Bytes of Love

Working mommy. Startup daddy. Rascal toddlers.

For the beach bum in all of us

I’m back after a few weeks of….2 year old sleep regression. We hit it not too long ago and it totally derailed my plan of reconnecting with my first love: books. As an introvert, reading books is probably my favorite hobby, but if no one’s getting sleep, it’s also the first one to go.  I had ALL THE PLANS to pick reading back up and then BAM…we ran into a rough patch with sleep and schedules (and those of you who know me, know that I’m all about keeping everyone on schedule for the sake of happiness and sanity. Sleep = sanity in my book (no pun intended). By the way, if you’ve got a newborn and aren’t sure what sleep regression is, I’ve got one for you right here: http://bytesoflove.com/all-about-sleep/.

The good news is that since our travel died down for a few weeks, I’ve been prioritizing rest and exercise. Sounds so simple, but we’ve been pretty horrible at it up until now. When everyone is rested and Anil and I get a good workout in, everything just magically falls into place somehow. It also helps me if he’s home to help out. I’m obviously a total believer in fairly equal household responsibilities (except killing spiders, which is and always will be 100% male work). It’s never a perfect 50-50, which I also don’t believe in since we both like to take care of what we’re best at. With travel and CEO life, things do get skewed easily. That’s just the nature of the startup beast and my up-and-down workload. Now that we’re past the rough sleep deprivation patch (right, sleep fairies??) and we’re getting things back on track, I’m diving back into books.

I would be lying if I told you I finished all of these, so know that a few of these titles are work in progress. As I’ve told you before, I don’t usually read fiction except for Potter, which you muggles probably don’t get. I know that sounds so boring, but I promise you won’t be disappointed in these books:

Super Freakonomics – For those of you who always question everything and really love digging into the details of issues. I absolutely love this book because it really gets you thinking about everyday activities and assumptions. If you haven’t checked out Freakonomics yet, that’s definitely worth your time as well. Get the audio book if you’re spending more time in the car than at home.

Healthy Child, Healthy World – For anyone who wants to improve their health, regardless of whether or not you have kids. This book digs into the details of why so many products are bad for kids and adults. I started reading this back in 2012, right before Dilan was born. It changed our lives. I’d love to tell you we’re total hippie tree huggers, but we have way more plastic toys in our house than I’d like to admit. Five years ago, I did make an effort to make sure we eliminated all chemical cleaners in our house. We use mostly eco-friendly diapers, natural cosmetics, and hand soaps. Not quite there yet, but progress.

No Drama Discipline – For anyone who needs some help with laying down the law. I’m not one to read parenting books at all because I prefer to use my intuition when it comes to raising kids. I’ve been working on the audio book version of this because well, we have ourselves a two year old. Both our kids are extremely strong willed and although that definitely has its positives, it makes parenting so much more complex. This book dives into some concrete discipline techniques and explains the science of what goes on in kids’ brains. It’s fascinating.

The Pie Life – For all you working mamas. This is my current read and as soon as I finish this post, I’ll be reading it on my plane ride back home. I love some solid tips on how to rock both work and home life, without feeling like I’m compromising. So far, so good.

Real Moms, Real Hacks – For all you smart and crafty parents out there. This book is probably the easiest one to finish. It’s a short compilation of parenting hacks. Some just ok, many great. Worth picking up if you have or planning to have little ones. It’s a great and inexpensive gift as well.

What books are currently on your night stand?

books

Life Hacks – Pregnancy to Preschooler

When Dilan was born, Anil and I didn’t ask for much help. We worked through most of the infant days ourselves. In hindsight, that wasn’t the worst thing. We quickly learned that we just didn’t have the time to do everything that we needed to get done. Enter life hacks. With Anil’s startup, my career, and two kids who are two years apart, finding some ways to make life easier, more fun, and more efficient was / is a must. Here are some of our favorite hacks that were born around the same time our babies were:

1. Chux. You can find these gems on Amazon. If you’ve been through labor at a hospital, you’ve most likely seen these. Though they aren’t environmentally friendly at all, they are amazing for when you’re on-the-go with an infant. We often used them instead of diaper changes pads, especially at airports. Why? Do you really want to clean up a reusable diaper pad after a diaper blowout on the road? Nope. You only really needs these in the beginning, not forever. We like the Northshore 17×24 ones. I still have one in my car.

2. Candy. If you’re in labor, I think candy of any kind (but especially chocolate – duh) is a nice touch for the labor nurses or midwifes who spend most of the time with you. It’s not an easy job and they log some long hours. Of course, I bought candy for the nurses both times I was in labor and forgot to take it with me to the hospital….twice. I blame pregnancy brain. I did send my main nurse an Amazon gift card and a pic of Asher a few weeks after he was born…even though I’m still mad at her for not giving me my nap and making me push instead <insert eye rolling emoticon>

3. Thank You cards & blank post cards. Two things I always stock up on when I visit Target are thank you cards and blank post cards. You’ll write a ton of thank you notes after your baby shower, after the baby is born, after the first birthday, and so on. Having these available saved a ton of time. I use the blank ones all the time for when I don’t have birthday or sympathy cards at home and don’t have time for a Target run.

4. Baskets. The other item I love shopping for are baskets. I don’t even know how many we have in our house, but they’re currently all being used. Our weekday morning routines used to be pretty hectic, until we started thinking about why exactly that was. We wake up before the kids do, but somehow still had a hard time getting out of the door. Since we don’t wear shoes or socks at home, it dawned on me that I was running back upstairs to grab socks every single morning. So, we found a better spot for them on our cabinet next to the back door and our breakfast nook. I filled up one basket with bibs for Asher (to use during breakfast) and another one with socks for both boys. So much easier and they don’t look too bad, right?

baskets

 

5. The laundry game. Here’s our solution to the never-ending pile of laundry : the laundry game. The laundry game consists of us taking all the clean laundry that needs to be folded, dumping it on the kids (which they think is AWESOME), and then slowly starting the sorting and folding process. We usually have fun music blaring and everyone just has a blast (as much of a blast as you can have folding laundry). It’s the best way to do Anil’s and my laundry on the weekends. I wash a load of kids’ laundry every single day and fold those separately. I hang shirts and throw shorts and pants in large baskets. Works like a charm.

Alright, your turn! What life hacks do you use on a daily basis? I’m all ears :-)

Two…and Four!

Two years ago, I cried as I looked at the red digits on the scale, which said “4 lbs, 6 oz”. Asher was just born and was about two ounces away from needing the NICU. These days, I “cry” because lifting his pudgy 30 lbs body puts so much stress on my lower back that it constantly hurts. He’s come a long way, that boy. From being preemie sized, but healthy, to fighting some bad jaundice, needing to be supplemented, dealing with dairy and soy allergies, and overcoming it all…he’s quite the two year old blessing.

Here’s how he’s doing these days:

Favorite activities: HUGS, kisses, running, DANCING (can this get any better?!), playing with pots and spoons and pretending to cook, reading books (Little Blue Truck!), standing up on the couch, tailing Dilan, neck squeezing (don’t ask…)

Favorite foods: Cheerios, blueberries, blackberries, rice

Favorite people: Hands down, Dilan and daddy, though he knows how to cling to mommy quite well too. He also LOVES his friends and teachers in school and is obsessed with dogs and any vehicle larger than an SUV.

He isn’t the only one who’s changed over the years. Dilan, of course, has too and it’s amazing to watch them finally play together, laugh together, rough house, and fight…a lot. I’m always amazed when I see other kids JUST play because our kids never sit in one place and quietly play together for very long. They’re constantly on the run and just aren’t interested in art or activities that require them to sit down for too long (although Dilan certainly is capable, he just chooses not to). They’re both hurricanes and definitely keep our energy levels in check, which I also love.

With that being said, two and four are amazing ages and if you asked me right now what I’d want more than anything else, it would be to freeze time. Sounds cheesy, but seriously, they’re absolutely adorable together (minus the throwing each other off the couch, of course). I’m loving the 2ish age gap right now. It’s hard and exhausting, and there are many, many days where we feel like we don’t have a single minute to ourselves, but we’re getting out of that phase a little bit now and when that dust settles, it’s pretty magical. I’m grateful for those types of moments, because I know that many would have loved to have kids in the first place, but can’t. Not taking that for granted.

As for me, I changed a lot over the last few years. They say motherhood changes you for the better (hopefully), but for me, Asher’s birth was particularly eye opening. With Dilan, I tried to be the perfect mommy and was way too hard on myself. With Asher, I realized that I didn’t have to try so hard and could just be me, especially given all the health related road blocks that we experienced right after he was born. I usually have my act together with work, life, and kids, but last night, I forgot to wash my hair and now I’m wearing dry shampoo and sitting here with red eyes because I’ve looked at screens for too long. What I have learned is this: It’s ok not to be the picture perfect mommy who serves massaged kale salads for dinner, never formula feeds, and only buys organic clothing. It’s also ok not to be the mommy who hasn’t showered in days and is losing her mind (aka the mommy martyr). You don’t have to be either, you can just be your happy medium yourself.

Family

We don’t always do everything other families do, but we do us. And “us” includes dance parties, hot cocoa, lots of reading, too many nights on laptops, talking to Siri, tons of travel, banana pancakes every weekend, skipping baths if it’s too late, and eating Cheerios in the car if breakfast just couldn’t happen because someone was too cranky. Some days are a mess and some days are perfectly put together. In honor of Dr. Seuss (who’s birthday is a day before Asher’s): I couldn’t ask for anything more…but freezing time at two and four.

Happy 2nd birthday, dear Baya (Baya = a combo of “baby” and “Asher”, which Dilan came up with when he was learning to talk at 2 and is now Asher’s official nickname). We love you more than you will ever know <3.

belly

PS – Pictures: Top one – Taken right after Asher was born. Thirty lbs ago for me ;-). Bottom one: Two and four at its finest. Asher doing what he does best: rubbing his belly and Dilan not nailing his signature smile :-)

These Are the Years

Ever feel like you’re running a million miles an hour and really just need to slow down? This was us for the latter part of 2016. I expressed my exhaustion to Anil a few weeks ago. We went into full-blown have-to-do-everything-now at work and at home and ended up exhausted. “Are we doing too much? Are we just nuts for making sure the kids are having a good time?”. I was expecting a “yes, duh” type of response, but instead I got: “We are definitely running a bit too fast, but these are also the years for these types of activities, you know?”. THESE ARE THE YEARS.

That phrase really stuck with me because Anil is absolutely right.  To me, these really ARE the years when we’re running a bit fast, but it’s because we’re building and nurturing kids and startups and a career and…basically kicking ass. To us, this is prime time to be doing it. Others are working on triathlons, or traveling the globe, or making a difference through politics or PTAs. The problem is that whenever you open up Instagram or Facebook, you see pictures of people doing these things, which makes you think: “Wow, they really have their shit together”. “They’re doing it ALL SO WELL.” But those things are really just the highlights you see on social media.

Don’t get me wrong, we’ve got the kids in a great routine. We’re entering 2017 with no one in speech therapy or OT (first time in four years). We’ve had zero ear infections since ear tubes. No more dairy and soy allergies for Asher. A four year old who is smart as a whip and a 1 year old who was born at 4 pounds and is now 98 percentile in weight. We worked really hard to get them both to where they are today. Work wise, Anil’s created 25 jobs over the last few years and I am constantly being challenged on the technical side of my job, which I absolutely love. We’re happy and healthy. But you’ve already seen those highlights on Instagram. Here are the lows:

Being so busy cost me in terms of not being able to run and exercise as much and not going on nearly enough date and girls nights. My social life suffered a bit (ok fine, a lot) and though I love my weight, my mom is more flexible and has better muscle tone than I do and she’s 60 (way to kick butt, mom). There’s so much more to being healthy than just weight. It’s really hard for type-A parents with very little kids and so much going on to come to terms that there’s always a bit of sacrificing going on.  Also, you guys know that being a mommy martyr is an absolute no-no for me, so that made things even harder. I don’t want our kids to remember their mom constantly being exhausted because she tried to create the perfect life for her kids. I want them to remember me for working hard, but having fun and making a difference, while doing so.

da

Here’s the good news: sometimes making things a lot better only requires little changes: putting the phone down and listening to Dilan’s full conversation (even it’s about how robots can fold towels for a full 10 minutes). A 2 mile run like I had for the first time in weeks, which many may call JUST a 2 mile run, but at least it’s a form of exercise. A smile to a stranger. A load of groceries to a mom of 4 in need. A short nap during the weekend. A night of doing nothing but reading on the couch. Even if we can’t do these things ALL the time, every little bit makes a difference. Last year, my main goal was to simplify as much as possible. This year, I clearly need to continue to do this, but I’ll try to infuse some of these little activities that make life a little richer and slower. But not too slow. After all, these are the years to build it all.

CXCCVB2347999PPPPPPP’;qwertyuiop –> that’s Dilan’s typing. I’m writing this blog post while he’s “watching” Bob the Builder and Asher’s taking a nap, after it took Anil about an hour to get him to sleep. I’m telling you this because these are also the years to keep it real 😉

Happy new year, everyone!

asher

PS – Lashes and hair for miles for this boy. Cheeks that are really as squeezable as they look. Someone pinch me.

5 Favorite Toddler Gifts to Make the World a Little Better

Confession: I have hardly done any holiday planning. We’ve got our Christmas cards and some festive indoor lights up, but that’s about it. I’m ok with that. The kids are healthy and well fed and they’re behaving (kind of, and as long as we’re not on an airplane or in the car for too long). Good enough for me. Maybe it’s second child syndrome, but after the first one, I’ve seemed to let go of many things that I thought were important and HAD to be done the first time around. It’s been refreshing and made life so much easier for my type A personality. The 4 loads of unfolded laundry, boxes of toys that need to be donated ,and birthday gifts that I’m late on? Not even worrying about it. We have clothes and toys and the means to buy gifts, and that alone should be plenty, right?

I digress. Back to the holidays. Still stuck in a rut and unsure what to get your little ones? I had not really given it much thought until this week either. With all the bad news around us these days, I was thinking how I’d really like to get our boys some gifts that make them want to help, be more kind, and learn to be better. I did some quick Googling and here’s what I came up with:

  1. Books about kindness. Here’s a useful list that I may use to get some book titles from. Read any of these to your kids yet? Looks promising.
  2. Eco-friendly toys. These are designed to satisfy my inner tree hugger. So really, they’re for mommy too :-). If you look around our toy room, you’ll notice that there’s just way too much plastic. I’m a big fan of Green Toys and cups, plates, and utensils from Replay Recycled. Great quality and they help the planet. We are Santa is planning on getting this pizza parlor set for Asher this year.
  3. STEM gifts. I’ve heard a lot about the Sphero (awesome, but pricey), but since Dilan’s a bit young for it, Santa may get him the Code-a-Pillar this year (thanks, Jenny, great suggestion!). Amazon has a nice list of STEM gifts here. We need more scientists to move the world forward – never a bad thing to try to cultivate one early on. The worst that could happen is a child who’s good at math.
  4. #Optoutside gifts. One of our favorite outdoor gifts for both genders is this water rocket. It’s not necessarily an active outdoor game and does use a bit of water, but it can entertain the kids for hours, with the supervision of an adult. Anil got this for Dilan earlier this year and it’s been pretty popular in our neighborhood. Any gift that get the kids outside (and maybe even teach them a bit of physics!) is a win in my book. Bonus: it’s about $15, not too shabby.
  5. Children’s household “toys”. We’re lucky that both our kids are foodies, with the exception of those typical toddler and preschool phases where they randomly refuse to eat a food they’ve always loved (I’m talking to you, broccoli). Even if your child is not into food, you can still try some household gifts to teach him how to do things around the house. I’ve seen some kid sized brooms and dust pans that may work. This year, Santa’s getting Dilan a knife, similar to this one, that he can use without hurting himself. My mission is to teach him how to cut his own pears. Boy LOVES his pears. Since we have boys, my hope is that they’ll learn to overcome the stereotype of dads doing less than moms in and around the house when they grow up. This is my first attempt at it. Fingers crossed that I don’t fail, future daughter-in-laws 😉

Second confession: my second biggest fear in life (the first one is people choking…long story) is that I’ll raise a bunch of jerks. Our boys are as sweet as they come right now, but the world is a harsh place. Hopefully Santa will give them gifts that can actually make a difference down the road. What other neat gifts did, I miss guys? Any favorites? Happy shopping!

chanel

Taking care of yourself with Nurturico

Guess what I recently got to try? A bunch of amazing goodies and healthy snacks from Nurturico. Kiran, who has a beautiful 3 year old (who I have yet to meet!) sent me these from the Bay area, where she lives with her family. Full disclaimer here: Kiran is distant family, on Anil’s maternal side. However, you guys know how much I love startups, and cool, innovative companies . So, I would have done product reviews of her fantastic snacks regardless, really :-)

A few things to note about Nurturico: even though I’m not pregnant or nursing a whole lot, these are the categories that Nurturico’s snacks are designed for. Why? If you’ve ever had a child, you probably know how hectic that first year can be. You do the very best you can to take care of your new baby, but often forget to take care of yourself. You guys also know how much I hate that. Moms need to take better care of themselves. Period. They also have zero time to whip up something healthy in the kitchen. That’s where Nurturico comes in. Here’s what Kiran sent me:

Finger Millet Cookies – These are devoured in the first day. SO GOOD. I shared a few with the kids, but honestly mostly ate these myself. What I liked the most about these are that they aren’t overly sweet, nice and crunchy, and contain only 7 ingredients. Way more nourishing and healthier than any cookies you can pick up at the grocery store. Millet is also a great ingredient to use at it contains tons of vitamin B, calcium, iron, and much more great nutrients that are really helpful when pregnant or nursing.

Nut crumble – This was my second favorite snack. Made with ingredients such as ghee (clarified butter), pumpkin seeds, and organic raisins, these small balls pack a powerful and energetic punch. You could just snack on a few of these between meals and feel so much better than eating junk food. As a nursing mom, I would have loved to have this handy because like Kiran, I often struggled with trying to figure out what to eat right after giving birth.

Date muffins – These small goodies aren’t muffins in the traditional sense, but that’s actually a good thing. They’re not messy at all because they’re made out of mostly nuts and dates. After doing the Whole 30, you can imagine that I’ve been pretty weary of added sugar in all foods. The wonderful thing about these is that because of the dates, you really don’t miss the sweetness of sugar. Another great snack I would have loved while pregnant / nursing.

Peanut Butter Oats Banana Smoothie Mix – Are you kidding me?! A smoothie mix that tastes like chocolate – LOVE this! When I gave birth to Dilan, my mom was here for about a week to help me recuperate and take care of Dils. She would make me drink these nutrition drinks like Boost and one from Carnation, whose name escapes me now. They were wonderful after having gone through the exhaustion and exhilaration of child birth. This smoothie mix reminds me of that, except for that it’s completely natural and contains NO added sugar – hurray! A really great way to get some nutrients mixed in with your almond milk, coconut milk, or whatever type of milk you’re in to.

As I was saying before, one of my biggest pet peeves is being a mommy martyr. You shouldn’t have to suffer and give up your entire life just to raise children. I’m a firm believer in this. Taking care of yourself before and after you give birth is so, so important. And if that means taking lots of short cuts, then I say do that. Nurturico recognizes this and delivers on healthy snacks that make you feel human again. I’m so proud of Kiran for starting a company that delivers on this concept. Although Nurturico currently serves the Bay area, they will expand beyond that in the near future. I highly recommend giving them a try – you won’t be disappointed!

nurturico snacks

Whole30

Today is day 31 of the Whole30. You can read all about it here, but the gist of this program is that you eliminate any and all sugar, dairy, grain, legumes, and alcohol for 30 days to bring your body back into balance and figure out what effect these foods have on your body. I know, I know, fad diets don’t work, they’re so annoying because it’s all just marketing, eliminating anything from your diet will make you sick, you just need to eat healthy all the time, no matter how hard it is, you don’t need to lose weight, etc. etc. I’ve heard it all :-) and I’ll be honest, no one was more skeptical than me at the beginning of this program.

That’s exactly why it appealed to me more than any other fad diets out there, because 1) the goal of the program is not focused on weight loss in isolation, it’s much more than that and 2) it’s basically a giant experiment on your own body. Working for an analytics company, I HAD to try it because I love hypothesis testing :-). I started a day after our wedding anniversary and just finished the Whole30 yesterday. No cheats, no slips, no excuses. Here’s how it went:

What happened:

ENERGY – Probably the most significant and noticeable change for me were my energy levels, after about a week or two of strictly following the program rules. I would classify myself as a fairly energetic person, but not having any sugar or alcohol crashes in particular was amazing. I don’t eat much sugar to begin with, but I had a constant headache for the first two days of the program – that’s how much of an effect even a little sugar (or lack thereof, really) has on your body. I’ve loved the extra energy I have after work. I can play actively with the kids now without feeling completely defeated at the end of the day. Big win.

CLEAR NOSE – Another huge benefit for me is that my nose has been much clearer. I’ve suffered from seasonal allergies and a stuffy nose in general all my life. I don’t like taking medicine for this because, well, Claritin makes me feel like there’s a squirrel running though my head. Having a clear nose and not needing to reach for tissues all the time is huge. I love it.

CLEAR SKIN – I’ve fought minor acne all my life, and although I wasn’t completely in the clear this month, my skin did start glowing, blemishes disappeared, and the only few that are left are around my nose area, which is my main trouble spot. It was nice to know that something internally was causing things to clear up, since I didn’t switch out my skin products.

WEIGHT LOSS – I weighed myself this morning and only lost 4 pounds. I say “only” because I’ve seen much higher numbers from other people who have done the Whole30. You know what, though? Weight loss was never my goal. There’s so much more to being healthy than that number on the scale, which is why the Whole30 crew encourages you not to weigh yourself during the program and focus on the other health benefits instead. Great idea. My clothes fit better than they used to and I feel great, which means much more than a silly 4 pounds to me.

REDUCED CRAVINGS – Don’t get me wrong, I love chocolate and will always love chocolate. It’s quite possibly my first love when it comes to food. However, I do think I’ve successfully eliminated most of my sugar cravings. I no longer hanker for something sweet in the afternoons. I had been drinking my coffee without sugar for weeks before the program started, so that wasn’t a big change for me. But knowing that I can enjoy a piece of cake or a cupcake without feeling guilty or without wanting to “binge” is quite nice.

What didn’t happen:

ABS – Not that I was expecting this, but the Whole30 doesn’t magically give you abs or fix the extra “mom skin” around your belly. You still need to work out and tone up if you want some muscle…this is err, work in progress for me :-)

SICKNESS – I didn’t get sick because I eliminated some major food groups. This program is only 30 days people, chill :-). It was really helpful to me to read both “It Starts with Food” and the “Whole30” books ahead of time. They explain the science of why exactly foods like sugar are bad for you, in a very easy to digest (no pun intended) way.

What I didn’t like:

MEAL PREP – I’m a fairly decent cook, but the one thing I don’t ever have enough of (like everyone else) is time. Work, convincing a 3 year old that not all tacos are spicy, trying to get a 1 year old to stop throwing food on the floor, and way too much ambition is what usually gets me. I love spending time in the kitchen, but haven’t really enjoyed it ever since the kids were born. I’d much rather spend time with them than prep some fancy meal. That’s exactly the hard part about Whole30. No matter how easy the recipe, it requires some serious kitchen and grocery shopping dedication. Luckily, I took lots of short cuts, prepped meals ahead of time, and relied on Amazon to ship me things like Nutpods and Primalfoods Paleo approved mayo, since I just didn’t have the time to whip that up myself. Look for them on Amazon.

FOOD BOREDOM – I like variety when it comes to foods. There were at least 15 recipes in the Whole30 book that I could’ve made, but again, time wasn’t on my side. I got pretty bored with eggs. Eggs are everything on Whole30. Same with the meats. I’m not much of a meat eater, so that made the Whole30 a bit more tricky for me. All first world problems, of course.

So what’s next?

I’m not going to be that person who’s going to judge you for eating a slice of pizza, don’t worry :-). I will probably eat one myself pretty soon. I have learned a lot about what makes me feel crappy and am still trying to figure that out. I had some wine and chocolate today and both tasted extremely sweet to me. It was weird. I also now know how to (hopefully) get back on track, in case I fall off the wagon. And that, is a huge win for a girl who could previously down a large bag of potato chips without ever knowing how to stop.

Two more things: a HUGE thank you to my family, especially Anil, for supporting me all month long. He even made me this star chart and gave me one star for every successful Whole30 meal or snack. How sweet is that? When I visited Florida a few weeks ago, my mom and dad also went out of their way to make sure I had enough quality Whole30 food to eat. It was amazing.

Starchart

Lastly, I want to leave you with this quote:

“Take care of your body. It’s the only place you have to live.” – Jim Rohn

 

Sleeping Like a Baby

If you’re a parent, you know that “sleeping like a baby” is, well, false. Eventually the little ones sleep, but it usually requires quite a bit of effort or time (or both). Unless, you’re just plain lucky, in which case I give you some serious side eye :-).

Though 18 month Asher wasn’t a great sleeper in the beginning, we’ve gotten him into a good routine with sleep since the beginning of the year. So many things to think about when it comes to sleep, so we didn’t want Asher’s crib sheets to be one of them. Enter Calla Creative. They were super nice enough of to send us a fitted organic crib sheet to test out.

The first thing I loved about the sheet is that it came in a recyclable paper bag. Way to satisfy my inner tree hugger. We washed it and put it on Asher’s mattress. Great fit, quality, and no weird chemical smells. Loved it. It was also super soft and cool and comfy at the same time. How did Asher sleep? Well, I’d say he slept like a baby that first night, but since we all know babies don’t sleep, I’ll just say he slept like a king :-)

If you’re concerned about pesticides and putting those IN your body, you may also want to think about what you’re putting ON your body, since your skin is your largest organ. Not going into lecture mode here, but organic crib sheets are definitely a worthy investment IMHO. Give Calla Creative a try – even before they sent me the crib sheet we tried, I had already purchased their toddler pillow. Also a highly recommended purchase. And with that, I’m calling it a night. Time to sleep like a…toddler 😉

Chilled Strawberry Soup

We’re nearing the end of strawberry season, but that’s not going to stop me from whipping up some chilled strawberry soup (post sleep regression, that is). Like many of my recipes, this one doesn’t have super clear measurements since I arrive at these concoctions through pure trial and error. Of course, with two beautiful rascals and less than 15 minutes to come up with a meal everyday, trial and error is no longer an option, so we’ll see how this year’s version of the soup comes out :-). If you do feel adventurous enough in the kitchen, here’s what you can do:

  1. Grab two pints of strawberries, remove the hull (the green, leafy parts), wash, and toss in the blender.
  2. Add about 1/4 cup of confectioner’s (powdered) sugar. Here’s where the experimental part comes in. You may need some more or less of this, depending on how sweet you want the soup to be.
  3. Blend until smooth, adding a very small amount of water if you want the consistency of the puree to be thinner.
  4. Add a splash of your favorite dry white wine (leave this out if you’re serving it to kids), a dollop of whipped cream, some basil leaves, and cut strawberries as garnish.

Tadaa. That’s really all there is to it. Easy, refreshing, and elegant looking. How elegant? As kitchen art, I framed black and white photos of some of my favorite recipes / creations a few years ago. They are now hanging in our kitchen (I know, Pinterest would be so proud, right?). The left one is what the chilled strawberry soup looks like. Quaint, right? Enjoy!

kitchenart

15 Months & Things We Love

A quick 15 month update! We just had Asher’s 15 month check-up and here’s how he’s doing:

Weight: 25 lbs, 10 oz – 85th percentile
Height: 32.125 inches – 78th percentile
Head size: 47 cm – 53rd percentile

We’ve come a loooong way from the 4 lbs, 6 oz and 19 inches you were born at, buddy. Needless to say, we’re all super proud of you for eating and growing so well. The tantrums have been plentiful lately, but so have the smiles, so we really can’t complain about anything. Here’s some more about you:

Favorite person: Easy – Dilan, with daddy coming in as a close second :-)
Favorite foods: Pretty much anything, but you’re definitely more of a meat and potatoes kind of guy. Anything savory is preferred over anything sweet, except blueberries and apples. You also like roasted broccoli, rice and curry, and quiche a lot.
Favorite things to do: Screaming for fun, speed crawling, banging pots, lids, and utensils together, and cuddling people. Your mama is in love with that last one. We still nurse once a day and it’s usually the most relaxation I get in a day, so I will continue doing this as long as you’re up for it.
Addicted to: Lotion and shampoo tubes and bottles, and daddy (sometimes mommy, it switches back and forth quite rapidly).
Pet peeves: Anything that doesn’t go your way, not being picked up when you want to be held, diaper changes, clothing changes, and sitting still.
At 15 months, Asher isn’t walking by himself yet. I’m saving everything we’ve learned about developmental delays and issues over the last 3.5 years for another post, because there’s a lot to say about these and I’m hoping our experiences will help others. In the meantime, here’s what mommy, daddy, and Dilan are consuming and doing to get through 15 month sleep regression. Yep, we’ve got our first major regression. I’m really hoping this is just the 18 month sleep regression that showed up early. It’s tough right now, with separation anxiety, moving to a new class, and vacations all mixed in (real first world problems right there…).  It’s a rough patch, but I’m sure we’ll get through the sleep issues soon. That is some desperation talking right there. I’m horrible with inadequate sleep. If Anil and I ever get into an argument, it’s because of lack of sleep as the root cause. So, on that beautiful and positive note, here’s what we’re into right now:

  1. Trader Joe’s Cold Brew coffee – Neither Anil nor I were (EVER!) big coffee people…until we met this wonderful little concentrate. Less acid than regular coffee, the same punch, and it tastes like bitter chocolate. We now drink it with almond milk and without any sweeteners. Anil prefers the regular kind and I like the organic one. Just one cup a day for me. Coffee is kind of like the Nose Frida to me. You’re like “hell no, I’m not using that”, until snot hits the fan and then you’re hooked. Cold brew has been fantastic for the less than 7 hours of sleep we get every day (I know, I know, Arianna would so not be proud!). Sorry, sister, workin’ on it.
  2. Grocery delivery – I think that for now we’ll be sticking with Harris Teeter Express Lane store pickup, but I have used Instacart to get some groceries delivered from Costco. I have to say it was wonderful to not have to spend the time or gas to pick up groceries during a really exhausting / difficult work week. Instacart will deliver groceries from Whole Foods, Food Lion, BJs, Petco, and Costco in the Raleigh-Durham area for a small fee + tip. Check them out here: http://bit.ly/instacartRDU.
  3. Summer fun – I love this list: http://www.efficientmomma.com/2015/06/03/summer-bucket-list-for-toddlers/. Some of these activities really apply more to pre-schoolers than younger toddlers, but they’re all such simple, mostly inexpensive activities that I miss from my own childhood. Dilan’s well on his way to checking off most activities. Of course, they’re not nearly as beautiful and straightforward as they look on this list. They’re messy, sometimes tantrummy, sometimes just plain don’t work. But, I like them because they don’t require a ton of grown-up planning and involvement. That’s just the way to go…minimal planning and letting the kids get bored from time to time. If all else fails, there are always Legos. Love me some Legos.

That’s it! Stay tuned for a chilled strawberry soup recipe and our experiences with developmental delays coming to the blog soon!

PS – picture by Asher’s infant class teachers who we love and miss to pieces! It’s actually a pic of a pic that they took for father’s day. I just HAD to post it. I. can’t. even :-)

ashersday

 

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