Mom’s Best Health & Beauty Must-Haves

VIIcode Eye Mask

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As a busy mom of two very active toddlers, it’s difficult to get as much sleep as I’d like and it sometimes feels like I’m burning the candle at both ends. Much to my dismay, my first glimpse of the mirror in the morning often reveals unsightly dark under-eye circles and puffiness. Eager to combat the signs of aging while desperately clinging to my youthful appearance, I embarked on a quest to find a product that would erase my under-eye bags and tired expression. After discovering the VIIcode product line, I was most intrigued by the VIIcode O2M Oxygen Eye Mask, an 8-hour overnight treatment. I  experimented with these masks 2-3 times per week over the course of three weeks, and it couldn’t have been easier – simply peel, stick and sleep! I stored the masks in my refrigerator and the cool jelly strip was so refreshing upon application. Despite clocking an average of only 6-7 hours of sleep most nights, my under-eye areas appeared visibly replenished with increased elasticity and hydration. Why hide behind dark sunglasses when you can trick people into thinking your kids let you get 8 hours of beauty sleep every night?

 

VOLO GO Cordless HairdryerVOLO2

Imagine a world where you can pack your child’s lunch for school and blow-dry your hair at the same time. Introducing the VOLO GO – the world’s very first cordless hairdryer that enables moms everywhere to further fine-tune their multitasking abilities! The VOLO Go’s innovative technology and sleek design allow you to move around freely without being tethered to an electrical outlet, and you can forget about tripping over bothersome tangled cords! Powered by the same lithium-ion battery cells found in electric cars, the VOLO Go is energy efficient and utilizes quartz infrared light and heat to dry hair from the inside out, reducing the time you spend drying your hair. Not only is VOLO Go faster, but its also protects your tresses from breakage and nourishes hair like no other dryer on the market. Click here to pre-order your own!

 

Outdoor Voices Compression Leggings

Outdoor voices leggings

As expectant moms, we know our lives will never be the same, but we are seldom prepared to accept our post-baby bodies. For nine months we endure the rigorous physical hardships of pregnancy, but then our babies are born and we are expected to immediately snap back into our pre-baby shape.  In reality, new moms have little energy to care for their newborns, and understandably exercise is no longer a priority.  New moms – fear not! I’ve discovered game-changing active wear that will help you fake it ’til you make it. Outdoor Voices’ line of compression leggings sculpts, lifts and tones to conceal problem areas and give you an instant confidence boost. Rest assured, these leggings aren’t manufactured from conventional stretchy mesh. The thick textured polyester/spandex blend applies gentle pressure that not only makes you feel locked and loaded, but also improves blood flow and circulation.

 

Bellabeat Health Tracker

Bellabeats

To the unassuming onlooker, the Bellabeat Health Tracker appears to be nothing more than a decorative pendant.  Only upon further digging did I discover the wide range of capabilities this pendant boasts, all designed for monitoring and optimizing women’s health. The perfect harmony of beauty and functionality, the Bellabeat Health Tracker is poised to revolutionize women’s preventative healthcare. Much like other activity trackers on the market, the leaf tracks steps taken and sleep quality. When paired with the app, however, you are also given the opportunity to view your ovulation, premenstrual and period days at a glance. And a soothing voice offers guided breathing and meditation exercises to help you take control of stressful situations, setting it apart from other fitness offerings. Finally, women everywhere are able to take their health by the reigns without having to wear a bulky plastic apparatus!

Secure Your Own Mask Before Helping Others

“If cabin pressure should change, panels above your seat will open revealing oxygen masks. Please secure your own mask before helping others.” It is a script that seasoned jetsetters could recite verbatim in their sleep. But even though these instructions are disseminated to travelers on daily commercial flights world-wide, the notion of putting ourselves before others seems to contradict our most basic maternal instincts.

Contrary to the aviation regulations, motherhood is an all-consuming role consisting of, but not limited to, endless diaper changes, everlasting snotty noses and a myriad of sacrifices. We sacrifice a good night’s sleep, our ability to fit into size 2 skinny jeans, and a substantial part of our bank accounts all in the name of doing what is best for our children. By putting their needs above our own, we are offering our children more opportunities for growth and enrichment, and perhaps even shaping the minds and hearts of future world leaders.

It’s far too often that we obsess about the minutiae of parenting only to realize that an entire day went by without a single moment of solitude. Maybe your baby refuses to wear his mittens in cold weather, or maybe he ingested some dirt from your neighborhood sandbox. Perhaps your toddler even used the walls of your home to create crayon-based mural drawings. In the grand scheme of things these are only minor grievances, but they distract us from some of the most fundamental basics of healthy living – assuring that our own needs are met and exercising self-compassion. It’s imperative that despite our perpetually demanding role as mothers, we refrain from becoming so narrowly focused on the upbringing of our children that we neglect to take time for ourselves.

Spending time engaging in self-care rituals can sometimes feel selfish and overly-indulgent when there are little ones vying for your attention. You may ask yourself how you can possibly justify a spa day when the kids so desperately need you, but that’s where you’re wrong. Only after we are able to replenish our own spirits do we have the capacity to be fully present and address the needs of our children with authenticity. Denying ourselves of the opportunity to practice self-care habits is like treading water in a rip current and will almost always result in parental burnout.

Self-care is a broad term that encompasses anything we do to maintain our emotional and physical well-being. Practicing meditation, taking a bubble bath, indulging in our favorite meal, or spa treatments are popular self-care activities among some of my closest friends. But so many of us (myself included) often need a reminder to get off the hamster wheel of our chaotic lives and actually do something to pamper ourselves and recharge our batteries.

As a self-professed shopaholic, nothing soothes my soul quite like a quick jaunt around Bloomingdales or any of my other favorite mega retailers. After all, when the going gets tough, the tough go shopping! Mindlessly meandering through racks of my most beloved designers is my most preferred way to purge my mind of the chaos of everyday life. Escapism at its best, retail therapy doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg. Although “comfort buys” certainly put a spring in my step, it’s not always necessary to purchase anything to achieve a similar degree of inner-peace. Window shopping, or what I like to refer to as “research,” is a mood-boosting multi-sensory experience. Running delicate fabrics between my fingers or taking in the fragrance of buttery-soft leather transports me to a place of pure relaxation.

What are some of the things you do to self-soothe?

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Shop My Look:

 Faux Suede Biker Jacket – H&M

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Gucci Square Swarovski Sunglasses

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 Zadig & Voltaire Joe Keith Boots

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Mom Friends – A Fashion-based Anthropological Study

From the moment a woman finds out she’s expecting, she begins to search for women nearby who by sheer coincidence or twist of fate will also soon be welcoming a baby. Together, pregnant women can commiserate over the physical hardships and hormonal outbursts that may complicate even the most uneventful pregnancies and share in the excitement of picking out diaper bags, creating their baby registries, and putting the finishing touches on baby’s nursery. Nobody understands both the joys and struggles of raising tiny humans quite like other moms. But acquiring a posse of like-minded moms isn’t quite as easy as some may think. In fact, at times it may seem virtually impossible to find women who share the same values, sense of humor and a similar approach to parenting. In efforts to accrue an inner-circle of mom friends, women everywhere must gracefully navigate through a series of frequently awkward encounters and social obligations that most closely resemble traditional “dating.” Hi, I’m Melissa – your classic “two-under-two” mom whose hobbies include cooking meals that end up on the floor, counting to three and battling chronic sleep deprivation.

Motherhood is a magical, life-altering journey, but let’s be honest – the first few years resemble a science experiment on how long the human body can function with severe sleep deprivation. We emerge from our homes even on cloudy days wearing dark sunglasses to disguise our tired eyes in order to peruse the racks at Bloomingdales in a catatonic haze while our newborn snoozes nearby in a stroller bassinette. Even a 40% off sale at the 4th floor shoe salon fails to generate any excitation. You would have never passed up $195 Prada flats in your pre-baby world, but suddenly even designer footwear leaves you feeling uninspired. “How could I have ever let this happen?” you ask yourself as you steal a glimpse of yourself in the mirror – fatigued, disheveled, and ghastly – a mere shell of your former self.  “Oh wait, is that a grey hair?” Suddenly you realize you’ve gone from Bombshell to “Mom-shell” in only a matter of 9 months and that’s just the tip of the iceberg. The stressors of new motherhood can feel insurmountable, and without the support of peer moms, these feelings can vanquish even the most well-prepared, level-headed moms. Having a few close mom friends will aid in preserving your sanity and finding some solitude even in your most agitated moments. That’s right – I’m talking to you, mom cowering behind a locked bathroom door, texting your mom squad with rapid-fire speed while hiding from your tantruming toddler.

It’s true what they say, you know – the best accessories a girl can have are her closest friends. While a beautiful handbag or new pair of Louboutins will certainly put some spring in your step, nothing is more valuable than the camaraderie of other women enjoined on a parallel journey. The mutual appreciation for nap time and adult beverages often lay the bedrock upon which deeper and endearing relationships are cultivated. But it’s a mom-eat-mom world out there. The overwhelming pressure to maintain connections can leave some moms feeling painfully isolated whereas others are bonded by their shared joys and struggles. All friendships are unique in their synergy, but there are recognizable motifs and themes that emerge in such relationships as we observe specific personality traits and tendencies. In New York City, the fashion capital and potpourri of artistic influence and overly-fierce attitude, it seems apropos that we would discuss handbags that most closely represent distinctive archetypes of mom-friends we encounter along our journey.

The Hermes Birkin

Hermes Birkin

These mom friends are rare in nature and true enigmas, much like the handbag from which their name is derived. The Hermès Birkin is indisputably the most highly sought after bag on the planet and obtaining one is no small feat. Even if you’re able to plop down a minimum of $10k for this uber-exclusive status symbol, much mystery surrounds the clandestine endeavor of acquiring the Holy Grail of handbags. Similarly, the Hermes Birkin mom is enigmatic in her own right. While working full time, she frequents the gym every day, always appears well-dressed with a fresh blowout and flawless makeup, and through secretive machinations manages to spend quality time with the kids every day. At get-togethers, her kids are the consummate playmates – perpetually mild-mannered and eager to share their toys, even while your kids are more interested in base-jumping off furniture and competing to flush household artifacts down the toilet. A cross between Martha Stewart-on-steroids and a Stepford wife, the Birkin mom has the patience of a saint and remains calm even in the midst of abject pandemonium. Her baby books are impeccably crafted and her home always smells like freshly baked cookies. When in need of sage advice, this is the friend to meet for coffee – somehow she will find the time! “How does she pull it off?” you ask yourself, awestruck every time you’re in her presence.  Being in her aura may cause you to feel inadequate, but just keep reminding yourself that she’s merely extra-terrestrial.

The Canal Street Counterfeit 

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These mom friends are quite perhaps the most dangerous of them all. Much like a Canal Street Handbag, these women can exude an air of authenticity, but upon closer inspection prove to be nothing but disingenuous. You will frequently observe these mature women cowering behind their Bugaboo strollers and lattes while flashing a phony smile at their peers, whom they will most certainly be badmouthing later that evening. The Canal Street Counterfeit Mom friends represent the epitome of opportunistic, sociopathic exploitation of “friends” and can blindside even the most discriminating moms. Perhaps you’ve offered to watch her kids while she runs an errand, loaned her your favorite LBD, helped her plan her baby’s birthday party or even hand-delivered 40 Carrots froyo when she was sick.  Whereas a true friend recognizes unsolicited kindness and reciprocates when able, the Canal Street Counterfeit is nowhere to be found in your time of need, but will predictably resurface if only to siphon more favors from you. If you fail to recognize the warning signs, you may be surprised when the Canal Street Counterfeit ultimately decides she has no further need for you and permanently discards you with no warning. Consider it a blessing!

The Signature Jacquard Coach Shoulder Bag

Coach

Renowned for their classic all-American designs, Coach is universally recognized for their supple leather and not-so-discreet signature jacquard handbags. But let’s not mince words – carrying a Coach handbag is akin to driving 55mph on the highway – conservative, perhaps even overly cautious. Much like their namesake, the Coach Bag mom friends are usually a safe, reliable choice. While there may not be much evidence of mommy chemistry at your get-togethers, the play dates are drama-free and child-focused, and the minimal effort required on your part enhances her coolness factor tenfold. This mutually beneficial friendship is quite similar to a friends-with-benefits arrangement in the sense that neither party has much interest in pursuing a deeper relationship. Because you may have little else in common other than the ages of your children, these friendships are often geographically determined and are predicated on a mutual receptivity to last-minute play-dates.

The Louis Vuitton Neverfull

Neverfull

The Louis Vuitton “Neverfull” exemplifies a pragmatic and straightforward approach to life. Ideal for women with a grab-and-go lifestyle, the tote’s design promotes easy packing of personal items and facilitates the effortless location of articles inside.  Filled to capacity with Chedder Bunnies, diapers, and hand sanitizer, the Louis Vuitton “Neverfull” is a multipurpose tote seemingly designed for the no-fuss mom and all of her essentials.  Similarly, the LV Neverfull mom friends are practical, down-to-earth and tell it like it is. Unwilling to sugar-coat even the ugliest truths, they can always be called upon for an honest, unfiltered opinion. Their ability to find humor within the daily pandemonium of parenting reminds us not to sweat the small stuff and her candid, unvarnished observations of child rearing are a refreshing departure from the Pinterest-perfect mom. Feeling guilty about how much television your toddler watches or the dirty little secret that your three-year-old exists on a diet of pizza and chicken fingers? This keeping-it-real mom will see your mommy struggles and raise you a teething story, never failing to put things into perspective.

Judith Leiber Couture Clutch Bag

Judith Leiber

If boasting about our children was an Olympic sport, these mom friends would undeniably “bring home the gold” time and time again. Much like one of Judith Leiber’s crystallized kaleidoscopic creations, these women excel at unabashedly soliciting attention to themselves and their offspring. Though blissfully unaware, these moms usually earn themselves an unenviable reputation for bombarding others with saccharine broadcasts about their child’s brilliant accomplishments. Your two-year old can recite the alphabet backwards? While hopping on one foot? Bravo! While there’s nothing inherently wrong with being proud of your child, incessantly over-sharing of your child’s accomplishments is perceived as tactless overkill and should be reserved only for phone calls with Grandma – know your audience. Spending time with these mom friends can feel like a laborious task requiring infinite patience.  Most moms react to gratuitous gloating in the same tiresome manner – you know, that artificial smile, once reserved exclusively for peak moments when your toddler regales you with a complex synopsis of the Paw Patrol characters and their respective super powers.  Although you may wish to restrict time spent with such repeat offenders, it’s important to remember that the intense focus on their children’s achievements may represent an unconscious attempt to reconcile their own unresolved emotional conflicts.

The Vintage Chanel Clutch

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These moms have kids slightly older than yours and have transitioned into the next stage of motherhood, but their friendship is equally valuable. Just as a vintage handbag’s sophistication tells a unique story, more experienced mothers are your most trusted purveyors of child-rearing advice. Let’s be honest – the responsibilities of parenthood can be experienced as daunting and downright intimidating, especially for new first-time moms. Whether it’s clipping a newborn’s itty-bitty fingernails, introducing solid foods, or potty training, resist the impulse to panic. Instead, call upon these been-there-done-that veterans. Calmness is contagious and their unflappable, laid-back presence will chillax your inner neuroses, guide you through harrowing “first times,” and dish out protected tidbits such as elite “mommy and me” classes, superior preschools and nearby child-friendly restaurants. The wealth of knowledge bestowed upon you from more experienced moms will empower you to navigate the most challenging mommy moments with brimming confidence.

The Chanel 2.55 Classic Flap bag

Chanel 2.55

The Chanel 2.55 is arguably the most iconic and most photographed ladies fashion accessory of all time. With a price increase of approximately 30% annually, it can be assumed that this handbag is a better investment than the stock market or even gold. Similarly to this exquisitely crafted bag, befriending a Chanel 2.55 mom friend constitutes a smart investment worthy of both your time and energy. These are the ladies with whom you would lunch even on days when your kids are with a babysitter. In the whirlwind of hectic, day-to-day parenting, it’s a true testament to your friendship that you choose to spend your child-free hours together rather than waist-deep in a bubble bath while soaking up precious moments of silence at home. The Chanel 2.55 mom always makes you a priority and somehow finds a way to carve out some time from her jam-packed schedule for a mani/pedi date and gossip sesh. Genuinely interested in whatever you have on your mind, these are the friends that enable you to feel seen, heard and validated. As such, these moms are your most trusted confidantes. They rejoice in your triumphs and hoist you back up during life’s most difficult moments. Mom friendships come and go, but these women are guaranteed to stand the test of time. Together, you co-navigate through all of life’s peaks and valleys and share your most personal and private struggles and pains.

The Last Hurrah

There is a time of year in New York when the weather grows cooler, days become shorter, and moms engage in a myriad of seasonal city rituals. Fueled by gingerbread lattes and pumpkin muffins, we busily unpack vacuum-sealed bags of woolen and cashmere sweaters while basking in the fragrance of pine scented candles. In our spare time, we take our kids on nature walks through Central Park in search of Autumn’s kaleidoscope of blazing colors, a seasonal reminder that change is, in fact, beautiful. We fill our bellies with hot chocolate and tiny marshmallows while watching the leaves flutter to the ground at our neighborhood playgrounds. In only a few short weeks, this concrete jungle will be hidden under a blanket of snow and the picturesque tree-lined streets of the Upper East Side will become a wintry obstacle course of slush lagoons and heaping mounds of yellow-tainted snow (yuck).

In New York, most people navigate the city by foot, which means our children are invariably outside even on the coldest of winter days. And city kids are remarkably resilient, using their mittens to brush off serrated icicles before swinging from monkey bars at the playground. But dressing these children in multiple layers and outfitting them with winter-ready accessories can be an arduous undertaking for parents and caretakers. My attempts to put a winter coat on my youngest are often met with meltdowns of epic proportions and blood-curdling screams akin only to medieval torture. There are many afternoons I raise my white flag of surrender and spend the afternoon reading books or doing craft projects with the kids in our apartment merely to avoid this imminent struggle.

It seems inconceivable that Mother Nature’s grand finale for October was met with short sleeves and open windows. But now, in a veritable race against time, NYC families are scrambling to participate in outdoor activities while the temperature is mild enough for even the most vulnerable little ones without the use of bulky snow suits and polar accessories. It seems like mere days ago we made our annual pilgrimage to Harbes Family Farm in Mattituck, NY.  Comfortably clad in only in flannel shirts and jeans, we bypassed the painful process of layering and spent hours delighting in the farm’s many attractions. A refreshing departure from mundane strolls through pumpkin patches, the farm is home to an impressive 8-acre Barnyard Adventure. This city kid’s wonderland boasts an assortment of family-friendly attractions including pony rides, petting zoo, face painting, gem mining, pig races and more. Framed by velvety green pastures, a colorful jumbo trampoline sets the Barnyard Adventure apart from all other farms of its kind. A treat for children of all ages, the bouncy apparatus was an instant favorite among our crew. It’s no mystery why NYC families make the trek out East to visit this agricultural oasis. Harbes hasn’t forgotten about the adults either. After several hours of chaperoning boisterous children, parents can delight in some liquid patience from the Wine Barn on premises. Paired with their scrumptious apple cider donuts, this is the perfect adults-only afternoon snack. As the sunshine warmed my face for perhaps the very last time this season, I delighted in knowing that in only a few short months we will once again leave our apartment without the dreaded trifecta of winter coats, tears, and temper tantrums.

 

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Shop Our Looks:

Check Lace Up Shirt – ASOS

Asos

Princetown fur-lined leather slippers– Gucci

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On Chloe: 

Baby Buffalo Plaid Ruffle Top – Gap (sold out) 

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Plaid Twill Ruffle Shirt – Gap

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Girls Bevin Infant & Toddler Moccasin – DSW

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Bridging The Gap 

As children turn 3 or 4, New York City parents often start considering the possibility of moving to the suburbs. After all, raising children here is not for the faint of heart. Living in New York City offers our children a myriad of rich cultural experiences and exposes them to a melting pot of ethnic diversity. But at what expense? In this sprawling metropolis, it’s virtually impossible to shelter our kids from the poverty, profanity-laced conversations and vulgar displays of human indecency found on the city sidewalks. Eager to ditch the concrete jungle for backyards and barbecues, thousands of Manhattan families every year partake in a mass exodus to the suburbs of Long Island, Westchester and New Jersey. But that leaves us, the courageous leftovers, addicted to the urban hustle and determined to raise well-adjusted, resilient kids in the world’s very best city.

Wouldn’t life be easier if we could open our back door and let our children spill out into the yard? Absolutely! But with Central Park only a few short blocks away and a multitude of iconic New York attractions at our fingertips, city kids are exposed to an exhilarating, diverse environment that challenges their curiosities and nurtures their desire to know more about their world. Sure, my kids may not have 3,000 square feet to stash the toys they seldom use, but after nap on any given day they will experience the thrills of riding the tram to Roosevelt Island, playing peek-a-boo with the animals in the Central Park Zoo, or studying the colossal dinosaurs at the Museum of Natural History.  Although at times it would be nice to have a bit more space, I feel so very privileged to offer my kids these unique adventures.

Whenever we have the opportunity, we strive to engage in quintessential New York City experiences and have amassed quite a bucket list of Big Apple essentials. Last weekend we capitalized on the unseasonably warm conditions and embarked on an expedition by foot across the Brooklyn Bridge. The elegance of this beloved landmark of grandiose proportion is surpassed only by the breathtaking views of lower Manhattan, the Statue of Liberty, and Freedom Tower. While walking the promenade, I couldn’t help but marvel at the potpourri of both tourists and NYC dwellers – a veritable melting pot of ethnic and cultural diversity. It is my hope that continuous immersion in such a heterogeneous city will encourage my children to grow into compassionate adults who understand and respect similarities and differences amongst people in their communities.

Once across the bridge, we wandered through Brooklyn Bridge Park in Dumbo, where the kids galloped through the large lawns like wild stallions against a backdrop of the most magnificent Manhattan sky-line. And no trip across the bridge would be complete without a visit to Jane’s carousel, the majestic waterfront merry-go-round enclosed in a genuine glass jewel box. The exquisite attention to detail is as extraordinary as the panoramic view from within the ornate crystal enclosure. Horses painted with genuine gold leaf are adorned with custom bridles hand-painted by the same authorized agent who puts finishing touches on the finest Mercedes-Benz vehicles. As the blazing afternoon sun began to weaken, I watched as my son circled round and round, dipping and rising to the tune of life’s most simple melody. There he was – my little boy, riding off into the sunset – the city at his back and only the horizon ahead. Sometimes in life we need to take a step back to see the beauty of what’s right in front of us. It was in this moment I felt so overcome with gratitude for the opportunity to rediscover this awe-inspiring metropolis through the eyes of my children. You see, while we may not have the picture-perfect suburban home and private back yard surrounded by a white picket fence, what we have is far more valuable. We have New York – the “Big Apple,” “the city that never sleeps,’’ the “concrete jungle.” And here, anything is possible. 

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Shop My Look

 

Vintage Havana shirt

Vintage Havana 3-Tier Ruffle Blouse – Sold Out (Similar Here)

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Flying Monkey Dark Wash Cutoff Shorts

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Prada Sunglasses

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Mom Plans, G-d Laughs

In lieu of a calendar, I’ve always relied on Starbucks to notify me of the upcoming shifting seasons. When is the first day of Fall? As soon as the Pumpkin Spiced Latte makes its seasonal arrival, of course! After several days of fueling myself with autumnal drinks that spark a cult-like following, I was itching to celebrate the commencement of Fall with an afternoon of family-friendly seasonal activities. Aside from scoring a new pair of limited edition Louboutins, nothing tickles my fancy quite like meandering through a field of vibrantly colored pumpkins with my children or picking apples at our favorite orchard.  For the past several years, Harvest Moon Farm and Orchard has provided us with the most perfect destination for family fun amidst a backdrop of crinkly leaves under foot, crisp red apples begging to be picked, and the aroma of fresh apple cider donuts in the air. And for parents whose children stage imperfectly-timed meltdowns on their grounds, rest assured – their spiked cider is some of the best I’ve had.

We couldn’t wait to make our annual pilgrimage to Harvest Moon this Fall and had been looking forward to our visit all week. I made an elaborate mental blueprint of our day from start to finish beginning with photos in the pumpkin patch followed by pony rides and culminating with apple picking. Spending the afternoon traipsing through the picturesque countryside with my little sidekicks would be nothing short of delightful. After draping myself in my favorite fur vest (because what else should one wear apple picking?) we packed the car with all the essentials (extra layers, camera, bottles of water and several pairs of shoes for different terrain). But despite my painstaking efforts to adhere to a thorough agenda for the afternoon, what ensued could best be described as sheer pandemonium. We’ve all heard the bitter Yiddish proverb, “Man plan, g-d laughs,” but the individual who coined this expression of wisdom was most certainly referring to my life in a nutshell.

What I had anticipated would be a mild September afternoon actually capped out at a sweltering 91 degrees. The assumption that we would have quintessential Fall weather was only my first of many miscalculations about how the afternoon would transpire. What a fool. Luckily I was able to change into a more weather appropriate outfit I had stashed in our car. As we entered the pumpkin patch my ordinarily easygoing 16-month old clung to me like a current-season pair of Manolo’s at a sample sale. Seemingly overwhelmed by the mass quantity of future jack-o’-lanterns, she fought me tooth and nail as I tried to lower her to the ground. What about the photos? How can I possibly get the highly-coveted instagram-worthy shots if I can’t even set her down for a moment? Mom plans, G-d laughs. As I snapped away for the next few minutes, the images I captured were ones of an adorably nurturing older sibling and the cutest pouty lip on this side of the Hudson. The unwavering connection between these two had never been so palpable as in these tender moments. And although the images weren’t the idealized representation of children in a pumpkin patch, they epitomized the chaotic reality of parenthood.

Next on the agenda – apple picking! I had spent the night before perusing Pinterest for the most appetizing baked apple recipes and ultimately selected a scrumptious apple crisp. My 3-year old had also spent the previous week in preschool learning to identify different types of apples based on color and shape and was eagerly anticipating this segment of our afternoon. As we began our ascent up the steep hill to the orchard, the blazing afternoon sun was beating down on us with relentless fury. Just keep going. With beads of sweat already dripping down our foreheads, the prospect of pushing a double stroller up this steep hill seemed absolutely dreadful. As a result of these unforeseen sizzling conditions, we made the executive decision to forgo what would most certainly be a painful apple-picking experience for all. So much for my homemade apple crisp.  Mom plans, G-d laughs. I quickly ushered my son over to the farm animals, and after a pony ride he had completely forgotten all about apple picking.

This may not have been the exact day I had choreographed for my kids, but it was their day and they lived it just how they wanted.  Despite the tears shed, stifling temperatures endured, and disappointing changes of plans, the laughs we shared are memories I will always hold dear. And as we enter this new season, I will strive not to burden myself with disappointment of activities not completed, play dates not had or trips not taken. So what if we didn’t get a picture-perfect moment in the pumpkin patch? So what if we didn’t make it up the hill to the orchard? Although I’m consistently searching for teachable moments in the day-to-day activities with my kids, some of the most valuable lessons learned are my own.  So frequently we foolishly hold tight to our expectations and assume that we are in control over the details of our lives. But despite our most careful planning, life with kids is unpredictable and much of what happens is beyond the realm of our control. The sooner we can surrender ourselves to the uncertainty of motherhood, the easier it will be to implement tools that will help us stay calm amidst the struggles and challenges thrown our way. It will be chaotic. It will be far from perfect. But it will undoubtedly be the most wonderful time of your life.

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Shop Our Looks: 

Off-the-shoulder top  – H&M

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Ray-Ban Shrunken Aviator Sunglasses – ShopBop   RAY-BAN-Aviator-RB-3025-112-85-58-14-6570_HD

VALENTINO GARAVANI Rockstud Jelly Sandals – Saks Fifth Avenue

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Picnic Ruffle Romper – Moonlight Bundles

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Ralph Lauren Childrenswear Boys’ Performance Polo – Bloomingdale’s

Ralph Lauren Toddler

DKNY Khaki Cargo Shorts & Belt – Zulily

DKNY khaki shorts

 

Babies n’ Boardwalks – Our Coney Island Adventure

Whenever we have a free weekend in the city, my husband and I enjoy taking the kids to other neighborhoods in Manhattan or to the outer boroughs to participate in all kinds of cultural events and view popular landmarks. The Bronx Zoo, Brooklyn Bridge, and Coney Island are only a few of the world-famous (and kid-friendly) attractions we are fortunate to have at our finger tips. For many New Yorkers, Coney Island is synonymous with unapologetic indulgences and an overcrowded boardwalk teeming with sleazy characters. In fact, many of my friends and neighbors steer clear of this tourist trap for this very reason. But not us! With a tight grip on our wallets and children securely strapped into their stroller, last weekend was the perfect Coney Island adventure, a trip we’ve been making every summer since even before the kids were born.

Coney Island is widely-recognized for its iconic boardwalk and rightfully so. Lined with food stands, beachside performers and surf shops, it’s the perfect respite from the stagnant city air. The opportunities for supreme people-watching are endless, as it attracts a diverse crowd of all ages. And let’s not forget about the greasy food – Coney Island is home of the original Nathan’s. Yes, please! After first making a pit-stop for hotdogs and fries, we pushed my daughter in her stroller along the boardwalk, keeping a close eye on my toddler who was carefully weaving in and out of beach-goers. He’s an avid explorer of new territories, but in these situations I’m not too proud to sport matching bracelets connected by a spiraled rope (most commonly referred to as a “leash”). There must be a very delicate balance between a toddler’s desire for independence and safety.

After meandering through crowds of people and stopping for cotton candy and ice cream cones, we made our way to Luna Park, an old-fashioned amusement park that most closely resembles a county fair. There we would spend the next 2 hours watching our toddler bask in the glory of this recreational utopia only before moving on to the aquarium, the only one of its kind in New York City.  We cruised through the animal exhibits in record time thanks to my energetic toddler on a sugar high and arrived at the Aquatheater just in time for the sea lion show. It was difficult to determine which my raging threenager enjoyed more – the interactive sea lion performance or climbing up and down the steps 547 times during the show.

By the day’s end I was thoroughly drained and unsure of how I would make it to bedtime. But despite the all-encompassing exhaustion of motherhood, on this day (like many others) I had the opportunity to stop and soak in the world through the joyful eyes of my children, and for that I am grateful. It’s days like these when I really feel my cup runneth over.

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Young, Wild, and Three!

As busy parents raising kids in New York City, it’s easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle of our every day lives. With jam-packed calendars and stacks of unopened mail, we often feel as if we’re constantly engaging in a game of catch-up. And the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. In an effort to take full advantage of all this heaping metropolis has to offer our children, we often over-commit them with trips to museums, enrichment activities, lessons and playdates. I’m the first to admit that I’ve been guilty of trying to fill every minute of every day with a variety of activities to keep my kids busy. But we must not lose sight of something so very essential to the healthy development of our children – the importance of green grass and fresh air.

Ever since my son was born, I’ve been flabbergasted at the amount of energy radiating from his itty-bitty body. Even from a young age it was abundantly clear that he required outdoor play time every day in order to blow off steam and sleep soundly through the night. In addition to assuring a good night’s sleep, the health benefits of outdoor exercise are immeasurable. Regular physical activity helps maintain a healthy weight, builds muscle and reduces the risk of many health conditions.  Green grass and fresh air are also essential for the psychological well being of children, especially city kids, most of whom are confined to small apartments. I still recall the very first time we introduced my son to playing in the grass – he was so hesitant to wander off the blanket and picked at the individual blades of green, so fearful that they would pierce his tender little feet. Flash forward almost three years later and he runs like an untamed antelope through fields of green grass.

Some of my most favorite childhood memories are long summer days spent building forts in the woods behind my childhood home, playing in the snow and other self-directed activities outside. Now that I have two kids, it’s a bit more challenging to get outside, especially in the colder months. Bundling up babies in several layers is an arduous task, but I understand the importance and make it a priority to get my kiddos outside for at least 30 minutes every day. And as often as possible, my husband and I take the kids out East or to Connecticut to visit family outside of the city. Disconnecting from our electrical devises and spending time outside as a family is one of our favorite things to do.

What are some of your favorite outdoor family activities?

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Perfectly Imperfect

As if raising children in today’s world isn’t difficult enough, the modern day mother is also pressured to live up to increasingly unobtainable standards. Thanks to social media and the ease of sharing information online, moms everywhere are subjected to irritating images of Pinterest-perfect birthday parties, picturesque bento boxed lunches of gluten-free, organic, dairy-free meals, and other #momgoals-worthy grandiose exhibits of motherly perfection. Sure, we would all love to be perfect mothers and provide our children with the very best childhoods, but that’s just it – perfection in motherhood is a myth. We hold ourselves to these unrealistic expectations of what our society thinks motherhood ought to be like, thereby almost always setting ourselves up for failure.

Although I may appear put-together and well-rested when you see me on the street, there’s a great probability that I’m actually exhausted and my apartment is littered with broken crayons, Cheerios, and toys strewn in every direction. Usually operating on insufficient sleep, I often find myself fumbling through the day just trying to juggle the needs of two young kids and a mountain of other responsibilities while maintaining some semblance of composure. I applaud moms everywhere who make motherhood seem like a constant stream of cuddles and cotton candy and believe me, I would love to live in a constant state of bliss with my tiny humans. But somewhere along the lines, diaper changes always evolve into exhausting power struggles, fevers and head colds turn into debilitating double ear infections, and I’m usually running on empty by 11am. Home cooked meal? That’s funny! Once the kids are fed, I’m lucky if I have enough energy to order delivery dinner.

I’m not perfect. I MAKE MISTAKES. There, I said it.

Just last week I planned to have my very first movie date with my toddler, an activity that would serve as a welcomed departure from his familiar morning routine of playground, children’s museum or errands with Mommy. We prepared several days in advance by discussing rules for inside the theater, my behavioral expectations, and what kind of snacks we would share. To merely say he was excited is a gross understatement.

As we strolled over to the theater prior to the movie, I was overcome with the delightful anticipation of sharing this new experience with my exuberant little buddy. We approached the box office and suddenly something caught my eye. There it was – a sight so alarming I instantly thought my eyes were deceiving me. “SOLD OUT!”  How could this be? How was I going to explain this to my pint-sized sidekick? “Come on, Mommy! Let’s go! Let’s go!” he squealed as he tugged my arm toward the theater.  I grasped at my thoughts, trying to find the right words to let him down gently. Choose any other movie and we’ll get any candy you want! I’ll buy you a pony! Just please forgive me. I explained that there were no more tickets left and admittedly, I should have planned ahead and bought tickets online. He gazed up at me with his big doe eyes. “It’s ok, Mommy.” And just like that, we walked hand-in-hand to the playground like we had done countless times before.

And then it hit me – I shouldn’t be so frightened of exposing my child to disappointment. After all, learning to cope with letdowns is a necessary skill for becoming a successful adult. This misfortune of having to skip a movie seems rather inconsequential in the scheme of things, but these minor setbacks are actually training our children to confidently overcome life’s challenges down the road. I was so proud of my boy’s emotional resilience and ability to easily bounce back without even so much as a minor meltdown! It was in that moment I realized that despite our botched movie date, this imperfect morning was nothing short of perfect.

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10 Things Nobody Tells You About Motherhood

1. You will stop caring about what other people think of you.

If Academy Awards were given for temper tantrums, my toddler would outrival Meryl Streep for best performance. Able to transform from perfectly delightful toddler to borderline foaming at the mouth in .25 of a second, there is no telling where he will strike next. To the strangers offended by my wailing child on the floor of Whole Foods – sorry I’m so preoccupied raising my children that I thoroughly ignored your conspicuous disapproval of my parenting skills.

2. You will learn the true meaning of exhaustion.

You spend the greater portion of your 20’s working hard, partying harder, and burning the candle at both ends. You know everything there is to know about being tired, right? Guess again. The exhaustion following a night of alcohol-fueled bad decisions pales in comparison to the hamster wheel of motherhood. Sleeping all morning is no longer an option and unlike hangovers, sleep deprivation can’t be cured by mozzarella sticks and Gatorade.

3. Having a few close mom friends is essential.

Nobody understands both the joys and struggles of raising tiny humans quite like other moms, and during the first few years of motherhood these friendships are fundamental in maintaining your sanity. These relationships are often based on a mutual love of nap time and adult beverages and serve as the perfect outlet for commiserating over the challenges of the first year, terrible twos and raging “threenagers.”

4. You will kiss your vacations goodbye.

Although our children are seasoned jetsetters, I hesitate to use the term “vacation” to describe our getaways, as these trips are rarely relaxing. Gone are the days of floating down lazy rivers and reading US Weekly on a chaise by the pool. Suddenly swim-up bars have been replaced with swim diapers and sunscreen application is met with poolside meltdowns.

5. There will never be enough time in your day.

Despite your best pre-baby time management skills, it will be a continuous struggle to manage your never-ending to-do lists and overloaded calendar. You will inevitably try to cram your entire adult life into the small window between your child’s bedtime and the moment when you fall asleep on the couch still clutching your Iphone (while adamantly insisting that you aren’t, in fact, sleeping).

6. Your children (and their stuff) will take over your whole home.

Despite your best efforts to maintain a sophisticated home, your living space will become inundated with toys (most of which your child will seldom even use) faster than you can say “Paw Patrol.” I’ve always paid meticulous attention to detail, especially when it comes to keeping my home neat and organized. At first I shuddered at the sight of cumbersome baby gear alongside my perfectly-curated living room filled with French antiques. One gargantuan play mat, two exersaucers, two swings, and one play kitchen later, and I’m finally coming to terms with our new interior design.

7. Everyone is an expert on how you should raise your child.

Your colleagues, relatives, and even your barista at Starbucks will be eager to offer their unsolicited parenting advice, especially during your most challenging motherhood moments. Unless you can provide me with a copy of your “Mother of the Year” certificate, I will pretend to graciously accept and carefully contemplate your advice before walking away and complaining to my mom friends about our encounter.

8. You will appreciate silence.

Remember those peaceful Saturday mornings spent sipping cappuccino while quietly reading the New York Times? Me neither! There is no volume control to the soundtrack of motherhood, and flashes of silence are so infrequent that we often suspect our children are in danger when the room is too quiet. As I exit the elevator on the floor of my apartment building, I can already hear the cacophony of sounds emanating from my apartment – balls ricocheting off the walls and high-pitched voices vacillating between shrieks of joy and tearful whimpering.

9. You are way more capable than you ever thought.

I vividly recall the final few moments before leaving the hospital after the birth of my first child. As I strapped my fragile newborn baby into his car seat for the very first time, I marveled at the tiny defenseless creature before me. “They’re actually going to let us take him home?” I questioned my husband in disbelief. Like many new moms, I was incredibly intimidated by the enormous sense of responsibility that accompanies parenthood. It wasn’t before long, however, that my motherly instincts kicked into high gear and I was offering unsolicited parenting advice to other new moms – ha!

10. You will be eternally grateful for it all.

Although sometimes motherhood feels like an endless onslaught of tears, spilled milk, and low-grade fevers, there is no greater joy than waking up to smiling faces and rediscovering the world through their eyes. And every night before you go to sleep, you will pray for the tools to persevere through the chronic fatigue while secretly wishing that all of this will never end.