Let's Go to the Pumpkin Patch

My favorite holidays are approaching!! Something about the holidays that fall within the last three months of the year that makes me feel all warm and loving inside. Probably because these last holidays of the year include a lot of family get togethers and capturing a whole lot of precious moments on camera. It had only been the two of us for so long that we are both so excited to have our first holiday season with our 10-month old daughter. Having kids around for the holidays gives us big kids at heart, an excuse to truly over-celebrate every holiday… for no reason at all. I mean really – when it was the two of us, the tree was put up probably two days before Christmas. Last year, I never even finished decorating the thing. I believe the ornaments and star that I purchased may still be in the bag. (hangs head down in shame).
We would purchase presents always on Christmas Eve and not one day sooner. We got each other what was left and were happy with the results because we never really wanted anything that was a hot ticket item. With a 10-month old, whose Birthday happens to be 2 weeks before Christmas and very excited Grandparents, this holiday season is like none other. Therefore, a LOT of planning and preparation is going into place for this holiday/birthday season.  
Even though Gracia is still really too young to even understand what is going on, I decided that we would begin some family traditions: starting with decorating the house for the holidays and sending out Holiday Cards! We received so many photo cards last year, but had nothing to show in return. In my defense, I was pregnant all holiday season last year.  I have always wanted to do send out cards and this year, I am determined. I had been searching for some great card designs and found that some of my favorite designs are on Tiny Prints. Now that I wanted to order them, I felt like we had no recent photos to order our Christmas Cards with. Who wants to get a card this year with her newborn photos on it? (I never did get to send those out). This year, I have more time to plan since I am not recovering.
Someone is ready for the Pumpkin Patch
So we began our Holiday prep this weekend with a couple of Family outings. There are some things that I loved to do as a child that my husband never got to experience.
 We planned our family outing around morning nap time, which is most important (if she is not rested, it will not be fun for neither of us) and we dressed in our fall inspired colors. We were off to the farm to experience the pumpkin patch as a family.
Telling her all about the Pumpkin Patch
One thing that I loved as a child was The Pumpkin Patch, Hay rides and Corn Mazes! My husband on the other hand had never been and thinks of the whole idea as me being “adventurous”. Whatever the case may be, it’s FALL! In keeping with the over-celebrating of every holiday… there is not a better way than to welcome the crisp air, than by picking out a pumpkin.  Luckily we live right across from the best Farms in town.  It has so many attractions, hayrides, bonfires, corn mazes, etc. more importantly a Pumpkin Patch.


Always trying to make an escape

If she is standing, she is dancing

We were not the only ones either. We followed behind those who look like they have done this before with their toddlers and cameras, sat Gracia among the pumpkins and just let her explore.
 She loved every bit of it. We loved seeing her beat on them and have this inquisitive look about her face. Daddy was so happy to see that his little girl is really growing up.
He however did not let her take one home this year. Maybe next time Gracia – I think she would’ve tried to eat it anyways. Little Miss Gracia is teething on everything these days.
After playing in the Pumpkin Patch, we walked over to the Farmers Market and each selected a sweet treat to take home. Gracia was recently introduced to solids and snacks so she was all too excited, almost too excited about Mommy’s kettle popcorn.
Needless to say, I had to hide the bag from her once we got home because she really was upset that mommy was not going to share any with her.
Now that she is a little more aware of what’s going on, getting her to smile while she is “busy” is proving to be tougher. While one of us is holding her steady the other is camera in hand trying to just snap away with hopes that we can get at least one picture that we like and perhaps get our Holiday cards together. She also does this toothless grandma thing where she bites her lips –
definitely doesn’t make for a cute family photo. So, candid pictures were the way to go! What we found was that, unfortunately for us, all of her excitement was when the sun was at her back which meant poor lighting for any type of photo cards.
That’s ok – there is another family outing to try to capture more photos planned for next week! Like I said, I am determined to send out a Holiday Card this year! Don’t you just love the holiday season?
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Rasika: Lunch in the District

I have the pleasure of working in the District of Columbia, which is a great place to work and over the last couple of years has become a great place for restaurants for Foodies to enjoy. On this particular rainy day, I tried Rasika.
So, I had been hearing about this restaurant from my coworkers and decided that on a whim I would try it. I had been hesitant because 1. It’s Indian cuisine or so I thought, so I wasn’t 100% sure what that entailed and 2. The descriptions of the food honestly didn’t make sense to me. I just didn’t know what I was in for if I walked in the door. I didn’t want to be embarrassed and walk right out, just because I didn’t understand what the food was because the selections were in a different language. Feeling like an adventurous foodie, I was ready to see what the hype was all about!
So, I have found that whenever you go to a new place and you have a small party of yourself or one other companion, the best place to sit is at the bar -Especially during the lunch crowd. The bartender will give you the best service and will be more patient in trying to help you select what you want to eat versus a waiter who has to keep up with multiple tables. At Rasika, this proved to be the best option because it is ALWAYS crowded during lunch – another sign that this place is amazing.
I got seated and I immediately told the Bartender, a beautiful Ethiopian woman with an awesome purple streak in her hair, that it was my first time. She said “GREAT” and immediately suggested some of her favorites as well as what they are known for. She said that I HAD to get the Palak Chaat. (yup, who can tell me what that is by looking at it). The description of the dish itself wasn’t helping me either: Crispy baby spinach, sweet yogurt, tamarind and date chutney.  I do remember my coworkers ranting about a spinach dish during Restaurant Week – this must be it. I will give it a try. I took one bite… I AM IN LOVE! If ever I just want to have something quick and light, this will always be the way to go. It is popular for a reason. Ignore that you may not like those things individually. The chef has combined flavors that when you take your first bite, you will understand why as soon as you walk in, more than likely everyone has this on their table. It’s amazing. The spinach has a nacho-like crispness to it and the toppings just balance the crispy perfectly. With all of that on there, the spinach never got soggy. 

When it came time to choose lunch, I was unsure and started looking down the bar to see what someone else had. To my left, the young ladies dining had tried the half portions of Chicken Tikka Marsala. You cannot go wrong there. So I told my bartender that I was considering this option. She said, if I like spicy to go with the Chicken Green Marsala.
Loving her first recommendation, I went with the Green. AGAIN, one of the best dishes I had. The basmati rice was so fluffy and cooked perfectly. It was a perfect portion size. The spice wasn’t overbearing that I couldn’t enjoy what I was eating.  It was paired perfectly with a nice warm basket of Naan.
Rasika is a great place for lunch. Asking just a few questions about the menu led me to make some great choices. It is a place that I would even recommend to come back for dinner especially to try the Lamb Chops perfectly cooked.
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So Where Do I Begin? : Time Flies when You are having Fun!

Last we left off, Gracia was turning 6 months old. She was still on trend wearing 6 months sizes and was in the 80-90th percentiles for her weight and height. 

Her personality was beginning to show more and more- we enjoyed a wonderful summer spending several weekends dockside on the Bay. We love to eat Crabs in the Maryland area. As long as there are steamed crabs it will always bring out big smiles from us!

Notice that patch on my arm? Yeah - it was around this time that I decided to do something about my energy levels and overall health. 
I was feeling completely rundown and with Gracie now learning to crawl, I was feeling a bit overwhelmed. I did some research and decided to start Thriving. I will post specifically as to what it has done for me because it has been AMAZING a little later - but if you just want to know what I am talking about check out my site at www.vashtijasmine.le-vel.com 

Anywho, Gracia started crawling at 7 months and began to sit up on her own so much more. As she began crawling, we introduced her to shoes that would help her crawl, pull up and walk. 
Gracia was wearing a size 2 infant. In clothes she was a 6-9 months. 

Gracia starts to learn more words - Dada of course is her favorite. I had been trying to get her to say Mama but she is not having it. She says "mwah" when she gives kisses. Of course she has her own baby language. She says "Ut oh!" when she falls on her butt. She can also so Bye Bye. She just recently started saying "Mama" but thats because she also most recently started getting told "Stop" and "No no!" a lot more. 

At 8 months, I started a natural haircare routine because her hair was getting so long. She also went through a growth spurt around this time. We kind of bypassed 9 month clothes and went straight into 12-18 month sized clothes. 

My little fashionista and I have been enjoying her coming into her own. 

Lately, Gracia has been teething which has meant an abundance of drool which lead to double ear infections. She has learned how to pull up on things to stand and is standing on her own for a few seconds at a time. 

With her being able to cruise, she has been able to get into more and more things - this is the door to her playroom that she started to bang on it for fun and play with the door stoppers - oh what fun to my ears!

September means Birthday for Amos and I and Gracia turns 9 months old. 
It also meant that Gracia had pink eye and another trip to the doctor. 

Amos' Birthday is first and we celebrated with a few balloons and sweet surprises at work. 

I also realized just how much Gracia looks like her daddy when he was just about her age. What do you think? 

My cute little princess is definitely learning the art of posing on the stairs. LOL 
But she is getting so big so fast that I really can't believe it. 

This was on my birthday! Miss Personality was at it again - ready to pose for Mommy (or at least talk while I snap away).
We have truly enjoyed watching her grow. Her height and weight slowed up - so I guess her growth spurt is slowing down. 
She has started to eat solids. The Plum Organics are our usual go to for every meal but her pediatrician said to try Tofu and additional proteins. I am all for health eating and better choices for Gracia because I know it will spill over into our diet. 

This particular night I was cooking Quinoa and Sweet Potatoes for Gracia and Black Beans for us to go with some rice. 

Needless to say THIS is how she really felt about that Tofu and Quinoa. She would prefer to order out! LOL. But nope she has far from table food for now - she has a thing with textured foods and also doesn't like water or even watered down juice. She has zero interest in a sippy cup as well. 

She does on the other hand LOVE Gerber snacks. 
We took an impromptu vacation to Vegas and she was watched by her Aunt. We came back and she was addicted to Yogurt Melts. 
I mean a full out tantrum was had if she ran out of them... 


This was less than a minute later - she was so content just holding the package. 

We are training her up the right way to go - She is a die hard Ravens fan like her parents. 

Of course, she is mommy's favorite shopping buddy. If I can just get her to stop eating the handles on the carts. Of course, I am the mom that forgets the two shopping cart covers that I own. 

She has even let mommy twist her hair while she sat up like a big girl. 

She is becoming such a big girl... I am thoroughly enjoying seeing the world through her eyes. 

Thank the Lord we got her out of our bed because we used to wake up to her shaking us like this!

This is just what we have been up to over the last couple of months. 

Gracia is now 22 lbs and 28.25 inches long and on her way to 10 months.

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Confessions: My New Norm

My post baby weight in May - My post baby weight last month.

Well.. Hello there. 
I took some kind of impromptu "Summer Break". It wasn't intentional, but life literally got away from me - to the point where I just did not have the focus or the time to sit and get a blog post done. So much has happened within the last four months, specifically with Gracia that I will have to do a separate catch up post.

In short -
within the last four months I have:
1. Been raising a now 9 month old
2. Started a Business
3. Travelled 4 times 
4. Gone to Concerts
5. Lost weight - down 2 sizes since I started my new regimen
6. Had a Birthday
...and so much more

 But what inspired me to write this post today was the fact that I am working from home and got motivated to tear my house apart and rearrange some things. The question I asked myself was what took me so long to do it in the first place? I realized, the reason why I hadn't done it was because it was against "the norm". I also realized - I was never normal and have been doing things my own way for quite some time so time to get to it. 

It started when THIS has become my recent reality. 

I guess its something that we never talked about when we were trying to have a baby. I guess we both just assumed that we would ask our friends and then do what felt comfortable for us.
I was so afraid of talking about co-sleeping when she was a baby just because of how many people are so opinionated about it that I literally avoided talking about it on my personal blog. But, now - truth is... I have been in this mommy swing for enough months now that I realize now that we are ALL different and have dealt with mommy shame now that I realize that those moms that shame and offer unsolicited advice to other moms deserve every bit of attitude that comes there way. We can all do different things "in theory". But in the end, there is no wrong way. Each child is different. Each parent is different and you do the best you can doing what is best for you.

So either who, Gracia has been in our bed for the most part since she was born. Not because she is a clingy baby and we can't "break" her from wanting to be with us. But moreso because we are the clingy parents. She is our first and we really miss her if she is not next to her. We broke all rules and let her sleep in her Boppy lounger in our bed above our heads. So that we would not roll onto her. Then when she got too long for the Boppy lounger. She slept and still sleeps within my pregnancy pillow. We kind of use it as bumpers like bowling alley bumpers. Now we only did this because she could lift her head up and roll over fairly early and now this little girl is so on the go that she pretty much runs our bed!

Since she was 6 months we have been saying "she is going to have to go to her own bed soon". So the compromise was to bring a pack and play in our room. This month for the first time she slept in her own bed, in her own room - BUT for only one night. I couldn't sleep - even though she always gets great sleep no matter where she sleeps. 

It wasn't until this week that I my husband admitted to me why he too is having such a hard time letting her go to her own room. That is when I realized we had never really talked about it. For him, he grew up in a close family and a family that were immigrants who moved to New York into what they can afford. He was always in his parents room. I remember seeing pictures of his crib right next to his parents bed. Then he and his older sister always shared a bed until he was 13 years old. When they moved to Florida thats when he was able to have his own room. Which then means, his norm is having baby in our room. My norm is wanting her close but wanting her in her own space. 

I was torn because we decorated this awesome nursery that she was not using and there was nothing in either of us that felt comfortable letting her be on the opposite side of the house. 
Today I got over it!
Time to find a balance and create our new Norm. 
I disassembled her crib and dragged it into our room. I also dragged her changing table in there. Her closet is so well organized as well as her dresser, so that stayed as is. Basically, I created a semi-permanent space for my daughter in the sitting room area of our Master bedroom. It works for the both of us. We will worry about her going to her own room when WE feel comfortable. So for now her room is an upstairs play room and dressing room. 

Some people feel comfortable letting their newborns be in their own room from the day they bring them home from the hospital. We just aren't those people... forcing ourselves to be those people was just not working for either of us. I have to have her set, in a routine, settled in a place so that I can feel ready for the next one... 
(oops did I say that?) 

The funny thing is- when I finally admitted to my friend that I did that - she finally said to me "well thats how it is our house." I for once didn't feel alone. Her son has a place in her room with decorations and all. My neighbor - the same way - daughter is in their room with a nursery set up and all. I'm like yay! my people! I get shamed at work for being that mom that lets her daughter sleep in her bed. I get shamed for basically changing my whole work schedule so I could have valuable mommy and me time. I literally get the speeches and the "she's STILL with you guys?" I felt rushed to let her grow up but she is only 9 months. It's bad enough that she is so independent as it is. We want to savor the baby side of her. She is acting like a toddler already. It's what is important to me... to us. Its my normal. My daughter gets sick every time she is in her own bed. Not to mention she has had more sickness than my little heart could handle - it could be worse - thank the Lord its just some congestion, colds, pink eye and two double ear infections. But it still makes for some very interesting moods from a baby.  I think with this new arrangement, we all will be happier.

Well have an awesome day! I will be typing to catch you up from when I last left you. 

What's your "new norm" in your house when it comes to your kids?

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