Saturday, January 31, 2015

New York, New York!

We made the last minute decision Thursday morning to head to New York City for the weekend.  I had only spent one quick night there when I was in college... So it was really the first trip for all of us. We booked an Airbnb on Queens and loaded up our car for the short trip. We are only 3 hrs and 45 min from NYC by car, and we found a pretty reasonable place to park near the airbnb.

We explored Times Square, ate at a little burger joint tucked in the Le meridian Parker hotel, and went to the top of the Rockefeller center to enjoy the views of the city. We also did some shopping, my trusty boots were on their last leg! 

Getting around the city with all of our baby gear was surprisingly not too bad. The subway elevators were not exactly the most pleasant smelling places, but were really convenient at the stations that had them. Otherwise we hoofed the stroller up and down stairs. We also wore Bennett a lot with the baby Bjorn. He was bundled up warm and toasty the whole time.

We took respite each day stopping at the church building downtown. It provided a warm and quiet place to feed Benny and play with him when we needed a break from the chaos of the city. 

We met up with friends at Chelsea Market for lunch, it was great reconnecting and the food was Delish. I had some southwest inspired vegan sushi that did not disappoint. 

Speaking of food- we ate like kings! I am eating dairy free right now because Benny has a milk allergy. However, I found lots of options. I didn't get to enjoy the waffle food truck or the magnolia bakery cupcakes... But I convinced John to have some for me and he didn't put up too much of a protest :) I did enjoy a tasty gyro though and some delicious huevos rancheros for breakfast one day. 

We met up with some friends from Ann Arbor Friday night and had some delicious Thai food in the upper west side. The city is just sprawling and while we still have a lot more to explore, we feel like we got a good sense of how to get around. We are hoping to take another trip back in the spring/ summer to enjoy the parks a little more. 

Monday, January 12, 2015

Salvador, Brazil - Copa 2014

John and I had the enormous privilege of heading to Brazil this past summer to see a world cup game and visit a few cities. It was our "babymoon" of sorts before Bennett arrived. It was a fantastic trip. We were gone for two straight weeks and had so much fun. Brazil is not for the faint of heart - it was an adventure for both of us. We walked, bussed, flew and hiked all over!

We trekked to four different cities in Northern Brazil, including Salvador, Foraleza, Sao Luis and Belem. John served his mission in the last two cities we visited, so it was fun to see areas where he served as a missionary. I was so grateful that John spoke Portuguese. I could understand the language a little bit since I have a pretty good Spanish vocabulary - but having someone who spoke Portuguese was invaluable. I think Brazil would be pretty hard to travel to if you didn't have any familiarity with Portuguese - especially if you ventured out of tourist zones (which was what we did for much of our trip).

We each only took one backpack with us on the trip, which seems crazy for two weeks on the go but made all of our frequent travel super simple. We each had a few pairs of clothes, small toiletries. I only brought one pair of shoes that I wore the whole time (Tevas are the bomb...)

The energy in Brazil while we were there was unreal. There were people from all over the Globe in the country for the World Cup and the festivities in each city did not disappoint. We met and talked with people from all over at dinner, on the bus, at our hotels. Brazil takes their futbol pretty seriously - so even though I was not previously a big fan I found myself sucked in.

Below are some pictures from our first stop - Salvador. Salvador is commonly known as the Afro-Brazilian Cultural Center of Brazil. It was an amazing city to visit and probably my favorite of our trip. We saw a Folk Dance Group perform, enjoyed many street drum performances, saw many beautiful churches and walked up and down the many cobblestone hills every night. We also ate some fantastic food while we were there.

John about to board the plane - we were stoked! About to land in Brazil below.
This part of town is called the Pelhourino. All of the buildings are bold bright colors and those cobblestones were gorgeous but a lot for my 26 week pregnant body to hike up and down each day.

A beautiful Church we toured.
One of my favorite things in Brazil were the colorful streamers hung in each main square and along the streets. Why don't we do this more in the U.S? It is so pretty. All of these decorations were for the Festa de Junia which takes place in the month of June. It felt so vibrant and added to the pulse and beat of each city.

Friday, January 9, 2015

Phantom Crying and the curse of Mommy Guilt

I just stepped out of the shower. Showers used to be relaxing.  Lately I have been plagued by a phantom baby that haunts my shower and cries constantly.

A phantom baby you say? Do you mean Bennett cries while you are showering??

Nope. It is a phantom baby that haunts my shower.  Bennett is typically sound asleep napping when I take showers. But not the phantom baby. When I think I hear its cries,  I open my bathroom door and stick my ear out as far as I can without falling out of the shower. Lo and behold.... no crying coming from Bennett, or anywhere. Frequently I get all the way out of the shower and tip toe to Bennett's room to check on him and there he is, sleeping like a baby. And I look like an idiot sopping up the floor with water, half (or fully!) naked in the middle of my upstairs hallway.

As soon as the bathroom door is closed once more, the phantom baby strikes again! Needless to say I I spend a lot of my shower stressing out over if Bennett is really crying or if I am delusional.. Once I convinced myself it wasn't real and took an extra long shower (and shaved my legs... how luxurious!). When I got out poor Bennett was wailing and then came the Mom Guilt.

One thing I wasn't quite prepared for as a new Mom is the onslaught of guilt that comes with the job. I sometimes feel guilty for taking showers. Moms feel guilty if they work outside the home, they feel guilty if they don't. They feel guilty for eating a food they suspect upset their baby's tummy. They feel guilty for getting angry and frustrated when their baby woke up and they haven't slept in days. They feel guilty for not feeding their kids enough vegetables, or not reading them enough books. It doesn't matter what the choice, Mommy Guilt will come a lurking.

Surely we should not abandon our children... and surely there are some things we should feel guilty about. But as a general rule I need to challenge the mommy guilt in my life and tell it to go away.  So I will continue to shower and try to ignore the phantom baby crying.  It's not like I have much time to shower anyway...

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Thoughts on Motherhood and Staying Home for a While

People ask me so often about going back to work. It is probably the most common question I get about having a baby along with "How is he sleeping?" (a post for another day...)

I feel like deciding to stay home is a decision I have been deferring for a while. When I got pregnant I said I would decide when the baby arrived. Now that the baby has arrived... I am not ready to go back but I am also not ready to call off returning to work.  Fortunately, my company allows a 1 year unpaid leave of absence after maternity leave which I have decided to take advantage of.  I feel grateful my company offers this... it almost feels like I am given more time to procrastinate the decision.

I really enjoy my work.  I love solving complex problems. I love crunching numbers on an analysis and building complex spreadsheets. I love managing and working on a team. I most especially love building client relationships. I have done well at my job and work for a great company.

But then... there is this sweet little man at home with me. Who would care for him if I did not? What scenario is there that I would not miss him desperately and not worry for him all day? How could I balance it all?

We have  friends with babies 1 month, 3 months and 6 months older than Bennett. I am in constant wonder how much babies develop in their first year. I feel like Bennett changes day to day and week to week now. For us as adults, one year passes and not much may change. But for a baby... they are completely different people in a year with completely different abilities and needs.

So for now, I am excited to stay home and watch as Bennett grows this first year. I will continue to re-assess and if I feel time has come to go back to work, I will go. Sometimes I feel like decisions like this are one and done... but life is seldom that black and white. I often forget we can try something out, change our minds, tweak our approach.... the beauty of life is how it changes and evolves and how we are given the opportunity to adapt to it.

I feel grateful to have the opportunity to stay home. I know this is an enormous blessing and that we are fortunate to be in the position where I can take off work for a while.

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