Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Moms Gone Crazy

This morning, my Ella woke up with a runny nose and scratchy throat. She was so bummed that she had to stay home from school and miss her Christmas Pageant. So sad, because she was supposed to sing in a choir outfit and everything. We laid low most of the morning, but we ventured out to get peppermint tea and stuff to make homemade chicken soup. Gotta have homemade chicken soup when its rainy, cold and you have a sick baby. So we ran to Trader Joes for sustenance.  It was insane out because of the Holiday craziness, but finally we made it back home. 

I carried in all 4 paper bags at once and dropped them on the floor. Ella started grabbing things to put away; one of her favorite activities. Lily happily joined in the fun, reached into the bag and pulled out a full carton of eggs. Down they went, in slow motion, one at a time it seemed. Smashing on the floor and back into the bag and all over some of the nice fresh groceries. I stood for a second with my mouth wide open, not too sure what my next move should be. Then I bust out laughing so hard, I couldn't breathe. 

The girls looked at me like I had lost my marbles. 
I think I may have, but it felt good.
Here comes trouble...

Wino Wednesday!
My pick for best budget red wine of the season.

Drum Roll Please....

Cabernet Sauvignon

This Wino Wednesday is extra special, because I get to spend it with some of my favorite people. Some of my Playgroup Mamas! Bring on the good food, drinks and good friends. Can't wait girlies. 

Merry Merry Christmas and Happy Happy New Year. Thanks for reading. 


My Mommy Mantra: Make your kids an incredible Part of your life, not your WHOLE life.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

A Holiday Light Show Gone Bad

The other night Don arrived home early from work. We ate a quick dinner and jumped in the car to go see a local Holiday light show. We stopped to get strawberry shakes for the girls and blasted Christmas music the whole way there.
Before those dreaded words were said...

The girls were so excited. The lights were beautiful. We were driving through this 60 acre lot with a one way road with cars in front of us and cars behind us; all of us inching along looking at the light exhibits. The lights were bright and all around. It was pretty amazing.

Then Ella lowers the boom;
"I have to go potty, really really bad."

Maybe the strawberry milkshake wasn't such a great idea. So now the pretty light show turned into an annoying mess as we prayed that the drivers in front would go faster. We went from "oooooos and ahhhhhhhs" to "geez they are just lights, get over it people!" 

Finally we got out of that "trap of a place" and pulled over on the side of the road and Ella had her first experience "popping a squat". She seemed slightly horrified. It made for a memorable experience and will make a good story to tell at Holidays going forward.

Wino (Thursday) Wednesday!
White Wine Change Up
Rockbrook Chardonnay 2009

I needed a white wine to make a sage butter sauce for dinner. I tasted this as I was cooking and it was pretty darn tasty. Not to mention is was $6.99! So rather than let this wine sit in my fridge until the next time I decide to undergo a cooking adventure, I am enjoying a glass. It goes well with the chocolate I stole from my girl's advent calendars....

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Double Ear Infections = Double the Fun

Today was rainy and yucky and the perfect day to stay in bed and be cozy. But alas, Ella had school and Lily had a ferocious cough that needed immediate attention. She was up most of the night coughing and pretty miserable. I made an appointment with the "Giraffe Doctor" as soon as I could.

I picked Ella up from school and we headed over. Ella so aptly named her doc the "Giraffe Doctor" because the office is covered in Giraffes. Giraffe lamps, mobiles, paintings and statues; you get the picture. The "sick waiting room" at the office is much cooler than the "well waiting room". So the girls are always excited to visit this fun zone. Me on the other hand, I dread it. Slimy, sick kid germs floating about waiting to engulf my girls who merely have colds.

When we walked into this waiting room, you would have thought we were in Disney World. They were running around playing with every toy, and laughing and having a grand old time. The other poor sick pre-teen kids were probably ready to kill my two sweeties. But I thought it was great. It was a rainy day and they needed to blow off some steam. So for once the wait in the waiting room wasn't long enough.

Wino Wednesday!
Wine of the Week
The Show - Cabernet Sauvignon 2005

This wine is hands down my favorite budget wine of the season. I can't get enough of it. Luckily Wednesday only comes once a week. If I have to bring a nice yummy bottle to a dinner party, this is the one. A pretty label, a delicious smooth taste and it is easy on the wallet. Homerun. The Show is typically around $15, but can be found for $10 if you look hard enough.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Lullabies from a 3 year old

The past two nights we have been working on putting the girls to bed at the same time. Last night we were met with some opposition from Lily. A few minutes of her whining, not wanting to sleep but rather play with her sister who was right next to her. Tonight Lily was much more disgruntled. Crying, yelling for us, wanting to get out. A far cry from our easy, just lay her in the crib baby. Tonight she was pissed.

After Don went in one time to try to soothe her, we decided to let her cry it out. What happened next is quite possibly the greatest thing ever. We heard Ella start singing really softly to Lily. Singing our family song, "Noonie noo and a Noonie noo, Noonie noo and a Noonie noo." She sang it over and over again. It wasn't working so she switched to "Row row row your boat, gently down the stream..." Still Lily held strong. Then we heard Ella whisper "Lily, do you want the closet light on? Say yes" Of course Lily said yes and Ella hopped down and turned on the closet light.

Now Ella is softly telling Lily that she needs to go to sleep. She is making up silly rhymes about butterflies, flowers, hearts and princesses. In between saying these rhymes she sings "now go to bed".

I know I will need to go in and tuck them in one more time to get the desired result of sleep, but I am enjoying this too much. A bucket of popcorn and I could listen all night....

******Flash 2 hours later and Lily has exhausted all of Ella's singing skills, my rocking and Don's belly rubs. She finally passed out, but it was a doozy.

No WINO Wednesday this week, since technically it is Thursday and I still am on wine strike due to my cold. Next week, I promise.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Say YES!

Lately Ella and Lily's interactions have become more and more entertaining. Ella is learning that she has a certain power over her little sister. A power that proves very useful to her. Here is a sample of the conversations I overheard today.

Ella: Lily are you done playing with Teddy? Say yes.

Lily: Yes

Ella: Lily do you want to run with me? Say yes.

Lily: Yes

Ella: Lily can you give me that cookie? Say yes.

Lily: Yes

Basically, anything we tell Lily to say she says. Ella has seen the magic in this. A few times today I had to say something to Ella about her conversations with Lily. Ella simply turned to me and said, "But Mom Lily said yes", as she showed me the cookie that used to be Lily's. I proceeded to explain to her that Lily doesn't understand the meaning of YES yet. Ella looked at me confused by my explanation. I knew it hadn't sunk in and that I hadn't done a great job explaining.

Two minutes later I heard; "Lily, can I sit in that chair? Say yes."
Then I heard a tiny little "Yes" from my sweet Lily. Followed by a small thud and a cry. I walked into the playroom to see Lily sitting on the floor next to her chair, which was now occupied by Ella. I tried to explain to Ella that we can't trick Lily into saying the answer we want to hear. I know it fell on deaf ears. I mean how can she resist?

I wish Ella's "Say yes" method worked on grown-ups. How easy would that be? "Can I please have my bottle of wine for free? Say yes."


Wino Wednesday!
Barefoot Cabernet Sauvignon

Ok, so I am not technically drinking this tonight. I am suffering big time from a head splitting cold. I did however buy a bottle to serve tomorrow for Thanksgiving. This is my perfect cheap go to safety wine. It is tasty and only $6.99/bottle! In New York we don't have 2 Buck Chuck. We do have Barefoot though and it is yummy.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Wine, Cheese and Sleeping Babies

Wino Wednesday is here! I am cheating again this week. My budget wine, isn't as budget as I would like, but it is worth every penny. Tonight we are sharing a Vincent Arroyo Melange Reserve, 2009.

Vincent Arroyo is this amazing little boutique Vineyard in Calistoga California. We visited it back in 2004 with our closest friends. They were excited to share this special little place with us. I am surprised they did; it is the kind of place you want to keep all to yourself. We fell in love. You never forget the first time you get to taste wine straight out of the barrel, from a turkey baster. You feel like you are part of the birth of something.

So this past July we went back to Vincent Arroyo with those same friends. This time we had our two girls and they now have a little girl and another baby on the way. It felt like we were going back to visit an old friend. We saw Vincent, tasted their own personal stash of 1984 "nameless", we took picture after picture of the kids running around the vineyard and of course we ordered a case of futures to be shipped back to New York. This vineyard only sells directly to consumers so you have to get it while you can. Their wine isn't carried in any restaurants or stores and often sells out before it is even bottled.

So the case arrived, along with a shipment of cheese from Artisanal Premium Cheese in NYC (a Living Social Deal). The babies are asleep, the cheese is laid out and the Vincent is flowing freely. Wednesday is my favorite day of the week.

Monday, November 14, 2011

It Takes a Village

Elle had school today and like any typical Monday, while Elle is at school, I make my rounds of phone calls to my girlfriends. Checking in on my friends who have become my Long Island family is a Monday ritual. Not being from the area, it has been a blessing to have found true and amazing friends that I can count on. Whether it is a mundane Monday or a hectic Thursday, building this network has made my life as a mom a million times easier. These are safe, comforting, amazing women who at the drop of a hat I would leave my babies with and feel utterly relaxed. Thankfully they have made living away from my family somewhat bearable.

Three years ago when Ella was only 4 months old I attended a Gymboree Music and Play class. There, I met some women who were all going through the same things I was. We all had our first babies, 4 months old, sleepless nights, some juggling work, some juggling being a SAHM for the first time, all equally as devoted to their new babies as I was. I felt like I could breathe, I wasn't all alone on this Island! It started off small. Going over to the local coffee house, sharing stories of "cluster feeding", gassiness and the dreaded teething. A group of women experiencing the exact same things at the exact same time, it felt serendipitous.

It grew from coffee houses to our houses. Rotating every Friday hosting play-dates at homes and parks. Now, 3 years later and still going strong. We have evolved, adding children and adding friends, but never have we lost sight of this special bond. Our children have become cousins and it feels like we have become sisters. All of our connections are unique and often dependent on schedules. But it is so rare to find a group of people you can trust with your children. Never questioning their love and loyalty to your family.

My number one recommendation to new Moms, is to put yourself out there. Try to get out and meet Moms with babies the same age as yours. You will find that the things you have in common, can make those sleepless nights much easier to bear. You may even find that in those moments of bonding over war wounds, a different kind of friendship can form, one based solely on family, a new kind of family.

Mommy Mantra: Make your kids an incredible Part of your life, not your WHOLE life.

Tonight I made fried eggplant with angel-hair pasta and semi home-made tomato sauce. Half roasted tomatoes and garlic half store bought sauce - makes for a homemade feel in half the time. This is a favorite of the girls.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Conspiracy Against Parents: Take 2

What a long week it has been, and it is only Wednesday. I feel like reposting my post from last March, "Conspiracy Again Parents". Changing the clocks in the fall for daylight savings used to be the best thing ever, extra sleep - bonus. Now, instead of gaining that hour of sleep, you hold out hope that you will get it and it is ripped out from under you. My toddler was bright eyed and bushy tailed, ready to party at 5:30am. The saying; "You are lucky you are cute", really hit home this week.

So now I am reworking the system, getting everything back in order. It is exhausting trying to time out a toddler's day. I am sure we will get back into the swing of things, just in time for a new torturous changing of clocks.

"Wino Wednesday" is on hold this week. Back to the Beer Baby! I was craving a nice Oktoberfest. I made it very girlified with a cinnamon and sugar rim. Perfect end to a long day. I promise I will get back to my wine next "Wino Wednesday".

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

When to step in?

Today I had to bite my tongue, hard. It took everything in my power, but I did it. A little girl on the playground was mean to my Ella. Saying not so nice things to her and being downright bratty. I noticed that the insults were rolling off of Ella's back, so I kept an ear and an eye on the little girl, but I stayed in the shadows.

I wanted to yell, "Hey you, knock it off!"
Then I reminded myself I was dealing with a 4 year old.

I saw a few moments when Ella would flinch a little and look off in the distance, contemplating her next move. I wanted so badly to run over scoop her up and leave, but I resisted. I have always been of the philosophy that I need to instill the right lessons so that when I am not there, she can handle herself. In kindergarten I won't be there to tell the kids to stop pushing on the playground. She is going to have to fend for herself. As scary as that is.

So on the way home from the playground, I waited a few minutes to see if she would bring it up. I wondered if it even affected her. Then she says it; "Katie said I am nuts and that Laura isn't my friend." I took a deep breath and went through my usual shpeal.

I told her that she was not nuts and that she can be friends with whomever she wants, she doesn't need anyone's permission. I told her to always be kind and sweet and the right kind of friends will come to her. I reminded her that if someone bothers her, she should just go play with something or someone else. I said this a few times, almost as if I was reminding myself.

I so badly want her to have the confidence to walk away from conflict and to find the right kind of people to surround herself with in life. In reality though, I know it is not always possible. Sometimes you have to be around people who aren't nice. You have to deal with bullies and mean girls. Hopefully though our talks and the way we live our life will help her see how to treat people. Most importantly though - how she should expect people to treat her.

I must admit, it would have felt good to yell at the brat on the playground today, it would have felt real good.

My Mommy Mantra: "Make your kids an incredible Part of your life, not your WHOLE life."

Wino Wednesday

Domaine Brunet Pinot Noir

This delicious buttery Pinot Noir is a staple in our house. It never disappoints. It is a family favorite of my mother-in-law. She has terrific taste in wine. So give it a try. The price ranges from $11/$16. Not too shabby.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

A Heavy Day ***Wino Wednesday***

Today I just felt like everything was heavy. The day was weighing on me.

It just seemed to never end. So, now I am in bed having a tiny glass of wine trying to keep my eyes open to write my Wino Wednesday post. I think tomorrow I have to start my day with a little more Jack Johnson, maybe a smoothie and a better attitude. I hate to say it, but I let the small stuff bother me today. But I am human, I'm allowed to sulk every now and then, right?

Lily's cast is off, my girls are cozy and safe in their beds. That is worth lingering on, not all the rest.
Mommy Mantra: make your kids an incredible Part of your life, not your WHOLE life.

*Featured* Wine of the Week
Montes Alpha Cabernet Sauvignon 2006

This is so delicious! I had a glass last night and went back for a tiny glass tonight. If I were in a better mood this would be a bottle I would polish off with hubby and enjoy every drop of it. It was a great cheap option, at $11/bottle. This is certainly in the running for best wine of the season. Might have to go back for seconds.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Freeze dance and WINO WEDNESDAY!

Fa fa fa fa fa fa freeze dance! Anyone with toddlers/pre-schoolers knows this jingle all too well. "The Fresh Beat Band" on Nick Jr. has this annoyingly addicting song. The episode seems to be on ALL the time. It is also a great game to play with the kiddos when they start to get too rambuncious at a playdate. They stop and focus and for a minute you can captivate a crowd of 3 year olds simply by saying "FREEZE!". Genius.

Today I wanted to stop the music and freeze a moment in time. I have a lot of those lately, but during this particular one I could feel myself trying to will time to stand still. With all my might I couldn't and the moment passed. I said in my head, "remember this." I'm putting it in my blog so just that can happen. So I can remember.

My girls are growing so fast and playing more and more together everyday. Becoming the best friends I dreamed them to be. Today I was folding laundry in their bedroom. The girls were in the hallway looking at books and being silly. Then I hear Ella say, "Lily, do you want to go to school with me someday?"

I could see them, but they had their back to me, so I could freely enjoy the cuteness without disturbing their chit chat. I held my breath half waiting for Lily (16 months) to respond.

Lily looked up at Ella, then Ella proceeded with "You could sit with me and my friends on the bus, Lily." "Would you like that Lily?" Lily just smiled, looked up at Ella and said "TUTU!" As she held up her favorite book, "I Wear My Tutu Everywhere." Ella took the book, opened it and sat down flipping through the pictures with Lily watching.

It is moments like that, that I would give any amount of money to have a video camera permanently glued to my hand. I am so afraid I will forget. I want to be old and grey and have clear memories of this time in my life. So I blog and I write it down in their journals too. Mostly though, I would love to rewind and watch it all again. It is so easy to get caught up in the mundane everyday and not appreciate the here and now.

Mommy Mantra - Make your kids an incredible Part of your life, not your WHOLE life.

Wino Wednesdays!

This Week's Wine
Cupcake Vineyards - Red Velvet $10 plus 15% off coupon!

Hmmmmm. Not sure about this one. My local vino hook-up (Grape Culture) had a %15 off coupon so I thought I would give it a go. Night #1, I had a glass without food and I was not happy. Not at all. Too sweet and blah, no oomph. Night #2 I drank a glass with a nice steak dinner. It was a whole new experience. Delicious and balanced and the perfect partner for my meal. So for me, this is not a stand out, and certainly not a wine to drink without gnashing on something carnivorous.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Cooking with Royalty

Tonight Ella helped me cook dinner, a favorite activity of hers. I hate to admit it, but these days it rarely happens. The frequency of her wanting to help hasn't diminished, but my patience has. I'm always rushing to get dinner on the table and any task that involves a 3 year old seems to take 3 times as long. Today though, Lily was taking a long nap and Ella was glued to my side, wanting to soak up this rare "Mommy alone time". I told her I had to get started with dinner; usually her cue to go play. This time she pulled over a chair, which meant she wanted to stand on it and help me cook. She had the hugest grin and an adorable tiara; how could I resist? Everything I was asking Ella to do, she was doing with such enthusiasm. "Ok Mommy", "yes Mommy", "yum Mommy this is going to be delicious".

We made a kitchen sink salad which is becoming one of her absolute favorites (see recipe below). Also - Baked lemon pepper chicken and tuscan bread with oregano and feta cheese.

Don walked in and the house smelled yummy, his two girls were giggling together and listening to Miles Davis. Ella had already set the table. He said it was a perfect sight.

Mommy Mantra: "Make your kids an incredible Part of your life, not your WHOLE life."

From now until Christmas I will be reviewing "budget bottles" of red wine. I will then declare my favorite budget bottle around Christmas. The criteria - red wine between $8 and $12. What qualifies me to review wine? Nothing except my love of drinking it. October to December is my season of red wine! So I'd like to pay homage.

Wine of the Week
Vinos De Arganza Flavium Mencia 2008
; a recommendation from my local wine shop, Grape Culture. At $11/bottle this is an amazing find. I've been in a deep Malbec phase, but I thought I'd give this a shot. It is deep and rich and has such a smooth texture. The nose is rich and yet fruity. Who am I kidding? It is just plain delicious. Right now I am longing for Manchego.
but if you are local go over to the guys at Grape Culture in Saint James, NY. They rock.

Kitchen Sink Salad
1 cup, Brocoli slaw from trader joes
1 cup, 8 ingredient chop salad from trader joes
handful of golden raisins
chopped handful of almonds salted almonds
one peeled, chopped apple
1/2 cup gorgonzola crumbles
1/4 cup thick blue cheese dressing combined with 1/4 cup olive oil

Toss it all in a bowl with salt and pepper and gobble it up! Sounds weird, but so yummy.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

A Broken Arm Requires Beach Therapy

Today my little 16 month old flower, Lily got a cast for a fractured Distal Radius aka "wrist fracture." Insert 50 crying sad face icons. She has been climbing on tables, chairs, falling off things, sometimes crying sometimes not. She had been pretty fussy the past few days and had a few memorable falls this weekend and one even more memorable one last week. I had noticed her favoring her left hand, being fussy and irritable. I thought she had maybe bruised her little wrist, but nothing lead me to believe she had done anything serious. That is until yesterday when I went to put her sweater on her and as I reached in to pull her little arm through she shrieked a sort of cry that hits you right in the heart. Her little face winced up in pain and she pulled her arm back with force. I put Lily and Ella right in the car and called my pediatrician as I was driving to her office. Luckily this is the first time I have done this, so they fit me right in.

Sure enough, Doc thought it looked swollen and wanted me to get to an orthopedist asap. This morning Don and I juggled schedules so I could run Lily to get x-rays and he could take Ella to school. He then rushed over to meet me at the Doctor. Sure enough there was a fracture. One long hour, many tiny tears and one bright pink cast later we were home with our little Lily flower fast asleep in her crib. She passed out from this emotional and no doubt painful experience.

Then the greatest thing happened. She woke up, happy, cheery in fact looking for her big sister. I think it helped that Ella thought the cast was the coolest thing since sliced bread. Maybe even a bit envious. My sweet little Lily was back. She was adjusting nicely to this new accessory and was quick to lift it up to show Elle.

It couldn't have been a more beautiful day, crisp but sunny and an amazing breeze. Don ended up taking the rest of the day off to make sure Lily was ok, and probably more accurately to make sure I was ok. Once we saw Lily bopping around acting like her normal self we realized we needed to get outdoors. So myself, Don, Ella, Lily and our two pups Belly and Lulu piled into the mini van for a beach adventure. It was the best medicine and a great way to connect as a family. We dug in the sand, threw a makeshift ball for Belly to retrieve 500 times, searched for "sheshouws" as Lily calls it and we somehow turned around a pretty crummy day and made it positively memorable.

Mommy Mantra: Make your kids an incredible Part of your life, not your WHOLE life.

Tonight was a makeshift dinner night. Progresso Italian Wedding Meatball soup for the girls with Neapolitan ice cream for dessert. Don had left over Chinese, I had Greek yogurt and granola. Ella ate her soup, ice cream, Don's Moo Shu Pork and 5 big bites of my yogurt with granola. I think she is growing, or maybe just becoming a strange foodie of sorts. Anyway you look at it, she didn't go to bed hungry.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Tis the Season to be Cozy.

Rainy and cold, the cusp of fall. This time of year, this is all I want and need;

a giant bread bowl filled with soup,
my bathrobe,
slippers, one pink, one black, I couldn't find either match.
mugs of coffee the size of my head,
soft scarves,
snuggly babies
and a good cozy couch to soak it all up in.

Fall is my season.

Mommy Mantra: Make your kids an incredible part of your life, not your WHOLE life.

I have no parenting anecdotes tonight, just a yummy semi-homemade dinner I would like to share. Ella found this to be unappealing. Lily, Don and I gobbled it up. 3 out of 4 ain't bad.

Butternut Squash, roasted corn and black bean soup in an acorn squash bowl. Ok, so acorn squash is NOT a bread bowl by any stretch of imagination, but this Mama of two is cutting carbs. It was delish! Eat the soup and bowl! Yummmm. Wish I took a picture, it was so pretty.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

If you are happy and you know it, read my blog!

What a cool day today was. "Wine, Cheese, Baby blog" got a little nod from American Baby Magazine. I knew the blurb was coming, I had been contacted by a writer for the magazine a few months ago. She was looking for some background info and a picture. She told me she would like to take some quotes from my Blog for the magazine. I was shocked that anyone other than my facebook buddies and my Mom were reading!

I wasn't sure what she was going to quote and I must admit I got a little nervous. Would she quote me making fun of Mom jeans? Or talking about how much I love my mini van? Or possibly me telling people they don't HAVE to go to Disney World? I was relieved; that what she decided to take was something from the "heart" of the reason I started blogging. She wrote "Celina says: Take a vow to keep doing what you love, No, that doesn't mean you can lounge on the beach whenever, but kids are often welcome at concerts and nice restaurants". I think when it boils down to it, if I am happy, my kids will be happy. They will learn to savor life and find enjoyment in everything that comes their way.

Tonight, appropriately enough we went to a Wine and Cheese bar to celebrate. The girls got mini cheese plates with grapes and organic milk, Don had an imported beer and I got Fisticuffs Cabernet and some seriously delicious truffle cheese. We followed up with frozen yogurt and a walk along the harbor. Not too shabby for a Tuesday night.

Mommy Mantra- Make your kids an incredible Part of your life, not your WHOLE life.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Mommy what's a Bar?

Ella: Mommy what's a Bar? (From the backseat of our minivan after dropping Don to have a few drinks with old college buddies.)

Me: It's a place where people go to buy food and drinks.

Ella: Is it like a granola Bar?

Me: No, a Bar is more of a restaurant that grown-ups can go to and get grown-up drinks.

Ella: Is it like a Bar I can do pull-ups on, like a Monkey Bar?

Me: (Long pause, think think think...) Yes, yes it is.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Sometimes you just HAVE to be a toilet

In our family, our kids are rarely called by their names. Ella's first nicknames were Butter, Butterino, Puppadino, One Sock Sally... These days Ella goes by Mrs. Melindez. To understand these names, you need to know my husband. Even when you know my husband you probably still won't understand. I should know I'm trying to figure it out everyday.

On a road trip Ella decided she didn't want to be called Mrs. Melindez anymore. So Don asked her, what she wanted her nickname to be. She looked in the rearview mirror at him looking at her and said with all seriousness, "Fire".

She then named Lily "Farm Animal" and Daddy became "Choo Choo Train". She seemed satisfied with all of these names and settled back into her car seat and looked out the window.

Don yelled into the back, "but what about Mommy?"

Ella perked up and said loudly, "Mommy is Toilet".

Don immediately turned purple. He was laughing so hard but no sound was coming out. He just looked at me. I was speechless. I asked her to repeat it just incase she actually said what I thought she said.

"Mommy you are Toilet."

She was all matter of fact, like this is a perfectly fine nickname for the mother who gave birth to all 9.5 pounds of her. Nice, real nice Ella.

So, Fire, Farm Animal, Choo Choo Train and Toilet continued on our car ride. Eventually I got a new nickname, but I have a feeling Toilet will stick around for a few years, especially if my hubby has anything to do with it.

Mommy Mantra- Make your kids an incredible Part of your life, not your WHOLE life.

Tonight the kids ate without Don and I. We both had late lunches so I cooked just for the girls. My girls LOVE salmon, so I bought these salmon patties from Whole Foods, they heat up really nice and it’s an easy go to meal for me. Salmon patties, cannelloni beans and peas; I know, it sounds terrible. To my defense, Lily ate her whole plate and then some. Ella ate all her salmon and peas and promised me she would eat the beans for lunch tomorrow. SO cute.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

A Sleepover Forever

While we were away on vacation Ella and Lily shared a room the whole time. When we came home Ella asked me the most adorable question ever. "Mom, when can I have a sleepover with my sister forever?" Anytime she refers to Lily as "my sister" I melt. So that comment, coupled with Ella's adorable desire to spend every moment with her sister, made me want to smother her with kisses. This question started my quest at putting my two girls in the same bedroom together.

Before the change both my girls loved their rooms. I have prided myself in making their bedrooms the coziest little nests possible. I have filled them with the softest blankets, the happiest colors and all their favorite things. To me this is what a little girl's room should be; filled with joy and happiness and comfort. I was worried that with the change I would mess up their amazing sleep schedules and content nights. Still though, Ella's question tugged at my heart strings, I had to give it a shot.

This weekend Don took apart cribs, moved couches, lugged dressers - all without a single complaint. The whole time Ella was hopping up and down looking to help. With this change we were gaining Lily's old room back as a playroom. This made the move all the more appealing to Ella - Her very own playroom! I saw the happiness oozing out of her little smile.

Has it been seemless? No. Nap time is tough, but we are working out the kinks.

Being 11 years older than my sister, I never had the chance to do many sisterly things. We never shared a room, rode the school bus together, or shared clothes. I wish all those things for my little girls. We always read books about sisters and I try to drive home the lesson that they are best friends first before all others. I want them to always be close. I'm hoping that sharing a room will start them off in the right direction. I am a realist though; I know this love of each other and sharing a room will change with age, and we can switch it up then. For now though, tucking them into bed, reading them a book together and listening outside the door as Ella whispers "goodnight" to Lily is the most amazing way to end my day.

Mommy Mantra - Make your kids an incredible Part of your life, not your WHOLE life.
My brother is in town, so he picked up pizzas and we packed up and had dinner on the beach. The sunset was incredible, Ella and Don went swimming, Lily practiced her walking and I got to relax and enjoy one of the best perks of living on Long Island - the beach. Pizza, Cold Beer, Beach, Sunset, Family, Perfect. I want more nights like tonight.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Ella said "My ears are wiggling, I need...


On our vacation to California, Ella discovered a new "true love". Since we were flying, I thought it would be an exciting way for me to introduce her to gum to keep her ears from popping during take-off and landing. I told her she could have gum only on airplanes or if her ears were popping in a car ride. Here we are 10 days later, back at home in New York and she walked into the living room and announced to Don and I, "Mom, my ears are wiggling. I NEED gum." She was serious as can be, and pointing to her ears, as if we could see them wiggling and duh, she NEEDED gum ASAP!

Rewind the clock 10 days and you would see us boarding a plane for San Francisco. Our cozy crew consisted of, Lily; my one year old who just learned to walk and was eager to show off this skill at every opportunity, Ella; my 3 1/2 year old who asks "why" every 30 seconds, and Don and I; two parents desperate for a relaxing, romantic, adventurous, soul-fulfilling family vacation. We knew we had our work cut out for us. It was a whirlwind trip with visits to San Francisco, Oakland, Big Sur, Carmel, Monterey, Napa...all while reconnecting and catching up with old friends. We were determined. The three hour time difference threw the whole thing off to begin with, so we had a "handicap" right out of the gate. Surprisingly though, Ella and Lily adjusted. I really want to recap the whole amazing trip with all the adorable moments, beautiful scenery and sweet family time, but there is too much to share and I fear I might bore you. We somehow managed it all though. We were able to visit with our greatest friends, drink amazing wine in Napa, drive the incredible Pacific Highway 1, stay in a "tree house" in Big Sur, roll around on the beach in Carmel, have a beer at Monterey Pier, enjoy a date night, hike Redwood forest, and on our last night, see Eddie Vedder in concert. We felt like rock stars for actually pulling it off; we connected as a family and were still able to have an adult-friendly vacation. The best part, our girls loved every minute of it.

When we got back home Don and I reflected on the trip. At home we stick to a great routine that works for our family, but on vacation we threw it out the window. Not realizing it at first, we both have the same philosophy. On vacation, not too much is off limits. The kids can stay up late, enjoy extra desserts, get dirty, laugh until it hurts and be as silly as possible. That is what makes vacations so exciting. As kids, Don and I both had that feeing when we would go away with our own families and it felt nice to bring that feeling to our girls.

Ella cried when we left California, but when we got home she hugged her toys so tight and tucked herself into bed. Vacation is so dreamy, but so is the cozy house to come home to.

Mommy Mantra - "Make your kids an incredible Part of your ife, not your WHOLE life."
Tonight Don cooked. He made breaded tilapia, rice pilaf with spinach and sauteed eggpant, mushrooms and zucchini. I am loving this stage with Lily, she is willing to eat anything we give her. Eating is so exciting to her because she is experimenting with a fork. Pile it on the fork and she happily picks it up and shoves it in. No matter what it is, she will pop it in and hand me back the empty fork to reload.

Monday, June 13, 2011

One and Done

My bottle removal philosophy. I keep chanting it to myself as my little Lily flower fusses and whines. I pulled the plug on the bottles with my 3 year old (Ella) the day after her first birthday and it worked like a charm. Lily is resisting a bit more and it is all my fault.

I broke the cardinal rule. I let Lily have her bottle in bed with her at nap time and early in the morning. Lily breastfed exclusively until she was 8 months old. She then self weened and switched full force into a sort of "baba" infatuation. She loved holding it and sipping it for extended periods of time. Her big brown eyes would roll back into her head in a state of euphoria when I would hand her the bottle. It became so easy to soothe her back to sleep early in the morning or get her to take a 3 hour nap. All I had to do was hand over the bottle drug.

As Lily's first birthday approached I was dreading taking away my crutch. My nap extender, my "Ace in the hole" in a time of stress. The bottle had become my "peace and quiet" facilitator. All the more reason to rip the band-aid off quickly and be done with it. One and done. The last bottle was on Lily's birthday. It was before bed. I told my husband I wanted to give her the last bottle. He looked at me with envy, this was a nightly ritual we both enjoyed. This time however he understood I needed this. I held her bottle for her and sang songs and let her slowly drink it for over an hour. Typically our nighttime bottle would be maybe 5 minutes, not tonight - it was her last supper so to speak. I teared up a bit as I quietly closed the door. A wave of sadness came over me. I then glanced at the pile of bottles I had to wash in the sink and the relief set in. Moving on.

It has been 6 days with no bottle. Six days of being greeted at 5am with a whiney little brown eyed beauty. I feel awful, but I know I need to hold strong. Nap times were tough in the beginning, but I am already seeing a difference. She is starting to soothe herself straight into a 2 hour nap, with little more than a whimper.

Lily is what most people would call a "content and happy baby." Withholding something she loves is so hard to do, because she rarely fusses. All the more reason to stay strong. The first day I felt like a mean old witch dangling bread above a starving child cackling. Terrible, so terrible. I just keep repeating, one and done, one and done, one and done. I like to think I am shaping a child who needs nothing except love as comfort and in turn having a little girl who can be content in any setting at any time without props or trickery. Fingers crossed.

Mommy Mantra - Make your kids an incredible Part of your life, not your WHOLE life."

Tonight we had baked chicken with fresh herbs from the garden, spaghetti in garlic, lemon and oil and asparagus, lots and lots of asparagus. My girls could OD on asparagus and still eat it the next day. It is my no fail veggie. We buy the massive Costco bag of asparagus and it only lasts a few days. Omelettes, pasta, on the grill. Delish.

Monday, May 23, 2011

I need more...

Hours in my day
Time to myself
Time with my hubby
Moments of silence

I need less...

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Moms Against Minivans

You will not find one here. If I could I would climb the highest mountain and scream, "I LOVE my Minivan." Maybe that is a little extreme, but I am a fan. I have been the proud owner of a Minivan for two years now. It has served as a portable house for my family's many trips, a place to change a screaming baby and sometimes a play-house for my energetic toddler. It has also kept us safe. We were side swiped by a crazy lady while we were on vacation last year, an accident that would have crushed my previous car - my Minivan prevailed and so did we. I love my Minivan and I say that with pride. This however, was not always the case.

I used to question the need. Why? Why? Why? They always looked so ridiculous. They are the antithesis of everything young and fresh. Once you got a Minivan you were well on your way to Mom jeans and a cropped short hair cut. Trading in everything beautiful and selfish for everything practical and selfless.

The plain fact is that once you resign yourself to wanting a large family, the Minivan becomes the obvious choice. While my husband and I only have two children now, it is our dream to have four. If he had his way, five. We decided if we are going to do this whole thing, lets go big or go home. We haven't looked back. I love everything about having the space.

I compare the transition to the Minivan, to my move from Manhattan to the suburbs. Do I miss my fast paced life in NYC? Yes, sometimes. What I don't miss is having to fold my clothes into tiny pocket sized squares so they could fit into my 1 foot wide closet. We moved out to the suburbs for space and stability and somehow as you get older those things become more and more important. In enters the Minivan; roomy, comfortable, easy to drive, easy to change a baby in, easy to keep a portable potty in the back, just easy. Those things have become more important to me than looking and feeling cool in my car.

Somehow though I still find enjoyment in driving my car. I turn up the radio loud, blast a little DMB, put my shades on and let my long hair blow out the window. No Mom jeans for this Mommy, no no no. At leasts that's what I'm saying today.

Mommy Mantra -Make your kids an incredible Part of your life, not your WHOLE life.

Tonight we made mini cheddar cheese sliders over a spinach and couscous salad. This was not a huge hit with the girls. Lily wiped her tongue after trying the couscous as if she was trying to wipe sand off of it. Ella poked the salad then drenched every bite with raspberry dressing to make it go down. I admit, this was a last minute attempt at a meal. Ah well, can't win them all.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011


Get your Mommy minds out of the gutter.

I'm referring to Ella, my 3 year old's toys. I have been trying to come up with an organizational system in her bedroom which allows her to clean up her toys after herself, wait for it....without the help of ME! Impossible, I know but I have been searching for a method. I think I found it.

Here is the breakdown;

Play Kitchen toys- self explanatory, kitchen items go in the kitchen.
Dress up- All dress up items go in her Dora the Explorer suitcase.

Then there are all those tiny little toys, stuffed animals and baby dolls - normally they end up in a heap in the middle of the floor.

We came up with 3 large baskets that we keep in her closet. Each are labeled.

Right now she is running around her room yelling "SOFT!" and throwing the stuffed animals in the Soft bucket. Earlier she went around grabbing ever baby doll, bib, outfit and threw them all in Baby bin.

Maybe once the excitement wears off, it will be back to me on the floor sorting through the sea of mess, but for now I am soothed by the sounds of Ella yelling "Soft, Hard, Baby!"

As you can tell, I had way too much time on my hands this week. I was sick, sicky sick sick. Couldn't go out to play, couldn't do much of anything. So I organized my house, my clothes, my online photos, I even tried organizing my friends. I'm glad I am feeling better, and can go back to being a bit of a mess. It suits me better.

Mommy Mantra - Make your kids an incredible Part of your life, not your WHOLE life.
Taco night!!! Blue corn tortilla shells, ground beef with homemade taco seasoning, shredded cheddar cheese, chopped tomatos, beans. Yum. Tonight was the first night Ella picked up the taco and ate it like we do. It was bigger than her little head and she was so happy.

Sunday, April 3, 2011


Moms are not allowed to get sick. Never. Ever. It just goes against all things Moms stand for. Always being there to pick your kid up when they wipe out, up in wee hours soothing a teething baby back to sleep, always there, never absent.

This weekend I was sicky sick sick - as my 3 year old likes to say. Chills, shakes, fever, sore throat and body aches all over. I fought it tooth and nail, trying to will the sickness away. Finally I succumbed. I had to hand over Lily's bedtime routine to my hubby. As my readers know this is a time, I hate to give up. I had to crawl into bed, pull the covers over my head and moan. Yes, I was moaning like a baby. Don took Ella down to the neighbors house after he put Lily to bed, so they could escape. I was jealous, I wanted to be drinking beers with good friends. No fair.

All night I tossed and turned, trying to sleep. Don woke up for the 5am feeding with Lily. Even though this should be a good thing for me, I felt guilty. I know how to soothe her, make her ease back into dreamland. In my head it is only me with such skills. Deep down though, I do know she loves her Daddy time and he is just as capable. Still, I hate to give up even the 5am routine. Guilt. Guilt. Guilt. That is all that I feel when I am sick. I can't just be sick, sleep all day and nurse myself back to health.

Come 7:45am I heard Lily shrieking out in the kitchen. A shriek I know as her teething cry. I jumped out of bed to tell Don to apply Orajel pronto. He already had it in his hand. At that point I was barely able to talk, my throat was pins and needles, but I was up. I took some meds and started to come back to life, 5 cups of tea later. As soon as I felt a tiny bit better, I started cleaning up my house which resembled a homeless man's tent. Clothes strewn about, endless half filled cups, something sticky on the floor - still not sure what that was. I cleaned like a mad woman while Don and Lily took a nap. Ella was cozy on the couch eating her breakfast and watching some Sunday cartoons. My sister-in-law was supposed to come over with her three kids. We had canceled but since I was feeling better, I decided I would rather battle through the sickness then miss a cute time with my niece and nephews. It was a great day, I was heavily medicated but was able to enjoy the much needed family time.

Flash forward 3 hours later. I feel worse than I felt before. A deep cough has settled into my chest and the aches are back. Pins and needles in my throat and a slight everpresent throb in my forehead.

I find it hard to allow myself to be sick. I am always rushing it away trying to fight through it, so I don't have to miss a single moment with the girls. Before kids, being sick was no big deal, sleep all day, drink lots of fluids, watch bad TV and get over it. Now, I am too busy to be sick. I'm going to try to tell that to this hacking cough and see how far it gets me.

Mommy Mantra - Make your kids an incredible Part of your life, not your WHOLE life.
Tonight Don stepped in and whipped up a stellar meal for the girls. Grilled cheese with Muenster, steamed asparagus and chopped up grilled chicken. The biggest hit was the asparagus. Lily was gnawing on it, soothing her aching gums and Ella was gobbling the little trees down. No "something special" tonight. Ella had two lollipops earlier in the day, more than enough sugar for one tiny little body to handle. However, I did not eat dinner and instead am indulging in a little Cookie Dough ice cream. What? It helps with my sore throat.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Terms of Endearment

This past weekend, I had to go away with just my little Lily flower. Ella stayed with Don for the weekend. When we came back, distance had definitely made the heart grow fonder, especially for Ella. She was so mushy and lovey and sweet. She missed her baby sister most of all. She started calling Lily some of the sweetest names imaginable. Here are a few of my favorites;

Little chubby cheeks
Sweetie lovie girl
scrunchy squirrel
little smushy marshmallow

I missed my little Ella so much, but she had the best weekend ever with her Daddy. I got to soak up some one-on-one Lily time, which is so rare to come by. I definitely recommend doing this with your littles ones. Trips away with one child, so you and your spouse can enjoy the kids individually. As nice as it was to have Lily to myself, it just feels so right to have my whole cozy crew back together.

Mommy Mantra - Make your kids an incredible Part of your life, not your WHOLE life.

Tonight we had a version of Jamie Oliver's "Dark Sticky Stew" with red bliss mashed potatoes. This is a Murphy family staple, so simple and so delish. We ran out of salad fixings, so I improvised tonight. I was inspired by my sister-in-law's strawberry salad. I took mixed mesclun greens, thinly cut strawberries, coconut, chopped almonds and aged balsamic dressing; the girls ate it up. I think it will definitely become a staple on the Murphy family menu.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Hurry up, Grow up

This weekend was especially busy for me. Traveling to see family, needing to be in ten places at once, I found it hard to catch my breath. I noticed myself leaning on my 3 year old, Ella to do the things that I would normally do for her. She has always been independent and has wanted to flex her wings at every corner. This time, I was letting her. She just learned to potty train in November, but now I was letting her get on the potty, wipe and wash her hands all by herself. I had to ask myself, was I doing this because it was what is best for her, or me? It certainly freed up a good chunk of my day not having to rush back and forth to the bathroom. I started to look at other areas that this was happening. Putting her shoes on, getting herself a snack, feeding her sister yogurt or asking her to check on her baby sister. Am I making her grow up too fast? Is this what you have to do to your oldest child when other littles ones come along?

I am the oldest sibling in my family. Five years older than my brother and eleven years older than my sister. When my brother was born, he was like my little doll. I wanted to play with him all the time. When my sister was born, I felt like she was mine. My real baby. I was accustomed to babysitting and caring for my siblings at a young age. I feel like this is where my care-taker side comes from. I know that it helped shape me into the Mommy I am today, but it was also at times a lot of pressure.

I've decided to try to be more cognizant of my expectations of Ella. I also want to make sure that my daughter stays as young as possible, for as long as possible.

Mommy Mantra - Make your kids an incredible Part of your life, not your WHOLE life.

Last night for dinner we had homemade tomato sauce with slow cooked pork and rope pasta. A nice salad and french bread. The girls ate all their dinner and Don took them to give them a bath. Ella started asking for "something special" almost immediately after dinner was over. I didn't have anything in the house that I could remotely consider a treat. I decided to cut into some fresh pineapple and get creative. She closed her eyes and when she opened them, she had heart shaped pineapple pieces with all natural pink sprinkles in front of her. She gasped, beamed from ear to ear and skipped away with her treat. She yelled, "Thank you Mommy." Get creative tonight, it doesn't always have to be cookies ice cream. Any creative dessert ideas out there?

Friday, March 18, 2011

Chasing Sleep

I was inspired to write this post by a friend who has an 11 month old, who is still waking up 3-4 times every night to nurse. She is at her wits end. She is exhausted and drained. It is effecting her day to day. She is such a caring and loving Mom who doesn't want to traumatize her little cutie by letting her scream it out. I say scream baby scream.

When Ella was 9 months old and still getting up multiple times per night to eat, I knew something had to give. I had let this behavior go on way too long. I was advised by a Mommy friend and nurse to go cold turkey. Stop any and all night feedings and night visits. I was told it would take three nights. My hubby and I committed to making it happen, then my three nights of misery ensued. Three nights of pure, screaming hell out of my little one who I couldn't bare to let scream even for a minute before now. The fourth night - SILENCE. Sweet serenity. From that point on Ella was a terrific sleeper. My saving grace was a video monitor. It allowed me to peak in on my girl, without having to disrupt her. It also allowed me to let her scream for those three nights, with the peace of mind that I knew she was safe and ok in her bed. It was my life line.

My little Lily, who is now almost 10 months old has been sleeping through the night since she was 2 weeks old. This is a total fluke, I have no explanation. I parented them both the same, but my Lily has just always been a great sleeper. So what makes the difference between a restless sleeper and a sound one? In my opinion, it's just their make-up. It's all about what makes them tick. So if your little one isn't born a perfect sleeper, try the three nights of hell and hopefully you and your bundle will sleep like a baby for all the nights that follow.

Mommy Mantra - Make your kids an incredible Part of your life, not your WHOLE life.

Tonight, my hubby is out with some old college friends. He stopped home to change and picked up a mushroom pizza from our favorite pizza shop. The girls ate happily, we played outside and then bath and bed. Tonight I read them stories in Ella's bed together. Ella held Lily's bottle as Lily patted her on her cheek. I wanted to take a picture, but I didn't move in fear of ruining this perfect moment. Don just called and I told him about our night. He said he was jealous I got to have such a sweet time without him. He is out partying, yet he was jealous of my time with the girls. I married the right guy.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

High Point / Low Point

Today we tried out a suggestion that Ella's teacher gave us to get the conversation flowing at the dinner table. She said that her family sits around the table every night and they discuss the high point and low point of their day. Her kids are in middle school and high school and they started this when they were little and still do it every night.

We always ask Ella about her day, but I never thought to incorporate all of us in this way. It was really great to hear what a 3 year old thinks is her low point. Don went first, his low point was having to leave for work, his high point was coming home to us. Ella went next, her high point was seeing the horses at the Ecology Center, her low point was that we didn't paint today. It made me want to bust out the paints and forget all about dinner. I never want her to have a low point. My low point was having Ella wake up with an itchy rash on her legs, my high point was playing in the backyard as a family listening to Irish music and drinking a beer with my hubby.

The reflection helped us talk about our day in a fun way. This is a tradition I plan on starting to use every night. Anyone have any other fun traditions they use to get their little/big ones to talk around the dinner table?

Mantra Moment - Make your kids an incredible Part of your life, not your WHOLE life.

Tonight of course we had corned beef and cabbage with potatoes, carrots and spicy brown mustard. Don and I washed it all down with Blue Point Blueberry Beer. Ella hopped up to the table and pointed to the corned beef and asked, "Is this bacon?" Don and I looked at each other, knowing that her favorite food on the planet is bacon, we both answered, "Yes." We felt bad lying but she happily dug in and started eating no questions asked. That is until she got to the cabbage. She poked the cabbage around asking what the soggy leafy green was. We told her it was cabbage, just like her favorite food cole slaw is made out of. I know its bizarre that a 3 year old loves cole slaw, but she really really does. So does her Dad, maybe that has something to do with it. As soon as she heard that cabbage was what cole slaw was made out of she started calling it cole slaw and ate it up happily. So while Don, Lily and I had corned beef and cabbage, Ella was eating "bacon" and "cole slaw."

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Great Mom or Great Housewife...pick one

Today the laundry was piled high, the dishes were pouring out the sink and the dust bunnies were plotting a riot. All the while I was sitting on the floor playing Chutes and Ladders and putting together a 50 piece puzzle with Ella. My little Ella has pink eye and an ear infection. I wanted to give her a little extra love and attention to cheer her up. So I ignored my 'housewife" duties and focused solely on my Mommy duties.

I find it very hard to be both a great Mom and great housekeeper everyday always. I feel like some days, the floors are spotless and dinner is prepped, but Ella has had to watch her fair share of Barney for me to get this far along. There are the days like today, where we play dress up and work on our letters and numbers and I squint to try not to see the mess piling up around us. On these particular days, its a mad dash at nap time for me to clean like crazy and get dinner prepped.

Im working on ways to find the balance. I try to incorporate Ella into my cleaning or cooking regime. Handing her a wet rag and a broom is such a game to her. It creates more work for me than it does help, but it keeps her occupied. Lily, my 9 month old is another story. She is crawling and pulling herself up on everything. I really cant get much done unless she is in the high chair.

I have a great Mommy friend who inspires me so much. She is the queen of prep. She preps her daughter's clothes for the week, preps dinners the night before, preps her week; so it flows smoothly and effortlessly. I'm working on it.

Mommy Mantra - Make your kids an incredible Part of your life, not your WHOLE life.

I made an interesting dinner tonight. It was a desperate search to make whatever I could find, since we came back from a long hike and were starving. Sweet potato gnocchi in a white wine and butter sauce with chicken, sweet peas, parisian carrots and red onions. It was a one pot dish thrown together in 20 minutes. It came out so yummy! The girls were happy, Hubby was happy. Mission accomplished.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011


Is it strange that before writing this blog, the Rocky theme song started playing in my head? The motivating uplifting theme song to one of my husband's favorite movies is playing as I write. I had such a motivating moment this weekend, and again just now. So motivating, I decided to share it. So here is a little back story.

Over two years ago my husband, Don had a BBQ with some old college friends. Ella was only maybe 6 months old. This is the funnest bunch of guys you have ever met. A group with more inside jokes than I can ever learn about, or care to. A group who have stayed connected and bonded even though college days are long behind them. As cool as the guys are, the guys wives' are just as cool. Most have been parents for a lot longer than Don and I. Some however were just starting their families. One of the wives in particular has always stood out to me as a cool chic. Fun and easy going. She was pregnant and expecting a baby in a few months. She seemed a bit nervous. I had no doubt she would be a great Mom, but I felt compelled to calm the nerves. I dont have much recollection of this exchange, but apparently I told her - "J dont worry, as long as you and your hubby make this baby a part of your life and keep doing the things you love, it will all fall into place."

Moving to present day, this past weekend, I saw this Mom "J" who now has a happy, beautiful 2 and a half year old little boy. She looked at me and very seriously recounted to me what I said to her at that BBQ. She told me that when her son was colicky and not sleeping, she thought about what I told her and it helped her pull through. I was stunned. I honestly thought my husband had put her up to boosting my ego. "J" then told me that I would be writing a book by October. A dream of mine is to write a book. It was the exact motivation I needed to keep going with this blog. I've had a few haters, only a few, but a few can sometimes be enough to squash a dream. Not this time.

After starting my blog last week, Ive had over 800 hits from all around the Country and even the world. Mommies as far away as India, Iran and the Netherlands have been reading. Today the Mom, "J" emailed me some more motivating words. She said "Thanks for doing this for all the Moms out there." So Im going to keep going, thanks Momma "J"!

I wanted to write this to say to those who have had children, don't preach the negative to our expecting Mommies out there. Be uplifting and inspiring - keep your delivery experiences to yourself. That is unless you pushed 3 times and had no pain, than please share away. You never know how long your words might last in a new Mommy's mind. Also remember like everything else in life, every experience is unique to those who go through it, so why taint it with negativity?

When I was pregnant I had the most absurd things said to me, I still remember every person who said them to me. Here are some of my favorites;
"Your face has changed" -Co-worker
"You're HUGE!" - Lady at the check out counter of King Kullen
"Oh, you think this is bad, labor is the worst!"-By the nurse as she put my IV in my arm in the delivery room.
"You are going to use drugs, why? Why would you do that?" - Our 60 year old waitress after she asked me a million questions about my birth plan. I proceeded to tell her that I am using drugs because it isnt the year 1880 and I dont have to bite a stick and squat in the woods, I have a choice. Believe it or not, this did not stop the onslaught of negative comments.

Some great words of wisdom were shared as well. Mostly from my Mom, who constantly reassured and affirmed that I would be a great Mom and that instinct would come into play. Thanks Mom.

Mommy Mantra - Make you kids an incredible Part of your life, not your WHOLE life."

Tonight I made chicken Pad Thai with eggplant and mushrooms. It was a big hit - it was gobbled up completely. The girls went to bed with happy full bellies. Now Im about to have ice cream. Sometimes Mom needs "something special" too.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Conspiracy Against Parents.

Daylight savings time is a cruel evil trick that was created to test parents and torture us. As soon as we get our kids into a schedule, napping and heading to bed at 8pm sharp - bam! A giant curve ball is thrown at us.

I'm too tired to write, too tired to parent and too tired to try to morph my girls' schedule to get them to bed and napping on time. As a Mom who prides herself in getting her kids to sleep, this is especially tough. I've come to rely on naps and bedtime as my ME time. Once you get used to ME time, its like an addiction - you gotta have it.

I know this fatigue will wear off and the confusion will level off with the girls schedules within a week or so - but in the meantime, I want someone to blame for my suffering - Thanks a lot Benjamin Franklin, thanks a lot.

Mommy Mantra - Make your kids an incredible Part of your life, not your WHOLE life.

Tonight for dinner we had homemade bolognese sauce with spaghetti, salad and fresh sourdough bread. The girls love spaghetti, so this was an easy meal. They especially love tomatoes. I bought a new bottle of Raspberry vinaigrette today, so Ella's salad went down without a fight. The cutest thing that Ella does at dinner time, is when dinner is over. She asks to be excused from the table and then turns and says with the biggest smile you can imagine "Can I have something special?" If we say yes, which we try not to do every night, but if we do, she says "Do I have to close my eyes?" She then proceeds to get down on the floor, face down and cover her eyes until we bring out her dessert. Some nights its fresh fruit with a little whip cream and sprinkles, some nights it might be cookies from the bakery or ice cream. Whatever the dessert she keeps her eyes closed until we tell her its ready. She opens them and gasps - every time. If I could I would give her dessert 20 times a day just to get this experience more often. It makes me melt.

Friday, March 11, 2011

You know its going to be a great day when...

My little Lily flower woke up happy and sweet, no surprise here - she often wakes up cooing and giggling. Ella woke up asking when she was going to see her friends. She knew it was Friday, play date day, the best day of the week. I'll get to that in a minute though.

Ella likes to help me change Lily's diaper. She climbs up on the chair next to my changing table and talks baby talk to Lily while Im changing her. As often happens, Lily twists and contorts her body to try to make eye contact with Ella. She wants so badly to be with her all the time. I was getting frustrated because it was getting very hard to change Lily with all this squirming. I snapped at Ella - "Ella please give Lily a little space." Ella looked up at me with the saddest pound puppy eyes and said "But Mommy I just love her." Insert me melting to floor in a puddle of sweet gooey happiness. This is why you have kids, moments like this. Honest pure moments that you want to lock away in a vault and let out anytime you lose sight of that happiness. I knew it was going to be a great day.

Friday is always play date day. I have this group of amazing women/moms and we get together every single Friday. We have done this since the kids were 4 and 5 months old, they are now all over 3 years old. We met at Gymboree Music and Play class. It started small, going over to the coffee shop after class and feeding the babies their bottles or nursing. It was a group of 10 women with 10 babies, we are now a group of 13 women with over 25 kids and counting. Every week we rotate houses or play date venues. These women have become like family - watching their children grow has been amazing. Ella has been given the strongest social base possible because of this group. She LOVES her friends.

If I can suggest one thing to new Moms - when your first child is born really put yourself out there and try to meet other Moms who have children your baby's age. It will make your long days seem much shorter and give you a built in sounding board who can relate entirely.

The play date started at 11am. The girls played, ate, danced, sang and enjoyed being with their friends. I enjoyed the company of my friends, ones who can relate first hand to every single thing I go through every day. We returned home at 3pm, I tucked them in for a cozy nap and they slept peacefully for over two hours. Play date day always equals a long nap, which gives me the much needed time I need to clean, relax and recharge.

Mommy Mantra - "Make your kids an incredible Part of your life, not your WHOLE life."
-Don cooked a yummy meal tonight. Steak with onions, homemade cheddar mashed potatoes, parisian carrots and romaine salad. This is a direct quote from Don to Ella - "Ella no more lettuce until you have some steak." Lily seemed to be a fan of the lettuce too.
Lily Bunny

Right now, Im enjoying a good Malbec with some dark chocolate and watching Old School with my cozy hubby- great end to a great day.
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Thursday, March 10, 2011

Heaven = Decaf Coffee and House Decor Magazines

Today was another long one. Lily is getting her bottom two teeth and overall is not her happy go-lucky self. Ella was in "super ask question mode" today. I felt like I was on Who Wants to be a Millionaire and I was using all my life lines. Forget the show Are You Smarter than a 5th Grader?, today I did not feel smarter than my 3 year old. I'm chalking it up to that time of the month (sorry if TMI) and Mommy brain, but my brain felt like mush today.

My hubby came home from work in a great mood, grabbed a beer and dove right into Daddy mode. I should have been excited for family time. All I wanted to do was drop on the couch and never move again. Instead, I made a yummy dinner in the dutch oven - a combo Emeril / Tyler Florence meal. Chicken thighs, zucchini, mushrooms, tomatoes, onions in a yummy broth with roasted potatoes. I think I'm actually getting good as this cooking thing. Im starting to enjoy it. While I cooked, the girls and my hubby, Don played so cutely. At one point Don had beer in hand wearing a princess hat and making funny sounds to make the girls laugh - still I was not snapping out of my funk. Maybe its the rain, the "stuck in the house most of the day" feeling - winter doldrums. Not sure, but it wasn't going away.

We finished dinner, we had to press Ella to eat tonight, she wasn't feeling dinner. Once she had made enough yuck faces, and had "tried" everything on her plate she asked to be excused and we happily let her get down, if just for a moment of peace.

While I did the dishes Don gave Lily her bottle and put her to bed - a routine I hate to give up. Even though I get to feed her almost every bottle and up until 4 weeks ago I was nursing and he had no participation whatsoever, I still hate missing even one feeding. I gave this one to him tonight, he had earned it. He was the "happy full of fun" parent tonight and I felt like I had a cloud hanging over me.

As soon as Lily was down, Ella was on us like white on rice. At least it felt like that to me. I told Don I needed to go buy envelopes; yes envelopes in the pouring - disgusting rain. He said he would put her to bed. I gave her a big squeeze and kiss and headed out the door. As I left I popped back in and said, I might stop at Barnes and Noble - he nodded, seeing I needed a break.

I got the envelopes and beelined for B&N. I got a Grande decaf latte and picked up the best house decor and cooking magazines I could find. I curled up on a comfy chair and completely relaxed. I felt the day dripping off me. I think this is going to become a weekly routine.

How do you take time for yourself? How often?

Wednesday, March 9, 2011


Its official Im on twitter. Never been, all new to me. Im ready to take the world by if only I had any followers.

Eyelashes are overrated

Im so wiped today for some reason. Dragging all day long. To add insult to injury, I was trying to lay Lily down for her nap and she has this new obsession with eyes, touching them at every chance she gets. She is so gentle and sweet, softly touching my eye as I give her bottle. She starts touching my eyelashes and giggling. All of a sudden, the pain ooooo the pain! She grabbed my eyelashes with her little tiny pinchers and pulled with all her might! My little Lily Angel made my eye water and made me jump in pain. All the while she is giggling and giggling.

False eyelashes anyone?

Anyone ever suffer an injury in the line of duty? Parenthood duty...

Adding to my day - Ella and Lily had a frozen Whole Foods Pepperoni Pizza with Salad and Raspberry vinaigrette. No gourmet meals tonight - pizza, salad, milk - bed. I do have to say the Raspberry Vinaigrette by Annies got Ella to start eating salad - she calls it her raspberry sauce. She thinks she's getting away with something. If your little one wont touch the stuff, pour on the dressing!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Laurie Berkner vs. Natalie Merchant - or maybe both?

Car rides with toddlers can be ear splitting, nauseating and exhausting. Before Ella was born my husband and I went on a road trip with my husband's family. The kids are sweet, and so much fun to be around always - but were not lovers of the car. I sat in the way back of their mini van in the hot Florida heat sandwiched between two other people. Their 4 year old (hes 11 now) was not a fan of this car ride. He was crying, wailing, unhappy to his core. My brother-in-law, the master builder that he is jerry rigged a small TV between the two front seats. For 5 hours we heard and watched some version of Barney. It quieted that unhappy 4 year-old into a peaceful state, with dancing dinosaurs and strangely dressed pre-teens singing feel good songs. I locked this memory away and thought, my kids are going to listen to MY music. My car, no wait my house will definitely be a NO BARNEY zone. Oh, how I wish I was right.

Flash forward 7 years later to my 3 year old, Ella hopping in the car happily and then she lowers the boom -"I want Laurie Berkner Mommy". Today's version of dinosaur, much easier on the ears but still painful nonetheless.

How did I get here?
I was a lover of Pink Floyd, Dave Matthews Band, Guster, Dispatch, Jack Johnson, my list goes on. I was a music buff. Here is where my Mommy Mantra has to come into play. We take turns with the radio, I'll painfully sit through hearing the same songs a few times in a row and then I'll say Mommy's turn! Today I popped in my Mumford and Son's CD - amazing. I get half way through the song and I hear in the back - "Excuse me, my turn Mom!"
Ella's latest thing is to say excuse me 500 times, until you stop, make eye contact and really listen. Needless to say you can't do this while driving, so usually I cave and switch it back to one her her CDs. Not today, I really was in a groove. Then I heard it, "How about Natalie Merchant?"


I hear it again, "Excuse me Mom, how about Natalie Merchant?"
The clouds parted, the angels sang, I had done my job as a music buff. I had created a child with great taste in music! She then suggests "Slip sliding away"? (Paul Simon) I could not believe my ears. I switched on Natalie Merchant and looked in my rearview mirror as Ella sat back peacefully in her car seat. Na na na na na na na

Mommy Mantra Moment - Make your kids an incredible Part of your life, not your WHOLE life.

Im posting what my kids eat for dinner every night. I want to try to inspire people to think outside the box in feeding your kiddos. From when Ella was a tiny baby we fed her everything, basically we'd cook what we like to eat and chop it up. Tonight I tried my hand again at a Tyler Florence recipe - Chicken Francaise with roasted brussel sprouts and spaghetti. Ella ate more brussel sprouts than both my husband and I and I looked over to see Lily inhaling the yummy sprouts. Ella got ice cream again tonight - she was happy.