Chatbooks: A Photo Printing Service I Love!

Anyone who knows me well, knows that I love photos! I love taking pictures both of special occasions and everyday moments. It is so much fun for me to look back at memories from over the years. With the accessibility and popularity of smart phones, taking photos has never been easier! Which is great for people like me - the only issue is where to put all of these images! I needed a solution to my picture problem.... Enter CHATBOOKS!

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Toddler Learning + Fun with Playboxes!

Earlier this summer, my friend Dina sent me a package from Playboxes and I’m so excited to partner with them on this blog post. A Playbox is a curated box of toys based on your child’s age and developmental stage. Each of the toys is handpicked by child development experts and it comes with an explanation of each of the toys and ways your child can learn with them. Dina asked me about Adina’s age and interests ahead of time and a few days later, we got a box full of new toys that she couldn’t wait to play with!

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Our Breastfeeding Journey

I have loved reading so many powerful stories this #worldbreastfeedingweek and since Adina and I weaned just a few weeks ago, I was inspired to get personal and share our breastfeeding journey. Nursing for us started off tough and was not always easy. Adina was taken to the NICU minutes after she was born and didn't get to do skin-to-skin or breastfeed right away. It took a little while for my milk to come in and in the early days, Adina would fall asleep as soon as she would latch on. There were many tears (from both of us.) She would cry and cry before and after feedings and for a long time I felt really defeated and guilty, like I couldn't feed my child. I thought this was supposed to be "so natural" but it was really, really hard.

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I was pumping before and after feedings and trying every trick in the book to increase my milk supply. I remember chugging water, drinking raspberry leaf tea, eating lactation cookies, taking fenugreek herbs, and cooking with brewer’s yeast to help. In hindsight, I wish I had spent less time doing all of these things and worrying and prioritized resting and recovering more during those early days. All of the stress I experienced surrounding breastfeeding (on top of the already high level of stress associated with being a first-time mom and having a newborn to care for) caused me lots of anxiety.

Because of my own struggles, I developed a new level of respect for all mothers and what they do and go through for their babies. There are so many obstacles that come with breastfeeding - oversupply, undersupply, engorgement, mastitis, plugged ducts, tongue ties, thrush, chapped nipples, cluster feeds... and oftentimes, a lot of physical and emotional pain. Some mothers exclusively pump, some cannot breastfeed at all and some choose not to. No matter how you feed your baby, nourishing and nurturing your child takes incredible strength.

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Adina and I stuck with it and SLOWLY things got better. As she grew, she wasn't as colick-y and I began to feel more confident. Once she started eating solid foods, things also improved since she wasn’t relying solely on breastmilk or formula for nutritional nourishment. Between doing weighted feedings, attending breastfeeding support group meetings and reading online support forums, working with a IBCLC, and supplementing with formula (which was one of the best things we could've done for our breastfeeding relationship), we were determined to make it work. I offered her breastfeeding whenever it was time for a feeding and gave her a bottle of formula afterwards if she was still hungry. Although I was reluctant to give her formula at first (for fear of affecting my milk supply and feeling like *I* wasn’t enough), it was SUCH a huge relief once it became part of our routine. I didn’t worry about if she was hungry or not and I liked that I could see how many ounces of milk she was drinking. With breastfeeding, it always felt so mysterious since I couldn’t see or measure how much milk she was getting.

And I am BEYOND grateful that we were able to stick it out because I actually became so attached to breastfeeding! Around 11 months, Adina started to refuse her bottle. She wouldn’t drink formula from a sippy cup either and although we tried giving her whole milk, she would take one or two sips before dismissing it all together. I became so stressed all over again about feeding her! But her bottle refusal resulted in her desire to nurse more. I knew since Adina was eating almost all kinds of food, that she didn’t rely on breastfeeding to satisfy her hunger or thirst; it became more of a comfort to her. I did find it a little bit ironic that she picked up her interest in nursing around her first birthday after a year of ups and downs in that department. But I didn’t mind. Nursing a toddler was a whole different ball game than nursing an infant, but it became our special thing. It was how we started and ended each day. I loved that when she was in pain or crying, I could instantly comfort and soothe her. We nursed on planes, in parks, on the beach and I wouldn't have it any other way.

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When Adina was about 15 months old, we found out I was pregnant again. I spoke with my midwives about nursing while pregnant and talked to friends about their experiences breastfeeding during pregnancy and tandem nursing. After giving it a lot of thought, I made the decision to gradually begin weaning Adina so I could give my body a little break before baby #2. I learned it is common for milk supply to decrease on its own during pregnancy anyway, so it seemed like a natural time for us to start the weaning process.

I’m glad I did it little by little because it was not easy for us. For several months, I was feeding Adina on demand (at home, in public, inside, outside, you name it!) but once I decided that I wanted to have her weaned by the time I was 6-7 months pregnant, I knew that had to change. I became much more diligent about only feeding her at home and at certain times (usually after she woke up from sleep and before bed.) So we gradually got to feeding her 4 times a day - first thing in the morning, after her 2 naps and before bed. Then I tried to drop one feeding at a time. So the first week took her first nap feeding away, the next week took away the second nap feeding and so on. (Truth be told, it took us a little longer than a week for each one, but you get the idea.) When we dropped the bedtime feeding, I relied on Michael a lot! He put her to bed every night for that whole week, which was crucial since she falls asleep for him without requesting milk.

When Adina and I were together, I tried to distract her with other things (games, snacks, water, screen time) when she asked to breastfeed and replaced those nursing sessions with something else (usually food or water.) For those few weeks, Adina was way more clingy and tantrum-y but we made it through! By July, when she was just about 20 months, we were down to the morning feed and it was the hardest one to cut off. I loved our morning routine of snuggling in bed and nursing, *especially* since Adina is an early riser. I enjoyed taking our time and lounging for 20-30 minutes before getting up for the day. But it became clear that she associated coming into my bed first thing in the morning with nursing so we had to change our routine. That meant reading books, playing games, starting breakfast, and on the super-early mornings before 6 am, watching Moana, instead of coming back into my bed right away. I also made sure to wear tops with more coverage, which helped a bit.

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We had our last morning nursing session when Adina was a couple of weeks shy of 21 months. Although I knew we were both ready, it was bittersweet when it finally ended. It’s only been a few weeks, so she still asks for it from time to time, but usually moves on to something else pretty quickly. Nursing Adina for 20 months was really hard at times and I didn’t think we would even make it passed 3 months, let alone passed a year and a half. I’m so glad we fed her formula too, since it made all of our lives easier and our nursing experience a much happier one. Despite all of the challenges we faced early on, let me tell you, it just gets better and sweeter. I will always cherish these moments with my girl that literally no one else could give to her and am grateful to have been on this journey with her. ❤️

If you have the time, I would absolutely love to hear a little snippet of your personal nursing journey! #worldbreastfeedingweek #wbw2018 #supportisbest #informedisbest #NationalBreastfeedingMonth #normalizebreastfeeding #breastfeeding

Professional photos by Faryl Loew Photography

Fire Island Independence Day Recap 2018

July 4th fell on a Wednesday this year, which made planning a getaway to celebrate a little tricky. Do you go away the weekend before into the beginning of the week? Or plan something for the end of the week? Last year we took Adina to Fire Island for her first 4th of July and had the best time! We decided to continue the tradition and spend a few days leading up to Independence Day in Fire Island this year. It was so different going out there with a 1.5 year old this time than with an 8 month old last year. Keep reading for a recap of our getaway and for photos of our festive looks!   

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Baby #2 Announcement

So our little secret is finally out - we’re expecting baby #2 in the fall! It’s been fun to keep the news between Michael and our families up until now, but it also felt amazing to be able to share our excitement with my online family - YOU! Just wanted to say a special thank you to everyone for all of the sweet comments and DM's regarding our pregnancy announcement on Instagram last week! We are feeling so loved and we truly can't wait to meet this sweet babe! I got a whole bunch of questions so I thought I’d answer them in a blog post. 

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Pom Pom Baby Sprinkle

I am so excited to finally share all of the details of the whimsical baby sprinkle we threw for my friend and beautiful second-time mama Yael a few weeks ago. My talented friend and DIY blogger Marisa of The Neon Tea Party and I got to collaborate on this special event together and it turned out better than I could have even imagined! We ate sprinkle-covered treats, shared our wishes for the baby, and made a one-of-a-kind pom pom mobile to hang in the nursery 👶🏻 Read on to see all of the sweet details of this sprinkle celebration!

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Adina's Newborn Photos

While I was pregnant, I knew I wanted to have professional newborn photos taken once Adina was born. After researching different newborn photographers, I came across Faryl Loew Photography and instantly knew I wanted to work with her. I loved how her style combined natural, candid lifestyle shots and posed photos of baby. Since Adina’s 18 month birthday last week, I’ve been feeling sentimental about how much she’s grown. I took a look at some pictures when she was first born and wanted to share her professional newborn photos with you.  

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Yes She Can: Celebrating 1 Year of Blogging!

Last week marked my one year anniversary of launching my blog Ariel Loves. Blogging was something I had thought about and wanted to do for a long time (I’m talking years!) but was too nervous to do. I didn’t fully believe in myself so I put it off for years. I finally took the plunge and launched Ariel Loves in April of last year. In honor of my one year “blogiversary,” Adina and I took some pictures together in our matching “Yes She Can” shirts. We have both grown so much in the last year and I wanted to celebrate the growth of this blog and my own growth as a mother.

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3 Passover Desserts To Satisfy Your Sweet Tooth

Passover starts tonight! What does that mean? Two back-to-back nights of late family dinners, retelling the story of the Jewish Exodus from Egypt and a week of extra dietary restrictions. It is no secret that I have a major sweet tooth! I rarely go a day without some kind of sweet treat - be it a cookie, brownie, slice of banana bread, chocolate cake... you get the picture! With a week of no cookies or cake ahead of me, I started looking up some KFP sweet treats that would satisfy my sweet tooth and found 3 mouth-watering recipes that I can't wait to try!

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How to Enjoy Vacation with a Toddler + Miami Recap

Here in NYC, it has felt like winter will never end! After months of enduring freezing temps and weekly forecasts with snow in them, Michael and I decided to plan a little getaway in sunny Miami! It was so nice to have a change of scenery and escape winter for a few days. It was our first flight with Adina in almost a year and our first beach trip with her since she can walk, so it was pretty different than traveling with a baby. I must admit, I was skeptical if Michael and I would be able to relax or enjoy our vacation since we were traveling with a 16-month-old. But we managed to pack a lot into a few days and had the best time. Keep reading to see pictures and highlights from the trip and to read my tips for enjoying yourself on vacation with a toddler!

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Girl Power Purim + DIY Rosie the Riveter Costume

Ever since I was little, Purim has been one of my favorite Jewish holidays! Costumes, partying, food - what could be more fun? This year, I’ve been thinking about the deeper meaning of the holiday and about the two strong female characters of the Purim story. Although Adina is still too young to understand this story, I want to start building holiday memories together that I’ll be able to share with her as she grows older around the theme of powerful women. Today I am sharing three ways that I am celebrating girl power this Purim.

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5 Ways to Celebrate Valentine's Day with your Toddler

Valentine’s day is almost here! Although it’s never been a major holiday in our home, I will take any opportunity to celebrate the loved ones in my life. When I was growing up, my parents would surprise my brother, sister, and me with little treats to celebrate. I remember I could find a box of chocolates under my pillow, a plush teddy bear in my backpack, or a heart-shaped Valentine’s card in my lunch box. Now that I’m a mom, I have been thinking about the traditions that I want to start with Adina for Valentine’s Day. Keep reading for inspiration for some activities to do with your kids on Valentine’s Day:

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Pretty In Pink

Happy Friday! Who else is getting into the Valentine’s Day spirit, now that it’s February? I don’t know about anyone else, but between layering up for the cold weather and dressing extra cozy this time of year, it seems like I’ve been exclusively wearing muted colors like grey and black for months. I don’t need a special reason to wear warmer tones, but the month of love is the perfect excuse to bring some color back into my wardrobe! Since the 14th is less than one week away, I thought I’d share some casual Valentine’s Day outfit inspiration.

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3 Eco-Friendly Lifestyle Changes I'm Making in 2018

Yesterday was Tu B'Shvat, a Jewish holiday that is also known as the "New Year for Trees." In anticipation of the holiday this year, I began thinking about what it means to me now as an adult. I'd like to think of myself as a pretty environmentally conscious person - after all, I bring my own canvas bags to the grocery store and carry around a reusable water bottle. But there is so much room for me to grow and live a more eco-friendly lifestyle. I'm sharing three easy, eco-friendly lifestyle changes I am resolving to do this year in the spirit of Tu B'shvat:

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How I Met Michael

This week marks my mine and Michael’s 8 year anniversary of being together. 8 whole years! So much has happened in that time. We met when we were just a couple of bright-eyed, bushy-tailed 21-year-olds. Even though we’re now “grown ups,” I still see him as the cute guy who asked me to coffee on campus. In honor of our anniversary, I thought it would be fun to take a walk down memory lane to see where it all began...

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How To Survive a NY Winter with a Toddler

Whether you’re a stay-at-home parent like me or you’re at home with your child on a snow day and weekends, New York winters can be very challenging with a toddler! Between below freezing temps and epic blizzards like the bomb cyclone, finding ways to keep your little one stimulated (and let’s be honest - ways to keep yourself sane) are not so easy. We still have 2.5 more months left of the season and I have a feeling we haven’t seen the worst of it! The other day, I asked for suggestions on Instagram and I was blown away by the number of comments and messages with incredible recommendations. They were so great that I thought I’d share some of my favorites today! Here are my top 3 tips for surviving winter with your toddler.

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Winter Stoops: Festive Holiday Homes

There is something really special about this season that makes it one of my favorite times of year here in Brooklyn.... the festive stoops! Despite the freezing cold weather, everyday as I stroll through the streets where I live, I stop dead in my tracks and am in awe of the gorgeous wreaths and lights. Read on to see some snapshots of my favorite exterior decorations for the winter holidays!

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Chanukah Home Tour 2017

I am so excited to share my Chanukah home tour of 2017 with you! Chanukah starts tonight so I wanted to get into the holiday spirit and decorate our home with festive finds. Stringing up lights, displaying our menorahs, and lighting the candles are a few of my favorite holiday things. There are few things that make me happier than the glow of the twinkling lights throughout our home….Chanukah is the festival of lights, after all! There is no time of year that I love staying home as much as I do when the Chanukah decor is out.

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Fall Family Photos

I think it’s safe to say that this past year was one of the fastest ones of my life! Once you have a child, I feel like the way you measure time changes….ever since Adina was born, I view a month or a year so differently. I often hear other people share that they wish they could freeze time or make time slow down or stand still. I feel the same way! My growing toddler was just a squishy newborn a few months ago - how has time flown by so fast?! Well sadly I can’t freeze time, but I can try to savor and capture these moments as much as I can now. I snap pictures and videos everyday on my phone, but this fall we had professional family photos taken and I love how they turned out!

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