A Look Back At The Carriage Before Marriage Wedding

threesome Viv looking up

I can’t believe our first wedding anniversary is almost here.  The year flew by, possibly because we also made another tiny human during that time.  I had wanted to blog about the big day right away, but as I learned, wedding photos can take a little while.  Now that they’re here, and well worth the wait (thank you, Next Exit Photography), I’m excited to share.

viv takes photo

Everything about our wedding made me so happy.  Sure, a few things went wrong (they always do) but I wouldn’t change a thing–except maybe I’d take two minutes to actually eat dinner. I hear it was delicious.

What follows will be wedding porn of the wedding magazine variety, written for…I’m not sure whom–wedding enthusiasts?  If this is not for you, move on, and I promise the next blog post will be something funny about kids or whatever xoxo

OUR VENUE

calamigos tree

We were married at Calamigos Ranch in Malibu.  The green, wide-open grounds reminded us of summer camp–a happy childhood memory for both of us.  The ceremony took place under a tree adorned with twinkly lights and the reception was held in an open tent, perfect for a warm July evening.

calamigos tent

MY DRESS

wedding dress empty

After combing the department stores and better known bridal shops, I found this gem at a special little boutique, L’Ezu, where they really know what they are doing. Case in point, during my second to last fitting, I was insisting that the bodice was too tight. I felt like I couldn’t breathe and was practically hyperventilating.  The designer correctly surmised that I was having a pre-wedding panic attack.  After making me sit for a while and distracting my brain, the dress suddenly fit fine.

dress in mirror with Viv

On my wedding day, I truly felt like a pretty princess going to the ball.  It’s so not fair that we only get to wear our gowns once.  I’ve gone ahead and paid a small fortune to have it preserved museum quality on the theory that one of my daughters MIGHT want to wear it some day?  Except the flaw in that plan is that I am only 5’2″ and, thanks to my tall husband Dave, my kids are destined to tower over me.  Perhaps minis will be in style.

flower girl in mirror

Btw, I found Viv’s dreamy flower girl dress online and it was made to fit her perfectly.  Unlike me, Viv does get to wear her special dress again–whenever she’s feeling fancy.

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FLOWERS

bouqet

The wonderful Marcia of McCann Florist was able to translate my vague vision (purplish, not too tight or formal) into the perfect cluster of garden roses, anemones and lisianthus.  The centerpieces also featured hydrangeas, a favorite of mine, and were surrounded by mercury glass votives for a hint of silver.

centerpiece

I didn’t want to make my bridesmaids get matching dresses, but they indulged me by selecting any purple dress in the style, length and shade of their choice.  The result was a gorgeous ombre effect and the bouquets really tied all the colors together.

bridesmaid bouquets

CAKE

We still talk about our yummy yummy cake, from Vanilla Bake Shop.

wedding cake

The white buttercream frosting hid a decadent suprise inside–dark chocolate cake oozing with dulce de leche.  I think we got more drunk on cake than cocktails.

eating cake

Our official cake taster did not steer us wrong. It was so good that we are actually looking foward to excavating the piece we saved to eat on our anniversary from the depths of our freezer.

cake topper resize

I’ve always loved those kitschy bride and groom cake toppers, and I searched far and wide to find one that would represent all three of us.  The Mudcards shop on Etsy customized our topper using photos and details of our outfits.  We will save this forever!

DECOR

My friend Cristina of Le Partie Sugar, who has incredible taste and style, designed our tres chic escort cards, table numbers, programs, cocktail menu and more.

table cards

She also commissioned this chalkboard sign that welcomed our guests…

chalkboard sign

…and these dyed-to-match lavender macarons as favors.

macarons crop

Our photographer encouraged us to bring in some extra lighting for the tent.  Since I was shooting for “rustic elegance,” I thought briefly about lighting the whole place with chandeliers…until I saw the estimate.  So our genius wedding coordinator Erin Bagaason, of Malibu Weddings and Events, suggested we decorate just our sweetheart table with a personal chandelier.  I think I need one of these over my desk at home.

sweetheart table

I also found these cute “Just Married” signs at the MyPrimitiveBoutique on Etsy for the backs of our chairs.  Nobody could really see them but us, but I knew they’d make a great photo and in fact this is one of the shots we have hanging on our wall at home.

just married chairs

MUSIC

Music is very important to both of us, so we really customized our soundtrack, beginning with solo guitarist Jason Sulkin, who played Beatles and Elvis love songs as guests arrived and segued to “Eternal Flame” as we walked down the aisle (yes, The Bangles — raised in the 80s, baby).

walking down aisle

Ryan and Sevy of Glasz Productions DJ’d our cocktail hour and pre-dinner dancing, and Ryan was the consummate classy-not-cheesy MC (we had enough cheese going on with our musical choices).

Dave and I danced our first dance as husband and wife to Otis Redding’s “I’ve Been Loving You Too Long.”  We had been secretly taking dance lessons at Arthur Murray for months, which nobody seemed to notice, so I’d hate to think what would have happened if we hadn’t taken lessons!

wedding dance pros

We had a ball out there nonetheless.  And Dave knocked the big dip out of the park.

wedding dance dip

Then, The Spazmatics–the greatest 80s cover band on the planet– rocked us out for the rest of the night.

The Spazmatics

From “Melt With You” to “Don’t Stop Believin’” and everything in between, we never stopped dancing.

wedding dance with Viv

Props also to our videographer Isabel Gonzalez who made even my video-shy husband feel so comfortable, and to Pacifc Event Lighting for the warm and pretty glow, and to Caitlin from Glue it Yourself who made the cutest bridesmaids gifts for me.

bridesmaid totes

(I stuffed the totes with chocolates, Fresh lip balms and tabloid magazines, as one does.)

And that’s how Carriage Before Marriage got married.  While I would like to just keep talking and talking about our wedding until I get really annoying (too late?), I suppose that brings us to a close.  Thanks for dancing down memory lane with me.

three on grass crop

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7 Things I Never Imagined Saying Before I Had Two Kids

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I knew my life would change forever when I brought home baby #2—I just never could have guessed the crazy things that would come out of my mouth.

1. “Don’t step on your sister!” – While I believe that my 4-year-old intends to be loving and gentle towards her baby sister, preschoolers don’t always pay attention to where they’re going. I’ve learned (the hard way) that it’s best not to put baby down on her play mat while Big Foot is stomping around.

2. “Get your nose out of her eye” – We’re also working on boundaries. My daughter loves to smush her face right up again the baby’s face, nevermind whether she can breathe. I was hoping my kids would be close, but that’s a little too close.

3. “Let me smell your hands” – It’s inevitable that my older kid will spread some nasty preschool germs to the baby, but I’m trying to stave this off as long as possible by rigorously enforcing hand washing. Of course, the only way to know for sure if she’s actually washed her hands or just saying she did? The smell test.

4. “Enough reading, let’s watch some TV!”Damn I’m tired. And my back is killing me from breastfeeding the baby while trying to keep my hands free to play with the big kid on the floor. Sometimes it seems like a much better idea to let Sophia the First do the parenting for a while.

Keep reading at Lifetime Moms… Read More »

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Baby Wearing For The Win! – Infantino Unison Newborn Carrier Review

beach close

When I was pregnant with my second baby, I got a lot of helpful advice about how to manage two kids. One thing that kept coming up was the importance of baby wearing.  Everyone said I’d need my hands free for playing with my 4-year-old, especially if I was brave enough to take both girls to the park.  Plus, keeping my newborn close to my chest was a great way to protect her from germy little fingers at birthday parties or preschool.

Sound advice, I was sure, but I didn’t feel confident about my baby wearing skills. With Viv, I’d used a Baby Bjorn during the early months, but it killed my back.  At around 5 months, we graduated to the Ergo, and that worked well for us, but I could never make the infant insert fit properly.  So what to do for the first 5 months?  I know wraps and slings are really popular and newborn-friendly, but I find them so confusing and not at all foolproof.  I attended an actual workshop where an instructor demonstrated the Moby, Boba and Solly wraps, but by the time I got home, I’d forgotten everything.  Sleep deprivation and complicated instructions do not always mix!  Yes, some mamas love their wraps, but they just make me NERVOUS.  I needed another option.

Then, a stroke of luck.  Infantino reached out to me and asked if I’d like to try out their new Unison carrier, which is specially designed to work with brand new babies (8 to 25 pounds).  The Unison seemed to be a hybrid – soft and snuggly like a wrap, but with the ease of a more structured carrier.  I figured I’d give it a try.  I watched this handy instructional video and then I got in gear.

school side crop

Even for the instructionally challenged, this carrier is easy to strap on correctly.  Like, super easy.  It’s also simple to adjust, and you can still tighten or loosen it as a final step–you don’t have to start all over like you might with a wrap.  Getting the baby inside is quick and painless–no squishing and smushing.  She seemed to relax right away, and so did I.

back crop

The first thing I noticed was how comfortable the Infantino carrier is.  They definitely got something right ergonomically.  Granted my baby is only 10 pounds right now, but I was able to wear her for several hours with no back pain at all, and this is from a mom who had two herniated discs 18 months back.

Though the baby’s legs do hang from leg holes, it does not feel like she is dangling.  It’s more like she’s sitting in comfie chair.  The best part is that the seat width is narrow enough to accomodate a newborn’s body size, so she’s not stretched into an awkward position.  I had not seen that feature in a structured carrier before.  There’s also an option for head support–flip it up for newborns, or down for older babies.  And the carrier body is very secure.  The baby’s not going to fall out.  For all of these reasons, I feel like my newborn is totally safe and comfortable in the Infantino Unison.

front crop

More things I’m loving about baby wearing in the Infantino Unison Newborn Carrier:

- I can navigate terrain my stroller can’t handle, like beaches and lawns (who brings their 3 week old to the beach?  Um, I did…)

beach full

- It’s useful in the house too, freeing my hands for chores, or blogging!

- You can even sneak in a pedicure (shhhhh….)

pedicure

- When I wear her, the baby hides my postpartum pooch

- Something about being that close to my body makes baby fall almost instantly to sleep, and stay asleep

- It’s machine washable, which I tested after a monster poop blow-out

- It’s an amazing price point, less than half the cost of the Ergo

- The closeness with baby–I love kissing the top of her head, feeling her tiny hands grab my sides, and smelling her baby goodness

Some final tips: I would advise having a hat to protect the top of baby’s head from the sun.  And if you want to nurse without fully removing the carrier, you’ll need easy access clothing, but I was able to manage it with just one side unbuckled and a low cut tee.

Let me know if you have any questions and I’ll answer them right here.  Baby wearing for the win!

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Why You Should Never Play Beauty Salon With A 2-Week-Old Baby

I’ve been a mother of two for 17 days now and I don’t know what I was so worried about.  It’s easy!

The baby mostly eats and sleeps, which leaves me tons of time for imaginitive play with my 4-year-old, Viv.  Why just last night, as the newborn settled in for a marathon nursing session, my big girl announced she wanted to play beauty salon.  Sitting behind me on the bed with a large collection of styling tools, she got to work combing out my straight, slightly damp hair (regurgitated breastmilk really is the best conditioner).  As I sat there sandwiched between my girls, I marveled at my ability to nourish both of them at once. Winning!

Until Viv stopped. No, keep brushing, it feels nice.  I can’t, Mommy…

I reached back to find that Viv had rolled a super fine tooth comb into a hunk of my hair, wrapping it repeatedly in my locks until it could move no more.  Any effort to dislodge the comb caused pain and breakage.  Plus, this travesty was located deep in my blind spot, so I couldn’t see how to fix it.

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Despite his surprising facility with tangled necklaces, my husband Dave was at a loss for how to free my hair.  My friend Lisa came over and gave it a valiant effort, but no dice — though she did offer to solve my problem Sixteen Candles style.  (Remember when drunk Carolyn got her hair stuck in the door and her friend chopped it off?)

Sixteen Candles

It was nearing 5pm, and I envisioned having to go to sleep that night with a long, sharp comb sticking out of my head like a horror movie axe.  Luckily, a local salon agreed to see me before closing time and I ran out the door.

I should point out that I live in a very fashionable neighborhood where it’s already pretty embarrassing to walk around in my new-mom garb (maternity sweat pants, clogs, baggy sweater with spit up on it).  Now imagine walking into the fancy salon with a giant comb in your head.  And a baby. Hot!

A few people turned and laughed and I do not blame them.

Luckily, a very kind and patient professional was assigned the task of separating my hair from the comb, one strand at a time.  She was optimistic that she could complete her mission and “probably” wouldn’t need to shave my head.

mel

Various hair salon co-workers stopped by to ogle the train wreck, give suggestions or lend a hand.

2 stylists

I did start to consider the merits of a pixie cut.  Probably very easy to care for, and my earrings would really pop.

A full 70 minutes later, the evil comb slid free.

My scalp felt like I’d just gotten a weave.  But I still had my hair.  And on the bright side, how else would a newborn’s mom ever get to spend time in a salon?

So the moral of the story is…

#1 Never trust a small child with hair.

#2 And if something seems too good to be true (two kids, both quiet!), it probably is.

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Why I’m Not Preparing For the Birth Of Baby #2

Speaking of which, I’m due 4/6 – where’s the dang baby?   While we wait…please enjoy my final Momtastic pregnancy post:

prego reflection crop

When I had my first baby, I brought a giant wheelie bag to the hospital, big enough for months of international travel, or for me to crawl inside — which, come to think of it, would have been a great way to get my miserable, laboring body from the parking lot up to the maternity ward. This monster suitcase contained a pillow from home, a fluffy bathrobe, slippers, scented candles, the baby book, and some light reading, I used none of these things.

I’d packed according to a checklist I found on some website, not counting on the fact that the hospital would provide for all of my basic needs. For instance, I had no idea about those genius mesh underwear they give you. Why ruin my own skivvies with afterbirth when the hospital was providing comfie disposables?

Also, I didn’t realize that I’d never once leave my hospital room until checkout time, so it didn’t exactly matter what I was wearing. Gone are the days of visiting your newborn in the nursery.  With the baby lying in with me, there wasn’t much sightseeing to do.

So as I prepare to give birth again, I’ll be bringing a much smaller and mostly empty bag — that way I can still stash some hospital-grade freebies, like the soothing coochie spray I remember fondly. Other than going-home outfits, a few electronics, and a toothbrush, my only specialty item is a framed photograph of our 4-year-old, which is supposed to make her feel good when she visits us, like we haven’t forgotten about her and replaced her with a newer model/trophy baby.

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