Whoopsie - guess I took an unplanned 2 week hiatus from the blog, sorry about that but as they say, Life Happens!!
The biggest thing that happened was that my baby turned ONE YEAR OLD!!! Wahhhhhhh!! Actually, no tears were involved surprisingly! Nostalgia, yes, looking through newborn photos and videos - GAH! But he's growing up and it's very exciting - he's 21 pounds, loves playing hide and seek, is eating table food with his 8 teeth, is running around and playing soccer (he even has itty bitty calf muscles LOL), and is also getting quite the attitude (advice on handling tantrums is MUCHO appreciated!!).
I also went home to North Carolina from December 13 - 24, so I was on vacation mode and lazy as hell. Who can blame me?? I've wearing a ton of different hats now working for Miny Moe and Mommy Nearest and Romio and Kidz Central Station, not to mention running after my little toddler, planning his first birthday party, managing several Facebook pages and of course this blog. Phew!! I'm exhausted just thinking about it!! There are just not enough hours in the day, and not enough dollars in my pay checks HA!
We're also on the fence about going into contract on a co-op (if you're not from NYC, a co-op is basically a condo but instead of owning the unit, you own shares to the building instead, and your monthly maintenance includes your portion of the entire building's property tax and mortgage - really strange, definitely a NYC thing!). We bid and counter-bidded 3 times before they finally accepted our offer. But when the contract came in there were a few things that made us balk including a 10% increase on the monthly maintenance and financial reports that look like there is a pretty constant assessment being charged. It's such a huge decision, we just don't know what to do!! It's definitely on the high end of what we can afford, and we don't want to stress about making ends meet. I think we're going to have to sit down and finally make a decision today >_< Home buying in NYC is a freaking joke, a cruel and punishing joke!
OK, so that's what's been going on here! Hopefully I'll get back into the swing of things with more regular posts here! Also planning an awesome group giveaway for to-be and new moms coming up! If you have a suggestion for a great company I should reach out to for this, please let me know! Or if you're a blogger who'd like to help out on this one doing reviews and promoting on social media accounts, please get in touch!
I'm not sure when the cake smash photo session became a thing, but it's here and I LOVE it!! If you're on Pinterest and you have a little one, you know what I'm talking about. Sure sure, giving your one year old a cupcake at their birthday party and letting them get messy with it has always been a blast. But now we're talking about setting up a special photo shoot with an adorable outfit and encouraging them to just go nuts. I have been looking forward to this for months now!! Of course there is some planning to do, but here are some tips to help you out!
THE CAKE SMASH OUTFIT:
First, we needed the outfit. Naturally off to Etsy I went and found an awesome shop, Stitch to my Lu. She's got great onesies and "birthday suits" which is what I found completely irresistible!! She has a bazillion different designs and patterns to choose from. DEFINITELY check her out!! I went with the turquoise, red, grey, and black chevron set which included the hat, tie, and diaper cover (you can see it in photos below) - how cute is it!?!? Man, I want Kenzo to wear it every day! Thankfully, the cake and icing washed out of it easily so he's totally getting another wearing out of it on his actual birthday (Christmas day) and at his party in January! ^_^ Like Leslie of Stitch to my Lu on Facebook and tell her I sent ya!
THE CAKE SMASH PHOTOGRAPHER:
Next up, we had to find a photographer within our penny-pinching budget. This wasn't easy, but we found a local dad with great rates and an in-home studio (he's in Dyker Heights, Brooklyn - just a 30 minute walk from our home in Bay Ridge, though it was snowing, yuck, LOL). If you're in the area or anywhere in NYC actually, check out Austin Personalized Photography. Through January 2014, he's offering my readers a 1-hour 1-backdrop mini-shoot for $75 (this is a 50% discount!!) aaannnnnd you get all the digitals on a CD! Did I mention how awesome he is??? You can do cake smash, holiday photos, head shots, whatever you like! If you're so inclined, please follow him on Facebook, pinterest, and instagram!
THE CAKE SMASH CAKE:
Finally, I had to figure out the cake... A lot of moms, myself included, are very health conscious, especially when it comes to what their babies eat. I researched on google and pinterest to find a healthy cake without added sugar and also egg-less, since my little guy hasn't had eggs yet and can you imagine if he has an allergy and went into anaphalaxis in the middle of the photo shoot?! geez!! I found a great recipe for cake and icing here. The cake was just flour, bananas, unsweetened applesauce, cinnamon, a wee bit of oil, vanilla, and baking soda! Nothing to feel guilty about at all (actually my hubby loved it and has requested I make it again...SOON)!! The icing called for just cream cheese and applejuice concentrate, but I was worried about being able to make that myself without a mixer. So, I resorted to the sugarless store bought icing and felt very bad about it, especially when I read the back that said excessive consumption can have a laxative effect! AGH!!! I also added food coloring, because hello, I had to get the icing to match birthday boy's outfit!! Ahhhhhh mom of the year. But alas, it's a one time thing, how much harm can a bit of icing do eh? Thankfully he took all of one lick of the icing and decided it wasn't for him. He didn't even try my wonderfully healthy cake! >_< LOL! Kids!!
My little guy was just not really into the cake, and this was not ideal for a smash cake photo session! So we resorted to 2 cheats... 1 was putting some puffs in the icing, on the side away from the camera. This got him to start picking at the cake. He got a little messy but nothing major so next I had to get in there and start breaking up the cake myself and handing it to him. The result is it looks like he did it all himself. Cheating, yes. Cute, YES!! He did finally get in there and start throwing it around, as you can see from the video!
THE CAKE SMASH INSPIRATION BOARD:
I spent some time on Pinterest collecting ideas of poses and backdrops and outfits and cakes I liked. Check out my inspiration board here!
And now, without further ado...
THE CAKE SMASH RESULTS!!!!
Here are some collages I put together with my favorite photos:
As you can see, it was a real mess, which is exactly what I wanted!!! But that leads us to...
THE CAKE SMASH CLEANUP:
Cake + icing + baby = big time MESS!!! Our photographer used a backdrop made of photo paper that he could just fold into itself and throw away. This was a GOOD choice on his part!! Keep in mind your little one will not stay in one place. He'll crawl or walk or run around, with icing all over himself! So someone will have to be in charge of picking him up repeatedly and putting him back in the right spot. This person will likely get icing all over themselves as well, so make sure they're not your best clothes, and should not be working a camera! I highly recommend bringing a video camera to catch the antics (see above video - priceless)! As for cleaning up afterwards, if you do the shoot at home it's easy, just throw them in the bath after wiping off the big clumps. But if you're at a studio, I recommend LOTS of wet paper towels (or wipes) and some clothes you don't care much about to get them home in. That said, surprisingly the icing (food dye and all) came out of everything it came in contact with for us. Phew! Also lucky was that baby had no rash or reaction, despite being sticky for at least an hour before we got home (yeah, we stopped to pick up some Turkish kebab on the way home haha!).
So, you're dying to do a cake smash now right!?!?! Reply below with questions or comments!!!
We arrived at Montauk Station around 1pm and were met by the complimentary (well, included in your $15/day resort fee) Montauk Yacht Club shuttle which carried us to the hotel in about 10 minutes - the roads were vacant. It was totally bazaar, especially because I expect they must be jam packed during the summer!
The Montauk Yacht Club was quaint but renovated very nicely in a modern nautical style. We checked in, grabbed lunch at the bar, and excitedly explored the grounds and the beautiful views of the water!
Next up were the 2 things I was most excited for... getting Kenzo in a pool for the first time, and stuffing my face at the Thanksgiving Buffet. Thankfully in that order, cuz I don't want to get into a bathing suit after a buffet, LOL!
Because the hotel was closing down in a couple of days for the winter, things were running a bit differently than usual. The pool hours were 8am-8pm but we had to call ahead to have the lifeguard go and open it up. Our room was in a different part of the hotel, and we had to go outside to get there, so we had to go fully dressed and change in the bathroom. This was a bit challenging with a little one to get changed as well, but it worked out. I had gotten him a cheap iPlay swim diaper from Target. Not sure if he actually "tested it out" but we didn't notice any leaks or anything, ha!
You can see he absolutely LOVED the pool!! He was all splashes and giggles, but eventually also shivering... The pool was heated and was the perfect temperature for hubby and I, but I Kenzo got a bit chilled so he got a nice long hot shower afterwards. It was our first time showering with him and it was a blessing in disguise because I found out how much I love it!!! Suffice it to say, we're done with the baby bath!
Now that we got some exercise done, we were ready for the big Thanksgiving Dinner Buffet!! It was worth every penny of it's $30 charge, let me tell you! YUM!!!! You had all the standards, and then some seafood extras. The dessert bar was my favorite (if only I had more room - but I was able to have some pumpkin tart and chocolate mousse at least!). I totally went overboard but did NOT regret it!! We did get a salad plate to share, but that wasn't photo worthy...
It was actually our very first time feeding Kenzo food from the table! He only got some Turkey, which he loved, and a wee bit of bread which he messily sucked and gnawed off of the roll. But we realized how fun it is to give him real food, and we have been doing so more and more as he approaches his first birthday.
That night went as well as we could have expected. Kenzo started off in the pack 'n play the hotel provided us free of charge, but we couldn't let him cry at all because we didn't want to disturb neighbors, so eventually he ended up sleeping in our bed. You win some you lose some huh? This sleep training thing is definitely two steps forward and two steps back.
The next day we caught a cab ($16!!! yikes!!) to the Mauntauk Point Lighthouse ($8 entrance, aghhhh). Yes, it was extortion, especially when you factor in the 2nd $16 cab ride (from the lighthouse to town). But it was beautiful, and we got some more exercise walking up the tower to the top!
After the lighthouse we took a cab and walked around town which was very disappointing. We grabbed lunch and walked around for a bit. It was very old and outdated feeling, not the quaint and charming window shopping I had hoped for. On top of that it was absolutely FREEEEEEZING! Maybe some of the other Hamptons villages are better? The beach was pretty nice though, and so quiet during the winter, except the waves were HUGE! I loved watching the pipelines roll in and crash!
Our wonderful Thanksgiving getaway was coming to an end, but we had one last festivity to enjoy before heading home. The yacht club's annual children's Christmas party!! We decorated some ornaments, sang songs, hung out by the beautiful fireplace, and stuffed our faces once more - this time with cookies and hot chocolate.
So, our first mini-vacation just the three of us was a huge success!! 2 nights, 3 wonderful days. Couldn't have asked for a better trip! Yes, it was a bit sad not being with my parents and sister for Thanksgiving, but we'll be seeing them in just a couple of weeks... Yippeeeee!!!
Our Thanksgiving Getaway to Montauk was such an adventure that I'm going to be splitting it up into a few posts. So here we go with the first installment!
I love traveling. SO much!! I've been to over 25 countries, have lived in Germany and Japan, pride myself on how many languages I can say "Hello" and "Thank you" in, love trying crazy food (um sting ray jerky and horse sashimi anyone!?). But, since baby's arrival there has been a serious lack of travel. Hubby has been working like a mad man, and I've been totally overwhelmed with taking care of the little one, growing my business and blog and other various endeavors, we've just not really had a chance to go anywhere! But, we had FOUR WHOLE DAYS at Thanksgiving, so I went to work hard researching.
1) Somewhere new and relatively exciting
2) Not too expensive
3) Not too far
4) Has an indoor pool
5) Is relaxing and a tad luxurious
Number 1, 2, and 3 eliminated going to visit any family (and we're going to be seeing them in a few weeks anyway). Number 2 eliminated flying anywhere, because, um, Thanksgiving prices are ridiculous!
For some reason, my mind kept going to The Hamptons. I've always wanted to go there, but haven't yet. And when I saw how dirt cheap the Long Island Rail Road was, I was sold. A hotel search found me a pretty good deal at the Montauk Yacht Club, (they have an indoor pool and BONUS they had a Thanksgiving dinner buffet and a children's Christmas party going on that weekend!). Bish bash bosh we were booked!!
Now, to pack >_< Last time I went anywhere (Boston with my sister's family), Kenzo was only 6 months and not eating real food or needing toys or shoes or anything. So, this time it's much more complicated. He's a REAL boy! I made a list and kept adding to it for a few days and thankfully we got everything the 3 of us needed into this itty bitty suitcase (and diaper bag, and basket under the stroller, haha)!
From Brooklyn (or Manhattan for that matter), the Long Island Railroad (or LIRR for short) is super easy. We just took the subway to Atlantic-Pacific, got our tickets from the vending machine, and hopped right on the train! We had one transfer at Jamaica Station, which was a great place to take a potty break and stock up on food and drinks (if you forget to bring your own). Oh, here's a tip for winter (and probably summer) - go wait inside the JFK Air Train terminal - it's climate controlled!!
The leg from Jamaica to Montauk was almost 3 hours but went pretty quickly. Traveling on Thanksgiving morning was quiet, as expected, and especially so in the handicapped car which we found to be the way to go when traveling with a stroller (it wouldn't have fit through the aisles on the regular cars)! It's nice and small - there are only 3 rows of double seats in the handicapped car, with 2 fold down double seats on the side.
There was another family that came in and joined us, with 2 girls (1.5 years and 5 years). They were going to the Hamptons to visit family whose backyard contained a pool and tennis courts. Yeah, sounds about right! The older girl loooooooved Kenzo and played with him a lot, and even tried to play with him while he was nursing under a cover, haha!! Here she is holding his hand:
Kenzo was such a trooper on the train! No problems whatsoever! We kept him on our laps and he just kinda chilled and played with us the whole time! Phew!! Still, we were relieved when we finally arrived and the fun could begin!! Mommy can't wait to jump in the pool and stuff her face at the Thanksgiving buffet!!!
Stay tuned to hear about our adventures in Montauk in the next installation!!
About Me ^_^
I'm a NYC metro area mom blogger living in NJ with my Japanese husband & our 3 kids (twins plus 1). This blog is chock full of product reviews, family travel guides, and giveaways galore! It's also home to Bay Ridge Families, and several guides focused on kid-friendly activities and guides to South Brooklyn, Hudson Valley, and New Jersey, as well as family-friendly destinations beyond the NYC area (check the menu bar!)