Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Pennsylvania Vacation 2016

It took me forever and a day and I had some MAC issues, but I finally created a video of our Pennsylvania Vacation last month! Enjoy!

Monday, August 22, 2016

Nursery School Countdown


3 weeks. That's what I have left of Natalie being home with me full time, all the time.

3 weeks: That's when Natalie will start Nursery School: 5 days a week, for 2 1/2 hours a day.

Though a part of me is sad, and amazed that I'm finding myself with a "school-aged" child already, I am also counting down the days. Partly for me to have a little break, but mostly for her. These days of having Christopher, nursing, and work really piling up for me, I feel like I'm constantly treading water; just barely keeping my head above water, and if I stop or slack at all, I'll drown. I've been resorting to the tv and iPad a ton with her, and I know she'll be better off in school. I also know she's more than ready - she loves learning: Spelling and the alphabet are her favorite things in the world. She's going to love school. (and if the teachers can get her disciplined a bit more, then an extra bonus for me!)

I'm so excited. But I feel like an era is ending. This era of being completely on my own schedule - I will henceforth be a slave to school schedules, school calendars, school assignments, school responsibilities. I didn't think I'd be here so soon: Natalie, after all, made the cut-off for nursery school (Dec. 1st) by 8 days. She will literally be the youngest kid in her class. Some kids may be practically a whole year OLDER than her. She's ready, that I know. I'm excited for her. But I can't help but feel like I got jipped out of time with her. (Which is utterly ridiculous since I've been fortunate enough to be home with her full-time) But if you think about it - because of when Christopher was born, and the way the cut-offs work for school, he'll be home with me a whole 7 or 8 months longer than Natalie will be. That's a lot of time!!

It sounds silly when I say it - this is after all, Nursery School. I am talking about a 2 1/2 year old starting school but I really do feel like her first day of school is officially the first day of the rest of our lives. For the next 14+ years, this is the school our lives will revolve around. This is the school our children will attend from nursery school through 8th grade (Barring any problems or reasons to move them to a new school). This is where they make their life-long friends - this is where we will meet new potential friends. This is the school Natalie will attend the Father/Daughter dance with Chris every year, where I'll attend the Mother/Son bowling night every year with Christopher. This is the school that we'll attend graduation ceremonies, school plays, holiday celebrations, where I'll send birthday cupcakes, where we'll do fundraising activities, where they'll laugh, cry, and create the foundation and memories that they'll take with them for the rest of their lives.

I know, I know....I'm talking about nursery school. Maybe it would be different if this was a little school she was going to until she started PreK or Kindergarten somewhere different in a few years. But because this is the school she'll be at for the foreseeable future, it's kind of a big deal. Scratch that: It IS a big deal.

And so, the night before she starts school; the night before I take her "Natalie's First day of Nursery School" picture on the front porch, where we'll take these pictures every year after; The night before Chris and I walk her into the school building with her Mickey Mouse Clubhouse backpack; I too, will lay out my "first day of school" outfit; feel the excited jitters; and probably have trouble falling asleep, just as if I was back in elementary school myself. Who knew parents felt this way too?!

And so, the adventure begins...

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Blue Apron Review

Last week I tried my second meal-prep delivery service (is that what these are called? I'm not sure how to categorize them, but you get the point). I tried Hello Fresh two weeks ago and really liked it, this time around it was Blue Apron.

First up was Fried Chicken & Kale Slaw with Roasted Sweet Potato Wedges & Hot Honey
I really liked the kale slaw, and there was a lot of it so I enjoyed it as a side dish for two meals after this as well. Even Natalie ate some of it, though, she asked me for kale chips instead. I completely forgot to add the hot honey to the chicken until Chris took his last bite of chicken. It was a shame because though this chicken was really good, the honey did take it up a notch! Natalie and I shared the sweet potatoes. I always go on sweet potato kicks and then completely forget about them for awhile - this reminded me that Natalie liked them, and I need to buy some more for her. I think this was my favorite meal of the week.

Seared Cod & Potato Salad with Radishes, Crispy Capers & Marinated Cucumber
I had a little trouble with the cod, it stuck to my pan like crazy. Not sure if it's because I was flipping it too early or what, but I got frustrated with it. One thing I am discovering through this meal-prep experiment I am doing is that I really love cod, and should really start buying it to prepare on my own!

Ginger Pork Burgers with Black Bean Mayo & Furikake-Dressed Green Beans
I don't ever think to make pork burgers, but this was actually pretty good! I didn't really care for the seaweed tasting green beans. I had leftover and they've been sitting in my fridge for days. I also had a little bit of trouble with these burgers. They ended up tasting great, but I felt like the outside was burning and the middle was just cooked. But again, they were still juicy and delicious.

So far, I can definitely say that I like Hello Fresh better. I liked the way the meals were packaged: All the ingredients for each meal were put into boxes and I could just grab the box out of the fridge and I'd have everything I need. I liked that Hello Fresh gave actual measurements of things in the recipes, so that I could recreate the recipes on my own. I felt like Blue Apron didn't give me the exact tools needed to recreate a recipe. I liked the Hello Fresh recipes better, and enjoyed the meals more. I know that's a crapshoot because each week is different, but even looking at the upcoming meals on each website, the ones on Hello Fresh appeal to me more. I also feel like I had better success with their recipes. I struggled with the fish in Blue Apron, and cooking times were way different for me than the recipes called for.

Next up: I try Marley Spoon in two weeks and I'm really excited about the meals I'm getting: Grilled Romaine and Skirt Steak Salad, Miso Cod & Bamboo Rice, Honey-Mustard Chicken with Potato, Celery and Apple Salad.

Monday, June 27, 2016

Natalie Claire - 2 1/2 year Update

Natalie Claire 

Age: 2 1/2

Length: 3 Ft.

Weight: 33 lbs.

Things you do that makes us laugh: Um, how about everything?
You say hilarious things every day. You do this ridiculous thing when I'm changing you that I can't even explain, but you basically keep saying "And you go like THIS, then you go like THIS, and you go like THIS..." and you strike a different pose with your arms and legs each time you say "this" over and over again and it literally makes me die laughing each time.

Last week I put you on time out and said "Time out, 2 minutes" you replied " about 3 minutes?"

You marched in our local parade with your favorite girls from the neighborhood last week. (a very informal parade to kick off a festival happening at our local church) Now every single time we leave the house you ask if we can march in the parade, and you want to walk down the middle of the street...oy vey.

Favorite Song: for awhile it was "Everything Changes" from Waitress the Musical. Now it's "Let it Go" from Frozen, "Under the Sea from The Little Mermaid, and "Hakuna Matata from The Lion King (Which you pronounce as "hapupa patata.") Of course - none of these still top "I Can't Help Falling in Love With You" - which is your "I'm going to go to sleep now" song.

Favorite Food: All Fruit, broccoli, rice, fish sticks, peanut butter and jelly, granola bars, baked oatmeal.

Phrases: Every day before I leave the room for your nap you announce very matter of factly:
"I'm going to cry, and scream, and read a book, and make a poopie." (It's your way of telling me that you are NOT happy about naptime.) I say "OK" and then you respond with "Sounds like a good plan."

Every time you see your baby brother you say "It's babbbby Christoper"

If Christopher is crying a lot - usually in the car and I can't tend to him, you decide to join in by screaming. You say:

"Natalie and Baby Christoper are crying, and screaming" and then you SCREAM. (Car rides are just a JOY).

Favorite show: I could ONLY put on Sesame Street for like the past 6 months. In the last two weeks you are now OBSESSED with Ruff Ruff, Tweet, and Dave on Sprout. We go between Ruff Ruff, Sesame, Super Why, Mickey Mouse Clubhouse and sometimes Fraggle Rock (Uncle Michael bought her the complete set), and on the rare occassion: Doc McStuffins and Sofia the First or sometimes Maya the Bee. But really - right now you ONLY want Ruff Ruff, Tweet, and Dave.

Last week you bit completely through your lip when you fell down playing in your playhouse in the backyard. You literally hadn't been in the house more than 30 seconds and you fell badddd. I was surprised that you didn't need stitches, but it is healing very nicely and quickly.

You are pretty much fully potty trained at this point; accidents are very rare.

In the last week (really, like 3 days) You have successfully transitioned to your new big girl room!!! This is HUGE. I thought it was going to take 4 weeks minimum to get you used to your room and you have been sleeping in a full sized twin bed for the past few nights! All I have to do is keep the door slightly open and you are totally fine!! This is the BIGGEST relief as I think I was putting off moving you to your new room because I was so nervous it was going to be a big project, and also perhaps slightly not ready to move you out of your baby room. I walked into the empty baby room the other night and instantly got sad that you weren't in there anymore. Baby Christopher will be moving in there in the next 2-3 weeks!

And as always - you are a very good big sister to baby "Christoper" You are constantly kissing the top of his head, and 9 times out of 10 are very sweet to him. Here's hoping it sticks as you get older!

Friday, June 24, 2016

Our Weekend June 17-19 2016

Happy Weekend!! Here's a video recap of our LAST weekend: Puppets in the Park, Sprinklers in the park, Gymboree, Grilled pizza, Pool and Father's Day! Looking forward to more fun adventures this weekend!!

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Christopher Joseph: 2 Months

Name: Christopher Joseph

Weight: You were 10 lbs. 6 oz. at your 6 week checkup - so you much be somewhere around 11 or 12 pounds already!! You are suuuuch a chunky monkey!! And when I compare you to Natalie's 2 month pictures,  (She weight 8 lbs. 12 oz. at her 6 week check-up!) It's crazzy how much bigger you are, and how different you look! You wore your newborn clothes for about 2 weeks!! If I knew you were going to grow so fast, I wouldn't have dressed you in ANY newborn clothes!

Height: 20 3/4 inches at your 6 week visit

Health: Perfectly healthy! Growing twice as fast as anyone ever expected you to. I seriously think I'm going to need to start you in 6 months clothes soon and you're 2 months!!

Sleep: I feed you before I go to bed around 11 or 12 am, then you are up between 3 and 4 am, and then again around 6. I can't get you back to sleep comfortably after your 3/4 am feeding. You fuss and fuss and fuss and fuss. So we have the swing set up in our room and after that feeding I pretty much always end up putting you in the swing until you wake up again.

Exclusively Breast Fed. You eat every 2-3 hours. Sometimes it's every hour, sometimes it's every 4. I'm just feeding you entirely on demand and on average, it's probably about 2-3 hours during the day. Luckily, you eat a lot quicker than Natalie did. I used to have to sit down to feed her for about 30-45 minutes! You are done in 10-15 minutes every time!

We started giving you a bottle of pumped milk at 4 weeks old. I'm having a really hard time finding time to pump to store up a supply, but I'm trying to make sure you get at least one bottle a week so that you are used to them and I will be able to leave you at some point (though honestly, I have no will or need to leave you at all right now)

Being Held and eating. This kid MUST be held at all times. I'm not kidding. If it weren't for the BOBA wrap, I would not have gotten through these last 8 weeks. When I get dressed in the morning, I put on my clothes, and then put on the BOBA wrap, and wear you for most of the day.
As long as I'm wearing you, you sleep through EVERYTHING. I'll pick up Natalie, play with her, feed her, feed myself, go out to the park or play places with Natalie, do the dishes, and you just sleep and sleep on me while I go about my day. I've definitely gotten some food on you already and am ashamed to admit I once had to play a game of "whipped cream or spit up?" It was not one of my proudest moments...
Disclaimer: When he falls asleep I tuck his head into the cloth on the
side he's sleeping on so his head is fully supported. 
Pacifier - specifically the WubbaNub. You take the pacifier way more than Natalie ever did. But that's because you're nursing so much quicker and not satisfying your need to suck the way she did.

Dislikes: Not being held

Car Rides - cries. every. time. to the point where he coughs, chokes, and there are tears running down his cheeks. It's horrrrrible. Aren't kids supposed to LOVE car rides??

Nicknames: Peanut Butter, Peanut Butter Pancake, Muffin-Tart, Muffin-Cake, (there seems to be a breakfast pastry theme going for me) and Chunky Monkey.

General Notes:
You look just like your daddy and like your Papa (Chris's Dad) when they were babies. It's crazy! Here is my husband Chris in 1985, compared to baby Christopher now. I'll do one with papa's pictures next time!
I haven't yet figured out a routine or set schedule with you. I know it will come, but I can't decide what your best bedtime is, how much you really should be sleeping. I never know day to day what your major "awake periods" are, and they seem to constantly be changing and you are awake more and more. I know these things will fall into place in the coming weeks. So I'm not worried. I do like having you in the room with us though. It's just so easy with nursing in the middle of the night. I moved Natalie to the nursery at 11 weeks. I'm not sure if I'll be ready to do so with him in just 3 more weeks!

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Hello Fresh Review

I have an evil plan: to try out alllllll of the many different companies that offer ready-to-make meal deliveries to your home each week. Seriously, there are so many companies out there that all offer the same thing, and all offer significant discounts for your first trial of their company. In fact, there are so many, that I could try each one out there and effectively not have to plan meals, or do significant grocery shopping for the rest of the summer.

The only thing with my plan is I HAVE to remember to cancel the subscription after I try it so I don't automatically get charged each week. Last week I tried Hello Fresh. I signed up for 3-meals for 2 people plan.

I loved each of the meals I prepared, and each one took me about an hour to prepare, but really should have taken a half hour. It took me an hour because I constantly have to stop and go with Natalie running around and tending to Christopher. It was all recipes I wouldn't necessarily have made on my own, but it opened my mind up to trying some new things I wouldn't have tried otherwise. I feel like it taught me a lot. For example, it was sooo easy to cut up ciabatta bread and make homemade garlic croutons for my salad - I will definitely do that on my own again.

My favorite meal I was sent in my shipment was the Cod en Papillote with Brown Butter Caper-Sauce, Dill, and Red Pepper-Potato Hash (I don't eat peppers, so mine was just Potato Hash). Chris doesn't eat fish so I got to enjoy this for two meals in a row, and I was quite happy about that. I didn't take a great picture of this because I was too busy devouring it. It was amazing, soooo easy, and I will most definitely be recreating this recipe on my own. I don't know why, but I never ever think to buy cod for myself. If I buy fish, I resort to salmon. But I looooved this recipe and can't wait to try it again.

My second favorite meal was the Summer Vegetable Salad with Seared Chicken, Garlic Croutons, and Mustard-Chive Vinaigrette. Again, I'm not sure why but I've never butterflied chicken before, but I kind of liked it because it felt like I was eating more chicken than it was.

Lastly, I made Steak Tagliata with Rosemary Sweet Potato Wedges and Arugula Salad. I liked the rosemary sweet potatoes very much. I kept my steak in the oven longer than it suggested and it still was a litttle too rare for me. But I liked it.

I'm already signed up to try Blue Apron the first week of July and Marley Spoon the second week. Then there are at least 4 more companies like these that offer discounts for the first trial:

Each of these alone will take me to practically the end of the summer for literally $30 a week. I just have to do minimal shopping beyond this for milk, fruit, and little things for Natalie. Honestly, I think that this will actually keep our grocery bills down for the next two months.

Have you tried any of these companies? Are there any others out there that I am missing?? Anyone want to join in on the experiment??

I'll be back to give my reviews on the other companies and meals!