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A Year in Review

New year, who dis? I actually can’t believe that it’s a brand new year and the last post I made was almost exactly a year ago– announcing the new addition to our family. At the time I had grand plans of writing about pregnancy, baby things, delivery, etc. etc., which obviously didn’t happen. Maybe it’s the new year inspiring me, or the fact that the past year absolutely flew by but I decided I want to make a concerted effort this year to take time, if only for myself, to do a better job documenting.

I swore when E was a baby that I’d never forget all her milestones, her first words, the first foods she ate, funny things she did and said… every minute detail. And yet here I am only 3 short years later remembering hardly any of that. So here we go again… 2019 in review:

January: We announced our pregnancy with Baby 2! We didn’t share publicly, but I had also taken an early gender test (called Sneak Peek– more on that later) in December that said we were having another girl! Having 2 sisters, I was thrilled at the prospect of E getting to have a sister, too. We also started E in a 2s preschool class and she just absolutely thrived– couldn’t be happier with our choice of preschool.

February: Surprise! Our 20 week anatomy scan revealed that we were very much having a boy! To be honest, this was a really weird time for me because I was obviously so lucky to have a healthy baby and I never lost sight of that, but I struggled a little with thinking for the few months prior that we were having a daughter– we had a name picked out, bought a few small things, and suddenly finding out this little person I’d imagined wasn’t actually the person growing inside me. (Sneak Peek is an at-home blood test that you can do starting at 9 weeks. I took it at 11 weeks, and had a friend who is an RN actually draw my blood, so I guess I’m the “1%” that got the wrong gender). After I wrapped my mind around having a son, I knew exactly what I wanted to name him– I’ve had his name picked out since I was a kid. I have 2 sisters and my parents had 1 boys name they would’ve used for any of us if we were boys, which they obviously never got to use, and I’ve said since I was little that if I ever had a boy I would use that name.

March: Surprise, again! We rescued another dog! We’ve always said we wanted more dogs, but we were slightly impulsive here, ha– but no regrets. Sadie lady joined our family at the end of the month.

April:

May: My sisters and mom threw me a little baby sprinkle to celebrate little man’s pending arrival! It was the most beautiful day (especially in comparison to my shower for E which was the day after a major blizzard).

June: We joined a local lake this season and spent almost every day there. E became such a good little swimmer and it was so fun watching her learn. I was a sight to behold- super pregnant, lugging beach chairs, beach toys, a beach bag, a cooler, oh and a toddler onto the beach everyday, but it was so worth it.

July: We welcomed Benjamin Donald into the world. He was born on 7/18/2019 (6 days late) at 7:44am, 8lb 15oz, 21.75in. I would love to sit down and write out his whole birth story so I always have it to remember, so maybe I’ll share that another time. But I’ll say, from day 1 he’s been a chill, sweet munchkin.. my little boyfriend.

August: We spent the rest of the summer adjusting to being a family of 4… well 6. Ben was seriously such an easy infant, a great sleeper, a great nurser (despite having a tongue and lip tie). S went back to work the first week of August, and it was sink or swim time. I’d like to think we did more thriving than just surviving, mostly just because Ben was a pretty low-needs babe.

September: Vacation! We decided to tackle my family’s annual beach vacation with a 3 year old and 6 week old! We definitely had moments on the struggle bus, but I think Ben was so little and portable that it was actually a great time to go away. E also started preschool 3s!

October: B’s first flight! I took B out to visit my dad’s family in St. Louis for a whirlwind weekend meeting his extended, but close family.

November: This felt like a crazy month, in a really good way. We went on our annual weekend away to Syracuse with family friends, had out of town family visiting, Ben was baptized, and celebrated Thanksgiving. We also moved B out of our room after several weeks of declining nighttime sleep.

December: I can only describe this month as “magical chaos.” From the Polar Express, school Christmas show, dance Christmas show, meeting Santa, Holiday cocktail parties, the Messiah, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, post-Christmas Christmas parties with friends… it was A LOT of celebrating– but that’s just it, it was still all good.

There ya have it, friends.. it was really nice to sit down and reflect on the year and scroll through my camera roll. 2019 was a year of growth for us in more ways than 1, and while 2020 can’t possibly top 2019, I can’t wait to see what it holds for us.

Thanks for joining me on this trip down memory lane!

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And Baby Makes 4

Yikes, friends, it’s been a hot minute since I’ve posted. And if you happen to not follow my Instagram or Facebook or haven’t seen my last post, we have some big things coming in 2019! Well, more specifically one big thing πŸ˜‚. We are expecting baby #2 in mid July (I’m sure at some point I’ll go on a tirade about how ridiculous due dates are) and are thrilled to finally share the news.

I would normally draft posts while E was napping or in bed for the night, but I have been so so so pooped and zapped of energy that I was either sleeping or vegging those times I would normally be writing. So, blogging took a back seat even though I had wanted to share holiday season posts… oh well, I assume you all managed your holidays just fine without posts from me 🀣.

Anyway, babe looks great and I’m real real excited to be turning the corner into trimester 2. I’m already feeling more like myself and am looking forward to an energy boost in the coming weeks.

Big Sis E has pretty much zero concept of the impending doom of her world as she knows it. Eventually I’ll really try to impress on her that a baby is coming, but for now I’ll let her bask in her ignorance.

I’m also excited to write some pregnancy, labor/delivery, baby-related posts in the coming months. Oh and pre-K shopping and potty training πŸ€¦πŸΌβ€β™€οΈ… you know, the glamorous stuff.

I just wanted to check in, share the news, and hopefully get back to regular posts πŸ™‚

So, Happy Thanksgiving, Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Happy New Year, and Happy Sunday, friends! Thanks for reading! xo

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The perfect storm of crap

Parenting isn’t for the faint of heart. Friends, we have been πŸ‘πŸ» going πŸ‘πŸ» through πŸ‘πŸ» itπŸ‘πŸ» with this little lady recently. It’s like a perfect storm of crap– cutting her 2/3 yr old molars, nap strike, separation anxiety… to say it plainly: it blows.

In fact, as I started writing this post I had a sleeping toddler on me in the glider in her nursery that I’ve sat in more in the last 2 weeks than in the last 2.5 years.

It all started about a month ago when my previously wonderfully, gloriously sleep-trained toddler awoke at an ungodly morning hour screaming for me. Since that was so unusual, I darted (funny side note: my autocorrect won’t stop changing that to farted) into her room for her to spring up fresh as a daisy and say, “hi mom!” Like, I’m sorry, I thought you were being kidnapped out of your crib. This continued to be the morning trend for a month.

Naps were pretty much nonexistent all month. She would just stand in her crib and yell. For 90 minutes. I was trying to stick with the routine and still try to have her nap because I 0% believed she was ready to give it up.

3 days ago we magically turned a corner and she went completely back to normal (why 3 days ago? Your guess is as good as mine). But that whole thing was a power play; she’s a formidable opponent. And basically I live with a teeny tiny stalker who actually doesn’t stop following me or touching me or trying to tickle my eyeballs. I ask her 14 times a day why she’s so obsessed with me (picture me as Regina George)

And all the while, I’m not sure what the heck I’m supposed to be doing about any of this. Honestly, that’s one of the hardest things about being a parent– most of the time there’s no easy answer. How do you know how much breastmilk your kid got? (Lookin at you, Linds) You don’t. Is this a nap strike or is she done napping for good or does she need to go to bed later or 563836 other questions about sleep? Who knows. If she wakes up in the middle of the night should I leave her? Got me. Can a child survive on chicken nuggets and Parmesan cheese? (Current dinner) Hopefully.

Every kid is different, and every person who gives you advice (solicited or, more often, not) is going to tell you something different. With E’s sleep problems I was desperate for a clear answer as to why this was happening, and more importantly when it would get better. I became convinced that she had an ear infection because it fit so perfectly. I dragged her to urgent care and that doc didn’t see anything, but obviously Dr. Dana didn’t agree (πŸ™„πŸ˜‚) and brought her for a second opinion (who also didn’t see an infection). Who likes the answer, “I don’t know, maybe it’ll sort itself out.” We like black and white, clear cut answers. And that’s a huge adjustment when you become a parent– you rarely get them. You kind of just do your best and hope you’re not turning your kid into a sociopath.

Thanks for reading, friends! xo

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Creating Traditions

This weekend my awesome in-laws watched E so S and I could go upstate with my family to visit friends. Every year we pick a weekend to go up for tailgating, a football game, and an all-around good time. Our first year going after E was born we brought her (she was 6 months old) and she was a rockstar– slept great, hung out in the baby bjorn all day, and was generally the best baby ever. Since then, though, my in-laws have graciously babysat since NO ONE’S idea of a good time is a 2.5 year old doing basically anything.

The weekend basically consists of late Friday night bourbon and red wine, Saturday tailgate with Walking Tacos, football, wings, pizza, and an early bedtime, and brunch on Sunday before heading home again. The really special thing about it, though, is that this trip is a 19-year tradition. The friends we visit have been good friends of my parents since they were newlyweds. Since then, they’ve moved upstate and everyone in their circle went on to have kids all around the same ages. When we were little, they’d hire a couple babysitters and all the adults would go tailgate and go to the game. I have such clear and fun memories of those trips. As we got older, we started going to the games, too. And it’s taken on a whole new life now that the “kids” are getting married and starting to have their own kids.

It’s got me thinking about the importance of family traditions– the things unique to your own family, that you maybe have a hard time explaining to anyone else why they’re so important. Like seeing Handel’s Messiah in December; like Lake Placid and the Great Adirondack Steakhouse in February; like watching Jesus Christ Superstar (the iconic, glorious 70s original) before Easter; like Sunday pot roast and the 4 Pie Club.

And at the same time, I’m thinking about my little family and all the opportunities we have to start our own, new traditions— the ones E will hopefully treasure as I do.

Hope you all had a fantastic weekend! xo

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Confessions of a Lipaholic πŸ’‹

My name is Dana, and I’m a lipaholic. You guys, I could not be more serious– I LOVE lipstick. I actually wear a lip color every single day that I leave the house. It makes me feel instantly a touch more put together than I actually am. I also don’t have super pigmented lips naturally so I think my lips blend in with my face if I’m not wearing even a dash of color πŸ’€. Today I’m sharing my absolute favorite lip colors from my collection. (Note: I own almost exclusively matte lip colors as opposed to glossier finishes… just my preference) These are my tried and true (I’ve owned almost all of them for more than a year), hands-down favorites:

(The “select few” that made it through my massive moving purge πŸ™ˆ)

Neutrals:

These are mostly my go-to shades for everyday wear, or times when I need a color, but not too much of a statement.

Bare Minerals Gen Nude in XYZ— you’ll be seeing ALOT of this brand in this post because I lovveeeeee this formula. It goes on kind of creamy/moussey and dries matte. This shade is my number 1 everyday color– a light beige, with just enough pigment

Maybelline SuperStay Matte Ink in Seductress— a touch darker/more peachy than xyz, this formula goes on as more of a liquid lipstick that dries matte and stays put

Bare Minerals Gen Nude in Bo$$— deeper beige, but still great for daily wear

Laura Mercier Velour Extreme Matte Lipstick in Fierce— similar to bo$$ in color, I like the way this looks over top of chapstick (makes the color a little more muted/blotted)

MAC Velvet Teddy— awesome for daily wear, but has enough pigment to also be a statement. MAC lipstick isn’t super cheap, but isn’t drying and stays on for a good long time– definitely worth the money in my opinion

(Pictured in order top-to-bottom– also, all shades I’m showing you are photographing slightly deeper on my arm than they appear on lips)

Pinks:

Truth be told, I generally don’t love pinks on me– I feel a little Barbie Dreamhouse.

Bare Minerals Gen Nude in Juju— I’d say this is a pinky-beige and definitely wearable for every day

MAC All Fired Up— hot pink-red– a fun statement lip

Reds:

Absolutely my favorite color category– I think EVERYONE can and should wear a red lip on occasion. NOTHING makes me feel more confident than a bold lip πŸ‘ŠπŸ»

MAC Mangrove— this is an orangey-red and definitely a statement-maker. I love this shade for summer

Revlon Colorburst Matte Balm in Striking— orange-red with a great formula (comes in a cubby stick so lipliner is helpful for clean edges)Β  (also, not pictured because it’s MIA)

MAC Ruby Wooif you buy one red lipstick in your whole life, this should be it. It is a universally flattering, true-red lipstick

Bare Minerals Gen Nude Naughty— also a true-red, but a touch deeper than Ruby Woo and reminds me of Christmas

Revlon Colorburst Matte Balm in Standout— true-red, non-drying formula πŸ‘ŒπŸ».

MAC Dare You— true-red/deep red that also reminds me of Christmas

(Pictured in order top-to-bottom minus Revlon Striking since I can’t find it)

Deep reds/wines:

I LOVE these kinds of shades, but need to be careful with them in the winter (aka when I’m Casper the Friendly Ghost) so I don’t look too gothic haha

Anastasia Beverly Hills matte lipstick in Rosewood— this is my newest shade, but I LOVE it– it’s an understated darkish red-beige and just really flattering. The formula is super matte and stays on really, really well

Bare Minerals Gen Nude in Swank— deep red-brown

MAC Diva— wine/purpley

MAC D is for Danger— purple-red

(Pictured in order top-to-bottom)

Happy Friday, everyone! Hope you enjoyed reading and feel inspired to rock a killer lip this weekend! xo

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Easy Crockpot Meals

If it hasn’t already been obvious from my posts about apple picking and decorating my house with 837438 pumpkins, I’ll say it clearly: I love fall. Unarguably my favorite thing about the changing of the season is that it’s officially crock pot season. Friends, I am in an intimate relationship with my crock pot. It understands what a mediocre cook I am and makes magic out of all the things I dump in there. It also understands that my toddler is wildly offended when I do basically anything that doesn’t directly involve her, so she does her very best to get my attention (ie drawing on the living room chair, floor, and rug with a permanent marker while I was making her dinner… if you read my last post that was a “this too shall pass” moment, and not the tender, sweet, lovey one).

Anyway, today I’m sharing 2 super super super easy and totally customizable crock pot meals that taste fab, don’t break the bank, leave your house smelling awesome, and saves your furniture from the wrath of your attention-starved toddlers.

Slow Cooker Chicken Cacciatore

  • 2.5 lbs boneless skinless chicken thighs
  • 5 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1/2 large onion, chopped
  • 28 oz can crushed tomatoes
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1/2 green bell pepper, chopped (I’m lazy and usually buy prechopped peppers)
  • 1 sprig fresh thyme
  • 1 sprig fresh oregano
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 3/4 tsp kosher salt and pepper
  • 1 box Orzo pasta
  • grated parmesan

(Full disclosure, I basically just throw almost everything in the crock pot, but you could take the extra steps of seasoning and searing the chicken 2-3 mins on each side in olive oil, and sauteeing the onion and garlic for a few minutes before adding to the crock pot)

Otherwise, add everything but the Orzo and parmesan to the crock pot and cook on high for 4 hours or low for 8 hours. 15 minutes or so before you want to eat, cook the Orzo according to directions on the package. Shred the chicken. Serve over the Orzo and top with a hefty portion of parmesan. (This serves 6, and that’s probably even underestimating it so you can totally adjust more/less depending on your needs)

Dana’s Shredded Chicken Taco Bowls

(I took the liberty of naming this one after myself because I completely winged it because I was inspired by Pineapple Peach salsa I saw in Target today)

  • 2-3 lbs boneless, skinless chicken thighs (breasts would obviously work too)
  • 1 package mild taco seasoningΒ (again, regular taco seasoning would be fine, I’m just a wimp)
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • lots of onion powder (sorry haha I don’t know how much I used)
  • 24 oz jar Archer Farms Pineapple Peach mild salsa (from Target, but you can use whatever salsa and spiciness you like)
  • chopped bell peppers (depending on your taste)
  • 2 cans whole kernel corn
  • 1 or 2 bags Minute Rice (could definitely use cauliflower rice, quinoa, etc.)
  • shredded Mexican blend cheese to taste
  • Fritos Scoops
  1. Combine chicken, taco seasoning, onion, onion powder, salsa, and peppers to crock pot
  2. Cook on high for 4 hours or low 8 hours
  3. With 30 minutes remaining, add corn (sooner if using frozen corn)
  4. Shred chicken when done cooking, let sit in sauce
  5. Cook rice according to package directions
  6. Assemble bowl with rice, chicken mixture, and top with shredded cheese. Fritos are fun to use as scoops or crumbled and mixed in for a little bit of crunch.

(I’d say this serves about 4-5)

And there you have it! Two really simple meals that you can definitely adjust based on serving size needs and to your family’s taste. Plus, they both reheat really well so you can make extra and have leftovers, too! I hope you try them out and enjoy!! xo

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This Too Shall Pass… but *This* Too Shall Pass

Mothering a toddler has me thinking “this too shall pass” basically on a daily basis. Like today at Target when she ran away from me in the middle of self checkout and proceeded to scream like a banshee. Like when it takes no less than 20 minutes and 6 meltdowns to get her dressed in the morning. Like when she insists on being held anytime I try to get ready and end up blow drying my hair and doing makeup with one hand and 30lbs in the other. And like when she’s having one of those days (or allllll the days) where she just can’t seem to play nice or share with anyone.

But then (admittedly) far less frequently than I should, I think “but this too shall pass.” Like when she snuggles her head on my shoulder and ALWAYS yawns when we sing Twinkle twinkle (her going-to-sleep song). Like when she super aggressively kisses me and yells MUAHHH! Like when she says “uppy uppy uppy” and holds her arms out to me. Like when her face lights up because she thinks bubbles are magical.

I guess that’s the unique duality of motherhood, that things can be so bitter and yet so sweet, sometimes all within seconds.

Happy happy happy Friday, friends! xo

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A Perpetual Student

Ever since I had Emmy 2.5 years ago, I have been pretty singularly focused on her learning. Learning to roll, crawl, wave, say her first words, walk, social skills, sharing… it’s literally an endless list. Those things are all obviously important, but I’ve found that I lost a little bit of myself along the way.

When I was teaching, I was also constantly learning– new content, new teaching tools, new technology, from my students, etc. This is not to say that I haven’t learned things along the way as a mom, too. I’ve learned SO much about myself, about diaper rashes, breastfeeding, folding and unfolding strollers (I still can’t install a damn car seat to save my life and routinely struggle with opening other peoples’ baby gates, though πŸ€¦πŸΌβ€β™€οΈ).

I’ve always had an interest in penmanship, writing styles, and recently in hand-lettering and calligraphy. For Christmas my parents got me a certificate to a beginner calligraphy class in the city with Laura Hooper Calligraphy (I CANNOT speak more highly of this class and everything about them). Since then, I’ve been steadily practicing and it has felt SO good to be a student again, to be learning something for myself.

It’s been so refreshing to have something to work toward, something to look forward to improving and practicing. It’s also been a reminder to me to invest in myself. I think sometimes as adults, and especially moms, we tend to stop trying things, tend to stop putting yourself out there and trying something new. For example, the dance studio offers an adult tap workshop. At first, I chuckled at it. Then I thought about how I LOVED tap dancing in high school. Maybe that’ll be next for me. But for now, I’m investing into myself though calligraphy.

I’ll share some of my early “faux-lligraphy” and more current work (don’t laugh at how bad it was πŸ™ˆ) :

(these were place cards for E’s first birthday party a year and a half ago)

(a year ago for my parents’ holiday party)(Feb 2018– check out the difference to my work since taking this course!)(new motto)

I’m about to start an intermediate program and CAN’T WAIT to share what I learn in that course!

Thanks for reading, friends! xo

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All the Fall Things

While it certainly still felt like summer this weekend, we jumped in to all things Fall. On Saturday we hosted a barbecue with some of my closest friends and it was glorious. So glorious, in fact, that I didn’t take any pictures except one of these cutie girlfriends because I was too busy laughing my buns off and stuffing my face.

And on Sunday we undertook the most basic of fall activities: Apple picking. We have an annual tradition of going with a group of friends, and as has been the trend for our last several years, it was HOT HOT HOT outside. But it was so sweet seeing E and her little friend get excited about riding the tractor and pulling apples out of the trees (and occasionally off the ground 🀒).

(Anyone else as surprised as I am that my tiny human is wearing activity-appropriate clothing AND a ponytail?!)

This was such a great weekend, and really got me thinking about the friends we spent it with, among others. Both of these plans have literally been in our calendar for over 2 months. Our annual apple picking is actually a standing yearly plan for the same weekend in September. And I actually felt kind of ridiculous sending out a sort of “save the date” for a casual barbecue of all things in July. But schedules get so crazy busy between work obligations, family obligations, traveling, etc. and it’s so easy to fall into a trap of complacency. It’s not like in high school or college when you took for granted that your friends were just around.

Now it usually takes being really intentional, getting dates on the calendar for get-togethers sometimes months and months in advance. And that’s okay because life happens and life is busy. But this weekend was a reminder to me how fulfilling it is to make that extra effort, to reach out to friends, and figure out how to make time for each other.. because it’s really good for the soul to sit with old friends until 2:30am crying laughing and playing What Do You Meme.

Thanks for reading and Happy Monday, everyone! xo

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Tiny Dancer

Yesterday was a historic day in our little family. Emmy had her first dance class 😭😍. I was so excited to buy her little tap shoes and ballet slippers, leotards, and tights. Everyone I talked to said “She’s going to love it!” And I’d laugh and say “Or she’s absolutely going to hate it. There will be no in between.”

I was really excited for her to be at an age where she can start doing things without me– non mommy and me activities. I also think it’ll be good for her to transition into separating from me before she starts school next year.

I wasn’t actually anticipating yesterday being very hard on me– I was THRILLED at the prospect of not having to crawl all over the floor or chase after her for an hour (I have a love/hate relationship with mommy and me classes). But I was actually surprisingly anxious in the moment. Anxious that she is in a class of older girls because her 2-3yr old class was canceled, anxious that she wouldn’t be a good listener, anxious that she’d throw a tantrum, anxious that older kids wouldn’t be nice to her… just anxious. About everything.

All in all, it went ok. She did well for the first 30 minutes (especially when the teacher played Let It Go and I could hear her scream-singing in the waiting room), and she was a bit more.. difficult the last 30 (screaming crying refusing to take off her tap shoes even though she wouldn’t participate in tap whatsoever) I’d like to think that she will get better after a few classes, she’ll acclimate and adjust.

And ironically, she and I are mirror images. I’d like to think that in a few weeks I, too, will get better, I’ll acclimate and adjust.

(Of course all my pictures are blurry because this kid doesn’t stop moving)

Have a great day, friends! xo