Friday, May 30, 2014

The Final Countdown

Baby Quinn's official eviction date is June 16th, but womb mates have minds of their own. They emerge whenever they feel like emerging. Take Olive, for example:


Kiddo lived rent-free in my belly for an extra week. You just never know. Considering the unexpected, I've been doing some quality online shopping in preparation for rug-rat number two. Having run the gauntlet once, I know good and well that there really isn't a point in fretting too much over what I pack into my hospital bag. The following are my bare necessities.

1) A good baby straight jacket.

The one pictured is a Woombie and was recommended by my doc. Will your baby look ridiculous in this zipper swaddle? Why, YES! But my obgyn swears by this invention. Seeing that Olive was a horrendous sleeper (we swaddled her with Aden + Anais blankets, but she'd routinely Houdini herself out of our attempts at bondage), le huz and I are determined to start this second baby off on the right foot - even if it means she will look like a mental patient.

2) Sexy mesh knickers

My entire stay at Good Samaritan upon Olive's delivery was spent wearing the hospital's breezy backless smocks paired with mesh granny knickers and disposable hotel slippers. I had hoped to break in some new Hanky Pankys, but the low-riding underwear I usually wear rubbed against my surgery wound, and weren't nearly as roomy as these sexy babies. For those who've been there, done that, you'd know that post-delivery, us mamas wear massive pads (sometimes two) in case of bleeding. Your hospital should provide you with these practical knickers, but it never hurts to have a few extras on hand.

3) Nipple cream

Babies aren't robots. They're all different. Fortunately and unfortunately. Olive the newborn was a total barracuda and insisted on feeding every 45 minutes. Needless to say, my nipples ended up dried, cracked and bleeding. LOVELY! I took huge comfort in applying nipple cream to my sad nips and resorted to using a breast pump to express milk while

I tried Motherlove as well as Lansinoh and preferred the latter. Order here.

4) Munchies.

Breastfeeding a newborn every 45 minutes left me with little time to sleep, let alone enjoy a movie off an iPad. It also left me feeling a tad hungry. Having snacks within arm's reach can't hurt. If I don't eat them, I'm pretty sure my littlest visitor, Olive, will. We both have been really into Skinny Pop popcorn lately. I like that it's not too salty.

5) Fashionable duds for the little one.

Upon our departure from the hospital, le huz and I didn't even bother changing Olive into one of the outfits I had so-thoughtfully selected for her out of fear that it'd lead to unnecessary waterworks. She was a mega-crybaby and resembled Garfield when she cried:

Olive left the hospital in a very practical hospital grade onesie and beanie. Should Quinn's disposition differ from her sister's, I hope to squeeze her into the above-pictured little polka-dotted J.Crew wonder. Order here.

6) Attractive departure outfit for mama.

So I'm no supermodel. My genes are completely unlike Miranda Kerr or Gisele Bundchen. I breastfed Olive with little, next to NO ease, and it took months of Crossfit training and a half-marathon before I could get into my old jeans. Needless to say, I still sported a sizeable soft gut after Olive's deliver, and if memory serves me well, I left wearing non-trendy tapered sweatpants to accommodate my jiggly gut and a baggy sweatshirt to accommodate my lactating, free-hanging breasts.

Depressing much? Well, this second time around, I am determined to reemerge into the world looking slightly more presentable.

I've been wearing a version of this awesome dress from HATCH through out my pregnancy. (I'm obsessed with Ariane Goldman's collection.) This baby-doll gem has the potential to hide a world of flaws without looking too maternity; more importantly, my postpartum belly will have no problem fitting in it. Paired with a wireless bra and nursing pads, I'll leave the hospital looking and feeling human.

7) Massive tote

Hospitals provide lots of freebies should you choose to take them. Diapers, bottles, formula, swaddles, sexy mesh knickers, and so forth. Le huz and I didn't know this the first time around, so we left the hospital with our free gear housed in a massive clear garbage bag. How very Jersey Shore. In an effort to appear classy and human this second time around, I plan to pack a foldable extra-large tote in my delivery bag. The one pictured above is by Herve Chapelier (I've owned it for over eight years and it makes for a fantastic travel companion). Order here.

Happy packing. Happy birthing.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

When Life Gives you Lemons

Illustration by moi.

I'm due to deliver Baby Quinn anytime between now and June 16th, but that doesn't mean my other baby, Project Maltman, the duplex project I began a while back, is on the back-burner. NOPE. My team of contractors are chugging along... full-force ahead. It's important to acknowledge that I'm used to getting in and out of projects rather quickly (think 3 months max), but this particular renovation has kept me busy for nearly 9 months to date! What came to me as a cosmetic fixer turned out to be a total rebuild. We're talking major water damage, termite damage, asbestos findings, foundation issues... But as the saying goes, "When life give you lemons..." KEEP THEM. BECAUSE HEY, FREE LEMONS.

Well, good things come to those who wait, and the guts of this place will soon be flawless. With that said, I am now focusing on beautifying the joint, but as you can imagine, the cost of reframing, rewiring, replumbing, not to mention the cost of new flooring, new HVAC, new water heaters, and new decks have left me with little wiggle room for the good stuff. Finishes. But constraints can be a blessing. (I'm trying to think positively here!) There's no shame in installing simple subway tile. When combined with black and nickel or chrome hardware, classic subway tile can be totally refreshing.

"I have said that black has it all. White too. Their beauty is absolute. It is the perfect harmony." 
- Coco Chanel

"Bright and airy. Lots of white with touches of charcoal for contrast. Open, modern, relaxed with an industrial and vintage twist." That's what I scribbled in my notebook while brainstorming "the look" at my neighborhood Starbucks. Heaven knows how this project will turn out. It's been incubating longer than my second child...

A peek at what's been cooking in the kitchens. Both upper and lower units. 

Let's start with the upper: 

Pictured to the right of the kitchen is the entryway. More on that space later.

The kitchen's orignal layout was an L with an island. Remember THIS POST? Well, I have since reframed the entry way to the kitchen and have also centered the only window in the space. The kitchen's new formation will be a galley, but the square footage remains the same. 8.5 wide' and 14.5' long. SKINNY! Layout drawings of the two sides of the space here:

It took a while to convince my millworks guy that an offset range looks rad. I showed him inspiration pics like these:

Fresh, yeah?! Now one nice thing about this configuration is that the project can save on tiling. Because we're only tiling up to the floating walnut shelf, I suggested we go with a dramatic glossy black Heath tile for a crisp look like this:


When used in moderation, black subway tile can look incredibly fab. Just enough drama. And hey, if it's good enough for Olivia Pope (I'm a die-hard Scandal fan, and her kitchen backsplash is black), I say it's good enough for everybody.

Back to the entryway. How happy would you be if you were greeted with this Tom Dixon pendant on your way in? 
Instead of this:

You'd be greeted with this:

He comes in several finishes, but at the moment, I'm totally in love with the copper. Decisions, decisions.

Moving on... The lower unit is currently looking like this. 

Demolished and reframed.

This is wall unto which much of the lower unit kitchen will be installed:

The kitchen will be open to the living room and will feature a small island that can seat two. The layout has yet to be finalized, but it will likely look something like this (the island will sit in front of the wall, not next to it):

Because the lower unit does not capture as much natural light as the upper unit (upper unit balconies block a good deal of the sun shining down below), the cabinets will be some shade of white. The island, however, may either get painted a shade of off-black and topped off with a slab of carrara or encased in wood for warmth. Goodness, I can't decide. Some inspiration images:

To save on tiling expense, the strip of backsplash behind the range will likely be stainless steel. I've never installed stainless steel as a backsplash before, so this will be a first. Hoping it looks good. But if I opt to top the island off in butcher block, how beautiful would a slab of natural stone be?

And how cool would it be to have this Brass T fixture hanging above the little island?

I haven't ordered the fixture yet out of fear that I may change my mind and want to go for two small milk pendants... Thoughts?
This project is scheduled for completion mid-July. Hopefully I'll find time to post more updates. But between Quinn and Maltman (name of the duplex), and Olive, I'm juggling more than enough babies!

Friday, May 09, 2014

Underneath it All

Baby Quinn, unlike Olive (who had no intention to exit my womb), seems eager to come out and play.
According to the ultrasound, her head is down (Olive was breech), and she jabs me with her limbs daily.

I'm roughly a month away from delivering Baby Quinn and am looking foul. My National Geographic-worthy boobies are massive, pale and veiny. And topping off the suckers are large, darkened areolas circling pencil-eraser-esque nipples.

My pajama pants are no longer fitting and I and have begun sporting my husband's gym shorts. Four inches of hard belly meat jut out over them when I walk around the house. Imagine an obese man with a single ab.

My legs are swollen and I am no longer comfortably fitting into maternity "skinny jeans." I wonder if I can find "maternity skinny jeans for husky calves." My stems are also dry and scaly - for I have become too darn fat to to bend over to lotion them.

And then there's my face. Laura Mercier bronzer is no longer doing me any good. Try contouring a marshmallow. It's a feat next to impossible.

I crop dust as I walk. Deepest apologies to those who crowd me at Trader Joes and the Farmer's Market. My body's full of gas over which I have no control of. I excrete unidentifiable liquids when friends make me laugh too hard. I'm like a senior citizen. And yes, I choo-choo like a freight train when asleep. My nasal passage is filled with fat - my own diagnosis, not the the doctor's. 

This second pregnancy has left me feeling physically ruined, but that's okay. I'm eight-months pregnant, and in the home-stretch. I'm incubating a little human, and this is what I'm supposed to look like. I look to Olive and know that this journey is a worthwhile one.

Olive with her beloved aunt Cindy, whom she thinks is named "Honey."
The name has stuck, and we don't have the heart to correct her...

Olive baking blueberry muffins with Mama.
Master Chef Jr. in the making...


We did. 
A couple of weeks ago. 
To Maui. 
And it was lovely.

We were only away for three days...

But the three days were perfection. Ask Olive.

"Best castle ever." That's what she said.

True dat. It's hard to go wrong with the Four Seasons Resort at Wailea
We ate like labrador retrievers. We laid like beached whales. We slept like sloths. 
It was everything I hoped for - and more.

Your wallet will be lighter upon departure, but so will your spirit.
I'm ready to deliver baby number two now.


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