Third Trimester – Looking back!

January

I started the third trimester right before the New Year with a raging case of sciatica. Not super fun, especially when you spend New Years Eve running through an airport 6 months pregnant to try to catch a flight… Unfortunately we didn’t make our flight and Mike and I woke up in Denver, instead of home, on the 01/01/2020.

Unexpected changes in travel plans aren’t ideal but looking back it was actually a special, cozy New Years Eve for us; and one that we will definitely remember. After missing our flight and eventually succeeding in rebooking it for the next morning … or so we thought … we devoured chicken tenders and salad on our bed at The Westin (the airport hotel we splurged for – vs. staying at the airport motel we were given vouchers for – because it was New Years Eve and we thought we had to be back to the airport by 5am the next morning). Plot twist: we realized later that our flight was actually for 7pm the following evening, not morning.

Cool cool cool…

Living my best pregnant life

Trying to make the best of it, we went down to the lobby/bar to ring in the New Year with a bunch of strangers… I ordered a mocktail and Mike participated in the free champagne toast the hotel offered. We people watched a bit, counted down as the ball dropped, and kissed each other into 2020. Luckily the lobby was actually quite nice, and it wasn’t a bad way to spend the evening in the slightest. PLUS officially being in 2020 meant we were that much closer to meeting our little guy.

But before he made his debut, mom & dad had some serious house renovations to do. Midway through the month Mike’s dad (Grandpy!) came to stay with us for a month and help with the renos. Oh, man how much we owe him! In about a month we had new recessed lighting downstairs, our flooring was ripped out, most of the walls had a new coat of paint on them, a wall and a closet were torn down, and new cabinets were in place to give us a more open kitchen area. I tired to help where I could but being pregnant didn’t make me the best worker. Instead I was in charge of shopping, cooking, and laundry. Plus getting in walks, yoga, and making sure I was sleeping well to keep growing the babe.

Quick lunch break before getting back to work
Last round of dishes before the sink was taken out and we didn’t have water downstairs for a few weeks

February

The renovation continued into February, and ordinarily a control freak who loves a spick and span household, some days were more of a test for me than others. I was also trying to make sure everything was buttoned up at work before my mat leave started. And we had 10 hours of newborn classes to squeeze in during limited time.

The month flew by in a haze of dust from the renovations and ever-growing piles of baby stuff, but we were able to get out and do a few fun things too; like attending our friend’s annual Super Bowl party!

Of course the only photo we have is by our bathroom and not at the actual party…

We had a great baby shower, hosted by one of my best friend’s, Lauren. Our theme was Brunch for Baby, riffing off of my serious LOVE for blueberry muffins during my pregnancy. The menu also included yogurt parfait, eggs, hash browns, and of course a mimosa and beer-mosa bar for others to indulge in. 🙂 It was the perfect way to celebrate our baby-on-the-way with our closet friends and some family. (We had another baby shower planned for March but because of some medical stuff, that one didn’t happen… more below.)

Aside from renovations and our baby shower, I did a lot more yoga in February. My movements were slow and modified but it felt better than ever. And my sciatica was manageable with more practice and a lot of walking. Moving really helped with the pain during the day so it was essential! The only time things got really painful were in the middle of the night when I had to get up to pee (which happened without fail, like everyone says it does). My back felt so stiff and sore in those first few moments of walking after sleeping for hours. It took me a long time and many baby steps to get to the bathroom from bed and most of the time I was literally hunched over like an elderly woman.

Since we were so busy, especially on the weekends, I started a little Sunday ritual of waking up and reading for a bit in bed and then hitting the mat for a quick morning flow. If I was lucky, Mike would agree to join me on a morning walk to get a coffee nearby our house after. These mornings were some of my favorite and I know they will be sweet memories from my pregnancy.

Towards the end of the month, we found out that our little guy was breech at my 36 week appointment. I remember at our 20 week scan the technician saying he was breech. I instantly felt nauseous (almost any medical speak makes me queasy to the point where I think I actually might have a condition that has yet to be diagnosed).

Although the technician assured me many babies were breech at that stage and he still had plenty of time to flip head-down, there was a part of me that knew in my bones that this wouldn’t be the case. Because of this feeling, I told my regular doctor at my next appointment that I was nervous about our baby being breech but, after feeling around, she said she could feel his head down low. Okay, I convinced myself, nothing to worry about then!

Not.

Literally 15 seconds before our 36 week ultrasound, when she was feeling my belly again, she proclaimed that his head was still positioned downward. YES! I remember thinking to myself. In that moment I wasn’t concerned about not having the natural childbirth I was hoping for.

After all, if the doctor said his head was down……

Turns out, like everyone, doctors can be wrong. And when ours started moving the ultrasound wand around my belly, she immediately told us she had been wrong; he actually wasn’t facing down at all. His head was nestled under my left ribs. A hard little bump that I had felt for months, assuming it was his bottom.

I started to feel very queasy at this point (I’m telling you, it’s a condition!), and then inevitably started to cry. Mike and I had gone so far as hiring a doula for the natural childbirth I was planning on having and now here we were talking about scheduling a c-section. Through my tears, my doctor told me about doing a version (or ECV) to try to flip him head down. We scheduled one for that Sunday and …

March

on March 1st, instead of having our baby shower with my family, we went in for the version. From what people had been telling me it is a pretty intense procedure. I was nervous but wanted to do everything in my power to try to flip him – in the hopes that it was successful but also for the peace of mind knowing that we tired.

Ultimately the version wasn’t successful. And it was intense. I was monitored for about an hour before, given a drug that relaxed my uterus (while simultaneously making my heart race, not the best when you are already nervous!), and then 2 doctors manually tried to push the baby up and into a somersault. Lots of pressure and yoga-like deep breaths!

They tried 3 times and although his little butt did move up from my pelvis, he wouldn’t tuck his chin to complete the turn. I was so tired and sore at that point that we decided not to try again; if he wanted to stay head up and come into the world via c-section, so be it. We did some more monitoring to make sure all was okay (which it was!) and then headed home for BBQ and a movie in bed.

Selfie before the version

We briefly considered trying acupuncture next but after talking about it, decided that if the version didn’t work, we weren’t going to try anymore intervention.

March was also the start of my mat leave. The first week was all walks, yoga, reading in cute coffee shops, lunch with friends, and getting stuff done like changing my oil and getting my tires rotated. This was supposed to continue into the second and third week, with a manicure and pedicure, and an epic date day with Mike sprinkled in there too. But then… COVID-19.

A nice, sunny morning walk before social distancing…

During the second week of my mat leave most companies already had people working from home (it was nice to have Mike home with me!) and social distancing was taking root. At this point, sadly Mike’s parents had to cancel their trip out to visit us, which was a huge blow but I still wasn’t grasping how drastic this was going to get. I went on one walk with a friend and saw my mom that week… Little did I know how much things were about to change the week my baby came into the world.

Starting the Tuesday before my scheduled c-section that Friday, the Bay Area was ordered to shelter in place for 3 weeks. No non-essential exposure to others or leaving the house. We were told we couldn’t have visitors at the hospital and I was allowed only one support person to come with me for my delivery. Obviously this made sense, given the state of affairs happening, but it was gut-wrenching not to have my mom come meet her grandson in the hospital.

I plan to post my birth story later so will skim on those details for now. The long short is that we are so blessed to be home with a healthy, adorable baby boy. This is the main thing and I am beyond thankful. I am also thankful that we have ours and our families health; we have a home to be in during these uncertain times; we have food to eat; and Mike and I have each other to support and navigate the first moments of life with a new baby. But we’re also missing being able to introduce our sweet son to his family.

This little guy has only met us and the nurses/doctors at the hospital. We’ve had to rely on video calls and sending pictures as forms of introduction to everyone else. Some Most days it’s hard not to get really down during this time. He will only be this new and small for a short amount of time, and our family can’t hold him, hug him, kiss him, or cuddle him. Plus, not knowing when all of this will end has made it more taxing… will our son be one month when he can finally meet his grandparents? 3 months? 6 months? Please don’t let it last that long.

For now, all we can do is wait and remain positive. We’re staying put in our house to do our part in flattening the curve. We’re calling and texting, emailing and FaceTiming family and friends every day. We’re going on small family walks while I recover from the c-section. We’re taking naps and baking cakes. We’re waking up with morning coffee and tea and recapping the night – did he sleep well? how are we feeling? he peed through how many onesies? – and remembering to treasure these moments even if they are far different than what we expected.

Second Trimester Highlights!

Telling Everyone

I think one of the most fun parts about being pregnant is telling everyone! I mentioned in my first trimester post that we told our immediate family early on (basically only our parents). Once I hit the 2nd trimester we slowly started telling other family and friends in creative ways.

We told part of my extended family by hosting a brunch at our house. With the craziness of the year, they actually hadn’t been to our new house yet so it was the perfect opportunity to do a reveal by saying our second bedroom was THE NURSERY! I scanned/printed a picture of our ultrasound and stuck it to the room. All in all, I don’t think anyone was actually that surprised as I passed on a glass of wine a few weeks before at a another family function haha but it was still fun to tell our news!

We told my grandparents by brining our wedding book over to their house and taped that same ultrasound picture in the back saying “Chapter Two: coming in March” – it took my grandma a second to put it together but once she did, she exclaimed “oooh, so soon!” and my grandpa “oh my!” which was pretty cute.

The big reveal for most of our friends came at Canadian Thanksgiving where I wore this custom shirt Mike made me. It was fun to see everyone’s reactions after they read the shirt, especially people who were generally surprised.

We had Mike’s parents tell a lot of the Canadian family by showing them the same picture on Thanksgiving. I wish I got to see the reactions there!

For friends and family that weren’t at Canadian Thanksgiving, I either sent them that picture too or another ultrasound one when we found out what we were having!

It’s a…

Which, speaking of, we found out we are having a boy! Personally I can’t imagine not finding out what we are having for planning, naming, and just general day dreaming purposes. 🙂

I always thought we would have a girl first so it was crazy to find out he’s actually a boy in there. Obviously I can’t wait to meet him. I love the idea of a little mini-Mike!

Travels + date nights

We spent a weekend in Monterey with friends, flew to Toronto for a wedding, and then to Vancouver to celebrate my birthday in October/November.

We’ve also been enjoying date nights with just the two of us. I imagine I’ll really want to ramp these up in the next few months since it will be our last chance for time alone without the baby or finding a sitter.

We’re spending a lot of time with friends too. The day after Thanksgiving we had brunch an old friend’s house, where my friend had the best idea to putting out different breads, nuts, seeds, berries, and dried fruit instead of a traditional bacon and eggs type thing. It looked so nice (I forgot to snap a pic), was nom, and a lot less prep/clean up. An all around win!

We went to a Marvelous Ms. Masiel dinner and premiere, where a group of us got together for a traditional Jewish dinner and the first episode of the new season.

We’ve also seen a few movies and I’ve been trying to take long walks with friends when able.

The growing bump

Every morning I wake up and my first thought is about this baby bump. Sometimes I can feel him kick before I even get out of bed and it’s such a sweet moment to steal while tucked away in the sheets still.

I love getting ready and scoping out my profile to see how much he’s grown.

The 2 pictures below that were taken ~6 weeks apart; one at the wedding we went to in and early November the other the night before Mike’s holiday party mid December. Talk about a risky last minute move… waiting until the day before to confirm a dress still fit.

The Holidays

Per usual, the holidays were busy. We celebrated Thanksgiving with my family (baby name debates included, of course), attended both of our company’s holiday parties, and flew back to Toronto for Christmas.

It’s always nice to see family and make memories!

Falling in love with our little one

I mean, do I even need to explain this one? ☺️ I can’t wait until March to meet him!

First Trimester Recap!

The Gist

Our little one is due in March and after some back and forth, I decided to blog about my pregnancy via trimester snapshots. My first trimester was July – September and I was oddly happy to start the journey in the summer vs. being super pregnant during the warmer months. Plus I get to openly indulge in all holiday treats “for two” now as I’m in my second trimester during Thanksgiving and Christmas.

I found out I was pregnant on a Sunday, after being only one day late. The plan was to wait the “5 days after your missed period” but I had a dream that night that I was pregnant and sleepily decided to just see in the morning when I woke up. I grabbed an expired test we had and … 2 minutes later ran into our room to wake up Mike with the news. I will say, I do suggest at least letting your partner know before you take a test (if you’re actively trying anyway, and both of you know a test is in your near future) as it was a bit of a surprise for Mike; particularly since I changed the plan from taking the test on Wednesday without letting him know.

Of course, as the common troupe goes, we went out and bought more pregnancy tests later that day to be sure. The second one was a deeper colored positive, and, of course, had the benefit of not being an expired test…

That first day of knowing was so surreal. There was a mix of feelings and also a sense of perplexity… like, is this really real (even after two definite positive tests).

I called my doctor the next morning and they set up an initial phone appointment. I figured they would want to see me in person for an exam right away but it turns out you have to wait until you’re 6 – 8 weeks!

I finally went in when I was 7 weeks and 4 days pregnant. (Longest 3 week wait of my life.) During this appointment we saw the heartbeat for the first time. Of course it was such a special moment; coupled with wrapping my head around my body growing this little sweet thing while I seemingly did nothing different (aside from cutting my coffee consumption, eliminating alcohol, and avoiding foods I had heard not to eat).

Overall the remaining 7 weeks of my first trimester were relatively easy. I didn’t get any morning sickness but I did feel waves of nausea throughout the day. I also felt fatigue that I’ve never experienced before, like down-to-the-bones tired. I slept like a rock and was consistent in getting 7 – 8 hours every night. The only real aversion I had was a seemingly never ending sour/metal taste in my mouth. I was eating more to keep the taste at bay than out of hunger. Dried mangos at work became my best friend because I could suck on them slowly throughout the day.

Thinking about it, I generally wanted a lot of sweet things, which is off-brand for me. In the early days, lemonade was a favorite (my mom mentioned she craved lemonade when she was pregnant with me too). Meat was another one that I typically don’t eat much of but all the sudden I was eating it every day. I’ve always been a coffee lover but our affair got more serious – at least emotionally – during my first trimester. Ah, that sweet, sweet hot black magic… I WANTED SO MUCH COFFEE but with strength, limited myself to a cup or two a day.

The other piece of the first trimester is having the best news of your life and not really sharing it with people. We basically only told our family – which is pretty typical – but man, it was hard to keep it to myself for those first few months!

Things We Did

Met the Reagans! We spend every 4th of July with our friends Gary, April, and now their little one Grayson. This year we flew down to Simi Valley for the weekend and visited the Ronald Reagan Library. I was only a few days pregnant here and obviously didn’t know yet.


The Oakland Triathlon! A few weeks after finding out we were expecting, Mike participated in an aquabike. It was an early wakeup call and a cold morning, but always good to be there cheering on Mike (future daddy)! We grabbed brunch after with friends we don’t get to see nearly enough, which was also great (although so hard not to tell them the exciting news).


A group of us were supposed to go camping at Big Sur in early August but plans fell through. We took advantage of a rare free weekend and went kayaking in the Half Moon Bay Harbor with our friends Lauren and Ian (you can reach about other HMB adventures here and here). It was such a fun thing to do for an hour! After we hit up a brewery (where I had to pretend I just wasn’t in the mod for a beer…. suspicious, I’m sure) and then got iced teas and dessert at a local cafe.


Wedding time! Right before I started the 2nd trimester we went to my friend Debbie’s wedding near Santa Barbara. Look at that strategically place soda water and lime. 😉


We’re in Vancouver now, celebrating my 30th! Stay tuned for a vacation post and my second trimester recap. 🙂

St Barts! (honeymooning part 3/3)

When we booked our honeymoon, St Barts was the destination in my mind. Disney World and Saint Martin we great and all but I really couldn’t wait to get on the island that is allegedly littered with celebrities, taking in all of the luxury St. Barts has to offer.

I could see the difference between Saint Martin and St. Barts immediately when we stepped off of the 45 minute ferry we took between the two islands. Instead of having to deal with renting a car, the hotel we were staying at arranged transport for us. And despite being later than our estimated arrival time, there was still a shiny white van waiting to swoop us up when we got there. This wasn’t your standard carpool minivan either; it was all tan seats, A/C blasting, and a cooler of Evian water waiting for us. It was let us help you with your bags and closing your door and is it too cool in here? Too hot?

Honestly it was so nice, looking back I’m shocked they didn’t have something more outrageous for us, like flavored oxygen tanks to make breathing more pleasurable… (which, if they did, I would have opted for pineapple flavor).

We arrived at Hotel Christopher after a somewhat fairytale-esque drive across the island, with everything being bright and pristine and smaller than what we’re used to in the states. Naturally the staff greeted us with welcome cocktails and we were directed towards a changing room, where we got in our bathing suits to enjoy the pool while we waited for our room to be ready.

We dipped in and out of the pool, alternating between reading, chatting, and huge iguana sightings. At some point we spilt a yummy lunch of freshly baked bread, the creamiest burrata, truffle ham, kalamata tapenade, and artichoke hearts.

We were “Sir’d” and “Madam’d” to our room, where we read some more and dozed off on our patio. We had a great view of the pool and it was easy to fall asleep in the sun, with the sound of fams splashing in the background.

When we woke up I was ready to explore the island, having a bit of cabin fever from being at the hotel for so long. I wanted to go into town for dinner but didn’t realize the location of our hotel didn’t allow for easy walking. Our options were to take a €30 cab there or to eat at the hotel restaurant. Given that we were renting a car the next day, we stayed at the hotel for dinner. Although the burgers and peach cocktails we ordered were devine, I did feel a bit trapped there our first night.

Our second morning started with a hunt for chocolate croissants and coffee. Part of the reason we picked St. Barts for our honeymoon was to experience the laid back island vibe with a bit of European flare. In short, I was really looking forward to the cafe scene! Sadly the chocolate croissants were sold out by the time we picked a place. Instead we got essentially a grilled ham and cheese sandwich, “basically a ham and cheese croissant,” the waitress told us when ordering.

We spent the afternoon exploring different beaches around the island. Some highlights were the baby goats we spotted on one beach and our picnic lunch. The water was so incredible; clear, blue, and warm. Perfect for hours of swimming and long walks on the beach. Hehe 🙂

It was a blissful day that we ended with a trip to a local store for breakfast the next morning (having learned not to rely on the cafes after all) and getting a pizza to go for dinner. It sounds simple but sharing a bottle of wine and pizza back at the hotel was one of my favorite moments.

The loot

On our final full day there, Mike wanted to go surfing. We packed up the rental car with beach towels and an umbrella the hotel generously provided and set off to find a broad to rent. We ended up at St. Jeans for the entire day. Mike was able to surf while I lounged on the beach, reading, eating snacks and WATCHING PLANES TAKE OFF AND LAND.

As the afternoon was winding down, we went for one last swim to a platform you could sit on in the middle of the deeper part of the sea. We ended up meeting another vacationing couple. After chatting for a while, we exchanged numbers and agreed to meet up for a drink later.

Delighted and drowsy from a day in the sun, we went back to the hotel to shower and change for our last dinner there. Word to the wise, if you find yourself in St. Barts and you want to go out for dinner, MAKE RESERVATIONS! Many of the restaurants base their food ordering for the day based on the number of reservations they have that night. So despite a place not looking crowded, they might literally not have food for you to eat there. We experienced this at 2 restaurants we attempted to eat at, which was frustrating but we finally hit the jackpot with a canceled reso at Bonito.

Bonito was an open restaurant, up on a hill that overlooked the harbor. The food was very French (read: very good, very small portions, and very expensive). It was a lovely last meal, the fancy atmosphere fitting the occasion.

After dinner we met our new friends for a beer and, of course, instagram handle exchanges to stay in touch (hiii, Jenna!;)

We had an early departure the next morning back to St. Martin for our last night before flying home. Overall St. Barts was as exquisite as you can imagine. I’m glad we went there for our honeymoon – a trip of a lifetime – and indulged in all the island has to offer, but I don’t know if we would go back…

Comparing the two islands, to me, is like this: St. Barts is more caviar and champagne, while Saint Martin is calamari and Corona. St. Barts in where you go to relax, but Saint Martin is where you get the stories. Overall both islands where great – one more glam, one a bit more girt – and I’m glad we experienced each of them, although, as much as I love a glass of sparkles, it doesn’t beat local flavor; where the people are kind, courageous, and ready to tell you their tale.

Mike on our last night in Saint Martin, with a parrot he walked right past a few times before noticing

Saint Martin (honeymooning part 2/3)

We left Orlando ready for some r&r and island time. After an early flight we arrived in the Caribbean, specifically on the island of Saint Martin, which is somewhat confusingly both a French and Dutch territory. We decided to spend 2 nights on the French side, then ferry over to the island of St. Barts before coming back and spending our final night on the Dutch side.

We didn’t book transport prior to our trip but luckily rented a car without much trouble to get us to our hotel. There are very few places you can actually walk on both Saint Martin and St. Barts so a car was key. It was a good thing Mike drives a stick and we live close to San Francisco, because manual was our only option and Saint Martin is hilly.

Driving to our spot

We arrived at Grande Case Beach Club and treated ourselves to a welcome cocktail and shared calamari + a Caesar salad since our room wasn’t ready. It was nice to be right on the beach, kicking off the 2nd part of our honeymoon. The water was such a clear, pretty blue, I couldn’t wait to hop in.

We were able to check in shortly after. I was very impressed with our room, which had fresh flowers scattered around, a bottle of wine to enjoy later, and a patio that opened up to a private beach for hotel guests. Without question the first thing we did was take a dip in the ocean.

Not having eaten much that day with an early wake up call and traveling, we were ready for dinner shortly after. We decided to try the hotel restaurant and it was one of the best meals I had there! Even more impressing was that it was all cooked in a small camper as the hotel kitchen was still under construction from the hurricane damages. This – among other things like chipped concrete and a few patches of dried out vegetation – were signs that the island was still recovering.

Mike’s whole fish he ordered (that they nicely deboned for him table-side)
The camper kitchen

We walked to the little down town area after dinner for a drink at the Blue Martini. (At the time, I didn’t realize that is was rare to be able to walk anywhere on Saint Martin – or St. Barts – so we took this walk for granted.) The Blue Martini was everything an island bar should be; outdoors, not cramped, nothing too fancy with good spirited bar tenders and live music. We stayed for 2 drinks and did what you’re supposed to do on your honeymoon, just enjoy each other’s company!


Another glorious thing I took for granted when we were at Grand Case was the free breakfast the hotel provided in the morning (foreshadowing that this was not so on the next island we went to $$$). We enjoyed coffee/tea, croissants, and fresh fruit seaside before packing our stuff and heading out to explore.

Our adventure of choice that day was jet skiing. Equal parts fun and anxiety-filled for me, 100% thrill for Mike (when he was able to go fast without me jamming my fingernails into his ribs hahaha). Once our hour on the jet ski was up, we bobbed around in the warm ocean water for a bit, which was quickly becoming one of my favorite ways to spend our days (aside from gloriously reading for hours at a time and enjoying delicious wine and food, of course).

This might be weird coming from anyone else but I’m sure “on brand” for me: one of my favorite things to do when traveling is going to the local grocery store. And I knew I wanted to hit up a few with that French influence on the island. Hi, all of the cheese and nom fresh ingredients!

You can take the girl out of California but you can’t take the Cali (avos!) out of the girl…

We bought a small sampler of different cheese, some grapes, and nuts before promptly going back to our hotel, opening a bottle of wine to pair with our local goods and sitting right by another beach to enjoy the waves again. Ahhh, bliss.

The view of our private beach

For dinner we sauntered over to a gorgeous French restaurant downtown and enjoyed freshly baked bread, more wine, fresh fish, and seasonal vegetables. For such a gorgeous place, I was surprised it wasn’t packed. We chatted a bit with the owners who mentioned they were just starting to make their slow recovery from the destruction of the hurricane. It’s a small drop in their economy but I’m glad we contributed and spent our money there. Plus, we learned about the best spot to go to from our conversation with the locals: a rum bar just next door.

Omg, this rum bar! Looking back it was our favorite night. When we first arrived we were the only ones there, which meant all of the owners attention. We learned about rum made from molasses vs. sugarcane and all of the different places it came from. Then we got real bold and asked if we go off-menu, ordering a sampler instead of one drink each. The owner agreed. We gave him creative liberty to pour us his choices. And then we learned how to properly drink rum.

Smell. Swirl. Sip.

Waft to smell, inhaling from one nostril and then the other by alternating which one you cover. Swirl to see the legs (similar to wine). Sip. Hold it on your tongue. Savor. Swallow.

Pour more. Repeat! (Bonus points, of course, if you’re enjoying your honeymoon and away from the daily grind.)

We walked back after our rum flight happy and content, crossing paths with a little black cat that I loved and wanted to take home. Not one for the superstition of bad luck, I fell asleep without a care that night; looking forward to the next day and our final stop on our honeymoon, St. Barts! **post coming soon**

BUT HOW CUTE!!?!?!?

Disney World (honeymooning part 1/3)

The Monday after our wedding we flew to Orlando to experience Disney World. It was my first time here, but Mike grew up going to Florida and seeing Mickey & co for spring break.

We stayed at the Port of New Orleans – French Quarter and overall, we were impressed. It had the magic of Disney but was relatively affordable. Particularly at a place like Disney – where you won’t be spending much time in the hotel – as long as it’s clean and convienetly located, it’s win.

My favorite part of the hotel was the NOLA inspired food there. On the shuttle from the airport, we received a text telling us our room number before arriving (Disney magic, friends!) so Mike was able to go drop off our stuff (accessing the room with our ✨magic bands✨) while I ordered food on our first night there.

Fried chicken, mac n’ cheese, beans and rice, with shrimp and veggies!

After dinner, we grabbed a cocktail and hit up the hot tub for a little bit before it closed. With full day of traveling under our belts, it was a nice way to end the day. Even though it was still on the early side for us, being on California, we went to sleep shortly after in preparation for a packed next day.


Despite going to sleep early, we still slept right through our alarms on Tuesday (maybe we were still recovering from all of the wedding festivities?!).

Mike loves going to parks from opening to closing, so it was a bit stressful that we’d already missed a hour at his favorite place, Typhoon Lagoon. We arrived at the water park only 1/2 hour later after quickly getting ready and running out of the door.

Hack: call a regular Lyft to save money vs. the Mini (mouse) van Lyfts they promote

The Mini Vans are cute but not worth the extra cash

Typhoon Lagoo didn’t disappoint, despite our late start! The wave pool was the best and we spent most of our time treading water in the deep-end where there weren’t as many people. Of course we also gave the lazy river and a few slides a go, before it was time to go to the next park: Epcot.

My lovely friend Lauren gave me a ton of good information about Disney World, like making dinner reservations 90 days out and when to get our fastpasses, so a special shout out to her before I dive into our Epcot experience (her and her husband’s favorite park).

First up was the new Frozen ride, which I am glad we had a Fastpass for. The ride was cute but not worth the 2 hour lineup for it. I’m also stating to wonder… how many slow-moving boat rides can Disney make?!

Having not really eaten breakfast, we were ready for lunch quickly after. We went for tacos + margs in Mexico and it was really nice to just sit for a bit. We enjoyed the water views and the breeze in that hot FL sun. The company wasn’t too bad either. 🙂

Next we walked around and went on some more rides but were really just killing time before our next meal. Hah 🙂

Dinner was at Le Cellier, the Canadian steakhouse. People raved about this place. And, being that I married a Canadian, we had to go. Sadly we were both disappointed with the food. The experience was great; it was nice to go to a fancier sit-down restaurant in Disney World and our server was kind (obviously, he was from Canada), but we were more impressed with the bread basket than the filets. Not the best sign. My recommendation would be to go here for the dessert and to try ice wine but save your money and eat dinner somewhere else.

After dinner we finished “walking around the world,” which was my favorite part of Epcot. Everything is cute and clean and I just loved seeing it all.


On Wednesday we were up early and at Magic Kingdom before it opened. Now, I am a Disney Land girl all the way. I spent many summers driving south to spend a few magical days with my grandparents and mom there. This to say, I was excited to experience Magic Kingdom because I heard it was the most similar to Disney Land.

First up was, of course, Space Mountain. Space Mountain holds a special place in my heart because it is a family favorite (probably like many other families). The story from the first time I rode it goes like this: I was with my grandparents and my mom waiting for probably hours to ride Space Mountain. I guess as a small girl I was pretty nervous about riding a roller coaster in the dark and kept telling my Grandpa about my concerns. It worked out that he sat in the row behind me and, the same as I do today, I was screaming my head off the entire ride. My grandpa felt pretty bad during the ride, thinking, I made her go on this ride she hates and is screaming through the whole thing.

The punchline is, when we got off the ride I immediately requested we go on it again. 🙂

Ok, back to our honeymoon! After more rides, we went to lunch at Jungle Navigation Skipper Canteen, which was one of my top 2 favorite places in Disney World. It was a nice air conditioned break from the heat and the menu had the most vegetables I saw there.

Hack: bring a reusable water bottle and ask for cups of ice throughout the day to fill it up and keep you cool while walking around

I also added lemon slices from lunch to our water

Next we made the game day decision to go back to the hotel room for a dip in the pool and an afternoon nap. Much needed!

We went to dinner that night at Be Our Guest, which I heard was hard to get reseverations for so I was proud of our planning. This restaurant is in the beasts and Belle’s castle, which was cool to see, and they have a 3 course prefixed menu. The big draw though is the “grey stuff” you get for dessert. It is indeed delicious (after I figured out what it was! I can’t enjoy food or tastes that I can’t place).

Turns out I must have gotten my fill of Disney Land when we went a few years ago because I was ready to leave Magic Kingdom after dinner. We went to the Boardwalk in the search of souvenirs but quickly aborted mission for something a little more lively! Cue Disney Springs. Ah, this place was actual magic for this soon to be 30 year old.

We grabbed a beer and caught the last few songs of a live band. It was kind of sad we’d already eaten because it looked like there were some amazing restaurants, including a wine and oyster bar. The real highlight was when it was time to go back to the hotel and we wanted to take a ferryboat. We walked to the pier and caught a skipper just in time to hop on the last boat heading our way.

Maybe it was the excitement of perfect timing or maybe it was the beer but for whatever reason, Mike and I loved that boat ride home.

Husband!

Our last day was spilt in between Animal Kingdom and Hollywood Studios. Animal Kingdom was a jammed few hours on rides between our fast passes, some short lines, and opting to go as “single riders” instead of together to bypass waits. If you’re fine going solo on a ride, I recommend trying the single riders hack. It is such a time saver!

In my opinion, the actual gem of the day trip was lunch at Sanaa that afternoon. You have to leave the park and go to Animal Kingdom Lodge – which, let me just pause for a second and say loveeee. If we ever go back, I want to stay here; for the lodge’s atmosphere and also because I want to eat at Sanna and have their bread service for lunch everyday.

The bread service is it, people. Fly to Orlando, eat here, and you can go home right after.

On top of the amazing food and aesthetics, you get to watch different animals walk around in the courtyard while you eat.

After lunch it was time for Hollywood Studios and a 85 minute line up to go on the Tower of Terror. Normally fast drop-down rides aren’t my favorite but I can handle (somewhat) Tower of Terror, which is good because it’s Mike’s favorite ride!

Per usual, I screamed (and death griped my seat) the entire time.

We rounded out the day with a few more rides before going back to the hotel and packing for our early morning flight to the Caribbean! **post coming soon**

Loved Disney with my PRINCE

(cheesy, i know. but real talk, Mike is obviously Eric from Little Mermaid, right!!?)

Our wedding day ♡

On Friday, May 17th, 2019 Mike and I got married at Saratoga Springs in California. I knew I wanted to get married at Saratoga Springs before Mike even proposed. Which meant finding a venue wasn’t a hard choice for us. We actually only visited Saratoga Springs once and signed the contract without visiting any other locations or doing other research.

This quick-decision making turned out to be the unwritten theme of our wedding. We met with one photographer and decided to move forward; I tried on 3 dresses and bought the first one I tried on; I asked my good friend Lauren to make cookies for dessert and never looked back. We opted early on to make decisions fast and not to dirty ourselves with too many details or time consuming indecision. If you’re not about stress, I recommended this method.

It helped that my drumbeat for the day was unwavering: our wedding had one great importance and that was us. Spending a lot of money of other things wasn’t of value to me. Of course I wanted nice centerpieces, decent food, and flowing drinks, but they had to be simplistic, no stress options, with little monetary investment.

Our centerpieces were thought of and crafted as a collaborative effort between myself, Mike, my mom, and two of my friends, Allysa and Leslie. We were fine with the buffet style meal the venue would provide – which was BBQ – and aside from picking the side dishes, we didn’t think more about it. For us, a huge perk about a wedding a Saratoga Springs was that, if you picked the house options, the wine and beer were unlimited. (Our one splurge was for an upgraded keg because I love an IPA and I’m picker about my beer than my wine.)

When I think back on our wedding day, one word comes to mind: joy. I think, in part, this is a testament to words being powerful, and what you say mattering. Leading up to the day, I repeatedly said a top priority was our friends & family having a good time. As mentioned already, things like the food or decorations just weren’t as important.

If my drumbeat was Mike & Ashley, Mike & Ashley, Mike & Ashley, my mantra for the day was everyone just dance and have fun!

All love, no drama.

Minimum effort, maximum enjoyment.

Before the wedding, I asked Mike if once it was all said and done, would we deem it worth it? After all, even with the laissez-faire attitude I believe I had when planning our wedding, it still had it’s stressful parts…

I’m delighted to report that it was 100%, would-do-it-again-in-a- heartbeat, worth it.

Our wedding day was the most magical, whimsical, wine-fueled, joyful, love-filled, special day of my life. Everyone we love was there, and I believe it was all of their missions to have the best time while celebrating us. ♡

Wedding Week!

We got married on a Friday and a week before, it was a gorgeous day in the Bay Area. A beautiful 70 degrees outside, Mike and I went to dinner at a favorite Greek restaurant to toast the upcoming week and hope that the good weather continued.

Spoiler: it didn’t.

The ironic thing was, when we picked a date for our wedding, we pushed it to mid May – closer to summer – to try to get the best weather for our outdoor shindig. In the end, it all worked out wonderfully but we were obsessively checking the weather that week leading up to the big day.

Mike’s parents, his sister, brother in law, and their 2 kids arrived from Canada the next day, the Saturday before our wedding. It was pretty late EST for them so we turned in shortly after a tour of our new house that they hadn’t seen yet. 

Sunday was Mother’s Day and we hosted brunch at our house for our moms and Mike’s sister. Mike made French omelettes, which are my favorite way to have eggs (I realize now that I was the only non mom there and the one who decided on the brunch menu / how everyone would have their eggs… but I think the buttery-pillow soft French omelet is enjoyed by all). We also had bagels, berries, and pineapple. My go-to brunch hosting menu. 

The day morning was full of the best kind of madness, with kids running wild and family chatting everywhere. It was a nice way to kick off our wedding week.

My favorite quotes came from Mike’s niece when they were playing outside and asking each other silly questions. Mike asked Ella if she knew his favorite color, which she delightfully answered “yes, Ashley!”

You heard it here, folks. Mike’s favorite color is Ashley. 🙂

Monday was mine and Mike’s last day of work and it was a busy one. Despite thousands of things going on, I am happy to report I successfully didn’t check my work email the whole week of our wedding; and quickly silenced our internal messenger app when my vibrating phone buzzed me awake on Tuesday morning. 

Later in the morning on Tuesday, my mom picked me up to get my wedding dress from the tailor. A few people asked me if I was doing any special diet before the wedding and I decided against it. Partly because I didn’t want our wedding day pictures to be some kind of bar I set for myself of a hard-to-achieve body for myself; but mostly because life generally doesn’t slow down leading up to your wedding. I basically maintained my same diet and exercise and certainly didn’t have time for much more.

As I expected my dress fit without problem. Next it was off to my last dance lesson to try moving around in my dress vs. the leggings and hoodies I usually wore to mine and Mike’s sessions. Fitting in with traditions, Mike didn’t attend this lesson with me as not to see the dress before the big day.

After some preliminary wedding errands we drove to Santa Cruz with Mike’s family. Besides what trip to California is complete without a beach day? The weather was actually decent at this point and we took turns strolling on the beach, slipping our toes in the water, and chilling out on the sand while Mike surfed. 

We hit up a local brewery after where we got the exciting news that Mike and I had been hoping for. Which, to explain, you have to know that the weather forecast was turning out to be worrisome, calling for cold temperatures and rain on our wedding day. Stressful! As mentioned, we were obsessively checking the weather and eventually reached out to our OUTDOOR wedding venue asking what the contingency plan was if it rained.

We discovered it was a pricy $8k for tents to be put up. Wait, what!!! There was no way.

On Monday afternoon (while still at work) we got an email telling us there was an event happening the day after our wedding and they might purchase the tents for it. In which case, our venue could put them up the day before and we could have them for F-R-E-E. 

Happily, over pints, we found out that the tents would be, in fact, up for our Friday wedding. Such a relief! The forecast was still calling for a chilly evening, so we upped our heat lamp count and cheers’d. 

Yay!!

(Ironically Tuesday night was the one night I didn’t sleep well before our wedding.)

On Wednesday people started arriving from out of town. We had family friends of Mike’s come for a house tour and coffee in the morning. It was a rainy day, which I’m sure our Canadian friends and family were not expecting of my home state in mid May… Thanks for really showing people your good side, Cali! (Not) 

Later in the day, we escaped the rain and took Mike’s niece to the children’s discovery museum is San Jose. She was the flower girl in our wedding and we wanted to spend some quality time with her before. Whew, it was great spending time with her but that place was chaotic. Luckily after about 2.5 hours there, she was fine leaving when we said it was time to go. 

That night we went out with Mike’s sister and husband for drinks at our favorite local restaurant, OCK, to test out cocktails for our first look before the wedding. We decided to do a first look at a special place to us; where we’ve been countless times, where we take our friends and family who are visiting from out of town, where we went for sandwiches and champagne after we got the keys to our house. OCK also has some of the best cocktails and we were certain some nerve calming juice would be in order on the big day. Anyway, the cocktail menu is rotating so we wanted to be sure we picked “photogenic” drinks for our first look, hence the cocktail tasting with Wendy and Andy. 

After drinks (and our first look cocktails decided) we walked back home to meet friends who arrived that day. We ordered Zume pizza and had a mini-house party with wine free of sulfates and house tours for all. Oh, how parties have changed! 

It was so nice catching up with friends from out of town and showing them our house though. Looking back on the week this is one of my favorite memories. If only everyone lived closer! (Or if I remembered to take a picture with everyone… whomp whomp whomp)

Thursday morning, the day before the wedding, I happily did a yoga class with Mike’s mom and sister in the morning before we had our walk through at the venue. My mom and stepdad met us there after and it was pouring out! I was freezing in my yoga pants and flip flops but, surprisingly, wasn’t stressed about the weather. We did everything we could with the heat lamps and tents, so it was all out of our control at that point. We sloshed through the wet grass to check out where we would I say “I do,” asked some questions, and made our final payment. There was no turning back now (not that that ever was after our first deposit was paid hah). 

Practicing for the big day!

After the walk through, it was time to cash in on Mike’s Mother’s Day present and get our nails done (I guess mine was technically a pre wedding gift vs. a Mother’s Day one).

With freshly painted nails (and the constant fear of ruining them before my wedding), I checked into the hotel everyone was staying at with my dad and sister. The hotel was less than a 10 minute walk from our house (a 2 minuet walk from the nail salon and OCK) which made logistics a lot easier. If you’re planning a wedding, I recommend having things as close to each other as possible. There is so much going on, it is nice to have the flexibility to walk wherever anyone needs to be. 

Mike and I wanted to host a Welcome event for our family and any friends traveling in from Canada before the wedding. We decided to have a casual dinner at Campo di Bocce, where people could mingle, fill up on Italian food, and play bocce ball. Besides, nothing bonds strangers like some friendly competition.

My dad and sisters ❤
Soon to be Mrs. & Mr.
Mike and his mama
Me and one of mine and Mike’s best friends, Melissa

I heard from a few people that they loved the whole bocce night. The food was great and, luckily, the rain tapered off just in time for us to fully utilize the outdoor courts we had rented. (I didn’t realize the potential chaos I was signing up for between an outdoor wedding and courts for bocce. Thankfully it all worked out in the end.) 

In good spirits, we headed back to the hotel. Originally I wanted to just spend the night with Mike before our wedding. We opted for the fireplace suite at the hotel, so there was plenty of room, and I thought it would be easier. Instead Mike wanted to spend the night before with his dad having a drink and talking …manly things, I guess. That’s what we ended up doing and I’m so glad we did.

The ladies toasting in my room the night before

My dad joined Mike, his dad, and brother in law for some whiskey; while my mom, Mike’s mom, and a few other girls had champagne back in my room. It was a nice, chill night on my end, plus, I got the whole king bed to myself! After all the girls left, my mom and I hung out for a few moments alone and it was so special to have that time with her the night before my wedding.

I went back and forth on having a friend (or my mom) spend the night with me the night before and, in the end, logistics won out as I really just wanted a good nights sleep before the wedding. I’m usually pretty ceremonious, and thought it would be special and quintessential to spend my last “single night” with a close girlfriend, but everyone has their thing that beats out others and mine is sleep. 

I slept without a care or dream that night. It was ideal. I woke up on Friday, May 17th, 2019 to a message from Mike that read “we’re getting married today!” I smiled, rolled over, and fell back asleep for another 1/2 hour. When I actually got out of bed, I showered and didn’t check my phone again. It might sound corny but it was such a tranquil morning. Looking back, I’m glad I had that time alone.

Once I was dressed, I wandered to my mom and stepdad’s room to say hello and give my little brother Gio a cuddle. My stepdad and I walked to get a coffee after and then to pick out my flowers at Whole Foods.

The day was generally stress free aside from when I first went to pick out my flowers. I suddenly had no idea what I should get and remember telling my stepdad “this is why people don’t do this the day of their wedding!” Luckily he was the calm in the middle of my bridal breakdown (I had also almost rolled my ankle moments before while texting and walking so was generally on edge at that point).

A selfie between coffee and flowers

The flowers worked out – I went with white peonies and orange tulips – but there was room for error there. I’ll say it was more my style to get a $20 bouquet from Whole Foods, wrapped with brown recycled paper and string, but don’t advise it for the next bride! Having those moments with my stepdad before the madness was another really special time for me though.

When we got back to the hotel it was Go time. My sister, who is a LA based makeup artist, was essentially my glam squad. My friends Lauren and Morgan were there to assist with my hair. The whole morning was relaxed. We didn’t have the proper mimosa toast or matching floral robes to get ready in. There weren’t loads of people in and out of my room. Friends was on in the background. I was chugging water like it was my mission, while we snacked on apricots. My dad popped in and out with offers of slices of pizza or to just check on us. And then it was time to put my dress on.

I loved my dress. It was whimsical, romantic, and forgiving. All things a wedding should be in my opinion. 😉 

My mom zipped me up and my grandma tied my sash around my waist. Morgan helped me with my sandals. I put my earrings in and a bracelet my good friend Allysa gave me on. I forgot to take off my engagement ring (but wouldn’t notice that until hours later when Mike was sliding my wedding ring on). I was ready for our first look!

*** pictures coming soon ***

Home owners! [+ spicy vegan cheese recipe]

It’s been a busy few weeks for us because, as the title of this post suggests, WE BOUGHT A HOUSE!

We’ve been searching for about a year, putting in offers here and there, but sadly always got outbid; upwards of $100K! Bay Area real estate, man!!

I’ve heard time and time again that moving in winter is the cheapest time since most people don’t want to move in the cold, or they have kids and don’t want to uproot them in the middle of the school year. Well, based on our experience, I’m saying this is true. We finally had an offer expected in late December!

We were over the moon at the prospect of owning our first home, and even better, in the city and location we’ve been pinning for. A lot of the initial paperwork we had to do was when we were in Canada visiting Mike’s family for the holidays. I’m sure all of the forms would have been relatively stressful even if we were home, but having to deal with it all while traveling was a lot (for Mike! I really didn’t do much when it came to securing the loan, getting home insurance, etc).

We knew there was the possibility of everything falling through but, brimming with excitement, we basically told everyone we were in the stages of buying a house over the holidays. What a blow it would have been if it didn’t work out!

Luckily everything went through (THANK YOU MIKE!) and we closed on January 9th, not even a month after we found out our offer was accepted. Suffice to say with the general madness of the holidays and the added To Dos of buying a house, it’s been hectic. (Hectic in the most exciting way, of course.)

The day we got the keys!

We are officially out of our condo now and mostly unpacked. We’re getting used to living in a place with 2 floors (“damn, I left my cellphone upstairs again“) and having 2 bathrooms (so much storage space!). We’re constantly talking about renovations and all of the things we have to do. We’ve already had to deal with 2 leaking pipes but we’ve also had a lovely evening having a glass of wine with a neighbor. This weekend we hosted our first overnight guests and spent a cozy Saturday curled up by the fire (we have a gas fireplace, win!) and watching YouTube videos (we also have pretty poor WiFi for some reason and have to use Chromecast vs. our regular smart TV in the living room). We went for a bike ride this morning on a nearby trail and will be hitting up the Farmer’s Market next week. Our carpets are shaggier that I would like (can’t wait for that reno!) and the garage needs a rescue mission but I’m delighted that we own a home.

The living room was the first space to be unpacked

To celebrate our first night in the new house, I pulled inspiration from my trip to Spain and made us a meal of potatoes with spicy vegan cheese*, melon and prosciutto, and Spanish cheese. It was easy to prep this ahead, which was important mid-move, and a nice splurge with seemingly hundreds of boxes surrounding us. Of course we also toasted with a nice bottle of champagne and really just basked in our purchase.

All of the unpacking mess behind Mike

We’re looking forward to having our friends over for a house warming / “before” party to showcase the new digs / show what it looks like before we tear up everything and bring our house into the current era. 😉

I’m particularly looking forward to a costume closet and a cozy little library-inspired nook in our bedroom. Stay tuned for Before and After pics. 🙂


*I followed Oh She Glows All-Purpose Vegan Cheese Sauce basically step by step but added paprika to give it some kick. This was the last thing I made in our condo the Friday before we moved, so I can vet that is stores and reheats well.