Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Top Shows to Binge Watch

Scary Mommy recently published the article The 20 Best Shows for New Moms to Binge Watch and the timing couldn't have been more perfect. These days I spend a lot of time on the couch feeding the little man or letting him nap on me so I've been filling my Netflix queue (what did we ever do before Netflix?!) with recommendations from friends.
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During my maternity leave with Caroline I re-watched The Office from start to finish and loved it because I didn't have to think too hard or follow too closely and the episodes were short (and ridiculously funny). This time around I've been binge watching Parenthood and am addicted. It is so, so, so good and although I'm only on season 4 I am already angry that season 6 is not available on Netflix yet. Soooo, once I finish this series I am going to need a new show to replace it!

According to the article, the top 20 shows are listed below:
7. The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt
8. Weeds
14. *Friends
18. 30 Rock
19. Modern Family
20. *Buffy the Vampire Slayer  

*previously watched

If I had to add my own recommendations to this list I would also include...

1. Lost
2. Bloodline
4. Suits
6. Naked & Afraid
7. Breaking Bad 

So my question for you all is...which series should I binge watch next?! I can't decide! There are so many shows that I haven't seen before but part of me would also love to stroll down memory lane with Gilmore Girls or Buffy! 

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Friday, July 24, 2015

8 Favorite Things in my Kitchen

I am always looking for the next kitchen tool, gadget or supply to make cooking a little easier. Over the years I've definitely accumulated a few "must haves" around the kitchen. Today I'll share 8 of my most favorite items (in no particular order)...

1. Rachael Ray Lazy Utensils: My mom gave me this lazy 2 piece set about 5 years ago for Christmas and I cannot even count the amount of times per week I use these clever cooking utensils. The silicone tools are designed with a notch to rest on the edge of your pot or pan to prevent drips and splatters on your countertop. You can also find the Lazy Spatula, Lazy Tongs, Lazy Slotted Spoons and other Lazy products in a variety of colors! 
2. MISTO Olive Oil Sprayer: No matter how careful I am I consistently overpour olive oil. My worst offense is usually when roasting vegetables. I miss some veggies completely and find little puddles of oil in random areas of the pan. The MISTO produces an even, pure mist and I love that I can fill the reusable mister bottle with my favorite oils, vinegars, lemon and limes juices. Not only does this mister make my meals a tad bit healthier, I have seen a significant savings too since I'm use far less olive oil than I used to. You can purchase a MISTO sprayer here or a set of two here. Or, if you're really patient you can usually find one cheaper at Marshalls or Homegoods.
3. BonJour Primo Latte Frother: I absolutely cannot make coffee at home without using this amazing frother gadget. Within just a few seconds I can whip up a delicious cappuccino or latte in the morning (for a lot less than a Starbucks latte)! This is also one of those gadgets that I find myself purchasing as a gift for the coffee lovers in my life!
4. KitchenAid Stand Mixer: We have the classic, basic version of this mixer and it's easily the most used item in our kitchen. The basic version comes with a 4.5 qt bowl which can be a tad bit small for some recipes so I recommend also picking up a 6 qt bowl if you use your mixer a ton.


5. Silver Dollar Pancake Pan: Four years later, this wedding registry item is still my number one favorite gift we received. With two pancake lovers in our house (Caroline and Matt), I use this pan almost every single weekend to cook up perfect silver dollar sized pancakes. Easy to use, easy to clean, easily the best pan in my collection. Our pan is from Crate and Barrel but you can also find it for the same price with free shipping here. There are also all sorts of themed versions (animals, holiday, smiley faces, bugs, monsters, etc.) of this pan here.


6. Parsley Plus All Purpose Cleaner: I have blogged about my love for Parsley Plus before here. I was addicted to the earth friendly product then and my addiction is still going strong years later. Parsley Plus All Purpose Cleaner makes your kitchen smell like a freshly planted an herb garden. I will never go back to toxic smelling cleaners especially with little ones now. You can use this cleaner pretty much on any surface - stone, hardwoods, linoleum, chrome, stainless steel, wood, bathroom, etc. You can purchase a bottle for $4 here, but if you become addicted like me you'll save a lot of money by purchasing 4 gallons at a time here (I split this bulk order with a friend). I know 4 gallons sounds insane, but I've been using this spray multiple times a day for almost 3 years now so bulk ordering is essential!

7. Electric Wine Opener: Not sure this one even needs an explanation. Another wedding gift we love and have gotten so much use out of over the years. With one charge this wine opener can remove up to 80 corks, includes a foil cutter that stores in the charging base and comes with a vacuum sealer.

8.  Silicone Muffin Tin: This full-sized muffin pan is my newest piece of bakeware and I don't know why it took me so long to buy one of these! It's 100% silicone so it doesn't rust, is non-stick and easy to clean. I've used this pan for so many recipes from cupcakes to egg poppers and so much more
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Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Surviving Double Little Persons

We officially survived the first week as a family of four and Matt returned to work yesterday. By day it's been absolutely wonderful, by night it's been exhausting and terrible. Even though we just did this 14 months ago, I think I blocked out how awful the first few weeks are at night time. However, the moments that all four of us are snuggled up asleep together in our shrinking king sized bed, my mama heart could burst and the hard times are trumped a thousand times over with happiness. My life has never felt more full.
The best part:
Now that Thomas has officially joined our family outside of my uterus we have been in euphoria (combined with delirium) to have the whole family together after a long 9 months. I wasn't sure I could love another baby as much as I love Caroline but the second Thomas was placed in my arms at the hospital we were immediately fused at the heart. It wasn't until that moment that I realized my love is exponential and cannot be contained. In an instant I learned my heart was made to expand over and over and over.

We returned home from the hospital Sunday afternoon, kept Caroline home from daycare on Monday so she could spend time with her new brother and resumed her normal schedule on Tuesday. So most of last week it was just Thomas, Matt and me...and it was amazing. We would take turns letting Thomas nap on our chests and overall he is super easy to care for - eat, sleep, diaper change, repeat. We also took full advantage of having one sleepy babe and patio hopped at our favorite lunch spots (Bad Daddy's, Room 112, Pizza Peel and Tupelo Honey), binge watched Parenthood and enjoyed many uninterrupted conversations. Thomas is a totally different baby than Caroline. Or maybe I'm just less stressed this time around? Regardless, he is a great baby, rarely cries, rides peacefully in his car seat, doesn't mind all of the pink hand-me-downs and is super laid back. He takes head pats, sloppy kisses, eye pokes and aggressive hugs from his big sis like a champ too.
The worst part - night time: 
The absolute worst part. And I am a huge baby when it comes to sleep deprivation. Nights straight up suck right now and I am counting down the days to begin sleep training. Since bringing Thomas home from the hospital, I have learned that his most peaceful 16-18 hours of sleep are during my waking hours of course. By 10 pm he's wide-eyed, staring at me like the cutest little stalker and the second I even consider dozing off he holds my sweet dreams hostage...grunting, squirming and filling his diaper. Oh, and I cannot even begin to describe my SIDS paranoia this time around. Until his umbilical cord falls off we've had a hard time using the Snuza correctly and so we've had several false alarms. If he wasn't up every 1.5 hours to feed we would have already transitioned him to the crib. But we certainly cannot risk that grenade going off in the nursery and having two babies up all night at this point. So in the meantime, with every noise he makes I blast the light on and practically dislodge our mattress from sprinting out of bed to the rock n' play to make sure he's breathing, only to wake him up and start the cycle all over again.
And for the record, yes, we've gone through our extensive collection of swaddles, pacifiers, white noise machines and every other baby sleep aid on the market. We just have to suck it up...or fork over our savings for a night nurse (in my wildest dreams). I keep telling myself over and over again that this is temporary and will eventually pass but damn, it's hard.

Side note - hubby shout out: I am so very lucky that Matt is a huge help and shares the load very evenly so I can get short bursts of precious, partially restorative sleep. He rocks. Seriously. I don't know what I'd do without him. After his night shift he rolls out of bed, washes bottles, gets Caroline dressed, fed and drops her off at daycare. And just like last maternity leave, on his way in to the office he stops by the house to drop off a cup of piping hot coffee to me. I know, I won the husband lottery.
The second worst part - feeding: 
Like last time, I'm not excelling in the milk factory department of motherhood. From day one our feeding schedule looks a little like this -  every 1.5 to 2 hours around the clock, breastfeed each side 20-25 minutes each, then pump (with a hospital grade rental pump) for 20 minutes, feed back the .25 - 1 ounce of pumped milk, top off with formula if Thomas is still not full. Did you do that math? That's about an HOUR worth of feeding work only to do it all over again about 30 minutes later. So yes, I hate feeding. Absolutely hate it. Dread it actually. I keep saying I'm going to throw in the towel and know that this part of motherhood will become so much more enjoyable once I actually do, but instead I find myself at reoccurring lactation consultations every other day out of mom guilt...
Caroline:   
Navigating life with two babies is a huge adjustment. Our hands are now twice as full and we are in 100% survival mode at this point. Hats off to SAHM's with two minis. Seriously. How do you do it, super mamas? How do you chase a toddler, tackle the pile of dirty dishes, grocery shop, fold baskets of laundry, change diapers (x2), prep toddler meals, wash bottles and spend time with your new baby? We've only had a handful of days with both kids at home together and Thomas spent most of that time either in swing or in the sling while we tended to our sassy toddler. Whoever cries the loudest gets priority.
That being said, we decided to resume Caroline's normal daycare routine pretty quickly. She loves her friends, teachers and routine at school and I really want to give Thomas the same one-on-one time and undivided attention that she got to have during those first 12 weeks of life. However, the second she comes barreling through the front door she is on a mission to find her baby brother, waving and screaming "hiiiiiiii baaabyyyyyy!" over and over again until they are reunited. I love watching her give him a hug and kiss. There really is nothing more heartwarming than watching Caroline fall in love with Thomas and, though she's still in diapers herself, take on the role of big sister and protector.
The second Thomas starts crying Caroline freaks out and comes running for us.
 
Charlie: 
Who? Kidding. Kind of. He's hanging in there. Still hating life although he's getting better about letting Caroline wrestle him with hugs and pats. Soon enough we'll get into a routine for daily walks again and hopefully he'll perk back up. 
Time to go pump...
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