Another one escapes NYC!

February 25, 2015 § Leave a comment

Kate and I

New York is losing a wonderful collection of people to Nashville today – my good friends Kate and Bryan and their “menagerie”.

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Kate and I met in person in 2007 during my first visit to New York. We both worked for The Agency Group and I wanted to check out their office while I was in town. We began to see each other at shows, festivals, and bars when I was in town, and once I moved here, she was one of just two friends I had (not counting Nick, of course).

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As twenty-somethings, we would plan nights of dining at tacky-but-tasty Indian food restaurants then tour the bars of the East Village for PBR and Jager specials. That morphed into trying to find Manhattan’s hidden speakeasies and sipping fancy cocktails.

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We started to become actual “adults”. We saw each other get married – they even asked me to be their wedding photographer!

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Then we were fortunate enough to be pregnant together, Kate just a few months ahead of me, and discovered that trading drinks for dessert was the way to go. (One evening at Eataly, we had gelato after dinner and both wondered out loud “What have we been doing? This is much cheaper and more delicious!”)

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The past two years have been a mix of family get togethers and one on one visits. The 5pm Sunday dinner at Brooklyn Label with 4 adults and 3 young children became our new favourite tradition.

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No matter what the activity (or stage of pregnancy), Kate was always fun. Always positive, rational, kind, outgoing, and welcoming. Kate and Bryan have been parenting role models to Nick and I – we have been lucky to have them 5 months ahead of us in child rearing and love to hear how they handled the sticky situations we currently face.

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Rocco and Royce (and Ponch, Gucci, and Gambino) are fortunate to have such great parents, who care so much about them that they wanted to leave this remarkable city to bring them up in a proper house with a yard, two cars, and less pollution. New York will miss them all, but the city understands it presents some serious challenges for families (who aren’t millionaires ;)

Good luck to the Vastanos – I’m sure we will head south to visit you sooner than later!

Happy 60th, Dad!

February 24, 2015 § Leave a comment

My Dad turns 60 today! Despite my limited experience with 60 year olds, I believe he’s a very young 60. Here’s proof:

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He makes sure to get silly on a daily basis.

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His grandkids just adore him – he is the funnest Grandpa!

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And he rocks out on the regular and listens to music louder than I do.

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Even if he wasn’t my Dad, he’d still be one of the most amazing people I’ve ever known. He’s a wonderful father, friend, husband, grandpa, and co-worker.

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He’s always been there for me, whether I was a 15 year old who wanted to learn how to play a Smashing Pumpkins song on the bass or a 25 year old with a broken heart.

1782170_10154499196115109_5006490326168977160_nHappy 60th birthday to one special human being! Have a great day, Dad <3

Mom’s Weekend Off

February 11, 2015 § Leave a comment

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This weekend was one worth mentioning: it was my first trip alone since Henry was born and so it was also my first night away from him. I know some mothers don’t go this long – and others go much longer – before they are able to spend a night away, but this seemed just right for us. Henry is 15 months old now, and although he still nurses, he doesn’t actually need to. I compiled a very detailed meal plan for Nick to follow in my absence, and from what I heard, it went quite well – or as well as planned meals with a toddler ever go…

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What made me take the plunge and plan my first solo weekend away was an invitation to the Toronto wedding of two of my favourite friends, Karen and Matias! How could I miss it?

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Their wedding was freakin’ wonderful and actually had a strict no social media rule so although I took photos of the party, this one of our cropped heads is all you get. (And no, Sarah wasn’t a naked bridesmaid.)

Deciding to fly to Canada on my own for 30 hours was the best decision I’ve made in a long time. I stayed in a hotel alone for the first time and took full advantage of my free time – when I arrived 3 hours before I had to leave for the ceremony, I promptly practiced yoga, ordered pizza, and watched The Simpsons in bed. At the wedding, I had many moments of pure joy and felt so grateful for the friends I have in Toronto. They really are the best! I kept remembering “oh yeah – I DON’T live here anymore AND I have a husband and child waiting at home for me in another country!”

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The boys had a great time together. Henry, as usual, surprised us in how well he can adapt to new situations. Nick had little problems putting him down for naps and bedtime. He even got this priceless shoulder nap on Sunday!

Here’s hoping my next solo Toronto trip is only a few months away…

Binge-Worthy TV

January 8, 2015 § Leave a comment

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Is it just me or have TV shows gotten REALLY good lately? After a long day of work/caring for a toddler, Nick and I love to find a great show to watch together in bed on our Apple TV. (I don’t even know why we still have cable in the living room.) Here’s what we’ve been watching the past few months:

The IT Crowd 

SO. FUNNY. I remember watching this with my friend Joe about five years ago when he got it off a torrent site. I totally forgot about it until we decided to give it a go this summer and it made me laugh hysterically within the first few episodes. Nick wasn’t sold on it until the third episode (which made me cry, I laughed so hard). Since then, we have rewatched them all about 5 times. Available on Netflix and final episode on Hulu.

The Blacklist

The first drama that sucked both of us in in a long time. Powerful cliffhangers, good stories, ongoing pressing questions, and James Spader just rules. Available on Netflix.

The Americans

Who knew ‘Felicity’ was such a great actress? This show is pretty dark and intense – it pushes the envelope on just how heavy we want to get while trying to unwind – but it’s a really good show with surprising twists and again, powerful cliffhangers. I can’t believe shows like these can be aired on plain old cable! Available on iTunes.

Fargo

This one blew us away. The acting is incredible and the storyline and cinematography are impressive. Since it was adapted from their 1996 film, The Coen Brothers were involved and it shows. Billy Bob Thornton is terrifying. Available on iTunes.

I think we will try Transparent next, from Amazon Prime. What have YOU been watching? Let me know what else we should add to our queue!

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2014: Year In Review

December 31, 2014 § Leave a comment

At first, I didn’t think I had enough to write about this year. After all, it was mainly spent as Henry’s first year of life. Wasn’t I just surviving the challenging first year of a new baby? But after reviewing my entries, I realized that no, a lot HAS happened! It’s also pretty incredible to see Henry’s accomplishments and developments fast forwarded through monthly updates. And through it all, I actually managed to do a few things on my own as well ;)

Here’s my recap of the amazing year that was 2014. Happy New Year!

JANUARY

It’s a very cold and snowy winter, and I have a newborn baby. My patience is tested again and again, but I continue to remind myself that life is good.

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Nick goes on his first trip since Henry was born. Very little sleep was had. I almost cry when I see how much they missed each other when he returns.

FEBRUARY

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We celebrate our first Family Day as a family.

We officially survive the super-challenging Newborn Stage!!!

MARCH

We hire two babysitters for Henry. One works out great (the other, not so much). Our good friend Annie also starts to watch him every Sunday morning so Nick and I can go to yoga together, then we come back and all eat lunch together. I loved this routine!

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Nick travels to London for work and his trip gets stretched to 5 days because of a New York snowstorm. Henry only sleeps an hour at a time, for 5 nights in a row. (Recording this event is a surefire way to make me second-guess ever having another baby!)

After that trip, we decide it is time to teach Henry to sleep. It’s not as hard as we thought and life improves 9000%. The only downside is that he stopped taking a bottle. I decide sleep is better than freedom anyway, and anyone who disagrees has never truly been tested with sleep deprivation ;)

I take on my first social media client since taking maternity leave in October. It’s great to use my brain for work again! I also begin to wear jeans again.

Henry starts to reveal his amazing sense of humour.

APRIL

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The dark hair Henry was born with falls out and comes back in blonde. He is doing great with sleeping through the night and takes three naps a day!

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The three of us fly to Toronto to spend Easter with my family. Henry is more interesting to his cousins than he was at Christmastime as a 1 1/2 month old and I get to see Jenn who is pregnant with her twins. My uncle Brian recently found out he was sick and I’m so happy that he, my aunt Sam, and cousin Hillary all come for a visit too.

MAY

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Henry is 6 months old! He starts to sit up and gets his first tooth. He also falls in love with the baby swings at the playground.

The nice weather is such a game changer for passing the day with a baby. We start to spend most of our day, every day, outside. It’s especially wonderful as Nick continues to have to travel for work.

Nick and I book our first babysitter for an evening date. (Why did it take us so long?)

My first Mother’s Day is a bit of a disaster as I find out that Henry is allergic to nuts in a very dramatic way. The day was salvaged by a lunch visit from Annie and Sarah.

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We enjoy our first long weekend as a family! Every weekend should be three days long for those with kids, as far as I’m concerned.

JUNE

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Henry starts to eat solid foods including avocado, pears, sweet potato and banana.

Nick’s first Father’s Day is a success and his Dad even comes to visit.

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My parents also spent a weekend with us!

JULY

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We lost our wonderful babysitter Sherry to a full-time job, but she showed us what we wanted/needed in a sitter so we were able to find Henry’s new best friend, Valerie.

Mealtimes with Henry continue to be a little trying as he gets used to the notion of eating. He demands that stories be read to him continuously through each meal.

We start our tradition of taking him out to Brooklyn Label for lunch every weekend, which he LOVES. (Ceiling fans and pretty girls to smile at!)

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Henry really starts to get enthusiastic about things like swinging, reading, and pigeons – he will let out a very loud shriek of excitement!

Nick and I celebrate our fourth wedding anniversary :)

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We take Henry to Canada for the third time to celebrate my Grandma’s 80th birthday with a ton of family at my parents’ cottage. I also get to see my friend Sara, who now lives in Scotland, for the first time in 5 years.

Henry starts really crawling while we are at my parents’ house!

AUGUST

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Jenn has her twins, Charlotte and Cameron!

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Henry continues to crawl and wants to practice pushing himself up to sit from a crawling position in his crib before every nap. This results in multiple instances of falling asleep sitting up. Of course, we had to take pictures every time. Thanks, video monitor!

As Henry starts to eat more food and needs me around less to nurse, I am able to have my first client meeting in the city for work. This feels like an amazing break instead of actual work!

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Julia, Jay, and Blake come to visit us in Greenpoint.

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Nick and I go to Ben and Haley’s wedding at the end of the month. Henry is put to bed without me for the first time ever and does great.

SEPTEMBER

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Our good friends the Vastanos welcome their second son, Royce!

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Henry is no longer satisfied with just crawling and starts to pull himself up to stand. He practices on the couch in the living room, along the walls, the wall unit, the windows, and in his crib while he should be sleeping. The afternoon nap is a thing of the past. Sleeping through the night is also waning :(

OCTOBER

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We spend Thanksgiving, my birthday, and Nick’s birthday with family in Canada. We get to meet the new Martin twins!

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Henry’s first Halloween is a success as he actually wears a complete donkey costume, including the head, for a walk to the kids’ store hosting a party and around the neighbourhood. Nick and I were dying of a cute overload.

NOVEMBER

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Henry turns ONE YEAR OLD! We have a birthday with his closest friends and family. He is now officially a toddler.

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We are thankful for extra time together over Thanksgiving.

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We take Henry (and his bottle) to the New York Transit Museum.

DECEMBER

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I was lucky enough to get to see Smashing Pumpkins play Webster Hall the night before their new album is released. I also visit Billy Corgan’s tea shop Madame ZuZu’s pop up shop at Physical Graffitea in St. Mark’s Place that day to buy a SP mug and some MZZ tea.

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Celebrated the holidays with my old company, The Agency Group, after being invited to their Christmas party by Kate.

Sadly, my uncle Brian passed away five days before Christmas.

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I was happy to be able to spend Christmas in Canada with family as usual and to give everyone a hug after going through a tough time.

Tonight, Nick and I will be continuing our New Year’s Eve tradition by watching When Harry Met Sally. Can you believe this is what we did two years ago?

Christmas 2014

December 29, 2014 § Leave a comment

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We flew to Toronto for Christmas with my family on Tuesday. It was quite an adventure!

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Although Henry doesn’t fall asleep on planes anymore, he’s still a great flyer. Just watching the airplanes and trucks out the window is enough entertainment for him. (That, and having Dad blow his hair into funny shapes.)

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We celebrated Christmas on Christmas Eve, as we have done for the past few years. My parents, grandparents, brother, and sister-in-law all came over to my sister’s family’s place in Oshawa.

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Ben answered the door for each arriving guest in his policeman’s uniform, to make sure we didn’t have any Christmas freeloaders.

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Henry enjoyed playing with his four cousins, but knew when he needed some alone time and would head over to the corner to look out the window at cars or read Goodnight Moon.

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My Dad wore a pretty amazing Christmas sweater, jingly bells and all.

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Jenn is still ruling at being a mom and her twins are so cute!

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It was so nice to be able to hug my grandparents after my uncle passing away suddenly a few days before.

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We packed everyone in for dinner at a big L-shaped table. 7 year-old Ben decided we should all give speeches afterwards. It turned into a teary, love-filled mess.

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And then Jillian brightened the mood by smearing chocolate icing all over her face. I love my family.

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Christmas Eve was full of video games with Uncle Ryan.

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Then the kids went to bed and we got goofy while the adults exchanged gifts.

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Christmas morning came far too early, but the kids were happy!

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All of Henry’s presents were a hit! Especially the stacking cups (and Grandpa’s nose).

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Boxing Day started with breakfast…

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…And grocery shopping. Henry rode in a shopping cart for the first time and loved it! It’s always the little ordinary things when you visit the suburbs, right?

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Later that day, we were so happy to have a visit from the Gordons. Blake and Henry “played together” aka stole toys from each other for a while. We also tried to take photos, but it’s not easy with toddlers!

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This is the best we got:

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On Saturday, we flew home – eventually. Let’s just say we have another challenging situation successfully completed in the form of entertaining a 1 year-old in an airport for 7 hours.

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Until he could finally fall asleep on the plane at 9pm.

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Although the trip was full of travel delays, toddler accidents, and majorly lacking in sleep, it was worth it to see my wonderful family. I hope you all had a great holiday too!

Best Books of 2014

December 15, 2014 § Leave a comment

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For the past few years, I’ve set reading challenges for myself on Goodreads and this year I thought I’d play it safe by setting 15 books as my goal. Now – thanks to breastfeeding + my Kindle being best friends – I’m about to finish my 22nd book of the year.

I may not have had the chance to see many movies in the theatre this year, or even listen to enough new albums to be able to tell you which ones were “the best”, but one thing I did get to do a lot of this year was read. That’s why I feel confident enough to compile this one Best Of List this year.

#1 was released last year and #5 is a classic, but the rest were published in 2014. Here’s my Top Five:

  1. The Goldfinch – I recommend this book to everyone who asks me what they should read. It’s almost 1000 pages long, but I wished it were longer. An epic, beautiful, sad story.
  2. Station Eleven – A post-apocalyptic novel, partly set in Toronto. All the characters are tied to the one who dies in the first few pages. I was inspired by human nature’s desire to survive and looked at all my every day modern conveniences with new appreciation while I was reading it.
  3. The Silkworm – The second murder mystery novel by JK Rowling’s alias. Her talent for detail and character lives on in a very different way.
  4. The Secret Place – The new release from one of my favorite authors, Tana French. After many novels written with the same formula, this one was refreshing in the way that it played with time and the detective narrating the story wasn’t necessarily the main character.
  5. To Kill A Mockingbird – I didn’t read this one in school, but I wish I did so I could have written an essay on it. The sort of book that really sparks a discussion and makes you think. Written in 1960, but still appropriate for today.

What were YOUR favourites??? (Really! I am always looking for recommendations!)

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