Am I the only one who is bothered?

While standing in line at Barnes and Noble the other day, I glanced around and noticed Jessica Alba, looking stunning as usual, on the cover of a magazine. Then I noticed that it wasn’t the usual Allure or Cosmopolitan, but Forbes.

Highlighting “America’s Richest Self-Made Women,” the magazine chose Alba, who founded the Honest Company, for its cover. So while I hate to go on the same old tired, clichéd, feminist rant, the cover bothers me. Jessica Alba is beautiful, in fact I think she might still be my husband’s favorite celebrity girl (his freebie, if you will). But with the article focusing on her accomplishments as a businesswoman, why is her cleavage front and center? I’m not saying we should put a paper bag over her head and hide her body in a burka, but I have yet to see a man on the cover of Forbes with his shirt off, or mostly unbuttoned, or “sexed up” at all.

To check my theory, I did a Google Image search of Forbes covers and here is what I saw:

Screen shot 2015-06-20 at 11.38.18 AMIt’s a lot of men in suits. I scrolled for a while and found another woman on the cover.

I kept looking and found a handful of covers with women in suits, but … yeah I’m annoyed.

Jessica Alba’s company is focused on safe products for our children and families, and that magazine cover says something pretty different. Does it bother you? Am I overreacting and being a prude?

Will’s Birth Story

I’m so honored and excited that my birth story is featured on Gabrielle Blair’s blog Design Mom. Gabrielle is a rockstar in the blogging world and a mother of six (!!!!!!). She also recently published a lovely book called Design Mom: How to Live with Kids: A Room-by-Room Guide. It has tons of wonderful ideas and strategies for keeping a house kid-friendly while still being beautiful and functional.

Back in 2011, she published Nolan’s birth story, and last week, Will’s made its debut! Will’s birth took a completely different route than Nolan’s did, and you can read all about it here.

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Caught Red Handed

Preschoolers produce a lot of “art.” Nolan comes home with at least three or four projects a week, not to mention the doodling, drawing, and writing (I use that term loosely) he does at home.

We display items that are seasonal or especially cute up on the mantle, and put some away in a bin in his room. But a lot of it…goes away. I’ll leave it out on the dining room table for a few days or a week, and if he doesn’t seem to be especially attached to it, in the garbage it goes.

In my hasty cleaning up on Wednesday, I put a project in the garbage and thought to myself, hmmmm, I should probably hide that a little better in there, but then I forgot about it and went about my day.

Shortly after Nolan got home from school he went to the garbage to throw away his yogurt container, and I heard him gasp, “Oh no!!!”

PANIC. I immediately knew he saw his art in the garbage and my mind started racing, Oh my god he sees his art and now he knows I threw it away and he is going to be so sad I did that and who has the number for a good child psychologist who takes my insurance?

He looked up from the garbage and said, “My beautiful project fell in the garbage!”

Huge sigh of relief. Yes, sweet little one, it fell. It absolutely was not purposely put in there. What evil mother would do that? Not this one!

I plucked it out of the trash and answered, “Wow! How did that happen? Oh! There’s some tape on the back and it must have stuck to some garbage I was throwing away. Good thing you saw it!”

Lesson learned: bury the evidence!

Kite

What to do with breasts. Specifically chicken ones.

We eat a lot of chicken in our house. For a while, I almost always bought skin-on split chicken breasts because they’re easy to roast and use in a lot of different dishes. They are also pretty much the only chicken parts that Ina Garten’s recipes ever call for, and we know how I feel about her. (Side note: if you like Ina Garten, you need to Google Ina Garten memes – so funny)

I used to avoid buying boneless, skinless breasts unless I was making chicken cutlets. I never knew how to cook them without them being dry and boring. However, in my efforts to save a few bucks, I’ve been buying big packs of them, so I had to find some tasty ways to use them. Good news…I found some!

Caprese Chicken – I found this one on Pinterest and I love it because it has a ton of flavor and requires very little prep or chopping. I shave two or three minutes off the cooking time on the chicken and use regular mozzarella instead of buffalo because I’m strange and don’t like buffalo mozzarella.

On a whim, I bought this Balsamic Reduction glaze and it’s so good. The caprese chicken is perfectly delicious with regular balsamic vinegar, but when you can drizzle this sweet syrup on it, why wouldn’t you??

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One-Pan Chicken Burrito Bowl – Here’s another one I found on Pinterest. I loved it so much that I think I made it three times in the month after I found it. As the title indicates, you only use one pan, which makes clean up easy IF you don’t use heat that’s too high. The second time I made this I guess I left it simmering a bit too high and there was a whole layer of cooked rice stuck to the bottom of the pan. Ugh.

The other change I make to this recipe is that I swap out the can of diced tomatoes for a jar (or really three quarters of a jar) of salsa. It adds some extra flavors and with the huge variety of salsas on the market, you can really customize the recipe based on your taste.

Chicken Chili – This one comes from Dinner: A Love Story (a great place for solid recipes) and it’s another fast and easy one. When I read through the recipe for the first time, I saw four tablespoons of chili powder and thought, “whoa! That’s a lot of heat.” I like a little spice but not too much. To be safe I used two tablespoons and I thought that was plenty of heat.

I had serendipitously just bought Whole Foods Organic Fire Roasted Corn and it was PERFECT in this recipe. Obviously regular frozen corn is fine too, but the flavor from charred corn was delicious and added zero extra work. If you don’t have a Whole Foods nearby, I’m pretty sure Trader Joe’s carries a similar product.

5 Ingredient White Chicken Chili – yet another Pinterest find! It’s really more of a soup than a chili and it’s so fast and easy that I felt guilty just pouring everything in the pot and saying, “Ok, I made dinner!” The secret to this recipe is salsa verde. If you’ve never had it, it’s a very mild salsa and it’s delicious.

The base of the soup is only the salsa verde, chicken, chicken stock, cumin, and Great Northern Beans but then you can add so many delicious toppings at the end. I like cilantro, avocado, sour cream, cheddar, and broken up tortilla chips.

Do you have any go-to recipes for chicken breasts?

Get cooking!

Corners of Shame

We moved in to our new house last October after doing extensive renovations. While I love our home and it has come a LONG way from where it was when we bought it, there are still some major projects that will need to be tackled down the road (like when we have money). There are also some small projects that I hope to accomplish in the next weeks and months, including planting some herbs and vegetables, putting together flower boxes for the front windows, doing something with our fireplace, and fixing up our corners of shame.

I call them corners of shame because they are two corners of our home, right out in the open, that are messy eyesores and not functional. Or in some ways, maybe they’re too functional.

Today I’ll address the living room corner. I could definitely use some ideas and help! The focal wall of our living area has a fireplace with three to four feet of space on either side.  Our television is mounted above it and a sound bar sits on the mantle (not my choice). To the right of the fireplace is my first corner of shame. Behold:

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IMG_4807It took a lot of willpower not to clean it up before posting pictures, but hey, this is what it looks like on any given day so I’m being honest. Let’s review what’s housed here.

  • Baxter’s crate that he goes in when we aren’t home
  • Mason jar of dog treats (because doesn’t everyone have that?)
  • Wine fridge
  • Cable box
  • Modem
  • Telephone
  • Subwoofer for the sound bar
  • Router
  • That yellow and brown piece of “art” is a tree from The Lorax that Nolan made
  • Random dirty white balloon that we use to play the occasional game of balloon volleyball
  • Behind the crate are white plastic hockey boards in need of repair for Nolan’s hockey game

I stare at this corner for much of the day and it pains me. With few exceptions, we need all these things and we need them there. But what the area has become is just a tower of ugly. In an ideal world, I want a cabinet-type piece of furniture to house the wine fridge and all our electronic mumbo jumbo; however, we still need the remote controls to work on the cable box. The fridge needs to “breathe” so the cabinet has to have some sort of open back.

There are tons of armoire-type pieces on the market, but ideally I want something no taller than the mantle, which is about four and a half feet high. I also haven’t forgotten that any piece of furniture will require a new home for Baxter’s crate, and there aren’t a lot of options.

So readers, any ideas? Help!

 

The Double-Edged Sword of Advice

The internet is a melting pot of advice and opinions, especially when it comes to child-rearing. On any given morning you can read how offering your child choices will make him spoiled and controlling and then click to another site to learn about the importance of choices so your little one feels empowered.  (For the record, we haven’t had success giving choices or making choices for him so I need another idea!)

Being a parent for the second time has helped me feel a little more confident in my knowledge and abilities but sometimes I hear people’s advice and think, “Wow, this would really screw with a new parent’s head!”

Feed me!!!
Feed me!!!

The prime example of this is actually something I experienced in the hospital after giving birth to Will in November. First, let me say that I loved Huntington Hospital. I delivered Nolan at Winthrop and had a bad experience from start to finish (aside from getting to meet Nolan, duh). That’s one of the main reasons I switched practices and hospitals when we moved to Greenlawn. On the flip side, everyone at Huntington was kind and helpful and didn’t make me feel like I was a burden, which is exactly what I felt like at Winthrop.

Over the course of my two and a half days in the hospital, I encountered maternity nurses, maternity nursing assistants, nursery nurses, nursery nursing assistants, hospital pediatricians, and my own midwives. And this is what they had to say about feeding:

Newborn babies aren’t born that hungry. Don’t force it.

Even if he doesn’t seem hungry, wake him up and feed him if it has been more than two hours.

Feed the baby every three hours on both breasts.

Feed the baby every two hours, alternating breasts.

Nurse on demand when the baby seems hungry; don’t worry about the timing.

We don’t give out pacifiers anymore because giving one to a baby younger than one month old can cause nipple confusion and then he’ll have trouble nursing.

There’s no such thing as nipple confusion. Pacifiers reduce the risk of SIDS so you can start using one right away.

Breastfeeding shouldn’t hurt, so if it does, your baby probably isn’t latched on properly.

Of course breastfeeding hurts in the beginning while your body adjusts.

Now, I’m someone who likes instructions. I like steps to follow. I like schedules. Thankfully, since I’ve done this once before, I could smile and nod at all this conflicting information, but it made me feel terrible for the first time mom who would be so confused!

I can’t even decide for myself what I believe in. The two baby/parenting books I like the most are Bringing Up Bebe and The Happiest Baby on the Block, which basically preach entirely opposite outlooks on parenting. Yet when I read them, they both make TOTAL sense.

And the conflicting advice doesn’t stop at nursing. It applies to how your baby sleeps, poops, plays, eats, etc. New parents need advice (I think?) and yet when it’s given it sometimes causes even more anxiety. Did you receive any conflicting or confusing advice when you had kids (or got married? or bought a house? or started a new job?). How do you muddle through it without making yourself crazy? Any tips?

Almost Four Year Olds Say the Darndest Things

I have clear memories of car rides on the Belt Parkway with my mom, me sitting in the front seat (no airbags!), driving home to Canarsie and playing the quiet game. Do you know the quiet game? It’s the “game” to get your children to be quiet for just. one. minute. pleeeeeeease. Whoever talks first, loses. I lost a lot.

Fast forward twenty-five + years and sometimes I play that game with my own little one. Nolan talks from the moment he wakes up (around 6:30am) to the moment he gets into bed at night (at 8pm), plus all the moments after that when he climbs out of bed to tell me things.

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I try to write down some of the funny things he says, but of course I can’t keep up. For every keeper I remember to record, there are ten other bizarre things he comes up with that I’ve forgotten before dinner. Here are a few recent ones…

While getting dressed in the morning:

NOLAN: Do you want to see my tushy?

ME: I already know it what it looks like. I made it.

NOLAN: You didn’t make it! You just pooped it.


While having breakfast:

NOLAN: Mommy?

ME: Yes honey?

NOLAN: … Mommy?

ME: Yes?

NOLAN: Ummm…ummm…Mommy?

ME: What??

NOLAN: … Mommy?

ME: Oh my gosh, Nolan, what???

NOLAN: Um, the mosquitos are hibernating now.


While getting dressed in the morning…

NOLAN: These are my nipples. They’re little.

ME: Yup, they are.

NOLAN: Do you want to touch them?

ME: No thanks.

NOLAN: You have nipples on the front of your boobies.

ME: Yes. I do.

NOLAN: Can I see them?

ME: No.

NOLAN: I think you have bigger nipples than me.

At this point I didn’t know whether to explain to him that it’s generally frowned upon to talk about your mother’s nipples, or to tell him that using “me” is incorrect in that sentence, and he actually should have said, “I think you have bigger nipples than I have.” I decided to just leave it alone.


Finally, there is the occasional sweetness that makes all that talking worth it.

ME: Which do you like better, home days or school days?

NOLAN: Home days.

ME: Why?

NOLAN: Because I love you guys.