NYC-versary: A Decade

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Wow. A decade. 10 years. July 3, 2007 we embarked on a crazy new journey of life. I left everything and everyone I knew and loved (except one) back in Maryland and moved to New York City. The Big Apple. Without a job. To chase my dreams. To discover myself. To pursue a career. To build a relationship. To be more independent.

We honestly thought it would last a couple years. We would experience something new and different. Get a great job to put on the resume. Live it up in one of the biggest cities in the world. Eat all the food. Have all the incredible experiences.

There were lots of trips on the Bolt Bus back to Maryland in those early days. We are both such family/friend oriented people and we never wanted to miss ANYTHING. So we were on that bus sometimes twice a month for different events and celebrations.

Two years passed and we realized we had not even scratched the surface of this city. There was no way we were leaving anytime soon. No matter that we lived in a 350 square foot one bedroom apartment with no laundry or dishwasher in a 4th floor walk up. We didn’t care. This was where we were supposed to be.

Part of the excitement of this city was the endless possibilities…so much to do…so much to see…so much opportunity…new restaurants going up daily, the theatre, the nights of dancing, the history, the people, the culture. We learned so much and we were never bored. There was always another adventure around the corner. So five years passed…then 7…now…today is 10.

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Engagement photos by Misa Me Photography 2010

Throughout this past decade, we have had lots of visitors to give us great excuses to explore our city. We have made many friends (reconnected with some old and made some new). I spent 7 years working in the advertising/animation industry learning SO much about production and creativity and how things work behind the scenes. I was able to travel and work with two amazing people that will forever remain in my life as we shared so much together. I feel very grateful to have had this experience and it was WAY more than just “something to add to my resume” that’s for darn sure.

I played on many soccer teams, had girl’s nights on the Upper East Side, tried my hand at club promoting (which although it was fun turned out not to be my thing ;-)), I lived through the majority of my 20’s here, did rooftop yoga, coached high school girl’s soccer, made a whole crew of neighborhood mom friends in Ditmas Park, Brooklyn that I swear I would have lost my sanity without during those early months of maternity leave when I didn’t have a clue as to what I was doing.

My other half explored SO many different career options and ultimately paved such an incredible path for himself. I am truly inspired by his passion, work ethic and confidence every day. He also threw one of the BEST parties/events I have ever been to in the city (shout out to the Electric Moon Dance! ;-))

We celebrated an engagement, planned a wedding, got married, moved to Brooklyn, got a car (see ya later Bolt Bus!), started this blog, had two beautiful babies, I discovered a new career in online health + fitness where I am truly finding my purpose…all while living in this amazing city. We realized how much time we could actually spend at the beach in the summertime without driving too far. We’re actually sending our oldest child to SCHOOl in the NYC school system this fall, so it feels even crazier to know that we are now really raising kids here.

It’s crazy how many twists and turns, highs and lows, experiences and life changing monumental moments we have had since living in this incredible city. I literally still cannot believe that it’s been a full decade since we made this crazy-turned-amazing decision to move our lives here.

I am grateful for the most supportive, kind, hard working, adventurous, loving partner that has been here with me through it all. Zack, baby, I can believe it, but CHEERS to 10 years in New York City!

Looking forward to continuing our countless adventures and creating many more memories with you and our family. ❤

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Photo by Senshi Photography 2017

This holiday weekend will always have a special meaning for me on top of it being the Birthday of America. It’s basically the birth of our New York life together.

Wishing you all a wonderful holiday weekend! Keep safe. Sending love and happy times to you and your families today. We are off to Hershey Park for the day to chase some thrills and meet up with my brother in law, sister in law, nephew and niece! No matter how long we stay in NY, we will always make time for the fam. ❤

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

Happy 1st Birthday Nico

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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.*

Change is Good

New name.  New layout.  New blog?  Not exactly.

I have been thinking a lot about my blog lately, and while I LOVED the premise of the “Great Freakin’ Adventures of Gina,” I realize that I was limiting myself to only posting when I accomplished a breakthrough bucket list item.  Yes, those are probably the most exciting adventures of mine, but I am constantly partaking in adventures on a daily basis that although may not be bucket list worthy, they are still worth talking about…at least in my opinion.

I have a lot of interests including fashion, film, photography, writing, travel, etc. that I was not allowing myself a creative outlet for.  So I have decided to rename my blog as “popcorn and pandas” which for those of you that really know me, know that those are two of my favorite things.  All of my earlier content is still here, so you can still catch up on all the bucket list items you missed.  However, I don’t want to pigeon hole myself into only writing about bucket list adventures any longer.  While those will still be a huge part of my blog, I will also be posting about an assortment of other interests and adventures that come my way!  You will probably see a lot of changes to some of the content and the layout of my blog in the next few months as I sort out the details of my new site.  I hope you enjoy and stick around for the ride!

XO,

Gina