Tuesday, July 22, 2014

summer in the city

It could be worse. It could be 99 and humid. But it's not. This July has been beautiful. And at almost 7 months pregnant I am truly grateful for this somewhat cooler weather. Here's to summer polar vortexes. 

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Top 10: The 2nd Trimester

I swore I would never take "belly mirror selfies," but
now I get why people do. It's nice to document these months
and asking people to snap photos of me pregnant feels odd. 
And the 3 month baby countdown officially begins NOW (July 20 > Oct 20...approx.).  I can't believe it's been 27 weeks of this baby growing thing (for many of you -- that equals over 6 months  -– which means hopefully 13 more weeks to go, i.e., 3 months) and I must say, the 2nd trimester has been much easier than I imagined. I'm constantly knocking on wood. I feel lucky that (so far) I haven’t really experienced anything crazy, except for some annoying knee issues, and I totally get why they call the 2nd trimester the "honeymoon" trimester. The nausea (and the gagging on the subway every morning) wore off around Week 10 and it’s been fairly smooth sailing. 

I have been shocked at how many days go by when I actually don’t feel too different. Just bigger in the ole’ belly. I definitely (at this point) really love being pregnant. It’s a feeling that I can honestly say I did not fully understand or appreciate until it actually happened. It’s been an incredibly cool experience (minus #5 below). (New Update: As of Week 26, I think the 3rd "uncomfortable" trimester is actually starting to kick in. I shouldn't have wrote this so fast! And little man is kicking like Lionel Messi up in here!)

Here's a silly little video of photo clips I made of some 2nd trimester moments (including Josh at Target and my growing belly)...

As this blog is not only meant to share useful/fun info, it's also been a way for me to document everything in my life. So, 10 things about my 2nd Trimester...
  1.  Cravings are no joke. While I haven’t craved pickles or ice cream (or Skyline Chili...sorry Josh), I have craved nothing but lemonade and citrus for about 12 weeks straight. It’s a strange thing. If it has any hint of fruit in it, I need it. And apples with sharp white cheddar. Double yum. I also went through a period of craving nothing but Frappucino’s for a good few weeks. And I mean the kind with cookies and lots of whip. And cereal with whole milk. Cravings are a funny thing and I definitely indulge. On the days when I “crave” pizza and mac n cheese, I totally chalk it up to pregnancy cravings. “Oh…he must really love pizza!” Ha.  Also, I must note that I have definitely laid back on some of the "food rules of pregnancy." I definitely had a slice of prosciutto, a lot of goat cheese and even a bite of a hot dog off the grill...and all has been ok. I still haven't had any deli ham/turkey though and I totally miss that.
  2. No glow. My skin never “glowed.” Not once. The whole thing about “wow – you’re glowing” never seemed to make it’s way over to my face. My skin decided to do the opposite and many days I have felt like a 14 year old girl with her first breakout. That’s been fun. But I think it’s slowly getting back to normal now.  And the amount of weird moles that have mysteriously popped up everywhere is pretty weird.
  3. Belly stories. I kind of like this big belly. And I LOVE not having to “suck it in” – ever. Best perk of pregnancy for sure. Once I got the full on belly (and not just my normal belly fat), I have really grown to love it. Minus the times it gets as tight and hard as a rock, usually after eating. I like that I look pregnant and people know it right away. It makes things easier and definitely helps with scoring seats on the subway and the bus. And around 20 weeks when I started to feel little “flutters” or kicks, it became pretty awesome. I do miss sleeping on my stomach though…that’s definitely an issue.  They need a better invention for pregnant stomach sleepers. 
    Ok, it's a bit of a weird angle, but my new theory:
    There's only 9 months to really let it all out...
    So, why not let it out and be proud
    (instead of self-consious)?!
  4. Riding a subway. Speaking of subway and bus, I’ve been surprised by the number of people who will notice me (obviously pregnant) and not bother to get up or move over.  I can’t imagine doing that. I am fine standing at this point, but I just thought it was common sense to let a pregnant woman sit down. I hate to generalize here, but it’s usually the older men who just don’t seem to have a clue. Love that. Look up from your phone once and let the big bellied woman sit.
  5. The comments. This has been for me one of the only negative things about pregnancy so far. The things people will say to me are truly shocking sometimes. “Wow…you’re not due until October. That’s gonna be a big baby.” Really? Well, thank you, because the last person told me I look “small” for this time.  Or “Must be twins! Haha”  Yeah, that’s so hilarious.  I can assure you, sir, that it’s not twins and that you’re rude. MY ADVICE: Always tell a pregnant woman she looks awesome and just don’t say anything else. And then ask yourself “Would you make this comment to someone who wasn’t pregnant?” (Example:  “Wow…your boobs are massive.” My usual reply – No way! I didn’t seem to notice!)  I think it might just be easier to lie and say I am due next month. Saves some headache, ya know? But enough of that…I am healthy, the baby is healthy and I have gained 11 lbs (out of the suggested 25-35lbs) so apparently I am on some sort of track.
  6. Registering for a baby is no small task. After deciding where the heck to register (there are at least 10 good places), first-time moms have to consult every piece of advice and resource out there to know what she will need. And the opinions coming at you from all angles seem to all be different. Should I register for the cute burp cloths or the most functional or the cheapest? Should I register for baby furniture or is that our responsibility? Should I register for bath toys or just the essential things I need? Should I register for a breast pump or is that just weird? Should I register for the jogging stroller - we definitely need that, right? And a diaper bag....can't I just use one of my larger purses? Why do I need a whole new bag to hold diapers? Registries are hard and it took me a good 4-5 weeks to really get mine together – and I still change it every other day. And when it really comes down to it, babies don’t really need any of it. From what I heard they just need milk and a lot of love (and 8-12 diapers a day).
  7. Passing the glucose test. I have never been so nervous about the 24-week glucose test that checks for gestational diabetes. It’s one of those things you just don’t know if you will have or not. It’s very common and I surely didn’t want to have to worry about it. To prepare for it, I had to drink this orange “glucola” (barf) that had 50g of sugar in it in approx. 5 mins of less. Then they take your blood. After all the sweet citrusy fruits and juices (and m & m’s) I’ve been consuming, I just didn’t know.  Luckily and somehow, I had a very low score and the doctor told me to keep up whatever it was I have been doing nutritionally. Shocking. But a great day.
  8. Nesting. I don’t know if it’s truly “nesting” or having moved into a new apartment, but I have become overwhelmingly obsessed with getting our apartment in good shape not only for us but for a baby. We painted all three rooms (and a chalkboard wall), got a new bed, hung some curtains and shelves and I still feel like there's so much to do. I literally can’t stop thinking about what still needs to be done and I should probably just relax, but I know that in 3 months, apartment decor will take a major backseat. Ultimately, I love everything we’ve done with our little apartment and couldn’t be happier that we moved. We should have done it years ago. 
  9. Ultrasound Central. I've had way too many ultrasounds. At our anatomy scan at 19 weeks (it’s a BOY!), they take about 200 different measurements of the baby. And NY Presby Hospital won’t let you pass the anatomy test until they get every last finger, toe, etc. I had to go back 3 times because little man didn’t want to uncurl himself and get his picture taken. I was starting to get frustrated and worried that these sound waves could actually cause harm to the womb, but luckily they didn’t and all 10 fingers and toes were finally accounted for and I got a few extra photos for the books. I now have quite a few photos of his legs crossed...identical to how Josh sits on the couch, to prove it. 
    26 weeks...
    trying to be cool and looking crazy.
  10. Calm. Lately, I think there has been this overwhelming sense of calm that has come over me and Josh. Maybe it’s because this is the calm before the craziest storm of our lives, but I have noticed that things have been relatively stress-free. And I love that. (It could also very well be the Caribbean vacation we just took, but it's been a great few weeks where we’ve started to get excited about the idea of hanging out for life with this little guy.) I couldn’t be more excited to see my husband as a Dad. It’s something I have always looked forward to and that makes me just generally happy. I am holding on to these good, calm feelings for as long as possible and hoping the final trimester will bring more positive things (although I am sure a lot of anxiety and nervousness) into our life.
Onwards (and outwards)!

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Top 10 Reasons Why You Should Know About The Exumas

I am tempted to just post a bunch of photos of our trip to The Exumas and call it a day. The images really speak for themselves. Although I do have to say that I was shocked at how many people have no clue where The Exumas are (or even what they are). I would say most people we talked to about our upcoming vacation would say "where is that?". Honestly, I kind of love that. Our little vacation secret. When really, the Exumas are just a 25 minute flight (on Bahamas Air or Sky Bahamas Air) from Nassau, Bahamas. And probably an hour or so flight from Miami. So easy to get to, yet so remote, rustic and quiet. From NYC to The Exumas, it took a total of 5 hours of travel time (and we had layovers...).

Whether you go to swim with the pigs, go fishing/diving/snorkeling/kayaking or just veg out for a week (ex: me - above), the Exumas are definitely an exotic yet calm place. I would recommend for anyone who truly needs to get away from it all and have some peace and quiet. There is no "entertainment" or shopping on the island (although there is a Sandals resort on Great Exuma)...so if you need that, this is not your spot. There are quite a few celeb homes – Johnny Depp, Faith Hill/Tim McGraw, the Hennessey man and David Copperfield's private cay are all nearby. I can basically count all the restaurants on one hand. The grocery store closes at 10AM some days and you won't see a person sometimes for miles as you drive down the island. If you don't have gas in your car Saturday night, then you're basically out of luck until Monday. It's magical and my kind of vacation. 
The Bahamas Outer Islands

The Exumas Island are all about the water. And let me just say, I have NEVER seen water this color in my life. The most perfect – and i mean perfect – turquoise ever. Not even in Belize, Eleuthera, the Virgin Islands, Mexico or DR had we seen water this blue/green. Photos really don't even begin to capture it. 

We had learned about the Exumas awhile back when we honeymoon-ed on the equally-awesome island of Eleuthera (which most people also don't know of). We had always wanted to visit all of the Outer Islands of the Bahamas, because they are truly spectacular (and easy to get to). When Josh's cousin, Amber, and husband (Josh's good childhood bud, Dan) said they would go in on renting a house for the week, we were booked! Nothing excites Josh or I more than knowing we get to travel somewhere new. It's what gets us through each long NYC day...just knowing that an amazing trip is in the near future. For us, traveling to cool places is everything.

So, here are my 10 favorite photos from our trip (many of these taken by my cousin-in-law, Dan, who has the best underwater camera ever):

One of my favorite photos from the trip. This almost captures the color of the water perfectly. Josh and Dan kayaking is another story. Lesson: Make sure your kayak has a plug (Josh) before getting in. Good thing the kayak washed up on the shore the next day...
Josh swims with the wild pigs off Big Major Cay (or Pig Island). To do this, you must take a boat (therefore splurging on a tour of some sort). The cheapest we found was through Exuma Water Sports with Capt. Ray.
Josh found this in the water (because the water was that clear). It's about 1 inch in diameter ands this photo somehow came out amazing - thank you iPhone. One of my favorite photos.
We stayed on "Tropic of Cancer Beach" in Little Exuma, which is literally on the Tropic of Cancer line
Dan's underwater camera captured this on Stocking Island. These friendly sting ray would come right up to you and brush against your feet. I did not really enjoy this, but this photo is amazing.
Any photo of the water on Tropic of Cancer beach is my favorite. Josh and Amber on the best $1 floats ever.
Fresh conch chowder being made for Josh at Chat N Chill on Stocking Island (and by fresh I mean...he went to the ocean to get a conch shell before he made this). Take a day (or half day) ferry trip over to this fun little island right across from Great Exuma. "First you chat - and then you chill, child!"
Looking down from the big salt monument on Little Exuma. Not so ugly.
Santana's Bar & Restaurant on Little Exuma. 4 items on the menu and 3 ladies who know how to run this joint. Also where Johnny Depp and much of the "Pirates of the Caribbean" crew ate during the filming of all three movies. 
Tropic of Cancer Beach, Little Exuma. Perfection.

And a few more just because... (photos from an Olympus TG-2 Tough Camera)

Friday, June 27, 2014

Top 10 Things In My Beach Bag

This is obviously not a fashion blog (and judging by the looks of my wardrobe, probably will never be), but I always love getting a a little peek into someone's "bag." Is that weird?! 

After I got my new Ban.do "hooray" tote, I had to do this little post - and July 4th weekend is coming up, so what the heck! I am off to the beach next week and I'm already getting my things together (I'm a little too excited...). I always like to keep my bags as simple as possible with just the right amount of stuff – overdue it and the back hurts for days! So...these are my absolute essentials. 

From L to R (clockwise):
  1. An Awesome Tunic - Roberta Freyman (Roberta Roller Rabbit) Classic "Kurta" w Border" (Piperlime.com or RobertaFreyman.com - on sale now) THIS IS BIG Y'ALL. My most favorite beach tunic ever is on sale. I would run, because this was one of the best purchases I ever made. I paid $75 and they're on sale now at Piperlime for $39.97 - although I must warn you – most sizes are sold out. Ha! It is super lightweight, looks really flattering and will last for years. Even at full price, it's worth it. 
  2. Jambox (by Jawbone or $116 on Amazon.com) - Bluetooth speakers are a must for the beach. These are pretty awesome. Super light and great sound. (And of course your iPod, iPhone...or some form of a music player.)
  3. Nalgene (or any reusable BPA free) water bottle ($8.56 - Amazon.com) - Probably the most important thing actually. Fill up your own bottles and take a lot with you when going to the beach. I actually like to have a few of these on hand for day trips. 
  4. Alba all-natural sunscreen ($7.99 Amazon.com) - Ever since we did some research awhile back as to what is actually in your usual Tropicana sunscreen, we started buying more natural sunscreens. No more ezcema! Alba is a great brand at a great price. And there is no crap in it. 
  5. Fun (and cheap) beach sunglasses ($15.95 - American Eagle) - I was on a mission this year to find some fun "beacy" sunglasses that are cheap and a little crazy. I love these from American Eagle. 
  6. An apple - I actually think it's important to pack some sort of healthy snack. Fruit always does the trick at the beach. 
  7. A great beach hat (J. Crew) - A good summer hat is worth the one-time splurge. I've worn this on A LOT of beaches and it's the best! Similar one here.
  8. A great beach/picnic blanket ($34.99 on sale at West Elm) - This blanket has come in handy so many times. Great for just about anything outside. Similar one here.
  9. Ban.do "Hooray" tote - (Shop Ban.do - $20) You can't have a bad day with this bag. And if you sign up for their e-newsletter you get 15% off! 
  10. Your awesome self. A great beach read. And some cool people. (Because I need a 10th thing...obviously.)

Happy Almost 4th of July Weekend! 

Friday, June 20, 2014

Top 10 Must Have Apps When In NYC

NYC Compass app
A good friend of mine is traveling to NYC soon and asked if I would do a list of "must have" mobile apps for visiting "The City." YES! Now that I can do! While I don't think you need all of these as a tourist, these are 10 apps that I use either on a daily basis (as a New Yorker), have used in the past and loved or I think are just useful. 
Me. Every day. Waiting. For a train.
  1. iTrans (iPhone - $3.99) - My most used NYC app. An easy to use subway map app that works smoothly, even when you don't have cell service underground. Worth every penny. Also has service advisories and arrival times. 
  2. HopStop (iPhone - Free) What's the fastest way to get from the Upper East Side to Tribeca at 5pm on a Friday? Well...you should just download this asap. My 2nd favorite  NYC app gives you the quickest route (lets you choose from subway, bus, walking and taxi). Always seems to be right on! And to UES to Tribeca? Good luck! 
  3. MTA Bus Time (Website Link - Free) "When will the crosstown bus get here?!" I have said that about 1000 times. No more, I tell you! Add a shortcut to this web page link to your phone's homescreen immediately. I use it daily to see when my local bus will arrive. It's accurate down to the second. I pull it up to see when I need to leave the apartment to make the bus that's rounding the corner. 
  4. ZipCar  (iPhone & Andoird - Free) A no-brainer if you live in this city and like to get out often, like me. Rent a car by the hour (after joining). There's also Hertz Car-on-Demand.
  5. ScoutMob (iPhone, Android, Blackberry - Free) This app gives you deals to lots of cool local restaurants, bars and fun places. It's free, so why not?! 
  6. Meridian (iPhone & Android - Free) This app has info about a lot of different cities, but for NYC...this app will tell you about all of the artwork down in the NYC subways. It's actually fascinating and you will definitely find some things you have never noticed before. Down in the 77th Street 6 train subway station, this app tells you about the "four seasons" artwork on the walls. I would have never known!
  7. Seamless (iPhone, Android, Blackberry - Free) I'm sure you already have this, but if you don't, you've been seriously missing out. This app is how we order dinner most nights of the week (and how we order lunch at my office). Get a grilled cheese delivered right to your door whenever you want – or a steak – or nachos. Capiche? And all without having to give your credit card to the restaurant over the phone. The Ryan's LOVE Seamless...
  8. Uber (iPhone & Android - Free) & Hailo Free (iPhone & Android) It's Friday at 5pm and you can't get a taxi? You're at the airport and the taxi line is a mile long? UBER y'all. This beautifully designed app (with Ashton Kutcher as one of the investors), is super handy. Pull it up, request a car and watch the driver on the map as he's on his way to pick you up. Tip and all fees included in the cost (you put in your cc info). And it's usually the same price (maybe a few dollars more) than a taxi. And you get the luxury of a black sedan! And I highly recommend this app if you're ever in San Francisco (where it started).
  9. NYC Compass (iPhone - Free): A simple app that tells you very clearly which direction you're going - "uptown," "downtown," "east side" or "west side." I know A LOT of tourists that need this! And if you really need help, just ask someone. New Yorkers actually love helping people with directions. 
  10. Field Trip (iPhone & Android - Free) - A mobile history lesson. Google's fun app alerts you to the cool, weird, historical and interesting things around you - and even some crazy real estate listings as you walk by them. Running in the background on GPS, this app can be fun when you're a tourist. It can even read the info to you. This app also helps you "live like a local" when traveling to a new city. Get to know the Settings and turn it off once it gets annoying.
And of course, there is ALWAYS the ole' Google Maps. It's a must. When you get directions in the app, just click on the "bus/subway" icon and it will give you up-to-the-minute bus times. It's a hidden feature that most people don't use...and super useful.

What are your fave NYC-related apps? I could probably list 10 more here! So many apps these days...it's hard to keep up. 

Monday, June 9, 2014

NYC: Things I HAVE Done

To follow up with my NYC Bucket/"To Do" List blog from the other day that lists things I haven't done in this city, I thought it would only be fair to stop and think about the cool things I have done. And really...I've (or we've) done a lot of this city. So, because I really like making lists, here we go!

Things I HAVE done in (and around) NYC:
  1. Seen many Broadway shows
  2. Carnegie Hall
  3. Statue of Liberty
  4. Top of the Rock
  5. Top of World Trade Center (1999)
  6. Top of Empire State Building
  7. Times Square (More times than I care to think about.)
  8. Macy's Thanksgiving Parade
  9. Rockefeller Christmas Tree
  10. Saw the Radio City Rockette's
  11. Went to a party at The Plaza Hotel
  12. Had a cocktail at The Carlyle Hotel at Bemelmans Bar
  13. Had my most expensive cocktail ever on top of The Penninsula Hotel ($26)
  14. The MET Museum
  15. MoMa
  16. The Guggenheim
  17. American Museum of Natural History (and also once after hours!)
  18. National Museum of the American Indian
  19. Frick Museum
  20. The Whitney Museum
  21. 9/11 Memorial
  22. NY Botanical Garden (Bronx)
  23. Picnic (lots) in Central Park
  24. Rowboat in Central Park
  25. Ice skating in Central Park
  26. Saw a concert in Central Park
  27. Carousel in Central Park
  28. Belvedere Castle in Central Park
  29. North Woods/The Ramble in Central Park
  30. Central Park Zoo
  31. Bronx Zoo
  32. Governors Island
  33. Randall's Island
  34. Fire Island
  35. Watched many US Open Tennis matches
  36. Mets game
  37. Yankee game
  38. Nets game
  39. Knicks game
  40. NY Red Bulls Soccer Game
  41. Ate at Gramercy Tavern
  42. Drinks on many rooftop bars
  43. The High Line
  44. Tour of Grand Central Station
  45. Walked Brooklyn Bridge
  46. Saw a musical and a ballet at NY City Center
  47. Cabaret at Birdland
  48. Concerts at Madison Square Garden, High Line Ballroom, Bowery Ballroom, Rockwood Music Hall, Jones Beach, PNC Bank Arena and many more...
  49. FAO Schwartz
  50. Ghost tour of the Village
  51. Kayaked the Hudson River
  52. Chelsea Piers
  53. SoulCycle
  54. Got a grilled cheese delivered at 2am
  55. Got a scoop of ice cream delivered (yup...)
  56. Cupcakes from: Magnolia Bakery, Sprinkles, Sugar Sweet Sunshine, Baked By Melissa, Two Little Red Hens, Crumbs
  57. Frozen hot chocolate at Serendipity
  58. Ate at Old Homestead steakhouse
  59. Dinosaur BBQ
  60. Pork buns at Ippudo
  61. Shake Shack burger (x100)
  62. Burger Joint at Le Parker Meridien
  63. Tea and scones at Alice's Tea Cup
  64. Italian food in Little Italy
  65. Chinese food in Chinatown (Wo Hop)
  66. Had many NY bagels and NY "slices" 
  67. Ate a lot of Motorino's and Patsy's pizza
  68. Eataly
  69. The Frying Pan and 79th Street Boat Basin Cafe
  70. Brooklyn Flea
  71. Park Avenue Armory
  72. Inside the NYTimes Building
  73. Jury duty in NYC!
  74. Rode the Staten Island Ferry
  75. NY Public Library
  76. Bryant Park
  77. Rode a CitiBike
  78. Sailed in a yacht around NYC Harbor
  79. Witnessed Manhattanhendge
  80. Taping of Late Night with Jimmy Fallon
  81. Rehearsal/Taping of The Tonight Show w/ Jimmy Fallon
  82. Taping of The Daily Show
  83. Sex & The City bus tour (yes, I actually did this. And it was awesome.)
  84. Feinstein's at the Regency
  85. Sang at Brandy's Piano Bar
  86. The Cloisters
  87. Watched July 4th fireworks on the Hudson and the East River
  88. Beaches: Coney Island, Long Beach, Jones Beach, Fire Island, North Fork, Montauk & The Hamptons
  89. Explored/hiked the Hudson Valley
...to be continued...

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Top 10: My NYC Bucket List

No matter where you live, I think it's good to have some sort of city "Bucket List." I've lived in NYC over 10 years now and I still haven't experienced some pretty basic NYC sites and sounds...which drives me a little crazy. (Although, I have done a lot of cool things here - see my full list tomorrow!) One day awhile back, I made a "to do" list and was on a mission to start crossing things off. And I gotta say...having this list above my desk kind of works. It nags me daily until I actually do it. And it's kind of fun when you cross them off.

After an awesome day at the beach today with some of my best girlfriends, I realized that I need to really make use of these summer weekends, get back to my little list and start working on some of these.

(And just last weekend, we FINALLY crossed off #6 by taking a little row on the rowboats in Central Park. I'm not sure why it took 10 years to do this considering I begged Josh to take me on them every other day – and it's only 5 blocks away – but we finally made it happen and that's all that matters.)

So here's the "NYC To Do List" I made awhile back (also pictured above). 
What would be on your hometown's bucket list?!
  1. Walk over the Brooklyn Bridge - DONE!
  2. See a summer movie in Central Park (Central Park Film Fest)
  3. Visit The Cloisters - DONE!
  4. An opera at The Met (How ridiculous that I STILL haven't done this?! Although, I do enter the Monday lottery every week...and never win.)
  5. See The Nutcracker at New York City Ballet
  6. Ride on a row boat (with Josh) in Central park - DONE! 
    And I somehow managed to get this awesome photo of Josh.
  7. Visit 9/11 Memorial - DONE!
  8. Visit Brooklyn Botanical Gardens
  9. Take a tour of the UN 
  10. See a NY Rangers game (Well, this probably won't be happening any time soon now that tickets will be majorly out of the ole' budget...)
For the four I have completed, I would now add a few new ones:
You never know where life might take you. Make a list, post it somewhere you see it every day (so it starts to annoy you) and then make a point to start crossing things off one by one. Summer is a great time to start!

Thursday, May 29, 2014

It's A....

(And by "Ryan"...that's our last name. Little man's first name is top secret at this point.)
It's a dude! And we're super excited. Both of us had a strong feeling from the beginning that it was a boy (to the point that I was buying boy "things" without knowing the gender)...and I was always 99% certain. It made me laugh when people told me they were certain I was having a girl. Or when the Chinese gender chart or all those other crazy gender myths were totally wrong. According to a very clear ultrasound...it's a full on boy! I think this will be a very cool little guy. I envision a future skier or soccer player. Or musician. Or amateur birdwatcher. Whatever he decides to be...he will be awesome!

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Top 10 Ways I Hope To Be Like My Mom

I wasn't exactly blessed with a flat stomach or straight hair, but I was blessed with what I think are incredible parents. I feel very lucky to have a mother like I do and it's honestly the #1 thing I am most grateful for in my life. My mom has played the most major role in shaping who I am and I can only dream of being half as awesome. 

I could write a list on this for days, but on this Mother's Day, I want to take a moment to pay tribute to just 10 of the ways my mom is such a role model to me. I really hope I can be as strong, humble and positive as she is and honestly it's a lot to live up to. 
  1. Open to Change.  The one thing I have always admired about my parents (and my mom) is that they have always been open to new things and to change. I think this is HUGE in living a long and happy life and they've really ingrained this in me – that happiness can be found anywhere. After moving from Charlotte (where they lived for 25 years), they moved to Nashville, TN, then Atlanta, GA, and then Chattanooga, TN. Now they have recently retired (for the most part) to Lake Tahoe, CA. And why? Because that was their dream - and they made it happen. In every new place they moved, they have managed to find the good in everything. They get out, explore and find cool, new things to do. They are always open to anything and it's a huge lesson to me that life should be adventurous and that change is a GREAT thing.  
  2. Taking Life By The Horns. The one thing I can truly say is that my mom never wastes a day of her life. Especially now that she's retired. For 25 or so years, she worked so hard so that she can now live a life that is fun and worthwhile. I am pretty sure my parents skied every day this past winter and my mom is busier now than she ever was. At age 68, she was playing tennis five times a week and traveling like crazy. I think this is where I got my desire to travel from and to do as many fun things as possible. My mom is such an example of living a great life and she makes 68 look damn good. 
  3. Endless support. I honestly should make this #1, because it was such a huge part of my life. My parents, no matter what I chose to do, supported me in everything. I wanted to go to an arts school - SURE! I wanted to paint my room some crazy color - SURE. I wanted to get my college degree in musical theatre - SURE. While they were strict in many aspects, they were are the most supportive and loving parents and for that I am most grateful. 
  4. True humility. My mom is one of the most humble people I know. She never complains and or even talks about herself really. It was always about everyone else. I never realized this until after I left for college, but my mom spent so many years caring about everyone else without ever complaining. This is a huge thing and I have so much respect for any person that can raise a family like this. 
  5. Strong. Along with being humble, my mom is stronger than I will ever be. I am almost positive I never saw her cry growing up and I certainly never saw her have any kind of breakdown. I definitely don't have this gene and wish I did. How one person can stay so strong while having such a busy life, working and raising a family, is beyond me. I honestly dream that I can stay this strong for my own family (I mean...I cry watching 60 Minutes, so...)
  6. Strong work ethic. My mom worked a government office job for 30 years, came home and cooked dinner and managed to also do a million other things. How she did this with such grace, I'll never know. My mom worked tirelessly and it was such an example of how a working mom can live a great, balanced life. 
  7. Positive. My mom is one of the most positive, happy people I know. Or at least that's what shows. She always finds the best in everything and is always smiling. Positive, I think, is the reason she is living such a great, healthy life. The glass (of wine) is always half full – always. 
  8. Never forgets anything. My mom doesn't miss a beat and it's truly mind-boggling. She remembers every holiday, every birthday and even my half-birthday! She sends gifts and they're always early and she is always reminding me to send sympathy or get well cards to people. Not only does she just not forget anything, she is so humble that she is constantly thinking of everyone else and what she can do for them. I love this quality and try hard to be the same, but it really takes a lot of organization and consistent thoughtfulness. 
  9. Always there. My mom would fly to NYC tonight if I needed her to. She always picks up the phone and is always there for me for anything. It's an incredible feeling to have someone that you know will always be there for you. I feel so lucky every day that I can talk to my mom and know that if anything happened, I would always be ok.
  10. Just plain awesome. I think these things have already proved that my mom is an
    Sorry, mom. I had to post this...
    because you are the coolest.
    incredible human being and mother. I have so much respect and love for her and I truly hope I can raise a child like she raised me. My mom is an awesome example of a woman and mom and I dream of giving back to her the way she has given to me.

Happy Mother's Day, Mama!

And as my friend Sarah Roseberry put it so well today: 

"Sending gratitude to all mothers and to all the women who are mother figures in lives of people they care for. And to all who have lost mothers, know that they are still here in the lessons and love they passed to you."

Monday, May 5, 2014

Scenes From Our New Apt

So we moved! 

I definitely talked about "our move" way too much and now I'm wondering why we waited so many years. Although it was sad for about .02 seconds when we locked up and left on Friday, I couldn't be happier with our new home. 

After all the craziness of packing/gathering boxes and bubble wrap for months and the anxiety of "Did we pick the right apartment," it feels great to know that we made a good choice. We both like it here - a lot. Josh actually said to me tonight "I like living here," and my pregnant self almost broke down in tears. A month ago, he wasn't exactly "feeling" the choice we had made and I kept promising him it would work. And it seems to be and that makes me so happy. It feels more "adult" and I guess we sort of are now (a little). 
And this whole dishwasher thing never felt so good. I can't believe I didn't have a dishwasher for 10 years. It's definitely an invention that people should appreciate. Also the trash compactor on our floor...who would have thought THAT was such a great amenity?! I kind of get a second of excitement about pushing a bag of trash down a tunnel to god knows where. It's a mystery! And yes, the elevator IS all it's cracked up to be. Thoughts of a pre-war 4th floor walkup already seem so distant.
The balcony has been the biggest hit of all. It's not a yard or even a terrace, but it's an outdoor space all to our own...and we put a nice little table out there (greenery and more coming soon...) and it's probably my favorite thing. We had breakfast the first morning which was so nice and Cinco De Taco night tonight. We lit some citronella, brought the mini "jambox" out and it felt like our own little outdoor cafe. I'm officially content after months of stress (as long as I don't look all that still needs to be unpacked.)

A few more pics from a very much unfinished apartment (we still have about 12 boxes to unpack and painting, art hanging, etc.). I don't know how people seem to move so often. It's a lot, but maybe some of these folks are on to something. 
Also, something about moving has brought out the platter making person in me. I had to share these that I made recently. Josh and I went a little crazy at Eli's Vinegar Factory (greatest secret in Yorkville), which is right near us, and put together this ridiculously massive platter (w/ prosciutto, cheeses, mozzarella, salami, etc.). Yum. I actually like using our kitchen now.
And then taco night on Cinco De Mayo. "Yes, I will use as many bowls as I please...because I have a dishwasher!" Ha! (I'm sure I'll learn quick when we get our energy bill...)

Happy Cinco De Mayo and hope y'all have a good week ahead!

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Dear Apt. 4FW (4 Frank Water)

We were so...naive. 10 years ago - April 2004
I actually wrote this post a few months ago, when we first decided to move. I remember sitting and sobbing almost the entire time I wrote this (because...I mean, 10 years is a long time, and a whole lot of memories). But cut to months later (now) and I couldn't be more excited to move. So this is my tribute blog to our little 4th floor walkup. If only these walls could talk...

Dear Apartment #4FW ("4 Frank Water" or "4 Front West"),

Well, I hate to do this, but after 10 amazing (and sometimes challenging) years here, we have decided to "move on up" to a new home (i.e., apartment). It's very bittersweet – as this place will always be special. I spent a third of my life thus far here, from ages 21-31, and a lot happens to a gal in those years. I fell in love here. I got engaged here. I got married. I got pregnant. I started this blog here. And about a million other things. I really became an adult here. It's been a place I actually loved calling home. No matter how many people over the years said to us "I don't know how you guys do it," it never seemed to phase me. I always stood up for you!

I mostly loved your "character." This was a true NYC 1 bedroom apartment. Exactly what I had dreamed of growing up in N.C. and wanting to move here – the tall ceilings, big windows and the non-operating fireplace that, to me, was the best part about this place. I loved the fact that you were built in 1896. I loved your hardwood floors and white trim. I loved how safe I felt up on this 4th floor. I really loved how you felt like a classic, (almost Carrie Bradshaw-type-of) NYC apartment. A perfect NYC apartment for your 20's.

I wanted to thank you for everything you've given me in the last 10 years (besides a roof over my head). In particular, the millions and millions of steps I have climbed (which I really thought would have given me some serious glutes by now, but instead gave me some serious meniscal knee tears). I thank you for the ONE closet that we stuffed our life into, in so many different ways, until finally one year...I gave up and started storing stuff EVERYWHERE. Our vacuum made an awesome coat rack. Under the dining room table? Storage! 

Also, for the mini-oven that I cooked many a Thanksgiving's in, that is so darn "mini" that I couldn't even use all four burners at once because the saucepans wouldn't all fit at the same time. I thank you for these things that challenged me on a daily basis and made me question why I have chosen this crazy life.

I wanted to thank you for the bathroom in particular. The #1 thing I will miss about you is your shower pressure - and this is true. Everyone whose stayed here knows it's the best shower pressure ever. You might as well be standing right under Niagara Falls. Even though only one person can be in the bathroom at a time and barely have space to dry off, I still enjoyed your spa-like showers. Good shower pressure is worth something, right?

Thank you for providing us with the occasional bug, roach...and yes, a mouse once. That was a fun. I also thank you for making the bedroom so small that we couldn't fit bedside tables on either side. And for the idea that a our luggage would make a great, free storage space for our out-of-season clothing. I guess you made me into a creative person...when it came to storage and small apartment living. 

It's funny though. Even with all of these things, I used to get genuinely excited to come up and sit on our giant Ikea L-couch and do nothing. I really did look forward to coming "home." We adapted and adjusted and this was home to us. I loved the many dance parties we had in this living room, where I also fell in love with my now husband. I didn't love the "disagreements" that happened here, but we will forget about those – it's inevitable in 500 sq ft. I actually knew early on that if we could survive here for so many years here that we could make a marriage work. (And I will also forget about the loudest garbage truck in America that came by every night at 11pm, rain or shine. And the screaming woman of the E 70s.) We knew tons of people in this small neighborhood – the bodega shop owner, the people at Starbucks, the bartenders, the laundromat owners, the dry cleaner owners, the delivery guys, the small shop owners, the "typical" New Yorker across the street, the "meaty" bulldog at the coffee shop every Sunday, etc. It was our own little piece of small-town living in the middle of the biggest city in America. 

I will miss your sweet "fire terrace." It was the closest thing to our "backyard" for many years. I will miss standing out there and looking at the moon or the trees below and talking to our neighbors. So many little things I'll miss – the coffee shop below, the 281 SeamlessWeb delivery options, the many kiddies that run down our street to all the dance studios and schools that surround our block. I might even miss "Little Paris" at the end of our block (where all the young French students from LycĂ©e Francais hang out and smoke cigarettes.)

But, I know it's the right time to move on. After so many years, you just need some extra space. You need more than one closet. You need to not climb 72 steps every time you want to go out for some milk. You need to not have to go up and down 4 flights just to go to a laundromat to wash your clothes. You need laundry in your building (this I will be forever grateful for once we move). You need a dishwasher (the amount of hours spent in the apartment hand-washing dishes is astronomical). You just need a little bit more. And, you're having a baby...so that will certainly do it. Carrying a stroller and a child up the steps...no thanks (and there are many people that do that - and they deserve awards).

Seriously though - Thank you for everything. Especially for keeping the rent low for staying here so many years. Thank you for the many sweet times we have had in this little space. And for all the friends and family who spent time here and slept on our couch for a few nights.
 For all the character and light and most importantly, for showing me what's important in life – that home is truly where the heart is. You don't need a mansion or 5 bedrooms/3 baths (or even 2 bedrooms) and a 3-car garage to live a full and awesome life. You just need a bed, bathroom, sink, stove, (some creative ideas/smart decor)...and the person you love. As long as I have a roof over my head, I will be forever grateful. 

If these walls could talk, they would have some damn good stories to tell. 

Very Best Regards,

Emily (and Josh)

We were so young...we were so young...

Friday, April 25, 2014

10 Reasons Why Moving In NYC Is So Darn Hard

I now realize that there is a reason we stayed put for 10 years in our same 4th floor walk-up apartment on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. People are always shocked when I tell them we've lived in this same apartment since 2004, the same year I moved to NYC. Besides three days in a hellish Hell's Kitchen sublet, this is the only place I have ever lived in NYC. And why? Because moving in this city is HARD. It's expensive and when you are rent-stabilized, why move? So we made it work and we climbed millions of steps for 10 years. You'd think my glutes would be pretty amazing by now. 

We didn't have an elevator or nice amenities that many of our friends had, but this was our home and it was perfect for us (most of the time). How we made it work with one closet always amazes me, but we honestly knew nothing else. 

And now we're moving. This is our last Friday night in our apartment, where I've lived for 1/3 of my entire life, and while I am VERY excited for a little bit of an upgrade (a post about that coming next week!), it's of course bittersweet. I am ready though and I am literally counting the steps until we move. 

But the actual process of finding an apartment and moving seems to be extra difficult in a city like NYC. And here's why:
  1. $. I hope you are loaded because you will need three months of rent (cash) to move. We're talking thousands of dollars, folks. To move in this city, it is very normal to have to pay the first months rent, a security deposit (equal to one month's rent) and then a broker fee (which can be one months rent or 15% of the annual rent...like thousands of dollars). When you don't get your security deposit back from your old place until after you move, this can be challenging for many. And I can't even go into the astronomical NYC rental prices. We all know they're crazy, but they're truly unbelievable at times. Just look here, as this seems pretty accurate to me. 
  2. Fake listings. Craigslist, PadMapper, HotPads and all of those apartment-searching websites are downright frustrating. I spent a good month of my life on those sites and half of listings don't exist anymore (or at all) and many of them are totally different than what's out there. It can make things difficult.
  3. Brokers. Brokers in this city know that people move constantly. The market in this city is always hot. There are always people moving in and moving out. So this means that brokers really don't care about you. They show up late, they sometimes lie about properties to get you to see them...because they can. They want their 15% and they're on their way! (I mean, there are exceptions, but....)
  4. You will most likely never be perfectly happy with apartments you find in Manhattan. Everything apt. is ALWAYS smaller than you hoped. Or more expensive than you hoped. Or in a crappier neighborhood than you had hoped. Unless you have an insane budget, finding a great place is extremely challenging. The apartments that we all even consider would be unthinkable to people who live outside of NYC. I can't tell you how many times, while looking at apartments, I said "Well, we could totally make that work." Too bad I was referring to a kitchen where only one person could squeeze in at a time and if you opened the dishwasher, you couldn't get to the sink. There is NO perfect apartment in this city. The key is finding the lesser of the many evils. Even millionaires are complaining about the size of their NYC apartments. 
  5. Viewing apartments is a full time job. It seems to me that building management companies don't realize that people in NYC work. And most people work long (or even normal hours). Many apartments can only be shown M-F from 9-5pm. And why?! Why should I have to take off work early to go look at an apartment that I will most likely hate? Again, it's not easy...
  6. Hardcore Paperwork. My good friend told me months ago to start collecting the paperwork and putting it in a binder now, and she was right. The amount of documents that i was required to apply for a RENTAL apartment was truly mind-blowing. Here is a brief sample of what we turned in: 3 recent pay stubs each, 2 application forms, a letter from our current landlord, a letter from both of our companies saying we work and make a salary, bank statements, last years taxes for both of us, letters of references, copies of canceled rent checks, savings account/investment statements proving we both have $3000 in some account and THE LIST GOES ON. This very thing was probably one of the hardest parts of the process. So, if you're planning to move, start gathering NOW. 
    We are suffocating in here w/ all these boxes!
  7. I can't get to my bathroom because of all the moving boxes! Apartments in NYC are already small and it doesn't get easy when you're packing to move and you have boxes everywhere, taking up all your precious 500 square feet of space. You become very creative at box-stacking.
  8. Bubble wrap is $18 for a large roll (and believe me - I comparison shopped). Really?! For some air in some plastic?! That is just frustrating. I should go into the bubble-wrap making biz. 
  9. Bringing boxes home on the subway at rush hour is so fun. Call us cheap, but my goal for this move has been to not buy a single box. There are zillions of boxes floating around this city (most from Fresh Direct, I think!) and we have been determined to get them all! But getting them home is not easy and having to collect them for months and bring home a few a day is just...not fun. But, they are free!
  10. Tipping movers is pricey. The one thing we do splurge on is movers. We learned the hard way that you just cannot move out of these apartment yourself. You need some hardcore ninjas, willing to work for hours climbing up 3 flights of steps over and over. It's worth every penny, but when it comes time to tip them, you could literally go broke. If you don't feel bad for these men who move your crap out of a tiny 4th floor apartment, then something is wrong with you. They deserve BIG tips. 
Ok – I feel like I just vented for a good hour here, but with all of this negativity being said, sometimes you have to move and it can actually be exciting. You put up with all of this, because you put up with a lot in NYC. We often forget how crazy we all are to live here.

But soon enough, we will have a nice apartment with an elevator, a dishwasher, a balcony and laundry in the building. It might not be huge, but there are no steps. It's the little things.