Unicorn Apartment, Round Two

When we initially got back from Los Angeles in March, I was completely over our tiny railroad apartment. I desperately wanted an actual two-bedroom (where our daughter's room wasn't basically a closet off our room) and a bathtub. I wanted a little more space for us to grow into as Adeline continues to grow, and an apartment we could really see ourselves being in for at least five years. Before Keith got back from L.A., I easily looked at between 50-60 apartments. I even put in an application on one. Aside from that one, none were right and it was overall a pretty frustrating, exhausting process. 

Once Keith got back, we looked at a few more apartments, applied for another one we didn't get, and decided to take a break. We had started to get used to our tiny apartment again, it felt homey and comfortable, and we thought that maybe we could see ourselves there another year, or at least until we got the energy up to start looking again. Well, the rug kind of got pulled out from under us when we found out just three weeks ago that our landlord was selling the entire three-apartment brownstone that we live in. We were initially pretty frustrated, anxious and sad. But we tried to approach it in a calm manner, told ourselves it can take a while for things to sell here, and we started to slowly look at a few options over the next two weekends. 

We looked at brand-new complexes, older brownstones, condos, coops, etc. Nothing felt quite right, but we still weren't too worried. Then mid-last week, Keith showed me a listing on 8th Avenue and my heart almost exploded. The photos were amazing, the location was amazing, it all seemed way too good to be true. Plus, if it weren't too good to be true, it would definitely not stay on the market long. I emailed the broker that night and then called him (maybe twice) the next day to schedule a time to see it. I was a bit frantic after having waited too long in the past to see apartments and having to watch them disappear within a few days. Thankfully I was able to get in the very next afternoon to see it. And it was the first place I've looked at that may have actually been even prettier than the photos. Also, please note that for the first time ever, I was so excited that I forgot to take photos hence the lack of images in this post. Sorry! 

Okay, you get the gist. I was smitten. And that evening, within about two and a half hours after having seen it, and with Keith's approval though he still hadn't seen it, I submitted the application along with a personal letter from us. It wasn't as easy as if we found out the next morning or anything. About 2 1/2 days later, the broker said the owners liked our application and wanted to meet with us. First win! So we scheduled a meeting with them two days later, and our little family of three went back to the apartment (Keith to see it for the first time) to meet the owners and see if it seemed like a good fit for all of us. They were absolutely lovely, eased any concerns we had about being in a larger building (super family friendly and quiet) and having a super in the building for issues (very prompt and nice). Second win! Thankfully Keith was completely smitten with the apartment as well and we walked out on cloud nine, but nervous as all heck that they would choose the other applicants they were also meeting.

Obviously they chose us! And we're SO SO SO dang excited. We signed the paperwork and turned over the deposits today. We move in early October, and I can't wait to share this process with you. I realized the other day that this will be the eighth place I've lived in (and sixth we've lived in) in the nine years we've been together - including our initial sublet and L.A. rental. I'm very much looking forward to this being our sixth home together for far longer than all the others. And I promise photos soon. 

A Very Big First

I've been wanting to talk more about this big new change in my life for the past two months, but until it was official and much further along in the process, I mostly held my tongue and waited. Now that my LLC application has been processed, my EIN has been created, and my business bank account has been opened, it's pretty dang official. Last month, the current owner of Fit4Mom Brooklyn made a big announcement - she's moving on from her role as owner and passing on the baton to me (!!!). Before I go further into the logistics and how this came to be, I wanted to go back to the very beginning and thank one person who I will always hold in the highest regard for introducing me to the Fit4Mom village in the first place. Jessica, this post is for you.

Way back in college, my younger brother dated this sweet, quiet, young woman briefly and I met her for a millisecond at some event. I believe it was the following year long after their parting (though my timeline could be skewed after however many years + marriage + jobs + mom brain) that she joined the same design program I was enrolled in and that was how I got to know her a little better. Needless to say, we became Facebook friends, eventually she moved to Houston, we each got married, and she had two precious little girls. She regularly posts on Instagram and Facebook about this fitness program she's part of, Stroller Strides, and I took note before even getting pregnant.

From here we'll move even further back into my fitness journey and how this all ties together. I was raised in a very active, athletic household and grew up playing soccer, tennis, golf, and taking Taekwondo and ballet. I enjoyed being outdoors, hiking, and always remained active through high school and into college. In college, I worked out with a personal trainer several times and used to bring the moves they taught me back to my friends and plan our workouts together (Lauren & Coele!). Once I got married, I basically just continued that with my husband, Keith. I also convinced him to try out running 5-6 years ago and still remember how difficult that first mile run/walk was (before we learned proper breathing or how to pace ourselves). Since then, we've trained for and run several Half Marathons, 10-Mile races, 10Ks and 5Ks (and thankfully our breathing and pacing has improved too).

Basically, fitness and health has always been a big part of my life, but honestly, never one I thought I would do much with. Here's where Fit4Mom and Stroller Strides ties back in. While I was pregnant, and moving cross country to Brooklyn, I thought back on Jessica's posts and decided to check if there was anything remotely like that in the area we were moving. Turns out, there were classes in the park, less than a 10 minute walk from our apartment! I had no idea it was a franchise until I googled it. Once Adeline was born, I started slowly walking around the neighborhood, took my time with stretches, some low-impact doctor-approved exercises, and getting comfortable with my postpartum body. But as soon as I got the 6-week go ahead, I signed up for my first free class. And that is where this new journey officially began!

At some point, in one of the Stroller Strides classes I was attending, the instructor mentioned that they were hiring new instructors and asked if anyone would be interested. I may have raised my hand like I was in high school again, I was so excited by the idea. We chatted after the class, she connected me with the owner, we talked off and on about the idea for about a month, then Keith got the job in Los Angeles for the winter. Thankfully Fit4Mom is based out of offices just outside San Diego, so while we were in LA, I got certified to teach, continued taking Fit4Mom classes in LA, and did some practice teaching there as well.

We kicked off our spring session back here in mid-March and in mid-May, the current owner mentioned the idea of selling and asked if I might have any interest in buying the franchise. Thankfully when I went home and shared the conversation with Keith, he was just as excited as I was. We are in the final stages of the process now, all clients and the other instructor have been notified, and sometime in the next few weeks it will be 100% official. For the first time, I will be a business owner. As someone who used to plan every single aspect of my life, I love that two years ago I never would have guessed this is where I would be. I can't imagine anything more perfect.

A (Sort Of) Capsule Wardrobe

I have mentioned this a few times in the past few months on social media and been promising a post forever, so here goes. Last year, I started reading up more on capsule wardrobes. There is tons of information online about creating capsule wardrobes for each season, for the entire year, etc. but I've included a link above to help get you started. After having a child, and slowly getting used to my new post-baby body (totally a thing!), I was craving simplicity in my daily routine and a wardrobe that made me feel good. Keith and I talked about it quite a bit and decided that it made sense to slowly invest in my clothing (and beauty care) so I felt just as good about everything on my body as I did about everything we put on Adeline.

In my research, I stumbled upon Cladwell. It's a website that specifically helps you create a capsule wardrobe step-by-step. Not only do they have you think through your style and fit preferences, but they also provide a process for cleaning out your current closet, and then help you really narrow down your purchases to things you actually need and can wear all year long. Lastly, and the thing I really loved about them the most, is they are very big on supporting locally-made, and/or humanely-made clothing companies. There is a fee to be part of the site, but I found it hugely helpful for the first part of my cleansing, rethinking, redesigning myself process. Plus, I found several new clothing companies that I love (listed at bottom of post). I didn't want to be wasteful in this process, so when getting rid of any clothes, shoes or accessories, I was very selective on where I donated them. And when buying new clothes, shoes or accessories, I really thought of them as an investment and bought pieces from companies I felt good supporting and I knew were pieces that would last a long time.

This process definitely may not be for everyone, especially if you love tons of variety in your closet, but for me, simplifying has been so helpful and stress-relieving. Imagine liking everything in your closet and drawers and everything fitting perfectly. Six months into this process (aside from maybe a few pairs of shoes), that is where my closet is finally at. For the first time ever in my life, I enjoy getting dressed every day. Anyone else know what I'm talking about here (as in the opposite feeling)? I do want to be sure toclarify that I did not replace my entire wardrobe, I did not spend thousands of dollars doing this, and I definitely have a good mix of investment, high-quality, humanely-made items and less expensive pieces I got on sale at Gap (I have this crewneck in white, gray, indigo, and black) or bought through Stitch Fix. I don't think this is even quite as extreme as some capsule wardrobe suggestions, hence this post's title and my referencing it in quotation marks. Also, I capsuled winter separately, which is still a work in progress. For ease of explanation, I grouped spring through fall together and hope it's pretty obvious that the light sweaters are more spring and fall and the shorts and sleeveless tanks are more summer. Also, please note that my athletic gear is all bulked into #11, because it's kind of a lot. BUT to be fair, I am a fitness instructor so please excuse that portion.

My closet in all its glory. See those bright necklaces? That's where the splash of color comes in!

My closet in all its glory. See those bright necklaces? That's where the splash of color comes in!

So, here is what my New York City, spring through fall, "capsule wardrobe" includes:
1) 5 crewneck tee shirts in white, gray, indigo and black
2) 3 sleeveless tanks in white patterned, orange and light blue
3) 4 long-sleeved tee shirts in white, light blue, dark blue and black
4) 6 "dressy" (mix of sleeveless, short-sleeved, flutter-sleeve and long-sleeve) tops in white, blue, navy, gray and black
5) 4 light sweaters in red (cardigan), maroon (off-the-shoulder), dark blue and black (wool-blend crewneck, high-low style)
6) 3 patterned short skirts
7) 5 dresses (1 strapless maxi, 2 cocktail (1 blue, 1 black), 1 blue summer dress, 1 black and white long-sleeved striped dress))
8) 2 pairs of shorts in white and navy
9) 3 pairs of jeans (black skinny, bootcut dark wash, boyfriend style destructed)
10) 1 pair of skinny olive ankle pants (if you follow me on Instagram, you've definitely seen these)
11) Athletic gear - 2 pairs of stretchy black running pants (1 calf-length, 1 ankle-length), 2 pairs of stretchy yoga/athletic capris, 1 pair of black shorts, 2 sleeveless open-backed tops in salmon and blue, 1 yellow short-sleeved jersey top, 4 Fit4Mom tanks in pink, teal, gray and aqua, 2 Fit4Mom tees in teal and purple, 2 running sports bras (1 green, 1 pink), 2 regular sports bras (1 black, 1 purple)
12) Layering - 1 white cami and 1 white tank top

Middle drawer = pants and shorts, Bottom drawer = athletic gear and layering tanks, Top drawer = for my eyes only

Middle drawer = pants and shorts, Bottom drawer = athletic gear and layering tanks, Top drawer = for my eyes only

Phew! That feels like a lot all written out. Okay, please go count your items of clothing now and tell me how I'm doing. :) And now I'm exhausted, so I'll leave you here and save shoes, accessories and my winter capsule progress for another day. Oh, and coats. Because I kind of love coats a lot, and now that I live in New York, at least I have an excuse.

Huge (non-sponsored) Shout Out to: Cladwell for Women (capsule wardrobe source site), Everlane Clothing, Patagonia (my new workout attire), People Tree, Wear Pact, Prana (my favorite yoga pants ever!), Thought (I want all their skirts), UGG (for their transparency), and Stitch Fix - who completely changed my life and wardrobe and I might name a 2nd child after them.

Six Months of Firsts

I realized yesterday that we're halfway into 2017. This year is totally flying by for me, and I have been terrible about keeping up with the blog. We were in LA until mid-March, then I flew back to New York with Adeline and Keith joined us about three weeks later. The main thing I wanted to update you all on was my word of the year "first". In January, I participated in my first political march in LA. At the end of January, Adeline weaned from nursing and in February, I decided to reward myself for the hard work by starting to clean out my closet and start putting together a capsule wardrobe. I'm planning an entire other blog post on that process, but basically in February, I tried Stitch Fix for the first time and it may have changed my life. I won't say too much about it now, but the first pair of jeans they ever sent me, I actually teared up because I have never found a pair of jeans that fit so well for that good of a price. And every pair of pants or shorts or skirts they have sent me since fit just as amazingly (though I obviously don't keep them all).

One of my March Stitch Fix pairings - kept the shorts!

One of my March Stitch Fix pairings - kept the shorts!

In March before I left LA, I decided it would be fun to dye my hair for the first time ever. The stylist bleached highlights and then dyed my hair a cobalt blue. This is one of the example photos I shared with the stylist:

And this is how my hair turned out:

I totally hated it. I was convinced I looked like a Smurf. I thought maybe my hair just hadn't taken to the color well since it was so different a shade than I had asked for. After one week, I wanted to dye it back to its natural black. My husband and my sister both convinced me to wait, but every time I looked in the mirror, I got sad. I've actually started to love trying new things, and I've never been particularly sensitive about changing my hair, but this was different. Finally, after 5-6 weeks of torture, the blue was starting to fade and the bleach was coming through horribly (a la 90s boy band style).

I scheduled an appointment with my stylist here in Brooklyn, and thankfully, she completely changed my opinion of blue highlights. She dyed them the color I had wanted all along and told me about Overtone Weekly Conditioning Treatment. It helps my hair retain the fun color longer and keeps my hair well hydrated. It's also vegan and cruelty-free, right in line with my cruelty-free product goals!

I kicked off the month of April with a big first for me, teaching my first solo Stroller Strides class in Prospect Park! It was so nerve-wracking, and some days it still is, but I've also thoroughly enjoyed doing it. It is super rewarding, challenging, fun, and aside from parenting, it's definitely one of my all-time favorite jobs.

Living Room workout - not where I teach Stroller Strides :-)

Living Room workout - not where I teach Stroller Strides :-)

In May, we decided to take a little weekend getaway upstate to Hudson, NY (highly recommend!) and I drove across the Brooklyn Bridge and into Manhattan for the very first time in the two years that we have lived here (!!!). Driving in the city is definitely a bit challenging, but thankfully Adeline fell asleep not too long into it, and the traffic wasn't actually too bad. Plus once you're out of the city, it's a pretty pleasant drive. I would totally do it again!

Photos taken by my nervous husband

Photos taken by my nervous husband

I have another fun, but super scary "first" planned for the end of this month. And a HUGE one for August, so maybe in July I'll give myself a slightly easier challenge, like making a cherry pie for the first time or something. Thanks for the patience as always and hope you all enjoyed this little life update!

First Year of Parenthood

In 2016, I became a mom to a gorgeous, amazing, feisty, adventurous little girl. A lot of people told me that the birthing part was the least of my concerns and that the first 100 days would in fact be far more difficult. They were oh so right. The first 100 days may be the most tiring, but the rest of the first year makes up for them. This "job" is my favorite one yet. In celebration of my daughter's first birthday being over two weeks ago, I thought I'd share some of my silliest mom moments / mistakes / embarrassing truths from my first year of being a parent. And obviously no judgement if you have similar new parent stories. 

1) Poop Range

I heard countless stories about getting sprayed with pea, especially when it comes to changing boy's diapers, but I never knew that this can also happen with poop. Let's just say the worst incident involved Adeline sneezing, an open diaper, and a face being too close to the wrong end. 

2) The Breathing Check

This is another one of those parenting quirks you don't think will apply to you (until it does). I still remember waking up in the middle of the night to check on Adeline in the bassinet beside our bed, and sneaking into our room during the day to stare at her chest and make sure she was breathing. The worst was probably once we transitioned her into the crib in her own room. There were definitely one too many times that I quietly tiptoed into her room just to insure she was okay, even though I could see her on the monitor perfectly fine. Ah the breathing check. 

3) The World Wide Web

When your child seems a little more whiny than usual or gets their first runny nose, the last thing you should do is search their symptoms online. I think my most stressful online search was actually about clogged milk ducts though. One site recommended pumping a little, another would threaten in all caps not to pump because that tells your body to produce more milk. I was starting to hyperventilate and freak about mastitis when Keith gently reminded me that I had a lactation consultant's phone number. This is where professionals come in handy. Contact your own lactation consultant, postpartum doula, family doctor, pediatrician, chiropractor, etc. Stay off the internet. 

4) Not Accepting Help when Offered

We hired a postpartum doula to help in the first month of being home with a newborn, since we don't live in the same state as any of our family. I wound up using her so little that she actually didn't hold me to the contracted hours initially agreed on. I never even took her up on her offer of taking Adeline for a walk so I could catch up on sleep. Oh man, do I wish I could use those hours sometimes now. 

5) Providing Constant Entertainment

The first six months of Adeline's life, I was convinced that she needed constant stimulation, interaction, entertainment, etc. I would get down on the floor and talk to her about everything, regularly move her from one activity to the next. I slowly started to realize that she was actually capable of entertaining herself and engaging in activities much longer than I expected from a baby. I've read more up on this philosophy over the past few months, and it's so much more enjoyable parenting during the day now. We can go to the park, have a picnic, and I read a book while she stacks her blocks, stares at leaves or grass blowing in the wind, tries to eat leaves on the ground, etc. At home, she explores the living room, pulls every toy out of her small toy basket, flips through her picture books, empties her diaper bag, laughs at herself in the mirror. I sit nearby keeping a watchful eye, but allow her to enjoy her surroundings and independence.

6) Worrying about Milestones

I definitely may have encouraged her to sit up earlier than Adeline was ready. It was just so darn cute to prop her up on the bed or couch, but it was also completely unnecessary. Now I'm more of the mindset that she'll do it when she's ready. I'm excited for more regular walking and more words too, but I also understand better now that more words = the sooner I'll start hearing no in response to everything. 

7) Eating Dirt (and other things...) 

If you follow me on Instagram, then you won't be surprised to hear that I took SO many baby photos this year. And due to my constant photo taking (I'm trying to be better this new year), there may have been a few close calls and dirty mouths thanks to my being distracted behind the camera. There were several times I was taking a photo at the park where Adeline managed to grab a handful of dirt or grass and I'd have to drop the phone and attempt to wipe all the dirt out of her mouth, but the worst incident was with a bug. I still don't know what kind of bug it was, but I was taking a photo of her standing against the wall and the next second she was chewing something she found on the wall. I managed to get out a tiny head. The rest was digested. Protein, right? 

8) Date Night

Keith and I agreed that we would go on at least one date night each month once the baby was born. Our first ever date night, Keith's parents watched Adeline when she was six weeks old, we ate at a restaurant across the street, and were back in less than a hour. The worst date night incident though was our first time using a non-family member as a sitter. She was professional and kind, but Adeline had a really tough time going to sleep and we basically had to lay her down upset and rush out the door to make our reservation. The entire first hour I was stressing that she was awake screaming at home, and the sitter didn't return either of my two anxious parent texts "just checking in". Keith and I barely spoke over dinner, because I was so stressed out, and we hurried home as soon as we finished. Adeline had been asleep the entire time. The sitter just hadn't noticed my texts. The next time we went out, we set up a wifi-enabled monitor and were able to check on her ourselves, every ten minutes or so (and sent no anxious texts to the sitter). Ah new parenthood. 

9) Cabbage Leaves 

All I'll say is I totally tried this for an entire week after Adeline weaned. It might just be an old wives tale, and I'm not sure how much it actually helped, but it does feel kind of nice. :-) 

10) Bathtime Fun

A week or so ago, I managed to get in a pretty strenuous living room workout while Adeline sweetly played with her toys beside me (not always the case). Adeline has recently transitioned to one afternoon nap, and since I really didn't want to delay a shower for several hours, I decided we could take a bath together for me to clean up. It was going great until she tried to eat the bar soap and got upset when I took it away. She stood up in the bath, loudly crying, and then peed all over me. So my "smart" idea turned into an afternoon shower anyway. 

In this year of Firsts, I've learned a lot, especially how to be more forgiving of myself, ask for help when needed, and worry a little less about all of the what ifs. In January, Adeline celebrated her first birthday, Keith attended his first film festival premiere of a film he edited, and I participated in my first Women's March. Hope your New Year is off to a great start with a fresh slate for all kinds of silly mistakes and learning opportunities!