Tuesday, July 12, 2016

she's two!

Well on Sunday our family officially became a family with a two year old. Can you believe it?
I kept the party with my version of "small" with just immediate family which still meant 13 adults and 7 kids. I had an adult table that for having been put together the night before was not bad.
It helps that I have a crazy stash of tea party stuff already. But what I think really helped was the beautiful flowers I got from the Burbank Farmer's Market. I ALMOST went to the flower market in Downtown LA and a stroke of genius came to me and for $26 I got lots of beautiful flowers. I used spare teapots as flower holders and put some in tea tins.
 I honestly think that fresh flowers are the best decor for any party. Always leave room in your party budget to add fresh flowers, seriously. My party tip of the day. And don't neglect common areas like bathrooms. Not just the tabletops. Save some blooms for other rooms.
Since it was a tea party I had a buffet spread of brunch type food and everyone loved it. I made mini BLT's and cucumber sandwiches and bought pastries, cookies, and crumpets.
Other than the flowers in teacups and the adorably set tables, the only other decor was this bunting I got from a UK vendor from Amazon called Talking Tables.
The kids table consisted of paper goods from there. Alice in Wonderland themed of course.
My mother in-law also made adorable tea party hair clips you can see in the upper left hand of the plate. How cute are they? And look at these Alice plates!
Six girls in the house was crazy. They had fun though. Matt is still recovering.
The older girls ran amuck but Alice and Jarah were chill.
Though not as chill as Eli who slept through most of it.
She got the hang of present opening this year but she did it her way which was very cautiously.
She got some cute Alice dolls and mom got her a tiny toilet full of hopes and dreams.
She had a really adorable reaction to the birthday cake which was that she actually knew what to do! None of us taught her that, she started blowing on the cake as soon as she saw the candles lit up. She must've seen it on TV. Kid is a sponge.
After she took a little nap, my siblings stuck around and we all took the kids to run around at the park nearby and caught Pokemon. It was so much fun being together. 
All in all, a pretty freaking terrific day for a pretty freaking terrific kid.
Abalone. I get all choked up when I have to write about you. I am amazed every day at what an adorable and fun and sweet kid you are. You do things your way at your own pace and I pray the Lord guide me and your father as we raise you. That we would always parent you as you need it, not as we do. We love you we love you we love you. Happiest birthdays my love.

Thursday, June 30, 2016

where my kid can be a kid

A friend brought her daughter over on a Friday night when my niece and nephew were spending the night and she remarked that our home was a place where kids could be kids. And nothing could have been a bigger compliment. 
I love seeing the little evidences of her everywhere. Her fingerprints on my laptop screen. Her toys in the bathtub. Even the former inconveniences are now smiles and reminders that I keep the coffee table top clear for her to put her coffee set and naked butt on when she runs around after bath time.
I don't want to hide her presence in any way. Nor of any child who enters my home.
Lyla left her mark on chalk "I love you Tia. You are my BFFF." 
I don't find any of her things ugly. They are hers and she likes them so they are treasure.
Here she pretends. Here she puts on a tiny glove then knows where in the kitchen the big ones are.
Opens and closes doors. Moves and spreads everything around in the day and mom tidies at night.
Not because I mind the mess. But so that she can make a fresh one every day.
And her messes can be the breadcrumbs of her playtime, showing me what I missed while away.
And the baskets are filled with her little friends that hug her when I can't be there myself.
She will be two next week. My baby. My toddler. My kid.

Monday, June 27, 2016

of nail polish and self-care

I dunno if we've mentioned that we have had a young woman staying with us for the past few months while she finds a more permanent living situation. We've housed people in our home since we were kids and throughout our marriage Matt and I have been the intermediate home for a few friends and family so it's nothing too out of the ordinary. The only tricky part has been that I've lost the office to work out of and do my lady things like watching my stories and painting my nails.

I've been working from home for a few days and tried working in the living room to a major fail what with Alice constantly pawing at me and then I set up a desk in the master bedroom which works out mostly but it's hard to work with her knowing I'm there. You try just ignoring a sweet little voice jiggling the door handle and saying "mama, mama".

So...it's been tricky. It's very clear what time are office hours when I'm literally in an office but when I'm home I feel that need to be a part of the family as well as be able to process payroll and when I don't finish my work and I have to stay up late and am mad at myself for not having been more productive well... who can I blame but myself? We had this conversation about women piling too much on themselves and we sure do that. I hadn't felt that way since I was home for a long time but even then, being mom all day every day even with the love and support of my man you just can't shake when the kid wants you and only you will do. But, I had been home for a month, I think I can step away for a few days to work, she is going to be just fine.

I have been absolutely the WORST at finding time for myself since Alice has arrived. And it's all my own doing too. In the beginning when you're nursing it's gotta be you but eventually they need to be fed less frequently and then you can start squeezing in some quality alone time and I've been so bad at acknowledging when I need it until I feel like I'm going crazy and start either snapping or crying. Tonight I was upset that I never found the time to just paint my nails.

So I stayed in the master and I painted my nails while watching 'Call the Midwife'. I didn't do work since I was actually productive and had finished it on Friday, and I just spent time alone. Of course the episode that night was about someone's mother dying and that very episode, I kid you not, the mother, a woman of means lamented the fact that she used to get manicures weekly and now on her deathbed, her daughter's friend urged her to just do her the kindness of painting her nails for her. The daughter said she couldn't really touch her, they never had that kind of relationship but the friend, who had also lost a mother, knew how important an act it was and encouraged her on.

When my nana was near the end of her life, I came to visit her. She was a very proud lady, she would dye her hair and paint her nails always looking clean and kept even though she had not much money and had been a widow for a long long time. She took the time to care for herself. When I saw her last, I noticed her nails and without asking, I grabbed nail clippers and a nail file and I trimmed and filed her nails. By then all had been said that was to say, she and I were always very warm towards each other. So we just sat there quietly, I could see in her eyes she appreciated the gesture, appreciated the warmth, the care.

The daughter on 'Call the Midwife' painted her mother's nails and the mother quietly and verbally appreciated the touch. I finished my nail painting and drew a bath. I take care of the family, I can take the time to take care of me too.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

toddler brag (after which she'll become a nightmare i'm sure)

We are currently going through a magical perfection phase with Alice. It's a burden, I tell you. 

I seriously wonder if it's because I had a pregnancy full of barfing longer than normal and gestational diabetes coupled with a long natural labor that ended in a c-section with a brutal recovery that the good Lord granted me clemency and said you know what, I'm gonna give you a pretty easy kid, you've suffered enough. Because seriously, we do not deserve this child. 
She's still a great sleeper and naps once a day for 1-2 hours (sometimes 3). When she's awake she is happy and fun and sweet and cooperative except for diaper changes and is a picky eater.
She is so freaking cute. She has the most adorable little sounds for things that just kill her father and I. We text each other what we think the sounds are and they never fail to cheer us up. When she's asleep we talk about her like "can you believe this cute thing she did"? Smitten we are. As are any of the characters at Universal Studios, they just love her.
I was home for a long time since work is BRUTALLY slow again and the only thing I was losing it with was the fact that she really likes me right now and I can rarely be away from her before I hear MAMAMAMAMAMAMAMAMAMAMAMA. That can wear on the nerves. But I'm gonna just enjoy it before I long for the days when she loved me so much that she just wanted me to sit next to her on a step and hold her hand or simply for me to acknowledge her.
Current challenges are simply entertaining her without the use of TV or iPad this week with the heat. She's starting to get more interested in imagination type things so it's a little easier than before, she has a pretty short attention span says the pot (calling the kettle).
She has been fighting a cold and has eczema which we've been putting stuff on and whenever I'm about to put it she makes this like "aww poor me i need that huh mom aww" face. I gotta record it sometime, it's adorably heartbreaking. 
She's a cherub. I'm enjoying her every day.

Friday, June 3, 2016

building the hostess house: your castle & working within those parameters

Alright so first thing's first. Let's get real and hit you where you live: your home. Does it have a big front yard? Big backyard? No yard? Is it a small apartment? A big apartment? A dorm? You laugh at the dorm part but we definitely hosted even in our dorm room days. What are the most comfortable spaces to host people and get to know your capacity. Could you comfortably fit four? Eight? Twelve? Twenty? Then work around that area because you can easily setup for people if you work within your space's limitations and your own creativity.  
When we first were married Matt and I lived in a one bedroom apartment and since I had all these wedding presents I wanted to throw a dinner party. I was a married grown up now and I had to prove it. Using my trusty 'Barefoot Contessa at Home' cookbook and with zero faith from my friends that the food I made would be edible, I hosted a dinner party: the first B&W Christmas Party. I estimated we'd be about 8 total (Ambre, Man-D, Michelle, Milena, Jonathan, Matt, Me, and lil' Charlotte). The apartment had a little dining area across from the kitchen but it felt tight to cram us in there so I moved our dining table out to the living room so we could eat under the lights of the Christmas tree.
I'm not sure when the idea came to me but it felt really revolutionary. We moved our arm chairs and coffee table to the original dining area which made a little seating area for appetizers and we had dinner in the living room. I learned that 8-10 was capacity for our little apartment and any subsequent parties were kept about that small. No one is forcing you to host a dinner in the dining area, use your space to suit your party. And move furniture around! I do it all the time depending on the party.
Now that we have a backyard and front yard and long driveway we've setup for parties all over the place and we can actually make normally drab areas look pretty cute. We've even used the front yard for splash parties with cousins and as a "baseball field" for our Sandlot party.
So give your house a once-over and see where you could host a party and how many people you could reasonably fit in there comfortably. You might be more an intimate party space even if you have a tiny apartment, if you got a couch you can make it a cocktail party. If you have a big backyard open space, why not a big ole picnic party where everyone brings a blanket.

Get creative! Get partying!

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

building up the hostess house: intro

My friend Milena and I are in talks of starting a party business. I won't say too much about it just yet as we're still fleshing it out but we do know our goal is to equip the modern hostess with the right tools to make party throwing both fun and easy.

On Tuesday we were gonna have a few friends over for our frequent movie nights and since I was making food, Matt asked if we should just invite them over for dinner. I have been plotting dining outdoors since it's unofficially summertime with just us and not minding the extra company I said sure invite them over and then proceeded to setup the backyard for guests. Luckily, we've been pruning and cleaning up after the pooches much better now so the backyard wasn't in a state of horrible embarrassment to begin with and it just needed a few things to take it up a notch.
I had read an innocuous article in Domino about how rich people run their households and the types of tricks they've learned in regards to entertaining of which the reporter said "find your hostess style" for example she likes to throw tea parties so she invested in a good tea set and has it on a tray ready to go should the need arise.
Which got me to thinking about hosting in general and my hostess style thereof. We host a lot. We are a host-y family. We have people over at least once a week, maybe more. Because of that, I already have all the tools on hand myself to make any kind of party happen within a few minutes like a spontaneous dinner party in my backyard.
Due to Alice and our natural inclination to be homebodies coupled with being big time movie watchers and my loving to eat good food, our host style tends to be that of cocktail/dinner parties and movie nights because they involve us staying home and making everyone feel comfortable. Our living room and backyard is geared towards entertaining and very purposefully so. Big fluffy sectional and expandable dining tables make everyone feel right at home.
So for the next few days/weeks, we're gonna talk about finding your hostess style and what you're gonna need to invest in to be prepared for party throwing. With just a few of the right tools and some tricks, you'll be throwing easy-peasy parties in no time.