity of the people around us who have showered us with kind messages and love during this first month. Especially the 9 nights of SeamlessWeb dinners that were delivered to us by my amazing colleagues at work. So grateful. It's so nice to have support during this time, because it's really tough many days and knowing people care really does make a difference.
  21. As weird as it is, I think some of my favorite moments have been at 4am when I wake up (half asleep) to feed him and the apartment is quiet and dark and it's just me and him. There's something so special (and extremely exhausting) about that time. It doesn't always feel quite so special when you can barely pull yourself out of bed, but when I look back I know I will treasure those early morning feedings. Someday I will want them back I know.
Love this gift by

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

I mean, come on...

I had to share some of these super sweet photos of Bear by Erin Foster Photography. We will keep him. (Too bad he pooped in this beautiful blanket...sorry, Erin!).

Thank you, Erin, for taking time to come over and take these. We will cherish these forever...and possibly use as blackmail in 21 years!

Sunday, November 2, 2014

10 Things To Read/Bookmark/Save Forever When Entering Motherhood

Over the last 9+ months or so, I have come across so many good articles/essays related to being a new mom or just parenthood in general. So many that I now have a comprehensive "reading list" on my iPhone that I have been referencing A LOT in the last week. Mostly for re-assurance that this first month is indeed tough and that I am not crazy...just really, really tired. 

I wanted to share some of these with all of you because many are quite beautiful (whether you're a parent or not) and have helped me through this crazy time. A time that encompasses about every emotion in the book – extreme love and happiness, anxiety, sadness, exhaustion, happiness again, etc...the list goes on and on. 

Hope you'll find some of these as interesting as I did. 

  1. a letter to my pre-mom self (from coffee + crumbs blog) - Probably my favorite "new mom" essay.
  2. when love feels heavy (coffee + crumbs)
  3. 10 True Things About The First Year Of Parenthood (especially #9)
  4. To My Sons: 20 Lessons for a Meaningful Life (That I Wish I Knew When I Was Your Age)
  5. The Hardest Two Months of My Life (A Cup of Jo)
  6. 5 Things I Know Now About Being A New Mom
  7. The Deep End of Love
  8. brave, brave, brave (coffee + crumbs)
  9. What Nobody Tells You About The First 3 Months of Motherhood
  10. To Wives: Before You Were Mommy
I can't believe little B is 17 days old today. It boggles my mind how fast time is flying. I am trying to remind myself that the blog can wait and that I will never get these amazing "first month" moments back. 

I mean, come on...

Tuesday, October 21, 2014


the little man has arrived!

bear randolph ryan
thursday, 10.16.14 
at new york presbyterian weill-cornell hospital in nyc
8lbs, 11 oz and 21 inches
all are happy, healthy & exhausted
we are are officially smitten!

(No, he's not named after Bear Bryant or Bear's just a name we always thought sounded very cool. Think adventurous, brave, the outdoors, masculine...)

more photos:

just a tad exhausted, but extremely happy. labor is definitely laborious.
I may have been high off that epidural, but we definitely walked home from the hospital 22 blocks. :)

the adventure begins!