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As Your Love Grows

2014 October 28
by WWGD

WhatWouldGwynethDo

Kai is at the age – almost four – where he is outgrowing my open arms.

Rocking in his old, creaky glider at bedtime is getting increasingly awkward. Lifting him in my arms and propping him on the hip that once housed him so comfortably is giving me aches and pains all over. My attempts at cuddling him up in a little pocket beside me on the couch are now met with rambunctious kicks and arms flailing and restless limbs that won’t sit still.

He is taller, bigger, heavier, than my body can accommodate but my heart still has all the room in the world and it has been a tough transition for me, both physically and mentally.

While this phase makes half of me long to have one more baby – one more perfect little body to lull to sleep in my arms every night, to have adjoined to me at all times – reality (and my husband) tells me this is it.

No more rocking chairs. No more babies on my hip. No more sweet compact cuddles with patient bodies that just want to be held.

I have to find a new way for my love to grow.

Yes, hands are still being held and hugs are still aplenty and kisses still float through the air onto both of my babies…sometimes to their chagrin.

But I need to find new ways to show them comfort and warmth and love for this new phase of all our lives. Beyond the physical.

And I need to find new ways to accept their love in return.

I have a feeling it’s going to mean more listening. More stories. More one-on-one time without distractions. More quiet observations from afar. Letting both of them know that as we, as a family, leave these baby moments behind us there are even better moments ahead of us. Not ones filled with bedtime rocking chair sessions and endless cuddling but ones filled with just as much love and comfort and warmth. Shown in other ways.

I may not be able to hold up close to 40 sweet little pounds in my arms anymore, but as my children grow, so does my love for them. In ways I couldn’t have ever imagined.

So we’ll all just have to figure out how to carry that amazing load moving forward.

*image above is actually me with Little D…and I just love it so.

What I Am Pinning…Right Now

2014 October 27
by WWGD

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I don’t know about you guys, but this Monday is begging for a little eye candy over here…

(above) Short, simple red nails. A favorite go-to look.

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Kind of sums up my Monday in a decidedly more glamorous way…

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Great shades from one of my favorite brands.

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Naked pizza with herbs and garlic.

Because whose Monday doesn’t need that?

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A pretty space.

Because I am obsessed with home design lately.

And with finding a new home.

Possibly in a new city.

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Amen.

For all my real friends out there.

Love you so much.

You can follow me on Pinterest here.

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The Sunday Home

2014 October 26
by WWGD

SundayHome

The Sunday home is something that my husband and I started doing without intention about a year ago and ever since, it has grown into a conscious effort each week. It’s the way our home looks and feels come Sunday evening. It is typically (not always, but typically…) tidy, organized, calm and comforting and we realized a while back that it helped us ease into the week ahead with a more relaxed state of mind and attitude. So now we spend a nice piece of our Sunday making our “Sunday home.” It isn’t perfect. Far from it. But it’s just good enough to leave us feeling accomplished, organized and relaxed as we make our way into a new week. Here are the key elements:

A tidy space. Toys are tucked away, the kitchen counter is cleared and magazines are stacked. I also do the sheets and laundry so everyone is starting out the week with lots of clean options in their drawers. The whole house doesn’t have to be “clean” per se, but making our space feel tidy – even if it’s superficial – is a big component of the Sunday home. It lets you relax and unwind properly, without a lot of clutter in your physical – and more importantly, mental – space.

Happy details. Fresh flowers don’t have to be a luxury, even an inexpensive bunch from Trader Joe’s can add a little happy to your home so we get some every week. I also like to have a seasonal candle at the ready for Sunday evening to add a little warmth, and we’ve recently started diffusing relaxation oils for a spa-like atmosphere at home. Finally, I typically bake something on Sunday afternoon that can be enjoyed on Monday morning – because an empty cake stand is no way to start a new week.

Meal planningAs many of you know, I am a huge proponent of meal planning (here are my tips for how to get started) and on Sunday evenings when the fridge is stocked for the week, something has been baked for Monday morning breakfast and I know – for the most part – what our menu will be for the week ahead, it takes a lot of stress out of life. And  I always factor in at least one random night for take out and real life, which takes the pressure off in case we all need a break. I highly recommend it.

To-do lists. I like to make a list – mental or physical, whatever works – for the week ahead on Sunday. What meetings are on the calendar, what school obligations lay ahead, and what are the must-dos for the week? It helps to go into it with some sort of action plan in place, even if it changes as you go along. I also go into my daughter’s school “planner” to add in important notes for her and her teacher, as needed (i.e. she has play practice this day, she’s ordering lunch this day, she has pajama day this day) so she has a sense of what’s to come and I don’t have to worry as much about last-minute mind lapses…which happen more than I would like to admit.

Unplugged. This is one element of the Sunday home that we are admittedly still working on, but when we do successfully unplug on Sunday evenings from our phones and internet, we give ourselves a much-needed mental break to decompress before the busy week ahead and we definitely see its impact. When the house is quiet, the kids are in bed, the candle is burning and the to-do lists are made, Sunday is in its element: relaxing, recharging and renewing. And it makes the Monday home much easier to embrace.

Have a great Sunday. xx

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Saturday Reads

2014 October 25
by WWGD

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This weekend is a big departure from last when we were roaming the streets of Manhattan from morning to night. All that roaming caught up with me and I am going to take these few days to relax and accomplish a whole lot of nothing instead. This week felt especially draining with so much sad news in the world – the Parliament shooting in my home country, disease panic, another school shooting, stories of abductions and random attacks and sickness. It all felt like just a little too much this week. So I am going to try to ignore it all for a few short days. Balance – physically, mentally and emotionally – is the key to everything, friends. Here are some reads for your Saturday – hopefully you are accomplishing a whole lot of nothing today, too:

I shared practically everything about my journey with pregnancy, motherhood and health over on The Eighty Twenty.

I was obsessed with this look above on Michelle Williams from the moment I saw it. Vogue.com shares how to get it.

Seven dangerous apps that parents need to know about. I am just going to keep my kids at their current sweet innocent ages forever, if that’s ok with you…

The trailer for the Joan Didion documentary.

And finally, one of my favorite recent posts from here is now live on Huffington Post. Hope you love it as much as I do.

Have a great weekend. xx

 

She Still Needs Us

2014 October 24
by WWGD

Reading

For the past year or so, I have taken tremendous pride in Little D’s passion for books.

You’ve heard about it in this little space. My friends and family know all about it. Our local librarian has practically become a family member. Complete strangers at Barnes & Noble are all over it.

I love that she has taken a deep dive into the world of literature. She reads with passion, with hunger. Her eyes scan the pages faster than mine on many days and my house is littered with dog eared chapter books in virtually every corner.

We’ve done a good job, we told ourselves. We can check one very important parenting milestone right off the checklist, we thought.

And we inadvertently did. We stopped reading to our daughter. She read to herself so much there was hardly a moment left to fill. We shipped her off to bed every night with a pile of chapter books stacked high on her little nightstand, and let her read them all to herself. We thought we had done such a great job in parenting that we were being relieved of one duty so we could move onto the next.

She could read to herself so why would we continue to read to her?

Yesterday, I had her parent teacher conference and her teachers gushed about her. Exceptional. Bright. Well-adjusted. Healthy. Only some of the words they used to describe my curious, excited, passionate little girl.

The topic of reading came up and her teacher said what we already knew: voracious, advanced, everything you want to hear.

And then this:

“Are you reading to her every day?”

“Well, no,” I explained. And went on to give all the reasons in the world why.

“Oh no, you need to keep reading to her,” she insisted. “You’re the reason she’s the reader she is. You need to let her hear your voice, how you pronounce words, how you create emotion in the words you read. You need to share your favorite stories with her, you need to introduce her to your favorite characters, you need to create those memories and moments with her over a book.”

“She still needs you.” 

She still needs us.

Of course she still needs us.

But not just for the next milestones or for the goals of tomorrow or the promises of the future.

She needs us for yesterday as well. For the things we’ve taught her and the things we are still teaching her…even when we think she can teach herself. When we think they are growing and maturing and evolving beyond us. When they don’t think they need us. When they don’t want us.

They still need us.

So last night, I let Little D read for a little while on her own after dinner and then I cut it short and told her I was going to read to her for a bit. Her whole face lit up. We chose a book off her shelf that she hadn’t taken on yet herself. We curled up on the couch, her long limbs intertwined around mine, her  head resting firmly on my shoulder.

And I read to her.

I let her hear my voice and how I pronounce my words. I told her about the characters, asking her questions along the way. I let her sense my emotion and enjoy one of my very favorite stories.

I let her need me.

And it gave me – and her – tremendous pride.

*image above of my little bookworm taking a reading break in the middle of Manhattan. 

A Tourist’s Guide to New York: The Family Edition

2014 October 23
by WWGD

CentralPark-WhatWouldGwynethDo

New York passed the test.

We wanted to bring our kids there for the first time and went into it with equal parts excitement and hesitation. They have lived their short lives in a very sheltered southern California suburb and taxis honking, crowds walking, and garbage trucks barreling down the streets in the middle of the night are all completely foreign concepts that only exist in the pages of their picture books. We knew it would be tiring for them. We knew it would involve a lot of patience. We knew that Kai – at almost 4 years old – probably wouldn’t even remember this trip in the years to come. But we knew he would experience it in the moment. We knew they would be wide-eyed with excitement. We knew they would come home with so many stories and memories and NYPD police car toys…that we had to go.

And it was perfect.

They embraced every inch of that city. Every honk, every crowd, every garbage truck (though admittedly, not all the smells that came with them). We went into it without many agendas, no sense of schedule. We had a few things we knew we wanted to show them, but we had plenty of time to do it and allowed ample hours each day for nothing but roaming the streets and exploring. We didn’t panic about bed times or routines or missing anything. We gave them rest stops and snacks and water and continued on our way when everyone was ready. We ran and played and stopped every police man we saw, because that’s what 4-year-olds do on their first trip to New York. My daughter became a pro at hailing taxis and my son is a subway-rider extraordinaire now…a far cry from his cozy little car seat in our suburban SUV.

And we loved it all.

Here is where we ate, drank, stayed and played:

STAY

Conrad New York – this spacious, all-suite hotel in the Financial District is our new go-to for family stays in the city. The rooms are huge by New York standards, the quiet location by the waterfront was picturesque and serene (complete with playground right across the street) and the service was fantastic. We also had a really lovely dinner in Atrio, their restaurant downstairs, and appreciated the in-room Nespresso machine and super modern amenities.

EAT/DRINK

Bar Pitti – this has become a regular stop for us on the New York train. Love the al fresco eating in the heart of the West Village.

Big Gay Ice Cream – this new cult-favorite ice cream emporium is colorful and cool and the signature Salty Pimp cone is not to be missed.

Le Pain Quotidien – another easy favorite in the city and conveniently located right across the street from our hotel which made it easy to grab breakfast before we started our day.

Eataly – always on our list and the rooftop Birreria was surprisingly kid-friendly for an early Friday night dinner. The Lego store is right next door so I recommend you pick up a few little things in there to keep your kids busy while you soak up the views, the charcuterie and the wine. Don’t forget to stop by the gelato bar on your way out. Hazelnut is the way to go.

Isabella’s – we stumbled upon this Upper West Side locals spot for brunch when we saw – and gasped – at the line at Shake Shack across the street. It was a much better fit for us – complete with mimosas, eggs benedict and a loud, bustling environment that was perfect for my loud, bustling kids.

Cantine Parisienne – we found this café when we went to check out its neighbor, Egg Shop, and again balked at the wait. This cool, airy French bistro ended up being a very pleasant surprise with (more!) mimosas and a Croque Monsieur that rivaled the ones I’ve had in Paris.

Bubby’s – my husband’s colleague from work recommended this down-home hotspot in Tribeca and it did not disappoint. The fried chicken and waffles made up for all the walking we did that day and the promise of the brightly-lit, rotating pie display kept my kids on their best behavior throughout the meal.

The Standard Grill – this hipster haven ended up being surprisingly comfortable and cool. Good food (the mussels were perfection), good wine and a lively lunchtime atmosphere that was the perfect final outing before we hit the airport.

Jacques Torres – we picked up some chocolate chip cookies from this Grand Central chocolate haven for the plane ride home…and they were worth the hype.

PLAY

The Strand – we popped into this world-famous book shop on Friday evening to find it jammed with literary lovers of all ages. The perfect spot for Little D. She loved roaming its aisles and picking out books and signature Strand trinkets.

Pace Gallery – I have my sister to thank for this stop. I don’t typically associate art galleries with kids but she insisted we pop into the David Hockney exhibition at Pace and it ended up being a great little visit. A quick one, but a good one.

The Highline – walking this busy park in the sky with two excited littles wasn’t exactly stress-free but it was lovely, nonetheless. If you were one of the people trying to enjoy a quiet Friday afternoon in the sun with your book and my kids were jumping and dancing and yelling on the bench next to you, my apologies.

Statue of Liberty – this was at the top of my kids’ must-see list and my mom suggested that we do a boat tour around Lady Liberty instead of battling the crowds to see her up-close. It was the right move. We did a one-hour Circle Line tour that gave us plenty of up-close time (she is even more beautiful than I remember…am sure my kids will feel the same way in 20 years) as well as a fun, educational tour of Manhattan’s west side and downtown.

Central Park – always my favorite spot in the city. We went on a glorious Saturday morning and just wandered through the park, stopping here and there. Not rushing to anywhere and taking in the amazing fall foliage and wide open spaces.

Museum of Natural History – I don’t think you’re allowed to go to New York with your kids without visiting the Museum. It was fun for an afternoon (I wouldn’t plan to be there all day) and the dinosaurs were definitely the highlight for my littles. Oh, and the gift shop, of course.

Freedom Tower – the Freedom Tower and World Trade Center Memorial was only blocks away from our hotel and if you haven’t seen it yet, it’s a beautiful tribute to 9/11 that shouldn’t be missed. For the kids as well. We had to be sensitive with our words as we explained the entire thing to Little D (Kai only cared about the police men who were monitoring the area, obviously) but I am so glad we did so that this incredible chapter of the city’s history won’t be lost on her.

Battery Park – walking down to Battery Park from the Freedom Tower gives you a fun glimpse into the cobble-stoned streets of Wall Street and leads you to a perfect waterfront park where your kids can let off some steam and see the Statue of Liberty in the distance.

New York Public Library – my kids had to see the lions so we braved the mid-town crowds at lunchtime to take a peek and a picture. I would have loved to take them inside but we were pressed for time at this point…which obviously means we will just have to go back.

Thank you for a memorable weekend, New York. We (all of us!) will be back soon! xx

Five Things You Should Add to Your Muffins Right Now

2014 October 22
by WWGD

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If you have been reading for a while, you know that I love a good homemade muffin.

There is something about the warmth and comfort of muffins in the morning (and maybe for an afternoon snack here or there) that make me so happy and fulfilled. I absolutely love making them for my family and will often whip them up two or three times per week, on a whim.

Sometimes at ten o’clock at night.

I’ve been experimenting for a while and have shared some of my favorite recipes here, here, here and here, but wanted to share the five extra little ingredients I always add to make our muffins truly memorable:

1) Chia seeds – I love to put chia seeds into the batter for an extra burst of goodness for my kids. 1-2 teaspoons is plenty and will stir in nicely right before you scoop the batter into your tin.

2) Fresh zucchini – muffins are the perfect hiding place for this oh so healthy veggie. I grate a fresh zucchini – skin and all – and toss it into the batter and watch contentedly while my kids munch away. They like to say there is “grass growing” in their muffins…whatever it takes, kids. Whatever it takes.

3) Greek yogurt – this adds a nice creaminess and a dose of protein to homemade muffins, regardless of the recipe or flavors. 1/2 to 3/4 of a cup will do, just keep an eye on the texture as you go. You don’t want your batter to be too thin.

4) Extra vanilla – if the recipe calls for a teaspoon, you’re getting two in my house. A little extra vanilla extract always goes a long way in the flavor department.

5) Brown butter glaze - this is for those mornings that need a little extra warmth and love. A light, sweet brown butter glaze is the perfect topping for any homemade muffin. Almost as decadent as a cupcake, but not quite. I like this recipe for it.

Above is an image of the pumpkin muffins I made last night. I was in a baking mood but not totally up to the task of starting from scratch, so I used a box mix from Cherryvale Farms. These guys are great because they make easy, convenient box mixes without all the nasty additives found in most. We used the pumpkin bread and simply had to add water, oil and a can of pumpkin purée. Then we amped it up with some of the above and topped with Trader Joe’s pumpkin cream cheese in the morning.

So delicious, practically homemade and filled with warmth, goodness and lots of love.

The perfect recipe for ten o’clock at night.

Catch Me If You Can

2014 October 21
by WWGD

WhatWouldGwynethDo

Hello strangers!

We are back from an amazing, inspiring, delightful weekend in New York with our kids. It was their first time there and we soaked up everything the city had to offer, all through their eyes. Magical. I will be sharing all our favorite finds in the coming days, but in the meantime, wanted to share a few fun interviews I did last week. I am so honored when fellow bloggers and writers reach out to connect and invite me to share a little bit of my life with their readers and thought you might enjoy it as well.

I spoke with Lindsey from A Design So Vast about balance and working motherhood and daily routine and the messes and miracles that come along with it all.

And I shared some insight from my 20s and the halfway point of my 30s with Kate from 365 ‘Til 30, because frankly, I wish someone had shared even half of that stuff with me.

Hope you enjoy!

*image above via my talented friend Fawn Christiansen. My babies are so not that young anymore…sniff sniff.

 

Saturday Reads

2014 October 18
by WWGD

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Saturday Reads: the “I’m in New York so it’s the best Saturday ever” edition.

Here are some of my favorite finds from the week:

The 20 Most Incredible Houses from the Movies. I love a good movie house, don’t you? The farmhouse from Marley & Me is one of my absolute faves…

A Cure for Hyper-Parenting. I adored Pamela Druckerman’s Bringing Up Bébé and in this most recent piece for the New York Times, she dishes out another dose of totally logical (imagine that!) parenting advice.

Ina Garten’s favorite foods. Because if this blog wasn’t called What Would Gwyneth Do, it would be called What Would Ina Do.

How to Improve Posture. Because I am slouching while I am typing this. And you are slouching while you are reading it.

Scarier Than Ebola. See the note about logical parenting above. This is a good reminder.

Have a great weekend! We certainly plan to. Follow me on Instagram to see what we’re up to! xx

*image above via here

A Hyena Evolved

2014 October 15
by WWGD

LittleD-WhatWouldGwynethDo

So hopefully you remember Little D’s experience with the school play last year.

She did a great job playing a hyena and mustered up so much energy for the part that she was even chosen to sit in the front-row of the chorus, proud as could be, chanting “Hakuna Matata!” with a smile a mile wide.

Well, it’s a new year, friends. And with it comes a new production.

This time, it’s Shrek.

No hyenas to be found in Shrek, as far as I know.

So she went into it with an open mind and a very open heart. It was her second school production after all and she had given her first so much dedication and effort, this one was going to be her big moment. She just knew it.

Until she got cast as a “citizen.”

A glorified extra, if you will. A part with absolutely no speaking parts, no solo singing, not much of anything. Not a hyena, but not much more.

A citizen.

Do you remember the citizens in Shrek? Exactly.

She was bummed from the get-go and again we did the enthusiastic parents thing and reminded her that her best friend is also a citizen and that she is only in second grade and that the bigger roles are probably going to older kids again…

Well, it turns out Fiona is being played by…a second grader.

So my little hyena is not a happy citizen. Again.

But this time, I learned from experience. This time I knew that I couldn’t rush to fix it, that I couldn’t demand a casting review. That I had to let my little citizen find a glimmer of shine in the spotlight…no matter how small it may be.

Turns out, Little D learned something too.

Last week, I went to pick her up at play practice and while all the kids came pouring out of the auditorium, I waited patiently but saw no sign of her. I peeked inside and there she was, talking animatedly to her director. You have to know my daughter to love this moment because she was wearing a headband that day that was very reminiscent of Luke Wilson’s look in “The Royal Tenenbaums” and rocking it in ways you can’t even imagine. Style icon in the making, I am telling you. But I digress. I saw her chattering away to her director, full of passion and prose. He started to nod in agreement, slowly at first and then more excitedly. Gave her a high five and saw her on her way. She started to come my way, headband firmly in place, backpack loaded up high on her little frame.

“Hey D,” I said, nonchalantly. “What were you talking to your director about?”

“Well, I told him I need another role in the play,” she said, with equal nonchalance, more focused on her shoelace than the conversation at hand. “I don’t want to just be a citizen, so I told him I want to be an animal instead. A dog.”

“Ok…” I said, cautiously. “And that means you won’t be a citizen at all anymore? You will have a new role?”

“No, mommy,” she sighed, a slight roll in her eyes. “I am still going to be a citizen but I want to be a special citizen. One who is a dog. He said I can’t bark but I can crawl on all fours like a dog and wear dog ears and be an animal citizen.”

And just like that, her little role became a very big deal to her.

This dog-loving former hyena may not be Fiona, but she will be a citizen to remember. A dog citizen. The dog citizen, if you will. And more importantly, she fixed it all on her own. She is the one who demanded a casting review, without telling me a thing. She didn’t need her mom to make things better for her, she did it by herself. She went out and found some extra shine to add to her spotlight.

For one very important moment, she became the director of her own little seven-year-old life. And I was just a spectator. 

And, as with her esteemed role as a hyena, I know she will be the best dog animal whatever citizen Shrek has ever seen. And next year? Maybe she will have a line or two. Maybe a small solo in the choir. Maybe even a role like Fiona.

But if not, that’s ok too. Because this girl is clearly a little superstar already. And I am her biggest fan.

*image above is a beautiful hand drawing of Little D when she was even littler, done by a close – and very talented –  friend of ours.