Repacking my Hospital Bag – Part 1

About a million of my BFFs are with child and shall birth those children (respectively) by early next year.  I was discussing the contents of my bag(s) for labor/delivery/postpartum, and actually found the detailed spreadsheet that I had created to keep track of all the VERY IMPORTANT THINGS that I needed to have with me.

Not surprisingly, there are so many items I packed that I didn’t even touch during the hospital stay.   I recall packing and thinking that I could go without a lot, but was not willing to risk being without THE ONE THING that made the differnce between glowing, fantastic super mom and, well, a woman who just pushed an 8lb person out of her hoo-ha.

I had the brillant idea of having a Labor bag and a Post-partum bag. The main problem with that is tha ti tleft me without any intuitive packing skills.  Contacts seperate from toothpaste? Where does the hairbrush go? some clothes here, some clothes there?  After, oh, 8 months of planning,  several facebook posts begging for suggestions, and a few grey hairs, I came to a decent list.

Today, you get to hear about what I packed and why.  Tune back tomorrow to hear how my suggestions work 60% of the time, every time. (double points if you name that movie!)


labor bag all

(1) Comfy nursing bras.  These aren’t those underwire nursing bras you find in Motherhood maternity.  Oh no, these are the big guns. Super sports bra support, easy boob access, and plenty of coverage. 

(2) Amazon Kindle (or whichever e-reader or tablet you prefer).  I had no idea how long I would be in labor, how painful it would be, or whether I would have pain relief.  And If I was lucky enough to catch some Z’s, The Man could use it.

(3) iPhone charger. Duh.

(4) Hairties and bobby pins! I knew I wouldn’t be one of those women who had glowing, perfect hair after giving birth.  I had a nice, stretchy headband too.

(5) Tube Sock and Tennis ball.  I read somewhere that rubbing a tennis ball on your back during labor can help immensely.  So I went out and bought a tube of tennis balls and hi-jacked one of the Man’s old socks.

(6) Yummy lotions.  Did I ever tell you that The Man was required to give me a foot massage during our all-day, marathon birthing class? it was glorious. I expected that it be replicated during labor.

(7) Birth Plan.  I had a million verions of birth plans. I downloaded some from babycenter, some I just made up, all of them were confusing and contradictory.  I constantly paniced that I would leave a crucial piece of information out.

(8) iPhone portable speaker.  I had labor playlists and I’m not afraid to admit it. Again, this went with the uncertainty of the length of labor, and not knowing whether I’d need some good tunes to pump me up!

(9) Comfy, non-skid socks.  These were to wear while walking around the hospital to keep my feed all warm and toasty.  I had a great pair from Bath and Body Works, but I’m not sure they carry those anymore.

(10) Bathrobe.  A good friend recommended that I bring a bathrobe to cover myself up if I was walking around, and for visitors after the fact.  I picked up a grey one from Target about a week before I went into labor.

(11) Binsi Skirt.  Ok, soooo, I’m not really a hippy, but you wouldn’t know it by my choice of labor attire.  I’ve mentioned before that I didn’t want to wear hospital clothes, but I also didn’t want to ruin my favorite black skirt.  I can’t remember where I heard about the binsi skirt, but I needed to have it.

(12) Soft Slipper Flip-Flops.  These were a bridesmaid gift from my friend Bridget and I LOOOOVE them. I figured I could use them to walk around instead of the socks.

(13) Nursing Tanktop.  This was a back up to the nursing bra, in case I wanted to be a little more modest, or to wear when visitors arrived.


my bag all


(1) Muslin Swaddlers.  I knew the hospital would supply swaddlers, but I wanted softer ones for pictures and the trip home.

(2) Nursing Bra.  I wore the underwire nursing bras for the latter part of my pregnancy (highly recommend doing that, btw). I wanted this for the trip home.

(3) Yoga Capri Pants.  I wanted a pair of comfy pants for the hospital stay.

(4) Comfy Nursing Tank Top.  I also packed a second nursing tank for hospital visitors.

(5) Makeup.  Ok, fine, I can be a little vain.  But I knew my picture would be taken, and I wanted to feel like a human!

(6) Hair Dryer and Hair Straightener. See #5.

(7) Nursing Pads.  I’d heard that you leak a lot of breastmilk during the first few weeks of nursing and wanted to be prepared.

(8) Lanolin.  Lanolin is super helpful for sore nipples, something I was sure I would have!

(9) Boppy.  Ah the trusty nursing pillow. I wanted to have anything and everything that would help me breastfeed little baby lafe!

yes toiletries

(10) Cotton Swabs and QTips, (11) Face Cleansing Wipes, (12) Body Wash, (13) Deodorant, (14) Hair Brush, (15) Toothbrush, Toothpaste, and Mouthwash, (16) Shampoo and Conditioner.

Several friends told me that the first shower post-birth was the best feeling ever, especially if you had labored a long time.  The only disappointment they had was with the hospital soap and shampoo combo.  I figured it would be even more refreshing to have all of my normal shower products.

I also (obviously) packed clothes to come home in (a blue pattern nursing dress from Target) and clothes for baby to come home in (a green frog outfit, size 0-3 months). The Man packed his own bag of clothes, snacks, magazines, etc. Overall, we had a backpack for the labor bag, a duffle bag for my postpartum bag, The Man’s duffle bag, a boppy, and a huge pillow with bright pillow case for me!  I still think my walk into the hospital with contractions was harder than The Man’s task of carrying all of those bags!

Car Sleeper

Recently, a friend on facebook asked for car seat recommendations- I immediately said that Vivian loved her car seat, and that it was her favorite place to nap.

While taking a few minutes to break up the day, i was scanning through the pictures on my phone and came across a few funny pictures of Vivian sleeping in her car seat, two of which I took yesterday. “Hmmm,” said me to myself, “I wonder how many pictures I have of Vivian sleeping in her car seat?”


There were some conditions, of course.  While I have a ton of her sleeping in her car seat in random locations, I limited it to pictures of her actually sleeping in the car (with some super adorable exceptions).  Without further adieu, and in no particular order, the sleeping car seat queen!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

A Busy April

April was great and busy and frustrating and delightful. Did I mention Busy?

Work brought me out to Elmira earlier in the month, so me, my Dad, and Vivian stayed with my grandparents Mema and Pop Pop (GG and Great Pop to Vivian). 

elmira collage 1

Vivian also got up close and personal with their cat Perry.  Mitty (Or Mitty the evil Kitty, as she is known), stayed far away!

As wonderful as it is to see my parents and The Man’s mom with Viv, it is a thousand times more delightful to watch her great-grandparents fawn over her. It is so special to me to see them together, since I have such great memories of my great-grandmothers.

elmira collage 2 IMG_5894 

Later that week, my cousin Betsy (Liz, to some), came to visit with her 10 week old baby Harper! I loved seeing Viv next to her – she was fascinated by this little baby, and laughed at her constantly! It was so awesome to see how much Vivian has grown since last summer, and to know that in a few short months, these two will be playing together at the Lake.

harper collage

Two weekends later, we celebrated my Dad’s Birthday.  Just dinner, cake, and Ice cream at my parent’s house; restaurant dinners are tough with the Vivster.Viv helped my dad blow out the candles, and inspected each and every gift to make sure it was suitable for Pop Pop’s consumption.  Pop Pop (and Luke, as you can see) were very excited about Vivian’s gift! dad bday collage 1

It had been a while since all of us were together, so we made sure to snap some pictures!


The Man, Me, Viv, Mom/MeMe, Uncle Dan, and Dad/Pop Pop


Same as above, with Dan’s squeeze, Sara



Slip in some Jumping, some Crawling, and some Swinging, and you can tell we had a crazy month!

It was a crazy April, and May isn’t looking much less hectic! Wish us luck :)

sneaking away

The Man and I celebrated our fifth anniversary on January 5th.  For months we had thrown of ideas of ways to celebrate, but nothing was set in stone.  On New Years Eve, we finally buckled down and made some decisions.

The Man found a resort on the northern shore of Lake George that had private cabins.  The Trout House is located in Hague, and has been around for 100+ years. Naturally, it being the middle of winter, the rates were much lower than we expected.  Since the arrangements were so last-minute, the family that owns and runs the property waived the two night minimum.  We happily booked a 1 bedroom cottage called the Seneca Patio for Saturday night.

We began our trip Saturday at noon, after dropping the kids off at my parent’s house for the night.  The drive up to Lake George Village (on the southern tip) is only about an hour and fifteen minutes. We’ve been there plenty of times, but never in the winter, and never all the way up the lake.  The Man wanted to try a restaurant that was on the way to the cabin, so we entered it into the GPS and arrived around 130.  After walking in, something didn’t seem right.  The restaurant was right in Lake George Village, and the menu wasn’t what we were expecting.  We both looked at each other and knew we were at the wrong place! Since we hadn’t ordered anything, we decided to make a break for it.  Yikes!  It was well worth it (and the 20 minute drive to the right restaurant!) for the delish meal and getting toasty by the 360 degree fireplace!

Once we got back on the road, it took close to an hour to get to the cabin. A good portion of the drive was up Route 9, right on the lake. I love the look of cold lake water in the winter – it has such a beautiful aqua tone to it.  Of course, I find it impossible to capture that color on camera, so I just leave it to my memory.

After arriving at the Trout House, we went to the office to check in, and had a very pleasant surprise! Two beautiful Golden Retrievers were there to greet us! The Man spent some time cuddling them (he misses his dog Sparky dearly) while I checked in.  As we left, our new furry friends followed us outside. and then blocked our car! I think they were looking for a winter walk.

We got settled in the Cabin, which was much more than we could have imagined! It had one bedroom with 2 queen beds (not ideal, but it didn’t kill us to cuddle a little closer), a full kitchen, wood fireplace, and a huge jet tub. I’m sure the covered patio would have been great in the summer, and the view of the Lake was beautiful.  The resort had built us our first fire, so we got to relaxing and planning our evening.

Bedroom, with window overlooking Lake George

Bedroom, with window overlooking Lake George

fireplace wood!

fireplace wood!



View from our front door

View from our front door

cozy fire and full kitchen

cozy fire and full kitchen


Naturally, I insisted on taking our annual anniversary picture before we headed out.


Our friends Jess and Gavin have a family house in the area, and they recommended Cate’s Italian Garden in Bolton Landing.


The drive to Bolton Landing was about 25 minutes. The Man ordered a Steak Pizzaiola and I indulged with some Tortellini Alfredo and a few glasses of wine.


Our server was warm and welcoming, and we chuckled at the young girls at the next table talking to their mom about buying a new horse. IMG_2845

I’m sorry to admit that after a little more fire watching in the cabin, I fell fast asleep at about 10pm. It was something being relieved from the responsibility of parenting that released all of that pent-up anxiety and let me relax. and by default, get sleepy. Although I’m sure those three glasses of wine didn’t have any impact!

We slept until a glorious 9:30 am the next morning and checked out by 11am.   On the way back to the Village, we stopped at a scenic overlook for some pictures.  Another car was pulled over, with the doors and trunk wide open.  Three men stood facing north with something up to their heads.  The Man speculated that they were taking pictures too, but as we got closer, I realized they had binoculars!

BIRD WATCHERS! We felt like we were intruding on some sacred event.  It took everything in my power not to giggle when one man yelled “A CHICKADEE! A CHICKADEE!” and another called “A RAVEN! over there!” Even better was their bird calls, which I can only begin to imitate.  The Man had a sincerely confused look on his face the entire time.


Once we got back in the car, we tried to give these guys the benefit of the doubt. After all,  it was nice how excited they got about it.  If that’s your style, what better way to spend a Sunday morning than observing nature.


We stopped at the Lake George outlets on the way home, and then in Saratoga to walk around and get lunch. I even convinced the Man to take a picture in one of those ridiculous photo booths! We stopped at the Circus Cafe, which was a kitschy French Circus themed place.  It absolutely caters to a younger (like elementary school) crowd, but there were several other adult couples there. Lunch was great (as was the flourless chocolate cake for dessert!)


We did nothing and everything. We talked, and not just about Vivian. It was relaxing, invigorating, and exactly the time we needed to reconnect.





Farewell 2012!

Robin over at Farewell Stranger has invited the blogging community to say farewell to 2012 through their favorite pictures.

I have chosen one picture from each month, with an explanation about why each is significant. I should note that most are “favorites” for the memories they stir up, not for composition. It was so so hard to pick the best moments of 2012, but I loved having the chance to revisit some photos and memories that had slipped my mind.  Enjoy!



January 2012

These are my dear friends Jess and Gavin holding our other friends Molly and Sam’s daughter Liddy. A large group of us decided to go to an Albany Devils Hockey game, and got group seating right on the ice. Liddy was the first baby of our law school friends, and everyone had to take a turn cuddling her. I love how the happy face Jess is making as she looks at Liddy.  And Gavin’s facial expression is his trademark.


February 2012

Luke and Lacey are my heart. Even though they have managed to ruin almost every piece of furniture in our house, we still can’t resist having them lie on the sofa with (or without) us. They’re the best of friends.


March 2012

When I was 6 months along, I finally felt pregnant enough to jutify parking in expetant mother’s spots at Buy Buy Baby, but not too pregnant to be uncomfortable. It was glorious.


April 2012

Every night, Luke would lie next to me on the sofa, and put his head on my stomach.  I think he heard the baby’s heatbeat. Please also note Lacey’s photobomb.


May 2012

What Baby Lafe’s room looked like mere moments after unloading the gifts from our first baby shower. I thought baby had a lot of stuff then, but that’s nothing compared to now!

June 2012

In June, I was tired, big, and my pants were feeling tight. I had an apperance at Albany County Supreme Court for a very long settlement conference with another attorney from my office. I stopped in the bathroom, and saw this taped to the mirror. It was a lovely surprise.


July 2012

Miss Vivian Eleanor’s first day with us. We had just moved from the delivery room to our postpartum room, and took this picture of her as she was lying on my chest, skin to skin. My heart bursts just thinking of her little breaths and fluttering eyelids.


August 2012

We spent a few days at Keuka Lake with family.  Vivian was just beginning to sleep through the night, and we had begun to figure each other out.  I look at this picture and remember it as such a very happy time. But it was also the beginning of a difficult time.


September 2012

Viv and my first sleepover without The Man. We went to Rochester for my cousin’s wedding, and The Man followed the next morning. Viv and I were playing in the hotel room and I captured this picture of us on my iphone. I remember being amazed at how big she looked, and now I can’t believe she was ever that small!


October 2012

Candid pictures are my favorite.  I so rarely have candid pictures of myself, since I’m usually behind the camera.   The look of joy on The Man and my faces says it all.  Vivian was quiet and peaceful during her baptism, and Father Yanas was beaming when he welcomed her into the Church.

November 2012








I was getting Vivian dressed to go to Grandma’s for the day, and had to set her down on the cocktail table to get her hat on.  Luke and Lacey hopped over and started sniffing her “new” hat. Her face totally captures what I imagine her thinking: “what the….”



My sweet darling on Christmas. December was a hard month for me. There were so many beautiful pictures of Vivian from December, but when I see many, I remember how broken I felt.  Christmas was joyful and wonderful and happy. The look of wonder on her face brings me peace.



What a whirlwind 2012 was. The highs were the highest, and with that, the lows were the lowest.  I am going into 2013 with new goals, strategies, and a heart fuller than it has ever been.  Here’s to the next year!




(make sure to take a moment to check out all of the other bloggers who linked up to the Farewell to 2012 party!)




A weekend history lesson

While in Elmira over Thanksgiving weekend, I brought up the possibility of stopping by Woodlawn Cemetery to take in the sights.  Strange, right?  Well, perhaps you don’t know of the historical significance of Woodlawn Cemetery.

First Stop was brilliant American author Samuel L. Clemens, known more commonly by his pen name, Mark Twain.

Samuel Clemens spent many summers in Elmira at Quarry farm.  During his stays, he wrote some of his most famous works, such as  The Adventures of Tom Sawyer Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, and A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court. His wife’s family, the Langdon’s, were apparently Elmira socialites.  Although he lived a number of places (Buffalo and Connecticut) , he was buried in his wife’s family plot at the Woodlawn Cemetery.

Mr. Clemens married Olivia Langdon in 1970 and they had four children.  Their first born, a son, Langdon, died before the age of two.  His daughters  Olivia Susan, Clara, and Jean, each survived to adulthood.

However, in 1896, at age 24, Olivia Susan (“Susy”), died of spinal meningitis. Her gravestone is inscribed with beautiful words, which I discovered was from a poem written by Robert Richardson: “Warm summer sun shine kindly here, Warm southern wind blow softly here, Green sod above, lie light, lie light — Good night, dear heart, Good night, good night.”

A few years later, in 1904, his wife Olivia died while living in Italy.

Finally, in 1909, his youngest daughter Jean died on Christmas Eve by drowning in the bathtub following what was suspected to be a heart attack brought on by an epileptic seizure. Her gravestone features a line from Macbeth (“After life’s fitful fever, she sleeps well”), and a note that her desolate father lay the stone.

The next year, in 1910, Samuel Clemens died of a heart attack at aged 74.  Interestingly, he was born a few weeks after Halley’s comet’s closest approach to the Earth, and died a day after its next appearance.  There were a few pencils left by his grave, as well as a number of coins on the headstone.

(Vivian soaking up some creative juices for her career as a world-famous author.  Note the pencil to the left.)

After his remaining daughter Clara, was widowed, she erected the “Mark Twain monument” in honor of her father and her late husband.

(my father and Viv in front of the monument.  Parenting Rule #1: never wake a sleeping baby, even for photo ops)

(inscription on the Mark Twain monument)

She was also buried in the family plot after her death in 1962, along with her daughter and her second husband.

After soaking up some literary inspiration, we headed over to a newer portion of the Cemetery for some athletic awakening.
Ernie Davis was the first African-American Heisman Trophy recipient. He was awarded the trophy in his senior year playing football for Syracuse University.
A lifelong Elmira resident, he played for Elmira Free Academy (my father’s alma mater). Shortly after he was drafted to the professional league, he was diagnosed with leukemia and died.
On a more personal note, Ernie Davis’ mother, Avis Fleming, was lucky enough to be roommates with my Nanny when they were both hospitalized in St. Joseph’s Hospital!  At the time, it was discussed with her that there was a rumor that a movie about her son would be made.  She replied that it was something that was always floated around, but that she doubted it would ever happen.  The movie, The Express, was released a few months after she passed.
After doing some sleuthing, we were unable to locate the graves of my mother’s aunt and uncle, Betty and Stew Wheeler.  Hopefully we can do some research and come visit them next time.
But by that point, we were feeling ambitious.  So we headed out of the public cemetery  and over to Woodlawn National Cemetery to pay our respects to those who served our country. Tune back for tomorrow’s continued history lesson!