Monday, August 5, 2013

lunching at the beach

Several weeks ago I made plans with Tita to hang out.  I was so excited to have girl time that I really didn't care where we went, as long as it was near the beach.  I honestly don't even remember the last time I saw the ocean, which is silly living so close to it.  So on a whim we headed to Shutters for lunch and despite the rude hostess, it was the perfect place for me to be. We sat with our toes in the sand, chewing on salt water taffy while waiting for our table.

We both ordered the egg sandwich, which was warm and cheesy on a crunchy ciabatta roll and paired with the subtly of the butter lettuce and crispiness of the bacon, it was perfection.  But the real winner here were the breakfast potatoes, so nice and crispy.  Splitting a carafe of rosé while sitting on the patio.  Heaven.

And it got even better when I saw Susie Cakes on the dessert menu.  Cake is one of my most favorite desserts and I'm always up for finding the best slices in LA.  Ever since reading about it on Cupcakes and Cashmere, I've wanted to try them out, but I haven't wanted to make the drive to Brentwood.  I'm honestly a little over the red velvet craze, because not too many places really do it right, but we took the waiter at his word and ordered their signature dessert and it did not disappoint.

We finished the afternoon off with a walk down to the water and I can't express how good it was for my soul.  Why in the world do I not come here more?

But even though I was loving my time, I was missing my family.  I still haven't gotten the hang of being able to leave my little love without constantly thinking what she's doing, so I allow myself a lot of check ins. 

And when I got home to my little family, Amelia was proud to show me how hard she's been working at holding her head up.  All in all, it was a fantastic day!

Friday, July 26, 2013

i'm thankful for ...

my new baublebar bracelets (thanks, sandra!) that are super easy to put on and add a little touch of style to my mom basics these days

having my sister here for a full week.  it was amazing to see how she instinctively knew how to soothe little amelia ... and make her laugh.  and the one thing they have in common:  napping! i was so overjoyed with seeing my two all-time favorite ladies finally meet.  my sister and i have a ridiculously close bond, so it was important to me that amelia have hope's name as her middle.  i just hate that we live so far away.  it's incredibly difficult to be so far from your family once you have a little one.  i cried all the way home from dropping her off at the airport.

my newest obsession:  old school s'mores.  every night after i put amelia down, and just before i sit down to pump, i make one of these guys.  it came on almost like a pregnancy craving - and i can't stop!  it all started with don draper talking about hershey bars on the last season of mad men.  for some insane reason, i was in the grocery store and just *needed* to make s'mores.  smart move of hershey's advertising on mad men.  well done, my friend, you suckered in this mama.

watching amelia become more alert every day

this little snuggler

fresh cherry tomatoes to snack on that, in my opinion, round out the s'mores eating

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

discovering new coffee shops

I realize that Peet's coffee is not new to most people in Southern California, but for some reason I've never been there before last week.  I've always been a big Starbucks fan and it wasn't until most of the friendly baristas at my local store started leaving that I felt okay with venturing out to try a new place.  I know that sounds ridiculous but I love my Starbucks crew, and they saw me nearly every morning throughout my entire pregnancy and were so excited when I brought little Amelia in.  It just somehow felt like I was betraying them, but now with new people working there who didn't have my drink memorized, it felt okay to discover a new place.

After hearing such delicious things about Peet's, I decided to give it a try -- and now I'm a 100% convert.  I love the classical music playing inside, and it feels more like an independent coffee shop with locals hanging out for longer than it takes to finish a cup of coffee.  With Chemex makers and Hario kettles, it feels more like a true coffee lovers place.  And just today when we stopped in on our way to Mommy & Me class I saw that they now had almond milk.  When I asked about it at the counter, the barista explained to me why you wouldn't want to add it to hot coffee, because the heat changes the consistency, but it would be perfect for an iced latte.  I love that he was so passionate about it, but opted for my 2% milk.

My almost daily obsession is an iced 2 pump vanilla latte -- and it's become the only thing (besides Amelia!!) that gets me out of the house in the morning.  Seriously, it makes me that happy. I love how bold the flavor is, and where Starbucks lattes can sometimes be watery, Peet's is just so rich and robust.  I'm also a huge fan of how they prepare it:  they start by pouring a small layer of steamed milk in the bottom of the cup, then add ice, then add the espresso in tandem with the remainder of the milk.  The end result?  Perfection.

** and for those of you not in CA,  you can find Peet's in CO, MA, IL, OH, OR, and WA

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

date night: fashion and food

In anticipation of seeing Jeff outside of the house and without our little one in tow, I booked a sitter two weeks in advance, as I simply couldn't wait to actually go out on a date and feel like a couple again.  And then of course my next thought was that I needed something to wear that hides the last of my baby weight.  So while I was taking a stroll with Amelia on Lake Avenue in the 90 something degree heat, I popped into TJ Maxx for a little relief and found this Velvet nautical shirt for $29.99 and immediately snatched it up. It was perfect for our date -- I didn't even need to try it on. I'm a sucker for anything nautical and I loved the aqua hue and the slightly open back made me feel like less of a mom and more of a 30-something woman.

I paired it with my Level 99 skinny jeans I recently bought at Anthropologie's big summer sale and finished the outfit off with my two gold necklaces that I am loving wearing together.  My sister-in-law had gotten me the "A" necklace for Mother's Day and Jeff bought me the COATT necklace below -- it actually spells Mom in morse code and the red ribbon adds a nice pop of color.  FYI, both of these are awesome presents for any lady in your life.

We went to see This is the End at the Arclight and I didn't really know that much about it, other than it got an 84% on Rotten Tomatoes.  I was just happy to be out of the house, so that was good enough for me.  If you're a fan of Judd Apatow's actor crew, it's definitely a must see.  I haven't laughed that hard in a really long time and Jeff literally jumped out of his seat twice.  The story is a bit ridiculous, but just go with it.  Danny McBride was my favorite part, but Michael Cera's cameo was hysterical.

After having only eaten popcorn, we were still hungry and more importantly, I was craving a glass of wine, so we headed to Bodega Wine bar and for some delicious bites.  To be honest, the food looks better than it actually was.  Maybe it was an off night for them? It didn't really matter because the wine was what I was really after.

happy husband
roasted brussel sprouts

brie and apple flatbread

chicken tacos

Monday, July 8, 2013

saturday afternoon bbq and pool time

Now that we're officially parents we've started to adapt to the lazy weekend.  I never fully understood it before we had kids, but when you do have tiny little ones it feels like so much work (and very little pay off) to go out to a lot of places, so the idea of taking it easy at home becomes more appealing.  When my friend Leah asked if we wanted to get together on Saturday I jumped at the idea of having her family over for some pool time and barbecuing.  My friend Tita and I had also talked about getting together, and since she was totally up for making the trek to Pasadena, it turned into a mini fiesta.  We ended up having a fantastic day -- grilling out, swimming and eating homemade ice cream.  My sweet husband ended up bearing the brunt of the work to get everything ready, but he agreed it was well worth it.  Amelia was so worn out that she slept 7 1/2 hours straight.  Fun day with friends, food and sleeping babies - Everybody won!

Friday, July 5, 2013

i'm thankful for ...

Amelia being two months today!

*photo by Jeff

Finding great summer bargains at J Crew.  Regular price: $115. Marked down to $69.00 + additional 30% off = $53.40.  Using a birthday gift card from my dad & Carolyn (thanks!!) = FREE

Beating the 100+ degree heat with a DQ blizzard

Sweet little Amelia sleeping almost 8 straight hours last night.  I woke up to a smiley baby and feel like a new woman.

Making lemonade out of lemons.  I was determined continue a 4th of July tradition and to go to the movies with Amelia yesterday.  Jeff was skeptical, but we attempted it. We went to the Arclight to see The Heat, bought three tickets (yes, they make you by a ticket for a tiny baby), got popcorn and sodas, sat down and lasted maybe ten minutes.  I guess I got a little over confident from going to my Mommy & Me movies.  Anyway, we ended up watching Identity Thief at home.  It's not fantastically funny, but it was totally worth it for a rental.  I still got my Melissa McCarthy fix and it didn't matter how much noise our little one made :)

*photo from IMDB

Friday, June 28, 2013

i'm thankful for ... (birthday edition)

Gorgeous flowers from Jeff that arrived on my doorstep for my birthday

My new little family minutes before we left Amelia with a baby sitter for the first time.  We went out for sushi and our little one slept the entire time we were gone!

Anthropologie sale, sleeping baby and gift card = happy shopping.  Thanks Mom and Jerry!

I know I blogged about them earlier, but they started off the birthday week just right with a delicious brunch

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

ladies only brunch

This past Sunday my girlfriends took me out for an early birthday celebration and it was magnificent.  It felt so nice to sit down with four of my favorite people and just talk for hours, while eating of course.  We caught up on men, babies, more men and more babies. 

We went to Mess Hall in Los Feliz and I don't think any of us had one complaint.  The food was delicious -- I definitely recommend the french toast, breakfast burrito, chicken and waffles and smoked salmon benedict -- there was no bad dish there!  They were streaming the Billie Holiday channel on Pandora and our waiter was fantastic.  He even took the picture above.

But the best part was being out with my Marys and feeling like myself again.  Even better was the Burke Williams gift certificate they spoiled me with -- and even better?  Coming home to my sweet girl and having her nuzzle into me, falling asleep in my arms.

Friday, June 21, 2013

the boss baby

*photo by my sister-in-law Carrie

As of May 5th, I got a new boss and she is most definitely the cutest boss I will ever have in my life, but she is by far the most demanding boss I've ever had.  It goes without saying that I adore her and have wanted to be a mom for so long, but what I have found to be so enlightening is just how hard the first month has been.

When you're trying to get pregnant, all you focus on is wanting a baby.  I pictured fun activities we'd do together like going to the park, snuggling while reading a story and hearing her say "mama" for first time.  I sort of skipped over the newborn phase during this daydreaming process, as I knew the sleep deprivation and around the clock feedings would be hard.  I just didn't know how hard.

For years, getting pregnant was my # 1 goal.  Then once I was pregnant, I was in this state of mild euphoria.  Not the first trimester, because I spent the majority of it in bed with debilitating nausea and migraines, but once I hit the second trimester, I really hit my stride.  I loved my growing belly and saw it as a badge of honor.  I know exactly where I was the first time I felt the little flutter of her first kick and was mesmerized every time she did thereafter.  It never grew old to me that there was a life forming inside me.  I was so excited to be pregnant that I went out and bought maternity clothes way before my belly had truly formed and was fully registered for everything baby before I even entered my second trimester. 

And then there's all the celebration that comes when you're pregnant.  You receive so much joy and love from everyone in your life, even those you don't know.  I loved having impromptu conversations with strangers at Starbucks, whom I would otherwise never even make eye contact with. Let's face it, everyone loves a pregnant woman.  And people want to know what you're having, do you have a name, and then they always, without fail, offer you a bit of advice -- even if they put the disclaimer out there that "you're gonna get a lot of unsolicited advice, but ..."  Of course the most popular bit is "get your sleep now," which of course now I understand why they say it, but it doesn't make any sense.  You can't store up sleep and you can't comprehend what they really mean until you are two days in, averaging 2 hours of sleep a night.

But about halfway through my third trimester, I have to admit I was over it.  I was so uncomfortable, my belly was just taking over my life.  I couldn't sit comfortably.  I couldn't stand comfortably and I definitely could not sleep comfortably.  My pregnancy pillow we nicknamed "The Snoog" had taken over our bed and poor Jeff had maybe 1/4 left to sleep on.  I was no longer sleeping, waking up at 3 am and watching hours of terrible television.  I think my lowest point was watching "The Flintstones: Viva Rock Vegas."  Okay, in all honesty, my lowest point was watching "The Flintsones: Viva Rock Vegas" for the second time, because I fell asleep during the last 30 minutes the time before.  I somehow loved watching these terrible movies during the wee hours of the night. It was like my little secret.  But then I got so tired of being tired that I thought "can i just go ahead and have this baby?  I mean I'm already not sleeping, I might as well be taking care of my baby."  Little did I know. 

So three days after my due date, little Amelia decided it was time to get moving.  Of course, as with everything in my life, this didn't come easy. She was posterior.  For those of you who don't know what that means, babies are supposed to come out face down, but she was coming out face up.  This meant that the hardest part of her body - her skull - was scraping up and down my spine, causing a ton of back pain, which ultimately meant a very long and painful labor.  Normally, you get relief between contractions, but I was having excruciating back pain in between each one.  By the time we got to the hospital and got into our delivery room, Jeff and I asked roughly how long it would be before she arrived.  When the nurse said about 10 - 12 more hours, I maybe hesitated a few seconds before the words "epidural" shot out from my mouth.  I had been in labor since Friday and it was Sunday morning, the thought of ten more hours was just unbearable.

Once that beautiful epidural shot into my spinal cord, things felt SO much better.  Why had I not gotten to the hospital earlier, instead of laboring in pain at home for so long?  How was I thinking about doing this without drugs?  Props to you moms out there who did it, but I reached a point where it just didn't seem possible without some sort of intervention.  

Jeff was the best labor coach I could have asked for.  He was with me every step of the way, pressing into my lower back when I was moaning through each contraction, telling me "you're halfway through the contraction.  The pain will be going away now.  You're doing such a great job, baby!"  He fed me italian ices (which felt so decadent compared to ice chips), sneaked in a strawberry yogurt, held my hand, rubbed my back and just made it all better.  He was even helping the nurses by getting pillows, grabbing ice chips, and playing good music, which of course, put him in their good graces.  In between checking on me, they would tell me how lucky I was to have such a committed partner. One even asked if she could be our sister wife!  I can't imagine what it was like in the Don Draper years, when men stayed out in the waiting room with their bourbon, smoking their cigarettes.  

Throughout my entire pregnancy, I was terrified of labor, but I have to admit it wasn't that scary, but remember I had drugs.  It's the one time in my life where I truly felt in the moment. I had no idea of what time it was, how many hours had passed, or even what people were asking me sometimes.  I just remember a ton of pillows, italian ices, excellent nurses, our doula giving me a phenomenal foot massage and Jeff being so supportive. And anytime I felt a twinge of pain, I just had them boost that epidural and all was good again.

Earlier in the day, my nurse Malinda had said "you're gonna love pushing" and I thought "you're insane."  But when it was time to start pushing, I realized I actually did like pushing.  It was like, after nine months of waiting and hours and hours of labor, I was finally going to meet her - and I was actively doing my part to help her enter this world.  After  2 1/2 hours of it, our strong little girl finally made it under my pelvic bone, turning at the last minute, and was on her way out.  The instant of grabbing her and putting her up on my chest ( I totally pulled a Kourtney Kardashian) was so surreal.  I had a baby.  A beautiful, sweet little love laying right there on my chest, fresh out of the womb.  Everything else in the room went away and for a few minutes it was just me, my sweet baby girl and my husband.   Just like that we were a family of three. 

I didn't notice the delivery of the placenta, the uterine massage, or even the many stitches that were being sewn into my poor, torn, swollen perineum.  It wasn't until our hour and a half of skin-to-skin time had ended and the epidural had been turned off that I started to feel the pain.  We left our massive floor-to-ceiling windowed room with a view of the Hollywood sign and I was wheeled into a TINY, dingy little postpartum room and I thought "oh, how the mighty have fallen!"

Poor Jeff got stuck "sleeping" on a tiny cot that was missing several springs and every time that we thought we could get an hour of sleep, the door would open, the fluorescent lights would jolt on and someone would barge in to give me some sort of medicine, take Amelia to get her hearing test, or ask if I wanted juice.  And because she arrived just minutes before midnight, we only got a day and a half in the hospital, which quite honestly turned out to be a blessing, because we clearly got no rest there.

On the day of our discharge I remember trying to get Amelia swaddled and myself dressed, which was a feat as I could barely even stand, while Jeff was running back and forth to the car,  getting everything ready for us to leave.  All of a sudden, Amelia started wailing and I couldn't get her to calm down.  I started crying and the nurse came in to rescue me.  Jeff had walked in at this point and took her, checked her diaper and realized she was wet.  I looked at our nurse and said "I didn't even think to check that"and she was like "Oh baby, that's one of the first things you check!"  That's when I thought - "wait! I'm in charge of her!  I can't even figure out one of her most basic needs and now we're just taking over, here?"

I was overwhelmed.  This was not how I thought this moment would go.  I remember seeing pictures on Facebook of  moms wearing cute outfits with fresh makeup on, holding their new little bundles as they left the hospital.  Umm...I was wheeled out to our car in a nightgown, as I had accidentally peed on my "going home" outfit, with no makeup and giant bags under my eyes, forbidding Jeff to snap any photos, while I tried to soothe our crying baby.  Jeff cautiously drove us home and I think we savored that drive.  1) because she was actually sleeping and 2) because the slower the drive meant the more time we had to get home and getting home was terrifying.

Once we got home I remained overwhelmed, as we maybe slept two hours a day that week.  I couldn't believe how challenging it was.  My mom arrived exactly a week later (and yes I was counting) and we 100% could not have done this without her.  She took care of our little family for three weeks.   It was amazing to see her with Amelia and how she instinctively knew how to soothe her.  It was such a great bonding experience for me to have my mom teach me how to mother. 

I've asked her and my mom friends why is this so hard for me and the response is always the same, that the first six weeks are the worst.  I just don't know why people don't talk about this more.  Maybe you feel guilty because this is supposed to be a blissful period and you feel like an asshole to complain in any way? Or maybe I'm just a wimp.  As much as I love her, this has been the hardest thing I've ever done.  But it's getting better every day.  And everytime I have a breakdown I know I have Jeff or my mom, or my girlfriends to call and they remind me that it's okay to feel this way -- it's just part of the process.  My body has gone through trauma, I'm being tortured with no sleep, my hormones are absolutely crazy and I'm feeding non-stop, around the clock.

So for now, I celebrate the little moments where she snuggles into me while nursing, taking her little hand and wrapping her fingers around my pinky.  Or the crazy faces she makes and the little laugh she lets out when her belly is full.   Or that beautiful baby smell.  Or those chubby little cheeks.  Or how even after I've put her down, I sneak back over to look at her, amazed that we created something so beautiful.  That's what makes me know that while she is demanding, she's going to be the best boss I've ever had.

Friday, June 7, 2013

i'm thankful for ...

Nana visiting us for three weeks and taking care of our new little family.  We seriously could not have survived without her!

Three generations of Brock women.  Amelia's middle name is the same as her Nana's and her Aunt Hope

Flowers and sunshine, just outside my doorstep!  This is one of the most important things that I make sure I do everyday -- Get outside!  You'd be surprised at how hard that is to do as a new mom.

I never get tired of looking at this face -- and Jeff captures the best moments of her.

Having the most incredible husband I could possibly imagine.  He makes me dinner every single night, no matter how tired he is... and last night he baked me some chocolate chip cookies, knowing that I "needed" them.

Having such supportive women in my life who have helped get me through this first month of motherhood.  I would be a basket case without you! 

Thursday, May 30, 2013

dry shampoo

I realize that dry shampoo has been around for a couple of years now, but I just recently jumped on the band wagon, and it couldn't have come at a better time.  Seriously, this stuff is amazing!  I know there are a ton of options out there, but I love Klorane's Gentle Dry Shampoo.  It's made with oat milk which for some reason makes it feel decadent, not to mention, it smells so so good.

I'm a daily shampoo kind of girl, except on Sundays (to my husband's dismay, I make it a policy to not shower on Sundays).  I know kinda gross, but it's my deal.  Every hairdresser I've had says to wash my hair every other day, but whenever I try, it just feels limp and greasy, and by the end of the day I feel like Charlie Brown's Pig Pen.

Recently my hairdresser told me that a better way to extend my not-so-natural-red-hued hair is to use dry shampoo.  It's so simple. All I have to do now is wake up, brush my hair and throw a couple of quick sprays at my roots and voila, I'm ready to be out in public.  So now I only have to wash my hair three times a week! Another perk is that it really does volumize and makes my hair look and feel so much thicker.

Of course, these days I'm in yoga pants - let's be honest, not even that - my outfit really consists of a nursing tank, a robe and slippers with some sort of spit up or breast milk covering at least 25% of my clothes.

One more thing before I go,  everyone warns new mothers-to-be that you'll never have time to shower, but I shower every single day...I even showered on Sunday.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

introducing amelia


I realize that it has been far too long since I've updated this blog, but I couldn't wait any longer to introduce the love of our lives, Amelia Hope Voris.

After a very long journey, Jeff and I are blessed to have welcomed this little butter bean into our lives on Sunday, May 5th, just minutes away from midnight. As Jeff says, she was determined to be a Cinco de Mayo baby. I 100% plan on writing more about her journey into the world, but now that I'm in my sleep deprived state,  I thought I'd share a few of my favorite family photos taken by the extraordinary Ann Molen.