Bytes of Love

Working mommy. Startup daddy. Rascal toddlers.

Category: About us (Page 1 of 3)

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.

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

 

How Varsha’s Getting Her Groove Back

“What do you MEAN he might have pinkeye?!” I was admiring the gorgeous skyline of downtown Chicago while on the metro, with Anil on the phone. He had just gotten to work in Durham. Dilan was sick and had to be picked up from daycare. At like 9:15 am. Seriously, why do the kids ALWAYS get sick the second one of us gets on a plane? Poor thing. I’m not even there to comfort him. Doesn’t he NEED mommy?! Normally, this wouldn’t faze me much. When you’re breastfeeding and pumping  around the clock though, hormones aren’t on your side in stressful situations like that. I had gotten up around 3 am to catch my flight and had to present in 20 minutes or so. Slight panic.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned after having kids, it’s that they will constantly throw you curve balls. Nothing ever goes as planned, no matter how much you plan. I’m obviously a planner. I have to do-lists for our meals, clothes for the kids, weekend plans, travel, work obligations, birthdays, you name it. It’s helpful and helps things moving smoothly in our household, but for a good chunk of last year, I felt like it was never enough. Classic new parent burnout. I caught a good dose of it.

After a fairly smooth labor and delivery in March last year, I thought I was prepared for taking care of a baby again. I’ve done this before just 2.5 years ago, what could possibly be so hard about it? Well, everything. Everything that was easy with Dilan, was difficult with Asher. Food allergies, sleep issues, breastfeeding jaundice, recurring ear infections, developmental delays, you name it. I think both Anil and I did all we could to keep Asher comfy and keep Dilan as happy as he is. I can’t complain too much about his health issues because at the end of the day, they should all get resolved. They’re all first world problems. However, as trivial as taking care of healthy kids may seem, it can still take a toll on you. It’s ok to think things are hard. It’s ok to be sleep deprived. It’s all temporary, after all. BUT: if there’s one thing I absolutely hate, it’s becoming a mommy martyr. Not me. Definitely not me. I believe you can work hard and still be light on your feet. You can take care of the kids and still have a life of your own…really.

On most days, we wake up at 5:30 and don’t sit down until about 11 pm. Working full-time is actually very helpful for me because I get to eat lunch in peace on most days – HUGE working mom perk. However, there’s not a ton of “me time” at work either, no matter how well balanced I think my job is. Going non-stop still takes a toll on you. So the other day, I came up with some fun new habits for myself to get back into my groove. Everyone needs a groove, a rhythm to keep you going. Here’s what mine consists of:

  1. A little time to myself. For me, this translates into audio books and podcasts. (Or, just straight up brownies – pick one). I know this sounds really counter intuitive. You want to get back into your groove with more technology? How “un-zen-like” is that?! Well actually, it’s been amazing. I never get to read at home because our evenings are all about meal prep for the next day, cleaning the house, laundry / getting clothes ready, and some laptop work or HOUSE OF CARDS (can’t complain about that one). Having the ability to listen to books, sometimes even with the kids in the car has made a huge difference for me. I’ve learned so much while driving. It’s sneaky “me” time that makes me feel human and connected again (ironically). Stay tuned for my favorites coming soon.
  2. Device-less nights. As you may have guessed, Anil and I are constantly connected. It’s the only way to manage the household, work, and everything else. Like I said, we’re planners, and a lot of our planning and shopping gets done online and in apps. But sometimes it’s nice to just disconnect, have a glass of wine, sit, and re-set. It’s hard for two technologists to make this happen, but we’ve loved the few nights when we’ve done this. Tub time is the best. Steal your kids’ bubbles. Trust me. Also, you can make any dinner look fancy with candle light. Just wait until the kids go to sleep.
  3. Work-less weekends. Of course there are those weekends when you do what you have to do for work. But in general, we try to get out with the kids as much as we can. Museums, parks, even grocery shopping and outside chores can be fun with the kids. The main point is that staying home often forces you to clean, organize, cook, fix up stuff, etc. While that’s great, it’s not so fun for the kids, no matter how much you try to involve them. By getting out more, we’ve felt more balanced and the kids have much more fun. They learn a ton about the outside world too. It doesn’t always have to be expensive. You’re talking to a thrifty mom here. I hunt down those deals, girlfriend.
  4. Taking more risks. Last year was a great year for me at work, but I didn’t take as many risks as I’m planning to take this year. I didn’t drop the ball on anything, but when your mind is so consumed with a move, newborn, and potty training a preschooler, you’re just preparing for constant change at home and it’s just a lot to handle in addition to work. It chugged along, but this year, I’m planning to be much more innovative. Because…, why not? Innovation is refreshing and just as good for the soul as letting your mind rest, if you ask me.

onmyway

I’m typing this post while waiting for my flight back home from Dallas. Of course, one of the kids is sick again and Anil had to take time off work to take care of our poor sweetheart Asher. Thank goodness sis-in-law was around this time to lend a hand. Regardless, he’s done a fabulous job and that’s one of the biggest reasons why I married him. When you don’t have the grandparents or lots of family nearby, it can be hard to manage a startup, work, two kids, and all the glory that comes along with everyday life. I’m such a work in progress, but I’m no longer afraid of the chaos. I embrace it and make small tweaks to help me feel human again in all the blessed mess. I may not be where I want to be yet, but I’m on my way. On my way to getting my groove back…

Happy First Birthday, Asher!

Dear Asher,
I was about to start this post by saying that you’re the bomb diggity. I then refrained because by the time you’ll actually be old enough to fully comprehend this (sometime in middle school?), that would be really uncool ;-). In all seriousness, thanks for joining our family a year ago. I had a flawless pregnancy and yet you were born just a few grams shy of NICU time. I have never cried as many happy tears as when your brother came to give me the news (with daddy’s help, he was just 2 after all), that you were a perfectly healthy 4 lbs and 6 ounce baby boy.

Those first few months of your life, you grew huge! Some say that’s miracle, but it would only be one if there was something wrong to begin with. I say it was mostly mama’s milk. But I won’t go into too many nursing details because I know that’s the last thing you will want to read as a middle schooler as well ;-). Although you grew really well, we had our share of challenges: breastfeeding jaundice, ear infections, dairy and soy allergies. They were really rough for you at the time,  but I can’t help and think of how much we’ve all learned and how much stronger we are as a family because of all of these annoyances. Being a baby or being a parent is tough when things go smoothly. It’s even more challenging when they don’t. The biggest lesson you’ve taught me (in addition to patience) is that you are who you are.

Asher1

And I wouldn’t want it any other way. After all, what would we do without your curls (which I smell and run my fingers through at least 19 times a day), your giggle and smile, your lashes (!!!), and your beautiful eyes? You’re extremely strong-willed, just like your brother, impatient, just like everyone in our family, sweet, CUDDLY, fussy when things don’t go your way, talkative, and funny. You love to clap, roll around, shake things, bang objects together, bury your head when you cuddle, and do anything and everything wild with Dilan. You love to eat most foods, but lean meats and carbs seem to top your list. You like spices and love to drink from a cup. You LOVE Apple watches and remotes, too. I think your first words are “ball” and “mama” (not going to complain about the latter one ;-)). We still nurse twice a day and I never thought I’d say this, but I am cherishing every minute of it.

Happy Birthday, my dear. I am so sorry for traveling most of the day on your birthday, but I hope that one day, you’ll appreciate all the hard work that your dad and I have and will put into raising you. I also hope you don’t remember my dance moves. We’ll have a beer together when you’re old enough if you do. Here’s to another year of fun, being brave, and making a difference. Hope you enjoy these bytes of love.

Even though you’re one now, you’ll always be my baby boy. Love you,

– Mommy

PS – Stay tuned for all 12 of your monthly pictures!

Asher2

Asher’s 9 Month Update & The Best Resolution Ever

It’s hard to believe that just 9 months ago (almost 10 now), I gave birth to 4 lbs, 6 oz of pure chillaxed joy (that is the best way to describe Asher, after all). Other terms that come to mind? Boy diva, Bay dawg (long story, but that’s what Anil and Dilan like to call him), and pudge bucket. The latter one refers to:

Weight: 19.14 lbs (used to be a whopping 21 lbs, but he lost 2 lbs while sick) – 37th percentile
Height: 29.25 inches – 77th percentile (we like our babies nice and tall)
Head size: 17.72 inches – 43rd percentile

You guys, he was not even on the charts when he was born…He’s grown a ton and LOVES to eat. He’s eaten every purée and handfuls of finger foods we’ve fed him so far. He also loves to roll around (no crawling yet, he’s just too lazy), watch Dilan do anything wild and crazy, fuss until he gets picked up, let his voice be heard (he’s easily the loudest baby you’ve ever met), and flirt by giving people his signature “slow blink”. He also has the curliest hair you’ve ever seen on a boy and a smile that melts my heart faster than any ice cream you give to a toddler.

Asher has been through a very rough few weeks ever since Thanksgiving. He’s had 3 ear infections in a row and went through 5 rounds of antibiotics. We’re working on fixing this very soon, but he’s such a trooper for making it through it all. The toughest part about him being sick has been the sleep. We had Dilan sleeping through the night at 7 months. Asher? Until about a week ago, he still woke up 4 times a night. Sucks for us, yes, but also really hard on the poor boy. We got some sleep help because we forgot some fundamentals about baby sleep, which is such a rookie move, but it’s helped a ton over the last week or so. I am one of those people who needs 3 hours of consecutive sleep to make it through a full work day. Not 3 hours total, 3 hours of continuous sleep. Since I wasn’t getting that (and neither was Anil), we made some changes and are doing much better now. The good news for tired parents everywhere is that whether you’re co-sleeping or want a totally independent baby, there is almost always something you can do to get more / better sleep. Sleep is so important. Hit me up if you want some guidance / tips / a shoulder to lean on.

How’s the rest of the family coping with all of this? Here ya go:

State of the Mommy

As you already know, I’ve been dead tired (and unnecessarily cranky from time to time). On the plus side, work is going great and I’m never more than 2 – 3 loads of laundry behind on any given day, which is a HUGE accomplishment in the crazy Chawla household. I’ve been home (staycation) for almost two weeks and am loving it. I haven’t gotten out of yoga pants, t-shirts, and hoodies, guys. I’m still breastfeeding a little bit every day, which makes me really proud (breastfeeding + working full-time is HARD), but I’m looking forward to getting my (social) life back some day. Asher will let me know when that day will come. If you see me in the meantime, hugs, wine, chocolate, back massages, and a “this too shall pass” is always appreciated ;-). If you work with me, don’t worry, I’ll be kicking butt at work again when I return. Work never suffers.

State of the Daddy

I won’t lie. The daddy takes all the sleep deprivation and taking care of Dilan much, much better than I’m ever capable of. He’s so organized, positive, hardworking, and kind. This is why I married him. He keeps me sane. Ladies, be jealous. His company will grow to 18 people next year (next week, actually!) and I beam with pride every time I think of how hard he’s worked for it. If I make it through the next 9 months, he’s one of the biggest reasons for this.

State of the Dilan

Dilan is his usual 3-year-old self: an absolute sweetheart / moody as hell / determined / iffy on dinner pre-schooler. Yep, he recently moved up to pre-school and LOVES it. Much more work for him to do there and he’s learning a ton from the older 5-year-olds in his class. I’m happy for him. At the same time, I know a poorly sleeping baby brother, the holidays, and moving to a new school is a lot to deal with. We hear ya, Dils. We’re taking a big break to help you through all the changes. He does fantastic with going to the bathroom and his vocabulary is expanding every day. I think we couldn’t ask for much more right now (ok fine, sitting still during dinner and going to sleep on time would be nice…).

That’s it. Super quick update. We’re surviving. Asher is growing. I’m thankful for everything that comes our way. Every challenge provides a new way to learn and grow, after all. As far as resolutions for next year (tomorrow!) go, here is my biggest one: to simplify EVERYTHING. Yeah, yeah, I had that as a resolution last year as well, but when you go through a huge move and have a new baby, simplifying things gets lost in the mess and excitement somehow. But this upcoming year, I’m simplifying everything. Getting rid of everything I don’t care about, while keeping the things that make me happy. Because having less to worry about and having more fun never hurt anyone, right? Let me know what your resolutions are and Happy New Year, guys!

PS – this picture: pure joy. One of my favorites ever. We transformed it into a canvas and it’s currently hanging in our toy room downstairs, along with some other favorites. I love to look at it on rainy days like today when the kids are driving me nuts.

dilandasher

Jack Johnson, Hives & A Lot of Love

A quick six month update from the trenches: this has been a pretty rough week for everyone. Asher caught a (daycare?) bug and has had diarrhea for about six days now. A pediatrician told us to try probiotics, which caused him to break out into hives. She didn’t catch that probiotics contain dairy, which he’s allergic to, and I thought about it too late: #momfail. Our work and travel schedules are pretty insane this month, and I could really use a glass of wine.

On the bright side: Asher has turned into the smiliest six month old I’ve ever met. He went from being too small to be on charts, to growing to about 35th percentile for weight. He’s a bit weak when it comes to gross motor skills, but I think / hope we just need to do a better job practicing with him. Other than his dairy and soy allergies, he’s completely healthy and it shows (ok fine, not today, because he broke into hives). He likes the few fruits and veggies we’ve fed him so far and LOVES watching Dilan do anything wild and crazy. He still wakes up 3x per night to feed, even though he knows how to put himself to sleep. We’ll work on that when he feels better.

As for me, I hit two big milestones today as well: I finally lost all my pregnancy weight and met my goal of nursing for six months on the dairy and soy free diet. I think I’ll keep going a little longer, because Asher loves to be nursed and that’s what’s most important: not just providing food, but a dose of special love as well. We’ll see how my supply holds up. I’m not anti-formula, but I just enjoy the sweetness of nursing. Asher and I celebrated everything by slow dancing to Jack Johnson after lunch (a veggie burger for me and two teaspoons of sweet potato for him) . Jack, you know what’s up when it comes to our babies. They love you and your sleep inducing songs.

So our six month update doesn’t contain Asher’s official six month picture or any type of Pinterest-perfect outfit. It’s your typical, second child status post: written in an extreme hurry…but with a lot of love :-). Hugs to you, my little one. Happy six months. You are loved more than you will ever realize. Here’s to many more to come ::raises imaginary, much needed champagne glass and milk bottle::

Asher

Four Weekday Recipes You Can Actually Make

Well, when you guys told me that two-small-children, two-careers life is crazy, you weren’t kidding. If you’re like us, the hours of 5 pm – 9 pm on week days are pretty…intense. By intense I mean that the baby needs to be nursed, while the toddler needs some fruit, wants to play with play-doh, and needs help while going potty. ALWAYS at the exact same time. All at once. Daddy isn’t home yet to help, but thank goodness he’s there for dinner. Dinner is an exciting mix of food going everywhere, negotiations for more blueberries, and the baby refusing to sit in his bouncer for longer than two minutes because he HAS TO sit at the table with us and pull on mommy’s hair while she eats dinner. And, nurse again while she attempts to eat, of course. After dinner, we do dual bath and bed times, books, evening snack and bottle, and then label the next day’s bottles for daycare, do some laundry, and pick out everyone’s clothes for the next day. Anil and I usually don’t get “us” time until about 11 pm or so.

Somehow, when you’ve been away at work from your kids,  you don’t mind the circus after work. As hectic as it is, it’s really hard not to smile when the toddler tells you the “skarks” in Finding Nemo are scary :-) It’s such a blessing to have healthy children.  I’m also constantly being told that I’ll miss these moments one day, so I will take y’all’s word for it.  However, there is one thing I’ve really come to dislike when I get home and that’s cooking meals and doing dishes. It takes away from precious family time that we never seem to get enough of these days.  I never thought I’d say this and I still love to eat, but having a lot of time to prepare meals is just not happening. And that’s ok. We still manage to pull together dairy-and-soy-free dinners (for me, who nurses an allergic Asher) on most days, with shameless take-out meals making up for whatever we’re lacking. I thought I’d share a few of these super simple meals, in case you’re in the same boat and don’t have more than about 15 minutes to get dinner on the table.

Four Weekday Recipes You Can Actually Make

1. Oven roasted veggies and sausage: Pick a few veggies that don’t get too soggy in the oven. We like sweet potatoes, bell peppers, onions. Add your favorite kielbasa or sausage. Don’t eat meat? You can try tofu or soy based sausage, or toss in cooked lentils at the end. Toss the veggies and sausage with natural Italian seasoning, some garlic powder, salt, pepper, and olive oil. Bake at 350 to 375 from about 45 minutes to an hour (really depends on your oven). Done! Healthy, easy, and you can prep it the night before and just throw it in the oven as soon as you get home. Depending on the protein you pick, this is a wonderful gluten, dairy, and soy-free meal as well.

Oven roasted goodies

2. Alexia frozen veggies and fried eggs: If you’re going to go the frozen route, Alexia is actually a pretty good brand because they use all natural ingredients. I like their asparagus, red potato, and mushroom medley. I sauté this mix with a little bit of olive oil and then fry some eggs for protein. Very simple, but tasty.

Alexia and eggs

3. Trader Joe’s Vegetable Masala burgers in tomato-cilantro sauce. Ok, this one requires a little bit more night-before prep and also requires you to have some Indian spices on hand. Go grab a small container and mix in a teaspoon of turmeric, a teaspoon of fennel seeds, a teaspoon of dried thyme, a teaspoon of salt, and 1/2 teaspoon of garam masala. Mix well and get back to it the next day when you’re ready to cook. When it’s game time, grab a handful of cherry or grape tomatoes and a handful of fresh cilantro. Wash well and toss in a food processor. Blend until smooth. Add some olive oil to a pan and add the dry spice mix. Cook for a few minutes and add the tomato-cilantro mix. Cook for another 5 minutes or so and crumble in the completely defrosted veggie burgers, from TJ’s, of course. Cook for another 10 and you’re done! Indian food that tastes like it took an hour to make, done in about 20 minutes.

IMG_8964

4. Chimichurri-anything. I absolutely love chimichurri sauce. It’s so easy to make and you can prepare it ahead of time and keep it in the fridge. Here’s what you do: take 1 cup fresh cilantro, 1/2 cup fresh parsley, 1/2 cup olive oil, 1/4 cup red wine vinegar, 2 large cloves of garlic, 1/2 tbsp cumin powder, 1/2 tbsp red pepper flakes (less if you don’t like the heat). Blend it all in a food processor & toss it on pretty much anything. And by anything I do mean anything: roasted or steamed veggies, potatoes, meats, tofu, tempeh, chicken, yuca, you name it. SO good.

Chimi

626 Diapers Later

If there was ever a time when I had to put my big girl underwear on, these last 3 months were IT. We had Asher, who was born small for gestational age, has reflux, and is apparently allergic to dairy and soy. We found out about this on the day we moved to our new house and I had to pump around the clock for two weeks while formula feeding Asher so the dairy and soy could get out of my system. I was feeding or pumping 16 – 18 times per day while unpacking boxes. In addition to that, we had some major sleep regression with Dilan (still working on this), had Anil travel for work a week after we moved, and had a boat load of people over all at the same time. Some of this was planned, some of it wasn’t. That’s just life. But talk about a whirlwind of a three months!

No one really talks about not loving or being too exhausted to fully enjoy those first newborn weeks, but I am here to tell you that it’s absolutely ok if you don’t love every moment of it. Now if you’re not having fun at all, you may just have a problem. Your life isn’t going to be like that Hallmark or Gerber commercial you see and that’s fine. Even if you don’t have as much going on as we just did, you just have to remember that YOU’RE GOING TO SURVIVE. Just like we just did. All the stressful sleep and feeding habits eventually disappear and this too, shall pass.

After spending three months with the most adorable preemie sized baby boy, I felt obligated to follow up on this post I wrote for Dilan. Though we’ve been giving Asher a good dose of the second child treatment (sorry dude, comes with the rank), we still had to track what he’s been up to these last 12 weeks, so here it is:

Diaper count: 626 total
Nursing: 210 hours, for a total of 859 times
Bottle count: 198, with a freezer full of expressed, but “contaminated with soy and dairy” milk =(

Asher is growing rapidly and though he may stay small for a while, I’m confident that he’ll be just fine in the long run. Hopefully we’ll be able to keep him on track when I go back to work next week.

Work. Yikes. I absolutely love my job because it challenges my brain like nothing else does. But man, I will miss staying at home with that boy and Dilan, who stayed home on occasion. In the long run, there is nothing glamorous about staying at home with a newborn and a toddler, as I’ve said before. It’s madness. I truly appreciate everything SAHMs do and in the back of my head I keep thinking “I could never do this full-time”. Staying at home and taking care of the kids is a luxury, but not for the stay-at-home parent. It’s a luxury for the family because nothing’s nicer than coming home to a home-cooked meal, a clean house, and folded laundry. But doing it sure isn’t simple when you have kids around. I’m glad I got to do it for 12 weeks and got the family somewhat settled in. So for those of you embarking on something similar, here are my best newborn tips for those tough first few weeks:

Meals – Cook before the baby comes. Freeze some meals and pick up take-out menus beforehand. If people want to bring you food, TAKE IT. We had both sets of grandparents come visit us for a full two weeks, which was glorious. However, not everyone has the luxury of having family in nearby states, so take any and all meals that come your way. Just tell people what you want, really.

Laundry – I do at least one load every other day to keep track of laundry. Between a newborn and a two year old, it piles up quickly. Buy those pods that you can just toss in with the laundry so you don’t have to measure anything.

People – Speak up. Tell people what you want and when you want it. Most friends and family will be glad to help, but you have to tell them when it is and isn’t a good time to come over (witching hour, anyone?)

Getting out – I won’t lie. Two and a half is a tough age. Especially if there is some regression and your child is going through some developmental changes (read: lots of tantrums). It’s pretty much impossible right now for me to go anywhere with both kids, but we’ve ventured out a little bit. It just requires a lot of planning and patience, and at least 30 minutes of buffer, unless you want to be late all the time. Carry extra diapers, a boat load of wipes, at least two extra outfits per child, sippy cups, bottles, and a ton of distractions for the toddler. New books, your iPad, dollar bin toys from Target, whatever it takes.

That’s about it, guys. Wish me luck at work next week!! This corporate mama is as excited as she’s nervous. Greatness comes to those who embrace the chaos, after all. And to be completely honest, I wouldn’t want it any other way.

asher

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