My Favorite Personalized Necklace

Tuesday, July 7, 2020

 



There were pros and cons to not knowing whether our baby would be a boy or a girl. It drove me kind of crazy when I was pregnant, but nothing will ever match that exhilarating feeling when I gave it my all for one final push, and a nurse told us it was a girl (actually, neither B nor I heard her the first time — we were staring deep into each other's eyes, in awe that it, boy or girl, was finally here and healthy).

Not knowing what I'd be holding, I wasn't attached to much yet. We had a name picked out for both a boy and a girl, but I couldn't imagine which we'd be saying once babe was earth-side. We had a couple outfits too, but I just kept wondering, who's going to be wearing them?! So, once Neda was here, it felt like a blank slate. And one of the first things I wanted was a piece of jewelry to wear daily that'd remind me of her.

My sister and I didn't leave an Etsy shop untouched, and I decided on a delicate gold necklace with Neda's name. It was a splurge, but it was something I'd keep for decades and eventually pass on to her, so, worth it. Weeks later, the necklace broke and the customer service left me dry — in a time with hospital bills rolling in, I'd wasted a lot of money.

I wish I had known about Haverhill Collection then. I was recently gifted a birthstone necklace, and love the subtle nod to our family with all three of our birthstones. I wear it almost every day, and it's like they're always with me (which, these days, they kind of are ;) Neda and B are the most important things in my life, and I love wearing this as a daily reminder.

I love the birthstone bracelets and earrings, too. And if you're not on the market for something personalized, there are lots of other cute pieces, too. I love that ours tells the story of our lives right now, and I can't wait to pass it on to Neda when I'm older and grayer xo

P.S. Haverhill Collection is offering readers 15% off with code MAKETHEMOST. 

(This post was sponsored by Haverhill Collection. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Make the Most.)

Neda & Mommy's Matching Tie Dye

Monday, June 29, 2020


Questions for you: How often is too often to match Neda (oops, oops and oops again)? And how much tie dye is too much tie dye for our closets (oops, oops and oops again)? I'm slightly obsessed with both, ha :) I like to think we both (Neda and I, that is) are. Our matching Just About Dyed sweatsuits are our quarantine uniforms. We're so grateful for Kim for making them just as we (yes, we!) imagined. 



I had seen and loved this Free People sweatshirt but didn't love the price tag, so I'm thankful Kim was able to recreate it with more vibrant colors and make something similar for Neda, too :) Look how happy she is to be matching me!

 

Neda has a romper, and I have a matching sweatsuit. I asked for the pants in gray to switch it up because I knew I wouldn't wear the two together. I don't have the guts! I'm a nerdy corporate communications specialist, not a fashion blogger! But I've been rocking the pants at daycare pickup this week and even got a few nice compliments on my short walk over today. 

 


We didn't even ask Brian if he wanted a set — he probably does, right? Lucky for him, there will be more opportunities, I'm sure of it. I love all of Kim's ready-made pieces, but I also can't recommend her enough if you have a vision you want created. She's extremely responsive and kind, with impeccable attention to detail. And she has fair pricing, which is big because since tie dye sweatsuits have become a thing they've also become unreasonably expensive.


Tie dye is the quarantine fashion staple, and if your household is anything like ours, we're not going anywhere anytime soon, so I suggest adding a sweatsuit to your closet :)


(This post was sponsored by Just About Dyed. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Make the Most.)

Year Four

Thursday, June 18, 2020


Oh, what a year. This time last year feels like years ago. So much has happened since (big things, small things). I'm writing this blog post from home, where I've been working for the past three months. My daughter (I have a daughter!) is back in daycare after 15 weeks. My husband, who I've spent almost every hour of every day with for 93 days, is working at his desk 10 feet away from me, and it'll be like this for the foreseeable future. We're in the middle of a global pandemic and a civil rights movement. Everything has felt upside down for weeks, and I've spent the majority of it feeling anxious and overwhelmed. But, sitting here right now, I feel a sense of peace and gratuity. On this day, I'm reminded of what, who, keeps me grounded and how lucky I am for the support.

Today marks four years married to Brian, who was my partner long before then but it has been solidified over and over again since, especially this past year. I'm proud of a lot of things in my life, but our partnership is on top of the list. It feels silly to call a marriage an accomplishment, but this decision is the best I've ever made. I'm a better, smarter, happier person for it, and I'm so thankful for B.

To celebrate our anniversary, just like years one, two and three, we each answered some questions separately and then shared them with each other. I asked my Instagram followers to send me questions a few months ago, and these are all from that ask! Thank you, thank you!

I love you so much, B xo

1. After becoming parents, what has surprised you most about your partner?

L: B’s ability to never run out of energy. I feel like I’m always tired trying to juggle a million things, but he’s always ready to take over and seems to be juggling effortlessly. I’ll put Neda on our bed with some Cheerios and have her listen to her Spotify playlist so I can lay down for a second, but B’s always ready to play and explore. This is true to his personality, but it has surprised me how he can give 100% so much of the time.

Also, the fact that nothing seems to bother him. Between labor and delivery and some postpartum woes, B has truly seen me at my physical and mental worst, but he never flinches. He was there for every single one of the doctor's appointments for Neda, and all of mine and hers postpartum, always by my side. Sometimes even taking her to hers alone. There's no way I would have ever believed that this man would be doing and seeing some of the things he has this past year on our first date.

B: One thing that applies to both of us that surprised me was how quickly our mood can change based on something small that Neda does. I feel like there have been many times when one of us has been tired, or frustrated or annoyed by something (maybe, perhaps, possibly even by something annoying or frustrating Neda is doing at that moment), and then with one laugh, or wiggle, or smile, or sound it snaps us out of whatever is frustrating us. I didn't think we'd be swayed as easily as we are.

 
 

2. When they are at their lowest, what is the one thing you know you can say/do to break through?

L: B’s pretty good at acknowledging when he needs to take a break and change scenery. In fact, early on in quarantine he was unexplainably grumpy for the first time in our relationship (10 years!), and the “funk” feeling was so unnatural for him, he brought it up for weeks — “remember when I was grumpy that Monday?”

But if he’s deep in stress or sadness, encouraging him to do something else together, like go for a walk, watch a funny show on the couch or get Wendy’s Frosties goes a long way. He resets fairly quickly but needs that time away from his thoughts to do it.

B: I think just listening to her and helping her talk through whatever is bothering her and seeing if we can figure out something to make the situation better. Even if we're both at a loss, it seems like being able to get whatever is on her mind out in the open can help make it feel less overwhelming or terrible. Hugs and jokes are helpful too, but I think the biggest impact is just being available to listen to whatever is on her mind. Sometimes you just need to talk it out.

3. “It would make me a better person if I were more like you in the way you...”

L: Listen. And are patient. I’m notoriously bad at both, and I want to do better.

B: Thought ahead, paid attention to what I was doing, wrote things down. Ladan is both an epically talented planner and owner of an epic planner that is the key to her day-to-day life. I live pretty much one day at a time, and by my work calendar. If it isn't on there, there's pretty much no chance I'm going to remember to be at the right place at the right time. Being more like her would eliminate some minor annoyances in my own life (forgetting to pack something, losing things, double-booking weekend plans), but the real ways it would make me a better person are helping me be more thoughtful (she probably already has some brilliant gift ideas for next Christmas) and helping my manage my time better (which would allow me more chances to do nice/fun things with others). She's an inspiration.  


4. What has been the best/most rewarding part of watching your partner become a parent?

L: I leaned a lot on Brian during the first few months of Neda’s life, and I beat myself up for it. We introduced a bottle earlier than I had hoped, and I felt guilty about it. As her mom, I thought I was supposed to be feeding her all of her meals, changing all of her diapers, always being the face she saw in the middle of the night. I called him to come home during the middle of the workday once — Neda was being especially colicky, and I wasn’t sure what to do. I spent that afternoon crying in our bedroom. I felt defeated and ashamed.

The way Brian has stepped up from day one (of Neda’s life and our relationship) has blown me away. He builds both me and Neda up daily, and we couldn’t do anything we do without him. Accepting his help hasn’t been easy for me, but the support and love he shows all day, every day, is unbelievable. Neda smiles instantly at the sight of him. He’s fun, he’s helpful, and he’s always there. Brian was meant for this role.

B: I'm not sure I'll be able to adequately describe this. It has been amazing to see the exponential expansion of Ladan's love as a mother. Her love for Neda is so deep, so fierce, and so strong. I've always felt loved by Ladan, but to see the way she loves Neda has really been something else. I fear for the first person that does something mean to Neda. Sometimes you can see in the way she looks at her or squeezes her just how deep the love runs. Makes me smile every time.

 

5. What qualities of each other's do you hope Neda inherits?

L: I’m the dreamer in the relationship, and I hope she has the same ambition. I have enough business ideas to try a new one monthly for the next few decades, I want to see the world, I have visions for Neda’s future big girl room in our Chicago home but also living in the south of France with her. I want her to have big goals, and I want to do whatever I can to help her reach them.

That said, I want her to be level-headed, like Brian, and to have balance in her life, like him. She already seems to have my strong personality, but I’d love for her to have a bit of his calm and cool demeanor. I want her to be kind, selfless and smart, like him. Good at sports (good at everything he tries, really), always up for an adventure and putting others first. She’s incredibly lucky to have B as her dad, he’s the best influence she could have.

B: I hope Neda inherits Ladan's love, her work ethic, her appreciation of a good analogy, her passion, her belief in her ability to do anything, her sense of care for others and willingness to go the extra mile for those she loves. 


6. What's been your happiest memory this past year?

L: It’s to be expected, I know, but the moment Neda was born. It was a rush of emotions I’ve never experienced before and likely never will again. I was proud of myself and my body for bringing this life into the world, and I was proud of Brian for coaching me through it. I loved her instantly, and life suddenly felt more whole. I was so terrified of pregnancy, labor and delivery, that I didn’t expect it to be as beautiful as it was, and I hadn’t put much thought into the after — having this baby and adding her (her, a girl!), to our family. Life seemed to change entirely in one second and outside of Neda and her dad, nothing else mattered. 

B: Pretty hard to compete with the early hours of 9/14/19. Looking at each other right after Neda was born and realizing that she was here and they were both healthy. It was a surreal and exhilarating experience. Every year has been filled with good memories, but that one is pretty well burned into my brain.  

 
 

7. How would you describe the feeling of being in love in one word?

L: Security.

B: Dope. 

8. What do you think your most important similarity is?

L: Our love for each other and putting family first. I’m not sure what our family will look like in the future, but for now, the three of us are each other’s’ main priority. That gets me (us, I think) through thick and thin. It’s something we both brought to this relationship early on. We’re both incredibly close to our own immediate families and each other’s. That influences a lot of the decisions we make and that might not have been the case if we weren’t similar in this way.

B: I think the value we both place on spending time with our families is a big one, including setting aside time for our own now three-person family. If we weren't similar in that regard, I think it would be hard for the other person to understand why we are spending weekends away from the city with regularity (or, in the case of a global pandemic, why we are spending months away from the city...). It's a blessing to have our families so close by and I'm glad we are able to take advantage of that often.  


9. What about the other person is hardest for you to understand?

L: I make a lot of mistakes, but I feel I diversify them. I probably won’t make the same one twice. Sometimes I feel like Brian has chosen his mistakes and made a commitment to them. Like, he’s supposed to enter his time for work on a regular basis, and he always puts it off. Once or twice this has come up during performance conversations... and he still doesn’t put in his time until last minute (sometimes forgetting). Just put in your time at the end of every day! Right? But, this is coming from someone who doesn’t procrastinate. I pack my gym bag for Monday on Friday night. So, I guess we’re just different that way :)

B: This is going to sound like a joke answer, but it's not a joke answer. On Fridays when Ladan comes home from a long week of work, she comes in the house and sets down her stuff and looks like she is about to relax and unwind and start her weekend. But that's not what she does. What she does is she goes into our bedroom, pulls some gym clothes out, and packs her gym bag for the following Monday morning. Not a single fiber of my being can relate to this behavior.

 
 

10. Is there anything the other has changed your mind on over the years?

L: I kind of answered this last year — a lot of things. Over the years, there have been many things I’ve sworn I’d never do, or say, or be. And then, at some point in the future, I’ve done or said or been them. I can point to countless examples B has influenced (mainly, being a wife, mom and homeowner). But it goes beyond that. I’m pretty firm in my political and religious beliefs, and I always imagined finding a partner that mirrored them. B and I agree on many things in this regard, but we likely disagree more. He’s educated me a lot on both, and even if I don’t always agree, I can better see the other side.

B: Most certainly. I can be stubborn, but my opinions aren't impenetrable. Lately one of her favorite sayings is "you never regret working out." (I'm sensing a theme after the previous question.) I would like to maintain that there are a number of workouts that I regret. But, since she's started saying that I don't think there has been any activity I finished and regretted doing. She has a steel trap memory for details like this and I'm sure she has numerous examples of things I've said were bad, or dumb, or I wouldn't like, and then later indicated my opinion has changed.

 

11. Any regrets from the past year
?

L: I didn’t give myself an ounce of grace after Neda was born. I remember Brian running to get me a mortadella sandwich the day after she was born, and I was alone in the hospital room with her for the first time. Overwhelmed, I turned on my work laptop… I was in love with her, but she was so squishy and I felt I had no maternal instincts. Work, on the other hand, was familiar. Similarly, I maintained my freelance assignments while on maternity leave, cranking out pieces the first few days we were home. I needed to focus on something I felt I was good at. I have horrible memories of writing headlines at 3am while trying to get Neda to latch. It was all too much and took a toll on me physically and mentally. The routine would come, and I should have sat still and soaked it all in instead of juggling dozens of unnecessary things that could have waited.

B: Maybe some minor ones. Not doing even more fun stuff with friends and family, or more traveling. Not going camping. Not doing anything about the uneven floors and windows with broken seals in our house. Not working out my back more. The first three months of the past year were the final preparations for Neda, then the next six months were a crash course in taking care of a baby, and now the last three months have been in various phases of quarantine. It's been a weird, but very fun and rewarding year. We are extra lucky to have gotten to spend so much time with Neda over the last 9 months, which has been the most significant part of the year and something I'll never regret.

P.S. You can see all of our wedding and honeymoon photos here!

Happy Birthday, Brian!

Thursday, May 21, 2020


I want to sit down and write a long post on Brian's birthday, how grateful we are for him and how special he is. I want to include a bunch of pictures from the last year (oh, what a year it has been!). But I don't know if there will ever be time for that these days, so, for now, this is what we're putting on our Internet scrapbook (a day late...) so we never forget this special day, which we spent with B's parents (who we're temporarily living with for some extra helping hands): We adore you, BLH. No one on this earth supports us like you do. Thank you for being a loving and kind husband, and an exceptional father. We couldn't be luckier to be quarantining with you <3

The Perfect Sweatshirt (That Gives Back!)

Wednesday, April 8, 2020

 

Shannon Buth of House of Shan is truly superwoman to me. She’s a mom of four boys that’s running her own business, one that’s driving the fashion and non-profit company forward. She’s also fit and gorgeous and just makes you want to do better in every aspect of your life. She makes it all look effortless, but as someone who’s currently juggling one babe and one job, I know it’s not effortless at all. So much hard work goes into what Shannon does, and it’s inspiring to see it paying off.

I interviewed Shannon to talk about the beautiful clothes she sells, the message behind them and how proceeds benefit women’s charities always and health care workers right now. I love my Live What You Love sweatshirt and what it stands for (Shannon, make onesies, please!). More on that below xx

Tell me more about House of Shan.

I started my blog and website as a way to connect with women. Women thrive when we come together, support one another and lift each other up. I felt drawn to start my blog in the beginning of 2019. The logo is an imperfect heart because none of us are perfect, and we're all just doing the best we can.

What made you start the business?
My mom was dying of cancer in March 2015. She came to Chicago for one final trip. She was very sick but also determined to come and see her grandbabies one last time. When she was visiting, a friend of mine came over and gifted my mom and I matching bracelets that had “live what you love” engraved on them. I can’t explain it, but those four words resonated with me on an extremely deep level. My mom died a month later at 67 years old, and it changed my entire outlook on life. I truly felt that from that day on I was going to live each day with a purpose and always live what I love. Life is entirely too short — we need to live with passion, laughter and positivity every single day.

You're doing some great charitable work right now. Tell me about that.

Yes! Thanks for asking. This is what truly excites me. The fact that women can wear a product with a positive message and give back at the same time. I donate $5 from every purchase to women's charities. I started in December, and I have raised $3,000 for House of Good Shepherd. This is a special place that takes in families that are victims of domestic violence.

When this pandemic began, my dear friends created a GoFundMe page — Feed Our Frontlines. 100% of donations provide warm meals for our hospital workers who are on long, brutal shifts, while also supporting local restaurants who supply the meals. I have doubled my order donation to $10 an order, and each order right now buys a meal for a hospital worker. We've already been able to donate over 100 meals to Feed Our Frontlines.

How do you manage being a business owner and mom?
I honestly just get it in when I can. My boys come first, but my husband is so supportive of what I'm doing, and when he gets home from work, he knows that I need an hour… or three… to get things done. It's a tag-team effort. Some days I can't do anything for my business, and I have to realize that’s okay, too. We're all doing the best we can to balance it all.

Give us one piece of fashion advice.
My piece of fashion advice is always the same: If you love it, then it’s in fashion. Don't worry about what anyone else thinks, just own it. Wear what makes you happy, and be you. 

Give us one piece of parenting advice.
I screw up things daily as a parent. Someday I wish I would’ve handed something differently or not yelled, but my kids all know I love them because I tell them daily. I also tell them I'm sorry when I mess up. I think keeping those lines of communication open and honest is the most important thing as a parent.

Thank you, Shannon! You’re an inspiration. Check out Shannon’s blog here and her shop her beautiful collection here.

(This post was sponsored by House of Shan. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Make the Most.)

Spring Refresh & Social Distancing...

Wednesday, March 18, 2020


Hi. How are you feeling? We've been spending almost all of our time inside these days, but every time I pass people on the street, they are taking about the same thing: the COVID-19 pandemic. It seems to be top of mind for everyone. So, tell me, how are you? 

Right now, for our family, life feels ominous. Neda's school is closed. Brian's department asked everyone to work from home, so he's been doing taxes from a laptop in various rooms the past few days. My office closed recently, and I'm doing my best to align conference calls with nap time. We've avoided big public groups, and we bought a couple extra jars of peanut butter and Oreos. We're greeting people with elbow taps or waves, instead of hugs and cheek kisses. I'm assuming that, in days or weeks, things will continue to tighten up. It's a strange feeling. 

But, we're trying to make the most of things (ha!). While we're quarantined in our little apartment, we're doing some spring cleaning and bringing some excitement into our day-to-day routine. While I'm in a big decluttering mode (why do I have bags upon bags full of gift bags and wrapping paper?!), I've introduced a few new items to our little space that are cheering us up these days.

First up, the most important news of all and our biggest bright spot: Neda is eating solids! And she's loving it. We gave her sweet potatoes on Sunday, and she couldn't get enough. She was so into it and insisted on feeding herself. I love her passion for food and independence so much. Since Sunday, she's been living for her daily fruit or vegetable serving, and we have, too. I love this exploration time with her, it's as if everything else stops.






I also wanted to share our new posters MetropolisPrints. How cool are they?! Kurt from MetropolisPrints sent them to us, and we are obsessed. We customized them with a memorable cities we've visited, a few on deck and a few we dream to visit with Neda. We love traveling so much, I love having these as the center of our kitchen.








We've been spending a lot of time in our kitchen these days, since we're all home and all always hungry :) Making waffles together a few nights ago was so fun. We got this waffle maker and batter dispenser from Wayfair a few weeks ago, and we all look forward to waffle nights. Is it hard to clean up? Sure. Worth it? Absolutely.



We've also been spicing up our mornings with hearty breakfasts to get us through crazy mornings. Sometimes I'll look at the clock, and it's already noon. Shoot! Did I feed Neda? We should have eaten breakfast. My coffee is ice cold! We LOVE this egg scramble. It has everything delicious and is super easy to make. I love that we can make it in one pan (our Le Creuset cast iron pan), and you can serve it in that, too. We've mustered up the courage to host friends at our house again (after a six-month Neda hiatus), and this is on the menu for brunch next week!

Also, I upgraded our measuring spoons, something I should have done years ago. Our old measuring spoons were hand-me-downs that were hand-me-downs to their previous owner. They were bent and flimsy. Something so simple has sparked a lot of kitchen joy the past few weeks.

That's the motto of everything right now, really. Small changes that bring a smile. We need those smiles right now. It's such an anxious time. Hang in there; sending you lots of love <3

Shop the post: posters, waffle maker, batter dispenser, pan, measuring spoons 

(This post was sponsored by Wayfair. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Make the Most.)

Traveling on a Plane With Littles!

Monday, March 9, 2020


As soon as I found out I was pregnant last winter, I started fantasizing about the vacations we'd take as a family of three. I couldn't wait to start planning a trip, and I was committed to squeezing one in while I was on maternity leave. But, after having Neda, I was overwhelmed, and the thought of jumping on a plane with a squishy (& colicky) baby felt impossible and unnecessary. But that's when Brian (who refused to fantasize with me when I was pregnant — "one thing at a time," he says) was like "LET'S DO THIS." So, we did! We took three-month-old Neda moosh to Huntington Beach for a few days, and it was a few days I'll cherish forever and ever. It was nothing like our old vacations (I don't think I had a sip of wine!), but it was so fun. Experiencing life through her eyes is truly fascinating, and I know it's only going to get better :)




Before we left for California, I asked my Instagram followers whether we should go (a resounding yes!) and for any advice. The tips below helped us so much! Sharing in case you're looking to travel with littles, too. And, of course, some photos from our trip to Huntington Beach!



 — When booking your trip, try to find a flight that works well with your kids’ schedules. For example, if you can find a flight during your child’s usual nap time, SCORE! A lot of friends said they love red eye flights because their kids sleep through them no matter what (and a sleeping baby on a plane is well worth your own neck ache or zombie walk the following day). We didn't have that luxury on this trip (Neda's naps were all over the place!), but now that her sleep is very routine, we'll be taking note for the future.



— If you’re traveling with a stroller, check it at the gate so you can use it throughout the airport (don’t check it with your bags). If you don't have a stroller bag (we do, and it serves as insurance for the stroller), bring a few extra large heavy duty black garbage bags to wrap it in at the door of the plane (after you walk down the ramp) to protect it from getting hurt or dirty when stored under the plane. Make sure to get your tags to attach to your stroller or garbage bags before leaving it at the door of the plane.



— We used the car seat as the stroller seat, so we also brought this to the gate (and had this bag ready to go for checking it in). Even if she wasn't using that as the seat, I'd still bring it to the gate anyway. Because...

— Once you get the gate, be sure to go up and check in straight away. They will give you tags for your stroller and/or car seat if you have both/either and also help you board the plane first, which is helpful so you can get situated before all hell breaks loose (just kidding). Also, ask if the flight is full at this time! If it isn't, they'll likely let you bring on your car seat and give the baby its own (free) seat. This really helped on the way to LAX, Neda was so cozy in her car seat the whole time.




— If you’re traveling with a baby, nurse or bottle feed or give them a pacifier during take-off and landing. That constant sucking and swallowing motion can help with the plane changing pressure considerably. For toddlers, give them something to eat during this time so they are also chewing.




— Pack a carry on full of new surprises! Neda was obviously too young to care on this trip, but the diaper bag will be stuffed with things on upcoming trips — a new book, toys or stuffed animals.



— Bring something that's comforting from home. At only six-months-old, Neda won't sleep anywhere without her beloved stuffed octopus (but will sleep anywhere with him.. or her... TBD). We have a few trips planned for later this year, and the thought of landing without the octopus keeps me up at night!




— When the seat belt sign is turned off and it’s okay to move around, take a walk up and down the aisles. It’s hard enough for me as an adult to sit still for an hour or two, so I can’t imagine forcing a child to.




— Be communicative with the people around you, if you can. Sometimes it’s nice to say hello when you sit down and apologize up front for any crying or spilling or chaos that may break loose at some point during the flight, and let them know you will do your best to keep it to a minimum.




Lastly, stay flexible with your itinerary, pace yourself and have fun! It'll be crazy, but it'll be worth it. Bon voyage!