Sunday, December 30, 2012

Christmas {In Pictures}

Christmas Eve and Christmas were special days for us. Although I didn't grow up celebrating, I love getting together with family. Here's some pictures that document our holiday.  From our family to yours, Merry Chrismakkah and Happy New Year!

Scenes from Christmas Eve...

Dylan joins his 6 cousins- all boys!

Christmas Day...

My favorite gift...

Merry Holidays! Here's to a happy and healthy 2013!!!

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Thanksgiving 2012: Mostly in Pictures

(Thanksgiving- WHAT?!?!? Another post I started weeks ago, figured I better get it up since Christmas is in two days!)

Thanksgiving 2012 was just a wee bit different than past years.
Mainly because of this guy.
I'm beyond thankful for my little man.  I can't imagine my world without him.  He has made us so incredibly happy and has brought so much joy to our life.

Dylan + his 3 Cousins.
Dylan, Xara, Enzo and Dante. Xara is two weeks older than Dylan and the twins are 5 months older.  
It was just so much fun to have al the babies together...

And well the food was pretty delicious as well!
Starting with our brined 20 pound turkey!

Sliced perfectly by Dave!

Another favorite- Roasted Brussel Sprouts with Bacon, Dried Cranberries and Pomegranates. 

A Delicious Mesculin Green Salad with Feta, Dried Cranberries, Sauteed Mushrooms and Onions and Candied Pecans.
Maple Chicken Sausage Stuffing with Butternut Squash and Dried Cranberries 
Butternut Squash, Kale and Cheddar Bread Pudding
Candied Sweet Potatoes
There was a ton of other food, but I didn't take a picture of everything.  
Maple Gingerbread Cupcakes...
Action dinner shot...

We even had handmade by my cousin's 3 year old Zoe- place-cards.  How precious are these?
My plate of fabulous food...
Another angle...

Special pictures from the day...

My nana with her 5 grandbabies.  All the kids are wearing I LOVE BUBBIE shirts!
My baby, me and my Nana.
It was such a wonderful holiday with such delicious food and fabulous company!  And one of my brothers babies took his first steps.  Couldn't have asked for a better Thanksgiving.  Looking forward to Christmas and sharing these precious memories with Dylan.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

True Meaning of Busy...

I've fallen off the blog-wagon... AGAIN.  I have so many posts in my head and so many things I want to write and no real time to do it.  And when I do have time to actually write something on this blog, all I want to do is crash. Like take a long hot shower.  Get into bed.  Watch the junk on my DVR. Read blogs.

Yep, I'm still reading all your blogs like crazy... but I feel like I don't actually have the time or willpower to write.  Last month I looked into joining the Blogher network and I was about to fill out the application when I saw this:

We're looking for blogs:
  • written by women, or with a demonstrated female audience
  • with excellent content that engages a community
  • that are updated weekly (preferably twice a week, or more)

Yep. See that last part.  Blogs that updated WEEKLY.  It may not seem like a lot to many of you, but for me, getting a weekly post up has been impossible.  Being a full-time-working-mother is hard work.  Adding in an hour + commute each way and it's even tougher. I love spending time with Dylan but I also love my job.  It's been a tough balance because I wanted to go back to work.  I didn't have to.

An older woman in my office said to me when I came back, "You know in my day, we didn't need two salaries so I could easily be a stay-at-home mom."  I found it interesting that she naturally assumed I HAD TO work not that I wanted to work.  And then if you admit you didn't HAVE to work, does it make you sound like a bad mom?

Then on the other end of the spectrum, I work with some women who are all about detachment parenting. Women who would never dare attempt to breastfeed.  Women who don't have to work or want to work but rather women who work because they couldn't imagine taking care of a baby 24/7.

For me, in the situation I'm currently in, I want to work but that doesn't make me love my son any less. I am beyond obsessed with him and think about him all day long everyday. I have an album for every month of his life with an average of 300 pictures in each one.  I look at those photos several times a day.

But, I just often wonder about how busy I USED to think I was.  I didn't know busy until now. One of my best friends Stephanie wrote this post on her blog and I couldn't agree more.  Stef's baby is a month and a half older than Dylan.

the new normal is so much harder than the old normal. what did we use to do with all our time?! how did i not always have a clean house, dinner on the table and perfectly defined abs?! now i have someone else to get dressed and fed in the morning. a dryer full of clean clothes to fold that are not mine. an extra 20 tiny little nails to trim. milk to thaw. bottles to wash, sterilize and fill 5 nights a week. bath time. story time. play time. lots of play time.
last week dane was in a talent show at his day care. there were "performances" by each age group and all the parents were invited. there was food, refreshments and a band playing (i laughed to myself about the band who landed a gig playing at a day care center). i looked around the playground and said out loud, "ALL of these parents work". there was probably a hundred moms there who ALL juggle work and kids. it was good for me to see because i have spent all this time feeling bad for myself.. like what i was doing was so extraordinary. this is the norm. it finally sunk in that this is just the new normal.
What I'm doing everyday, what other working mothers are doing everyday, is just the new normal. I can't imagine the old normal anymore and honestly I wouldn't want to.  Because this new normal is so worth it.
Don't you think?

I'm currently home from work with a sick baby.  I started this post over a month ago and I finally have a second to publish it while Dylan is napping.  I still have other things to post- Thanksgiving and running updates.  Yep, I've been running!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Quick Fix Meals: Soy Chorizo Sweet Potato Chili

So Thanksgiving is in two days.  And I'm hosting!  Fifth year in a row.  And this year my extended family is coming in from Nebraska so I'm even more excited!  Can't wait to recap the special day.  Now on to a recipe I cooked last week that I just had to share...

Have you ever made something on the fly and immediately after tasting it thought "OMG, this is so much better than I thought it would be, I have to blog about it!"  Well that's what happened last week.  I actually cooked this dinner last Monday night but we didn't eat it until Tuesday.  (Thats my method- cook two meals at once so you don't have to dirty your kitchen every night).  Basically I threw a bunch of ingredients in a soup pot and then set it to simmer while I did the night-time routine with my son.
When I came back an hour later, I thought it was too spicy but figured I'd deal with it the next day. Well, Tuesday night, I heated up the leftovers and both Dave and I were pretty amazed with the result.  It was delicious!  And super easy which is exactly what I need after a commute, working full time and taking care of a baby.
Soy Chorizo Sweet Potato Chili
1 red onion sliced
1 Package of Soy Chorizo (from Trader Joe's) removed from casing
1.5 cups of your favorite chunky salsa (I used Medium)
1 14 ounce can of black beans
2 cups of chopped sweet potato
2 links sliced of Trader Joe's Spicy Sausage (optional- I had it so I used it but you could easily omit to make vegetarian)
1 cup of chicken broth or veggie broth
Water, salt and pepper to taste
This is a simple recipe.  Throw all the ingredients in the pot except for the broth, water and salt and pepper.  Let it simmer together for an hour or more.  Adjust seasoning by adding broth, water and salt and pepper. This is a perfect prep ahead recipe because I think the flavors blended even better together overnight!
Hope everyone has a wonderful Thanksgiving!  Can't wait to report back about all the fun and deliciousness!

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Happy Halloween!!!


Friday, October 12, 2012

Mommy 'Vice: The Registry

So I have a little bit of an obsession: I love helping people out with their Baby Registry!  Now, almost 5 months in, I think I have a really good idea of what baby items are essentials and which ones you can skip or borrow.  My friend Gretchen and I worked on this list for her best friend who's pregnant so I thought I should share it here too.

{And well, I've been working on this post for weeks.  And now it's Friday night and I'm finally going to post it.  I hope this is the type of post people refer to and I hope it's super helpful.} 

Shout out to my friends Cara, Elina, and Lauren who are pregnant!  About a year ago we went out to dinner and I was pregnant (secretly).  Super excited for you guys to join motherhood.  Special shout-out to Kerstin on your adorable baby girl too!

1. Playards or Pack N Plays
I use a Graco one in my living room for changing.  To be completely frank, I only use my Pack N Play to change Dylan downstairs.  Seems like a really expensive changing table.  I think I will probably use this more when he gets older, but as of now he doesn't nap in it and he doesn't play in it.  When we travel, I bring something else that's much more portable (we'll get there- Rock N Play Sleeper).

So as of now, I don't think this is the best investment because we only use the changing table, but maybe that will change as he gets older.

I do suggest getting one with a changing table, but it's not necessary to get the one with the bassinet.  You don't need anything too pricey and if you can borrow it, do it!

I have this one:

2. Bassinets:  
Those frilly bassinets, I say skip.  Instead you could use your Pack N Play or a co-sleeper for the first few months.  We borrowed Gretchen's Co-Sleeper and loved it.  We used it as stand-alone bassinet until we moved Dylan into the crib.  Gretchen used it attached to the bed until her son Fausto completely outgrew it (like 6 months).  Either way, you'll want your baby in your room at least in the beginning, and this is small and easy to move around.  This is the one I borrowed:

Another option for a portable place to sleep is the Fisher Price Rock n Play Sleeper. If you get one thing on this list, get this.  I swear by it, and I buy it for every baby shower I go to. We used it a lot in the beginning at night and for all his naps.  Now we use all over the first floor. And we use it a lot in the kitchen.  He watches me cook in it and he sits in it at the dinner table.  It's at incline so it's really comfortable for babies with reflux and it allows your baby to see what's going on when he is awake.  And it's comfortable when they sleep because it puts them in a position they were in while in the womb.  They have lots of options now, but it's not necessary to get anything too fancy.  I have the one below.  Best fifty bucks ever spent! 

3. Swings
This is something that I wouldn't invest in right away because some kids hate them.  Dylan probably used his a total of 10X. We got the one that was highest rated and pretty expensive- The Lamb Swing.  For one week and one week only, we called it the "Silence of the Lambs" because it got Dylan to sleep, but at 3 months, we already packed it away.  My suggestion: BORROW.  Some kids love them, some don't.  And it's a big cost for an item your kid might not like. 

I have this one:

And I also got this one as a hameydown.  We keep this in our room and it worked for 5-10 minutes so I could take a shower when Dylan was super young.  But Dylan didn't want to spend lots of time in it.

4. Carriers
We use the carriers- but not religiously.  I got the Baby K'tan and the Ergo and so far both of them are great.  We also borrowed three other ones.  I think it's good to always have one in the car incase your baby doesn't want to stay in the stroller.

Suggestion: Buy one- (I think the ergo is the best) and then borrow a few other options before you make the investment.  

Here's a few other options:

5. Strollers
If you plan to run or go on long walks, I truly believe the BOB is the best.  I have this one.

You will need the car seat attachment.  If you get a Chicco Carseat (we'll get there don't worry), get this:

If you get a Graco Carseat get this:

You need this so when the baby can't hold his head up, you can still take walks/jogs and just put your car seat in there.

You should also get what they call a Snap N Go.  It's basically a stroller that you can dump your car seat into and it folds really nice and easily.  If you get a Graco car seat you can get this:

If you get a Chicco car seat like I have, you should get the Chicco brand because the Chicco car seat doesn't LOCK into place in the Baby Trend Snap N Go's.  

The Snap N Go is really all you will need for the first few months.  I keep mine in my car and it's so awesome.  So easy to use, so portable.  We love it.  

Now we use the Bob a lot more and I've heard a lot of people say it's too clunky to bring in your car but I still love it! Sure it's big but it folds up easily.  I wouldn't bring it out unless I need it like if we plan to go for a run or long walk.  For the grocery store or the mall, I always use the Snap N Go. 

Gretchen, who lives in the city,  loves their Phil & Ted's stroller.  They have this one:

But this one has since come out and that's what they would have gotten:

They also got the doubles kit, planning for #2, but they also use it for groceries! 

Other accessories to consider:
Weather Cover
Extended Shade Cover
Handlebar Console for the Bob

WHATEVER you do, DON'T GET the TRAVEL SYSTEM.  They are clunky and pointless.  You want a stroller with versatility.  It's a waste of money. All you will need the first year is the Snap N Go and then a more versatile stroller.  The research I did proved that the Bob and Phil and Teds were the best.

6. Car Seats
You need an infant seat and then a bigger seat for when they're older.  We got this for the infant seat:

This Graco one is also good:

Benefits of Graco- the cover extends further than the Chicco, but it's heavier. They also say the Chicco is warmer- great in the winter, not so good in the summer.

Bigger seats:

7. Feeding Pillows
If I could go back in time I would have registered for both the My Brest Friend and the Boppy.  I would not have been able to breastfeed without My Brest Friend in the first month.  I was still TOO big in the first month to fit the Boppy around me comfortably plus I always felt like it was too low.  My Brest Friend was such a lifesaver.  Get the Boppy and the My Breast Friend if you plan on Breastfeeding.  The My Breast Friend is the ONLY thing that worked for Gretchen and myself, its a must.  And I'm so lucky that Gretchen let me borrow it! I still use it everyday!  I keep that in Dylan's nursery and keep the Boppy downstairs.

My Brest Friend: 

Get a cover for it that you like too.

The other item I highly recommend is a Travel Boppy.  I LOVE MINE. 

I'm one of those breastfeeding momma's who can only comfortably breastfeed for the entire feeding with a pillow.  Sure I can feed Dylan in my arms for a few minutes... but a full feeding- my arm feels like it will fall off! This one looks like a purse when it's folded up and I keep it in my car and just attach it to my stroller.  I also used it for Dylan to take naps in when I was at friends houses.

Oh get a nursing cover too.  I personally like to call them Hootie Hiders. hehe.

8. Bottles
I use these:
Gretchen uses:

My day care wouldn't take glass bottles though... 

The other thing you'll need if your baby goes to daycare is labels.  I plan to write another post about this company- but I love LOVE: Name Bubbles:
These labels won't come off when your bottle is getting warmed.  They are waterproof and dishwasher proof.  They are awesome!

If you breastfeed when you go back to work, you'll need a pump, but don't get this before the baby comes.  Gretchen and I both borrowed this one:

If you borrow your pump, experts say you shouldn't, {but I think you should}, you should invest in these accessories.  If you buy your pump new it comes with these things:

I also have this little hand pump that I use in a pinch (no pun intended).  Its a good cheap option if you don't pump on a regular basis:

Also make sure you get a Cooler Bag and Ice Pack to keep your milk in at work.  (Comes with pumps if you buy new- which I did not : ) I use a thermal from Thirty One Gifts that I won from Cara's blog!

9. Diaper Pails
I have the Playtex Genie Elite and have yet to use it.  Breastfed babies diapers don't smell! At least not to me : ) You have to buy the refills separately and they're expensive so I'm waiting until I really need to use them.  We use keep a Trash bag on the door and take it out weekly. 

I use Pampers Swaddlers.  They never leak and they have a yellow line that turns blue when the diaper is wet.  How awesome is that?  Dylan sleeps in one diaper all night- from 7pm to 7am and it never leaks.  Sure it feels ten pounds by morning, but it doesn't leak!

Now if you want try cloth, that's a whole other conversation.  Gretchen is a huge advocate for cloth and here are her reasons why:

  • Disposable diapers are the 3rd largest contributor to landfills.
  • Most disposables have all kinds of plastics, gels, and chemicals in them.  
  • Yes, its more work than just throwing a diaper in the trash.  But having never dealt with diapering a baby before, they didn't know it was more work because they didn't know any other way.  And the new all in ones are practically just as convenient as disposables.
I'll have Gretchen post another post on this topic soon.

If you want to use disposables and are concerned about the environment, she likes the seventh generation ones.  They started using the overnight ones when their son was around a year, because the cloth system just wasn't working at night.  They use cloth wipes now, but started with the seventh generation wipes and use them on the go. 

11. Monitors
I have this one:

I am in love with my monitor, mainly for one main reason... you can move it from the monitor part. So if Dylan moves, I don't have to go into his nursery to move the camera, I can move the camera from the monitor!  I hear the infra-red night vision isn't as clear as others, but I have nothing to compare it to, so I love it and think it's worth the money! And the screen is HUGE!

12. Bath Tubs
We used this tub in the sink when he was tiny (first two months)- I borrowed it from Gretchen... this is another item you could borrow...
And now we use this one:
You'll want some towels with hoods with wash cloths, like these:

Gretchen uses California Baby products and I use Johnson and Johnson:

13. Humidifiers
I have this one and I have to be honest, we barely use it.  I would skip this until you need it.  There's other things you will need so you can save the $40+. Or get one that you can use in an adult room too.
14. Sleepwear
Aden and Anis blankets are the best.  Don't register for any other blankets.  It seems like everyone gives you baby blankets and we never ever use them. If I could go back in time, I wish I returned all the blankets we received except these ones.

I live by the Halo Sleepsack and Dylan still uses them.  He broke out of every other swaddle... this one rocks because it zips up. And yep, he still uses them.

Gretchen and I both highly recommend swaddling, and we had very different babies.  Fausto is a terrible sleeper and Dylan is a great sleeper, but swaddling helped them both.  They really sleep longer wrapped up.  They'll fight it and people will just give up and say, my baby didn't like it.  They won't like it.  But they need it!

And yes, Dylan is still swaddled every night and for naps when we're home!

15. Bedding
Pick out your bedding but keep in mind you will probably only use the sheet for awhile, so get some extras.  You're not supposed to use a bumper or any blankets for infants (another reason swaddling is good - keeps them warm).  I'd also get a waterproof cover for your mattress.

16. Excersaucers
Great to use around 4 - months. Or in my case 3+ months. It lets you put them down and leave them for like 5 minutes so you can do luxurious things like pee by yourself.  My friend Jill has renamed this the "circle of neglect."  Which is just awesome and hysterical.  Dylan loves his and can spend lots of time in it.  He spins around and touches everything! Get one that has lots of things to touch and do!

17. Baby Timer
This will be another post, but I swear by mine.  I would say this is one of the best things you can buy on this list.  I have friends who make fun of me for having so many gadgets for feeding my baby, but I think this is the best thing EVER.  It's very easy to forget how long it's been since your baby last ate and this helps keep you on track.  You hear him crying at 4am and you think there's no way he could be hungry because you just fed him.  Then you look at the timer and realize it's been 6 hours! I think the timer helps you so much as a sleep deprieved Mommy.  I also use the ZZZZ feature to track how long his naps are.

18. Bouncy seat:
Good to have one that vibrates and one that has something fun to look at.  I wouldn't spend too much money on it because your baby may not like it.  Dylan sorta likes it, doesn't love it.  

19. Playmat
Gretchen and I both have this mat.  Love it:

20. Medicine Ball
I used this during my labor and have yet to use it since.  Gretchen said it was the only way to calm her screaming baby so it had multiple uses for her.  I hope to use it again when I start my home gym!

21. A good diaper bag
Gretchen uses the Diaper Dude cause its not too girly.  Here's a fun post on cute ones:

I use a backpack Fisher Price one that both Dave and I can carry.

22. Sound Machine/Night lights
We use our sound machine every night.  We love it.  We keep it on the Ocean sound and it's really peaceful- for all of us! (we hear it all night long through the monitor)

23. Burp Cloths
Some babies spit up a ton, some don't.  But burp cloths are a MUST regardless.  Get tons and have them in every room in your house.  You'll never know when you'll need one.  I only have one of these, but this is my favorite...

24. Pacifiers
Since week 4 we've been using the MAM pacifiers and I love them!  Not only do they look cute but they fit perfectly in Dylan's mouth while also leaving room for his nose to breathe. Dylan only uses a pacifier when he is napping/sleeping.  We've tested a few others (like the ones they give in the hospital) but we found these are the best.  And most of my friends agree!

25. Grooming kit with all the basics:

26. Bibs
Bibs are definitely something I thought I wouldn't need.  I didn't want Dylan to be that kid that always had an ugly bib on.  Well guess what?  He is!  Dylan drools and spits up so bibs are a necessity.  He goes through 5 a day at daycare!

Once the babies start eating solids, wipeable bibs with a lip for catching food are essential.
Gretchen uses these:

27. Nursery Essentials:
A comfortable glider is a must.  You'll use it for rocking to sleep and late night feedings.  Gretchen had to talk me into getting one and now I can't imagine life without it!

Changing Pad for your changing table.  I just have it on my dresser.  Gretchen has a changing table from Ikea.  If you have room for a changing table, I would get one because the pad shifts around a lot on the dresser!

Bins for Storage- I have three different bins/crates/baskets in our room where I keep things like diapers/creme next to his changing table, another filled with books next to his rocker, a third filled with bibs, burp cloths and socks and another filled with all his blankets!

28. Toys!
Fisher Price Laugh and Learn Toys- Dylan is obsessed with this one we got as a gift!

This Oball Rattle
Sophie the Giraffe is another fav

As well as teething toys- rings, keys, etc..
The Baby Einstein Crib Soother- we call this his TV.  It instantly calms him down and he watches it until he falls asleep when he is upset...
The bumbo- okay not really a toy but wasn't sure what category this belonged in.  This is another item we borrowed and so glad we did! 
(Dylan with his twin cousins)
We also bought this mat to go on our hardwood floor.  

And yes I realize that I became the mom who no longer has a living room.  Oh well!

And that's a wrap!  Hope you find this helpful.  Feel free to comment/email any questions.  I'm no expert but I think I have a pretty good handle on the best baby items!  As you can see, having a baby isn't cheap but oh boy is it worth it.  I leave you with our most recent family photo.  Happy Weekend!