Happy 2nd Birthday to P + P

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While I was down for the count last week, my little here blog turned TWO.  It’s been a lot of fun having this little creative space, and although I’ve had less time for blogging this year, it’s still just as enjoyable for me.  Thanks for continuing to come back here day after day to read and comment and share.  Truth is, I blog for myself, but I would be lying if I said I didn’t love all the support.  It makes taking the time out for a post even more worthwhile.  I would love to hear any feedback you have for the upcoming year of p + p.  If there are particular things you like or dislike, what you want to see more of, if there is something I haven’t touched on that you are interested in, etc.  Comment below!  Now, I have put together a recap of some of your favorite posts from the past year:

You enjoyed Nico’s Nursery photos:

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As well as the DIY Nursery Letters Tutorial:

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The first family dinner out after having Nico:

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A very formal affair in which I was proud to be a bridesmaid, and our first big event as a family of three:

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The time I regretted wearing white:

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But I clearly kept on wearing it anyway…like when we traveled to San Fran:

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I wore this pastel coat:

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Pops of Spring with Stella & Dot:

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I got these fantastic red rain boots from the hubs and wore them on our trip to New Hampshire:

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Spent my first Mother’s Day in Coney Island with my new Love, Lori Michelle necklace made with Nico’s initial:

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I rocked these amazing hair extensions from Irresistible Me:

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My baby turned ONE:

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And here is all the gear that got us through:

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Lastly, saying goodbye to summer (sadly):

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And there you have it folks…you’re favorite posts from the past year.  Looking forward to what the 3rd year will bring for p + p.

Speaking of birthdays…since I have been so terrible at remembering them this year (my sincere apologies to those of you, you know who you are!)…I’m taking advantage of the fact that I remembered this one today…and I want to wish a Happy 30th to my cousin and half brain, Misa.

Hope you are all enjoying the week so far!

XO,

Gina

Strawberry Sunshine

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On me – Dress: ModCloth / Shoes (1): ALDO / Shoes (2): Carrini via Hautelook / Sunnies: Amazon / Bracelet: Baublebar / Watch: Michael Kors / Lip: Lancome Red Haute

On Nico – Shirt: Carter’s / Shorts: Quad Seven

I scored this dress on sale from ModCloth at the beginning of August, and I love that it can work both for summer and fall.  I dig the retro/vintage feel of the dress in terms of the silhouette as well as the strawberry floral print.  It instantly puts me in a good mood!  I wore this a couple weeks ago for a family day in the neighborhood, and then changed my shoes for a long walk to the Prospect Park carousel and zoo.  As you can tell, Nico was a big fan of the carousel!

I am feeling SO MUCH better this week.  Thank you for all your thoughts and well wishes from my last post.  It definitely helped!  Looking forward to a busy week of catch up, and I’m planning to get outside as much as humanly possible!

XO,

Gina

Confessions of a Stir Crazy Mama

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Well, this isn’t exactly how I planned to spend my first week back as a stay-at-home mom.  Yes, you heard that right.  I am currently a stay-at-home mom again as of last Thursday…the last day of my company’s existence as we know it.  The news came as a bit of a shock in terms of the timing, although when I think about it, I’m not really surprised.  I always knew the day might come when my boss got tired of the business and would want to retire or move onto other things.  I guess I never realized I might still be around (in the company) at that point.  It’s bittersweet for me.  It’s the place that I have called my second home since moving to the Big Apple with two of the only co-workers I have ever known in this city.  I have changed so much since my beginning there as a young twenty-something, and I have learned so much about advertising, production, animation, and so many other areas I had the opportunity of dipping into during my last seven years.  I have had the chance to meet and work with some incredibly talented and amazing people, be included in fabulous events, and learn the ins and outs of an industry from a rare point of view.  I am ever grateful for the mentorship, friendship, flexibility, confidence, trust, concern, and kindness my boss has shown toward me over these last several years.  As a newcomer to NY, it can be scary to embark on a journey in such a large city, but I felt welcomed immediately and knew that I had people that I could count on in my life through my work.

It’s bittersweet, because although I am sad to leave the comfort of my job and my day-to-day relationships, this does mean I get to spend more time with my son while I figure all of this out.  I also get the chance to start fresh and maybe try something new.  I have thought about trying something new from time to time, but then I always get sucked back into the day-to-day, and I lean on the comfort of my security with where I am at.  Now, I have no excuse for not pursuing those dreams.  I don’t even necessarily know if I have figured out exactly what those dreams are…but I know have the time to soul search, dig deep into myself to figure out what I am passionate about, determine what my strengths are, and possibly marry all of that together.  I do know that I want to continue working in some way, shape, or form.  I like having a job outside of the home where I can be someone other than “Mom.”  I love being Mom, but I also love creating and thinking and producing and connecting…doing all of the other things I know I am capable of in my life and in my career.  I have enjoyed the balance in the past months since I have finished with maternity leave between home life and work life.  I think that works best for me and my family…for my sanity…for Nico to grow comfortable with others…for my husband in regard to my sanity haha.  I would like to find a way that I can continue that balance going forward.  I don’t want to rush.  I want to enjoy this extra time with my baby while I can, because I will never get it back.  And I want to make sure my future decisions are based on careful, well-thought-out, heart-and-mind-fulfilling planning.

All that being said…this is not the way I planned on spending my first week back at home.  I was super excited to take Nico out on playdates, catch up on blog posts, find some time for soul searching and career planning.  And the most I have managed is two loads of laundry in four days.  I have basically been immobile on the couch or bed, feeling like I have been hit by a ton of bricks.  I have been bound by high fevers, chills, sniffles, body aches, head throbs, and a gnarly looking sore-throat…the absolute works.  I’m not even able to care for myself, let alone a small child.  My husband had to come home from work just to take me to the doctor, because I couldn’t get there by myself with the baby (and I also didn’t want the baby in the doctor’s office with a bunch of sick people.)  It’s a miracle he hasn’t gotten sick yet, and I’m praying he doesn’t.  Turns out, I think I have strep throat, and no wonder I am so miserable.  I have not been feeling like that supermom I thought I would considering I have a full week of quality time alone with my son.  Instead, it’s me moaning on the couch while he tries to play with his toys alone, wondering why I won’t play with him.  It’s him bringing me toys and books up onto the couch, saying in his own way “come on mom, you used to be fun.”  He’s been acting out, I think in defiance to my current state of being couch ridden.  Refusing to eat his food, refusing to take his naps, and demanding milk constantly.  Yesterday was an all-time low in regard to us spending time together.  I thought I might literally go insane and found myself wishing for the day to just end so I could go to sleep and feel better, and that is just sad.

However today is a new day.  I think the meds are finally starting to kick in, and it’s the first morning I woke up feeling not 100% miserable.  I am even contemplating a walk later…if I can just get the rain to cooperate.  Nico woke me up this morning with a kiss on my cheek complete with a MMMMWAH sound, and it just melted my heart.  No matter how trying our day together was yesterday, I know that little guy has an ultimate love for me, and I have it just as much, if not more for him.  When I woke up, I knew today was going to be a better day.  And as I’m typing, Nico is taking a nap, so we are already on the right track.  Although I haven’t gotten 1/10 of the things on my “first week back list” checked off I know I just need to be patient, regain my health, keep my family happy, and everything will work itself out in the end.

XO,

Gina

Outer Banks Vacation Photos

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I can’t believe it.  The official start to fall is next week, so I thought I would end this week with some of my favorite photos from our last summer vacation to the Outer Banks, North Carolina.  Hope you enjoy them, and have a great time on this last weekend of the official summer season!

We are headed to Maryland to celebrate our nephew’s 1st birthday and our friend’s child’s 3rd.  Party party!  These kids are growing up too fast!  Time for me to get to packing.

XO,

Gina

Nautical 1st Birthday Party

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Since Nico was born on Labor Day Weekend of last year, we decided to throw a little nautical themed bash to round out the summer.  The hubby and I spent the week prior crafting some decorations for the event, and I think they turned out nicely.  To create letters like the ONE shown above, check out my tutorial on the letters I created for Nico’s nursery.

My parents, sister, and her boyfriend came up from Maryland,  close friends in NY arrived, and Nico had his little buddies to hang with and jam out to the Munchkin Music Club sing-a-long.  I decided I did not want to spend the entire day in the kitchen, so we had the event catered by Fairway, and they did a phenomenal job.  I think we may have overdone it a bit…just a little bit…as we had food leftover for the entire week and then some.  The fabulous cake from Betty Bakery tasted just as good as it looked!  We appreciate everyone who came out to celebrate, and we hope you all had a great time!

XO,

Gina

Surviving the 1st Year: Gear

I am so proud of my little guy for all he has accomplished in his first year of life.  But I have to honestly pat myself and my husband on the back for surviving this first year ourselves!  Lord knows it was definitely not easy.  However, it was probably the most rewarding year of my life.  I remember back when I was registering for my baby shower and how overwhelmed I was at all the gear I didn’t understand how to use and all the options to choose from.  I decided to put together a little list of the gear we used and appreciated the most this past year…and let’s be honest, we probably couldn’t have survived without!

 

Medela Breast Pump:

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Nico and I had a lot of trouble with nursing in the first few months.  He had issues with latching, and even when he did latch, he would only do so for a short time before ripping away and screaming.  It was incredibly frustrating and made things really difficult when we were out of the house.  I’m still not exactly sure why to this day, and thank goodness he eventually got the hang of things to where we have a wonderful nursing relationship.  But those first few months were spent hooked up to a dreaded pump.  I was given a breast pump from my insurance company (a different brand in which I will refrain from naming).  It was absolutely terrible.  I mean terrible.  While it was supposed to be a double pump, only one side would really work at a time, and I would spend about an hour each time pumping multiple times a day.  When it was time for me to go back to work, it just wasn’t going to be acceptable for me to take one hour breaks three times a day.  I mean, that’s just crazy.  With a bit of help from my mother-in-law (god bless her), I forked over the cash to purchase a Medela Pump and Style, and I am SO glad I did.  It really made the transition back to work much easier knowing I had a reliable pump to make sure my son got the nutrition he needed from me.

 

The Dairy Fairy Nursing & Pumping Bra:

 

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This bra is an absolutely MUST for working, pumping moms.  There are many different size adjustments (since we are constantly getting bigger and small all day long), clips that come down for nursing and hooks that pull to the side for hands-free pumping.  The best part is that it is also a regular bra!  No more changing in and out of your regular vs. pumping bra.  This bra is incredibly comfortable and you can wear it all day long.  I wouldn’t have been able to get through work without this thing.  Amazing.

 

Aden & Anais Burpy Bibs:

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Nico spit up a lot in the early days, and these bib/burp cloth combos were the best for clean up.  We also really enjoyed this brand for their soft swaddle blankets.

 

Uppababy Vista Stroller:

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Now this item was definitely our splurge item (and many thanks to my parents and sister for making this splurge for us).  For a family that doesn’t use a stroller very often, maybe this wouldn’t be practical.  However, this stroller is essential for us!  Nico used the bassinet that came with this stroller for two and a half months before we moved him into his crib.  We used the adapter for the Chicco carseat which made it easy for us to transport Nico from car to stroller in the early days.  The best part about this stroller for us though is the convenience for our city lifestyle.  The basket is HUGE, and I was able to take so many trips to the grocery store, Target, etc. without having to use a car.  I didn’t drive much during the week, so I would load up this stroller and go out for the whole day with Nico on foot.  In the wintertime, we had TONS of snow in New York, and I don’t think I would have made it over the giant mounds of ice and snow without this monster of a stroller.  When Nico got bigger, we also ended up purchasing the Uppababy G-Luxe umbrella stroller (which I love as well; it’s fantastic for subway use because I can carry it up and down the stairs myself, and it’s also great for traveling.)  I still like to use the Vista when I am staying in the neighborhood.  Both strollers have a recline feature which is a must for us, because Nico will not nap in his crib, but he will nap for a long time in his stroller.  These strollers also have fantastic sunshades.

 

Beco Gemini Carrier:

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This carrier was (and still is) absolutely essential to our life in the city!  Like I said above, it’s not always easy to lug around our big stroller, especially on the subway, and sometimes you just need to get out of the door quick.  Nico enjoys being carried, and it used to be a sure bet to a great nap.  He will still nap in it sometimes now.  I love this carrier because it has great back support.  The weight is distributed to both your shoulders and your hips, so neither one is left strained.  Nico can face forward or backward, and you can carry him on your front, side hip, or back.  I have climbed three mountains on four mile hikes with Nico on my back in this thing.  I’m telling you, it’s amazing.

 

Halo and DeeDee Sleep Sacks:

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Due to the fear of SIDS, blankets, bumpers, stuffed animals or anything else really are not recommended for the crib until one year of age.  Sleep sacks are an awesome alternative.  We used the Halo velcro sacks when Nico was still being swaddled.  He would easily pop out of regular swaddle blankets at night, and those waving arms would wake him up every time.  The Halo sacks kept him sleeping soundly.  Once he got a bit bigger and we stopped swaddling him, we switched to the DeeDee sleep sack.  The winter one was my favorite.  It feels like a big comforter, but you wear it.  Kind of like a baby snuggie if you will.  Our apartment got frigidly cold this winter, and even with warm pjs, these sleep sacks were completely necessary.

 

J.J. Cole Bundle Me:

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This snuggly sack lines the inside of the car seat and kept Nico warm on all of our winter walks.  Of course you must still layer, but you don’t need quite as many layers when you use this.  It’s essentially a really warm blanket that stays put and won’t fall out of the stroller.  I have heard that you really shouldn’t use these in the car though, because there shouldn’t be any extra fabric between the baby and the car seat for safety reasons.  That’s just my side note safety tip, but we used it while strolling around all the time.  We plan on getting a toddler one as well for this coming winter.

 

Zutano Booties:

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I don’t know about your babes, but mine would always take his socks off as soon as I put them on.  These booties were phenomenal because they snapped on.  Nico wasn’t able to take them off, and there was no more searching for missing socks.  His feet were also kept super warm all winter long.

 

Phillips AVENT Pacifier:

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Nico was never really hooked on the pacifier and still isn’t, but this bad boy definitely got him to fall asleep for naps when he was cranky.  He only liked these in particular and spit most of the other ones out.  I am ever grateful for this paci!

 

Cerave:

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Last winter, Nico started to get a bit of eczema, or dry skin.  We tried all different kinds of lotions, and nothing seemed to work.  The doctor recommended we buy a tub of Ceravae, and this worked like magic!

 

Bright Stars Safari Gym:

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Nico absolutely LOVED this play gym.  There were times when I couldn’t get him to stop crying, and as soon as I put him on the play mat, he would stop and start smiling.  He always wanted to be on that mat, and he would just kick, kick, kick away.  I’m sure any gym would be fine, but this is the one we had, and we loved it.  I know Skip Hop also makes a good one that comes with a tummy time pillow.  We borrowed the pillow from a friend, and that encouraged Nico start embracing tummy time.  So I would recommend that mat as well!

 

Fisher Price Snug-a-Bunny Swing:

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We had the Rock and Play, the Jumperoo, borrowed bouncers, etc.  Nico loved all of them.  A lot.  But this swing was definitely the most loved and used for the longest amount of time out of anything.  This little here swing is what gave me the opportunity to shower on a daily basis.  Nico took the longest naps in this swing, and I sometimes wish they had bigger swings for bigger babies!  Haha.

 

Oball:

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This is the first toy that Nico was able to play with.  It helps with grasping, and they even make some of them with rattles.  Nico can still play with it now and he learned to throw, roll, and catch a ball with the Oball.

 

Panda Pals Book:

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At first I worried about Nico’s lack on interest in books, but cue the Panda Pals soft black and white contrast book, and he was hooked!  This was his first favorite book, and it opened up the doors to many more books.  He is now obsessed with them, and wants us to read and re-read to him all the time.  “Book” is one of the few words he can say out loud as well which makes me a proud mommy.  Some of our favorites are Dr. Seuss’s ABC, Hop on Pop, and Maisy’s Train.

 

Ella’s Kitchen Food Pouches:

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Most of the time, we made Nico’s food ourselves with a food processor.  We generally gave him whatever we were eating in pureed form or in small bites.  These pouches, however, are perfect for on-the-go or for vacation when we didn’t always have the equipment or storage for homemade food.  We used a few different brands of pouches, but this is this one that Nico seems to like the best.

 

Music Class/Mom’s Group:

I know these two things aren’t really gear, but I have to say, my Mom’s group in the neighborhood was absolutely essential to my survival of the first year!  We had multiple playdates, mom’s nights out, shared stories, texted and called each other constantly, and eased each other’s concerns and fears about the first year of parenting.  I seriously consider them to be some of my nearest and dearest friends because we share such a bond going through this experience together at the same time.  I would definitely recommend finding a mom’s group in your area!  As for the music class, Nico is a huge music fan, and we regularly went and still attend the Munchkin Music Club Class.  It’s great to have a weekly activity to look forward to that he loves so much.  We love the class so much, we even had him come play for Nico’s 1st Birthday, and it was a hit.  I would definitely suggest trying out a variety of different classes and activities and discover what your little one is interested in.

There are definitely more things we used and loved, but these items were all at the top of our list.  Happy to answer any other questions you have about gear, and I also have advice for things that you can probably skip buying as well.  Comment below for any questions! :-)

Hope you are all having a great week so far!

XO,

Gina

*As you might notice, most of my gear links to Amazon.  We used the Amazon Baby Registry, and absolutely loved it!  We could find almost everything we wanted on the site, and if we couldn’t, they allow you to add links to products from any site on the web.  This was incredibly convenient and kept our entire list in one place.  I would use them again in a heartbeat!  FYI, this post is not sponsored by Amazon.  I was just really happy with them, and wanted to share!

 

Be Radiant

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I was recently invited to the Demi Lovato World Tour at the Baltimore Arena thanks to the Radiant Collection from Tampax and Always.  Unfortunately, I was unable to make the concert…but for a good reason!  I was celebrating my Little Monkey’s 1st Birthday.  That being said, I decided to send my nieces (and huge Demi Lovato fans) to the concert in my place, and the experience was over and beyond anything in their imagination.

Demi was recently named by MTV among the  Best Dressed at The Teen Choice Awards, and there is no doubt that girls look up to her as role model.  She not only carries a “Wear What You Want” attitude and confidence, but she also participates in amazing, motivational volunteer work around the world.

On the day of the show, my nieces Brianna and Brittany were escorted to the Wear What You Want Closet, featuring a red dress Demi wore at the VMAs.  There was a photo booth, selfie station, and an opportunity to meet Demi herself!  I had no idea that would be part of the night’s events, and neither did they!  They were over the moon to meet her in person, and one of them said it was the “best early birthday present ever.”  I think I just might have won the “Coolest Aunt” title this week (sorry Jen ;-)).

During the concert, they had stage-side seats with an amazing view of Demi and also the opening acts, MKTO and Christina Perri.  A man named Spencer West, who is a double amputee, partnered with Demi and Free the Children and gave a motivational speech to the audience about never giving up on your dreams.  Demi also spoke about the limited edition rafiki friend chains on sale during her tour and how 100% of the profits will go to a women’s empowerment center in Kenya.

On the overall experience, my niece Brianna stated, “The entire experience was amazing and we are so thankful.  She is my favorite singer and role model, and getting to meet her is something I never imagined. Not only did she inspire us with her music but with everything she’s been through and is doing to help others.”

The girls took the following photos at the concert and events which I have shared below:

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It looks like it was an amazing time, and I’m so happy my nieces were able to have this experience to hold onto.

If you are interested in helping Demi and Tampax in this effort, please share a selfie on Twitter or Instagram showing off your unique, radiant-inspired look using #BeRadiantSweeps.  Participants using this hashtag will automatically be entered for the chance to win a grand prize trip for four to Brooklyn, NY to meet Demi as well and attend her concert in style.

For exclusive backstage footage on Demi’s tour and “Wear What You Want” inspiration, be sure to follow Tampax on TwitterFacebook and Instagram.

Thank you for supporting the brands who make Popcorn and Pandas possible!

XO,

Gina

Summertime Sadness


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Dress: Free People (sold out – similar here and here) / Shades: Borrowed from my niece – similar / Bracelets: Guilty Jean / Necklace: Family heirloom / Lip: MAC Up the Amp

Summertime sadness…I get all weepy this time of year due to the fact that summer is coming to an end.  The days of last minute drives to the beach, toes in the sand, and piña coladas are just about over.  The kids are back to school (luckily mine is not old enough yet, so I can still pretend it’s summer for longer), and fall is just around the corner.  Now, I do really enjoy the fall for everything it’s worth.  Pumpkin spice lattes, hayrides, a new wardrobe with jackets, Halloween parties, trips to the farm for apples and gourds…these are all things that make me love the fall.  But I get sad because I do really despise the cold.  Winter is my least favorite season because I’m constantly bundled up trying to rid myself of goosebumps.  Sure I love a cup of hot cocoa and the first snowfall just like everyone else…and of course I love Christmas…but after that, I am just ready for the winter to be over and summertime to arrive again.  The end of summer to me means that it’s only getting colder, and that is not something I look forward to.  I am a summertime gal, and I’m going to miss jumping into that ocean.  I know it’s still currently warm out, but I think it’s time to start planning that winter beach getaway.

We celebrated my Little Monkey’s 1st Birthday over the weekend with a big nautical themed party with family and friends.  He was on cloud 9 hanging out with all his little buddies, jamming out to music with the Munchkin Music Club, and eating a fabulously decorated (and tasting) cake from Betty Bakery.  Pics to come on that later, but wishing everyone a Happy Monday!

XO,

Gina

All About Hair

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As most of you know, I recently got my hair cut by the amazing, Tim Dueñas, at Arrojo Studio.  Having recently celebrated my 30th Birthday, I decided to treat myself to a fancy hair cut, and I am so glad I did.  Tim asked about my lifestyle and my daily routine, and without even needing me to show him a photo, he knew exactly what I needed in a hair cut.  Long enough to still put up in a pony and go (mom life doesn’t give me much time for styling), but plenty of layers and shape if I do find a moment to wear it down.  I am incredibly happy with how it turned out.

That being said…Irresistible Me sent over their fantastic extensions, and I couldn’t wait to try them on!  Now, let me be straight with you.  I know ladies have been rocking extensions for awhile now, but I never jumped on board.  To be honest, as much as I wanted to try them out, it was extremely intimidating to me.  I am not the best stylist when it comes to hair, and even when I received the box, I took one look, and e-mailed my contact there freaking out about how I was supposed to apply these things!  She sent me a video tutorial, and I have to say, I am completely surprised at how easy it was to clip them in.  While, I love my fresh new cut, it’s exciting to know that if I am craving a longer, fuller look for a date night or event, I can now achieve that without spending a fortune at the salon.

I have posted Before and After shots, and you can really see how natural they turned out.  A lot of other extensions I have seen have the potential to appear mullet-like, showing a clear separation between the real hair and the “fake” hair.  These flowed beautifully with my natural hair.  Speaking of natural…Irresistible Me boasts 100% natural hair in all their clips.

So what do you all think of extensions?  Have you tried them before?  Which look do you like better?

Before:

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After:

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*** I apologize for the blurriness in some of these photos.  We are trying out a new lens, and my husband was also taking these with a baby strapped to him, so there was some shake-age.  Haha.***

Hair Extensions: c/o Irresistible Me / Top: Necessary Clothing / Scalloped Shorts: Necessary Clothing / Shoes: ALDO (similar) / Bag: Rebecca Minkoff / Shades: Vintage / Earrings: c/o Stella & Dot (now on sale!) / Bracelets: Henri Bendel, Baublebar, Stella & Sparkle / Watch: Michael Kors / Lip: MAC Impassioned

And can you believe my outfit is actually a top and shorts set?  I wore them together, but apart, I think they would be just as cute styled in a different way.  I went on a sets kick this past shopping trip.  I don’t know what it was, but I was alone for once and excited, and I kept seeing adorable sets, so there you go.  The one I’m wearing is sold out online, but if you live in NYC, you may still be able to catch it in-store.  I also purchased this adorable two-piece top and skirt set, and I hope I can find the perfect occasion to break it out.

We spent the weekend in Brooklyn with our nieces, celebrated Nico’s 1st Birthday with a slice of rainbow cake (the big celebration is coming up this Saturday), and reminisced back to last year’s Labor Day Weekend when I was actually in labor.  My how much has changed since then.

Hope you all had a fantastic holiday weekend as well!

XO,

Gina

Happy 1st Birthday Nico

Nico34

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Dear Nico,

Wow.  ONE whole year.  I cannot even begin to explain the emotions I am feeling today.  I will do my best to put it into words.  I am tearing up as I write this, but I’m not exactly sure why.  When I brought you home from the hospital one year ago, I couldn’t believe they were actually going to let me take you home.  Aside from babysitting my cousins and neighbors in my teen years, what did I know about raising a baby?  Especially a 5lb baby who had come two weeks early.  It was a strange feeling after carrying you around inside me for 9 months to then have you right there next to me or in my arms, outside of the womb.  To actually see the little face I could only imagine for so long.  You were so tiny.  So delicate.  I felt as if I might break you.  I was scared to put your clothes on, to swaddle you, to wipe your little tush too hard, or seal your diaper too tight.  Breastfeeding was a bitch.  I’m not going to lie.  It was hard.  You didn’t want to latch.  And I pumped for months, because I was bound and determined to make sure things panned out the way I had planned.  Although, of course things never turn out exactly how you think they will.  But we made it work.  And we eventually came to have a fantastic nursing relationship.

People said this year would fly by.  They said to make sure to enjoy it.  I believed them, but when you’re up around the clock with only a few hours sleep and you can’t tell the difference between night and day as you are in those beginning weeks, sometimes I admit it was tough to enjoy things.  Those weeks were hard.  But sometimes I wish I could rewind and see you that tiny again…before you wanted to squirm away from me after a quick hug.  When you would just lie on my chest for a three hour nap completely content.  Those days we cannot get back.  I look back at those photos from those first couple months, and I barely recognize that little baby anymore.  You have grown and changed so much in what feels like such a short amount of time.

When you gave me that first smile, I just about melted.  As hard as motherhood can be sometimes, it’s all worth it for every little smile, belly laugh, hug, and kiss you have given me.  Anytime you accomplished something new in the past year…it was such a complete joy to watch.  To know that maybe hours before you didn’t know how to roll over, but now you could…I felt such a sense of accomplishment for you.  You were so frustrated when you couldn’t crawl.  You would flail your arms and legs about like a flying fish, and spin in circles trying to make your move.  But that day you learned to army crawl, you were so excited.  You slid around the entire living room.  And once you could really crawl, you took off to explore the entire apartment.  Your sense of adventure and exploration reminds me of your Papa, and I love that you inherited that trait from him.

You are so curious.  You have always loved to see what is going on around you.  You really pay attention and focus on things, especially the alphabet, animals, and people playing music.  I am shocked at the amount of focus you have sometimes to sit and entertain yourself with a toy or a book for a long time.  You love to be outside whether it’s at the park, walking along the city streets, playing in the sand at the beach, or in the water at the pool.  You have flown in airplanes with us, hiked mountains with us, and rode on endless car trips.  You have made so many friends in the neighborhood, and you have attracted attention from admirers wherever we go.  You are definitely a people person, (which I like to think you have inherited from me) and you are incredibly sweet and lovable to all of your stuffed animals.

I am feeling such a mix of emotions.  I’m sad that you are growing up and moving from baby to toddler.  I’m happy that you have accomplished so much in this past year.  I’m excited for all the new adventures we will have in year two.  I’m nervous about the new changes we have coming our way.  I’m sentimental that we will never get back some of those amazing moments from when you were small.  All of those old firsts are now taken for granted.  However, I am anticipating all of the new firsts you will take on.  I am proud of the person you are thus far, and I’m hopeful that your father and I will continue to guide you in the “right” direction…whatever that means.  Most of all, I feel such an intense sense of love for you that grows by the minute.  Every day I think it is impossible to love you that much more, and every day my love still grows and grows.  The more time I spend with you, the less I want to be away from you.  You make my heart full and it’s hard to imagine what life was like before you came into the picture.

You are my Little Monkey, my Nico Bonzo, my Booski, my Boo Boo, my Stinky Butt, my Bubba, my Babycakes, my world.

Thank you for making me a mother.  Thank you for being you.  Thank you for the constant light and joy you bring to our family every day.

I love you like crazy.

Happy 1st Birthday, Nico.

Love,

Mama

*First photo by Justin Goldberg.  The rest, my own.*