Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Travel Tips

Am I the only one with the vacation bug?? Considering the fact that we're not going until August and it's only MARCH, that's bad!!

In honor of my itch to go to the beach, I wanted to do a post about beach must-have's and travel tips for toddlers. I feel like my BFF and I spent countless hours last year on the phone before departing trying to figure out what to bring, how much of everything to pack and debating about items and if we would really need them.

To preface, we rented a house for the week and had full intentions of cooking pretty much every meal, which we did stick to (the temptation to go out to eat is lessened greatly with the thought of doing it with 2 toddlers!) I guess this all depends on where you go, but we had been warned that food where we were heading to (Sea Isle City, NJ) was very expensive in local grocery stores, so we made up a menu for all of the days we were going to be there, then made up a grocery list and split it as best we could so that we each bought about half of the food. We included all of the food for dinners, as well as plenty of snacks, breakfast foods, lunches, etc.... A few days before we left, I made Crockpot Salsa Chicken, froze it and brought it along with us; this worked out well because it makes a ton of food, so we had enough for dinner one night and some leftovers for lunch. We brought coolers and packed lunches to eat on the beach everyday.

  • Portable DVD Player: seriously, this thing was a lifesaver. Jake did great in the car for the first part of the trip...we left at 5:30, so he slept the first 2 hours, then we were able to keep him entertained with books, songs, etc.... Then, we hit massive traffic in Philly and bad things started to happen. Books were thrown, tears were shed....not a pretty sight. Finally, I turned on the magical feature presentation and Elmo's World saved the day. Bliss!
  • Rash Guards/Sun Shirts/Whatever you want to call was great not having to worry as much about the sun since he was much more covered than he would have been in just swim shorts.
  • Booster Seat: I think this is a good thing to have anyway, but it was very handy on vacation. I'm sure you can rent high chairs in vacation areas, but this thing is pretty compact and we've used it a lot since then.
  • Baby Powder: I don't know how it works, but somehow, sprinkling a bit of baby powder on areas where sand is stuck to skin makes it magically brush right away! We kept some in the garage of the house we were staying in and just powdered him up outside, rinsed with a hose and toweled him off....ta-da! The sand disappears much easier than trying to scrape it all off.
  • A few bathing suits/swim shorts: We had about 4 pairs of swim shorts for Jake and I was happy to have them...we fell into a pattern of going to the beach all morning, eating lunch on the beach, then heading back to the house around 12:30 for nap time. Most of the time, we would then head back down to the beach after nap, so I needed another pair of shorts to put on him since the others were always still damp (and EWWW, who wants to put damp clothes back on??)
  • A beach cart: our house had one that we were able to use and it was wonderful. We hauled so much stuff down to the beach everyday (lunches, toys, 2 toddlers, towels, beach chairs, etc....) that we probably would have had to make more than 1 trip, even with 4 adults. We were able to get most of the stuff into the cart and it even had a handle where you could hang beach chairs....genius!
Travel Tips:
  • If you need to use a crib, I would highly suggest doing some research to see if there are any local crib rentals available. This was a lifesaver to us, as we have a small car and those pack & plays take up an obnoxious amount of space. The company that we used offered pick up and drop off service, the cribs were on wheels so we just slid them right into the boys' rooms and ta-da! Just like home, no headache. I think they were around $40 for the week....worth every penny! Just don't forget to bring your own sheets!
  • Pack lightly on the toys....maybe it was a bit different because Jake had his buddy Ben there to play with, but aside from a few books, a ball and a truck....we didn't really need much in the way of toys. Same thing for beach toys....a truck, a football and some basics (shovel and bucket) and we were set.
That's all I have for you for now :) We've been working diligently with Jake on his fist-pumping skills, we hope to have them perfected by August.

Until next time, Jersey Shore!

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Bikes & Birthdays-Take 2

*for those of you who have googlereader, sorry this showed up twice, I accidentally hit post too soon before I uploaded pics*

My mom celebrated her birthday last week....when we went out to dinner to celebrate, the server made her night by saying "21, right?" :)

We went to Washpa yesterday to see GG for her birthday and as a bonus, Uncle Nate was on spring break, so we got to see him too. It was Jake's lucky day, Nate had brought his fish home:

My parents bought a tricycle for Jake to keep at their house, which is nice because they live on a quiet cul-de-sac, with a flat stretch of road right in front of their house, so Jake loved zipping up & down the street on his new ride:

At one point, he got off of the bike and said to it, "Bike, I carry you" and picked it up and carried it for awhile, it was adorable :)

It was a nice day, so we also played around in the backyard....

Then we went to dinner (Red Robin, woohoo! I am a sucker for anywhere that gives you a free burger on your birthday and bottomless french fries any day!) Jake LOVED his mac & cheese, so much so that he attempted to drink the cheese out of the bottom after he was done:

The server brought out a sundae for my mom's birthday, which she generously shared with Jake....he then went on a bit of a crazy sugar high, started making strange noises and ran around my mom's house when we got home like a crazed man. :)

Happy birthday, GG!!

Friday, March 26, 2010

Favorite Foto Friday: Spring!

The first sign of spring at our house so far....I can't remember what the flower is called, but it was nice to see this week! Anxiously awaiting the tulips and daffodils....

Book Review: "Sarah's Key"

Sarah's Key (Tatiana De Rosnay)

LOVED this book. I can say that it was one of the best I've read in a long was one of those books that made me wish my bus ride was a bit longer so that I could read more going to and from work.

Here is the excerpt from Amazon:

De Rosnay's U.S. debut fictionalizes the 1942 Paris roundups and deportations, in which thousands of Jewish families were arrested, held at the Vélodrome d'Hiver outside the city, then transported to Auschwitz. Forty-five-year-old Julia Jarmond, American by birth, moved to Paris when she was 20 and is married to the arrogant, unfaithful Bertrand Tézac, with whom she has an 11-year-old daughter. Julia writes for an American magazine and her editor assigns her to cover the 60th anniversary of the Vél' d'Hiv' roundups. Julia soon learns that the apartment she and Bertrand plan to move into was acquired by Bertrand's family when its Jewish occupants were dispossessed and deported 60 years before. She resolves to find out what happened to the former occupants: Wladyslaw and Rywka Starzynski, parents of 10-year-old Sarah and four-year-old Michel. The more Julia discovers—especially about Sarah, the only member of the Starzynski family to survive—the more she uncovers about Bertrand's family, about France and, finally, herself

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Operation: Poo Bag

Jake takes his jobs very seriously....if I'm cleaning, he wants to help me dust and furiously scrubs the furniture with the rag I give him. If Brian is cleaning up the backyard, Jake wants to get his wheelbarrow out and load it up.

Last night after work, we departed for a walk and as I was putting him in the stroller, Jake saw Gracie's poo bag (aka-an empty newspaper sleeve) sticking out of my pocket and said "Jake hold". So, I said, "Sure! It's a really important job, being the poo bag holder....I need you to hold onto it very tightly and then hand it to me when Gracie goes to the bathroom, ok?" He nodded enthusiastically with a big smile on his face, clearly pleased that I was appointing him as the leader of such an important task.

It was gorgeous out yesterday....60 degrees, sunny....a delightful day for everyone and their mother (and dog and children) to be out in their yards or on a walk. And every single one of those people in our neighborhood was greeted the same way by Jake:

"Hello! Jake hold poo bag!"

I'm not sure if people wanted to laugh or be disturbed by the fact that my kid was proudly showing off a poo bag. Either way, the pride he took in his job made me smile.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Monday, March 22, 2010

My apologies, Senora Sloane....

A reader just corrected my horrid Spanish skills in the post below, making me realize that my post was titled something like "Where the selfish Emmy". I started to edit the post then realized it would be more humorous to leave it in there.

So instead, I send out a sincere apology to my high school Spanish teacher, Senora Sloane, she would be greatly disappointed in me. I actually ran into her at wal-mart years after graduating and I didn't even have to turn around to know it was one else would scream "AMALIA!!!" so loud that my heart skipped a beat..... I still have nightmares of having to put on a sombrero while the class sang "Feliz cumpleanos a ti" *shudder*

Donde de la Selfish Emmy

Translation: Spanish for Emmy's Selfish Day (I think)
Reason for a language other than English? Because doesn't everything sound more festive in Spanish?

Anyway-Saturday I went out shopping. By myself. Which meant that I didn't have to push a stroller. Or dig around in my purse for snacks. Or have someone asking me every 5 minutes "Play? Play? Play?" until I start using bribery as a technique to get a certain someone to sit quietly in his stroller ("Do you want to go to the play zone? Ok then, I would suggest that you sit still and let mommy finish shopping....")

To sum it up, it was glorious. I didn't get as much stuff as I would have liked, I think I was being too picky and antsy being in the mall because I knew how gorgeous it was outside. But I did get the following:

Perhaps my most fabulous find, from DSW (sorry, couldn't get the pic to show up without that stuff on the side)

Because it's just not summer if you're not stocked with wife beaters from the Gap:

I also decided to give the "curvy" jeans from Gap a try, they seem promising:

Cute sandals from Target:

And I couldn't resist this Beatles shirt for Jake from Old Navy, even though about the last thing the kid needs is more summer clothes....but just picture this shirt with his little black Chuck Taylor shoes and tell me it won't be adorable.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Belated Happy St. Patty's Day & Favorite Foto Friday

I'm way late on both of these, but here is my Happy St. Patricks Day and Favorite Foto Friday post. I blame the weather.....who wants to sit at the laptop & upload pictures when it's so nice outside?? :)

Jake's fabulous artwork from school:

Recipe: Garlic Cheddar Chicken

I just realized that I've never posted this recipe & it's a favorite around here....enjoy!

Garlic Cheddar Chicken

1/2 cup butter (I don't use quite this much, I just kind of toss some in)
4 cloves minced garlic (I cheat & use the kind that comes pre-minced in a jar)
3/4 cup dry bread crumbs
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
1.5 cups shredded cheddar cheese
3/4 tsp parsley
1/4 tsp oregano
sprinkling of pepper
4 boneless skinless chicken breasts (cut in half)

-Preheat oven to 350 degrees
-Melt butter in saucepan & cook garlic until tender
-In a shallow bowl, combine everything but the chicken
-Dip the chicken into the garlic/butter mixture, then dip into bread crumb mixture
-Bake for 30 minutes

Thursday, March 18, 2010


You may remember a post from a few months back of Jake singing a name from school ("Gabby, Gabby, Gabby") and it taking us awhile to figure out what name he was saying. Gabby kind of fell off of Jake's radar for awhile because she moved up to the 2 year old room....but now Jake is in that room as well and it has been a big love reunion.

Cute things that are involved in this relationship:
-When you ask Jake who his girlfriend is, he does this little sly smile and says "Gabby, Gabby" (he always says her name twice, which only adds to the cuteness)
-They greet each other with hugs upon their arrival to the classroom and also give random hugs throughout the day.
-His teachers have reported that sometimes he grabs her bum. Maybe I shouldn't publicize that for fear of embarrassing him later in life? Oh well.
-Gabby refers to Jake as "My Jakey".

All together now: awwwwwwwwwwww!!!!!

Gabby is probably most impressed by Jake's football skills and unique fashion sense:

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Always listen to your mother.

My mom & I have a great relationship and we're very close...but sometimes I do accuse my mom of doing things like nagging me. And sometimes my accusations are completely founded...but there have been other times when I might have felt like she was nagging me, but really, she was just loving me and she was totally right.

*stepping up on my soapbox now*

When was the last time you had your blood pressure checked? Been to the dermatologist for a skin cancer screen? Done a self-check exam of your breasts?

Where does my mom come into all of this? She nagged (I mean, strongly urged) me to look into the problems I have listed above.

My mom is a nurse and she randomly checked my blood pressure one day about 7 years ago and it was a bit high. She checked it again a few weeks later, same thing. She then kept on me until I made a doctor's appointment to get it checked out...and I was diagnosed with hypertension and have been controlling it with medication ever since then. Had she not checked it for me and then kept on me to get it checked out, I would have walked around with that condition, probably for years.

The dermatologist part, I'm proud to say, I did all on my own, no nagging from my mom needed :) That being said, I'm now about to nag you....get yourself to a dermatologist!!! Want to see proof why? Ask me sometime to see the scar from the huge chunk of skin that was removed from my back. And clearly, I am not a tanned goddess who can blame years and years of basking in the sun for any problems. I now go once a year for check ups and I take it upon myself to nag/urge everyone I know to do the same. That means YOU!

Would you ever expect to find a lump in your breast at age 25? Probably not. But I did...and I did get it checked out. The doctor sent me for an ultrasound, which did show a lump, but they were not concerned and said it was probably just some fatty tissue. However, there's a family history of lumps so my mom urged me to go to a specialist. At first, I didn't see the point....I mean, someone already looked at the test, all was well, right? I gave in and went to the specialist and (long story short) did end up having to have surgery because it was a tumor. It ended up being benign, thank God. BUT-again, would I have gone to the specialist on my own? Of course not. I won't offer to show you the scar from that procedure, but take my word for's not cute.

Obviously, I'm not a doctor and I certainly don't claim to be an expert....but I can claim to have a wonderful mom who keeps on me to take care of myself. So this is me, nagging you, my loyal readers (ha, that sounds funny to say, like you're all in my cult) to listen to your mother and to me and make sure you stay healthy! (Thanks, mom.) :-)

Monday, March 8, 2010

Hang on a moment, please....

*blink, blink* Sorry for the pause, that was just me trying to get my eyes adjusted to this crazy thing that I'm seeing....they call it "sunshine"????

We always have a great time when we make a trip to VA to visit the Martini Family and the sunshine made it even better, it was nice to get the boys outside for awhile.

The boys played very well together....there were a few moment of "no, mine!" and not wanting to share toys with each other, but of course that's to be expected at their age. They really are just the cutest things together, they will be playing and then just stop & give each other little grins like they have some sort of inside joke. (or possibly some type of plot to overthrow their parents, we're not sure)

It was also Dennis's birthday, so we celebrated by eating cake and ice cream, then putting the boys to bed and crashing on the couch the rest of the night. Ahhh....we celebrate birthdays quite differently at this point in our lives :) Happy birthday, Dennis (aka-"Uncle Nessis")!!

Friday, March 5, 2010

Jumping on the bandwagon: Favorite Foto Friday

I follow a few blogs and noticed a few pop in my google reader this morning with posts of "Favorite Foto Friday"....I followed the links back to the original blog where it started for the explanation and figured I would play along.

Today's theme was "You". This is tough for me, as I am usually the one behind the camera (and based on some of the other blogs I read today, I'm not the only one hiding behind the lens).

I might be cheating a bit, because technically, this is a professional picture by our wedding photographer, but I love it. There's nothing glamorous or posed about it! My shoes had a satin lace that went around my ankle and while walking around Oakland getting pictures, I lost the lace...I was really sad about it and Brian ran around campus and had our shuttle driver circle the block so that we could try to find it, but not luck. I gave up and parked myself up on that ledge, kicked off my high heels and was ready to change into my flip flops (sad about the loss of my pretty shoes, but relieved to slip into something more comfortable) and the photographer snapped this shot right before my maid of honor came to the rescue with my flip flops.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Shower me with memories

I was thinking the other day about how I'm a bad mom & didn't keep up with Jake's baby book, but then I consoled myself when I realized that I pretty much put every milestone in this blog. Eventually, maybe I'll print it out or do something else with it so that we/he has something. I flipped back through a lot of old posts and I think I covered everything, including his birth story/pics of the nursery/etc..., but I never posted anything about my wonderful baby showers.

So Jake, here are some pictures of the 2 baby showers that were thrown for by your Nana and the other by Aunt Missa and GG. Both showers were wonderful.... we are so lucky to have such generous friends & family!

Shower #1:

The pretty tables all set up....

With my sister-in-law, Amy....

And with my mother-in-law, Sally....

And after the shower, exhausted and surrounded by all of the new clothes :)

Shower #2:
Please note that in the 2 week time span between these 2 showers, my face blew up like a balloon as my blood pressure started to soar....I remember being worried for my 2nd shower that I wouldn't be able to cram my feet into the shoes I had planned on wearing. The horror!! what would I have done??? Moral of the story, don't be frightened by my red, puffy face as you look at the pics....

The set up....

With my mama....

With the BFF....

Opening up my awesome diaper cake gift from my super creative friend, Lisa (complete with a stuffed lion wearing an "Oakland Zoo" tshirt!)

And with the best and most loving daddy ever....
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