Strolling into Mamma Melina with a Baby

Maternity leave has been dreamy.  I’ll be real, I wasn’t sure how it was going to go down.  I have had a job non-stop for the last 15 years and I’m not exactly what you’d label an “idle” person.  Sure, babies are a sizable amount of work but they also sleep.  Like, often.  What would I do with all of the newborn nap time?  Sleep?  Meh.  I’m not much of a napper.  Watch Bravo TV until my eyes bleed?  Sure, I’ve done that here and there.  Could newborn nap time have more purpose?  This question is still a bit of a mystery as I try to find the balance between “resting” and serving others with this insane gift of spare time.  I am #blessed to be off work until January 11.  Lots more strolling and contemplating to be had.

One big benefit to this chunk of baby-bonding time is coupled with the fact that my husband’s job is extremely flexible so he can sometimes join our strolls, creating impromptu mid-day dates.

Background: By nature, I desire stability while Tyler has always been more comfortable as a risk-taker.  Becoming a real estate broker was pretty risky and it took a lot of faith and prayer for me to get 100% on board.  Had I known it would be such an ideal fit for Tyler in every which way, I wouldn’t have dragged my feet.  And had I thought about what it would mean for his ability to spend so much time with me and Adeline, I would have ordered his first set of business cards years ago.

Today was one of those flexible days for Tyler so he joined us for a little stroll around University Village.  Once we had our window shopping fill, we decided to grab some dinner down the street at Mamma Melina.

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When it comes to happy hour seating, Mamma Melina has two options – 1. the bar area (which technically doesn’t allow minors, no matter how cute – see above) and 2. two couch seats which both happened to be occupied.  The rest of the restaurant was empty (apparently, no one else eats dinner at 3:52pm… wutt?) so the bartender/waitress went out of her way to get us happy hour priced seating in the main dining area.  Her words: “I refuse to turn you away – we’ll make it work for you three.  You deserve this.”  What a lovely way to be greeted as new parents!  HERO TREATMENT!  I will take it.

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There was plenty of room to park our stroller right next to our table.  Oh, and free street parking plus a free 3-hour lot underneath the restaurant.  Quality, substantial, well priced happy hour food plus adult beverages running from 3-6pm (longer on Tuesdays and Thursdays).  The best part of having a little impromptu date night with your newborn at Mamma Melina? Hands down – the art that’s uniquely displayed on the ceiling!  Perfect for newborn gazing from a reclined stroller.

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Side note: Tyler drew a fascinating parallel between a) newborns strapped into car seats which are snapped into strollers and b) old men snoozing in La-Z-Boy recliners on casters.  Next risky business venture? Possibly.

Mamma Melina offered us a place loud enough to belly laugh and not get starred at but quiet enough to hear each other the first time (a delicate balance for a date night choice).  While Addie snoozed, we reminisced about our teenage years with braces (I dutifully wore my rubber bands, he did not), what it will be like to travel to Nashville in October with a baby (he will masterfully pack and prepare our gear, I will bring a boatload of snacks), and how good prosciutto is on pizza (duh).

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Strolling into MiiR with a Baby

After hitting up the Kirkland waterfront, my sister (Shari, 32), niece (Meredith, 6 months), my husband, (Tyler, almost the big 3-0) and our daughter (Adeline, 3 weeks old) headed back across the 520 bridge to Seattle onward to the neighborhood of Fremont.  We had recently discovered a newly developing area of Fremont worth a little stroll.

Destination: MiiR. Purpose: Beer for a cause.  How very Seattle of us.

MiiR has been made known for their cool bikes and trendy bottles paired with deliberate and sustainable giving.  Tyler had heard that they opened up a flagship store where they sold their products in conjunction with inviting their customers to pull up a chair, enjoy a coffee or a draft brew and either a) work remotely (again, how very Seattle!) or b) split a French Toast Mighty-O doughnut with a loved one.

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Obviously, MiiR will continue to be a dreamy place for #daddyaddie time.  See above.

Disclaimer: this place is “baby-friendly” as in no one checked Addie’s ID at the door but their aesthetic is oober young/hip/trendy (think crisp white walls + white counter tops with succulents on the tables.)  They did have changing tables in the bathrooms though. In fact, they were the HIPPEST changing tables I had ever seen – super modern, stainless steel, rectangular.  No koala bear stickers to be found on those bad boys.

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It is a fairly quiet place so if you’re looking for a spot to bring a cranky baby or some white noise rather than white-everything-else, you may want to consider the outdoor seating area.  Indoor seating should probably be reserved for napping newborns as to not tick off the Warby Parker-wearing telecommuting graphic designer fiddling away on his MacBook Pro at the table next to you.

I’m one of those PNW hippies that believes talking to your child about real things very early on is important for their development.  Or maybe it’s just good for my continued brain development as a temporary stay-at-home mom to take a break from baby-talk and discuss the alleviation of poverty and the concept of clean water with my 3-week old.  In addition to the aforementioned cold brews, doughnuts and outdoor seating, my favorite part about our visit to MiiR was explaining to Meredith and Adeline how MiiR operates, using the illustrative wall visuals to animate their concepts. Start ’em young, I say.

And keep mommy’s brain from turning into mush by continuing to do kid-friendly yet adult things with sweet Adeline.

MiiR offers you a trendy and clean space to sip on an adult beverage without forcing you and your newborn into a dark bar at two o’clock in the afternoon.  The tables and chairs are spread out enough to easily maneuver a stroller around.  And I know you’re curious about those LEGIT stainless steel changing tables in both the men and women’s restrooms.  And did I mention the doughnuts?

PS: Tyler said I should also mention that in the future, while I stroll, Adeline will ride the MiiR Bambini.

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Strolling the Kirkland Waterfront with a Baby

Addie will become quite the jet-setter over the next few months due to a) her bi-coastal grandparents/extended family and b) her parents’ seemingly unquenchable wanderlust.

Pause: do babies accrue frequent flier points?  Hm. Probably not since we don’t have to buy her an actual plane ticket until she’s two.  All in due time, Adeline Grace.

Before our first family-of-three journey to Nashville in October (Tyler’s hometown) or San Jose in November (my hometown) or any other destination, we were fortunate enough to have our entire immediate family make the journey to the PNW within her first 6 weeks of life.  How loved this little girl is!  Between visits from my parents and Tyler’s parents, my oldest and only sister, Shari and her six month old daughter, Meredith came into town.

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I think it’s the coolest that Meredith and Addie are six months apart, nearly to the day.  My sister and I were pregnant at the same time which made for some hilarious and hormone-riddled late night/early morning text messages.  (Real example: “Do you ever just get tired of being pregnant? Sometimes I just want to lay down on my back.  Instead, I will watch some Top Chef on my side and dream of our fridge delivery on Friday.“)  She also sends me oodles of clothes as Meredith outgrows them, right as Addie fits into them.  Shari will forever play the older sister card as I encounter the same child-rearing questions she faced, just on a six month delay.

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So where do you stroll with a two week old and a six month old?  Seattle summers beckon waterfront visits all over town.  We journeyed over the 520 bridge to Kirkland which is about a 15 minute drive from Seattle.  Kirkland has a uniquely chill Eastside vibe.  Its “downtown” features oodles of restaurants, art galleries, independently owned boutiques, and the only Eastside downtown frontage along Lake Washington’s shoreline.

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Kirkland’s “beach” (my snobby California self hesitates to call it that) was indeed a perfect place to walk with a newborn and an infant.  After strolling along the flat, paved shoreline path, we ventured up to my favorite sandwich shop, Homegrown. Turkey, bacon, avocado on wheat bread = YUM.  Wide doorjams and a large outdoor patio made it easy to roll in and out with our strollers.  Oh, and free parking!  Kirkland is one of the few larger cities in Washington that doesn’t empty your wallet with parking meters.  And ya’ll know how much I like free.

May I disclose that this was one of my first “public” breast feeding attempts?  Just being real here.  There were a ton of benches on the waterfront and lots of kiddos running around.  Glad to report it wasn’t a complete and utter failure (do I dare make an “udder” joke??  Oh, wait I JUST DID.)

Strolling for Things I Don’t Need

Part of my new routine as a temporary stay-at-home mom includes a substantial morning walk.  I have hopes of getting back to my relatively fit and healthy self in a reasonable amount of time post-pregnancy.  Since I don’t love the gym, we walk.

Also, can you call something a routine if you’ve only done it three times?  I vote yes.

My walks take on different purposes depending on my mood.  Sometimes I walk to explore a park.  Other times I stroll to gawk at the ridiculously large and historic homes in a particular neighborhood.  But I like my morning walks to have purpose.

Before I had Adeline, I was a once a week grocery shopper.  It would seriously irk me if I had to stop at QFC on my walk home from the foundation on any given day for a forgotten ingredient.  Now, I’ve found myself spreading out my shopping to give myself an opportunity to “do something” each morning.  For someone who loves the most efficient everything, this has been quite the newsflash.

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This morning, I decided to strap Addie in the Ergo (which I’m still mastering how to do gracefully by myself. Currently, I resemble a cross between a novice contortionist and a cat that doesn’t want to be picked up).  Once she was securely fastened, we headed out the door to the main drag in Queen Anne.  Destination: Bartells.  Task: Purchase hair dye.

Because I’m not actually a redhead.  Shh.

Lucky me, my favorite hair dye was on sale for $7.99, a savings of $3!  I love saving money even more than I love walks which is why my next action made no sense.  I strolled a little too slowly down the hair care and styling isle and paused to look at the curling irons. I grabbed the most expensive one and walked decisively to the cashier.  $36.20 later, I am now the not-so-proud owner of a professional grade 1 1/4 inch curling iron.  A device I don’t need nor really have space for. Also, did I mention I already have a curling iron?  (BUT THIS ONE WAS CUTER!)

I get why homemakers sometimes find themselves with a plethora of “stuff” – it’s so easy to look for ways to fill the time.  Let this be a warning to myself for all of my future walks – try not to buy things you don’t need because you’re a little bored.

And if I can’t be trusted to walk with a relatively high limit credit card, it may be best to bring only enough cash for my pre-planned purchase.

On Becoming Baby Wise, Part One

In order to feel the freedom to buckle sweet Adeline into her stroller and head out of the house for any given period of time, I’ve found it’s helpful to know when she will be sleeping, feeding or potentially screaming.  And while babies are definitely not 100% predictable, thanks to the concepts behind Baby Wise, I do find that I have perhaps an 80% chance of knowing what Addie needs.

I had heard mixed reviews about Baby Wise but those who had positive things to say were beyond convinced it was the best thing since baby food squeeze pouches.  The cover claims it “gives your infant the gift of nighttime sleep.” Translation: it gives you, the parents, the gift of nighttime sleep.  Yes, please.  No wonder it’s so popular.

The basic concept of Baby Wise follows the rhythm of parent-directed eating, waking, and sleeping (in that order) on a 2.5-3 hour cycle.  As your baby gets older and can go longer between feeds, you eliminate a cycle from the day.  When Addie was two weeks old, we went from 9 to 8 cycles (combing the 2am and 5am feeds to one 3:30am feed – hallelujah).  We’ll eliminate the 3:30am cycle when she’s eight weeks old.  Which means there’s a possibility the entire Jones family will be blissfully sleeping through the night.

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Currently, our days look like these Feed/Wake/Sleep cycles (plus or minus 15-30 minutes and a meltdown here and there):

Cycle 1:  6:45am
Cycle 2:  9:30am
Cycle 3:  12pm
Cycle 4:  3pm
Cycle 5:  5:30pm
Cycle 6:  8pm
Cycle 7:  10:30pm
Cycle 8:  3:30am (no diaper change keeps her basically asleep through the feed and then she’s right back to dreamland and so is her sleepy Mommy)

The first week of transitioning out of the 2am/5am feed into the 3am was hit-and-miss but since then, she’s been giving US the gift of nighttime sleep – or at least two good 4 or 5 hour chunks. *see footnote below

Knowing when she’s likely going to start one of these eight cycles allows me to pack my diaper bag and head outside with confidence.  Some may find this type of scheduling a bit too rigid but the type-A in me LOVES a good agenda.

It’s currently 5:32pm and it sounds like Addie girl is just waking up.  She’s already more punctual than her mama.

*footnote: I vow to share the inevitable “Part Two” of this post when all of this controlled planning fails me.

Strolling Seattle with Adeline Grace

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I have always loved to walk.  Growing up in sprawling suburban San Jose, California afforded me many parental supervised strolls around our quaint, track housing development where I would pass by identical manicured lawns, trudging along the wide, kid-friendly sidewalks.

Fast-forward roughly 25+ years.

Seattle.  A beautiful city in its own right.  You can’t get away from the water and mountain views if you tried.  Unique craftsman homes butted up against each other, coffee shops dotting every neighborhood corner, narrow streets crowded with parked cars (because who has a two car garage in this city?)

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On July 22, 2015, my husband, Tyler, and I welcomed our first child into this dynamic and crane-filled city.  Adeline “Addie” Grace Jones, a little bundle of smirks and billy-goat cries.  When I was pregnant, I wondered if having a baby would change me: would raising Adeline dull my craving for adventure?  Would I become a germophobe and begin toting antibacterial gel wherever I went, requiring vaccination cards from all of our friends?  Would I become a shut-in or would I muscle through the exhaustion, lace up my neon pink sneakers, strap Addie into her stroller and head out into the world for a walk?

Ten days after Adeline was born, I begged Tyler to take me out of the house. The doctor advised we avoid large crowds for three months.  THREE MONTHS?  My curiousity around becoming a hermit was banished less than two weeks in.  I googled, “Where can you take a newborn in Seattle?” and came up empty-handed.  I can’t be the only new mom in this active city that wants to get out of the house but can’t risk going to a museum or a crowded shopping mall (not that their are many of those in the city anyhow).

Since there didn’t seem to be one consolidated resource for new moms seeking strolling options in Seattle, I decided to begin cataloging our adventures with Adeline.  Also, as a temporary stay-at-home mom, isn’t it just apropos that I should start a blog?