Brooklyn Review: Mabel’s BBQ

When I was pregnant, I used to take the dog out for a walk to McCarren Park at night.  I used to walk down Berry and right around North 11th, I’d catch a whiff of barbecue.  The scent was amazing but I never cared to investigate where it was coming from.  Flash forward a few months, Petra is 6 months old and we’re on a family walk on a chilly weekend morning both Lukasz and I happened to have off together. We were about to head towards our usual to grab lunch, (Teddy’s on North 8th) but I remember the barbecue.

Walking into Mabel’s is like walking into a cozy barn right in the middle of Brooklyn. It was a Sunday morning and actually quite empty.  It’s also really big which is something I’ve come to appreciate more and more due to us traveling with a stroller more often than not.  Petra has only recently started to sit more comfortable in her high chair so I still like to keep her seated in the stroller which is more supportive than restaurant booster seats and high chairs. For the record though, they do have booster seats available. 

Lukasz and I both ordered hot mugs of mulled wine, the perfect drink for basically the entire winter. The menu is full of delicious southern classics! I’m not a big meat eater si ordered the crawfish etouffee with cheesy grits and Lukasz ordered the seeet and savory corn cake, both perfect brunch options. Petra, who is still trying new things little by little had some of my grits and she really loved them! How can she not, it’s corn and cheese.  For the most part, she kept herself busy playing with a menu or sitting on our laps and tasting some of our food.  It’s getting more and more fun to take her out knowing she can partake in whatever it is we’re doing or eating.

If you’re in the Williamsburg area and looking for some yummy southern comfort food, Mabel’s is a great choice.

Xo,

Karen

Seven Months

Yesterday, our baby girl turned seven months! 

Petra has been army crawling up a storm around the apartment.  Not only is she crawling but she’s comfortably sitting up on her own and on some occasions, we’ll find that she’s pulled herself up to standing position on the crib, near her toys, by our shoes, etc.  It’s hard to leave this little adventurous lady alone!  

Petra hasn’t cut any teeth yet but that hasn’t stopped her from exploring all kinds of food.  After her last doctor’s visit at 6 months, we got the ok to feed her a little bit of everything with the exception of honey, of course.  I’ve been pureeing some simple goodies for her such as sweet potato and peas and we also do a little bit of baby led weaning by plopping down some apples and bananas and letting her explore texture and taste on her own with close supervision. 

While Petra doesn’t have any teeth just yet, she’s definitely been teething, sticking anything and everything in her mouth.  She’ll even bite down hard on my fingers to get some relief.  We’ve found that making tiny posicles using the Nuby popsicle molds has really helped.  These are perfect for little hands to grip and I think Petra finds the cooling taste soothing for sore gums. I’ve only used them a few times but my go-to recipe has been blending strawberries with some frozen breastmilk.  We’ve also been trying to have teething toys around at all times, such as her Sophie Le Giraffe.  I can see why the toy is so popular now! Sometimes all it takes is to be sitting in her stroller, chewing her giraffe and she’s happy as a clam.

Petra loves being outdoors.  I knew it would be hard to get out during the winter so we got her a Bugaboo High Performance Footmuff which seems to really do the trick in keeping her warm.  During these cold months, it has been a struggle to get her clothed and bundled up and ready to go outside but once we’re in the stroller, she’s happy to be in the fresh air walking her trusty sidekick, Pierrot.  They’ve definitely become closer friends these last few months.  She’s constantly crawling to him and he’s constantly licking her hands, which I’m not ok with (hello germs) so I’m also pulling them apart. But there are times when all she wants to do is pet him and, he’s not really into the hair pulling thing (because what dog is?) but he lets her and I love him for his patience.

She’s definitely into routine and around 8:30 every night, after a bath and sometimes a book, she drinks her bottle and goes to bed.  And even on the nights where she might not be ready just yet, she spends five minutes in her crib and slowly puts herself to sleep. She’s such a good baby girl.  I don’t know how we got so lucky with our little Petra.

It’s been pretty amazing to watch these milestones go by! Petra is definitely at such a fun age right now.  I think back often to the month after she was born and how hard things used to be and constantly remembering that it will get easier and it definitely has gotten so much easier.  What a journey so far! It really truly is only the beginning.  I love this sweet girl so much.  I feel really so so lucky to be her mama. 

Xo,

Karen

Weekly Findings


These days, the weeks seem to fly by, constantly seeming like every day is a countdown to the next holiday which is fine by me.  I’m sure so many out there are ready to kiss 2016 goodbye and get on with it. While this year hasn’t been that bad for me (New baby, cute fiancée, I’m doing alright) I know politically and just in general, it hasn’t been the best year.  We do plan to end the year on a positive note.  My parents will come to visit for two weeks starting next weekend and I’m really excited to spend another Christmas in New York.  We even got our tree this past weekend which I’ll post pictures of soon.

Salt Dough Ornaments: I just got some supplies to make some gold salt dough ornaments! Does anyone remember making these when we were kids? I really want to make one of Petras hand so we can keep it forever and ever! And I also bought every Christmas cookie cutter shape imaginable! Salt dough ornaments everywhere!

Most Popular Baby Names of 2016: Of course, “Petra” is nowhere to be found ;). But I can definitely say that we came pretty close with Sophia as an option for a name.  It was hard for us, like I’ve previously mentioned, finding a name that sounds the same in Polish, English and Spanish.  I also really loved the name Zosia, which is a diminutive of Sophia in Polish but Lukasz vetoed that one.

Wes Anderson H&M Commercial: One of my favorite directors made a holiday ad for H&M! It’s got all the signs of classic Wes Anderson with his beautiful color palettes and perfect symmetry! It reminds me a little of Darjeeling Limited, which I loooove. 

Baby, It’s Cold Outside… Updated: The song “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” happens to be my favorite holiday song ever.  I know that every year the debate arises about how creepy it is, but I think it’s an adorable duet.  For those that feel the former, this is an updated version of the song that makes it feel a little more updated and friendlier.

Mom is Queen I really enjoyed this article by The New York Times about how more people are using the word “mom” to refer to someone they admire or look up to.  It’s such a different take and change of the jargon most of the youth culture comes up with today.  Or maybe I just want to be a cool mom, ha!

I hope everyone has a great weekend!

Xo,

Karen

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Thanksgiving

Super late Thanksgiving post alert! But better late than never. I simply had post about it and show all of our pretty pictures because it was Petra’s first Thanksgiving and I was wanted us to remember it forever.  Sometimes I can’t believe that she’s six months old and time is flying and now when we do things like celebrate Thanksgiving with a big dinner, Petra is right there, eating and celebrating with us.  This time, last year, she was still in my tummy…  HOW IS TIME MOVING SO FAST?

This Thanksgiving was a little different in that I can honestly say I prepared for it, like, the day before but, weirdly, felt extremely calm about the whole thing.  I picked out some recipes while Petra was taking a nap the day before, did some grocery shopping via Instacart, packed Petra up and went to the buy a roasting pan and that was that! 

On actual Thanksgiving Day, first things first, the parade had to go up on the screen. As in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade!  On previous Thanksgivings spent in California, I would always have the parade up the second I woke up. Who knew one day I would be living in that city…yet watching the parade in my living room on a TV? Haha, does this make me a real New Yorker yet? Crowds are definitely not my thing.  After watching the parade and getting ready, Lukasz’ took Petra and the dog to have a “Dad’s Day” while me and my other lady, Tatiana basically spent the entire day drinking wine and cooking up a feast. I don’t really know why this Thanksgiving wasn’t as stressful as precious years but it really was just fun to hang out and cook all day and then enjoy the fruits of our labor with my adorable family.  Petra even ate some of our candied yams! 

In addition to the Turkey (duh) we have a green bean casserole, roasted garlic mashed potatoes, candied yams, cranberry sauce, stuffing, glazed shallots, and gravy.  For desßrt, there was two pies, pumpkin and chocolate pecan and ice cream. We also had Mai Toddianas which were Tatiana and Todd’s delicious drink recipe! 

All in all though, I don’t need a holiday to remind me to be thankful for what I have. I’m reminded every single day that I wake up and look around. I have an amazing boyfriend who is also an amazing father.  And I have one beautiful and adorably sweet daughter that I can never get enough of.  These two are my whole life and I don’t know how I got so lucky. #Thankful.

Xo,

Karen

Sandomierz

Way before our little family touched down in Poland, Lukasz had told me his sister has been planning a sort of family reunion for Lukasz’ visit.  Lukasz had tried to play it off as something small but when Lukasz, Petra and I officially arrived at the restaurant, Bistro Podwale, we literally walked into a crowded room, full of applause and cheer.  It was so so wonderful to feel the love in that room and it was even more amazing to finally be able to visit Lukasz’ hometown and meet his family. 

From the moment we walked in, Petra was greeted by everyone!  She was adored, kissed and cuddled.  If only she could remember this moment and how loved she is by her whole family!  I’m so glad we were able to capture so much of it on camera, including this photo below of Petra and her great grandfather who is 95 years old!  It is literally one of my most favorite photographs ever. 

I’ll be honest and say that for the second half of our stay in Sandomierz, I got sick with some kind of a stomach bug.  I had no desire to eat anything and I was extremely nauseated.  But I was able to step out a couple of times and do some sight seeing with Lukasz and a couple of his friends.  We visited his high school, which is one of the oldest secondary schools in Poland.  We visited some churches, which Poland has in abundance.  And we visited the town square which was really adorable. It’s such a stark contrast to think about me growing up in California with modern buildings and miles and miles of freeways, all the while Lukasz living in this small and adorable town with so much history.  The whole thing is so mind blowing.  It’s also one of the things that makes me love Lukasz even more. 

I wish we had more pictures or touristy stories to tell but this trip just really came down to family.  I look forward to the next time we come visit and maybe Petra will be a little older and we can do some additional things on our wishlist like going camping in the mountains and hills near Sandomierz.  After this trip, I really feel like there’s so much more to explore with this little tribe of mine. I feel like this is only the beginning.

Xo,

Karen

Warsaw

After the plane landed in Warsaw, we were picked up by Lukasz’ sister who lives there with her husband and her two kids.  It was really awesome to be able to meet her and have Petra meet her aunt for the first time.  It was also awesome to have Lukasz see his family for the first time in about three years.  It was a very emotional experience, to say the least but it was also amazing to be able to discover this part of Europe for the first time with my adorable tiny family.  Of course, when I was finally able to get a decent amount of sleep, we went out into Warsaw and walked for the entire day.  We went to the old part of town that Lukasz hung around the most when he was younger and going to school.  It’s so beautiful, the kind of old European town I have only seen in pictures. 




We stopped at an adorable little restaurant, Kompania Piwna, in the old town that Lukasz used to frequent when he was younger and had some pierogi because when in Poland, do as the Polish do. ;). I will admit, it was really chilly the whole time we were there and it rained almost every day in Warsaw which really limited our time outdoors. But we were more than glad to go from spot to spot to seek shelter and Petra loves being outdoors so she had no problem being outside either (although it’s getting a little harder to wrestle her into her winter clothes as she grows older… she’s definitely going to love summers in New York where clothing can be kept to a minimum.)

We did a few touristy things like visited the Museum of the Warsaw Uprising and visited the University of Warsaw.  On one of our nights, we even visited a vegan restaurant. (Who knew Warsaw had such a growing vegan population?). But really, this trip came down to visiting friends and family and I was more than excited to do that.  These are people I had only heard stories about but, more importantly, people that had left such an imprint in Lukasz’ life. It was also oh-my-gosh amazing that Petra was able to meet her cousins for the first time.  While Bianka and Tadeusz are years older, their bond was instant and adorable.  My heart melts thinking about it and hoping the day when we see them again isn’t too far off. 

Visiting Warsaw was really one for the books, so many firsts for all of us. I, sincerely hope that in the future, there’s more good times to be spent here.  We soon had to leave Warsaw and head to our next stop, Lukas’ hometown, Sandomierz.

Xo,

Karen

Flying at Five Months

It’s been a while since we’ve been back from Poland but I needed the past weeks to gather my thoughts and pictures and I figured I would kick off my Poland posts with a post about flying with a baby.  More specifically, a 5 month old baby.  Even more specific, a five month old baby named Petra.

The plane ride there was utter perfection, and I’m not even being sarcastic.  We planned our flight to be around 9pm and Petra is usually in bed by 8pm so we knew that she was gonna crash AT SOME POINT.  We got to the airport early and even had time to hit up Shake Shack (So much “yes” to Shake Shack for being at the airport) before boarding.  As we ate, Petra played both in her stroller and even on the floor because we were tired and we needed her to be tired. And then we boarded.

We had called ahead of time to make sure that we got a baby bassinet for Petra to sleep in, which actually allowed us to have the seats on the plane with extra legroom at no charge.  As we were taking off, I breastfed Petra to make sure that her ears felt no discomfort but, to be honest, Petra hardly fussed.  I am going to admit here that I was a total anxious mess.  I didn’t know if she would sleep and every little cry she made sent me on a downward mental spiral: “Oh no, its gonna be like this for SEVEN HOURS”. Also unfortunate, Lukasz took most of the hit on that one, trying to be helpful and comforting while I was literally angry at everything.  BUT, once Petra ate and we were steady in the air, I laid her in the bassinet, she yawned fussed for 3 seconds and turned her head…closed her eyes… and she was out for the ENTIRE TRIP. I, on the other hand, woke up every hour to make sure she was okay.  I was super tired when we landed.

So, okay, the way back however… In retrospect, it wasn’t TOO bad. So we booked our flight for 9AM, which meant that we would definitely have her awake for the most part on the plane.  The only thing that was silly is me assuming she would take a nap at some point.  She absolutely did not.  It was probably the longest seven hours ever.  We’re in a small space with so many strangers, we don’t have a stroller to push her around in, she refused to breastfeed and she had the attention span of a goldfish when we waved new toys in front of her.  It could have been better.  I could have not been so nervous the whole time. We could have booked a later flight.




But thats the thing about babies. Sometimes they cry and fuss and all I can say about it is a big thanks to the people on the plane with us who will never read this.  Sometimes they would smile at our daughter while she played gleefully for two seconds and other times they would ignore her cries by pretending to watch TV with earphones in.  But they never complained.  I also want to say that, as a first time mom, I’m getting more comfortable in letting my daughter just “be”.  I used to be the kind of person filled with anxiety the moment she let out a peep while I was walking down the aisles of the grocery store and I would try to quiet her down like I was ashamed that her cried would be disruptive.  She’s just such a good baby… and sometimes she’s going to cry, maybe because her diaper is dirty or she’s hungry or she’s stuck on a tiny plane with a bunch of people and nowhere to go.  So I try not to stress about it.  And actually, when we landed in Warsaw, our neighbor turned to us and told us that we were great parents.  Well gosh, I had never been more proud. 🙂

Xo,

Karen

 

We’re going to Poland!

  

There’s some news we’ve been sitting on for a while that I’m excited to talk about! We’re traveling to Poland in two weeks!

I could not be more excited for this opportunity our little family has stumbled upon.  It will be mine and Petras first trip to Europe and it’s also going to be the first time we meet Lukasz’s side of the family. 

I don’t think I’ve mentioned it before but it’s definitely an adventure to raise a baby with two different cultures.  I knew that it would be so important to me for Petra to understand her Peruvian heritage and I know it’s even more important to Lukasz for Petra to really understand what Poland is all about.  For me, having been born and raised in the US, the idea of my culture is a little bit ambiguous but for Lukasz, having been born and raised in Poland, the things that are important to him, culturally, are more defined.

Some close friends know but we’re also trying to raise Petra to speak English and Polish as a priority. I speak to Petra in English and Lukasz speaks to Petra in Polish.  It’s an experiement but we hope it’s one we can succeed in.  The idea of our daughter communicating with her fathers side of the family is so important to us. 

So in the next two weeks, we’re trying to get everything ready and I’m so nervous at the idea of traveling on a plane for a long time with an infant.  Our flight to Poland is at night and Petra has been amazing sleeping through the night, only waking once, sometimes twice. I’ll also be keeping breastfeeding as my secret weapon to pacify her.  I’m hoping the flight will be a comfortable one for her. Any tips and suggestions are very VERY welcome. 

Xo,

Karen

Review: Bugaboo Bee

You guys, I love our stroller. I wanted to write a post on my experience with my Bugaboo Bee hoping to help others when they are looking to purchase a stroller for their little one. I spent hours looking into this, so I know how stressful it can be.  In my personal opinion: look not further than this awesome stroller.

I came across the Bugaboo Bee in my first trimester in my pregnancy when Lukasz and I were taking a stroll around our neighborhood and we stepped into a baby store.  Out of the plethora of strollers in the store, the Bugaboo Bee looked like the smallest. Out of the bugaboo lineup, the Bee is definitely the lightest of the bunch, weighing in at around 18 pounds.

Here’s the thing about choosing a lightweight stroller.  It’s something I definitely knew we had to put a focus on.  Living in Brooklyn and living on the second floor of a walk up and given my tiny stature and muscle-less body, I knew I had to put weight as the number one priority.  But while comparing strollers you start to realize that you either get a super light weight stroller like the YoYo and give up space in the basket.  It’s always one thing or another.  But not with the bugaboo.

The bugaboo can switch sides so the baby is either facing you or facing away from you. The stroller can be used from newborn until around 4ish which is another thing I loved.  I didn’t want to get a newborn stroller now and get something lighter for her when she’s older, I wanted a 2 in 1. For newborns, you can purchase a cocoon for additional head support, which we did. We also bought a car seat compatible with the Bugaboo Bee system although we never used it together.  The stroller is tiny with a huge basket underneath. All of the fabric parts can be removed to be washed in case they get dirty (they will get dirty).  It also comes with a rain cover so baby stays dry in dreary weather. Plus, with bugaboo, you can buy all sorts of extras for it, if you choose! For me, a cup holder was a must.  Lukasz bought it for me so I can have coffee while taking the baby for a stroll. And of course for baby bottles when needed. 

Petra loves the stroller.  I know it’s probably not the best place, but she just loves napping in it! The buckles don’t bother her as much as I thought they would.  As we head into this fall season, I also love putting the cocoon in the stroller for added warmth.  Because she’s had it since she was a newborn, she’s growing out of it a little by now.  Bugaboo sells a muff that we’re looking to purchase to get us through the winter season, I can’t wait to try it out.  

This stroller definitely gets my seal of approval!  Of course, this is just my opinion and I would love to hear questions and concerns if you have any!

Xo,

Karen

Lukasz’s Birthday

Last Thursday, my babe, Lukasz, turned 27.  To celebrate, we decided to leave the city and head up to New Paltz.  It’s the cutest little college town.  It has the small town feel that makes me feel like I’m in an episode of Gilmore Girls! 

Unfortunately, we passed the stop to get to New Paltz and ended up an hour away in Woodstock, NY! Never one to shy away from exploring, we drove around to see what fun stuff we could do.  We found a water reservoir hidden along the road and stopped to explore the forest and do a little photo op with the baby.

I really love how Petra has grown so much in these last few months.  Before, my idea of venturing out with a little munchkin would have me filled with anxiety. Is it safe? Is the bugs? Are there ticks? Will I be able to breastfeed?  Now, she’s just as curious as we are to head out into some unknown, safe in her dads arms.  I love it so much and it makes me excited for the days I can spend with these two, camping and hiking when she’s a little older. 

On our way back, Lukasz stopped at an orchard and grabbed a quick bag of apples and cider.  I forgot how much I love fall here.  The air gets chilly, the leaves change into beautiful warm colors.  It truly is my favorite season.

We also stopped by Lukasz’s family’s house in Jersey. They’re such nice and warm people.  There’s also a lot of polish being spoken which I love exposing Petra to.  They greeted us with delicious dinner and an ice cream cake for Lukasz.  It was a good day.  

I love this handsome and amazing man. Happy birthday, my love. ❤️

Xo, 

Karen