November 20, 2014

Thanksgiving Hostess Gift Ideas

I can’t believe Thanksgiving is just one week away!  This year, ours will be very low key, unlike last year when I hosted my very first Thanksgiving (see the tablescape here!).  My parents are coming to Miami to meet their new grand baby and lucky for Rick and me, my mom is going to take the lead on the Thanksgiving dinner.  Just for the record, she makes the best stuffing known to mankind.  #justsayin

Okay, for all of you who have been invited to someone’s home for this delicious holiday, don’t forget your  hostess gift!  I would say that hosting Thanksgiving is like the Taj Mahal of dinner parties.  And because I hosted last year I know that it’s no small feat from a financial perspective either!  To help you out, I curated a list of some simple Thanksgiving hostess gift ideas from price points starting at $10.  Now, get shopping (all sources/links are listed below)!  You only have one week left!

Thanksgiving Hostess Gifts


1.  Williams Sonoma Pumpkin Waffle Pancake Mix // 2.  West Elm Metallic Glassware // 3.  Fresh Flowers (a $10 bunch from your local grocer is totally acceptable!) // 4.  Pottery Barn Monogram Napkins // 5.  West Elm Pillow Cover // 6. Harry & David Pumpkin Pecan Coffee // 7.  Glassybaby “Pumpkin” Candle Holder (10% of proceeds will be donated to food banks to feed the hungry!)

November 18, 2014

Zoey Ai Ueno

Well, you may have noticed I have been a bit MIA lately.  You know, just having a baby and what not.  Yes, after a long journey, I am over-the-top humbled to introduce Zoey Ai Ueno into this world!  I will share a bit more on her birth story in the coming weeks.  In the meantime, a few people have asked me about her name so here’s the story.

192 364

Rick has loved the name Zoey for quite some time.  He knew that if he had a baby girl, that was her name (meanwhile I had no idea of this).  Coincidentally, about 5 or so months ago, when I was going through my list of favorite names, Zoey was on there.  (Elle, Eloise, Vivienne, Julia, Giuliana and Noelle were a few of the other contenders of which Rick declined all in about 24 seconds).  And in a very casual conversation, we agreed to name this little girl Zoey, mainly because we just loved the name.

After our decision was made and we started calling her by name regularly, I looked up the meaning of her name.  Life.  Zoey means life.  I cried when I saw that.  Even right this moment typing, it amazes me.  After four miscarriages, this little one was part of God’s plan to live and see the world and to remind so many that prayers are heard.  That prayers are answered.  She is nothing short of an answered prayer. For years (literally), friends, family, my bible study groups, various friends at our church and actually, some people we barely know have been praying for us, for this child.  A child that is filled with life, that has brought us a new meaning to our own lives.  Zoey.  Ahhh, my heart just aches and explodes for this little one, this little life.

As for her middle name, that decision was much harder.  While I brought ideas to the table, Rick really wanted to give her a Japanese middle name.  I agreed.  One day, should she marry (and hopefully she does!), Ueno {likely} goes away and it was important to Rick, to us, that we incorporate his culture into her name so it stays with her forever.  After Rick and I brainstormed and landed nowhere, he called his Auntie Lillian (who also has been praying for us for years).  This auntie of Ricks is a SPECIAL, special woman.  She is a God-fearing, kind-hearted, caring, loving woman.  Probably the most generous woman I know.  I think she cried more tears about our successful pregnancy than I did!  We love her like a mother.

And in that phone conversation, she and Rick came up with Ai, which means love in Japanese.  It was perfect.  It is perfect.  This little girl has been loved even before God created her.  She has brought the meaning of love to an entirely new level for Rick and me.  Words cannot describe it, really.  But for all you moms out there, you likely understand.  She also has made Rick and I fall in love, again, in a way that is whole and sweet and coveted.  Ai. Love.  It just made sense.  It makes sense.

Zoey Ai Ueno.

Life, love.  An answered prayer.  A GIANT blessing.  A gift from God that Rick and I are humbled and honored to be given the responsibility to raise her and love her well.

November 6, 2014

Dilate Like a Boss

You know when you are in the midst of stress, excitement, anxiety, fear, joy, worry, happiness and your friends know exactly what to say to you to make you feel better?  Yeah, me either.  Because let’s be honest, what can they say?  Well, last night as I was texting some friends about the arrival of this little girl (who is now 2 days past her due date and overstaying her welcome just a tad), all those emotions were in me as I explained how I would be getting induced.  Her response?  Dilate like a boss.  Dilate like a boss?!  Honestly, no words or advice or anything could have been better in that moment.  Because laughter sometimes cures everything.  And in this case, it did.

40 weeks

So tonight is the night that Rick and I venture to Mt. Sinai hospital to get induced.  Because this past Monday, this little girl’s estimated weight was 8lbs 6oz and if we can imagine for a second how giant that is for a baby…yeah…you get the point.  I mean, that wasn’t the actual reason for scheduling the inducement.  But, in my mind it’s a pretty big factor, pun intended.

In addition to the aforementioned emotions above and the amazing advice from my friend, the last 3-4 weeks I actually have been grieving.  When I think about not being pregnant, it hurts my heart.  She and I have been on this 10 month journey together and the intimacy is remarkable.  She has made me laugh with her hiccups.  She’s kicked me to the point of minor pain.  She’s caused me worry.  And joy.  And she has brought me closer to God.  My guess is this may be a foreshadowing of what’s to come.  But until then, I have to admit, I am actually going to be sad to not have this belly anymore.  And to not talk to her and laugh at myself about the things I say to her when nobody is around.  It’s a miraculous, beautiful, mind-blowing gift from God that I really can’t fully get my arms around. And tonight/tomorrow/some point in the next couple days, the pregnancy ends.  I never ever thought I would be sad about this.  But I am.

And this morning, a dear friend sent me this bible verse:

A woman giving birth to a child has pain because her time has come; but when her baby is born she forgets the anguish because of her joy that a child is born into the world.  John 16:21

Aha!  So I am not crazy for grieving.  God said it.  He said that a woman would have pain because of this.  And in this case, I don’t think he means physical pain, I think he means emotional pain.  And because God is God and He never stops at the pain, he continues and he offers hope.  But when her baby is born she forgets the anguish because of her joy that a child is born into the world.  Hallelujah!  This was exactly what I needed to hear today.  Gosh it’s awesome when friends (ahem, God) just say/write the right things at the exact right times, isn’t it?!

So that’s that.  I am going to dilate like a boss, I’m going to rejoice knowing my grief will turn to joy and in the next couple days, I will meet this little girl face-to-face.

November 4, 2014

6 Gifts for Mom-to-Be

In the last week, I have seen 3 pregnancy announcements come through Facebook.  What a blessing!  That moment is such a special time for the mom-to-be. And it got me thinking about when I first became pregnant and how so many dear friends and family members showered me with all kinds of love.  Phone calls, texts, prayers, cards, flowers and gifts.  It was such a special time that I will always cherish.

And if you are the friend or sister or cousin or co-worker that loves the art of gift-giving, this post is for you!  Here is a simple, curated list of gifts that I think are perfect for a newly pregnant friend or family member.  Whether you want to gift something really special (like, say, a Glassybaby) or something really practical (a book or gift card), one of these 6 gifts for mom-to-be will be perfect!


1.  Belly Dance Maternity Gift Card – Belly Dance is for sure my favorite maternity clothing store.  Cute, comfortable, non-frumpy clothes are CLUTCH when you are preggars!

2.  Bringing Up Bebe – Pregnancy books can be controversial and super subjective.  But hands down, this is the best pre-natal book out there and one I highly recommend.  Not that I am biased or being super subjective or anything ;)

3.  Bliss Spa Gift Card – no brainer.  Give her some pampering at one of the best spas in the U S of A.

4. Glassybaby – get her collection started!  Glassybaby is my new addiction, a perfect gift, a great price point and super special.  Check out the website, the story and the variety to choose from.  I promise you will want to buy one!

5.  David’s Tea Starter Kit – I became addicted to tea when my friend, Vaneesha, gifted me David’s Tea.  My taste buds fell in mad love.  Their tea is absolutely delicious and during the first trimester, it could be just what mama-to-be needs.  If not, she can save it for the second trimester!

6.  Mama Mio Starter Kit – I received this from my hubby and it quickly became a daily routine for me.  I like the smell (but again, in first trimester senses are crazy so either your friend will love the smell or hate it…but she can save it for second trimester when hormones chill out a bit), the texture is perfect and it makes an impact on your changing skin.

October 29, 2014

Four Years

Today marks our four year wedding anniversary and I feel overwhelmingly grateful to be sharing my life with this amazing man.


Yes, he comes with flaws and yes, he drives me crazy.  But at his core, he is a God-fearing man, a man of integrity, a man with an amazing sense of humor, a super-duper hard worker,  a man that doesn’t sweat the small stuff, who loves well and is always willing to grow and work together on our marriage.  Frankly, that is one of my favorite things about him.  He will try to do better.  And in our marriage – and likely other marriages – we have to always want to get better.  Because when two imperfect human beings come together, it creates an imperfect – yet special and incredible – bond.  And one that requires work. And to have a partner that makes me laugh, keeps me honest, sanctifies me AND grows and works on our marriage as much as we did on day one?  Yeah, it’s a giant blessing from God.  One that I don’t take lightly.


The love I have for this guy is hard to describe yet at the same time, simple in many ways.  He truly is my best friend and I fall in love with him more and more as each day passes us.  And it hurts my heart at times.  Like that painful love.  Like I can’t wait to see him at night after work.  And when he leaves for work in the morning, I think, “wow, I love that guy” and my heart already starts to miss him (I know, barf…but it’s true!).  He’s so special.  Like really, really special and I want him by my side always.

And as I reflect on four years, what comes to me is just a smile and warm heart of what we have been through together.


We have traveled and had many of nights at home, just the two of us.  And other times our house has been filled with people we love.

We have laughed…a lot.

And we have cried.  We have fought and loved and prayed and lost and loved again…and again.  We have celebrated success and milestones and dreams coming true.  And we have wept at those who are no longer with us.  And we have wept over four lost children…four children that we will meet in heaven one day.  We have trusted God.  And then questioned God.  And then thanked God.  We’ve shared our life with many friends and family that we love more than words can say.  We’ve packed boxes and said goodbye to a place, Chicago, that will forever hold a place in our hearts.  We’ve closed chapters and opened new ones.  We have made big messes and we’ve cleaned up our messes.  We’ve asked for forgiveness.  Over and over.  Because in a marriage, that’s what you do.  And man oh man, we have had – and still do – have fun.  Lots of it.




Apartment 030

San Francisco 069

And through it all, we haven’t lost sight of why we are here today.  God.  He orchestrated this, he continues to do work in both of us and in our marriage.  He is the reason we can celebrate our love and marriage yesterday, today and tomorrow.  And for that, we are humbled.  We are thankful.  And we celebrate this union today.  This union that is a complete and perfect gift from God.

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