Julian and I were just talking about this yesterday. I’ve been thinking a lot about home decor lately, and how things like Pinterest and Domino magazine can positively AND negatively impact your nesting journey. I’ve also been reading a lot of The Nesting Place (and really wanting her book!). I think for my home, the most important things are that it feels cozy, and clean. Pretty is great too, but when I think about my favorite homes and places where I feel happiest (like my grandparent’s house, for example) pretty isn’t what makes it feel good. I love walking around my house and having a story behind most of the items in there. I love that my Great Grandmother’s old needlepoints are hanging in my living room and kitchen, though you wouldn’t find something like that in West Elm today. I love that our den has 70s wood paneling, which both Julian and I think is the coolest. I love that things don’t always match. It’s not perfect (by my standards or anyone else’s I’m sure!) but it does feel like home.
going to Pilates three days this week (yes, this is a real win for me) • vanilla lattes made with almond milk from Aroma • planning my sister’s baby shower (she is due in November, just in time for me to snuggle that baby this Christmas!) • 70% cocoa dark chocolate from Lindt, which has NO dairy • new lululemon pants and tops • having a working dishwasher again • lavender essential oil sheet spray • falling asleep squished in between my husband and my baby • finally figuring out how to tame my wild mane, which has been ever-changing in texture and thickness since Nora was born – once again, damn hormones • giving up most processed foods (except the chocolate, of course) and eating vegetarian or vegan most meals • new probiotics (who am I) • going to the chiropractor (once again WHO AM I) • going out with the moms in my Mommy & Me group for a ~*night on the town*~ last week, it was the first time I had been out sans Nora & Julian after 7pm! And it was amazing! • my parents and brother booking tickets for a visit in October, for Nora’s first birthday • when my BFF texts me screengrabs from her playlist telling me these songs remind her of me, and they include Salt n Pepa, Backstreet Boys, and Vanilla Ice • evening walks around the hood • when a week’s worth of groceries actually lasts a week • the way Nora’s blonde fuzz sticks up in the back after her bath, just like a little duck • when my husband takes a cool looking (empty) liquor bottle and turns it into a lamp! • forgetting my parking ticket and the attendant letting me out scott free anyway (God bless you, man) • knitting a little sweater for Nora and actually finishing it! And it looks like a real sweater! Just needs buttons now • finally being able to wear my wedding rings again (I developed an allergy to nickel during pregnancy, and since my rings are white gold, this was bad news) • the incredible new shelves my husband built for our living room – and the fact that he’s really getting into the handyman/woodworking thing – convenient for me! • my kid being brave enough to let go of me with her hands after she pulled up on me. She reaaaally wants to stand on her own. She’s already crawling all over the place so now I have walking to look forward to! And soon, I think.
Also, I think I may be the only person on Earth to not be watching the World Cup. We’re not really a sports household over here, and I generally have no clue about who is playing who and why. Unless it’s the Olympics. We love the Olympics!
And Happy Fourth of July… hope you are celebrating with good food, good friends or family, and no hurricanes. We will be partying in the Palisades with some friends and their babies, eating seafood and watching a parade, then booking it back to our house where we will put the baby to bed and not watch fireworks because we are too scared to leave the house past bedtime, since her sleep is already a mess this week. There’s always next year! Happy 4th!
Lately I’ve been in a bit of a rut with my skincare. I’ve been blessed to have good, clear skin for most of my life – good genes from my Mom, there! Pregnancy did a number on my skin, as it does for so many other women. Hormones are a crazy thing. I did what I could to combat breakouts, while steering clear of things with harsh chemicals that might be toxic for me and baby. I can’t say I ever found anything that really did the trick fully, but I weathered the storm and hoped things would clear up postpartum.
Well, for the most part, they did, but I’m noticing that I have to pay a bit more attention to my skincare than I used to. Maybe it’s aging (what? not possible), maybe it’s still hormones, maybe it’s because many days I still look exhausted- whatever it is, I seem to be thinking about it a lot more. Especially because most days, I can’t be bothered to put on much makeup, and quality skincare is key to making that happen while still looking fresh (besides the obvious – a healthy diet, lots of water, exercise and rest!). Plus it’s summer, and who wants to wear makeup in the summer?
I’m trying to find the right balance with what products I’m using, while really wanting to keep it clean and natural. I’ve given things like the oil cleansing method a shot (not a fan). Out of frustration and laziness, I find myself turning to the same old products time and time again, forgetting that there was a reason I stopped using it in the first place. Here are the things I’ve returned to over the years:
Burt’s Bees Citrus Facial Scrub is a tried and true product for me. I remember last year when Whole Foods and Amazon were both sold out of this product, I panicked. Weeks, months went by – it seemed like it just vanished. I kept checking, and eventually it did come back in stock and I now buy it regularly.
For the longest time I would just use my Mom’s soap, even though I know you shouldn’t use soap on your face. Too drying! Occasionally, I tried a new product, but nothing really stuck. Then, post baby, I decided it was time for a real cleanser. I did a bit of research and settled on Boscia Purifying Cleansing Gel. I like that it is free of sulfates, parabens, and phthalates. I also used Clinique’s Acne-Solutions Cleansing Foam, which I received as a sample from Sephora. It worked at clearing up breakouts, but I am not a fan of how drying it is. It is also decidedly NOT chemical-free.
All this to say, I am still not happy with my “routine.” I feel like it’s just a lot of random products that don’t necessarily ‘work’ well together. I am also really wanting to stick with products that are clean, non-toxic, and safe enough to eat. I’ve thought about mixing up my own face scrubs and lotions, but that takes time and time is something I am running short on these days with a 9 month old ankle-biter at my side!
This all came to mind tonight when I stumbled across a line of products that almost seems too good to be true: S.W. Basics of Brooklyn. It’s a small company that makes simple line of skincare products created by Adina Grigore. The thing is, each product only has a handful of ingredients. Check it out:
“At S.W. Basics, we use the simplest possible blends of impeccably sourced, whole ingredients to create products that truly work. Why? Fewer ingredients = less chance for irritation, higher potency, and a smaller overall ecological impact.”
Their cleanser, for example, contains just 3 ingredients: organic rosewater, organic tea tree oil, and organic vegetable glycerin. Their cream contains fairtrade shea butter, organic coconut oil, and organic olive oil. So simple, right?! I admit I instantly thought, “well, that’s so easy – why don’t I just make it myself?” but the truth is I am too lazy, I would probably get the amounts wrong, and it comes in such pretty packaging (recyclable glass bottles and jars). Maybe when I’m older and have ample time, space, and energy.
I also love that they sell reusable cotton rounds – what a simply brilliant idea. I use the old CVS or Kroger brand cotton rounds and have thought before what a waste it is. Their organic, unbleached cotton rounds come in 8 packs with a handy little bag and everything can be tossed in the washer to be reused. It made me think, I have some reusable breast pads (what? these are the things you buy as a new mom) that I don’t use anymore that would do the same thing. So maybe I won’t invest in the cotton rounds, but still, such a genius idea!
I’m thinking I need to give these products a shot. Love their mission, love the simplicity, love that they share little bits & pieces on their website about where their ingredients come from, like this little bit about the man who collects the salt they use in their scrub:
Gosh, it’s been so long since I’ve updated I don’t even know what to say, where to start! So much has happened in the last year, I can’t believe it’s been A YEAR (almost exactly), and I haven’t documented any of it. At least not here, anyway. Which is fine with me, sometimes you need to just live life privately and keep journals and not worry about sharing your life with strangers on the internet.
And then sometimes you kind of miss it, because somehow it feels like it’s a part of you, after blogging all these years, for different reasons and different places.
Not to be dramatic or anything.
So what have I been up to? The biggest news of course is that Julian and I became parents this past October. Not to be completely cliche but, OMG. How amazing are babies? I won’t lie and say “this won’t become a mommy blog” because who knows what I will want to talk about – I certainly hope it isn’t all about babies, but I reserve the right.
To quickly summarize the most intense and incredible year of my life…
Last Winter (Jan 2013), I found out I was pregnant. I had terrible morning/all-day sickness. We found out it was a girl just before we went to Turks & Caicos in May for a “babymoon” where we decided we would definitely name her Nora. When we returned, we learned we had to move houses. No! We moved, begrudgingly, from the house we loved. We worked very hard to get our new house in order before baby girl arrived. We flew back to our hometowns for baby showers and summer visits. We stressed about our to-do list. Parents came to help, baby care and breastfeeding and childbirth education classes were taken. I turned 31. Then, she arrived, three days past her due date…
October 1, 2013 – 12:37pm. Eleanora “Nora” Lynne Smith. The most beautiful baby to have ever been born, of course! What a feeling, I am still reeling from the whole experience and I don’t think I’ll ever get used to the wonder of it all. The delivery went as well as it could possibly go. I doubt I will share our full birth story publicly, but for those who are curious (I am always curious about birth stories since becoming pregnant) my water broke in the middle of the night, we had a fairly quick & very intense labor, and with the help of incredible husband, my doula, my doctor, and a tough-love nurse named Joy, I delivered her au naturale. No drugs, which had been my goal, but wasn’t really sure if I’d be able to follow through with (I have no words, by the way).
The first few months of Nora’s life were spent in a sleepy, foggy joy – what an incredible time, I will cherish those memories forever. Becoming a parent for the first time is interesting. In many ways, it felt completely natural and easy. I was born to do this! At other times, it felt like we were being thrown into a lake without ever having a swimming lesson. Steep learning curve for sure. What a payoff, though. Truly, truly amazing. I could stare at her all day and kiss her little cheeks and stare into her sweet blue eyes and just hold her and never let her go. Which is how I spent most of those newborn days – staring at her and letting her sleep on me as much and for long as she wanted. I was exhausted of course – we both were (are), but when opportunities for breaks came about, all I wanted to do was run back and hold her longer. Ahhh, it’s like a drug!
So then the holidays came, which we stayed home for, and celebrated the three of us. We had lots of family and friends visiting throughout the Fall, and it was wonderful. Then, we moved again. Because we’ve lost our minds! Really our circumstances just changed, and we realized we had needs that wouldn’t be met at the current house, so we moved back closer to the home we lived in before. We moved on January 31. And the last month and a half have been spent settling in, getting into a good routine for all three of us, and giving a big exhale… as we hope that most of the chaos is behind us. Just in time for crawling!
My days look something like this:
7am she is up, give the baby to Julian, go back to bed for an hour or so. Wake for real, breastfeed the hungry baby. Change & dress Nora, drink coffee, eat breakfast, shower (not always in that order, many times without the shower). Play with Nora. Put her down for nap. Do the dishes, do the laundry. Try and remember to eat lunch. Run any errands or go to Mommy & Me if it is Friday. More naps, many more feedings, not as many diapers as you’d think (though we’re using cloth most of the time so I have a lot of extra laundry). Lots of playtime, lots of changes of scenery for my girl who is now at the point where she gets bored with the same old, same old. Around 5-6p Julian is done for work for the day and he and Nora get some QT while I get dinner started, put laundry away, or stare at the wall blankly for a few minutes. She goes to bed around 7-8pm and then Julian and I have our “free time” in the evenings – something that we didn’t have until we moved/she turned 4 months old. Around then she magically decided 8pm was her bedtime, and she mostly sleeps through the night give or take a feeding or two (or three, or four if we’re teething a lot). Around 11pm we decide we better go to sleep or there will be hell to pay in the morning (we are always right).
Motherhood so far is a strange mix of unpredictable and completely predictable. Just when you think you’ve got your routine figured out, something new happens and everything you’ve just become used to changes. On the other hand, you do the same thing 7-8 times a day. Sing the same songs, play with the same toys, pet the cat (“gentlyyyyy”) twelve times, nurse in the same chair, wash the same dishes, the same pajamas, collapse into the same couch at the end of the day. The days take so long but go so fast. How do I have a six month old? I’ve only just given birth yesterday. This little baby that used to sleep all day and had to be woken up to eat now laughs at me and can sit up without me supporting her. It’s too much for me to handle. I try to soak it up – try not to become distracted with thoughts of things I “have to do” and just focus on her, on these little moments. I let things slide, I choose yoga pants over jeans, I forget to call people on their birthday, I ignore the dust bunnies in the dining room and the granola bar wrappers piling up in the car.
Still, I am learning that I need to make time for myself so that I can be the best Mom I can be. I will gogogogo until I breakdown, mentally and physically (my arms, back and neck are SORE. My chiropractor is my new best friend.) I am much happier and less [insert scary face] when I take a few minutes to be alone at the end of the day, to try and get out at least once a week by myself, even if it’s just to the grocery store (though last week I went to Target and wandered aimlessly and it was AWESOME).
I know the last thing I need is to start a blogging routine again, but it would be nice to know I can come here periodically and share whatever little piece of me needs to be shared, without thinking “ah but I haven’t posted in a year.”
So here we are! Baby is in bed, husband is working late, and I am here thinking about how I’d really like to learn to sew. And move to Europe. And take Nora to Disneyland. And go wake her up because I already miss her, even after it took an hour to put her down tonight! But really I need to go to bed because tomorrow is another joyful, exhausting, priceless day.
So hello again, and goodnight!
P.S. Call me crazy but I don’t think I’ll be sharing photos of Nora on the blog, or Twitter, or any public forums. Maybe I’ll change my mind one day, but I want to respect her privacy at this point, so I’ve only chosen photos here where you can’t see her face. But trust me, she’s cute!!!!
Isn’t it fascinating how music can transport you to a different time in your life or make you feel a different emotion? Julian and I were in the kitchen talking about this last night because a song came on that reminded us of the beginning of our relationship (I guess you could say it’s “our song” but that is somewhat cheesy so we won’t). Of course we didn’t really talk too much about it, mostly he just paced around saying “Wow, music is incredible!” as he usually does. I was reminded of this music nostalgia thing again today when The Strokes came on my Pandora in the car.
There is plenty of music that reminds me of different phases of my life, but for some strange reason I get more nostalgic with The Strokes than any other band. I used to play their albums out in my early 20s. Before the days when everyone had iPods, when we drove around with CD albums in our cars (how great was that, by the way), their CDs were always in the front of mine. Their earlier albums take me back to a more innocent time, when I hadn’t a clue about life or relationships, but definitely thought I had it all figured out. I remember cruising around town in my crappy car blasting their songs & pretending to sing to whoever was on my mind at that time. It’s nice to revisit that feeling now, as an adult who sometimes feels like she’s getting too boring & old. As carefree as I felt back then, I am definitely happier now, but it reminds me how important it is to be youthful, regardless of age.
How odd is this video, by the way? I’ve never even seen it before today. I used to think Julian Casablancas was such a stud, but it’s obvious Fabrizio Moretti is the real knockout here. Kristin Wiig has good taste!
Today is a very special day because it happens to be my beauuuuuutiful sister’s 25th birthday!! Happy birthday, Ana! You mean the world to me and I am so thankful to have such an incredible person as my sister. I love you and I hope your day is perfect!
the weather finally beginning to change • buying new boots • sleeping with the windows open (& finally being able to turn off the AC) • resisting the urge to cut my hair short again, even though it is at a really awkward length right now! • Scout sleeping ON me every night lately, and waking up to both of the cats in bed with me • getting new nailpolishes, since when did they start selling Essie at CVS by the way?? • candy corn, you slay me • taking walks with my dog • hole in the wall bars in Echo Park • brunching with my friend and her adorable baby (or perhaps he should be called a toddler… still a baby to me!) • looking forward to visits from good friends next week! • drinking green tea everyday • taking vitamins • making plans for home redecorations, soooo fun right now • sending boxes of goodies to my brother overseas • my sister’s birthday tomorrow! • finding those quiet moments in LA when you almost forget where you are • clear nights when you can see the stars • my Pilates instructors, they are the best! • having a clean car, and keeping it clean • seeing my husband happy • the way a $9 bouquet of flowers can brighten a room (I usually split them in half and put them in two rooms, though) • Pumpkin Butter WoodWick candles • healthy cats! even though they are getting up there in years, they are both very healthy which makes me one happy kitty mama • really hot showers, first thing in the morning • cooking dinner at home together and it being more fun than going out.
I love my dog far too much to dress him and/or paint/glue his body with various robot parts, but this is great. Poor dog looks miserable though!
This summer I made Julian’s dreams come true when I agreed to watch all the Star Wars movies with him. Yes, ALL OF THEM. To be fair they weren’t that bad, I actually kind of liked them though my eyes did glaze over more than a few times during battle scenes. It’s nice to “get” certain jokes in pop culture now, including this costume.
The jury is still out on whether or not we’ll put a costume on Frank this year. He is 80 lbs now, so it’s a little hard finding something that fits. This was his costume last year and it was a hit!
Sometimes I put it on him to wear around the house just for fun. He doesn’t seem to mind.