A day fit for a princess

Yesterday, my baby girl turned four. She’s growing up so fast right before my eyes, and it’s both amazing and bittersweet to see. I long for the days when I could cradle her in my arms for hours, yet I marvel at the things she’s learning to do and at her growing independence. We were at the park the other day, and she mastered a piece of playground equipment that in the past, she always needed help with. She turned to me and said “I don’t need you anymore, mommy!!” I told her how wonderful that was, and then turned away and cried a little bit. Watching your children grow up is so amazing, yet at every step you long for them to stop growing.  It’s quite a mixed bag.

This was the first year that my daughter was pretty specific about the kind of birthday she wanted. In the past, I could decorate with whatever I thought was cute and buy her some sweet gifts, and no matter what they were, she would be happy as can be. However, this year, she was clear. She wanted princesses for her birthday. And a tea party. And princess balloons, and princess streamers, and princess cups and plates, and well, you get the idea. It’s really funny just how  much a girly-girl she’s become, and it’s not like these are things I really introduced or pushed onto her. Since my children were newborns, I went about dressing them/decorating their room/buying toys in a rather unisex way. I didn’t go crazy on pink or blue with anything, and bought things that could be enjoyed by either a girl or a boy. Yet despite all of those things, my little girl is crazy about all things girly-princesses, dolls, anything pink/purple/sparkly, ballet, and dresses. And my little boy is all about cars, trucks, dinosaurs, superheroes, and anything that has a motor. It just happened naturally.  So yesterday, along with my parents, we had a lovely tea party at a place called Alice’s Tea Cup in NYC’s upper east side. It is a charming little place with a sort of Alice in Wonderland theme. (my favorite Disney movie) It was absolutely adorable and everyone loved it. It was my first time sampling different types of tea; I’m more of a coffee gal, but this was delicious. There were also yummy little sandwiches and scones, and a little birthday cupcake for Zoe. Tea was followed by dinner, cake and presents at our house with family. It truly was a day fit for a princess.

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The day truly was a success as Zoe told me it was her “most amazing birthday ever!!” I can’t wait to see what this coming year will bring for my amazing little princess.

Check out Alice’s Tea Cup here: http://alicesteacup.com/

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flowers and popsicles

I’m struggling this week. Getting back to normal after vacation is difficult. I can’t seem to catch up on cleaning. I haven’t really cooked much this week and I just finally got back to the gym today. It’s not like I flew to Europe and have major jet lag. I’m just being lazy and want to be sitting on the beach, and not doing that every day just plain sucks. Sigh.

I did do a couple cool things this week. Sort of. Well, I did a couple things. I finally made one of the 3,000 recipes I have pinned on my Pinterest account. (I always pin these awesome looking recipes thinking “I’ll totally make that”, only to never, ever do it.) But I didn’t set my goal too high-I made popsicles. They’re something I thought my kids would love, so we went out and bought the popsicle molds and all the fixins. They were so excited and the chant of “posicles!!! popsicles!!” went on all day. However, I had forgotten that a blade from my blender had broken, and I don’t own a food processor (gasp!), and the popsicles called for pureed fruit. So….first I tried doing it with a hand mixer. Ever do that? Well, don’t. Fruit basically flew everywhere, all over me, and both kids. The option I had left was to hand mash all the fruit. That’s 2 cups of blueberries and 2 cups of strawberries. Not fun. Not fun at all. But whatever, they came out cute and here’s the results:

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That happy face is because I told the kids they could have popsicles for breakfast. They weren’t ready until this morning, and there’s only strawberries, blueberries, yogurt and honey in them, so totally appropriate, I thought. And fun. But after only 3 licks, Brody decided he didn’t like them. Zoe took about 7. Fail. Well, I liked them. You can find the recipe here: http://www.thenourishista.com/2012/06/red-white-and-blueberry-popsicles-for.html.

One of the first things I did this week was to make a beautiful flower arrangement. When I’m kinda feeling like I’m in a funk, I like to buy flowers. They just make me happy. So I bought some mums, hydrangeas, and lilies, all in white. I usually cut the stems down pretty short and make several short arrangements, but this time I wanted to make one tall one. DSC_0289

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I love that my daughter has taken such a liking to flowers. She always asks to have some put in her room, which I think is so sweet. She can also identify many different types. (Much like my son can do with cars. So funny.) I really wish I knew what I was doing when it comes to arranging flowers. I’ve read a few little things, but would love to get really good at it. I’ve been considering taking a class at some point with all the free time I have. (Please note sarcasm.) I just found this one and love the idea of doing it from home: http://nicolesclasses.com/portfolio/floral-arranging-101/

Other than that, the kids and I went to the movies, went swimming, and did lots of little things. This weekend is my daughter’s 4th birthday, and it’s the first year when she’s had a real wish list. And it all involves princesses. So I’m up to my eyeballs in princesses. I’m really looking forward to it and cannot wait to see how much she likes everything we have planed.

Until Monday!!

favorite things

I hope everyone had a wonderful Fourth of July!! I find that the Fourth has a way of unifying people like not many other things do. It’s like everyone forgets their differences and remembers what they have in common: being an American. For one day, people remember all the wonderful things they share-all the freedoms, luxuries and opportunities. Even my douchey neighbors manage to smile and say hello. (Tomorrow it will be business as usual, I’m sure, and they’ll be back to complaining about everyone.) It’s a great day filled with family, friends and patriotism. I wish I could say that my kids enjoyed the fireworks, but they spent the entire time on my lap (not a pleasant thing when it’s 90 degrees and muggy as all get out) and crying about wanting to go home. Sigh. Maybe next year. I said that last year, too.

Besides having a wonderful Fourth of July, there were just a few little special things going on that I wanted to share. Just a few favorite things that have made me smile. And here they are:

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A new candle always makes me happy. And this is one of my favorites-Voluspa Crisp Champagne. It smells like luxury. That’s the best way I can explain it. I dare you not to want to drink champagne while burning this.

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Paper chevron straws. I love little details like this. These little straws make a glass of water seem just a little more special. And my kids love picking one out. So fun. I got mine at: http://www.etsy.com/shop/InTheClear.

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My monogrammed clutch. It came in the most beautifully wrapped box. So beautiful, in fact, that my daughter was convinced it had to be for her. Who else could get such a pretty box? I don’t have a middle name, so the monogram is a little smaller than I’d like, but I’m still so happy with it. And a white leather clutch goes with everything. I got it here: http://www.markandgraham.com

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On Friday night, I told the kids we could have a picnic/movie night in the living room. So we ordered a pizza, put down a blanket, watched The Incredibles and ate. It was so much fun and the kids loved it. We’ll be doing that again, for sure.

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Working out with Zoe. As I mentioned previously, our sitter moved away. We are still in the process of finding another one (had to fire one before she even started; long story), so I can’t get to the gym. So I’ve been working out at at home. It’s not always possible, but when it is, my daughter likes to join me. It’s hard to focus, because it’s so cute and funny. She has so much fun-until we get to the planks. She says, “this is too hard, mommy.” We’ll have to work on that. (Did you notice what Zoe is using for weights? Barbie dolls. Atta girl.)

That’s a wrap. Have a wonderful weekend!

beginnings and endings

It is officially summer. I so love this time of year; the possibilities of the season seem endless. We are spending lots of time at the pool, taking long walks and bike rides nightly, and our beach vacation is right around the corner. I plan on taking lots of day trips to the beach, having cocktails on our porch with my love by candlelight, and snuggling up with my babies to watch fireworks. It’s the beginning of a magical time. However, this weekend also marked an ending for us. Our babysitter just moved to Florida. She had been with us since my son was only 3 months old-and he’s nearly 3 now.  It was an emotional goodbye, as she and my kids have really formed a very special bond. I know they don’t really understand the finality of it just yet, but I feel sad for them nonetheless. They adore her, and she adores them. You can find a babysitter anywhere; they’re a dime a dozen. But to find someone who loves your kids-truly loves your kids-well, that’s something special. She made the kids a very sentimental farewell gift-a homemade story book. One of the things she always did with them was to tell them fairy tales-some that were familiar,  and some that she made up. She wrote out all their favorite stories and drew pictures for all of them. (She also always draws with them.)  In the book, she also included a message for both the kids that was so sweet, it brought me to tears. It was one of the most sweet and thoughtful gifts I have ever seen and better than any store-bought gift she ever could have bought. Just precious. So that is where I find our family right now-at the end of something special, and at the beginning of a wonderful time.

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Some moments from their last day together.

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Some pages from the book she made.

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On our nightly walk/bike ride.

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And the end of a beautiful summer day. I’m looking forward to many, many more summer beginnings.

Father’s day at the shore

The Jersey shore holds a very special place in my heart. My fondest childhood memories involve spending summers there with my family. I have vivid memories of my grandfather teaching me how to jump over waves. Of my brother and I being so excited to go to the waterslide park (in Long Beach Island) that we could barely stand it. Of warm cinnamon donuts from our favorite bakery for breakfast. Of spending a full day at the beach, going back to the house for a barbecue, and then going back to the beach to fly kites. Of nightly walks to go get ice cream. Of walks on the boardwalk. To me, the Jersey Shore is not all about booze and fist-pumping. To me, the Jersey Shore is all about family. So when it came time to plan out what we should do for Father’s Day, spending some time down the shore (that’s Jersey speak for the beach) just seemed right. It’s still early in the season, so the water isn’t exactly warm enough for swimming (at least not for my little ones), but it’s perfect for a day on the Boardwalk. The day called for going on rides, getting ice cream/funnel cakes/any other crappy yet delicious food, followed by a dinner on the bay at sunset.

So after making dad and the kids breakfast and giving dad his gifts and cards, we packed up and headed south. Lucky for us, we are only about an hour from the beach. My parents came along with us too, which made the kids so giddy I thought they would pop. We got off to a rocky start with both kids crying and having to be taken off a ride right before it started, but after much-needed ice cream cones, they both perked up and we had a great day. Here’s how it went:

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We truly had a wonderful day-one that was really special. The true sign of a great day? No one wanted to go home.

I have to say, I am a very, very blessed woman. I was blessed with a wonderful father. One who I thought of as a Superman of sorts. Growing up, there was nothing he didn’t know. Nothing he couldn’t fix or figure out. Nothing he couldn’t do. He had everything but a red cape. And now, I am blessed enough to have married a man who is a wonderful father to our children. I have no doubt that they will look at their dad the way that I looked at mine. Like a superhero. Because after all, isn’t that what fathers really are?

An eventful mall trip and a helpful guide

This past Saturday, I took my daughter for manicures, then we decided to go to the mall for a bit. I love my girl time with her; we always have so much fun. So after my daughter’s nails got the pink/purple/sparkle treatment, we headed to the mall. We parked the car and attempted to cross the crosswalk. There was a woman driving an SUV who, despite the fact that we were in the middle of it, did not stop. (grrrrrrrrrrr) But that’s not the worst part; there was a couple behind me and the woman said aloud “What do you expect, she’s Asian?” (referring to the driver.) I then turned around with my (Asian) daughter and said to her, “And so is my daughter. What is that supposed to mean?” (Can you say busted??) I could see the shock on the woman’s face. She then put her hand on my shoulder (which I shook off) and said, “Oh, no, there was this study in China….’ I didn’t let her finish. I let her know that she was ignorant and racist and what she said was not ok. She kept trying to tell me about this supposed study, but I kept stopping her. This exchange continued into the mall (In Neiman Marcus, no less. The La Mer ladies were in shock.) and got a little loud. Her and her husband were defending her remark, and at one point the husband loudly announced, “Don’t talk to her, she’s a bitch.” This floored me. How did I become the bitch in this scenario? It took everything in my being to not go ballistic. I was very careful with my words and how I used them. My daughter was holding my hand the whole time, and after the entire exchange, I was shaking and had to sit down. My daughter looked up at me and said, “what’s wrong, mommy?” I told her that there are some not nice people in the world, and that those two people were a couple of them. I left it at that. She doesn’t know what racism is. She doesn’t know what racial stereotypes are. But she will. And at some point, I will have to talk to my kids about it.

As a Caucasian growing up in middle class America, there are many things I don’t know about and have not had to experience. I have never had a racial slur thrown at me. I’ve never been made fun of because of my race. I have never gotten into fights over it. And I have never been the only one of my race in a large crowd and made to feel alone and awkward. But these are all things my husband, as a minority, has experienced. He grew up in Brooklyn and Queens and had to develop a thick skin. He’s been called names because of being Asian more times than he can count, has been made fun of, is often the only Asian person for miles, and has gotten into physical altercations over it. I honestly cannot imagine this. Life can be hard enough without having to deal with assholes being assholes because of the way God made you.

As much as I want to, I won’t be able to protect my children from racism. At some point in their lives, they will most likely hear an Asian joke or a racial slur. And when they are old enough to understand, I will have to tell them about the people that will do this to them and why they’re doing it. And I have to figure out how to say all of that. Obviously, my husband will be a big part of that discussion. But I have to say that I think it’s awful that I even have to have that talk at all. I hate that I have to tell my kids about people in the world who hate other people just because of the way they look, who they love, or where they’re from. I hate that someone will try to make my kids feel bad about who they are. And I hate that I can’t stop it.

I know I can’t protect my kids from everything. But I can teach them to be better than those people. Better than the couple that we encountered at the mall. I will teach them acceptance. We all come in different sizes, shapes and colors. We are all so different. And I am counting on other parents to teach that same lesson. That couple at the mall clearly didn’t get that lesson. At some point, they learned that it was ok to make a remark like that. They learned that. Children are not born with racial bias-they learn it. So I truly hope that children are getting that lesson, so that another mom walking into a mall doesn’t have to encounter another couple like I did.

So maybe instead of buying off the registry for your girlfriend’s baby shower, you could give her a copy of “How Not to Be a Dick When You Grow Up”.  Or maybe we should put it on the school required reading list. We’ll all be better off with less dicks in the world.

favorite things

For my favorite things today, I looked no further than my own home. I’ve mentioned before that I think it’s so important to fill your home with things that make you happy, whether it’s a framed piece of your kids’ art or a ticket stub from your favorite concert or a delicious candle. Your home is your sanctuary. Here’s just a few of the little things (and one not so little) that have made me smile today:

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My daughter and I went to the mall the other day and we came across this little Eiffel Tower ring dish in Anthropologie. She immediately picked it up and announced loudly, “Eiffel Tower!!!! Eiffel Tower!!!” So the Eiffel Tower dish came home with us and is currently housing her little hair clips. It’s adorable and made her so happy. How could I not pick it up?

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This is my little cross-body bag from Madewell and my current favorite sunglasses. The bag was a Mother’s Day gift to myself; as unromantic as it is, my husband and I often buy ourselves what we really want for special occasions and pass it off as a “gift”. Kinda sucky, I guess, but at least we both get something we really want. A week before Mother’s Day I went out shopping and came home and told my husband, “You got me my Mother’s Day gift.” Most of my bags are ginormous, so having a little one is actually pretty nice. The sunnies are from Anthropologie.

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The same day I got Zoe her Eiffel Tower dish, I also picked up this sweet coral salt cellar. It’s perfect when you just need a pinch of salt, and it’s just so cute.

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Oh, how fresh flowers make me happy, I can’t even explain. There’s just something about them. Today, I was thrilled when my local Whole Foods had a ton of gorgeous peonies. Peonies are my absolute favorite-they look equally beautiful when they’re closed up and fully opened. I also picked up a bunch of white hydrangeas, which I also adore-they’re so big and full and you only need a few to make a full looking bouquet. My table is so pretty right now.

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This is my latest score from Bauble Bar. I love a good statement necklace, and this one more than makes a statement. It’s pretty in-your-face. I love wearing it with simple pieces like a solid dress or tee. It gives any outfit just a little bit of edge and I’m obsessed with it right now.

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And my most favorite thing of all today: solo time with each of my kiddos. I love being with both of my little ones, but it’s really nice spending one-on-one time with them too. When my daughter is at preschool, I get that time with my son. Those 2 1/2 hours are all about him and what he wants to do. It’s usually spent on the floor playing with cars, trucks, superheroes and dinosaurs. I cherish every second of it. I get my time with my daughter when Brody takes a nap, and that time is usually spent watching a Tinkerbell movie and doing arts and crafts. It’s so fascinating just how different these two are.

So that’s just a little bit of what’s made me smile today. I hope you have a wonderful weekend and do plenty of smiling of your own.