Friday, July 22, 2016

Baby Product Poll: Swaddles



So, as Jonathan and I get closer to welcoming Wee Baby Hyatt into the mix, I'd like to gather some opinions from my parent and frequent babysitter friends regarding products that worked particularly well for them with their newborns/infants -- especially if you have perspective on multiple children and how they differed.

The consensus I've gathered from various resources, and a few friends, is that sometimes we have to go through a few products to find what works best, since every baby is different. And what works for your first baby may not work for your second. This is all fine, of course, logically, but since we are in a small apartment on a tight budget, we are hoping to keep things as minimal as two recovering maximalists can manage when it comes to baby gear. Not get 10 products when one or two will do, you know?

This leads me to my first topic: SWADDLES.

I already know I will be registering for a few cotton muslin swaddling blankets (since they are multi-use, for everything from breastfeeding covers, tummy time blankets, burb cloths, etc., and take up very little space), but I am also considering a Miracle Blanket swaddle to try after doing a bunch of research. Seemed to be the best bet if we are aiming to pick just one, but still... Maybe there's something better? Maybe I should ignore my desire for minimalism, suck it up, and get a few things? Maybe swaddling is over-rated and I am silly and overthinking this?

Less than 8 weeks to go and I am grasping for my sanity and comfort in my choices.

So, parents: what are your thoughts?

At the end of the day, my overall goal is to avoid getting one of *every* type of swaddle or sleep sack or what-have-you. I want to keep it simple. I'd like to make a wise decision straight out of the gate that doesn't have me wasting money trying to rectify my mistakes. Your input may be just what I need to feel even a wee bit more confident.

Thanks, friends!

Friday, July 15, 2016

Some Distractions: Ilvermorny, Juno and Jupiter, Etc.



Happy Friday, everyone! It's been a long week, and things are getting pretty real around these parts. Weirdly, at almost 32 weeks, my energy is actually increasing and I can feel the nesting urges coursing through me. I'm expecting another weekend full of cleaning, organization, and purging of junk. How about you? Any fun plans?

For the end-of-the-week focus-challenged: a few links from around the Web...

Very impressed with how this couple managed to get their awesome studio apartment photo-ready within just two weeks of moving in.

Emoji pool floats!

Hot design trend: Bubblegum pink. Would you dare?

Lately I've been buying and consuming fruit like my life depended on it, so I decided to switch it up a bit on 4th of July weekend by making my very first pie—with yummy results!

Speaking of recipes, I know I have to technically limit/cut out the bacon, but it's summer so GIMME.

J.K. Rowling has released the story of Ilvermorny, the North American School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, on Pottermore. If you already have an account, you can be sorted into your Ilvermorny House here! (I'm a Thunderbird!)

An enlightening interview all about finance for freelance creatives.

This onesie would make Baby Hyatt at least 20% cooler than every other baby.

Enraptured with the happenings around Jupiter these days.

Jonathan and I are a bit obsessed with this Eichler-style home listing in nearby Concord, CA. (No surprise it's already pending sale; that price seems too good to be true.)

Thanks to an extensive diaper bag search (I—er, I mean we—settled on this one as a purse replacement for me, and this one for everyday parental use), I am wanting to throw away every bag I own and replace it with a fresh and new collection of "tote"-related items, from market baskets, to weekenders, to travel backpacks. It's a sickness.

Have a spectacular weekend!

Thursday, July 14, 2016

My Biggest Pregnancy Cravings

my first trimester best friend: organic fried chicken sandwich with slaw from The Organic Coup

Food cravings are an interesting thing. I have always been curious what my specially tailored pregnancy cravings would be when I inevitably, hopefully, got pregnant, if I had any at all. My mother loves to tell people about regularly sending my father down the street at 1 AM to the 7-Eleven for a Slurpee ("Blue raspberry, specifically."), and my friend Cassie's second pregnancy cravings sent her after spicy foods and tomatoes -- two things she'd always avoided.

My relationship with food during these 2+ trimesters of pregnancy has been an inconsistent and fairly boring one, I must admit. Nothing quite like what I expected, but then again, it hardly surprises me the kind of food I've gravitated towards.

The first trimester was less about cravings than it was about aversions, which means the food I wanted was less about genuinely wanting it than it was about not being disgusted by it. It closely resembled my PMS food staples: salty and fatty, in only the way that fast food burgers, french fries, and burritos can be. Vegetables of any kind, particularly cooked, were a no-no thanks to nausea, and though I could technically eat meat without feeling ill, I absolutely could not be the one cooking it. It was a truly dark time for my diet. (The good news: my body worked so hard and efficiently creating another organ -- my baby's fancy new placenta -- that I gained exactly zero pounds during those first 12 or so weeks, despite treating my body like a fast food garbage can.)

If I could categorize any specific food as a Capital "C" Craving of my first trimester, it would probably be fried chicken sandwiches and red grapes. There was something about foods that were cold and crisp (or contained elements that could be categorized as such) that were especially tempting and satisfying; even the sandwiches fit the bill, thanks to crunchy pickles, or crisp coleslaw. (I even went out of my way to get this one from Plan Check when I was visiting my sister in LA. Worth it.)

The second trimester meant nausea was mostly a thing of the past, and I was gradually able to start cooking again. By then, mere habit had turned my body onto those salty and fatty staples of weeks prior (something I still have yet to shake), but the expanded capacity to stomach veggies meant that salads were back on the menu.

It was around this time that my staunch 'No Coffee' rule began to wither. The first trimester had been trying; I was hit with a level of fatigue and exhaustion I didn't know was possible. Not having coffee to counteract just a little bit of it was by far the worst part of this "Foods and Drinks You Must Limit or Avoid During Pregnancy" challenge. Even though pregnant women are allowed 200 mg of caffeine per day (the standard cup of coffee has about 94 mg, but caffeine shows up in chocolate too, which counts towards that 200 mg total), anyone with a coffee addiction knows that it's a slippery slope. One cup is just not enough. Now it's a morning staple and I'm feeling pretty good about it.

I'm sad to say that I haven't craved anything particularly odd. No weird combos (though the stereotypical "peanut butter and pickles" is already a favorite food pairing of mine, which I enjoy almost daily on my morning toast), and nothing that would make anyone else go But why??

The most identifiable and consistent cravings have been primarily a matter of convenience. A Baja Fresh "Baja" Burrito is something I regularly request for dinner due to it being right downstairs from our apartment. It's refreshing and surprisingly light for a large burrito (just chicken, pico de gallo, and guacamole, with added sour cream and shredded lettuce), so I never feel guilty eating it. I've easily eaten two dozen of them throughout my 31 weeks of pregnancy so far. I have no doubt baby's love for burritos will be fierce, just like her papa.

Another convenience craving has been Dickey's Fried Okra, which usually hits mid-afternoon while I'm at work, and a Dickey's is just a short drive away. This indulgence has been less frequent (though the craving is constant), since I usually do feel guilty after eating a heaving pile of them.

Finally, so far in my third trimester, it's been all about SUGAR. I think it's because my doctors prescribed me to the "gestational diabetes diet," although I do not, in fact, have GD. Apparently my body takes just a little too much time to process sugar than is ideal, so they were like "Better cut out sugar." My midwife was sort of ehhh, you really are fine about the whole thing, so I've sort of ignored the diet instructions. As long as Baby Hyatt is measuring nice and normal for size (which she is!), then I am unperturbed. Luckily for me, my body was suddenly like "SUGAR IS THE BEST THING EVEEEEERRRRRR" and it's become a daily craving of which my salt-loving body is not accustomed. I truly want all the pastries and cookies, all day every day.

Bring me some?

So yeah. I'm not sure what the rest of my third trimester will bring, but my guess is: more of the same. The copious amount of fruit I've been eating could be a craving, though it could also just be the endless bounty of summer. I'll probably still want things that are otherwise considered "bad" for me, though the beauty of being Pregnant in America is that my "DGAF" attitude about eating whatever I want is pretty commonplace.

Monday, June 27, 2016

Some Distractions: Game of Thrones, Summer Sandals, Etc.


San Francisco City Hall during Pride Week 2013, photograph by Joe Parks

Did everyone have a good weekend? Mine was a little bit somber, as me and a group of my friends gathered around a dear girlfriend of ours who tragically lost her mother. So devastating, but it was nice to be able to huddle around her and shower her with love and snacks and distractions for a day.

Gay Pride Weekend was in full swing in San Francisco, and though I would have loved to go and take part in all the fun festivities, I was happy to be able to spend some time with my friends, and also just get some rest. This baby belly is getting big and heavy.

If you're interested, a handful of distractions for the start of your week...

First and foremost: How AMAZING was that Game of Thrones season finale? It almost makes up for all the sadness and death us fans have experienced these past six seasons. (Warning: all the spoilers!)

Inside the complicated and heartbreaking decision to have an abortion at 32 weeks.

I can't stop quoting this.

The political nerd in me is on pins and needles waiting to find out who Clinton's final VP pick will be.

Thanks to Kim for reminding me how much I need a pick me up sometimes, this song from My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic has been on repeat while I hunker down to focus at work. It may be for little kids, but it's impossible not to smile, no matter your age.

Is your body shaped like a fruit? (I literally LOL'd at my desk.)

"Whatever."

Fell into the deep and beautiful hole that is this editorial blog by freelance photographer Brian Ferry. (I would like to live here please.)

A delicious way to up my veggie intake.

Been needing some new sandals that stay secure on my feet. Finally found and ordered these leather ones and excited to get them this week!

Have a wonderful week, everyone!


Psst... You may have noticed the blog got a bit of a face lift since this time last week. Just an attempt to bring in a bit more visual minimalism to my life. I hope you like it!

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Thoughts On Baby Naming


Nicole Gonzalez and baby Lillie Sol, via her blog Lillies & León | photograph by Mary Grace

This week marks the start of my 3rd trimester of pregnancy. 28 weeks. I can't believe it's come this fast. Despite being more than ready to meet this little girl and embrace the challenges of new motherhood, I am still woefully unprepared to bring her home and step away from my job for 3+ months. Still so much to buy and prep and do!

Preparing for baby in all the big and little ways that one prepares for such things has been both fun and stressful. Jonathan is hyper-involved in everything, but most of the research on baby gear and essentials has fallen to me—mostly because I've embraced it like it's a full time job. But one area where we've both been particularly attentive is to the issue of baby names.

I don't know how most couples approach this kind of thing in the early stages of their relationship, but Jonathan and I—once we were each aware of the other's interest in having kids someday—talked openly about baby name preferences before nearly anything else, including marriage. It was probably because talking about baby names is one of my favorite topics of conversation period, full stop, and I forced him to talk to me about it. Six years ago, it was very important that he know how I felt about his preferred boy's name, Doc ("Hell no."), and it was necessary that I knew his feelings about my favorite girl's name at the time, Laila ("Not feeling it...").

He was such a good sport.

And so it went, the "What about...?" discussion happening a hundred times over the years, thus we were able to narrow down our top choices to a short list of possibilities that sat in stasis for upwards of three years. When we found out we were having a baby—and especially when we found out it was a girl—Jonathan's baby naming seriousness kicked into high gear. Something about the reality of picking a name for a real live person to have for their entire life makes you look at all your name choices differently. At least, it did for us.

A big discussion of late has been whether (and how) to honor family members in the naming of our baby. So many individual names and name combos we love, and that made our list, have little or nothing to do with family legacy. We liked the idea of family names, but neither of us thought it really mattered all that much when we were just ruminating over ideas. Now though... with an actual baby brewing... we are weighing all the pros and cons.

There are lots of pros and cons, it turns out.

So at 28 weeks, we're honing in on a much shorter short list of names, with one that's peaking out as the favorite. It's mind-boggling to have thought so much about baby names for so many years (long before Jonathan was even a blip on my romantic radar), and now... we get to name one. A girl who will hopefully live a long life with that name, carrying it into adulthood, hearing it through the voices of friends and lovers, putting it on job resumes!

The weight of such a life long decision is not lost on us. We're so honored to get the opportunity to name a human being—bestowing upon her the first little piece of her identity.

We've made the decision not to announce or discuss the baby's name until she's born, primarily because I would like to reserve the right to change my mind after seeing her little face! It's tough though, since I love talking about them so much...

SO TELL ME: If you've got some favorite baby names, or your children are already named and you love talking about the why and how you came up with that name, let me know in the comments. Are there names you used to love, but your partner nixed them? What about names you are sad you couldn't use because you are done having children? I would absolutely love to read all about it!

Baby names. I seriously can't get enough.

Monday, June 20, 2016

Some Distractions: Kim Kardashian, Rosé Cocktails, Etc.


day dreaming about spending an amenity-free weekend at Steep Ravine next summer

Perhaps I'm inspired by the bajillion bloggers who have come before me, but I've decided to start putting together little lists of things that are really tickling my fancy at any given moment. Partly for my future reference, but also because I think you all may get something out of it too. So much greatness being shared and created on the Internet these days; also loads of silliness and cool shit to buy. So, in no reliable time frame and only when I feel like it, I will plop what I find here on TSP for your general consumption.

A few distractions...

It may be summer, but I am still coveting this ultra-chunky wool blanket for the foot of my bed.

The whip-smart Caity Weaver offers an insightful and funny profile (with ultra-sexy photos to boot) on Reality Queen, Kim Kardashian West.

Some of the great ways women are engaging with one another and owning their feminism online and in the media, via Cup of Jo. (I immediately went and purchased this book.)

My Star Wars-obsessed, tiki drink-loving husband desperately needs all of these.

This minimalist design renovation has re-ignited my dream of owning a rustic white farmhouse.

Could not stop thinking about this recipe all last week, then finally, on Friday night, in a cravings-induced stupor, I sent Jonathan to the store for ingredients, which means I ate my weight in chips and dip this weekend.

Does the company you work for make the list of 40 best businesses for attracting employees?

My lip color game has been lacking since I found out I was pregnant (I blame my hormone-induced DGAF attitude), but I've been debating whether to splurge on this gorgeous lipstick in "Coachella Coral."

I'm obviously not drinking right now, but if I were, I would be toe-up with all things rosé.

And finally, a winners and losers recap of last night's EPIC (in both proportion and satisfaction) Game of Thrones penultimate episode.

Happy Monday, friends!

Monday, June 13, 2016

Our Wedding: Whiskey Tasting + Stocking the Open Bar



In the early stages of planning our wedding (back in 2013), my father was adamant about hosting a whiskey bar during the reception. We all thought it would be a wonderful idea, but I don’t think any of us truly realized how much of a hit it would be…

First, though, some details on our open bar. (Of which I have no photos, sadly.)

The venue has a designated bar area and bartender on staff, so the Bride and Groom need only worry about stocking the bar with whatever beers, wines, and/or liquors, liqueurs, garnishes, and mixers they wish.

We only had about 85 guests in total, and I had the hardest time figuring out how much alcohol we would need to ensure we wouldn't run out… and also so we wouldn’t overbuy. Everything I found online was unhelpful. We just had no way of knowing how much people would end up drinking.

An open bar with a variety of choices was an absolute essential for us, and the beauty of our venue was that we had the freedom to do whatever we wanted—and take the leftovers home.

Making decisions on what we wanted and making booze purchases was a seven month process. After a brilliantly curated California beer tasting that Jonathan put together for us to try, and what felt like endless wine tastings, here are the final choices (and quantity) for the bar…


our wonderful bartender

WINE
  • Cielo Viola, Ruby Hill,  Livermore Valley – 1 case
  • Crimson & Clover, Concannon, Livermore Valley – 1 case
  • Pinot Grigio, Fel (previously Breggo), Anderson Valley – 1 case
  • Chardonnay, Concannon, Livermore Valley – 1 case
  • Mourvèdre Rosé, Cline, Sonoma County – 1 case
  • Nina’s Cuvee, Cline, Sonoma County – 1 case
(That’s 72 bottles of wine… and we only had 85 guests.)

BEER
  • 21st Amendment Hell or High Watermelon Wheat, San Francisco  – 2 kegs
  • Sierra Nevada Torpedo Extra IPA – 1 case
  • Trumer Pils, Berkeley – 1 case
  • Anderson Valley Barney Flats Oatmeal Stout, Boonville – 1 case
  • Anchor Steam Beer, San Francisco – 1 case

This doesn't even touch on the liquor, of which we bought Costco-sized containers of gin, vodka, bourbon, and rum—along with appropriate mixers, bitters, and garnishes for each. (You know: tonic, Coke, ginger beer, limes, oranges, cherries, etc...) It was all so extensive, I can't even remember everything, hence why it isn't listed here.

In the end, we bought way too much alcohol, but happily milked the remaining bottles of booze and wine for a year and a half afterwards. We only used one keg of the Watermelon Wheat, and my overly generous father took the keg back to the bar we rented it from and offered it to the patrons there for free.

In hindsight, we could have nixed all of the liquor and mixers and stuck with wine and beer, plus whiskey at the whiskey bar (see below), and we probably still would have had plenty for a guest list of 85 people. You live and learn.

So, the bar was open for guests the moment the reception started at 5 PM until the party ended at midnight. The plan for the whiskey bar—located up the walkway from the bar, next to the fire pit and photo booth—was to open it after the first dance (around 7 or 7:15 PM), where my dad and Uncle Tom would host and pour for one hour. Then the remaining bottles would be moved to the bar, where guests could continue to taste and drink, but without my dad and uncle’s time being eaten up.




Cut to nearly three hours later when not only were my dad and uncle still hosting what was clearly the most popular attraction of the night, Jonathan had also started pouring and refused to shut the thing down. One of the event planners came and told me that she “tried to get him to stop and come spend time with other guests, but he wouldn’t listen.”




Finally they wrapped things up, around the time our late night sandwiches (BLTs, grilled cheese, and tri-tip—personal highlight of the night for me since I barely ate dinner) were ready for guest consumption.

A full list of the whiskies we featured, in order of their line-up in the top photo:

WHISKEY
  • Eagle Rare 10-year-old Bourbon Whiskey
  • Blanton Single Barrel Bourbon
  • Knob Creek Single Barrel Reserve Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey
  • High West Rendezvous Rye Whiskey
  • Bulleit Rye Mash Whiskey
  • Johnnie Walker Black Label Blended Scotch Whisky
  • Bowmore 12-year-old Single Malt Scotch Whisky
  • The Balvenie 12-year-old Double Wood Single Malt Scotch
  • Jameson Irish Whiskey
  • Bernheim Kentucky Straight Small Batch Wheat Whiskey

Did you host a fun activity at your wedding? Was it a hit with guests? Would you do it again?

Special thanks to my Aunt Lynn and Uncle Peter for introducing us to the most delicious white wine I've ever had (Fel), and my Aunt Julie and Uncle Tom for graciously utilizing their Cline wine membership to help us cut costs on several of our favorite featured wines.

Psst… in case you missed it: my wedding day lookour wedding venue, and our wedding soundtrack.

** All photos by Joe Gunn Photography, courtesy of The Sleep Peach

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Our Wedding: The Soundtrack


first dance, and my most treasured wedding photo

In the year before our wedding, I spent hours doing research and listening to songs I'd previously never heard, re-listening to songs I'd always adored, enlisted the help of my music-loving friends, and then vetted my choices endlessly for months and months on end.

Jonathan was ready to pull his hair out and I didn't blame him.

Truthfully, looking back, I have no earthly idea why I gave it so much thought, especially as I listen back on it all now. But I remember thinking it was super important to get the music—and timing—of the event totally right. And even if I would make different choices in hindsight, listening to it even two years later takes me right back to that year I spent planning our wedding.

Don't worry; I won't go through the annoying Type A breakdown of every thought that went into every song and their lyrical significance or atmospheric purpose, etc. But I will provide you with the playlists (key songs noted), with links to the individual songs on YouTube, if you are so inclined to take a listen.

CEREMONY

1. If It Kills Me (Casa Nova Sessions) — Jason Mraz
2. I've Got This Friend — The Civil Wars
3. I'd Rather Be With You — Joshua Radin
4. Speak Easy — Maria Taylor
5. Simple Life — The Weepies
6. Tatooine — Jeremy Messersmith
7. Holocene — Bon Iver
8. Bloom — The Paper Kites (seating of parents & groom's processional)
9. We Bought a Zoo — Jónsi (bridal processional)
10. How the Day Sounds — Greg Laswell (recessional)

COCKTAIL HOUR

1. King and Lionheart — Of Monsters and Men
2. Peculiar People — Mutemath
3. I Choose You — Sara Bareilles
4. Lego House — Ed Sheeran
5. Shot Me in the Heart — Christina Perri
6. Movie Loves a Screen — April Smith and the Great Picture Show
7. Do You Love Me? — Guster
8. Uncharted — Sara Bareilles
9. Come Back Down — Greg Laswell feat. Sara Bareilles
10. Mountain Sound — Of Monsters and Men
11. Go Do — Jónsi
12. Drove Me Wild — Tegan and Sara
13. Colors — April Smith and the Great Picture Show
14. Armistice — Mutemath
15. Be My Forever — Christina Perri feat. Ed Sheeran
16. Dragging You Around — Greg Laswell feat. Sia
17. Lost! — Coldplay
18. Dirty Paws — Of Monsters and Men
19. Can't Find the Time to Tell You — Hootie and the Blowfish

DANCE PARTY

1. Go — Plumb (father/daughter dance)
2. Heavenly Day — Patti Griffin (mother/son dance)
3. The Winemaker's Love Song — Tyler Lyle (our first dance)
4. Safe and Sound — Capital Cities (dance party begins)
Happy — Pharrell
Land of 1000 Dances — William Pickett
#Selfie — The Chainsmokers
SexyBack — Justin Timberlake
Still Into You — Paramore

The dance songs that aren't numbered didn't play in any order; they were just a few random songs we knew we wanted to dance to, so we sent them to the DJ to be sure he had them available. Other than those, everything else played in order. The DJ did interject some classic jazz, per our request, played quietly over dinner (between the Cocktail Hour and Dance Party), and he filled the evening with loads of dance favorites. (Shout out to my best friend Ken, who spent a solid portion of his twenties as a wedding DJ and was instrumental in getting people on the dance floor at our wedding, and requesting songs that he knew were crowd pleasers.)

grainy, blurry selfie of the bridal party dancing to #Selfie, as you do

It all worked out really well and, yeah, even though all that hard work most certainly went completely unnoticed by our guests, it was worth it to know that we had hand-picked nearly every song to be a reflection of the year we got married.

So what are your thoughts? Do you think music can make or break the vibe of a wedding, or do you find you hardly ever notice it? What were some of the songs that were really important for you to play at your wedding? Any regrets? I distinctly remember it being really difficult to find an appropriate, not-wildly-out-of-place Mother/Son Dance song... did you find that to be true for your wedding, too? I'd love to know!


Psst... in case you missed it: my bridal look and our wedding venue.

** Top photo by Joe Gunn Photography, courtesy of The Sleep Peach

Thursday, June 2, 2016

25 Weeks, 3 Days

We’re just shy of 11 months since I updated last, and I’ve been fairly comfortable with this. Another long, sustained break from writing, which has made me somewhat sad but also grateful that my life has been filled with other things, good and not so good, to whittle away the hours of my days.

I currently have six mostly-written posts pending about Jonathan’s and my wedding, which occurred nearly two years ago, and I have debated whether to ever bother finishing them. For myself, I would love to have the memories extensively documented -- the way only I can ramble on about details that no one but me really care about -- but there is also this tugging forward that makes me eager to look ahead and not back. Maybe just one post of my favorite photos from the day will do, and we can leave it at that. Perhaps inspiration will strike and I’ll finally pull out the hard drive that houses these memories and get the photographs added to the posts (basically the only thing keeping me from clicking "publish" on several of them.) We’ll see; I feel no pressure to do one or the other at this moment.

I did, however, feel inspired to stop by and talk a little about the newest development in our ever-changing lives...

I’m pregnant, finally, after 12 long months of trying. Currently 25 weeks and 3 days, due September 12th. At 20 weeks, we found out baby is a girl (!!!)—though, if I’m being honest, given the intensity of my food cravings, she may also be part burrito.

20-week burrito baby

Back in January and February, in the throes of incomprehensible fatigue and awful (but relatively minor) bouts of nausea, September felt so far away. 9 months. 8 months. That’s such a long time; countless hours left to plan, read, study, prepare, every little thing that feels important prior to welcoming a tiny human being into your home for forever. No reason to rush or stress. Plenty of time. Now though? I’m on the cusp of the 3rd trimester, baby spends inconvenient hours movin’ and groovin’ all over my bladder and colon, Jonathan has taken to speaking with her about his day, playing Nirvana and jazz so she comes out knowing what’s what. This weekend, we are preparing to move nearly all of our furniture around and purge more junk to make way for baby essentials. Summer will come and go. By September 26th (at the latest), Baby Hyatt will be here, coming home to our little one-bedroom apartment and menagerie of fur-balls. It feels as though she could be here any moment.

We’re thrilled/nervous/anxious/every emotion at once. I would be lying if I didn't admit that the enormity of this impending change has also, sometimes, left me feeling sad, cocooned in uncertainty; that sneaky yet all-too-familiar "What have we done?" sub-thought that appears spontaneously, only to upend my joy. The gravity is not lost on me, the reality of a new human of which we will be entirely responsible. One I will love more than I thought possible. I truly am full of all the feelings and I am doing my damnedest to embrace and own every bit of it.

So that's it. First time parents with zero minutes of infant care experience and exactly one diaper change between us. We have no idea what we’re doing but we are so, so, so excited/scared/etc. to learn.

Friday, July 17, 2015

Our Wedding: My Bridal Look

Hey, friends.

Believe me when I say I have frequently thought about picking up posting again, yet simultaneously was fine with... not. But now, with Jonathan's and my 1st anniversary already behind us, I don't think there will ever be a better time to chronicle the details of our Big Day. Because I want to, and if I don't do it now, I never will. The details are already starting to slip...

You already know about the location we picked. Now, let's talk about all of the things I spent money on to look like a Bride instead of a normal human being for approximately 12 hours.

Warning: long post a'ho.



I went wedding dress shopping with my sister (Maid of Honor), best friend Cassie (Matron of Honor), and mother. I had absolutely no idea where to start (despite having a pretty good idea about what I liked). Thanks to Yelp, I found Janene's Bridal in Alameda, CA --  with the best reviews, great selection, and affordable prices.

Excellent.

I scheduled my appointment for September 2013, and we made an afternoon of it. Lunch, coffee, trying on thousand dollar dresses. The usual.

My budget was set at a flimsy "around $1500," which essentially meant "hopefully closer to $900, but willing to spend $1800 if it's the prettiest," so the associate at Janene's sent me off to pick out whichever dresses I felt like trying on. This wasn't a Say Yes to the Dress / Kleinfeld's type of experience, where the associate goes, "I know just the dress," and then goes off to hand-pick five dresses that work best with your body, budget, and bridal dreams without you having to lift a finger. It was insane to look through row after row of dresses, trying to focus on price point, but also praying I'd find options that fit with the flow-y, twirl-y fantasy I'd been pinning and envisioning for years. It helped that I am an incredibly tactile person, and I could simply run my hand over most dresses and determine undoubtedly that it wasn't the dress for me. (Why are you a thing, taffeta?)

Truthfully, I'm not the best shopper. I don't like trying on clothes, and I don't like attention, or spending money, or time constraints. Shopping for a wedding dress was something I had been aching to do, but also dreading with every fiber of my curvy, above-average-sized body. I had no idea how I was going to make a decision about which dress looked best when I was certain not a single sample size would zip up or close. I was momentarily optimistic when the sales associate told me every sample was a size 12, but it didn't take more than one strained pull of a dress over my mammoth booty to realize that they were really a size 8. Being a size 10-12 at the time, I was confused and awash in disappointment that simply putting on a dress was such a physical chore.

I grabbed several dresses that seemed to fit my style, and then I saw without question the prettiest dress in the bunch. The dress is called "Willow" (Style 1350) by Blush By Hailey Paige. It was also over budget, but I picked it up anyway. When I walked into the dressing room with the handful of dresses, my entourage offered a reassuring "oooouuuu" when they saw it.

Then, when I walked out wearing it, there was the stereotypical gasping and tearing up, even though it didn't fit at all and the back was gaping open. It was so soft and twirly and everything I'd hoped to find. Since we all loved it so much, I had my size 8 sister try it on so I could see how it would look when it actually fit someone. Even though Kim was already skinny and pretty, it made her look even skinnier and prettier. The dress is mostly tulle, with soft, thick handkerchief lace, and has just enough train to feel super bridal.

Needless to say, it's the dress I bought. $2100 before alterations, because I'm dumb and have no sense of what money is. (Warning to future brides: I was told alterations would be about $300-$400 when I bought the dress, but they ended up being $750 all said and done. And that's without having the dress taken in at all. I regret not shopping around for a better deal, because it's so easy to get taken advantage of when you have no idea what is normal.) I don't even have pictures of me in the dress from when I tried it on, so here are some snapshots from the wedding -- thanks to our wonderful friend and photographer, Joe Gunn.





The shoes were the most challenging part of the whole thing. I had very specific requirements and there ended up being not a single shoe website that I did not scour looking for right pair. I knew I wanted to avoid anything higher than a one-inch heal because  Jonathan is only two inches taller than I am as it is.

No heels, because we would be outside in grass and dirt throughout the night, which also meant closed-toed.

And finally, the shoes had to be solid navy to match the bridesmaid dresses. Do you have any idea how hard it is to find a solid navy, closed-toed shoe with no heel that's actually affordable?

Hard. Really hard.

I found a few perfect options, but they were either sold out in my size or discontinued. Eventually I found these by Seychelles, which -- though not solid navy -- would look solid from the front, and the black in the heel area would tie in nicely with the black shoes the groomsmen/woman would be wearing.

The shoes (called "Whisper In My Ear") are no longer available with Seychelles, unfortunately. (Here's a clear marketing photo of them I found on Google.) They had a few additional colors, as I recall. I'm so grateful to have found something I can continue to wear!



And with that image, let's talk about jewelry.

I thought jewelry would be easy, but it turned out to be one of the last things I finalized. I fell in love with these earrings from Lulu Frost ("Demeter") and convinced myself I didn't need a necklace or anything other than these because they were perfect and could hold their own.


But once I was able to wear my dress during the fittings, it was clear that the dress needed a necklace. I searched high and low for an affordable necklace to compliment the earrings I loved, to no avail. A week before the wedding, my mother and I started a search for new jewelry, and just three days before the wedding, we found a simple and classic solution at none other than J. Crew.

I sent these two blurries to my bridesmaids to show them the updated look, which featured two necklaces -- one for the ceremony, and one for the reception (no longer available) -- plus earrings that could match both.



Though sad not to where my beautiful Lulu Frost earrings, they ended up being a lovely addition to my casual rehearsal dinner look, of which I have no photos.

I think, in the end, I made the right choice. I felt lovely, and these had an intense amount of sparkle without being too flashy or garish. A little flash of gold -- two bracelets that belonged to my grandmother, and now belong to my aunt -- served as my "something borrowed."





Lastly: hair and makeup. My Matron of Honor, Cassie, decided to gift me my wedding day hair and makeup, specifically because she knew I would love her friend Lexie's work. Which I do. I love her.

Lexie Lazear does makeup and hair for brides, and wig-building and make-up design for musical theater productions in the SF Bay Area. She also teaches classes on doing the perfect cat eye, and everything else you could ever imagine about makeup.

Since I had recently discovered how much I adore a bright lipstick, we decided to go with a simple eye and bold lip. I had some hair extensions that my sister gave to me (which she got from her friend Heather -- more on Heather in another post to follow), and that miraculously matched my hair exactly. I wanted my hair to be pulled back, but still show off the length, so Lexie put it in a low side pony. Which left the perfect place for a strategically placed flower.





This eye makeup. Did. Not. Budge. It was still as beautiful as ever as I headed off to bed at 1 AM.

I may be one of the least photogenic people I know (I'm a huge supporter of the selfie), but I still felt so amazing all day -- despite my dress being le tight around my poor wide rib cage all night, which made eating food impossible difficult, until I was finally able to remove the bustier/bra. (Removing that mid-party was the moment I truly, finally, understood what freedom was.)


I'm not a fussy person when it comes my every day look, and I don't have occasion to be fussed over and complimented on the regular. It was nice to hear such lovely things all day about my dress and hair and makeup and everything else and feel like I could say "Thank you!" without having to avert my eyes and blush with modesty, or find a way to counter it with self-deprecation.

Because honestly? I was proud. I worked really hard and so many decisions and so much thought went into every little detail, and while nothing was perfect (I'd be lying if I said losing an extra 20 lbs wouldn't have made me any happier), I felt immensely proud of myself and everyone who helped bring my look and the entire wedding together. Because although we had vendors and a coordinator to help with day-of planning, nearly everything was designed or created or curated by Jonathan and me (though, in all sincerity, mostly me). And there's nothing quite like seeing all of your ideas and planning come together into something that others get to enjoy.

Coming up? Jonathan's wedding look, our bridal party, invitations and paper stuffs, all of our music picks (with download links!), decor and details, photo booth silliness, the whiskey bar, and more!

I'll leave you with a picture of the most important wedding day accessory (aside from a new husband on my arm):


xx


* all images are property of Stacy Hyatt at The Sleepy Peach unless otherwise noted (photographs from our wedding by Joe Gunn Photography)