Wednesday, September 17, 2014

baby presents

Samantha has been totally spoiled with so many fabulous, fabulous baby gifts.  She is already the most stylish, well-equipped person in our family by far. :)

Since some of you may have a friend or two that has a baby and to whom you want to send a little gift, I thought I'd share some of the less obvious choices for presents.   

Don't get me wrong: baby clothes and blankets are ALWAYS a fantastic choice.  We go through both like the Duggars (that would be the 19 Kids & Counting family...) go through toilet paper.  Really, really fast.  It is so nice to have a hearty stock of adorable blankets as well as extra cute clothes on hand so you're not constantly washing stuff.  Plus, as a new parent with tons of things to spend money on, you feel guilty splurging on these types of things.  Getting either of these choices is always a real treat.

Some other ideas that we've loved if you're looking for something different:

(which came from my work - 
rather fitting for an investment manager :)

Gift certificate to a meal delivery service
(above pic showcasing delights from the Munchery in SF)
Because I never feel like cooking when dinnertime rolls around...

A Solly baby wrap -
stylish and practical

A Gymboree membership
because staying at home with a babe -
no matter how adorable and sweet -
can be just a tad bit lonely

Monogrammed Sherpa Bear Rocker from Pottery Barn Kids
because - come on - how cute is that

This last one we're totally enamored with, but unfortunately, it came with no note!  I called Pottery Barn to try and figure out who the lovely sender was, but unfortunately the mystery giver gave no name.

If YOU are the one who sent this gorgeous rocker, please come forth and reveal yourself!  Samantha is dying to send you a proper thank-you!

Anywho, when it comes to baby presents, you can't go wrong.  Even just a little note or email to tell the new fam you're thinking of them is oh-so-very sweet and appreciated.


Tuesday, September 16, 2014

my (real) first dinner out

So I lied in my post last Friday.
Foreign Cinema wasn't technically my first dinner out.

We have two cars: 
one super nice one (a luxurious BMW that I feel totally spoiled driving), and 
an old, on-its-last-legs one (a 2002 Saab convertible handed down from my fabulous Aunt Jules).

We love the Saab dearly and have had so many fantastic memories with it, but it has seen better days.  We've had to replace the clutch (thank you SF hills!), repair broken-into windows, get jump-started more than our fair share of times, and duct-tape the front light (thanks to my awesome driving skills).  The right-hand mirror is cracked, the coolant leaks, and the roof no longer works.

Like in any fair and completely equitable marriage, Stefan drives the Saab and I get the BMW.

One day when he was driving his fine automobile home from the office, it decided to stop in the middle of an incredibly busy intersection.  
In the middle of rush hour.

After several very long minutes of incessant honking and finger flicking from passerby-ers, someone stopped to help him push it into the nearest parking lot:

from here

The luxurious Lucky Penny restaurant, complete with a tantalizing view of said extremely busy intersection and easy access to public storage.  What more could you ask for?

Thankfully, we have Triple A, but unfortunately, it is under my name only.  Stefan had to head home so I could take over figuring out how to solve our newest Saab debacle.  

Once I arrived, I called Triple A and explained the issue.  They assured me they'd be there within 45 minutes.  I headed inside to hang out:

Its interior was just as extravagant as its exterior.  As I sat down, the waitress quickly let me know there was a strict must-spend-at-least-$5 policy.  I assured her I was one to follow the rules.

I checked out the menu.
It included every possible diner item imaginable with lots of this type of fare:

from here

Assuming I'd be home in time for dinner, I ordered the fruit salad with yogurt.

"What type of dressing do you want on your salad, ma'am?"
I answered back with a blank stare.
"We got ranch, italian, balsamic, or thousand island - that one is my favorite."
"Ummm...I'm going to be totally crazy and go dressing-less for this one."
"As you wish, ma'am."

The salad was delish, but I'd say my decision was a good choice.

Unfortunately, Triple A did not deliver on their promise to arrive within 45 minutes and I had the pleasure of another two and a half hours of hanging out at Lucky Penny.  While I was waiting, I went hog wild and ordered a glass of wine.
Which wine you ask?
THE wine.
There was no description of its color or origin, rather just a $5 price-tag.
(It was red two-buck chuck for the record.)

Eventually the tow truck arrived and I bid adieu to the Saab and my new waitress friends.  

Lucky Penny - you were good, but I'm not sure we'll see each other again.  


Monday, September 15, 2014

happy happy

Today marks a particularly serendipitous day for me.  
Not only is it Stefan's birthday, but it is also my parent's 30th wedding anniversary.  
Two rather important events for me. :)

My parents have celebrated anniversaries in all sorts of glorious fashion.  One year, my dad surprised my mom with a mystery trip to Hawaii that came with one of her favorite things: A Plan with Activities.  Every second of every day was planned out.  (We don't like downtime in our family.)  While they could have gone anywhere or done anything to celebrate this pretty big marriage milestone, they decided to go to - wait for it - Indiana.

Don't get me wrong, I like all good Midwestern states, but their choice seemed a little anti-climatic for the couple that has ridden camels in Egypt, hiked the Inca Trail, and climbed the Great Wall of China.  Still, they decided that all they really needed to celebrate was each other (and some champagne and good golf courses, which apparently Indiana has).

Similarly, I offered Stefan all sorts of exciting options for his b-day celebration including getting a sitter and going out for a fancy dinner with decadent wine, but he couldn't imagine celebrating his day without his new favorite little lady.  All he wanted was to stay in for a home-cooked meal where he could have Samantha by his side.

One of the things that has been most surprising to me about parenthood is how incredible it is to watch the person you love fill their new role as a parent.  Per usual, Stefan took the job very seriously and has exceeded all expectations of what it means to be a father.  Watching him light up as he holds Samantha or calms her down (or changes her diaper!) and watching her as she settles into his comforting arms, makes me fall even more in love with him and this new stage of life for us as a family.

While I could go on and on about how wonderful he is as a father, a husband, and a friend, I'll stop here.  Stefan calls these types of posts my "thank-you" posts and claims they are not nearly as interesting as those where I share my latest mishaps and misfortunes (coming right at ya tomorrow!), but alas - I couldn't help myself in pushing the sappy-meter to shout into the blogosphere how happy I am for my wonderful parents and how much I love that child-at-heart husband of mine.

Happy anniversary Mom and Dad!  Thank you for teaching us kids what it looks like to be an incredible husband/wife, parent and grandparent (!!).

with Samantha

And happy birthday Stefan!  We can't wait to celebrate with you tonight! 


Friday, September 12, 2014

foreign cinema

When Sam and my mom were here, we ventured out for our first dinner on the town since July.
Needless to say, I was pumped.  

Since I first moved to San Francisco, I've always wanted to try Foreign Cinema - a top-notch spot in the Mission that plays an old movie on the covered patio when the sun sets.

Note white screen for movie viewing in back

They even have old, drive-in speakers at each of the tables so you can listen in to whatever movie is being played.

The food is really star-worthy as well.

Highly, highly recommend the melon and made-in-house prosciutto, the beef carpaccio, the steak medium-rare, and the melt-in-your-mouth sea bass.
We were very pleased.

Samantha had a blast as well:

Definitely check it out the next time you're in San Francisco!


Thursday, September 11, 2014

uncle sam

Samantha got to meet her Uncle (and godfather) Sam last week!

Not only do they have very similar names...

...they have very similar haircuts, even with parts on the very same side. :)

These two peas in a pod also share a love for watching the Packers (win, preferably) with their beverage of choice:

As you can tell, they really hit it off.

With my mom and Sam here for the week, we had lots of adventures, including a trip down to Palo Alto to scope out the Stanford Business School campus.

Sam was all about fulfilling his uncle/godfather duties manning the helm of Samantha's stroller whenever possible.

When we checked out the student housing, the woman at the front commented:
"This housing is very popular, but our family housing on the other side of campus is also quite nice," as she smiled at Sam and I and the little bundle tucked away in our stroller.

We just smiled back.  

Our photo-taking on University Ave probably didn't give passerby-ers any other idea either. :)

Sam also fulfilled some domestic duties at home in the kitchen, whipping up some delicious Parmesan Chicken a la Ina Garten... well as some succulent skirt steak for our Packers (and US Open :) party.

Which we enjoyed with some delicious and healthy sides thanks to my mom extraordinaire. 

Samantha, Stefan and I were all very sad to see them go.  
Come back soon!


Wednesday, September 10, 2014

princess leia

For those of you that follow our photo steam, you may have noticed our little lady has been sporting some water-polo-player-like ear muffs.

Saying good-bye to Daddy
who is in New York for work this week! :(

When Samantha was born, she had a little wrinkle in her right ear.  No one said anything to us about it, it seemed pretty minor, and we thought it was kind of cute, so we didn't think much about it.

At her one-month check-up, however, I brought it up to our pediatrician.
"That's just her," she told me.  "It won't go away, so you may want to go see a specialist.  When they're this little, their cartridge is super malleable, so you can fix it pretty easily.  If you wait even just another few weeks, however, making a change requires major plastic surgery.  We're talking months of recovery and a whole lot of pain."

The option now was to have her wear ear molds for 6 weeks - they don't hurt her, she can still hear, but she looks silly, you have to be more careful with baths, and you get a whole lot of questions. :)

We debated long and hard about what to do.  
On the one hand it seemed superficial and vain to be "doing work" on our little babe (we did feel like she was perfect exactly the way she was!), 
but on the other hand, it broke my heart to think of her being made fun of (kids can be so mean!) or feeling uncomfortable wearing her hair tied back in pony tail when we could have done something so simple before she would even remember.

It was a really tough decision, but - as you already know - we decided to do it.

When we went into meet with the specialist, he walked us through the process in great detail and then added:
"You know, ear irregularities are genetic."
I looked at Stefan, expecting the doctor to go on about how his ears were less than perfect.
"Mom - you have what we would call 'Dumbo' ears."

Say what?

"Your ears stick out quite far - that isn't normal."

I immediately got up and looked in the mirror.  They did stick out.
I thought back to my baby pictures.

with Nana and Pops (Samantha's namesake - 
more on that another time)

with my Aunt Jules
Well, call me "Dumbo" - sorry Samantha!
So that's why I never made as a famous movie star.  If only they had had these ear things back when I was a young babe (they've only been around for the past few years), I would have obviously become the next Julia Roberts.  Oh well.

Putting her little muffs on was painless and simple.  She slept the whole time!

And so far our little Princess Leia has been loving life with them on:

"My ears will better than yours, Mom!"

Would you have done it?  Or would you have left her adorable little ears as is?


Tuesday, September 9, 2014

3am happenings around here

I happen to be an imagine-the-worst type of person.  Somehow knowing what that scenario is gives me a sense of calm and comfort knowing I could handle it.  So when preparing myself for life with a baby, I obviously planned accordingly.

My worst case scenario in this case happened to be me as a newborn: as my parents have reminded me time and time again, I was not the easiest of babies and adored being awake (and attended to!) in the wee hours of the morning.  While I certainly deserved an equally challenging baby, Samantha has been a fairly good sleeper (knock on wood!) giving me a luxurious 5-hour stretch most nights.  And being sleep deprived hanging out at home is nothing like trying to slog through a day at the office on minimal hours, so I do feel my worst-case-scenario preparation served me well in this somewhat large adjustment in my sleeping patterns.

Still, after 4 weeks of nursing, I was excited to be able to start pumping so I could hand the reins over to Stefan for a 3am feeding on a weekend night here or there.  We picked Sunday, August 24th for the big event.  

At 3am that morning, however, it wasn't Samantha that woke me up, but rather a 6.0 magnitude earthquake!

Clearly the universe didn't want me to get that full night of sleep. :)

While we've had earthquakes in SF while I've lived here, we've never had one this big, so this one was the very first I had felt.  I was paralyzed by the shaking and just sat in bed shocked as to what to do next.  Stefan, however, was (per usual) quick on his feet, grabbing Samantha and whisking her to safety.  Once the shaking stopped, we quickly looked up what to do next - could there be aftershocks?  should we stay in our house?  where was the safest place to be?  After a bit of nervous debate, Stefan checked our gas lines to make sure there were no leaks and we decided it was safe to head back to bed.  

Since I was already very up, however, I opted to do the 3am feeding and put Samantha back to sleep.  No point in wasting my (very precious) bottles in this scenario.

The next night, however, Stefan got his chance to do a sess with Samantha and she loved every second, taking the bottle like a champ.

I'm still nursing most of the time, but it's certainly a relief to know I can leave little Samantha without worrying she'll starve (and scream someone's ear off as my dad and Stefan know oh-too-well) and knowing Stefan can take over in the middle of the night should I be running on empty.  
Assuming we don't have any more quakes around here.