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.

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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.

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Newborn Things to Love

I can’t say things aren’t super hectic right now. We’re in the final stages of packing up our house and getting ready to move to our new house in the next week or so. On top of that, I’m at home feeding the newborn about 14 times a day, while changing an average of 14 diapers a day as well. Daddy is back at work and is traveling for work a week after we move and our two year old is as busy as he can be and just picked up the word “nasty” from somewhere…oh dear.

Amid all the chaos and fun, I couldn’t help but share some of my favorite newborn things right now. You may have seen my Top 20 Must Haves for a new baby that I created when Dilan was born. I did come across two new things the second time around. Aside from the amazing baby smell and cute noises Asher makes when he nurses, here is what else I’ve really been enjoying:

My Brest Friend nursing pillow. You probably have a Boppy pillow or some other type of pillow to help support you if you’re breastfeeding. I thought the Boppy was pretty great until my lactation consultant introduced me to the Brest Friend. Not only do I love the nice and geeky name, I really like the firmness of it as well. There is no gap between your belly and the pillow and it wraps around you to provide some back support too. It’s made all the difference in my posture. The best part is that you can rest your gadgets on it while nursing. My MacBook Air is actually sitting on top of it right now while I’m feeding Asher and writing this post. Totally worth checking out if you’re planning on nursing for a while. Definitely worth the money and you can get it shipped to your house from Amazon if you don’t have time to go to the store to grab it.

Minted.com. Have you heard of Minted yet? If not, go add them to your Instagram account right now! Minted focuses on outstanding design by hosting ongoing design competitions. The Minted community then votes on the best designs and those are the ones that are sold on their site. You can find the cutest announcements and invitations, stationary, decor, and custom art work. I’m actually looking at getting our birth announcement through them. We love magnets because they’re easy to stick to the fridge, of course. Here’s what I’m looking at: the birth announcement magnet by Jennifer Wick:

ashernew

I’m usually more of a crisp and clean font person, but I kind of like the different fonts Jennifer used here. It makes the announcement unique and adds an artsy flair to it. I would love for you guys to help me pick a final design, though. Take a look and let me know what appeals to you. In the meantime, I’ll go look for some more and newer snuggly baby pictures.

So there you have it, just a couple of my favorite things right now. When things get hectic and you’re trying to fight your way through the sleep deprived haze, don’t forget to  enjoy the small things (besides your small baby ;-)). They may just make those rough newborn days a bit brighter :-). Signing off now to do some diaper changing. I’ll talk to you guys soon and stay tuned for our official birth announcement coming soon!

All The Small Things

I’m sitting at my desk in my dorm listening to this Indian boy telling me how my music collection sucks. He downloads a handful of sappy songs instead and then continues with “All The Small Things” by Blink 182. “You don’t even have that song?!” Who cares about small things, I think in the back of my head. I don’t even like Blink.

Fifteen years later, that Indian boy is still there. He’s holding my hand this time around, helping me through contractions in our Labor & Delivery room. We’re about to have our second baby boy. He’s an IUGR baby, which means that he’ll be very small, though not a single doctor has been able to tell me why so far. I gained an acceptable (for my body size) 30 pounds and we had only made one doughnut and one fried pickle run during the entire 9 months. I can’t say I didn’t try to be healthy. It was nerve wrecking.

What made things worse is that we’re trying to watch “Back to the Future” (one of my favorite movies of all time) to distract me from contractions. I normally love Biff, but MAN is he annoying during contractions and the transition of labor part. After about an hour of telling Biff to go to hell, I decide that I’ve been at it long enough and ask for the epidural. I didn’t have one when I gave birth to Dilan. Everyone who’s had one tells me it’s amazing and you’ll be able to nap right through those contractions. Sounds good to me! I finally get one in and am about to lay down, so ready for my nap when I hear a silent “shit” from our L&D nurse. She’s looking at that screen that graphs your contractions and the next thing we know, she’s pinging my doctor and the delivery crew. The contractions are getting worse and I can still feel them. I SO do not have the energy to push out a baby and beg for my nap. Yeah, right, not happening. The special crew is called in, just because the baby is expected to be small. Twenty minutes, that annoying oxygen mask, and a lot of pushing later, Asher Anil Chawla is born:

Weight: 4 lbs, 6 ounces
Height: 19 inches
Head size: 32 cm

His name (Asher) originates from the Sanskrit word for “happy”. And that is exactly what he’s made us. There was no need for the NICU, he was breathing on his own and did not need any special care. I was floored. Since then, he’s been battling jaundice and some really bad reflux. He still manages to nurse like a champ and is growing slowly, but surely. Our pediatrician has told us twice already that he’s very feisty and the strongest little 4 pounder she’s ever met. We tend to agree. We’re not completely out of the woods yet, as he does need to grow more and shake off the breastfeeding jaundice, but every single day, things look more promising. Asher is small, but mighty.

I must send out a special thanks to Dilan. I know it’s tough to not get all the attention anymore, but just think of it this way, Dils: if it wasn’t for your awesomeness, we would have never thought of having an Asher in the first place. You’re going to be an amazing big bro. As for me, I will never take small things for granted again. My music collection back in the day might have sucked, but thank goodness it did, because it introduced me to a pretty amazing daddy who knows how to create some darn cute kids :-). Small things are growing on me. Heck, I may even like that stupid Blink song one day.

 Asher

28 Months & 36 Weeks

I know I said the same thing last time, but I truly believe that this age, 28 months, is just the best age EVER. Who cares about terrible twos and tantrums? Sure, it isn’t easy to go anywhere with a 2 year old without him obsessing or going crazy about something, but guys, the words and phrases that are coming out of his mouth are just ADORABLE. Anil and I talk about how cute he is every single night. Here’s what else is going on with Dilan:

State of the Dilan

Sleep is great as well right now. He sleeps from about 8:30 PM – 7 AM, which is just about perfect for us. Ok fine, I do miss the days when I could sleep in until 9, but those are never coming back, are they? I expect some major sleep regression when the baby is here, so we’re savoring good sleep right now. We had to work on sleep with Dilan big time over Christmas break since he wanted Anil to sit in his room and hum for a full hour or two before he would attempt to sleep. Now, all he needs is his night light, Bobo in his toddler bed, white noise, and the door slightly cracked open to fall asleep by himself. Works for us. He’s been dropping naps on weekends for the last month or so (grrr), but whenever possible, I try to get him to nap in our bed on weekends. I don’t care how bad that is from a consistency perspective, I just want to nap with him, smell his hair, and stare at his beautiful lashes. It’s precious time that we won’t have very soon.

Dilan still eats up a storm every day. Pizza, pancakes, crispy Kale, sweet potatoes, oatmeal, meats, rice dishes and strawberry or raspberry yogurt are among his favorite foods right now. The latter ones have become a food jag since he asks for it at dinner every single night. I’m thinking it will pass soon enough, but if it doesn’t, at least it’s not candy or cake he’s asking for. We haven’t had a well check in a while, but I’m guessing this is where he’s at physically:

Weight: 30 lbs
Height: 36 inches at least?
Head size: No idea

He’s still in speech therapy once a week and will be getting some help with fine motor skills as well. He’s not terribly behind with either, but I’ll have to explain our whole rationale for putting him in therapy in a separate post. Everyone keeps telling me that he’ll catch up and I know he will, but I don’t feel bad about the extra help he’s getting since he’s in daycare and it’s helping him thrive there and at home.

In terms of potty training…he has zero interest. I’m not worried about that one either (someone reassure me here!) and am not going to start it now with a baby and move coming up. All in all, we’re just crazy about him right now. He constantly tries to push the limits, pushes his wants and needs until he’s red in the face, and watches too much Peppa Pig, but it’s all part of being two. He has an opinion about absolutely everything and although it’s annoying at times, I have to give him credit for sticking to his guts and not being easily swayed. It’s a quality that will pay off later in life :-). He also makes split second decision about things, which I think he gets from me since I’m very much the same way. I don’t spend too much time on any given decision, unless it’s majorly affecting other people’s lives somehow. Our favorite Dilan phrases are: “What’s that noooose (noise)?”, “Tapitty (strawberry) yogurt”, and “Bobo get it” (get Bobo for me). You’ll have to hear them in person to fully appreciate these.

Dilan_28months

State of the Mommy

I am a pretty good blend between a nervous whale and a calm and focused mom right now. We’re most likely having an SGA baby and that definitely makes me nervous and worried at times. But then again, nothing has been found wrong with me or the baby, which makes me think that maybe we’re just part of the standard deviation with the small baby that someone has to have. A few more weeks (or days) and we’ll know for sure. I’m not afraid of labor pain (18 hours without meds the first time around will toughen you up), but I just want a healthy boy who can breathe on his own. I couldn’t care less about his weight, as long as he’s healthy. In the meantime, I’ve been super slammed at work and will probably continue to be until I go into labor. It’s all fine with me. Our house is getting packed up, we’re getting things ready for a newborn, furniture is getting sold, and we’re closing on our new house in the next two months. Things are SO exciting right now! I keep facing the sun instead of the shadows and telling myself that it will all work out. Cross your fingers for us, ok?

MommyandDilan

State of the Daddy

I don’t think Anil has ever been busier than he is right now. He’s actively working on growing his team while selling and buying new furniture and appliances with me and convincing Dils to brush his teeth (takes about 20 mins on average). He just moved into a new office and continues to do work almost every night until the lights go out. It’s nuts, but he somehow has it all under control. He brings me a giant bowl of Chex cereal every night and to me, that’s just the sweetest thing. I know cereal is about as unromantic as it gets, but when you’re starving at 10 PM, it’s just the nicest thing to have brought to you in bed. It’s really all I want for Valentine’s Day.

DaddyandDilan

7 Ways to Beat the Busy

Ok, I’m not going to lie…I’ve been daydreaming of someone getting Dilan dressed in the morning while I eat a sea salt sprinkled pain au chocolat and get 10 minutes to myself. You guys know how it goes. The third trimester is just tough. You’re running at the same speed as everyone else while you’re growing an entire human being. Sounds simple, but it’s actually pretty amazing…and exhausting. On top of that, I’ve been running behind a (sometimes tantrummy) 2 year old, packing for our move in April, trying to keep things awesome at work, and getting everything ready at home for a newborn. It’s hard not to drop the ball somewhere, but instead of beating myself up about it, I know better these days. I’ve got 7 tips for how to beat the busy…whether you’re moderately busy like me, crazy busy like I hope I’ll never be, or just trying to get your everyday tasks done.

1. Plan your meals ahead. We usually plan dinners for at least the 5 work days of the week, but many times for the weekends as well. This does not mean that you have to cook religiously every day. We do “take-out Tuesdays” and pick a healthy take-out option. It breaks up the week and gives me a break as well. The hubs wants to do “Wine Wednesdays” after I give birth. See why I married him? Sounds awesome, though this mommy really wants to nurse for a while first. We’ll get there eventually. The point is that you won’t feel as stressed when you’ve planned ahead. No one wants to be HANGRY.

2. Grocery shop once a week. Having the time to shop multiple times a week sounds amazing, but we really just don’t. I do one large trip for the entire week. This obviously requires that you’ve taken care of step 1 above. Want to know something else that’s awesome? If you’ve got a Harris Teeter around, you can shop online for a small fee and they’ll bring the groceries to your car. It is by far the best thing ever and I wish every store would do this. I can see this becoming super useful with multiple kids in car seats (and diapers).

3. Simplify breakfast. As I’ve mentioned before, we make healthy smoothies almost every single morning. It’s by far the easiest breakfast you can make because you’re simply throwing ingredients into a blender and that’s about it. You can drink your smoothie on your way to work (or play) and if you get your hands on a good blender, it’s super easy to clean up too. Frozen fruits are life savers, especially during winter.  Added bonus: most toddlers dig fruits and you can sneak in veggies too! Give it a try, you won’t be disappointed.

4. Purge one area per week. After living in the same house for 8 years, I’ve learned one thing: crap piles up. It just does, unless you are really diligent about purging cabinets and dressers. I’ve also learned that it can take ages to get through those plastic cups that used to sit in your dorm room and the useless kitchen gadgets your mother-in-law thinks you have the time to use. The best way to get through it all is to select just one room or cabinet a week and focus on that only. I wish I had done more of this over the years. It sure would have made moving a lot easier.

5. Use a great planning tool. We love Trello. We actually did drop the ball and stopped logging freezer meals a few months ago, but we picked it right back up last weekend. We also log things like furniture findings and purchases, car maintenance, and new home to-dos. It’s great to get that stuff out of your head. Let me know if you need any Trello tips once you try it out.

6. Get house cleaning help. This one is sooo controversial. I had a tough time with it for a while because I CAN DO IT MYSELF, DARN IT! I soon came to realize that getting our house cleaned from top to bottom is one of the best investments we can make. It would take me at least 6 – 8 hours to properly clean on a weekend, but now, I get to spend time with my 2 year old and husband instead. Uh-mazing. Seriously worth considering, especially if you’ve got a household with two full-time working parents. We still clean plenty in between. Don’t believe me? This is roughly what we’re cleaning up on a daily basis and it’s plenty for me:

mess

giant_mess

7. Nap while you can. Nap time is time-out for adults. It gives you a chance to re-set, maybe think about what you’ve been doing with your life, or maybe just pass out in less than 10 minutes while you drool on your pillow. I think that once you become a parent, you get to appreciate naps much more than you did before. I don’t feel bad about napping on some weekends over the last few months. I know these are some of the last few weeks that I’ll be able to since we have just one child right now. I’m a better mom when I wake up because I had a chance to calm and slow down and sometimes even snuggle up with the 2 year old. And what could be more amazing than that?

Moving On

I can’t believe we’re at the very end of 2014. The first half started out nice and organized. We got Dilan into a fantastic waking-eating-daycare-bedtime schedule that worked like a charm. Lots of work travel for daddy especially, but we worked it all out. Our routines and schedules were just perfect. The BEST part for me was that I finally started waking up a bit earlier a few times a week (5 AM) and running outside. Nothing beats fresh air and being active so early in the morning. I absolutely loved it and can honestly say I was in the best shape I’ve ever been in. Fast forward to August and I had to give it all up.

At 8 weeks into my pregnancy, I started cramping and was told to discontinue all exercise and not spend too much time on my feet. You’re asking a toddler mom to do this?! Impossible. In the end, I did give up all the running and when the nausea started to settle in right around that time, I never picked it back up. I’ve beaten myself up about it so many times this year. I beat myself up about not exercising enough while pregnant, not cooking as much as I’d like to, and not folding the laundry right when it comes out of the dryer. These and many others are such silly little annoyances in the grand scheme of things. So I decided to move on and celebrate instead.

I’m celebrating a healthy toddler. One who doesn’t know his ABCs yet and isn’t potty trained. But he smiles more than any other child I know and he’s as healthy and happy as he can be. I’m celebrating my husband, who always knows when to extend a helping hand, every single day, at the times I need it the most. And I’m celebrating me. I may not be able to exercise as much as I like, may look like a whale, and may not have the energy to make it through a 2 hour movie. But I do have the energy to kick butt at work and come home to be a smiley and patient mom and wife (ok fine, most days, certain days I’m just HANGRY).

We’re physically moving on as well. Not an easy decision, since we have the best neighbors you’ll ever find and we know we’ll never meet amazing people like them again. But with an upcoming family of four (::squeal::), we just need more space. They just poured the concrete for our new house this week and we talk about how fantastic it will be to finally have a fabulous, brand-new home every single day. It makes me beam with pride because Anil and I both worked so very hard to make this happen.

Most end-of-year posts talk about how to get and stay motivated for the new year. I’m all about a fresh start, but this time around, I’m more about celebrating than anything else. Sometimes you’ve got plenty of motivation and accomplishments…but what’s missing is actually enjoying it all. 2015 will be full of amazing milestones and challenges for us. And by amazing, I mean moving in the middle of potty training a toddler, with a newborn in tow, while having to go back to work. Yep, we like our challenges. It’s what makes life fun and exciting. So before you beat yourself up too much about setting new year’s resolutions you can’t keep, think about the ones that you CAN and already have made happen. And then move on. It’s what I’ll be doing next year.

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Five Must-Have Pregnancy Products

I am one of those people who is super picky about what I put in and on my body during pregnancy. I have to admit that the second time around, I’ve let loose a little, but I’m still pretty conservative when it comes to what I eat and use. Here are my top five favorite pregnancy products. Some of these make great holiday pregnancy gifts as well (except for #1 and 5), so guys, take note for your future mamas:

1. Belli anti blemish facial wash & acne control spot treatment – You know those ladies who have that gorgeous pregnancy glow on their face? Yeah, I’m not one of them. I break out, way more than I normally do and I refuse to use regular acne products due to the scary ingredients in them. Sure, they *should* be fine, but I’d rather not take a risk and choose to go the natural route. The Belli skin care line was specifically designed for people like me and it actually does help clear up my blemishes. A bit pricey, but you can find it at Buy Buy Baby or Amazon, which means you can use coupons or get Prime Shipping :-D

2. Gap maternity pants – I have a neighbor to thank for these! I had not shopped at the Gap when I was pregnant with Dilan and now wish I did. These pants are the ONLY ones that fit right for me, without making me look larger than I already am. They’re pricey (I’m a bargain shopper when it comes to most clothes), but worth the splurge, especially if you have to look decent in the office or are looking for comfy skinny jeans. I bought a few pairs and will be wearing them all winter. A  great option for maternity tops that don’t cost a fortune is Old Navy.

3.  Honest Organic Healing Balm – I originally used this for Dilan’s adorable booty, since it makes a great diaper cream. The best part is that it’s clear, so it’s not as messy as some other diaper creams. Now that we’re entering winter (or at least, that’s what it feels like), I started using it for my own booty belly as well, and all over my skin really. It’s very thick and feels greasy at first, but then sinks right into your skin and makes it SUPER soft. I love it and you can now find all Honest products that I adore at Target.

4.  Honest Organic Breathe Easy Rub – Like Baby Vicks, but more natural and VERY soothing. I’ve had a stuffy nose since I got pregnant and a good night for me is when I can sleep past 4 AM because my nose isn’t completely clogged up.  This lovely rub keeps my nose clear for most of the night and I don’t have to worry about any chemicals that I’m putting on my skin. I use this on Dilan every single time he’s sick as well. Oh and for you Neti Pot lovers: yes, the saline rinse is wonderful, but not good enough to cut through all my snot. Pregnancy snot is a whole different ball game, y’all.

5. Toms Long Lasting Deodorant in Unscented – All-natural, aluminum-free deodorant that actually works pretty well, especially in fall and winter! You can find this at Target, Walgreens, all over the place really. It’s the only deodorant I found that’s both natural / chemical & preservative free and easy to find.

There ya go! What products do you guys love to you use when you’re pregnant or trying to watch what you wear?

bigbellyme

All About Infant & Toddler Sleep

Infant / toddler sleep has become suuuch a sensitive issue. Everyone has an opinion about it and thinks they know the best way to make your baby sleep (and sometimes, they actually do). Dilan was a horrible sleeper as an infant. We were given the usual advice: to put rice cereal in his bottle, rock him to sleep every night, and swaddle him religiously. Rice cereal didn’t work since hunger wasn’t his problem, rocking him to sleep failed as soon as we put him back down, and he broke out of his swaddle to the point where we had to double and triple swaddle the poor pickle.

After over 6 months of only sleeping 2 to 3 hours a night, we decided to do some serious research into what causes sleep problems and what we could do to help our bundle of sunshine sleep more peacefully. Both Anil and I can handle a bit of sleep deprivation, but I find it particularly difficult to try to code or do anything heavily analytical with such little consecutive sleep. I know six months does not sound like a long time, but when you’re going back to work full-time or have other kids / people to manage at home, it can feel like an eternity. I’ve gathered our favorite bedtime resources below.  If I could do it all over again and didn’t decide go back to work, I would have tried to sleep in the same room longer, or wouldn’t have cared about routines as much as I do now. Snuggling up with a newborn is just heavenly and there is no way you can spoil a baby…until they get around the 4-5 month mark or so. Right around that time, is when the sleep regression started for us. That’s when we seriously started to sleep train. Some prefer to cry it out, but we took five weeks (the “get me a Don Julio shot right now” type of weeks) to  gently teach Dilan how to put himself to sleep. Whatever you do, to me that’s still the key to your infant / toddler sleeping well: teaching them how they can put themselves to sleep when you’re not holding / rocking / feeding them. Unless, of course, you have the time and desire to keep doing this – nothing wrong with that.

But what do I know? I’ve only compiled these resources because they made a huge difference for us and because you asked for them :-). We take bits and pieces from these sites and books and apply the ones we think will work best. Every child has a different personality, so you can’t count on any of these to work perfectly by themselves (unless you have an easy baby). However, string a few of these together and you may just get rest sooner than you think. To Anil and my future self (4.5 months from now!): if you’re reading this, you’re probably up and desperately looking for something new to try at 3 AM. Don’t lose hope. You’ve done this before. You’ve got this.

Sleep Resources (in order of effectiveness for us):

1. Sleep webinars from ISIS Parenting – Hugely helpful. We watched a ton of these while eating one-handed dinners and holding Dils at night. They’re usually 30 mins each, so you can have this running while nursing / pumping / eating.

2. Troublesome Tots – An amazing and realistic blog on all things sleep, and hilarious too!

3. The Wonder Weeks – If you don’t have time to read the book, at least sign up for the wonder weeks alarm. You’ll get an email in your inbox whenever your child is likely to go through a developmental leap. Dilan was just textbook when it came to this and it helped us understand why he had a difficult time sleeping and settling down. I wish they would continue for the toddler years, since we’re sure Dilan is going through a developmental phase this week.

4. The usual suspects: The Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child book and the Happiest Baby Books. I’ve read the first book listed, the Happiest Baby on the Block, and the Happiest Toddler on the Block – all great to read before you have your child, or before they grow up. Easier said than done, I know, but good tips in all of these.

My bundle of joy

The Impatient Gender Reveal

I’m probably the most impatient person you’ll ever meet. Really. I finished college 6 months early just so I could skip to the money making phase (seemed more fun at the time). Did it work? Of course not. I graduated early and worked a retail job for the next 6 months. I also volunteered at a soup kitchen during that time. Both great experiences, because they taught me how to stay humble and kind (I try, at least). I then landed my first real job and quickly became stir-crazy again. I got into business school, but attended it part-time in the evenings, while working my full-time job. I simply didn’t have the patience to “waste” those precious early career building years by continuing my education full-time.

My impatience has decreased a lot since having a child (it kind of has to), but I still refuse to squeeze the toothpaste until the tube is entirely empty and I won’t shop at stores where the check-out lines are too long. All this impatience and stubbornness did pay off over time. I do believe you need a certain amount of it to propel you forward in life and make you realize that every single of the 1,440 minutes in the day count. Anil isn’t much better with the impatience. He quit his very comfy job to try his hand at a start-up and you’ll never see him wasting time, not even during the weekend. He’s generally better than me, though. I’m tough to beat.

So there we were at 15 weeks into my pregnancy. Two very impatient parents trying to figure out the gender of our second baby. We just had a 4D ultrasound done and asked the technician to jot down the gender on a piece of paper for us. We waited SIX HOURS to find out, by handing that piece of paper to a local bakery, getting two identical looking cakes made, and then picking up one of them to take home and cut into. It would be either pink or blue inside.  No big party with tons of people for us, because honestly, I simply didn’t have the time to organize anything fast enough. Anil had been traveling and my work load had been taking its toll on me a bit.  Fast forward a few nerve wrecking hours and after dinner, with a bunch of family Skyped and Face-Timed in, we were finally ready to cut the cake. We had our camera rolling so we could capture our reactions.

Boy or Girl?

I am all about balance and would have loved a girl to round out our family. But as we cut that cake down the middle, I suddenly thought of what I’ve really known all along. Dilan is 100% boy. All tractors and bulldozers and wild games. He creates a constant mess and chaos in our house and I secretly love it. He would do so much better having a baby brother and that is exactly what he’ll get :-)

It's a...

I may not get the opportunity to be the girl-power role model I would like to be. But in 20 years, I’ll be the mom who will tailgate at football games with my boys. I love beer and football and anything stereotypically boy-ish. I grew up as a tomboy, climbing in doors and playing loads of video games, while my parents reminded me not to scrape up my knees too much. So as we cut that cake down the middle and saw the blue icing amid the chocolate cake, a sudden sense of calm came over me. Surely, it won’t be easy being outnumbered. Dirt and noise and tons of boo-boos. But what a great opportunity to teach myself more patience as our family is growing. And knowing all that I am and all that I’m capable of…I think I’ll fit right in.