On the foot-tails of Jenny's post on why she hates the wedding industry yesterday, we had yet another adventure into the wedding world today. See, my lovely friend Melissa is getting married, and I am honored to be standing up as her bridesmaid at her wedding. Melissa chose Amsale dresses for the ladies, so today, Weston, Jenny and I took a ride to the Wedding Salon of Manhasset (almost an hour drive for me!) to try some dresses and see which one looked best on me. Let's back up here: last week, after checking the Amsale website, I called the bridesmaid division of the Wedding Salon of Manhasset and made an appointment to come try dresses. Bridesmaid department, as per the Amsale website, clearly is at 1468 Northern Boulevard, right? So, we show up there, take the baby out of the car, into the stroller, up in the elevator, and we end up in this gorgeous bridal salon.

Now, here is the funny part: they do not know why we are there. For all we know, we could be a bride coming to look for a wedding gown! Yes, I have a ring on it, but Ms. Jenny doesn't. Also, we were dressed nicely, we showed up on time. And yet, no one came to help us. Finally a woman came over, I told her why I was there and she's all: you're in the wrong spot. I explained, nicely, that their website said this was the location of the bridesmaid dresses, and she went into some fable about how they are moving stores, and eventually all of the dresses will be at once place...and I explained again how their website clearly was wrong. So, she wrote down on a piece of paper the new address: 1681 Northern Boulevard.

So, we do the whole routine in rewind, Weston is being a total trooper, and we end up at this shopping center. It says 1681, however, there's a Pure Barre store there, no sign of anything bridal...we loop around. I get out with the stroller and babe, Jenny parks, and she goes into Pure Barre to see what is up! The very nice girl in there says how they get that question of, "um, bridal salon?" all the time...because uh, the other bridal salon keeps telling people to go to 1681, when it is clearly, clearly not a bridal salon? Yeah, that's it. She tells us to go up the stairs to find the bridal salon. Mind you, the bridal salon, which ended up being upstairs, isn't even OVER 1681. Where they got that address from is totally beyond me.

We couldn't obviously go all the way up with the stroller, so we wheel all the way around, go up two big steps and into...what looked like someone's walk in closet. The woman at the desk looked so happy to see us extremely annoyed to be disturbed. I told her why I was there, nicely, and she barked at me, "What company?" "Amsale." "OVER THERE!" There was gesticulation and a head turn away. I knew what style I wanted to see, Jenny and I started through the dresses. She asked who my bride was and I said she wasn't getting her dress there. Then, she actually did offer to get the dresses for us, because you know, it is her job to know where they are...I went back into the dressing room, but was hesitant to take my shoes off due to the copious amount of staples and open safety pins on the floor. I tried the dresses on, and came out, Jenny asked her for clips to hold the dress up.

As the lady put the clips on me, she started barking angrily at everyone in the room, which mind you, included an extremely well behaved 7.5 month old (and us, that was all...). "Who sent you here!?" she angrily exclaimed. "Was it Bella Bridal?! They have been sending brides here all week!" I explained, calmly, that "my bride" wasn't from here, and I was just instructed to try on a dress. I had no clue (I really don't!) where she is getting her dress from. She kept going about wanting to know who "sent us," and finished with a very loud, "I will find out! I will! I will call Amsale myself!" Um, ok? I changed out of my dress and we got out of there as fast as possible.

So, why am I telling you all of this? For one thing, when I have a bad experience someplace, I want to warn people! I cannot for the life of me understand how in this day and age, when anyone can go Yelp, Blog, Tweet, etc. their experience why a customer service person, in the bridal industry, nonetheless, would be so rude. We were not rude once. Not once! We came in friendly, grateful, and ready to go. It isn't our fault that Bella Bridal was sending people there, so guess what, don't take it out on us! Because you know what? Jenny knows a lot of brides, as do I, and we sure as anything won't be sending our brides to the Wedding Salon of Manhasset. Their behavior was uncalled for, and left a really bad taste in our mouth. And lastly, don't you dare act any which way you please to me and my sister, and then try to be all friendly to the baby--it's not appreciated. Wedding Salon of Manhasset, get off your high horse: you are a wedding salon on Long Island. It's a big, big world. Readjust your attitude, because I can tell you: a smile goes a long, long way. I am sure that there are nice people who work there, but unfortunately we didn't encounter any of them today, and we didn't receive any apology or understanding that their addresses on the Amsale website are not correct. In an industry based on one special happy day, the wedding industry sure knows how to make every day leading up to it pretty miserable, eh?

What's your bad experience in the wedding industry complex? Do share! 

For a person that is not engaged I spend a lot of time at weddings, after all my job is to marry people. Most of the time I get to float around the fringes of the wedding industrial complex. I don't have to deal with rude venue concierges, florists, wedding planners- I get to meet a great couple at the Manhattan side of the Brooklyn Bridge and walk with them to the center where we promptly get them married. When I DO see and meet other wedding vendors it's usually at events like Toasted BK, where exactly ALL of the vendors were smiling, happy and friendlier than you can even imagine. So when I come up against the traditional wedding venue, older vendor set and they are unsmiling, grumpy and rude- I am shocked and appalled. For a number of reasons. Today I ventured to a number of venues to drop off business cards and make introductions. I then got a call from a man who runs wedding expos. And I capped it off with a trip to the Bridal Salon to try on dresses for Melanie's wedding. A lot of wedding related stuff for a non-engaged person.

  • I am a future bride, as far as they know I am a current bride. So when I walk into a venue or a bridal salon LOOK UP. SAY HELLO. IN SOME WAY RECOGNIZE I AM A HUMAN. WITH A CREDIT CARD. I went into two places today where the women were on the phone when I walked in- that is beyond okay- what's NOT okay is not even smiling in my direction. Put up one finger to show me you see me there. Give me the "go shop" hand wave. Literally anything. Instead both women acted like they didn't see me. In a third place the man was with a customer and flat out ignored me. I thought I had entered the wrong way and was interrupting. Well done, you made a potential client feel foolish and embarrassed. Might I add all this happened before any of them knew that I am not a bride and was not about to drop anywhere between two and twenty thousand dollars at their business. I told the woman at Crest Hollow Country Club (so lovely, her and the space) that all the difficult people were making it really, really easy for me to edit out places for when I am compiling my own lists. Thanks, haters!
  • Planning a wedding is really stressful. I know from every angle. Know what doesn't help stress? Dealing with miserable people. Will it alleviate all your agita to deal with happy, smiling vendors? No- but it will make the whole planning process a little nicer, a little brighter. Listen, I know we vendors do this all the time- bride's anxieties can seem silly and dull to us. I get it, I am one of you [vendors]. But hopefully this is the bride or grooms only wedding. So would it hurt you to smile and act like you're actually excited for them? Who cares if you don't know them or they don't hire you? They're excited, it doesn't cost you anything to share in that. 

  • Crest Hollow looked so cozy and warm on this yucky rainy day!

So I just finished my third Whole 30, I say that because I decided it was over at exactly 9:30 PM this evening. I celebrated with a bowl of cereal. Because I love cereal. Love, love, love it. And I missed it for a long time when I wasn't eating milk and also couldn't locate a carrageenan free milk alternative (three cheers for Silk PureAlmond Original No Sugar Added!). So I celebrated with a bowl of cocoa puffs because it's all we had.

This Whole 30 was by far my most difficult- for two reasons: 1, I had a lot of events and times where I had to plan and pack. 2, The more Whole 30s I do the more I find out I cannot tolerate and the more obsessed/needy I get over the few non-compliant foods I CAN tolerate (bread and non-sugary cereal).

During this Whole 30- between March 17 and April 14 I remained compliant during:

  • My cousins sweet sixteen at my Italian family's favorite Italian restaurant. While everyone else was eating delicious pasta and chicken parmesan I had a salad and calamari cooked in tomato sauce (could be worse! Also, most of the normal food options were drenched in delicious looking cheese which I can never eat anyway). 
  • 2 days of a television shoot where they had tons of soda, pasta, Chinese food and every snack you could ever imagine. I pre-packed tostones with chicken and avocado and tomato on top and ended up meeting my dad at a steak house for one of the meals. What I ate was delicious and compliant- but it's so hard to see snacks you love FOR FREE and unable to participate.
  • Dinner and drinks out with friends. I ate olives and was happy to be the designated driver. But really did wish I could have a sip of Andrey's hard cider.
  • Multiple weddings scheduled right around meal times. I had to pack food for the train in order to get my compliant meal in. 
  • Buying Andrey a white chocolate matcha matsu bar from David's tea. And then Andrey insisting he not eat it until we can both try it. So it's been staring at me for weeks. 
  • Spent all day on day 29 at a wedding expo, Toasted BK. Pre packed steak, zucchini and plantains. Ate that while Andrey had cakes, burgers, pulled pork, etc. None of that bothered me until the wonderful women who ran the show brought around Cava AND hard Cider. And I couldn't have either. And I have literally never, ever wanted a drink more in my life. But I resisted. Because, Whole 30. 
All that is to say it was a real challenge at times. On top of all of this it became clear during this Whole 30 that I am allergic to grapes. Which is really terrible because I love grapes more than most things.. like Andrey. No.. just kidding, love Andrey more than grapes. But it IS close. 

Am I glad I did it? Heck yes! After eating like a true maniac in London (everything! Including lots and lots of stuff I am allergic to.) I was so pleased to feel like I was making really good, conscious food decisions. It's good to be challenged- even if that means you cry on the way home form Manhattan one night to your boyfriend about how badly you just want to eat cereal because you are so tired, and so hungry and have to be back in the city in 8 hours and you don't know what you'll eat for dinner when you get home. It was worth it, I feel healthy, I feel like I'm burning clean. And most of all, I feel like I really, really enjoyed that bowl of cocoa puffs.

One of the things people constantly say to Eric and I is, "Wow, Weston looks like an adult!" It's funny because...to me, he never really seemed "baby-like." From three months on I put sneakers on him, he's always worn blue-jeans, and we, well, dress him like a grown up man! I never thought I'd have so much fun dressing a little guy, but I have to admit: it's more fun than I ever thought, and I take much more pleasure and joy in planning his seasonal wardrobe than in planning my own! Weston is growing like a weed, and has super long legs, so summertime was a little tricky to plan for--do I buy swim shorts in 6-9 months or 12-18? In June, when we swim he will be 9 months old, but wearing probably 9-12 month (he's in 6-9/9-12 now!). BUT, in August when we swim, he'll be a year old! Needless to say, since the swim shorts were on sale (I only buy Baby Gap on sale!), I bought them in two sizes. Unlike with baby girls, I can't put my little man in short-shorts, so I have to be aware of the length and size of his shorts. As for shirts and onesies, I always go to old faithful: H&M. These are soft, cotton, and totally adorable. The shorts are from Baby Gap and Old Navy. The shoes are Old Navy, and the cap is H&M (and um, insanely cute on him, see: below). I'm planning on spending lots and lots of time outside with him this summer, so I wanted to get easy to wash and wear, and easy to pack clothing. I'll probably keep a bag for the beach/pool in the car at all times!

PS. I can't say enough good things about the H&M baby clothing. It's so, so soft, washes so well, and is incredibly well priced.

PPS. Other clothing he wears!

Do you ever have those days when you wonder why your wallet is so heavy, and then you open it up, and fifty-seven unused gift cards fall out? You look at them and think, "I will never use this one!" Or, maybe you're gearing up for a new shopping spree, but don't have a ton of cash-money to spend on yourself?

We're so excited to be part of a new campaign with Raise.com--what's Raise.com? Well, only the solution to these problems! Simply put, "Raise is an awesome new marketplace to buy and sell gift cards on the web! With the extra money you can save on discount gift cards to your favorite brands, you can spend more on the things you love." Raise is simple to use (just upload your unused gift cards, chose the selling price, and when someone buys the card, you send it...and you make money!). Shopping instead? Browse their marketplace for discounted gift cards to your favorite places

Their new campaign focuses on the idea of indulgence! With that extra money you have from saving on gift cards, or selling your gift cards, you can spend a little more on making your life...more lovely. Who knows more about indulging yourself than a new momma? So, today I'm sharing with you my little indulgences. Where do I spend the money that I save by buying and selling gift cards? 

It's funny, when I sat down to write this piece I went through my recent purchases in my head and it turns out...there's a pattern to them! I have certain indulgences, just for me, that I tend to always spend money on. I don't really deviate from this list! (and by the way: the best two free indulgences? Sleep and showers!) 

1. Sometimes after I drop my son in the morning, if the time, traffic, and day is right, I turn on that right blinker, veer my car over, park on the street and head to Starbucks for a large, large coffee. Black. Now, I get coffee at school everyday, free...but, there's something amazing about being part of the world, standing in line, and sipping my coffee (while listening to NPR), while driving to school! This simple little $2.44 indulgence makes me feel human again!

2. H&M shoes. Flats, in particular. I have a problem with them!  I have two pairs in black, a pair in brown, a pair in beige, and I just bought the nautical ones (above--wore and love them!). They're a small indulgence ($12.95 a pair, and they're often on sale!) but they are practical and cute--I just can't pass up on them! They make me feel pulled together, in style, and able to carry around a 7 month old! 

3. Almond Butter! Yes, I know...boring! But! This almond butter is my favorite and is $12 a jar! I have a spoon of it every night after putting Weston to bed, and it's like my little meditative moment of the day. 

These three indulgences may seem small, but make me feel like...me. And, as we know, there's little time for momma when there's jobs to go to, houses to clean, dishes to do, bottles to wash, and a baby to giggle with. 

So, Raise a glass and share: what are the small indulgences which make you happy? 

I won't get into my relationship with my sister because I'm going for a run later and I don't want to be all snotty. But suffice it to say she is my best friend, my mom idol and my favorite working partner. Today she is 29 and I could not be more proud of the amazing working mama she's become. In honor of her birthday here are her three most popular posts.. shockingly they're about three things: being a mama, clean eating (Whole30) and reading. 

I was recently talking to a high school friend of mine (Hi, Lor!) who is now a legitimate farmer- like a real live farmer (this is unusual when you go to a private school on the Gold Coast of Long Island) and my running came up. He sort of laughed at the idea of exercise, because as a farmer his body is in constant motion (he works an organic farm, it's small and he does most of the labor). He sort of scoffed at the idea of going to a gym and lifting things when he lifts things that feed people, that feed the Earth. It struck me then that I don't go to the gym to lift things to look good. I don't run to have a beach bod- and I started to explain this to him. Which I then realized I wanted to write down.

Why I run:

  • I run because I can- because my legs let me and my feet let me. And my lungs let me. And my thighs let me. And etc.
  • I run because the day my dad went to the doctor and was told he would have a quadruple bypass I could run. And I did run. I ran for him, and I ran for me. And now my dad goes to the gym daily. And I run for our health.
  • I run because I ran for two years before I even knew I was asthmatic. I never knew running was supposed to be much, much easier than it was for me. And yet, I still finished many races before I had an inhaler. I ran my first mile when I was 24 without full lung capacity. And my first 5K. And my first 10K.
  • I run because I feel brave and tenacious when I do it. I spent the first 24 years of my life feeling like I couldn't. Having coaches tell me I wasn't doing it fast enough, without ever teaching me how to run better. Having teams have to run extra laps because I was too slow (way to make me even more popular soccer coaches). I made a decision to try this new thing, and it was really, really hard for me- but I made a decision not to take the easy way out. To get good at it. And you know what? I did get good at it. I didn't stop when it got tough, I ran through that. I didn't stop when I hit hills, I ran up them. I didn't stop when my feet hurt, I just kept running.
  • I run because every time I run it's easier. When I run and then run again, I can run further, faster and stronger. 
  • I run because it's damn fun. Running with your partner? A blast! Running up hills that seem huge? Um, hello, I love it. Races? I would spend all my money on them if I allowed myself to. I literally cannot wait until tomorrow when I am dragging/taking Andrey to our favorite 5K loop to run. 
  • I run because I love the connection it's forged with my partner. Running is our thing. Andrey's and mine. We run together, we run apart, we meet each other. We have smoothies after! We discuss our runs. We talk about optimal shoes and speeds and shorts.
  • I run because I love the music I get to listen to when I run. And I love looking crazy when I sing along to Queen and dance while I run, and I totally do not care. p.s. Don't Stop Me Now, by Queen is my current favorite running song.  
  • I run because I love the connection to other runners. I love talking run-shop with other runners.
  • I run because even though it took me two years to reach my runners high- I found it. And now I cannot imagine my life without it.
  • I run because I love to. 

When you have a baby everyone starts asking you about your "parenting philosophy." Well, maybe not everyone, but you start reading all the books and asking yourself, "what kind of parent am I?" Am I an attachment parent? A helicopter parent? An authoritative parent? You look at this tiny baby in your arms who doesn't sleep, spits up all the time, and has a constant stuffy nose and you sigh, "I guess in due time I'll figure out what my parenting style is..." I've noticed everything in the parenting world gets a label. Baby-Led-Weaning (otherwise known as, give the baby food to experiment and play with in order for them to learn what they like and don't like), Co-Sleeping (otherwise known as, sometimes, maybe all the time, the kid sleeps in the bed with you), Baby-Wearing (otherwise known as, my kid likes to be worn on me, so I wear them in a baby carrier). Suddenly you become a parent and everything has to have a title. You can't just let the kid sleep in bed with you, you become a co-sleeper. You have to pick a sleep style, are you cry-it-out, no-cry-it-out, pick-up-put-down, or maybe a true Ferber-izer? All of the sudden people start asking you about your methods for doing things and you have to put a label on all of the silly, mundane, tiresome parental activities you've been doing since the first moment you met your child.

Watching The Oscars, loving the "Happy" song!
Last night, after putting Weston to bed around 7, which is early for him (he was super tired), I sat down to finally, finally have a moment and watch The Oscars. Well, little boy wasn't having it. He got up about three times between 7:00 and 8:30. He's teething, and just started eating a million new solid foods, as well as enduring a wonder week month year, so I gave him a little leeway, and after the 100th time (it felt like) of going upstairs to soothe him, and missing Ellen's intro to the show, I decided enough was enough. He wasn't going to have it tonight. Sleep was evading him, and I was losing my mind. Yes, I've been trying to get him on a bedtime routine, and we did complete his nightly bath, pajamas, play, singing routine...but I also wanted to uh, watch the one show I look forward to watching yearly (and tweet about it in current time!), so I took him into bed with us, and you know what? He was insanely happy to watch with us, cuddled in bed. He finally took a bottle, cuddled up with Eric and passed out. We snuck him back to his room, and he woke up a few times more that night, but at least we had our moment, I watched my show, and he got the cuddling he obviously needed.

As I fell asleep, watching him on the monitor, I thought about these labels, I thought about what type of parent I want to be, and I realized...life is way too short to pass up on moments where my son needs me. He is only a baby once, someday he won't cuddle up in bed with us...I thought about it more, did I feel guilty for going against my routine I was trying so hard to establish and taking him in with us? Do I feel guilty when I take him into bed with us at 5:00am after a fitful night's sleep? My answer was no. I don't feel bad. Parenting is hard, being a new parent is even harder! Something we don't say enough to new parents is "do what you need to do to get by!" I realized what kind of a parent I am. I'm a GUTT parent. A "Get Us To Tomorrow" parent (also known as, Get Us Through Today!). Sometimes the days are really long, it's no wonder this time is known as the Longest Shortest Time. Sometimes the nights are even longer (for us, it's the nights which are worse!). Sometimes you just need to do whatever you need to do, not only to keep your kid healthy and strong, but to keep YOU healthy, strong, and sane. I would have been really mad to miss out on The Oscars, and felt bad for my son who couldn't sleep--so I combined activities, and it turned out, it's what we both needed. He needed some extra love, and I needed to zone out and watch an awards show.

So often we push what we need aside as new parents (or any parents). We forget that we existed before the baby, we forget that we need time too. I'm not saying that we throw all the rules and routines out the window, on the contrary, we establish, to the best of our ability, a routine and rules which work for our family. These routines may change daily, as you figure them out, too! Then, on the nights, or days, which need some special attention, you can de-rail and do what you need to do to keep everyone sane. This doesn't mean all your hard work is thrown away, and the kid won't ever follow the routine again, it means you're flexible and do what you need to do to see the sun come up the next day. My grandmother once said to me, "you must clean your room in order to create art." I attempt to keep life calm and the same, so that when nights like those come up, I don't feel that sense of guilt throwing things out of whack.

My GUTT parenting method also refers to the fact that I parent from my, uh, gut, most of the time. If something doesn't feel right to you as a parent, don't do it. If everyone is telling you one thing, and you feel like it won't work for you kid, don't do it. Only you know your kid, not your friends, or even your doctor. Every child is different, therefore, every parenting style has to be different! How you parent your child isn't going to be the same way your friend, sister, aunt parents their child. Sure, suggestions and advice are wonderful, but don't feel horribly bad and guilty if what worked for someone else doesn't work for you. My motto has become a solid, "So what?" So what if he wakes up all night? Yes, Eric and I are dead tired...is he going to do this for the rest of his life? No...eventually he'll become a teen, and then a man, and I'm sure he won't need us to rock him to bed then. So what if I chose my own methods for "sleep training" (a term I despise, as does Dr. Sears! He's not a puppy, he's a baby. I prefer Dr. Sears' term, "nighttime parenting," as in you don't stop being a parent at night, so stop thinking we can train away all the "baby sleep problems.") and create a method which works for my family? So what if we take him into bed with us some nights? I'm doing what works to keep my baby happy (and he is a truly happy, silly little boy!), and to keep Eric and I sane, functioning human beings. I go with my gut, and I've never felt guilt about that.

So, here's my label: my parenting method is one which inherently forces you to think about the future, and keeps you having hope that what you're doing is okay, and that the days will pass, he will grow, and all will be okay in the long run. He's going to grow up, he's going to grow out of things, and yes, current times, whatever they may be, may be stressful, but I'm doing everything I can to Get Us To Tomorrow, or on the rare occasion, Get Us Through Today, and be the best parent I can be.