Sunday, July 22, 2012

I've Moved!

I've moved and would love for you to come and see me over at my new site - The Mommy Games!

Sunday, July 15, 2012

My Favorite Baby Must Haves

Rylan is just over 4 months old and here's a list of what I simply can't live without for him...

Bjorn Carrier - We have two, but this one is the best for lighter babies. It's so easy to use and the baby can face towards or away from you. I have Rylan in this all the time so that I can do things with Brandon and use both hands.

Aden and Anis bamboo swaddle blankets  - So soft and pretty. We only swaddled Rylan for the first month, but I use these to cover the stroller or bjorn so he doesn't get sun (or touched by creepy people on the street). The Sleep sacks with swaddle attachments are also a must-have if your baby is breaking out of normal swaddles. The Miracle Blanket is even tougher for them to get out of, but it's kinda a pain to do up, especially after a diaper change at 2 am. I'm also obsessed with the Aden and Anis burp cloths/bibs. They are the perfect size and shape and I love that they serve multiple functions.

White noise machine - Blocks out all kinds of noise when the baby is sleeping. With a toddler and a crazy dog running around this is a must have.

Summer Infant Video Monitor - This one is the best!! We've been through 3 different brands and they all broke on us within 6 weeks. This one has been going strong for a year plus now, and we even added a camera so we can watch both of the boys rooms. It has a scan feature that automatically switches between up to 4 cameras every 8 seconds. Perfect for when you are sleeping and want something that is going to monitor multiple children.

Stroller(s) - You gotta have one, and if you live in NYC it better be good! We actually have 3, and I love them all for different reasons. A Maclaren for easy fold-up, great for when we are going to be taking a cab or car someplace. An UppaBaby with an attached rumble seat, which I use when I have both kids but will be in a more cramped place, like Whole Foods. And a double BOB running stroller. Even though the BOB is enormous, it's probably my favorite. We have the car seat adapter and I've been running with Rylan since he was 3 months old. It's insanely heavy with both kids and the car seat, which has really kicked my butt into shape. It's a large stroller to have in nyc, but I like that both the boys can see out. It also does amazing in the snow!

Fisher Price Bouncy Chair and Play Mat - We have some of the other "cooler" versions (that cost like 4x as much), but you just can't beat the classics. They have more bells and whistles and the kids generally respond to the colors and lights. The others might look better with your decor, but you will be running out to get the gaudy bright colored jungle of toys sooner or later.

Play Pen - We have a Graco, but I don't think it matters what brand. You just need a place where you can put the baby down and know he's safe for a few minutes. I actually do "independent play time" in the play pen. I have a mobile and a handful of soft rattles in there for Rylan and he will hang out there for 30 minutes most days while I cook dinner. Brandon did his independent play time in there until he was 18 months old and then switched to his room. It's also a great place for them to sleep if you are traveling.

Medela breast pump - If you are planning on breast feeding, a good pump is a must. I know there are people out there that never end up giving their baby a bottle, but this mommy needs a break every once in a while. Not to mention that a pump can help you with supply issues. If you are not getting enough milk, pump in between feedings to increase supply. Too much milk and all you have to do is pump a little before you start feeding to keep from drowning the baby. I actually started exclusively pumping for Rylan after about 2 months. I just found it quicker and easier to do things on my schedule and I've never really been skilled enough to breastfeed in public. I would highly recommend getting a double pump. It just makes life easier and every minute counts when you have a newborn. - I seriously don't know what I would do with out them. I get deliveries multiple times per week. They are quick, reliable and easy to deal with if anything every does go wrong.

I would love to hear from you what make your must-have for baby list!

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Brandon's 2nd Birthday Weekend

Brandon celebrated his second birthday this past weekend - and it was a multiple day event! Brad's half of the family flew in (we will be visiting mine in a few weeks) and proceeded to spoil the birthday boy rotten. He loved every minute of it. Brad and I didn't mind the babysitters either.

We kicked things off with a trip to Victoria Gardens in Central Park. It's a small amusement park that's great for the younger kiddos. During the winter it's an ice skating rink (you've probably seen it in movies, and it's much larger than Rockefeller). I thought Brandon might be a little scared to go on rides for the first time, but he was all over it. He wanted to go non-stop, not paying any mind to the ridiculous heat. He was a champ all the way. After a nice long nap, we went to Benihana for dinner. Definitely not on my recommendation list if you are visiting NYC, but it was a blast for Brandon. Him and Rylan were perfectly behaved (Brandon eating nearly 2 bowls of mushroom soup) for the whole 90 minute dinner - miracles never cease. Too bad they cut him out of his own birthday photo! Another highlight of the day was the mini-cupcakes Aunt Jennifer sent from Baked by Melissa. They ship, are super yummy, and perfectly kid sized. Big hit.

Day 2 of festivities included a trip to the Children's Museum of Manhattan. Pretty much a bunch of manic kids running around an indoor play space, slamming and kicking "educational" exhibits. These people are minting it. On a hot day, this is the perfect escape from the heat. After another much needed nap, we headed to dinner at Rosa Mexicano, also the site of Brandon's first birthday party. This is by far his favorite restaurant. He loves the guacamole and chips and was pretty content to spend the whole dinner eating away and sticking stickers all over Nana's face. We had a very special Momofuku Milk Bar birthday cake (you must go, and you must get the cake balls - they'll probably change your life), but I think the candle and fire freaked Brandon out, so that celebration didn't last very long.


Before everyone headed out on Sunday, we went to church and Telepan for brunch. I think the kids had reached their breaking point, and didn't exactly make the meal a relaxing one for the four adults involved. Brandon loves to be surrounded by people, and having four extra playmates was definitely his idea of the ideal birthday weekend. Thank goodness he has a load of new toys to keep him occupied in the meantime! 

Happy 2nd Birthday beautiful boy!!

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Rylan 4 Month Summary

Rylan is just as sweet and easy going as ever. I swear 2nd babies must come out knowing that they have to share the spotlight. The biggest change this month would be his sleep consistency. He now goes down easy as pie at bedtime, and will generally fall asleep on his own for naps as well. He pretty much only ever cries when he is tired, so I know he has to go down before he reaches that point.

With Brandon, I was very adamant about always having his naps in the crib, but that just isn't possible for Rylan. Instead we usually do his morning nap in the stroller then his last 2 in the crib. This seems to be working fine for him and gives us the flexibility we need to get out of the house during the day. Because I'm not always having him in the crib, if he is having a rough time going to sleep (rare) or wakes up 45 minutes into a nap, I will move him to the swing and let him finish his nap there.

Rylan loves to play peek-a-boo, and has even figured out that if he pulls a burp cloth up and down in front of his face we will finally catch on and start playing it with him. He also loves to be lifted up and down, which is giving me some killer biceps! If he isn't holding something he will grasp around with his hands until he finds something. His bib, fingers, shirt - this kid just has to be holding something at all times.

Our highlight lately is that he is now old enough to go in the exersaucer, aka the circle-of-neglect. Glad we discovered this, since when Brandon was that age I was stuffing the thing full of blankets and towels trying to keep him upright. So far, Brandon seems more interested in it than Rylan, but I'm sure he will come to love it as much as we do. :)

Here's a typical rundown of his day:
7:25 am - wake-up, get dressed, and bottle of BM (7.5 oz)
7:45 - sit in bouncy chair as we have breakfast
8:15 - watch mommy do laundry/chores
8:30 - playmat time
9 - out for a walk/run or trip to the park in the bjorn or stroller - will sleep most of the time
11 - "play" with Brandon
11:30 - bottle (7.5 oz) then hang out while we have lunch
12:30-2:30/3 - nap
3:15 - bottle (7.5 oz)
3:30 - "play" with Brandon
4:30 - nap
5:30 - independent play in play pen
6 - dinner with family
6:40 - bath
7 - bottle (7.5 oz)
7:30 - bedtime!

Happy 4 months precious boy!!

Brandon also turned 2 this weekend, so I will post about all the fun and festivities soon.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Food for the 4th

Hope everyone has a wonderful 4th! Here's some ideas on what to make.

Must start with a beer, margarita, or Michelada.

Zucchini Carpaccio - way to amp up the veggie platter

And for dessert:
Mint Chocolate Cream Cheese Brownies - chocolaty but still refreshing

Banana Pudding - as American as it gets

Friday, June 29, 2012

Our Life in Pictures

Rylan went for his first long run (8 miles)! He slept like a champ most of the way. Brad and I were cursing the hills of Central Park - pushing a double stroller with a car seat is not easy!

How the kids pass the miles.

Brandon started soccer classes.

We had a wonderful Father's Day. We went to church, then Brad and I went out without the kids for a few hours for some adult time (i.e. drinks before noon).

Just because Suki isn't getting much love on this blog.

Getting a much deserved mommy's afternoon out on the roof of the Empire Hotel.

Brandon loves to brush his teeth. I'm enjoying this while it lasts!

Dinner time fun.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

June Restaurant Round-Up

Brad and I go out on a date night every Wednesday. We have a standing babysitter so we plan these dinners out way in advance and love to try the latest and greatest on the NYC scene. Here's some of the places we went to in June...

Amazing. Ranked one of the best new restaurants by NY Mag for 2012. You choose between either a 7 or 20 course price fix menu. We went with the 7, but I totally could have done the 20! You start off with a bunch of antipasti type dishes, then move into the main and a small dessert (we actually ordered an additional dessert and then stopped by Rice to Riches on the way home since we were in the neighborhood - pigs!). Oh, and Oprah, Gayle, and Diane Sawyer sat at the table next to us. We have one lousy picture that Brad took while trying to be inconspicuous. This is a very small restaurant and reservations can be tricky, so call early! 

Bar Boulud  (brunch)
This place is right around the corner from us and we seriously go there once a month. This time we took the kids after church for brunch and sat outside. This is a great place for outdoor seating since it's pretty spacious and you are far away from the traffic. If you have an event at Lincoln Center this would be the perfect place to go before/after. Your typical french fare, but I especially love the steak and fries. Insider tip - if you can't get a reservation, they have a long bar that's for walk-ins and is totally comfortable to sit at. 

Not our first (or last!) time at this spot. Marcus Samuelsson's unique take on comfort food in the heart of Harlem. It's worth trekking up there for the people watching alone! All the dishes we've had from here have been stellar, but you must get the cornbread. We actually order an extra portion just to take home for leftovers. If you can't get a table (and reservations are hard to come by), the outside seating is a great walk-in option and provides even better people watching. Be sure to try the sweet potato doughnuts for dessert as well.

An upper westside gem. Great seasonal menu with really fresh and inventive dishes. Intimate atmosphere and really friendly staff. Nothing pretentious about this place, just consistently great food. I always get a fish dish for my main course and usually get the dessert special, which was a peach and blackberry clafoutis this time - delicious. 

Beauty & Essex (brunch)
Yet another place we have frequented a handful of times. Great for a fun night out with friends. The scene is second to none in the city and the food is really exceptional given how cool this place is. Inside tip - yes, the weird looking storefront is the entrance. You just walk through it and into the door in the back. Not sure if they actually sell anything there, but it definitely threw me off the first time I went (we actually followed up that night by trying to get into a cab that was part of a movie scene - what a tricky city this is!).

I took Brad here for Father's Day brunch thinking that a babysitter and adult beverages were exactly what he needed. I've always loved the food here for dinner and brunch was more of the same. Inventive bites meant to share. Everything is very flavorful. Even the cocktails were unique and packed a bunch. Must try the beignets and the fried chicken biscuit bites. The lobster tacos and spiced fries (they taste like bbq chips) are also great for either day or night. 

Ditch Plains (brunch)
Done by the same people as Landmac (where we go or order from almost weekly). There's nothing revolutionary about this place, but I mention it for all the parents out there. The UWS locations has TVs in each booth. Oh yes. It's the best form of babysitting there is. Although I have seen strollers at even the most expensive restaurants in nyc, it's always nice to be able to eat with both a fork and knife while the kids are entertained. And the food is actually really good. A diverse menu so everyone is happy.