A Tropical Vacation with 2 Babies {FDR}

Franklyn D Resort Jamaica

Hey guys! Sorry it’s been like 5 million years since I wrote a blog post, I’m still alive! Things are going great, the boys are at such a fun age right now (15 months), holy crap how did that happen? They are legit almost toddlers now. I know, it’s so cliché but seriously, where does the time go? I’ve been busy with work and when I’m not working, I’m trying to spend every second soaking in time with the boys. The truth is, I just don’t have a lot of recipes to share with you these days. I still cook dinner most days of the week but as I cook I’m usually running back and forth between the counter and their high chairs, chopping veggies, throwing more food on their trays, getting their cups from the fridge, heating the pan up, forgetting about the pan, picking up all the food off the floor, getting more food for them, you get the point… My ability to be super creative or the time to photograph as I go just isn’t there at the moment. I’m going to try to post more often though, even if I don’t specifically have any food stuff to share.

Today, I figured I would write a detailed review on our recent stay in Jamaica because a bunch of friends with kids are interested in booking a trip for themselves and keep asking me about it and I have SO much to say, it’s probably better to do it here than to write an hour long Facebook post.

Franklyn D Resort Jamaica

We stayed at Franklyn D Resort in Runaway Bay Jamaica. This is the ultimate place to go if you’re looking to vacation with your kid(s). If you’re looking for the short of it and don’t want all of the details. JUST GO. Click on it, book it and GO. Seriously, if you think too much about the logistics of traveling that distance WITH the kiddos, you won’t do it, just don’t think about it and do it. FDR makes it possible. And not just possible, but enjoyable, fun, and wait for it…. RELAXING.

Franklyn D Resort

Basically, we were in desperate need of some sun, relaxation & some time away. Getting away for that long without the kids wasn’t really an option and we actually kind of like spending time with them :) so we figured there had to be an option where we could get all of these things AND bring the kids with us. How you wonder? How can you travel and stay in a hotel with two 15 month old babies who cry and need to be changed and nap twice a day and go to bed at 7pm? And still relax and enjoy yourselves?

This is how…

Franklyn D Resort

 

At FDR, every single room automatically comes with a personal vacation nanny! Yes you read that right, you get an amazing, experienced, caring person that will love and care for your children while you read by the pool or go climb a waterfall, or enjoy a nice dinner out with your husband. They are all amazing women who have cared for children for many years and want to make your children happy and your vacation awesome. Our nanny Tamara has been working at FDR for over 15 years (if you book a trip, make sure you request her). They even cater to children with special needs as well.

Franklyn D Resort

 

Wondering exactly how it works? Your nanny will meet with you when you arrive and you can go over your plans/needs/wants, schedules, allergies, etc…  She will arrive every morning at 9:00 and is done at 4:40. They get an hour lunch break from 12:30-1:30. If you would like her to stay late or come back later so you can go out to dinner, you pay her $7/hour for any time beyond that (although they’re amazing so you should definitely pay them more than that).  If you’re not at your room, they’ll come find you on the beach or in the restaurant. You can choose to have them take the kids that entire time, or you can pick and choose when you need them. Maybe you want to hang out on the beach with the kids but want an extra set of hands around if you need to go get something (like a drink) :).  During the time that they’re with the nanny, they will hang out in the kid’s club where they have tons of toys & activities or play at the beach or in the pool. For the older kids, they have activity schedules every day with fun events for all ages. If you need an additional nanny, you can request one for $25/day.

Franklyn D Resort Jamaica

I was worried that the boys would be so out of their element and the trip would be so rough that they were going to be super grumpy but they settled right in. They loved Tamara and all of the wonderful staff that so obviously care about the children. I’m not going to lie, the flights were not super fun as you spend the entire time trying to keep a squirmy child on your lap and not climbing on top of the people next to you. Next time we will get a direct flight and buy extra seats for them, it would be SO worth it!  The transfer from the airport is about an hour to an hour & a half. I didn’t mind it as the scenery was beautiful. They have a complimentary shuttle from the airport which was fine but they stop at a few other resorts on the way. We chose to pay $100 for a private transfer on the way back and it was great. No extra stops and they have car seats available. We lugged our 2 car seats all the way there and back (gate checking them) which was a little stressful so it’s nice to know this for next time.

We arrived after delayed flights at 11:30pm with 2 screaming babies. The staff were waiting for us when we arrived and quickly whisked us & our bags right to the room. They had 2 plates of dinner ready for us which we gobbled down ravenously the second we got the kids to bed.  We were about to go to bed when we realized that we were going to need to go find some milk to have for the kids in the morning but when we checked the kitchen, it was completely stocked with milk and Cheerios. Seriously. These people know kids.

Franklyn D Resort Jamaica

The beach was very nice and completely set up for the kids with plenty of shovels, buckets & sand toys.  It isn’t very big but you have access to the long beach next door at the Jewel Resort.  It’s perfect for the kids and completely acceptable for lounging on the beach for the day.

Franklyn D Resort Jamaica

They have a big waterslide which is a ton of fun for the older kids (and adults), we had a blast on it. There are also smaller slides at the pool for the younger kids along with a few shallow pools for splashing around. On Wednesday night they had a Jamaican beach BBQ with an impressive array of food & night entertainment which was a lot of fun.  It’s an all-inclusive resort so your room price includes all the food & drink you want. Your nanny is also your housekeeper so she will tidy up while the kids nap and keep the fridge stocked with whatever you request.

Franklyn D Resort Jamaica

The bar was pretty basic but they make a mean Dirty Banana and any other tropical drink or smoothie you might want. The only beer they had was Red Stripe but I was fine with that. I didn’t have high expectations for the food but I have to say that it was solid. Nothing incredible to write home about but very tasty, plenty of variety and lot’s of great authentic Jamaican food which is exactly what I want in a place like that. Breakfast is served as a buffet with an omelette station, oatmeal & cereal station, lots of fresh tropical fruit and plenty of sausage, bacon, pancakes, etc…

Every night they have a kids dinner starting at 5:30 where they serve up a bunch of kid-friendly meals while playing kids songs & movies. Usually people would feed their kids at this time and then their nanny would come back after so they the adults could enjoy a nice quiet dinner by themselves. There are 2 restaurants to choose from every night, they post the menus so you can make your decision. They alternate between Indian, French, Italian, American & Jamaican. You don’t come here for the food but we were very happy and satisfied with everything we had.

Franklyn D Resort Jamaica

The resort is not new by any means but it is very clean and well-maintained. The rooms are simple and a little dated but clean & comfortable. We weren’t looking to spend much time in the room so this didn’t really matter to us. We got a 2 bedroom suite so they could put the cribs in another room. I’m glad we did as it would have been extremely tight with 2 cribs in a single bedroom.  We had a nice patio with a view of the water and some adirondack chairs to sit & enjoy the breeze in the evening.

Franklyn D Resort Jamaica

 

SO, if you’re looking for a glitzy tropical vacation in a big fancy resort, you may want to look elsewhere. And in that case, you’ll probably want to leave the kids at home. But if you’re looking for a great vacation WITH your kids, in a place that feels comfortable and like home, FDR is the place.  It just boils down to the fact that they care. They care that you enjoy yourselves, they care that the kids are happy and entertained, and they care that you’ll want to come back year after year.  They made something that seemed like an unfeasible task totally possible.  I got some sun, read a few books by the pool, climbed a waterfall, got a massage, flew down the waterslide, played beach volleyball, participated in aqua aerobics and met some great really great people, all while getting to enjoy these 3 smiling faces of the people I love.

What are you waiting for? Go book your vacation people!

(Feel free to reach out if you have any questions that weren’t covered in this way too detailed review) 

 

Prosciutto, Peach & Mozzarella Salad

ProsciuttoPeachSalad

Just because fall is here doesn’t mean we have to stop making huge fresh salads. I don’t have any complicated secret recipe to share today, just an idea for a killer salad that is super easy and totally dinner party worthy. We had a get-together a few weeks ago with 4 sets of twins, yes FOUR. It was pure chaos and there was pretty much a steady stream of babies screaming the entire time but it was still fun to get together with other parents who totally get it, no judgement whatsoever. I made this salad and served it with a balsamic vinaigrette and it was delicious!

Prosciutto, Peach & Mozarella Salad

I started with a bed of fresh arugula and topped it with ribbons of zucchini (made with the vegetable peeler), juicy peach slices, small mozzarella balls and small pieces of thinly sliced prosciutto.

Prosciutto, Peach & Mozarella Salad

Lately I’ve been serving salads spread out on wide serving platters rather than piling it in a deep bowl. I think you can show of the ingredients better this way and you don’t loose all of the good stuff on the bottom. If you have a serving platter, give it a try next time, it works much better.

Meanwhile, these little boys are getting SO big, I can’t even believe it…

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They both have their own amazing personalities. Camden is observant and calm but loves a good belly laugh and is OB-SESSED with bouncing. Jax is the happiest little baby I’ve ever seen, his smile lights up the room, his giggle is contagious and he’s ready to start climbing walls soon, this kid is going to get into everything.

Boys2

Boys3

They are totally starting to interact and it’s a blast to watch. They are obsessed with each other’s eye balls and pretty much spend the entire day trying to steal each others toys. It’s so cool to think that they will have a best friend to grow up with and will share such a special bond.

WHAT MAKES ME HAPPY:

Warm evening walks with the boys.

StrollerRunsThere aren’t many of them left but I’ve been trying to soak in the few nice summer-like evenings we have left.  I’m going to miss my long stroller walks.

Summer

This was an incredible summer, I love fall but I am going to miss the flip-flop weather, long days and warm breezes. Until next year! Bring on the apples, sweatshirts and pumpkin spice!

 

10 Steps to make a Kick-A$@ Pulled Pork on the Smoker

Step-By-Step Instructions on making Pulled Pork on the Smoker

I realize that it’s August 31st, I understand that kids are going back to school and September is literally a day away but I am NOT ready to say goodbye to summer. I’m not ready to say goodbye to beaches and evening walks and Sunday jazz nights and the sound of the ocean breeze blowing the green leaves on the trees.  I’m in denial that Autumn is on it’s way so I figured I would focus on some BBQ today so we can spend a little more time soaking in the joys of summer.

Our friend Blake is the master of all masters at smoking meat and since he’s the expert, I reached out to him to see if he would walk me through his process so I could see how he makes these glorious creations AND so I could share it with all of you. They currently live over an hour away but they’re moving to the next town over in just a month so I’m going to make him smoke meat for us ALL THE TIME now, Blake, you better get your wood pile stocked up!

Seriously though, this is some of the best pulled pork I’ve had, I’ve been to all sorts of fancy bbq places throughout the country and I realize people are very protective an specific about their bbq but Blake makes some killer BBQ.

So today, we’re going to take you through step-by-step foolproof instructions on making a kick a$# pulled pork on a smoker in 10 EASY STEPS. I supplied the Stubbs BBQ and Blake did all the hard work. Here we go!…

Step-By-Step Instructions on making Pulled Pork on the Smoker

STEP 1 – we’re going to start the day before we smoke it with a nice 8lb bone-in pork butt.  You can see it has nice marbling and fat throughout to keep it moist & juicy.

Step-By-Step Instructions on making Pulled Pork on the Smoker

STEP 2 – Inject a marinade into the pork butt.  We used Stubbs Chipotle Butter, if you don’t have that, you can use a mixture of Apple Juice, Apple Cider Vinegar & Salt.

Step-By-Step Instructions on making Pulled Pork on the Smoker

STEP 3 – After you have injected it, cover it with foil and put it into the fridge to sit overnight.

Step-By-Step Instructions on making Pulled Pork on the Smoker

STEP 4 – The day of smoking: Take the pork butt out of the fridge, drain the marinade that is sitting in the container and apply the rub.  Let is settle in (sweat) for about 30 minutes. You can use Stubbs BBQ rub which I love or you can use your favorite mixture of sweet & savory spices.

Step-By-Step Instructions on making Pulled Pork on the Smoker

STEP 5 – Early in the morning, fire up some charcoal. Blake started his around 7AM.

Step-By-Step Instructions on making Pulled Pork on the Smoker

This is the beauteous smoker that Blake uses for his meat.

Step-By-Step Instructions on making Pulled Pork on the Smoker

STEP 6 – Place the charcoal & wood in the smoker along with the pork butt. Blake used Hickory, Apple & Cherry Wood and smoked it for about 6 hours.

Step-By-Step Instructions on making Pulled Pork on the Smoker

This is what the meat will look like after about 4 hours on the smoker. Continue to spritz with apple juice throughout the process for moisture.

Step-By-Step Instructions on making Pulled Pork on the Smoker

STEP 7 – After about 6 hours on the pit, apply the 2nd injection to provide flavor and moisture.

Step-By-Step Instructions on making Pulled Pork on the Smoker

STEP 8 – After you have injected the pork, wrap it in foil and place in the oven at 225 F for about 2 hours.

Step-By-Step Instructions on making Pulled Pork on the Smoker

STEP 9 – Now it’s time to pull the pork! Using forks or prongs or a knife, pull pork apart until shredded and in smaller pieces.

Step-By-Step Instructions on making Pulled Pork on the Smoker

Step-By-Step Instructions on making Pulled Pork on the Smoker

Step-By-Step Instructions on making Pulled Pork on the Smoker

STEP 10 – Pour on the BBQ Sauce! We used Stubbs Sticky Sweet.

STEP 10.1 – Invite all your friends over and watch them devour every last piece.

Thank you Pitmaster Blake for sharing your secrets with us and to Stubbs for providing the delicious sauces, rubs & marinades.

If you need me, I’ll be on the beach eating bbq, I don’t care what you say, it’s still summer…

 

A Review of Blue Apron & Life Update

BlueApron1

HELLOOO! How’s it going?  WELL, we’re finally settled in our new house and the craziness is starting to slow down a bit so I figured I would stop in and say hello and while I was at it, I’m going to do a quick little review on my recent experience trying Blue Apron.  And then I’ll give you an update on what’s going on in our crazy busy wonderful whirlwind of a life.

A week before we moved, Tom signed us up for a trial version of Blue Apron since we didn’t have the time to be planning meals but we also didn’t want to fall into the trap of eating crappy takeout for every meal.  If you’re not familiar with it, it’s a meal delivery service that sends you fresh ingredients and recipes to whip up for your weeknight meals.  The overall consensus is that we love it. The ingredients have all been very fresh and the recipes innovative and refreshing but still simple and appropriate to the season.

Here are some examples of meals we’ve made…(above was my favorite; cornmeal crusted catfish with tomato cucumber salad & creamy dijon potatoes.

BlueApron2

Caesar salad with homemade croutons & seared salmon.

BlueApron3

Squid ink pasta topped with a lemon tomato sauce & sautéed shrimp.

BlueApron4

Ground chicken & summer vegetable bolognese.

BlueApron5

Seared pork chop with roasted sweet potato salad.

BlueApron6

Lamb burgers with crispy zucchini rounds.

SO, here is what I love:

• No meal planning, I don’t have the brain power lately to be thinking up creative things to cook in the kitchen

• We still get to eat fresh homemade meals every night and I get to spend time in the kitchen which is a stress reliever for me

• Most of the meals have been very tasty and they are introducing new ideas and techniques into my repertoire

Negatives:

•  As someone who cooks often, following a recipe actually slows me down a bit. I like to fly around the kitchen and I usually have a well laid out plan in my head but with this I have to keep referring back to the recipe page to make sure I’m using the ingredients correctly

•  90% of the ingredients are fantastic & fresh but we received one bag of spinach that was completely soggy & rotting so I had to toss it and for one of the meals we made this week, they forgot to include an ingredient in the box.  Not a huge deal in the grand scheme of things but still notable.

We’re continuing to have 3 meals delivered each week until we find reasons to not to. I’m really enjoying time in my new kitchen and I love that I don’t have to spend any extra time trying to figure out what to make for dinner any more.

In other news…

Life1

Life2

Life3

Life4

Despite the stress of the move, I’ve been trying to soak in every moment of summer in this beautiful town we live in and enjoy every moment with these little boys who are growing so fast.  I’m finding new ways to do things, like cook when I’m alone with two babies. They both enjoy sitting in their high chairs if I pull them over to the island, or like you see in the photo above, I wear the fussy one and put the happy one in their chair :)

Food1

I’ve been loving this Cooking for Baby book that my cousin gave to me when I was expecting. This morning I cooked up some apple zucchini purée and they LOVED it!

Nicoise Salad

I had a lunch meeting the other day at the house so I pulled together a salad nicoise and let people help themselves.  I filled a platter with arugula, roasted red peppers, blanched green beans, grilled artichokes, cucumbers, calamata olives, hardboiled eggs, yellowfin tuna & creamy dijon potatoes.  It was the perfect lunch, highly recommend this if you’re having company over and want something fresh & simple.

House1

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House3

 

And the house. I am head over heels in love with our new house.  We have a nice little outdoor space now which we’re loving, we’re right around the corner from a great little beach where we can take Oto swimming. And the kitchen. Oh, the kitchen.  I can honestly say this is my ultimate dream kitchen. We got to hand pick every element and I am over the moon with how everything turned out. I just look at it and smile every time I come downstairs in the morning.  It’s fantastic for entertaining too, the layout is very open and bright and happy.  I can’t wait for our kids to grow up in this house.

Hope everything is well with you! I’ll be back soon to share a fun BBQ technique with you that I worked on with our friend Blake who is a master griller/smoker/barbequer.

Happy Summer!!

 

Cashew Crusted Chicken with Creamy BBQ Sauce

Cashew Crusted Chicken w/Creamy BBQ Sauce

Hey there! Look! It’s some food! Yes, I’m still eating over here. Actually we’re eating quite well since we are no longer able to go out to restaurants every weekend.  We’re doing a lot of cooking at home lately but I usually have about a 10-15 minute window when the boys aren’t crying or needing attention so things have gotten a little simpler these days.  A lot of salads and potato sides with a simple grilled meat is what we’re cooking up these days.  I’ve been eyeing all of the delicious Stubbs BBQ sauces I have in the pantry and was excited to do something a little more creative, maybe something that I could share with you guys.

SO, here it is! We don’t have picky kid eaters yet but I bet this might even be kid approved.  You could make them as chicken fingers and serve the sauce as a dipping sauce on the side instead if your heart so desires. What kid doesn’t love dipping stuff? Oh man, I’ve officially become a mommy blogger haven’t I? Oh well, embrace it! Don’t worry, I’ll post some pics of the kiddos at the end too :)

Cashew Crusted Chicken w/Creamy BBQ Sauce

I started by ever so quietly (since the babies were sleeping), smashing cashews. I’ll let you guess how that one ended up.  Just throw them in a bag and smash the crap out of them with a mallet until they’re in tiny pieces. I suggest you do this on a weeknight so you can take out some of that workday stress on the nuts.

Cashew Crusted Chicken w/Creamy BBQ Sauce

Then I set up a little assembly line for the breading.  I think I’ve gotten a pretty good process down for this that doesn’t dirty 25 million dishes and make a mess everywhere.  I fill one freezer bag with flour, then I filled another freezer bag with the breading (in this case crushed cashews and breadcrumbs.) Then I whisked up some eggs with a little cashew milk, honey, dijon mustard and seasoned it with salt and pepper.

Cashew Crusted Chicken w/Creamy BBQ Sauce

I used chicken tenders but you could use breasts cut into strips as well.  First, add a piece of chicken to the flour bag and toss gently to coat. Then dip it in the egg mixture and move it to the cashew breading bag and toss it around until coated on all sides. Repeat with the remaining pieces of chicken.

Cashew Crusted Chicken w/Creamy BBQ Sauce

Then you sauté them up using a little olive oil until they’re nicely browned and cooked through.  I usually turn the oven on and hold the chicken there while I cook a few batches.  You can also finish cooking them in the oven if you find they’re browning before they’re fully cooked through.

Cashew Crusted Chicken w/Creamy BBQ Sauce

It’s funny that there is a spoon in the sauce because I could probably have eaten it with a spoon. I may have judged myself but it was certainly not out of the realm’s of possibilities.  This delicious little concoction was simply a mixture of plain greek yogurt, a little mayonnaise and Stubb’s Hickory Bourbon BBQ sauce.  I have yet to find a flavor of their’s that I didn’t like so you’ll be in good shape whichever one you choose.

Cashew Crusted Chicken with Creamy BBQ Sauce

This was seriously so delicious, I can’t wait to make it again. I’ll also be whipping up this sauce for more meals this summer, maybe to dip some grilled vegetables in or as a sweet potato fry dipping sauce, mmmm…

WHAT’S MAKING ME HAPPY THESE DAYS:

nahant

The beautiful place that we call home.  Summer has arrived and the beach days are here! Every afternoon when I go out for a walk I’m reminded of the beauty that surrounds us.  A few nights ago right as I was putting the boys to bed, it’s as if the whole world was glowing and calling me outside.  It was 8:30 and everything was this deep yellow shade, like some sort of dream world.  I ran down to the end of the street and snapped some photos. It was unreal!

kitchen

The pendant lights that just went up in our new kitchen. I’m in love. I’m not ashamed to say that I pull up pictures of the new house on my phone multiple times a day and just stare at them. Only a few more weeks until moving time! eek! Guess we should probably pack huh?

boys

These guys. Of course. I’m treasuring every moment.  They obviously know the other one exists but they don’t spend a ton of time interacting yet. BUT, there was this rare moment last weekend when I was visiting my parents, I laid them both down on the blanket to change their diapers and went to go grab the diapers and wipes. When I came back they were laying staring at each other and then Camden reached over and touched his cheek and babbled a few sounds and Jax responded with a coo. OMG, melt my heart!

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And a few more, just for cuteness overload :)

Enjoy the chicken and the babies! Hope all is well with you guys!

Cashew Crusted Chicken w/ Creamy BBQ Sauce

Allergy Egg, Milk, Tree Nuts, Wheat
Meal type Main Dish
Misc Child Friendly

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup lightly salted cashews
  • 1 cup bread crumbs
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1 Large egg
  • 1/4 cup milk (I used cashew milk)
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 tablespoon stone ground mustard
  • 1lb chicken tenders or breasts

sauce

  • 1/4 cup plain greek yogurt
  • 1 tablespoon mayonnaise
  • 1 tablespoon Stubbs BBQ Sauce

Directions

1. Whisk the egg, milk, honey and mustard in a shallow bowl and season with salt & pepper.
2. Place cashews in a plastic bag and break into small pieces using a mallet or meat tenderizer. Add bread crumbs to the bag and toss to combine.
3. Pour flour into another bag. Dredge chicken by first tossing in the flour bag, then dipping in the egg mixture and finally tossing in the cashew bread crumb bag until coated. Continue process until all of the chicken has been breaded.
4. Heat oil in a sauté pan over medium heat. Add chicken and cook until nicely browned on both sides and cooked through. You may finish them up in a 350 oven once they have been browned if you are working with thicker pieces of chicken.
5. Stir together yogurt, mayonnaise and BBQ sauce and serve chicken drizzled with sauce. It never hurts to have more on the side for dipping! :)

I’m still here!! June Update…

JuneUpdate1

Wow guys, SO sorry it’s been so long but I’ve been just a LITTLE busy! Last time I spoke with you, Camden was home and baby Jax was still in the hospital recovering from RSV but I guess my radio silence has been a pretty clear sign that we officially have our two wonderful babies at home and we’re loving every second of it. The past few months have been exhausting and trying on the mind, body & soul but I wouldn’t give up a minute of it. These two boys bring me so much joy and happiness, a little stress and sleepless nights were totally worth it!

JuneUpdate2

This is what I now look like on a daily basis, now if only I could use my feet to cook dinner and write blog posts, we’d be in great shape huh!?  They are such great babies and generally very happy but when you have two infants to care for, it’s pretty much perpetual motion. All. The. Time. The second you get them diapered and fed and burped and digested, you’re just about ready to start the process all over again.  Having gone through the process of caring for them in the NICU for months and stressing over monitors and episodes of not breathing and surgeries and blood transfusions and feeding, the simple stresses of caring for them at home seems like nothing, it makes me happy every day to see two smiling healthy boys sitting in front of me. I’m soaking in every moment, like weekend snuggles…

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JuneUpdate4Don’t worry, we were right there next to them, I know you’re not supposed to let the sleep unattended with pillows & blankets.

This is how I’m able to shower in the morning, it’s always slightly amusing to me, how did I get here? :)

JuneUpdate5

I cannot tell you how excited and refreshed I feel to have spring upon us now. The trees are blooming, the birds are singing and everyone is emerging from their houses rubbing their eyes from the long rough winter.

JuneUpdate10

I’m not going to lie, it was a tough one! I’m finally starting to feel like myself again, I’m back at work, I’m getting some exercise and I feel like I can be such a better mom because of it.  After a rather rough time trying to breastfeed, I finally had to throw in the towel last month and although I feel some guilt for having to do it, I know it was the best thing mentally & physically for all of us. I was able to feed them with breast milk for 5 months and I feel really proud for having made it that far after multiple bouts of mastitis that once landed me in the hospital for a few days with an abscess that had to be surgically drained.  I was exhausted and in pain and I felt like I wasn’t able to focus on caring for my babies as it was consuming every ounce of energy I had. I wasn’t really sure if I wanted to share this as a part of me still feels like it was a failure on my part but I know there are plenty of moms who share similar struggles.  People can lay judgement and talk about what they did or what they think is best but everyone has a different story and we all have to be compassionate as you never know what another person may be going through.

JuneUpdate6

The boys are just starting to try real foods now and I can’t wait to make food for them in the kitchen and nourish their growing little bodies in a whole new way soon!

JuneUpdate7

They went in for their 6 month appointment this week and I still can’t believe that we’re here.  They are doing so well, they are keeping up with all of their milestones for their corrected age.  Camden is now 14lb 11oz and Jax is 13lb 1oz which is pretty unbelievable considering they started out at only 2 pounds wearing teeny tiny diapers that made a maxi pad look huge.

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They are already developing their own personalities and starting to interact with each other which is so much fun to watch, I look forward to every day as it seems they are always surprising me and learning to do something new.

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OH, and because we’re out of our minds and don’t have enough going on right now we decided to buy a new house and sell ours. Do you think we’re insane yet? Probably. But I’m SOOOO excited!  We really wanted to stay in the town we live in because it’s such a special little place but we were worried we were never going to find what we wanted. We wanted to do a renovation but were worried what that would do to us with the stress caring for 2 babies at the same time.  And then when we least expected it, we were presented with an opportunity to purchase a house down the street that was being built.  We’ve been able to be involved in every step of the process from picking out floors & paint colors to lights and (you guessed it) my DREAM kitchen! Complete with a 36″ gas stove and super white quartzite countertops.  I’ll share more pics as things are completed but this is where it’s at now and I’m getting more and more excited with each thing that gets completed. Now let’s hope someone comes along and buys our house, EEK!

I never thought I would have the opportunity to design my dream home but here we are.

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I also never thought I would have twin boys but here we are.

When life hands you lemons, SQUEEZE THAT BABY!

I can’t say I’ll be back to full posting capacity since my time not spent feeding & diapering babies is usually spent sleeping but I’m feeling more and more like myself every day and the plan is to start whipping up some delicious recipes soon as I’m sure I’ll be inspired by all the fabulous summer produce and goodies.

Thanks for sticking around, miss you guys! Feels good to be back!

-Mai-Lis

 

 

Vans Creamy Garlic Pasta with Sausage & Spinach

Vans Creamy Spinach Pasta

HELLO THERE! My forgotten blog child!  Rather than jumping right into the stress that is my life these days, I’d rather talk about food for a little bit.  I’ll give you an update on the boys after we dive into some pasta heaven.

SO, as we all know, I may be SLIGHTLY busy these days and my time in the kitchen has been pretty limited.  It’s not to say that I wouldn’t love to be laboring over the stove on these snowy winter days cooking up all sorts of yummy goodness to share with you, it’s just that I don’t have the time to, period. And if I do happen to have the time to make something, I don’t have the time to photograph it before we’re shoving it into our face in the 2 seconds we have before the baby starts screaming.  I HAVE made some pretty delicious things that I would love to share the recipes for but I don’t have good photos for them, I may just share them anyways and use the crappy cell phone pics that I took. You don’t care right? Oh good, thanks.

Vans Creamy Garlic Pasta with Sausage & Spinach

So the other day I got a delightful little package on my doorstep from Van’s Foods.  I stood there opening the box at 4:00 in the afternoon, in my sweats, baby spit up all over me, starving because I hadn’t had a chance to eat any lunch.  First I saw their soft baked granola and literally started plowing through it before I could even see what was in the rest of the box. It may be the sleep deprived hungry fog that I was in but that stuff is NO joke! It literally tastes like you’re eating oatmeal cookie dough. I’ve been trying to save a few morsels so I can take a pic for you so if I get a chance, I’ll post about it later.

The next things I came across were their new pasta sides.  A few hours later I would be cooking up that deliciousness for a quick and easy dinner.

Van's Creamy Pasta with Spinach & Sausage

The pasta is gluten free and is made from whole grains & lentils, it really fills you up a lot faster than regular pasta.  You can serve it as a side but I decided to make it a main meal by adding some spinach feta chicken sausage, wilted spinach and good “sprinkle” of parmesan cheese on top.

Van's Creamy Pasta with Spinach & Sausage

It was so fast to make, I even had time to snap a few photos for you. Say thank you Van’s! I’m looking forward to trying the other varieties, Rotini & Red Sauce and Ultimate Cheddar Penne.  My ultimate review? Delicious as always.  Fast, easy & full of good stuff. What more can you ask for?

Ok, pasta. Thank you for helping me through this tough time. Your time is done, let’s talk about the cutest babies that ever existed.

Camden

Jax

A lot has happened since my “Life in the NICU” post.  Camden came home on January 8th and has been such a joy. He is seriously such a happy and lovely baby, we’re having so much fun with him.  Jax was probably about a week behind him when he came down with RSV in the hospital. If you’re not familiar with it, it’s a really nasty respiratory infection and for a little 6 lb baby, it kicked his little bum.  They transferred him to the pediatric ICU since the NICU no longer wanted him there with a contagious infection.  He spent a little over a week sedated and on a ventilator while he pushed through it. It was really hard to see him like that, he went from a bright eyed little boy to being completely OUT for an entire week.  We weren’t able to bring Camden into the hospital so Tom & I took turns driving into the city to see him. We felt guilty not being able to spend much time there but when we were there, there wasn’t anything we could do besides watch him and talk to the doctors. It was a tough few weeks but he has finally come out of it. He’s had to basically relearn feeding and everything he was doing before the illness.  They wouldn’t take him back in the NICU so he spent a week on the general pediatric floor which was totally not the place for him. The poor little guy was laying in a normal hospital room in the middle of this huge bed by himself with nurses that only stopped in every few hours.  We got pretty upset about the situation and ended up transferring him to the Special Care nursery at a more local hospital. He is now completely over the RSV and doing SO well, we’re hoping he’ll be home soon.  He’s had quite the journey but he’s a strong little dude and we can’t wait for him to come home and be with his brother.

On top of all of that, we lost my wonderful grandfather who had been sick recently.  We were really hoping to make it down to see him with the boys but unfortunately we weren’t able to.  We did get to do a little video chat with him a few weeks ago so I’m glad he at least got to see them.  He will be sorely missed.  Needless to say, it’s been a rather rough winter.

Snow

Oh yah and then this. Snow. Snow. And. More. Snow. I don’t even know what to say other than I’m OVER IT. Spring please! Bring me sunshine and warm breezes and long days where I can take the dog & the boys out for long walks in the stroller. At this rate, we’ll have snow into August. BTW – how hilarious is it that this guy was actually driving his car like this? F for effort.

Ok, that’s all for now. Hope to be back soon! Thank you for not leaving me :)

Oh, and Happy Birthday Dad! I love you!!!

Guest Post: Meet Your Fitness Goals with Aqua Aerobics

Happy 2015 everyone! I hope everyone is getting started with those new healthy habits and New Years resolutions.  I’m looking forward to getting back on the exercise band wagon soon after a very sedentary pregnancy, although I’m not so excited about the always crowded January gym scene. I’m scheduled to start Cross Fit again in March but until then I’ll see what I can fit in at they gym.  Since I haven’t had time to create much content for you lately I’m featuring a guest post today from the talented Kaitlin Gardner over at An Apple Per Day. She has some great information to share about a different type of exercise if you’re looking to bust out of your gym rut or just try something new!

Take it over Kaitin!

My exercise routine used to be pretty much the same things over and over. I’d go running, and throw in an occasional weight workout. Then the term “muscle confusion” came into vogue, which emphasized the need for variety in workouts. I incorporated aqua aerobics into my fitness goals, and it really added a lot to my exercise.

The basics of aqua aerobics. If I’m in the water doing a workout that increases my heart rate, giving me a cardio component, that can qualify as aqua aerobics. It doesn’t always have to be a class or an exotic routine – though those can be fun. Just getting into the pool and treading water for several minutes can really get my breathing to escalate and my heart pumping. The variety added by aqua aerobics is one of the biggest benefits. Here are some resources with more information about aqua aerobics.

Aqua jogging. I’m still a runner at heart, and that’s my primary exercise routine. But as I started to run longer distances, my legs began to hurt and get sore. A man in my running group suggested I check out aqua jogging as a great cross training method. He mentioned that marathon runners regularly use this workout. I went to my community pool when the lap lanes were open, and gave it a try. I got in one of the lanes and began to move up and down it with my best running posture. That’s when I first began to appreciate the concept of resistance. It took extra effort to push my body through the water, and I got a great workout more quickly than I would have imagined. I wore some old tennis shoes to protect my feet, and kept a water bottle at the end of the lane. Now I use aqua jogging at least once a week to give my legs a rest.

Heart health bonus. I read a while back that while you’re in the water, your heart rate will be around 13 percent lower. That means your heart will be going at 17 beats per minute slower than on land. This is thought to be due to the lessened impact of gravity, along with the lower water temperature. So I can work out just as hard in the water, and give my heart a rest. I thought that was a wonderful bonus for adding aqua aerobics to my weekly workout schedule.

Great variety. Going back to the “muscle confusion” concept, one of the things I most like about water workouts is the great variety. If I’m in need of a vigorous workout, I will head to a water kickboxing class. I work both upper and lower body, and really get a super cardio session. If I want that same cardio boost plus some fun, I head to a Zumba dance class, where I get to work out with all those sexy hip swinging moves. I’d never do that class on land, but in the pool, most of me is underwater, so I can really go for it. If I want a stretching session, a water yoga class is great, or aqua tai chi to relax. I can also use water weights and get in a wonderful weight session. When I need a change from my regular gym workouts, the water has a lot to offer. I can even build my core doing the plank in the water, using a foam noodle to support myself. I have begun to think about the pool as my gym in the water.

I’ve really enjoyed incorporating aqua aerobics to meet my fitness goals, and I plan to make it a regular part of my workouts.

Kaitlin Gardner started An Apple Per Day to explore her passion for a green living lifestyle, and healthy family living. She and her husband have just moved to rural Pennsylvania, where they enjoy exploring the countryside to discover interesting and out of the way places. She is also learning how to paint watercolors.

Life in the NICU…

Twins1

Wow! What a ride the past 6 weeks have been! I feel like we’re living in some sort of alternate reality, one I never knew existed.

When I was pregnant, I never expected that we would end up here. I guess that’s one lesson I’ve learned very quickly through this whole process, you can never assume or plan anything.  I had heard of babies being born early and long stays in the NICU but you always assume that it’s something that happens to other people, not something that will happen to you.  I even skipped over those chapters in the twin books because I thought “no need to worry myself with that, I’m healthy and the pregnancy is progressing well, we won’t have to deal with that.”

Twins2B

I took this photo of my baby bump the morning I went into labor.  I knew that I was at risk for an early delivery because of the twins and a shortened cervix but I honestly thought (and hoped) I would make it to at least 35 weeks.

At 29 weeks and 1 day, I was sitting on the couch with Tom posting our Nanny position online when my water broke.  I was in complete shock, I started shaking realizing what was happening, I didn’t even have my hospital bag packed! This wasn’t supposed to be happening!  We packed up a few items and quickly got to the hospital at around 9:00 at night.  After arriving and being admitted to a room in labor & delivery, things started progressing quickly.  The contractions quickly got worse and after a rather painful and uncomfortable night, I was fully dilated by 7:30 AM.  They rushed me in to the operating room, gave me a spinal and then performed an emergency c-section.  The boys were born at 8:30 and 8:31 AM at 29 weeks and 2 days.  Hearing their cries as they were delivered were some of the sweetest sounds I’ve ever heard, I knew in my heart that they were going to be ok. I got a quick glimpse of them as they were whisked away to the NICU and then I was taken to recover.  Tom went down to visit them and gave me updates but I wasn’t able to visit them until 9:30 that evening. I can’t even explain how difficult it is to have given birth and go an entire day not being able to see or touch your babies.  I was still stunned by how everything happened, it wasn’t the birth that I had expected or planned on.

Twins3

They were so small and were hooked up to so many tubes and wires, it was hard to believe the doctors when they told me they were doing so well.  Over the next few days, I slowly recovered from the pain of the c-section and was able to spend more time with them.  I began pumping breast milk for them which really helped me feel as though I was contributing to their growth.  Even though I know there is probably nothing I could have done, it was hard not to blame myself for somehow failing them by delivering early.

Twins2

Over the next few weeks, they began to slowly take steps forward.  Breathing tubes came out, bilirubin lights got turned off, we were able to hold them more and they started to become more alert.

Twins4

I got to hold them together and they touched each other for the first time.

Twins5

Twins6

Twins7

Twins8

Twins9

It’s been a difficult 6 weeks full of ups and downs.  The hospital and nurses have been amazing, I feel so lucky that they were born in a day & age where medicine and doctors is able to help them grow and thrive.  Today they are 36 weeks, still 4 weeks away from being considered full term babies, but they are thriving and are two of the cutest babies I’ve ever seen (I’m not biased at all). Camden’s feeding tube is out and Jax is bouncing back quickly from a hernia surgery and getting the hang of feeding from a bottle.  They are in open cribs and we can hold them whenever we want. The word “discharge” is starting to get thrown around, it’s still a moving target but still incredibly exciting nonetheless.

This journey has been a real eye opener into a world I have never known. I’ve been blown away by the kindness of our friends and family and even complete strangers.  I feel so lucky to have 2 healthy growing boys and I can’t wait to bring them home soon! Thank you for your patience during what has been a tough time!

Sending love to all the other parents who are dealing with or have dealt with a past stay in the NICU with their babies! It is truly a unique journey!

 

The Nursery Reveal!

Blue, Yellow & Grey Nursery

Since I don’t have any food stuff to share with you these days, I figured I would share some pics of the nursery all complete.  We finished it just days before the boys decided to arrive, it’s sitting all fresh & pretty, waiting for them to come home & enjoy it!  We wanted to keep it simple, neutral & bright and I’m super happy with how everything came together.  We used lots of white with blue, grey & yellow for accents.

Blue, Yellow & Grey Nursery

My favorite find was this blue chevron rug from Pottery Barn.  After combining some credit card points with an online code and a day of free shipping, I paid a total of $3.00 for this rug. It was probably one of my proudest moments :)  My grandparents got us these great cribs from Target, they are very solid & look great in the room!

Framed Nursery Wall Art

Framed Nursery Wall Art

I wanted some simple framed art for the room so I designed this set of 3 prints using their names.  On the bottom of the center one it says “Best friends are we, my brother & me.” So cute!  I got the frames for a great price from Michael’s.

Nursery Corner Toy Shelf

Tom picked up these cute corner shelves from home depot and we got some little toys to display on there. The shelves are also going to work great for placing the baby monitors on.

Nursery Changing Table Wall Storage

The flag banner was purchased from Etsy.  My friend Alicia used it for our gender reveal party & baby shower and it was absolutely perfect for the nursery so we hung it up on the wall above the changing table.  We also picked up this tiered white shelf from Home Goods to put all of the diaper changing goods next to the changing table, I think it’s really going to come in handy.

Nautical Kid's Dresser

We bought this Delta dresser so that it matched the white on the Delta cribs & changing table.  I wanted to add something a little extra so I bought these super cute nautical drawer knobs from Leila’s Loft on Etsy.

Twin Boys Nursery Closet

One of my favorite parts of the room is this super organized closet that Tom built.  We took an old black cube shelf from target, built it into the closet, added trim, and then added a few shelves and poles for hanging clothes.  We picked up the cream & aqua drawer boxes from Home Depot.

MeAndBoys1

The boys are doing great, I got to hold them together yesterday which was AH-mazing.  It was so cool to see them touch each other and cuddle, it was so calming to have both of them sleeping peacefully on my chest.

I can’t wait for them to come home so they can enjoy this beautiful nursery and mess it up!