February 27, 2017

Weekending it

This weekend was an even mix of productivity and fun relaxation with a good amount of treat splurging mixed in.

On Saturday we deep-cleaned the entire apartment. I typically have a schedule that splits the cleaning tasks every other week but on occasion I'll skip a week leaving everything for one weekend. Even with two people it's always surprising how long it takes to scrub the tub, change the sheets, dust, vacuum, and mop the entire apartment. One more reason why I don't want to own a home.

Saturday night we headed to the Circus!!

Going to the circus is a bit of a pastime for Dan and me. We've gone four times now. Once when we were dating and two times in 2015 (Big Apple and Ringling Bros). We didn't go to the circus at all in 2016 because we planned to go to the Big Apple Circus again only to find out that it was no longer in existence! Super sad. Then at the beginning of this year I read an article that said this would be the last year for Ringling Bros. They are ending after over 100 year existence! I know people have opinions about the circus and the use of animals. I will say, I'm not a huge supporter of that but we felt like going to the circus held good memories for us and we would regret not going its final year. Also, the baby needed to experience it, even if just in utero. So we got tickets.

We got to the arena late and the entrance was absolutely packed with people trying to get through security so by the time we got to our seats we had missed the first 15 minutes. Fortunately I don't think we missed much. The theme for the show this year was "Out of This World" with a space theme. It was a bizarre story line and totally unnecessary. One thing I read about was the circus has had a hard time innovating every year and keeping the interest of little kids for more than a few minutes. I feel like they overcompensate with basically two hours of sensory overload. It's difficult to take it all in as an adult so I'd imagine a kid would be overwhelmed. Anyways, the new spin this year was the performance was mainly on ice! Like, all the performers were on skates or the clowns were slip sliding around on the rink. All the acrobatic numbers and animal parts were on mats over the ice but there were a lot of new numbers featuring ice skates. Like acrobats on slits AND ice skates.

Inside those floating orbs were body contortionists doing crazy stunts while the orbs spun around. 

Three big things missing this year: no elephants, no rotating wheel, and no trampoline artists. The rotating wheel (or wheel of death) is my favorite so I was sad we didn't get to see that one more time. This year the elephants were replaced with dogs and pigs and lamas and goats. The pigs did next to nothing except wear Hawaiian leis. The dogs took turn doing various tricks.

See that little Terrier at the bottom of the picture above? He just wandered around for a bit doing his own thing and then pooped on the ice! No one noticed so the stage hands proceeded to roll mats over it and other skaters got really close to skating over it. I think because it landed on the ice it wasn't messy but I was pretty fixated on watching to see if anyone would pick it up.

The trapeze numbers are always some of my favorites. I wasn't able to get very good pictures this year but they were pretty good although three of them missed their mark and fell into the net. We'd never seen errors like that before so it was weird.

We got treats too, of course, overpriced popcorn and we shared rainbow dip n' dots in a light-up souvenir cup. And we left during the finale to miss the massive crowds trying to get out of the door at the same time.

We enjoyed our last circus adventure but are a little sad that the era of circus performers is coming to an end.

On Sunday we got to sleep in since our normal church service was moved to the evening for baptisms. We went out for breakfast to try a crepe place that opened this past year. It was our little anniversary treat since "February 30th" is our 2 1/2 year wedding anniversary. The crepes were delicious!

I got strawberry, banana, and nutella and Dan got almonds and honey.

After breakfast we did our taxes! Well, 98% of them. I have one thing left to do but otherwise it's finished!!!

That night we saw four people get baptized at church and I got hugs from all of them, even though I only knew one of them. I love post baptism hugs - soaking wet with hope and happiness. There was a pizza party afterwards and then we spent the rest of the night prepping for the week and finishing season 3 of The Americans.

February 24, 2017

Peeks from the Week

Well apparently I didn't snap any photos on my phone this week so there isn't anything to "peek" but this week was pretty eventful. Everyone seemed to be having great weather but I haven't really been able to enjoy it much since I'm at my work desk all day. I hopped outside for a few minutes today and snapped these blue sky views.

On Monday I had the day off and tried really hard to be super productive. I started calling around and researching birthing classes and potential day care options. Holy overwhelming nightmare. I have a benefit through work which is kind of a like a hotline. You can call and tell them what you need information on and they do all the research and calling around and give you the results. For free!!! So I asked them to research childbirth education classes in our area and day cares nearby with part-time options. The results they gave me: "we found nothing that fit your criteria." ??????? So, naturally I asked if they could give me the list of places they contacted so I can cross those off my list? Their answer: "we do not have a list of the places we contacted." So yeah, I'm not real encouraged that they actually did anything. Guess if you want to get something done you should just do it yourself.

Last night we hosted our first "Table" which is our church's form of small groups. Dan made quiche. It was just the couple we are co-hosting with and us but we had fun. It feels good to make connections and a few new friends after feeling like we lost the network we had spent years cultivating. Also there are two other women at our new church due within one week of me! Exciting.

Happy weekend! We're headed to the circus so be sure to come back Monday for our recap. 

February 22, 2017

The Best of Bay Ridge: Food - European Cuisine

Today on the Best of Bay Ridge we're continuing our culinary world travels with cuisine from all over Europe.

Best Greek: Something Greek on 3rd Avenue between 76th and 77th

There are a few more Greek restaurants in Bay Ridge (a couple opened just this year) but we love Something Greek because the food can't be beat. It has a cute ambiance, nice outdoor seating in the summer, delicious pita and hummus and really great pita sandwiches stuffed with your choice of meat, tzatziki sauce, and french fries! There platters are also yummy and great portion sizes. Check the hours before you go though, sometimes they open at weird times...like 2 pm on a Sunday?

Best Polish: Polonica on 3rd Avenue between 72nd and 73rd

Polonica is teeny tiny but super cute and super yum. If you like dishes like goulash and potato pancakes this is the place to go in Bay Ridge. Dan and I haven't been here in ages because we tend to default to Indian food or burgers but I couldn't leave it out of our best of.. because this place deserves a chance! I vow to go there again soon. There is kielbasa, stuffed cabbage, and a huge variety of pierogis. Its a good place for comfort food.

Best British Pub: Longbow on 3rd Avenue between 73rd and 74th

Longbow is definitely a pub. Depending on when you go it could be very crowded and loud if there is a soccer game playing, but hang in there. I recommend you go there for Sunday brunch. The portions here are huge and the fish and chips are the best. We had a new fish and chips place open this summer and it was really great but it already closed its doors and moved!! So Longbow it is and you won't be disappointed.

Best German: Schnitzel Haus on 5th Avenue between 73rd and 74th

Schnitzel Haus is kind of on the pricey side (for us) but is the only place to get authentic German food in the neighborhood. Dan and I went here on a date when we were first together and I remember it being a good time minus my first experience with pickled herring (but it's not on the menu anymore). We took my parents here when they were visiting in November. DO order schnitzel and spaetzel and bratwurst. This place also does a lot of entertainment like live music and those wine and painting events.

Best Italian: Gino's on 5th Avenue between 74th and 75th

Gino's is in my top 3 favorite restaurants in Bay Ridge, next to Taj Mahal and another place I haven't shared yet. It's a well known "fancy" Italian restaurant frequented by the heavily Italian community in the area and regular locals. It's one place that feels a little more "special" so perfect for a date (you need a reservation). We went here for dinner on New Years Eve and I won a free pizza so, bonus points! Fun fact, my mom and I came here when I first moved to Bay Ridge and she was helping me get settled. We went to lunch at like 11 am and were the only people in the restaurant at that time but we both fell madly in love with the penne vodka and homemade potato gnocchi. There are many other Italian restaurants in Bay Ridge and they are all pretty good but we love Gino's because the food is great and it feels extra classy.

Are you surprised by the huge amount of culinary diversity in this neighborhood yet? I mean, we're talking just a handful of the places in this area. Foodies must come a roam the streets!!

February 21, 2017

First Trimester Recap

I plan on sharing our whole "getting pregnant journey" but that could take some time, so today, I'm going share about some of our first trimester. This is mainly for memory sake (hello, first baby) but also for family since we kept so many details a secret during this critical window. I'll spread the posts out so it isn't so baby heavy over here.

I've always been really conscious of the chances of miscarriages and I've known a lot of people who have had miscarriages. Since I'm a naturally anxious person coupled with my generally "realist" perspective of life, I just expect that if something bad could happen, it will. Add that to my crazy reproductive system history (I'll share more on that later), and it's easy to see why I was worried about a miscarriage. I pretty much assumed I would miscarry. Now, I know most people think that is a horrible perspective to have going into a pregnancy, but you aren't me. It's a lifetime worth of coping habits I developed to avoid disappointment. I always have hope that things will work out fine, and we pray all the time for a healthy growing baby, but we are cautious to protect our hearts from loss.

Anyways, at Thanksgiving my parents and sisters were visiting us and I told them we had been trying to get pregnant and we were near certain we hit the right window of time. I told my mom one night, "mom, there could be a baby inside of me right now!" and she grabbed my stomach and said "oh hello baby, I'm your grandma." We were both kinda of kidding and I don't think either of us actually thought I was pregnant but as it turned out, I was! The first person to welcome the baby to life was my joking mom!

The week after Thanksgiving, Dan and I were at our marriage counseling session and we shared that we had been trying and our counselor told us to get a pregnancy test when we got home because there was a good chance I was pregnant. At this point I was still about three days away from when I was supposed to start my period. I was super skeptical but we bought two boxes of tests (4 tests total). I ruined the first test by not following the directions correctly (good job Steph that was $7 down the toilet). The next morning I took the second test and the faintest pink line appeared. I didn't believe it so I got in the shower. After I showered, I took the test into the bedroom and asked Dan if he thought it was a line (real creative right?). He agreed it was a line but we were both in the twilight zone at that point.

The next two days I took the other two tests and both had the faint pink line.  Of course we were excited but also extremely shocked. It will make more sense once I share about my crazy reproductive system. I had convinced myself for so long that I was going to have to do In Vitro Fertilization or at least that we would have to try for months and months on end. I was not prepared to get pregnant that quickly. God was probably laughing at me as I imagine He does when I try to control my life and think I know all the answers.

I told my sisters immediately because I knew I wouldn't be able to keep it a secret from them and then I made an appointment immediately with the fertility specialist I had been seeing. She did blood work to confirm the pregnancy and then I came back a few days later to check the blood work again to get an exam. She was SO happy for us that I sort of think she also suspected that fertility would be an issue for me. I went back about a week and a half later (week before Christmas) to get an internal ultrasound.

Since I only have one Fallopian tube (again, more on that later) I was at a higher risk for developing an Ectopic pregnancy. And I was told after my surgery that I needed to go in and have an ultrasound early to make sure the fetus was in my uterus and not the tube. Here is the first picture we got of our little baby!!! It's just a blob!

It was perfectly positioned! Another miracle.

Still cautious but optimistic, we started thinking of ways we would tell our parents the good news. Since it was approaching Christmas we decided to buy a pair of blue baby shoes and a pair of pink. Wrap-up one of each color in a box and put it under the Christmas tree for our parents. My sister's delivered the package to my parents to open on Christmas morning and Dan and I got to give the gift to Terri Mom and Allen Dad when we were in Kansas. We have both reactions recorded. I'm really grateful my sisters were able to keep the secret beforehand and get my parent's reaction on film in our absence. We asked everyone to keep it a secret until we could announce after the 12 week window.

Outside of telling our immediate family, we did not do much during the first trimester due to my miscarriage anxiety. It was just easier for me not to think about it too much, buy or plan anything, or attach too much. I would catch myself daydreaming about baby clothes or something and then force myself to block that from my mind. We pretty much lived life like normal except for avoiding the bad pregnancy foods and drinks. I'd been taking a prenatal vitamin for over a year (recommended by my doctor) so even that wasn't new to the routine.

Right after the New Year, we had another appointment with the specialist to make sure things were looking good. I was 8 weeks at this point and we got another ultrasound and heard the heartbeat for the first time.

Since everything looked good I was referred to my regular OB from then on. I was sad to not be able to stay with my favorite doctor. She always took every question as serious and important, she never made me feel stupid or unwanted and she has the best bedside manner I've ever witnessed. But since she is a doctor for fertility issues and not an OB, I had to move down the hall to the other office.

Two weeks later I had my first appointment with my regular OBGYN. I had not seen her in about a year for my last annual appointment and I was not happy with her at that time. Let me tell you, non-pregnant woman are chopped liver when it comes to OBGYN offices. I was always given terrible appointment times, had to wait incredibly long in the room, and only ever got 10 minutes with the doctor. I also always felt like my questions were stupid and rushed. But, when you are pregnant you get treated like royalty. A total 180 in terms of treatment. The first appointment we had was an hour long and with the doctor for 45 minutes!!! She did an ultrasound and took a TON of blood for different tests.

The ultrasound machine they have in the regular office seemed ancient compared to the one in the specialists office (there's your increased co-payment right there). That's why this photo has such poor clarity.

Since I opted for the additional genetic testing (recommended for first pregnancy) I was scheduled to go to the hospital to get another more in-depth ultrasound a few weeks later. That was a really cool experience because the technician pointed out all the developing organs like the bladder and the stomach and showed me the brain. She made the baby move around and I saw its tiny foot stick up. So cute! These ultrasound pics were so detailed and made the baby look like it was practically full grown but at that point it was only 12 weeks and still so tiny.

I took this picture of a little desk critter I have on my desk which is the approximate size of the baby at 12 weeks when I got the ultrasound above. SO SMALL!!!

So by the end of the first trimester we have practically a whole album of ultrasound images. I didn't realize this was unusual but I'm not complaining. It's my favorite part so far.

Other than the doctor appointments I didn't really research much or prepare anything. I kept minimum documentation in this little book that Jessy sent me and I took exactly 1 "bump" picture. I didn't wear any maternity clothing during the first trimester and we didn't purchase anything for the baby. In the next recap post I'll go over the symptoms I experienced and other exciting baby news from the first trimester.

February 20, 2017

Weekending it

This weekend was February weather bliss. We had temps in the 60s on Saturday and Sunday and anytime that happens it astounds me how much happier and how much energy I have. Reasons why summer is always the best. I had to remind myself all weekend that it was just a spring tease and winter weather is returning but it was so nice to have a taste.

Friday night I took a friend out for dinner for her birthday. Saturday morning Dan went out to breakfast with a friend. We spent several hours on Saturday trying to make a baby budget (well really just a list of anticipated expenses). Then we wrote a list of "options" for me to pitch at work for maternity leave and long-term schedule. As much as my hearts wants to be a stay at home mom, it's just not in the cards (or bank account) for us. I'm hoping I can negotiate a middle ground. Prayers appreciated.

Saturday afternoon we took a nap and then went for a long walk to enjoy the weather.

That evening we had friends over for dinner and games. I made BBQ pulled pork in the crockpot and that is always a hit.

Sunday we headed to church and afterwards took a long walk around the super cute Downtown Brooklyn area and then we splurged with an ice cream date at a local soda shop. I had been here several years ago but Dan had never been so it was a fun "Sundae" date.

We did grocery shopping afterwards and then headed home for a nap. Typically we nap for like 15 minutes but we woke up 45 minutes later and it was dark outside. Oops. We are trying to soak up the schedule and sleep freedom before baby because we know it's going to end soon.

Season 4 of The Americans is on Amazon Prime so we are started binging that Sunday night.

I have today off from work (!!!) and I'm going to try and get a ton of things done. Emphasis on trying.

February 17, 2017

Peeks from the Week

In case you missed our post on Tuesday, Dan and I are expecting a baby this coming August! We are actually 15 weeks today!

Since this is our first pregnancy and all of our family lives far away, it's been really hard not to share the baby related details about our life for the last three months. But don't worry, I'll do a few posts in the coming weeks to catch you all up on the journey.

We didn't really celebrate Valentine's Day. We made each other handmade cards and that was it. Austerity and the fact that prices are jacked on this holiday we just skipped out on all of it. Neither of us were disappointed. My mom sent us some gift cards for future cheap dates. Thanks mom!

On Wednesday we had a super quick OB appointment that lasted 15 minutes but since we had to get up and out the door an hour early we decided to treat ourselves to breakfast afterwards. Bagel date!

Any time there is bagel day at work (random free bagels) they get the bagels from this place called Zuckers and I LOVE THEM. So we went there and sadly they were not as good as they are when I get them at work. I think it's because they weren't free (and rather expensive). But I enjoyed my breakfast time with Dan.

Mandy suggested we watch the Jim Gaffigan comedy routines on Netflix and I haven't laughed so hard in a long time. I was crying from laughing so hard. If you need a good mood boost, watch them. They aren't dirty.

I'm so grateful for the three-day weekend. I need to get.stuff.done!! Also, sad fact, after Monday there isn't another "holiday" until the end of May. Brace yourself.

Happy weekend!!

February 15, 2017

The Best of Bay Ridge: Food - Asian Fusion

Today on the Best of Bay Ridge we're continuing our culinary world travels with cuisine from all over Asia. I'm calling it Asian Fusion!

Best Indian: Taj Mahal on 3rd Avenue between 73rd and 74th Street

I never had authentic Indian food until I moved to New York. The first year I lived here my Dad came to visit during the coldest February I ever experienced. He picked an Indian restaurant to try and I was skeptical at first but I've been a lover ever since.

Taj Mahal is likely one of my favorite restaurants of all time. The food is amazing, the portions sizes are huge, menu selection is massive, prices are great, service is outstanding, We have never had anything we didn't like here. When Dan's cousins Kaleigh and Kourtney were living with us for a bit, they were obsessed with this place (tons of vegetarian options as well). At one point we went there weekly for a solid month (oohh pre-austerity days).

We love the Chicken Tikka Masala, Lamb Shree Mangal, and Naan. We've tried a lot of other things and they were all super yummy so you can't go wrong. Insider's tip: if you don't order an appetizer they bring the table a plate of delicious vegetable fritters. The Mango Lassi drink is also worth ordering. There are a couple of other Indian places in the neighborhood but we haven't tried any of them. We're die-hard Taj fans.

Best Japanese: Bayridge Sushi on 3rd Avenue between Bay Ridge Avenue and Ovington

This is where Dan and I had our very first date in 2012. I don't like raw sushi so I stick with California rolls and tempura rolls. We love the Rock Shrimp appetizer and Dan likes the Spider Roll. This place has a really nice ambiance (re: lighting) which makes it great for that special date vibe. The lunch special is a great deal and take-out is a good option as well.

Best Chinese: XIN on 3rd Avenue and 83rd Street

There are a TON of cheap Chinese take-out places in Bay Ridge and they are all about what you would expect for Chinese take-out. XIN puts all the take-out places to shame and is our new favorite restaurant discovery from this summer. This location has had a lot of turnover and it used to be an Italian restaurant which is why it doesn't feel like a Chinese take-out place inside. It feels upscale but the prices are great. We always order extra to make sure we have leftovers. Also, you know how places put bread on the table as your free "appetizer?" XIN has real fried wonton strips (not the kind from the bag) with duck sauce. Our favorite dishes so far are the beef lo mein and sesame chicken.

Best Thai: Bay Thai on 3rd Avenue and 67th Street

There are a handful of Thai restaurants in our neighborhood but we always go back to Bay Thai (side note, this place changed names. It used to be called Thai Bangkok). There is a little old man in there who is the sweetest thing ever. Pad Thai, Pad See- Ew, fried rice, curry, it's all great. We usually do take-out from here. And if you have a sweet tooth, get the Thai Iced Tea!

Best Middle Eastern: Tanoreen on 3rd Avenue and 75th Street

I don't really consider Middle Eastern food "Asian" but geographically, I guess it is. Tanoreen is a mix of Mediterranean and Middle Eastern and is kind of famous. It has won all kinds of awards and featured on Food Network. It's upscale so really nice for a date and has a great ambiance. My favorite thing to order is the Musakhan which is a flatbread topped with wonderfully spiced chicken. Mmmm I can taste it now! Knafeh is their famous dessert which is layers of fillo dough, sweet cheese, and orange blossom sauce. It sounds weird but Jessy and I ordered this when she came to visit one time and it was truly out of this world.

To be fair, there are a TON of Middle Eastern restaurants in Bay Ridge since there is a large ethnic population in the area. We haven't given many of them a try but I really want to, Tanoreen is just the known legend.

Come back next week for European cuisine!

February 14, 2017

Show and Tell Tuesday: Your Loves

Happy Valentines Day!!! Today I'm linking-up with Andrea again for Show and Tell Tuesday!

Today's prompt is Your Loves: reintroduce us to your loves, spouse, kids, family, pets.

Well, everyone here knows Dan, my buddy. He is truly the best blessing God has given me. He is the best husband to me. He is a true servant lover and I am grateful for his commitment to me. Most days I don't deserve him but he loves me anyways.

This is one of my favorite pictures. It reminds me why I love him and brings me back to those carefree dating days. 

Dan's special skills: serving others, looking cute, mad video game skillz, sports, making the bed, doing the dishes, being a sous chef, adventuring, navigating the subway, spoiling me, being silly, scratching my back, napkin notes, laundry, snuggling. He is sensitive, prayerful, thoughtful, encouraging, and kind.

And today, we our introducing our newest love, our little Valentine. Arriving this August!!!

We are super excited, a little scared, and mostly thrilled to finally be able to start this new chapter of our lives together. It wasn't an easy journey and we have more to share but for today we wanted our tiny Valentine to say its first "hello" to the world on this day of love.

I have many more loves in this world. My sisters, parents, and in-laws (the whole family), being at the tip top of the list. I'm so grateful for the support and love they give us every day. 

February 13, 2017

Weekending it

I'm desperate for the upcoming three-day weekend. Can't come soon enough.

The city is recovering from that big snow storm we had last week. It's always a disastrous mess after a huge snow. Fortunately, a lot was able to melt on Saturday but then we got slushy rain most of Sunday which made things super gross. Hello, black snow.

On Friday night we hung out with friends and crafted Valentines. Saturday morning we attempted to sleep-in but the sun was so bright that our blackout curtains weren't accomplishing much. We lazed around most of the day and then hung out with some other friends and played with their little toddler. It always amazes me how much kids are attracted to Dan. They couldn't care less about me but they love that man.

Then we headed into the city to go out to a fancy restaurant with Dan's cousin Julie who was visiting from Chicago. Cousins Kaleigh and Kourtney joined us for a little reunion.

The prices were insane and so our wallet took a huge hit but we really enjoyed the company so it was worth it in the end.

Sunday was slushy mess, late arrival to church, grocery shopping, meal planning, cleaning, napping, and movies. For dinner I made linguine with sweet peppers, chicken, and Parmesan cheese. I'm really looking forward to leftovers tonight.

Don't forget to come back tomorrow for Show and Tell Tuesday!! It will be a real treat ;o)

February 10, 2017

Peeks from the Week

Happy Friday

This week felt abnormally long due to the weirdo weather we had.

On Wednesday it was in the 60s. Bright blue skies and a tiny taste of spring.

Thursday morning was a blizzard. We should have gotten a snow day, but the offices were open and so I trudged through the white out to get to work.

Most people worked for home but the people who made it in at least got free pizza for lunch!!

I've been adding some Valentine's touches to the apartment for February. Mandy has been making me these cute little felt garlands for the shelf above our table. They are a perfect touch.

We had two new friends over for dinner last night and had a really great time.

Today the sun is out and the snow is melting and refreezing. Happy almost weekend!