Monday, March 23

My Kind of Town...

This weekend I visited my sister and her family in the "land of good food" a.k.a. Chicago!!!

I arrived on Friday just in time for lunch. A Fattoush Salad at Cedar's Mediterranean Kitchen. Amazing.

Later for dinner--I never leave Chicago without a slice of heaven from Giordano's. My brother-in-law also brought home some authentic jerk chicken and red beans and rice. It was hands down, the best I've had since I was in Jamaica and tasted like it was smoked on applewood. Wow.

Other food over the weekend included a Chicago Pizza Puff (first timer), an Italian Beef (first-timer), and the usual Chicago Dog--or "Magnificent Char Dog" from Gold Coast Dogs...

The next morning I got my first taste of what it may be like to do Charm City Baby's hair when she's two years old, when I volunteered to do my niece's hair and get her dressed for the day.This was really fun b/c she LOVES the camera.

Here's the before...

She told me in her two-year old voice she has "Wild, Wild Hair" quoting one of her favorite children's books by Nikki Grimes.--a book every little brown girl should have, in my opinion.
Anyway...after 20 minutes of hearing her say "ouch" and "finished yet?" and responding "I'm sorry!" and "almost!"we had a finished product (and a smiling face!)...

And just because she LOVES to pose...all dressed in her High School Musical jogging suit...

This was good practice for me. I think I did a good (not perfect) job, but I accidentally did her hair while she was still in her pajamas and had to force her head into her t-shirt without messing up her do--no easy task--but a lot of giggling.
All and all--a great time in Chi-town. I can't wait to go back!

Wednesday, March 18

Make Way for Baby...

It's official! Our home has begun its transformation in preparation for the arrival of Charm City Baby.

This weekend I had a successful shopping trip where I found a zebra rug for $129 at HomeGoods! I also found a shadow box frame of real butterflies which compliments the monarch butterflies in the framed turtle scarf, nicely. With turles, zebras, and butterflies, I'm starting to see a secondary theme to my modern nursery. Hmm.

Yesterday, the hideous 1980's floral wallpaper was removed by an appropriately named company "Take It Off!"

Next steps:
- skim coat the plaster walls and prepare them for painting next month
- order the custom roman shades (takes 4-6 weeks).
Btw, JCP's annual window event(65 +10% off all custom drapes and shades) is going on in stores right now. Get thee to JCP!

Sunday, March 15

Boy or Girl?

About a week ago a colleague told me that when her daughter was pregnant she had an ultrasound at a private baby imaging office outside of her normal OB office. Until then, the thought had never crossed my mind.

Soon after, I mentioned it to Charm City Daddy focusing on the idea that we could get a 3D or 4D DVD of baby between 25-30 weeks. And then he asked the question I should have known he was going to ask..."Can we also find out the baby's gender a little earlier?" (Background: We're not supposed to find out with our doctor until March 30.) That immediately spurred a frenzy of searching for a local office and an appointment, and Friday the 13th at 4 p.m. was our big day.

Both of us confidently went into the appointment with pure and utter confidence of the gender of our baby. This ultrasound was only confirming what we already knew--at least that's what we told ourselves.

As CCD flew through rush hour traffic going 80 mph and weaving in and out of cars, I inhaled some chocolate pudding to get Charm City Baby moving for the camera. Seconds into the appointment it was apparent that either the pudding had worked or Charm City Baby also shared in my terror of the skillful, but scary driving of CCD. CCB was kicking all over the place--and by "place" I mean my bladder over and over again.

But the good news is, it provided a great view of the very telling "money shot."

It's a GIRL!

At first I could've sworn I saw a little penis, but clearly there is no penis there.

CCD's reaction was priceless, too. Keeping in mind this is the first sonogram that he has experienced he was thrilled to be seeing the baby in action. He was laughing, pointing, and at one point talking into my belly in his "daddy voice" telling the baby to move a certain way. :) (we don't tell him baby can't quite hear him yet).

When CCD found out it was a girl, he laughed, then smiled and then put his hands on his head and had what we'll call "a moment."Basically, he realized that's really going to have to parent our little girl and not just rumble and tumble as he had planned with a boy.

I was also shocked about having a girl too, particularly because all of my symptoms or non-symptoms had pointed to boy. Though I hoped we would have my parent's first grandson after 3 granddaughters, I must admit, I'm a bit relieved. As a parent, I definitely know how to do the 'girl thing'--at least I think so.

We are both so thrilled and can't wait to meet little OLIVIA!!

Check out her nose! It's her daddy's nose..."bulby." lol. I love it!

Tuesday, March 10

"Taking the Labor Out of Your Delivery..."

Mommies-to-Be: Are You Busy Bees?

Are you stressing about pulling together your nursery? No time to figure out what baby products are the best for your registry? Need help planning a top-notch baby shower? Too overwhelmed to interview or narrow down your childcare options and pediatricians? Obsessing over birth announcements or thank you cards?

Worry not. Stress not. Hire a baby planner!

Wait a minute. What? How did my working mother of four ever survive this harsh, overwhelming world we live in that requires women to do all of those things during a 9-month period, give birth to a 6-10 pound baby, only to have it suck the milk out of you, and then the world expects you to like...raise the child and repeat the process! (How was that for sarcasm?)

Lucky for us, entrepreneurial GenX-ers have thought of it all.

The Baby Planners aka Baby Concierge according to their trademarked tagline "take the labor out of your delivery." Sounds good to me! But upon closer look, they are just talking about all of the little things that actually happen before the heavy breathing and pain. I understand that for some, it's those little things in which some mothers-to-be delight, but I love capitalism. There is obviously a market for this and I say to each his own! There is even a National Baby Planner Association. Check it out and find a local baby planner near you.

While I probably won't use a baby planner, I think it is a great idea and wonderful resource for working parents who need them--or any parent that just wants to use one.

While feel I almost anyone with the interest and talent could become a baby planner. Doulas on the other hand, are in a different league.

Doula (prenatal and postpartum) packages are another service many hospitals offer. Postpartum this person would come home with you let you stay in bed and recover while they take care of baby, grocery shopping, cooking dinner, laundry, thank you notes, etc. They also help teach you breastfeeding and more. My hospital combines postpartum doula packages with massage therapists! I know. It almost sounds too good to be true.

My rule is do what makes (and keeps) you happy.

Monday, March 9

A Modern, Gender-Neutral Nursery...

I wanted to share a few of my ideas for Charm City Baby's nursery!

First, the inspiration from Domino Magazine's feature on the home of Jenna Lyons...

And of course--my (40 x 40) beloved framed U of Md silk scarf...

And all of the pieces that I hope will help me achieve my version of a sophisticated, modern nursery...

Pictured Above:
  • I. love. that. glider. B/c it doesn't look like a "nursery glider" thus has some serious staying power, and its supposed to be ergo-friendly for breastfeeding. (yoya shop)
  • A couple of sheepskin pelts thrown here and there. (IKEA)
  • Yellow 3-drawer dresser- will get a changing table topper attached to it. (IKEA)
  • Black dresser for additional storage (IKEA)
  • Modern, white crib (Walmart)
  • Side table for the glider (IKEA)

Also not pictured but just as important:

  • Bedding--something simple in pattern, style and white.
  • Paint--will follow the inspiration pic from Domino--with yolk/white stripes for an interesting ceiling, black chalkboard paint on 2 opposing walls, and white everywhere else.
  • Bookshelf--something creative that makes the books look like art.
  • Window treatment-classic roman shades, perhaps in the yellow color (sassy!) or just white if I chicken out.
  • Lighting- my black and white coral lamps will depart the living room and finally find their rightful home.

So that's it for now. We start with wallpaper removal in the coming week--always fun in our historic home. The last time we attempted this in another bedroom the contractor ended up finding 2 additional layers of decades old wallpaper beneath. Nice.

When we get started in April, I will do my best to share progress on the nursery with my new Canon DSLR-when I learn how to use it. C-O-M-P-L-I-C-A-T-E-D. I'm taking photog classes because it is that ridiculous. The blackberry pics are convenient and easy--but we can do better, yes?

Saturday, March 7


In some of my normal clothes I think I still look like I have a nice little food gut, but when I wear fitted clothes---it looks like the beginnings of a baby!

Here it is at 16weeks...

Stay tuned for a post about my nursery inspiration and ideas.

We picked out paint chips last night! Fun! Fun! Fun!

Monday, March 2

Appointment Update:15 Weeks

Believe it or not, a month has already gone by and today was my monthly check up.

Charm City Daddy decided to go with me, despite warnings from me that we would not yet find out Charm City Baby's gender.

Since snow kept us both home today, I tried to appease CCD far in advance of the appointment by looking up our baby's gender according to the Chinese Lunar calendar. Luckily, it generated a boy result--which seemed to give him some satisfaction.

After speaking with a few of CCD's friends, however, I found out that he's told his friends that he wants a girl. Hmmm. Interesting. Because he clearly speaks directly into my belly at night, "hey boy, this is your father!" lol.

In fact, today at the doctor's office when the fetal doppler detected the baby moving and its heartbeat, CCD broke right into his much deeper and dramatic "daddy voice" and announced his presence loudly from across the exam room, "Hey boy! This is your father!"-cracking both me and the nurse up.

Another amusing doctor's visit with CCD.

Of course CCD didn't let an opportunity pass without asking our OB why the books say gender can be determined this early, yet we have to wait until week 19. Our OB explained that we're looking for more than just "particular girl/boy parts" she said "we're also looking to make sure everything has formed properly--and all structures are not yet in place.

I say no need to cause undue stress. A little patience is worth the peace of mind. It also seems like as soon as we know the gender, we'll be on the fast track for baby naming and registering gender appropriate stuff and everything else.

I'm enjoying this slower pace right now.

Sunday, March 1

Finally Comfortable!

Friday night, I picked up some maternity clothes from a friend who just had her second and final baby.

How lucky am I? I hit the jackpot!

She showered me with bags of cute pants, shorts, tops and sundresses from H&M Mama, Gap and Mimi Maternity. Who knew H&M had maternity? I am THERE!

CCD and I are all about consignment and thrifting it when it makes sense. Annually, the Women's Board at Johns Hopkins hosts the Best Dressed Sale event and has managed to get Baltimore's best dressed to donate their threads, accessories, houseware to this sale every year. Every designer is represented, it's organized like a department store, and it is so EASY to shop! I can't wait to go this year to get CCB some cute stuff.

Meanwhile, I am sitting comfortably in my stretch black maternity pants (sigh), and planning how I will dress up my new duds for work this week.

The baby bump is starting to make its appearance--pics to come this week.

Our Quest for an Au Pair...

At the end of last week, Charm City Daddy and I started the application process for an au pair for Charm City Baby.

Somehow over a year ago, CCD found out about this company and signed us up to start recieving information. After a few mailers a local coordinator from Cultural Care contacted us to begin starting the application process, that's when I had to inform the company that my darling husband had contacted them prior to us even concieving child! ha! They found this very amusing.

So anyway, this week I contacted the same local coordinator to let her know that we're ready to begin the application process---and what an involved and lengthy application process it is.

In fact the application/screening process is not very different from when my family hosted an exchange student from Germany when I was in high school. Applications, background checks, interviews, but all very much worth it--and I am still in touch with our exchange student today!

Now CCD and I are simply looking for a responsible caretaker that can also expose CCB to another culture or language--hopefully one that we know too like Russian (CCD) or Spanish (me)--or can learn.

After hearing our friends' daycare stories about pre-potty trained costs, backup plan when your baby is sick, pick-up times, keeping baby on schedule, etc, I know we are making the right decision for us.

We will see how this year goes, and if an AP turns out to be a good fit for our family and lifestyle, we plan to build a AP studio apt just above our freestanding garage.

If the application process continues to progress smoothly over the next couple of months-we'll pick up our new au pair on August 14th! Wish us luck!