Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Books I Read (May)

Yet another surge of books. 
Almost all of these are from Natasha's IG feed 
or Allena's recommendations. 

The Impossible Fortress
by Jason Rekulak 

I absolutely loved this book. 
I didn't expect to love it but I did. 
I read a quarter over naptime 
and sped-read the remaining that night. 
It's funny, it's simple, and it moves along beautifully. 
Highly recommend! 

Finger Lakes Wine
And the legacy of Dr Konstantine Frank 
By Tom Russ

This is a book that details the history behind the 
Dr Frank winery in the Finger Lakes region of NY. 
I refer to this as the "family winery" since Adam's cousin worked there for a long time 
(he's now a sommelier in NYC) 
and therefore we all get a hefty "friends & family discount." 

The two most fascinating parts of this book are
 1) the family's flee from Russia to Germany to the US during WWII and 
2) a very broad history of wine development in the US. 
The details and drama of the winery are not much interest 
but the overall framework of Dr Frank's impact on American wine is cool. 

Cancel the Wedding 
By Carolyn T Dingman 

I loved this book. 
Just loved it. 
Started it over nap then skipped TV with Adam that night to finish it. 
 A few important notes though: 
1. Don't read the prologue. 
I hate when prologues spoil half the book so I didn't read it until I finished the book. 
I was so glad because I really enjoyed the book unfolding from the main view. 
2. I bawled my eyes out. 
Tears tears tears. 
There is a character named Oliver and it realllllly hit home with my baby. 

Mr Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore 
By Robin Sloan 

Loved this book, too! 
(So many good books this month!)  
Totally unexpected too. 
I thought I was getting a quiet sweet drama about an old bookstore owner 
but instead I found myself so amazed at technology references 
that I had flashbacks to my MBA IT class. 
(Fun fact unrelated to the book: 
the real Hadoop was named because the creator's son had a yellow stuffed elephant called "Hadoop" hence where the logo comes from). 
I loved the storyline, 
loved the ending,
 and loved the epilogue at the end
 (WHY can't all books have such good epilogue???) 

Leave Me 
By Gayle Forman 

Wow wow wow. 
Natasha mentioned how this book spoke to her as a mother 
and I absolutely agree. 
I started it at 9:15pm, 
read halfway, 
then put it away to go to sleep. 

Except I couldn't sleep. 
I lay there thinking about the book. 
So I picked it up and read the last chapter. 

But even that didn't satisfy me so I decided to read it all 
and finished at 12:30am. 
Great book. 
Amazing book for any mom in the trenches. 

by Curtis Littenfeld 

This is the modern version of Pride & Prejudice. 
Let me admit first that I've never read the original Pride & Prejudice book (GASP), 
and have only seen the 2005 Keira Knightley movie
 (which is one of my favorite movies of all time). 
I pictured each character from the 2005 movie, 
from Keirato Donald Sutherland, 
as the characters in the book. 

And I loved it. 
It had the same witty feel, 
all updated for the modern world. 
Replacing dresses with yoga pants 
and balls with BBQs. 
It was perfection...

... all up until the end which I thought was super lame. 
It still followed the original plot, 
but I really hated how they modernized it. 
I also, for the record, hate the Bachelor/Bachelorette TV shows, 
so that probably taints my view here. 

Everything Everything 
by Nicola Yoon

Despite feeling a wee bit predicable, 
I thought this was a really fun book. 
It's one of those books where a chapter may be a paragraph, 
or just an illustration, 
or actually several pages. 
It switches up the story telling 
and keeps it moving along nicely. 
It was my "Memorial Day Lake Read" 
and it fit perfectly. 

Thursday, May 25, 2017

How We Eat - Part 2 of 2

How We Eat: Part 2 
The actual eating part! 


Adam and Aaron have cereal every morning. 
They rotate their cereal brands
but the 3 most recent have been 
Raisin Bran, Cracklin Oats, and Honey Bunches of Oats. 

Oliver has a homemade muffin every morning. 
If I'm slacking on my muffin baking, he will get YoBaby yogurt. 
As of a few weeks ago, we were alternately yogurt and prunes, 
but finally decided he needed more substance to his meals. 
Now the prunes becomes a snack. 
I've been making Superhero Muffins lately, 
which are packed with goodness!

I eat yogurt most mornings. 
My newest obsession is full-fat Fage Greek plain yogurt, 
with fresh fruit, granola, raw honey, and maybe a tablespoon of jam. 
It is crazy healthy and fills me up. 
In the winter when fresh fruit is scarce, 
I switch to broiled grapefruit with Kerrygold butter, brown sugar, and cinnamon. 


Adam takes a deli sandwich and cliff bar to work every day 
(ick, clif bars are the worst!). 

On MWF, Aaron takes lunch to preschool packed in his PlanetBox
I cannot say enough good things about PlanetBox. 
They are pricey as hell but they are easy to clean, 
good for health (no plastic containers!), 
good for the environment (no baggies!), 
and most importantly of all, they make packing absolutely a BREEZE. 

I designate each slot for a food group. 
Top left is "something crunchy" (popcorn or pretzels with peanut butter). 
Bottom left is fresh fruit.
Top right is raw vegetables. 
Bottom right is a sandwich or - very infrequently - yogurt. 
Middle is a piece of chocolate. 

(I get many ideas from BlooBalloon on IG.  Like the mini sweet peppers above)

Oliver eats leftovers from the night before. 
He doesn't seem to do well (or care for?) sandwiches
He does LOVE these Spinach & Parmesan Quinoa Bites.
If Aaron is home (Tues/Thurs), he'll join Oliver with leftovers. 

I have a salad. 
It varies greatly throughout the year. 
Currently I'm on a romaine, goat cheese, berries, caramelized walnuts (walnuts + maple syrup + cinnamon), chicken strips, and Wegman's berry vinigarette dressing. 
Out of some psychological rebellion to US parenting, 
I refuse to keep any form of nuggets or pre-cooked chicken in my house for my children, 
but I do so for my salads only. 


I either make dinner ahead of time (i.e.: that morning)
or immediately beforehand. 

Most casseroles and pastas I make in the morning during Oliver's nap, 
and then microwave it up in the evening. 
This is necessary on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. 
Aaron has soccer 5-6 on Tues/Thurs 
and then my sister comes over to watch the kids Wednesday night 
while I have two hours of freedom to get my nails done, wax, etc

Other items like seafood and chicken dishes are best fresh, 
so I will pop the boys in front of Daniel Tiger to rush through my dinner prep. 
That's usually Monday and Friday. 
Since I shop on Mondays, I like to do seafood on Monday nights while it's fresh. 
One of my New Year Resolutions was to find a good shrimp recipe, 
and I FINALLY found Giada's "Nonna Luna's [Shrimp &] Rice" which is easy and delicious. 

An example week of dinners would look like this: 


I have a strict "only one processed snack a day."
Processed snacks mean granola bars, crackers, or a squeeze pouch (Oliver). 

I wage a constant battle with granola bars 
because most are shit, 
and the ones that aren't shit, 
Aaron doesn't like. 
So far we've settled on Clif Z Kids, 
which still have a hefty amount of sugar (11-13 grams), 
about average to other granola bars on the market. 
Wegmans has a really healthy line of granola bars (less than 10g sugar), 
but Aaron doesn't like them. 

Crackers, goldfish, wheat thins, Annie's bunnies, etc 
are all void of nutritional value, 
but I admit to loving crackers & cheese so I do keep basic white crackers on hand. 

Pretzels with peanut butter and raisins are my most preferred, 
and Aaron knows he can help himself to a box of raisins whenever the hunger strikes. 

Oliver has a squeeze pouch about 3-4 times a week. 
Although they are massively convenient and I always keep 2 in my bag for emergencies, 
I don't want him to become too adjusted to receiving his fruit/veggies in a puree form 
(our pediatrician warned me this happens frequently), 
so I try to limit it for the on-the-go rush. 

Generally, most of our snacks are fresh fruit. 
Everyone loves fresh fruit and it is packed with fiber. 
Summer/spring this is easy as a our fridge is overflowing with blueberries, strawberries, blackberries, mango, pineapple, cherries, etc. 
Fall is mostly apples, pears, and grapes. 
Winter is a lot of kiwi and oranges/clementines. 

(Also, if you are ever stuck on the seasonality of fruit, 
THIS GRAPHIC is the most handy and I reference it weekly) 

Did you make it to the end? 
Give yourself a pat on the back 
and share with me how you eat!

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

How We Eat - Part 1 of 2

I've posted about our meal routines beforehand
but it's truly amazing how much has changed since I became a SAHM 
(almost 1 year ago!). 

We went from 3 mouths to feed, to 4. 

We went from grocery shopping as a family on weekends 
to me grocery shopping with Oliver on Mondays. 

We went from Aaron's daycare providing lunch (our old house) 
to packing his lunch every day (new house). 

I went from packing my breakfast, lunch, and snacks in a lunchbox for work, 
to having easy access to my fridge/pantry at all times. 

I know these changes don't seem dramatic, 
but they have had a huge impact on our food habits and, 
quite honestly, it's taken me many months to find my new routine.
And by many months, I mean I'm just starting to find my groove now!

To avoid a book of a post, 
I'm breaking this into 2 parts. 

Part 1
Food Philosophy
Meal Planning. 
Grocery Shopping. 
Going Out to Eat / Ordering Takeout

Part 2

Food Philosophy:
I've talked about this with my first post on our eating habits. 
We aim for low-processed, homemade food as the base of our diet. 
Additionally, as I've learned more and more about sugar 
(I blogged about watching Fed Up 
and additionally a lecture from the University of California 
about the science of sugar on your brain) 
I've worked even more to reduce our added sugar 
and checking labels for nutritional contents. 

Of course I believe in exceptions. 
I never limit Aaron's food at parties or other people's houses or special occasions. 
It's important to be able to let go and celebrate sometimes!

Meal Planning:
 I've always informally meal planned 
but now it's a very serious effort on Sunday night. 
After lots of templates, I finally settled on this:

I find we all eat very differently for breakfast and lunch, 
but we'll eat it all week. 
Meanwhile, we all eat the same dinner 
but our cooking no longer lasts for multiple nights 
(damn those 4 mouths!).

Grocery shopping: WHERE

We shop almost exclusively at Wegmans. 
In our townhome, this was a 10 minute drive down the road. 
In our new house, this is a risky 20-30 minute drive 
on one of the worst highways in America
I make my once-a-week pilgrimage on Mondays after Oliver's morning nap. 

In between, if we need something urgent (like I miscalculate milk for the week), 
we have two standard grocery stores around the corner 
and a Whole Foods 10 minutes up the road. 

(And no, I don't still use the cart cover.  
That was back when he would spend the whole trip sucking on the cart. Gross)

Grocery shopping: WHAT

Our bill ranges from $225-$300 per week. 
This was quite a sizable jump from our $150/week before. 
Some of it is that 4th mouth. 
Some is that Aaron has a packed lunch now. 
And some is just evolution of eating habits. 
We used to only buy fruits organic 
but now nearly everything (veggies, meats, dairy, seafood) are organic. 
I still won't buy organic bread or cereals.  It just seems silly to me. 

Going Out to Eat / Ordering Takeout: 

We don't. 
Even weekends, we just don't. 

For some people, a $300 grocery bill sounds absurd 
(although for a family of teenage boys, it probably sounds like heaven), 
but you have to remember that 95% of our meals are homecooked. 

The one regular exception... 
On Thursdays my Mother-In-Law usually treats us when we get the kids together to play. 
And usually it's Chick-Fil-A (the Mommy Food Mecca). 

Other than that, we eat all 3 meals at home 
or at someone else's home in the event of parties on the weekends 
(and then usually I'm still bringing a homemade dessert or something). 

Next up: What we ACTUALLY Eat

Friday, May 19, 2017

Life Lately

Hey there.

Last I blogged, I talked about my dream Mother's Day

And while Adam executed my plan perfectly, 
both Panera and Dunkin Donuts failed on their end. 

Dunkin Donuts didn't have any brownie-filled or sour cream donuts. 
I could understand the first, 
but who doesn't make sour cream donuts???

Panera completely discontinued the ginseing addition to smoothies. 
Also, I told Adam to get hazelnut cream cheese which does not exist. 
It would've been helpful if the cashier had suggested: 
"Would you like honey walnut instead?" 
which is what I DID want but just said the wrong name. 

So other than Mother's Day, how is life lately? 
We've entered the crazy time of summer schedules 
where every weekend is packed with something. 
A birthday party 
or a BBQ
or a corporate event 
or wedding 
or vacation 
or something
I kind of love it but I also relish a quiet "do nothing" weekend 
...which we probably won't have again until next January. 

Also, Global Warming is real and messed up. 
These weather fluctuations are ridiculous. 
Two weeks ago I was searching clearance racks for long-sleeve shirts 
for a freak cold spell with a high of 45. 
And then yesterday it was a high of 90. 
This is Pennsylvania in May
We should not have a high of 45 nor a high of 90. 
And most importantly, not 2 weeks apart from each other! 

He kept the sunglasses on for 0.2 seconds. 

In other random news, we are embarking on some fun PAINT adventures. 
We* are painting the last 3 rooms in the house: 
Master Bedroom, 
Aaron's Room, 
Guest Room. 

*We = not us. A hired painter. 

We have been indecisive about this for months 
and our bedroom wall reflects our indecision: 

The Master Bedroom will be the giant gray spot in the middle 
(Benjamin Moore: Stonington Gray) 

The guest room will be the green blotch
(Benjamin Moore: Palladian Blue) 

And Aaron's bedroom with be the bottom left and either of the two top.
Some days I like top right better and some days I like top left better. 

In my blogging world...
 - since that's why you are here, to read a blog, 
or perhaps just to stalk me, in which case, I'm totally flattered - 
I have a Part 1 & 2 post next week about how we eat. 

1) I find it fascinating to read the nitty gritty of other people's lives. 
2) I find it fascinating to look back on the evolution of our lives, 
whether it be beauty routines, food routines, etc. 

Also next month marks the ONE YEAR ANNIVERSARY of giving notice to my company. 
Which, in my mind, marks the one year anniversary of my Stay-at-Home-Mom-hood. 
I am planning a series of blog posts to commemorate this anniversary. 
I'll revisit my SAHM goals
my SAHM fears
and my overall thoughts on it. 

It has been a fascinating journey for me switching from Working Mom to SAHM. 
Of course we also threw in a new baby and a move, 
so perhaps a little more eventful than a regular transition. 

Stay tuned! 

Friday, May 12, 2017

My Dream Mother's Day

Because subtle never works...

I sent an email to Adam today titled "Dream Mother's Day" 
and thought I'd share it here for amusement purposes. 

"Let me sleep in or lie in a silent bed ALONE. 
Aaron whisked out of a our room and Oliver doesn't need to nurse.  He'll survive." 

(Aaron has been climbing into our bed for about 2 weeks straight. 
Occasionally I haul him back to his room but most times we are too tired to care. 
We realize this is a problem but until one of us develops middle-of-the-night insomnia, 
neither of us has the energy to do anything about it.) 

"Take both children out to Panera to get a small pack of bagels 
(at least one Asiago cheese, with a hazelnut cream cheese)
 and also a Strawberry Smoothie with Ginseing 
(you have to specifically request the ginseng to be added)."

(And no, I don't want some sort of homemade breakfast in bed. 
I want my breakfast made by expert corporations. 
And most importantly, 
I want Adam to experience taking both kids out of the house to retrieve it. 
And yes, I'm OCD enough to spell out the ginseing part.)

"Bonus: stop at Dunkin' Donuts for a few donuts.
Double bonus: if one of those donuts is brownie-filled and one is sour cream."

(Have you ever had a brownie-filled donut??? 
It's decadent. 
And a million calories. 
Also sour cream donuts are the bomb, 
though not great at DD, but we don't have a good local shop.) 

"Breakfast as a family. 
I'll nurse Oliver to first nap then go for an hour-long run." 

(Acknowledgment: The hour-long run will in no one compensate for the bagels/donuts I've eaten.) 

"Head to my parents for lunch. 
You drive so I can partake in sangria.

(the last part is critical. 
I'm bringing the sangria and trying this recipe.) 

"Come back and put kids down for very late nap. 
Dinner TBD. 
Possibly Elevation burger. 
Maybe something else. 
Mood dependent."

Adam's reply: 
"I might need this written down on a post-it, please." 
Cue eye roll. 

Monday, May 8, 2017

Breastfeeding Round Two

"Please, God, PLEASE don't make me eat my words with this baby." 

With Aaron, I was Breastfeeding's #1 Advocate. 
He was a fairly easy baby to breastfeed (see his story here
and I REALLLLLY didn't want to have a crazy difficult time this second go-round. 

Good news: I did not have to eat my words! 

In the Hospital & Circumcision: 

Despite a very long time between birth and skin time 
(almost 3 hours due to the c-section plus being monitored for troubled breathing)
Oliver had a much easier start to breastfeeding. 
At "only" 7 lbs 10 oz versus Aaron's whopping 10.5, 
Oliver ate like a "normal" infant
and no one freaked the F out like they did with Aaron. 
With Aaron we got a constant update on his weight and blood sugar, 
with the ever-looming threat of formula if his weight loss didn't stabilize. 
With Oliver, it took several phone calls to the nursery to even confirm weight updates
No one was concerned. 
Oliver lost weight like a "normal" baby 
(his lowest at discharge was 7 lbs 2 oz) but again, no one blinked an eye. 
It was nice! 

Oliver nursed well-enough the first few days. 
I was mentally prepping for the circumcision on the 3rd day, 
which had kick-started Aaron's worst 36 hours of nursing. 
Sure enough, circumcision left Oliver pretty sleepy 
and his nursing increasingly worsened throughout the day. 
But this time I didn't freak. 
I had my back-up plan ready to go. 
When  Oliver refused to latch entirely, I made a phone call asking for formula. 
When they asked: "What kind?" 
I replied: "I don't care, I'm just dabbing it on my boobs."  
When the nurse arrived with a stack of pre-mixed formula bottles and nipples, 
I handed her back the nipples with the explanation: "I'm not feeding it to him."  
She looked so confused as I unscrewed the lid, 
swabbed some formula on my nips, 
and coached Oliver back to latching. 
He did - Success! 

The First Few Months:

The first few months were pretty standard. 
Oliver nursed differently than Aaron, but it wasn't bad. 
Aaron would latch and chillll. 
Oliver quickly proved that was NOT his mantra. 
After a few weeks home, Oliver dropped down to these confusingly short sessions, 
like 3 minutes a side. 
Aaron nursed one side at a time, often hanging out for 10-15 minutes. 
Oliver's 3 minute session meant he wanted both sides, 
but was still only a 6 minute nursing session. 
Once I got over my fear that he wasn't getting enough 
(clearly he was growing at an exponential rate), 
I was able to enjoy the efficiency! 


By 5 months, Oliver was nursing a consistent 8 times a day. 

We started solids at 6 months, 
and nothing changed in his sleep or breastfeeding. 

By 8 months, he had dropped to breastfeeding 5-6 times a day. 
Around this time, he stopped nursing after nap. 
Like flat out pushing the boob away and trying to roll off my lap. 
This was an odd reaction considering Aaron NEVER rejected the boob. 

At 9 months, he FINALLY hit 11 hours of sleep, 
and dropped to breastfeeding 4 times a day. 

I asked the doctor "is 4 times a day enough?" 
And she sort of laughed at me because um... 
do you see these rolls? 

He clearly is getting enough to eat. 

11.5-Months: The Lactation Consultant

Oliver's teeth came in at 9 months and at first no problem.  
Then he developed this "chewing habit" around 11 months. 
Not biting, but like "chewing" as he nursed. 
It was so bad I started bleeding again as if he was a newborn! 
And the craziest thing was it was only on the right breast! 

Obviously, at 11.5 months, we could have totally stopped breastfeeding. 
But he didn't want to end and quite frankly, I didn't either. 
Nutrition aside, I just wasn't emotionally ready for the end. 

So I hauled Oliver off to a Lactation Consultant. 
I felt so silly bringing a 25-lbs, crawling, babbling chunky baby 
into an office that normally diagnoses tiny infants. 
The office loved him because they normally don't see "patients" who are so interactive. 

It was totally worth the trip because she diagnosed my issue immediately. 
Since it was only happening on the right breast, I assumed it was an angle problem.
But the consultant explained since I always (out of habit) started on the left, 
the right had developed a severely diminished supply, 
which lead to his shallow latch, 
which then lead to his "chewing." 

From then on, I started switching back and forth. 
And about a week later, we were "cured" of the worst of the chewing. 

However, it took a few weeks for breastfeeding to really feel better 
(and my nips to fully heal!). 
Around his first birthday, I seriously considered giving up. 
I was kind of done with the whole thing. 
But there were two things that kept me going: 

1. Oliver's enthusiasm 

2. With Aaron, I regretted stopping at 14 months. 
Remembering that regret was a huge motivation for me to keep going. 
Had Oliver been my first, I may have said "DONE" right there 
but having that experience with Aaron pushed me through. 

I'm glad I did because a few weeks later, 
4 teething molars reared their ugly head
 (as I type this, 2 broke skin and 2 are still bulging), 
and Oliver's #1 comfort was breastfeeding.
I am so relieved I hadn't given up! 


SAHM Pumping > Working Mom Pumping. 
I didn't have the pressure of pumping for going back to work, 
which relieved a LOT of stress. 
Additionally, this time I was pumping for FUN. 
As in, if I pumped, that meant a night out with friends or a yoga class. 

To top it off, my body also had pump memory. 

With Aaron, I pumped 3 oz in 15 minutes. 
With Oliver, I was pumping 3 oz in 5 minutes. 
(This, I suspect, was another reason Oliver dropped to 6-minute nursing sessions so quickly.)

There was one weekend I was away and didn't have enough pumped milk. 
Oliver was 10.5 months old
and I asked the pediatrician about this predicament. 
She assured me that given his weight (see fat rolls picture above), 
he could very well sustain a weekend on water & solid foods until I returned. 
She explained he probably would reject formula anyway so no use trying that. 
However, Adam was so terrified of having no milk that he begged me to pump, 
and I had just barely enough to cover the weekend. 

When Oliver turned a year old, 

I packed away my pump for good. 
If I was gone for a nap or bedtime, he had a sippy of goat milk. 
Goat milk is often preferred by breastfed babies because it is much more similar to breastmilk. 
There are a lot of other interesting facts about goat vs cow milk, 
and Dr Sears has a great article here

Bottle Strike & Solution

At 3 months old, Oliver went on a bottle strike. 

This was timed PERFECTLY with our move to a new house. 

At Oliver's 4 month checkup, 

the doctor smiled sympathetically 
and informed me that at this point (1 month into the strike), 
Oliver would protest up to ELEVEN HOURS before taking a bottle. 
Let me repeat that: 11 HOURS. 
So I either had the option of enforcing an 11-hour showdown or... 
just wait until solids. 
I opted to wait for solids. 
In the grand scheme of things, 2 more months with a baby chained to me? 
Not awful. 

At Oliver's 6 month appointment, 

the doctor recommended giving him a sippy cup of water. 
Not a lot (like 2 oz), just enough that if I was whisked away for an emergency 
(hospitalization, etc) 
he would stay hydrated. 
Turns out, Oliver loved his sippy cup of water. 
And after he took to the sippy cup, 
I started reintroducing breastmilk and...... HE TOOK IT. 

(Sippy cups: We use the lifefactory glass bottles with their sippy caps)

When Will I Stop Breastfeeding?

I get this question a LOT from Adam's family, 
a "formula family" that consider breastfeeding past 6 months to be odd. 
Fortunately, I don't really give a damn what anyone thinks. 
There is a ton of nutrition benefit to extended breastfeeding (see some here
as well as emotional benefits. 

From here on out, 
I'm just going to follow Oliver's lead. 
If you asked me my mental timeline, 
my thought is I'd like to make it to 18 months, 
but would like to be done by the time he's 2. 

I'm not going to stress over it. 
Maybe we won't make it to 18 months. 
Maybe he will nurse long past 2. 
Whatever happens, I'm ok with it.  

And lastly, I leave you with this photo. 
My breastfeeding companion: 
Aaron nursing his Monkey.