First Family Dinner Out

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With all of the craziness of figuring out life with a newborn, I sometimes find myself not leaving the house for days on end.  I also find that this isn’t very good for my sanity.  The constant 24/7 loop of feed, change, sleep, repeat can be a little mind numbing, and as adorable as that little face is to look at every day, living in a constant loop can drive you a little nuts.  Therefore, to break up the monotony, I have been trying to get out of the house for walks whenever possible.  Nico loves the stroller, and we have been super blessed with amazing weather these past couple weeks.  Two weekends ago, I was pleasantly surprised that we were able to take advantage of one of these walks and go out for our first family dinner.  I  put on “real” clothes (the pants are still maternity, but at least they weren’t sweats!), make-up, and even semi-did my hair…that’s as good as it was gonna get that day.  We tried a new place in the neighborhood called Dogwood, which boasts southern comfort food, and was absolutely delicious.  At three and a half weeks, Nico was an angel the entire time.  It was as if he was allowing Zack and I to actually have a date night.  Amazing.  I know they say these “quiet sleeping times” won’t last forever and eventually he will be a toddler and impossible to bring out to dinner, but I am living in the moment, people…living in the moment and loving it.

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On me / Shirt: StyleMint – similar / Pants: Motherhood / Shoes: Nordstrom Rack / Bag: ALDO – similar / Watch: Michael Kors / Necklace: Baublebar / Bracelet: Baublebar – similar

On Nico / Shirt and Pants: Carter’s / Socks: Gymboree

Happy Monday everyone!  Have a great week.

XO,

Gina

Happy 1st Birthday to Popcorn and Pandas

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Would you believe that today marks one whole year that I decided to make the change to my little ole blog, popcorn and pandas?  I know, I can’t believe it either.  It’s been a crazy year full of adventures and travel, fashion and fun, pregnancy and now a new baby.  It’s been wonderful and therapeutic to have this creative outlet to share with you all, and I am completely grateful that you all have chosen to follow along for this past year.

Below I have reflected a bit on some of your favorite posts this past year:

My first two outfit posts with the amazing photographer Marisa

Reminiscing a Rockin’ Summer

Reminiscing Rockin Summer

Summer Stripes

Summer Stripes

Lettered sweaters were my jam

Amaze

Sported my favorite Halloween costume

Hunger Games

Rang in the New Year in Winter White

Winter White

Foxes became super trendy

Foxy Lady

I had some ups and downs, announced my pregnancy, and did a cool photo shoot with Justin to find out the sex of our Little Monkey

It's A BOY

I added some Flair to my wardrobe

Flair Promenade

Craved everything peplum

Navy Peplum and Black

Felt a little Guilty

Guilty Spring

I ate my first mangosteen

Mangosteen

Went to Arizona and saw the Grand Canyon

Desert Florals

Grand Canyon

I made some waves with Waveborn

Waveborn

Made fresh homemade tomato sauce and pesto from the garden

Tomato Sauce

Pesto

Enjoyed the sunrise on Branch Lake in Maine

Branch Lake Sunrise

Watched as my belly grew larger and larger

Neon

Retro Rainbow

Electric

Beachy Keen

And gave birth to a beautiful baby boy

Nico

It’s been such a great year, and I am hopeful that this year will bring even greater joy.  Thank you so much for following my adventures.  Would love to hear any feedback that you have of things you want to see from me in the coming year.  What you like/don’t like.  What you want to see more or less of (outfit posts, lately posts, shopping posts, personal stories, photography, baby stuff, etc…)  I have less free time on my hands, but hopefully I can make things happen!

Happy Friday everyone!!!

XO,

Gina

{16} Lately…

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Lately I’ve been…

reading  Children’s books.  You know…Green Eggs and Ham, The Very Hungry Caterpillar, The Ugly Duckling, Blueberries for Sal.  Starting Nico young and he is definitely soothed when people talk to him, so we are starting a nightly ritual.  As you might imagine, I haven’t had much time for grown-up books these days, but I have been glossing over Health, Marie Claire, and Redbook magazines while pumping.

writing  The majority of my writing these days has been logging feeding times for my little guy while we made sure he got back above his birth weight.  He was born at 5 lbs.  1.6 oz, and dropped down to 4 lbs. 11 oz.  At our last doctor’s appointment, he was well above his birth weight, and I’m pretty sure he is still gaining well!  We are very happy he is a healthy growing baby boy.

listening  Since Nico has arrived, I have been finding myself listening to more mellow jams.  My “Relax” playlist on my iPhone has gotten a lot of play lately.

thinking  I can’t believe how fast time is already flying.  Nico is already over three weeks, and will hit his four week mark this Thursday.  Insane!  I’m also thinking that I am very lucky I got to enjoy the first family dinner out with my boys last night, and he was an angel the entire time!

smelling  Mrs. Meyer’s baby oil.  It smells amazing!

watching  I basically caught up on every single TV show that I had on my DVR since I’ve been home.  Not that I’ve had a lot of free time on my hands, but just a lot of time at home!

wishing  For a little bit more sleep!

hoping  To find some more time this week to work on this blog.  I have a lot of posts I want to share of things that have been going on, but with a new baby on board, it’s definitely been a challenge!

wearing  Mostly leggings and sweats lately.  Comfort is key when nursing and staying at home.  It’s also a challenge finding things that look flattering on you post-partum.  What looks “adorable” with a baby bump does not look so adorable when it’s a post-prego fat bump.  I am, however, happy to say that we shot our first post-pregnancy outfit shoot this past weekend!  It was nice to put on real clothes again (although I’m still in my maternity pants), and I’m looking forward to sharing soon.  

loving  Being a mommy.  As crazy and exhausting and emotional as it can be sometimes…the good times FAR outweigh the bad!  I love seeing Nico smile and those newborn cuddles are just the best.  He is such a sweet boy, and I feel so very lucky to have him in my life.

laughing  Just took a look at my friend’s wedding highlight video, and saw all of us crazy clowns on the dance floor.  One friend was even captured mid cartwheel.  It was pretty hilarious!

wanting  The weather to be nice this week.  I have found that when I can get outside at least once a day and out of the house, I am so much saner and happier!  Nico also loves riding around in his stroller, so we both win.

needing  A mani/pedi.  I was supposed to get my last one the week I went into labor, and so that never happened.  I keep saying I will do it myself, but how do you pick up a baby with wet nails?  Haha.  Needless to say, I have also been sporting closed toed shoes when I leave the house.

feeling  Pretty good!  It took about two weeks for me to start feeling like my normal self again since giving birth.  Besides being tired from a few sleepless nights, I feel quite good.  I have managed to take some walks in the past two weeks, met up with a new mom group in the neighborhood last week, and I’m loving it.

craving  A personal chef and a house cleaner.  I barely have time to eat, let alone cook my food or scrub the floors.

clicking  Googling three week baby milestones, and catching up on all my favorite blogs I have missed out on for the past few weeks.

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What have you been up to lately?

Happy Monday!  Hope you all have a great week ahead!

Love,

Gina

***I was inspired by Tina of Like Ordinary Life to create this post, and she was inspired by Lauren of siddathornton, who started The Sunday Currently.

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DIY: Decorate Wooden Letters for Nursery

I got this idea from a friend who recently had a baby, and I just loved her nursery letters!  I really appreciated her filling me in on how to make these yourself rather than spending tons of money to have them made, so I figured I would pass this idea along to all of you!  It’s simple, quick (it helps when you only have four letters to work with), and easily custom made for any name, color, or theme. Take a look and get crafty!

The Before:

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Materials:

Wooden letters

Scrapbooking Paper

Scissors

Paper Glue

Scrapbook Stickers

Pencil

All of my materials were purchased at Michaels

How to DIY:

1.  Choose a scrapbooking paper print that you like and flip it over so you are looking at the back of the paper.  You can choose all the same or a variety of patterns in the similar color palette depending on your preference.

2.  Flip over your wooden letter and place that on top of the paper.  It’s very important that these are both flipped over for tracing purposes!

3.  Trace your wooden letter, and then use the scissors to cut out the letter shape from the scrapbooking paper.

4.  Flip over both the scrapbooking paper and the wooden letter so they are now face up.

5.  Use the paper glue adhesive to glue the scrapbooking paper to the top of the wooden letter.  Press firmly and set aside to let it dry while continuing with your other letters and scrapbook paper patterns.

6.  Once they are all dry, jazz up your letters with some fancy stickers or other types of adornments.

All finished and super easy!

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Nico’s Nursery

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I have been wanting to share these photos for awhile now, but had been holding off because I wanted Nico’s name to be a surprise until his arrival.  Zack and I worked tirelessly on this nursery for a few weekends in a row to get those wall decals perfect and to make sure everything came together with the finishing touches.  We purchased these dressers when we first moved to NYC, and we saved them and used them in the guest bedroom when we moved to Brooklyn.  Rather than buy new dressers for the nursery, we figured these were the perfect color for the panda and monkey themed nursery we were planning.  We have already spent many sleepless nights rocking Nico in the glider, and have spent many hours in this room for his diaper and wardrobe changes.  He is currently sleeping in the bassinet in our room, but when he is older, we will eventually move him to his crib.  We hope Nico will grow to love his nursery as much as we do!

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Dressers: Gothic Cabinet Craft / Little Castle Swivel Glider: Target / Little Castle Gliding Ottoman: Target / Window Panels: Sweet JoJo Designs / Book Shelf: Target – similar / Crib: Babyletto / Panda Bank: Urban Outfitters / Panda Wall Decals: Etsy – Decal Lab / Monkey Wall Decals: Etsy – Simple Shapes / Wooden Letters: DIY (post to come soon) materials from Michaels / Panda Rug: Uncommon Goods / Green Rug: Sweet JoJo Deisgns

Today is Zack’s first day back to work, and it’s my first day at home alone with my little man.  It’s definitely a lot of work to be on your own, and I applaud all single parents for being strong enough to do this!  I should probably be sleeping right now (sleep when the baby sleeps right?), but I wanted to take advantage of his little nap by getting out this blog post today.

We had a great weekend with my sister and her boyfriend in town as well as my in-laws.  My sister cooked us up a phenomenal meal, and we spent the two days hanging out, taking a little walk around the neighborhood, and snuggling our little monkey.  Nico is a lucky boy to have so much love and family around him, and I couldn’t ask for a better support system.

Hope you all have a great week!

XO,

Gina

#20 Have Children

You may have been wondering why I suddenly fell off the blogosphere these past two weeks…or maybe you have already guessed.  Much to everyone’s surprise, our Little Monkey decided to grace us with his presence two weeks early!  Now this Great Freakin’ Adventure bucket list item is probably the most significant one I will ever check off.

Please welcome Nico Alfredo Notes to the world!  Born Thursday August 29, 2013 at 10:53pm at 5 lbs. 1.6 oz. and 19 inches.

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Ever since I was a child myself, I dreamed about what it would be like to have a child of my own.  As kids, my sister and I played house, school, doctor, and other role-playing games where we would play the “mom” taking care of our babies.  I guess that is just something that little girls do…or maybe that was just us, I don’t know.  As we grew older, the idea of having kids was something we tried to avoid, especially during our teenage and college years.  Finish school, get a job, get married, then have babies, right?  Of course, that doesn’t always ring true in the real world, but that’s what I was aiming for, and luckily, my life played out according to plan in that way.

However, the plan itself does not always go the way you would imagine.  Life is just not that way, and ours was no different.  It was not without struggle and some hard times.  We were fortunate to get pregnant pretty quickly, but then our world crashed down when we lost our little Peanut.  It was tough to move on, but the news of our Little Monkey on the way helped with the process.  Although we were scared of something terrible happening again, there was still that glimmer of hope which increased with every week of my pregnancy.

There were both ups and downs with the pregnancy, but all in all I would say I had a very healthy, wonderful pregnancy experience.  Toward the end, I loved feeling him jump around in my belly and we imagined every day what he would look like.  It still feels weird to not have him in my belly anymore, and I half expect to feel a kick every now and again.  I am glad to have this blog which documents most of this experience, and I look forward to showing it to Nico one day.

Now let’s look back to right before Labor Day Weekend.  What I thought would be a routine 38 week check up on that Wednesday morning at 9am turned into me being admitted to the Labor and Delivery unit that morning and staying there for quite some time.  My husband and I got called back for my routine ultrasound, and baby was not exactly cooperating that morning.  He passed all of the tests with flying colors, except he wasn’t making any sharp movements.  Now, I have my theories on this…we typically had 1pm appointments…maybe baby was just sleeping at 9am?  However, he also fell down quite significantly in the growth percentile.  He had been measuring small the entire time, but the docs said he was growing every time, so they were not really too concerned.  They kept a close eye, and at this 38 week appointment, the percentile dropped to where they started to be concerned.  My regular doc was on vacation that week, so they had someone filling in.  Because of the lack of movement and drop in growth percentile, and the fact that I was full term at 38 weeks, the fill-in doc recommended that I be induced that very day.  I’m sorry, WHAT DID YOU SAY???  Induced…today??? As in, RIGHT NOW???  Where is my normal doctor?  Who is this lady??  Does she even know what she is talking about?  She doesn’t even know our story!  Would Dr. Stein say the same thing?  These are some of the thoughts that ran through my head.  My husband and I were clearly in utter shock.  We had nothing with us.  Our hospital bag was all packed, but it was all the way at home.  I told myself beforehand that my “birthing plan” was more of a go-with-the-flow mentality, because it’s impossible to predict what will happen…but this is NOT what I was thinking, and I was not feeling like going-with-the-flow right now.  We went down to the Labor and Delivery unit at the hospital and I spoke with the midwife on call.  We did a series of extra tests, which the baby passed with flying colors, and I really second guessed this decision to be induced two weeks early.  It was ultimately our decision, but we had a strong rec from the doctors, and really, what was our alternative?  Go home, be stressed 24/7 about whether or not we made the right decision, or wondering if my placenta was somehow failing and baby was not getting nutrition the whole time?  Or get the baby out now safely while he’s still healthy, no matter what it took.  The choice for us was obvious.

Luckily, the hospital staff was wonderful, and because baby was still doing really well, they told me they would not rush the process, and make sure to take as much time as needed for as long as we could to make this induction happen and to try to avoid a C-section.  They let me have my “last meal” before being admitted, and Zack went home to pick up all of our stuff for the hospital, including our car.  The next time we would be going home, we would be going home with a baby.  This reality was finally creeping in on us, and it brought a whole new meaning to Labor Day Weekend.

Once the induction process started, it was a long road.  It finally got started around 6:30pm (after being in the hospital since 9 am).  12 hours and another day later things finally seemed like maybe they were moving along.  Unfortunately, after the midwife examined me…it turned out that things were not really moving along all too well.  Rather, than drug me up with more and more pitocin (which they did not think would work for a natural delivery), she suggested that we start the process over.  WHAT?  Again?  12 more hours of this?  And what if it doesn’t work again?  I am doomed for a C-section.  I wasn’t feeling too optimistic at this point, but I trusted that the midwife was recommending the best thing for me and what what we wanted for this delivery.  So, they let me take a shower, have another “last meal”, and we tried again.

Somehow, someway, the process worked this time and I started progressing.  That was a ridiculously happy moment for us, and I started to feel hopeful.  The rest of that afternoon, I felt contractions, but I wasn’t in a terrible amount of pain.  My mom, sister, and mother-in-law were able to make it up to NY in time to be there before the delivery.  I had very lucid conversations with them through my contractions, and I was generally pleasant for a lot of the time.

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I kept progressing, they eventually broke my water, and it was then that everything kicked into high gear.  My contractions started getting more difficult to handle, and thank God for those birthing classes my husband and I took as he was so helpful in getting me through a lot of them.  Eventually it got to a point where I said, “I don’t have to be supermom right?  I need an epidural.”  It didn’t kick in right away, but let me tell you…I was so happy when it did.  Before we knew it, the midwife was telling me it was time to push.  Already?  For such a slow start, this birth certainly was moving quickly now!  We didn’t even have time to tell our family that it was go time.  We just had to go.  A small army of medical professionals surrounded us and my nether region, but at this point, I was so over feeling awkward…I mean I had to pee in a bedpan for the past 24 hours, because they couldn’t unhook me from the machines…my humility had already gone out the window.  I pushed like a rock star for only 20 minutes, and our baby boy finally arrived!  Right before he came out, his heart rate started to drop, and there were talks of possibly using a vacuum to get him out.  I guess that was all I needed to hear to get him out as soon as possible.  Turns out, the culprit was the umbilical cord wrapped around his neck twice that had tightened up as he was coming down the birth canal.  Thank God for those last quick pushes.  They placed him on my chest, and I was so overwhelmed with emotion and shock, and I don’t even know what else.  It was so surreal that this little “alien” jumping around in my belly for nine months was finally here and a teeny tiny human in the real world.  My Little Monkey.  My Nico.

It was a magical experience, that I don’t think you can even accurately describe or understand the feeling unless you have gone through it yourself.  We stayed at the hospital for about a day and a half after Nico’s birth, trying to recover and pick up all the tricks of the trade from the nurses.  My husband even videotaped a nurse doing a swaddle.  Trust me, it has definitely helped out at home!  It was pretty unreal taking our baby home and realizing that we were now officially parents who had a new job of raising this child.

My mother-in-law stayed with us for a few days to help out with cooking, cleaning, giving us time to catch up on sleep, etc.  We are extremely grateful to have such a wonderful support system.  Once she left, we missed her and the help, but it was nice to try and figure out this parenting thing on our own, and get into as much of a routine as we possibly could.

I can’t believe it’s already been two weeks since our little Nico arrived.  I already feel like we have been through so much emotionally, mentally, physically, and more.  As soon as we think we have things figured out, something changes.  Everyone says this, and I thought I would be different, but breastfeeding is not easy.  Sleep is so important for your sanity and well-being.  And it’s integral to get out of the house every now and then.

Nico is doing well and gaining back his birth weight.  He has been a pretty awesome baby so far, and he sleeps a lot for which we are very appreciative.  As crazy and exhausting and hard as motherhood can be, I am loving every minute of it so far.  Just seeing that little face every day, the little smiles he gives, and knowing that my husband and I created such an innocent, wonderful little being makes everything worth it.  I already feel like time is moving by so fast, and before I know it, he will be going off to prom or getting married.  I am so excited for the journey that is to come and ready to take on all of the challenges that come with being a mommy.

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Heading home from the hospital

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Like father like son

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Nico with his Nana (my Grandma)

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He smiles!

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Silly Monkey

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First trip to Prospect Park

Since this major life change, I can’t promise to keep up with my blog as often as I once did, and I can’t promise I will take a shower every day.  But I can promise to give this baby the world, my best, and everything I’ve got.

XO,

Gina