Friday, October 17, 2014

My Funny Boys...I love them so!

B will be 6 (!) next weekend. How did that happen?

E will be 9 months old next week.  How did that happen?

Time is flying!

Ababa is in the thick of medical school applications, MCAT retakes, Bio Chemistry class and lab, rehabbing his back from a herniated disk/pinched nerve situation that had him completely bedridden for several weeks and has sidelined him for 2 months.  I am just trying to keep it together at work and home and enjoy my precious, precious boys.  Thankfully, they are awesome and provide tons of laughs to lighten our day.

Recent quotes from B just so we don't forget--this is only the tip of the iceberg, but I have great plans to go to bed early tonight, so keeping it short and sweet:-)

Mommy, do skunks have stinky milk?

Daddy, can we listen to the smooth, sweet, sweet sounds of Bob Marley?

Mommy, in school we learned about a man who wrote music and now he's dead and his name was...(I thought he'd say Bach or Beethoven or Mozart)...Bob Marley.

Mommy, the "hey, hey hey" song is written by Pharrell Williams and Robin Ficke.

Daddy, what is water made of? (molecules of hydrogen and oxygen) What are hydrogen and oxygen molecules made of? (atoms) What are atoms made of? (protons, neutrons, and electrons) What are protons, neutrons, and electrons made of? (quarks) Daddy, what are quarks made of? (um...)  **"why" questions are HUGE in our house right now. I am so grateful for my smart, science-y husband***

E is rockin and rolling and crawling and creeping and pulling up and standing without assistance on occasion and *this* close to walking. He is into everything and is such a good natured little guy.  He still wakes up 3-4 times a night to nurse so I am tired, but he's thriving and we are juggling the nursing/working mom thing in a way that's working for now, so I'll keep nursing at night at least until he turns one and/or decides he's ready to sleep through the night again (like he did from 2 months-5 months). Right now he has hand foot and mouth disease (cocksackie virus) with huge blisters on his hands and a rash and red spots all over his body and he's still cheerful and exploring with determination about 90% of the time.

Sweet brother love! B is such a great big helper with E:-)

Monday, September 22, 2014

Go E, Go!

Look who is officially crawling forwards (backwards crawling and the smoothest, most effective rolling you have ever seen have been happening for months)

Monday, August 25, 2014

Blueberry Muffins

After an unfortunate cooking episode last week that resulted in pancakes that literally tasted like paste (I'm not sure what happened as we have made egg-free pancakes many times before that were delish), I realized that I really do need to document all the eggless recipies that we like.

 Eggless Blueberry Muffins
2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4-1 cup sugar
4 tsp. baking powder
1 6-7 oz container plain greek yogurt (I used chobani 0%)
1 c water
zest of 1 lemon
1/4 tsp salt
pinch of nutmeg
 4 Tbs. melted butter
1 1/2 cup fresh blueberries

Heat oven to 350.  Combine flour, sugar and baking powder. Stir in yogurt, water, and melted butter. Fold in blueberries.  Bake at 350 for 25 minutes. This made 18 muffins for us.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Wednesday Recipe: My Big Fat Greek Tacos

I made these on maternity leave and was astounded by how delicious they are!  They take a little time to make, but much can be made ahead, and the leftovers are just as good if not better,'s totally worth it:-)

Big, Fat Greek Tacos

Cucumber and Tomato Relish:
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
2 firm large tomatoes, seeded and diced
1 English cucumber, seeded and diced
1/2 cup diced red onion
Salt and black pepper to taste

Feta Mint Tzatziki:
1 English cucumber
1 cup plain Greek yogurt
3/4 cup crumbled feta cheese
2-3 cloves garlic, finely minced
2 tablespoons minced fresh mint
Salt and black pepper to taste

Lamb or Turkey:
2 pounds ground lamb or turkey
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon pepper
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 cup minced red onion
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons dried oregano
3 tablespoons tomato paste
1/4 cup broth (chicken, vegetable or beef)
For the pitas:
6-8 non-pocket pita or soft wrap breads (I made our favorite naan recipe--quick tip, for our stove we need to just cook on medium)


At least one hour or as early as one day before you are serving, prepare the salsa and tzatziki. For the cucumber salsa, toss the olive oil, vinegar, tomatoes, cucumbers and onions in a bowl and season with salt and black pepper as needed. Cover and refrigerate for one hour or up to 24 hours to marry the flavors.

For the tzatziki, peel the cucumber and shred on the large holes of a box grater. Place the shredded cucumber in a clean kitchen towel and wring out the excess water until the cucumber is very dry. In a medium bowl, stir together the strained cucumber, yogurt, feta, garlic and mint. Again, season with salt and pepper to taste. The tzatziki can be refrigerated up to 24 hours. Give it a good stir before serving.
For the meat, heat a large, 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium heat. Cook the ground lamb or turkey with the salt, pepper, onion and garlic, breaking up the meat into small pieces and cooking until the meat is cooked through, 8-10 minutes.

Drain any excess grease. Stir in the oregano and tomato paste and cook over medium heat for 3-4 minutes, stirring often. Stir in the broth and let the mixture simmer for 5-10 minutes. Season with additional salt and pepper to taste.

Warm the pita breads in a cast iron skillet or in the microwave until soft and heated through. Serve the tacos by spooning meat into the center of a pita bread and topping with cucumber salsa and tzatziki.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Pregnancy reminiscing...

Today was my first day back in the office since E's "surprise" labor & delivery.

Because he came early my office was pretty much in shambles, with all kinds of half done projects and notes on it.

I've been back to the office a few times for meetings with my boss with E, and have been working from home for the past 6 weeks, but today was my first day back in the saddle.

It felt weird being at work and not being pregnant...also, it reminded me that I never wrote down anything really about my pregnancy and I don't want to forget.  So, here goes some memories:

  • I was sick, really sick, really really sick...throwing up on the sidewalk, and in the subway, and in office trash cans sick...and nauseas 24/7 from 5 weeks until the placenta was delivered.
  • When something appealed to me, I ate it, b/c most things did not appeal to me
  • My cravings were bitter, sour, citrus, and meat...especially peaches (oh peaches, fresh and frozen, these got me through the summer of unending nausea and heat), lemons, korean food, cappuccinos, SOUP, Chipotle guacamole and chicken, dark chocolate, and cheeseburgers (one of the ways I found out I was pregnant was demanding that Ababa take me to get a cheeseburger at a specific restaurant at the whole other end of Manhattan...the next day I found out I was pregnant:-)
  • I LOVED soup, especially homemade tomato soup and Hale & Hearty curried soups
  • I hated sugar most of my pregnancy as sweet things (even bananas!) made me feel more sick
  • I was tired, so very tired for the whole pregnancy, especially the first 20 weeks
  • There were days when I just stared at my computer trying not to vomit for the whole work day
  • My boss and colleagues were very supportive and understanding and I worked my tail off when the nausea wasn't totally overwhelming to stay on top of all my work
  • I spent a lot of time "faking it" acting like I was fine, healthy, not feeling sick, etc.
  • I wore make-up most days just to hide how tired I looked
  • My maternity work wardrobe was very limited, so I wore 1 of about 4 outfits everyday from about 24 weeks on
  • I had Braxton hicks contracts often from about 24 weeks onward
  • When you were active you were really active and I could see my stomach jumping around and feel flutters and kicks fairly early (I think about 15 weeks)
  • When you were still you were very still which resulted in a scary and painful 20 week anatomy scan (you wouldn't move at all for about an hour and the ultrasound technician pressed very painfully the whole time trying to get you to roll over, all you would do is one big startle reflex like "the worm" and when I was about 23 weeks I made Ababa drive me to the Dr first thing in the morning b/c I hadn't felt you move for about 12 hours...I was crying and scared, but you were rocking and rolling in there, I just couldn't feel it b/c of where you were positioned
  • Ababa did EVERYTHING for us when I was pregnant dishes, cooking, laundry, playing with Samuel, b/c I was so sick and so tired
  • Most days all I could do was get Samuel dressed in the morning, sit with him during dinner, read him a few stories when I got home from work, and tuck him in...other than I was throwing up, trying not to throw up, or sleeping
  • I ate antacids like candy, especially Rennys peppermint and Walgreens tropical fruit
  • I chewed orbit sweet mint gum all the time, until the third trimester when even that made me throw up:-(

Monday, April 7, 2014

Wednesday Recipe: Smoked Turkey Cobb Wraps

So...this isn't as labor intensive as most of our Wednesday recipes, but there is some slicing involved, and the leftovers make GREAT work lunches.

From Mel's Kitchen Cafe (love her recipes!)

For Each Wrap

1 oz cream cheese, light or regular (you can also mix in some blue cheese crumbles!)
1 12-inch tortilla or wrap
2 leaves green or romaine lettuce
4-5 slices thinly sliced smoked turkey (in my experience, Fairway's is much better than Fresh Direct)
4 thin slices tomato
1 large egg, hard-boiled and sliced (B and I skip this)
4 thin slices red onion
1/2 avocado, seeded and thinly sliced
3 strips cooked bacon

I am awful at assembling, so here are Ababa's tips:

Place tortilla on large dinner plate.  Only put filling on the part that is on the inside of the pate (not the part that is on the rim).

Spread the cream cheese evenly over the tortilla. Place the lettuce down the center of the tortilla. Arrange the turkey over the lettuce. Layer the tomato, egg, onion and avocado over the turkey and top with the bacon. Roll up tightly and slice in half diagonally. Serve immediately.

Ginger Pork Lettuce Cups and "Wednesday Recipes"

When I go back to work in the office after Easter, I'll be working from home on Wednesdays.  Most nights dinner will be crock pot or something quick, but on Wednesdays I am planning to make tasty dinners that may involve more chopping and a little more time.  Bonus points if they will make great lunches for Thursday and Friday.

These delicious Ginger Pork Lettuce wraps that I made last night definitely fit the bill!

I served them with blistered garlic green beans and steamed white rice...oh yeah, and this (well a modified version using stuff I had on hand).

Ginger Pork Lettuce Wraps
adapted from Food and Wine

3/4-1 lb ground or minced meat (I used 3 boneless pork chops)
1/2 red bell pepper, finely diced
1 stalk celery, finely diced
8 oz mushrooms, finely diced
6 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoon minced or microplaned peeled ginger
2 tablespoon Thai sweet chile sauce
1 tablespoon Asian fish sauce
1 tablespoon Asian toasted sesame oil
2 teaspoons soy sauce
Sriracha to taste (I used about 1 tsp)
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon neutral oil
2 scallions, thinly sliced

4 radishes, finely diced
1 english cucumber, finely diced
2 scallions, finely chopped
2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1 teaspoon soy sauce
1 tsp light brown sugar
garlic and ginger microplaned to taste
2 tablespoons chopped cilantro

24 Boston lettuce leaves

Topping Instructions:
Mix all topping ingredients together in a small bowl and set aside.

Filling Cooking Instructions:
Mix meat with ingredients listed ginger through soy sauce.

In large saute pan, heat oil on high, toss in garlic and stir.  As soon as garlic loses its raw taste toss in the rest of the vegetables and the meat mixture.  Cook on high 8-10 minutes or until meat is cooked and sauce isn't super runny.

To serve, scoop meat into washed lettuce leaves and spoon topping over meat at table.  Roll up the leaves as you eat.

*I think the water chestnuts called for in the original recipe would be delish, but Ababa HATES water chestnuts.
**Next time I think I would use 2 stalks of celery and the whole bell pepper and a little more Sriracha

Friday, April 4, 2014


Our car is in the shop...

I had to do school pick-up yesterday and today.

Yesterday I took E in the stroller, but quickly realized that carrying a 22lb stroller with a nearly 14 lb baby and about 10 lbs of diaper bags, backpacks, and coats up multiple flights of stairs in multiple subway stations, while chaperoning two 5 year olds was not the best idea 8 weeks post-partum.

Today I wore E in the Boba with the bottom cinched in some since he's still a little small for it.  He's not as comfortable in it as in the ring sling, but I wasn't so sure about wearing the ring sling for such a long time, including walking across Central Park, since my back and pelvic girdle hurt from yesterday.

1. I should have worn the ring sling, I think we both would have been more comfortable

2. I hate the M4 bus.  Every time I take it I say this, and everytime I am leaving B's school I wait for it b/c the stop is right there...but a 30 minute wait for the bus and then an hour and a half bus ride home in Friday traffic in a rush hour bus...even though it was cold and drizzly I should have walked back across Central Park and taken the B/C to the A like I did going there.  Never again M4, never again.

3. The M4 does offer some priceless moments though.  Today's was a very vocal 8ish year old boy, let's call him Nosy Ned.  E was fussy and after about 30 minutes on the bus had a total meltdown and really needed to nurse.  I had to take off the Boba vest, unhook the Boba, get him situated, pull up my fleece and shirt, unhook my nursing bra, and try to use the vest to cover up while in a rush hour bus that was packed like sardines and moving as slow as molasses.

Nosy Ned sidles up to me with  constant stream of chatter.  B announces to the bus that I am covering E.  Nosy Ned stage whispers to B that it's for "privacy".  Nosy Ned starts commenting on how long E has been nursing (approx. 5 minutes, but to Nosy Ned that was an eternity).  Nosy Ned goes on and on with the culminating topic being teeth.

(the whole conversation, I am trying to stay reasonably covered up with the vest and making sure that E is breathing and latched and doesn't slide off my lap with all the stops and starts of the bus).
NN:Is he teething yet?
Me: No
NN: Does he have any teeth yet?
Me: No
NN: Well, that's good b/c when he's teething he'll have teeth and then he'll bite you when he nurses.
Me: *speechless*
NN: That's what me and my sister did. Well, I don't know about my sister, but I know I did that. So, watch out because he'll bite you hard and it will hurt.
Me: Um...I am looking forward to that...I mean, not looking forward to that...I mean...(mouth just drops open)

NN's mom and friend are standing behind him. B is busy trying to figure out if it's a brother or a friend (love that, b/c NN was blond haired and blue eyed and friend was Southeast Asian and B totally thought that they were brothers at first).  NN's mom was cracking up but didn't intervene at all.

Only in NYC...

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Perfect Eggless King Cake

I married a man from Louisiana, and I lived there for 2 years in grad school.  By far, my fave Louisiana treats are shrimp po'boys (fully dressed with only a little mayo), pecan pralines, and king cake.

My husband makes amazing pralines, the best shrimp po'boys come from a little gas station in my husband's home town, and I make King Cake usually just once a year here in NYC (though when in Louisiana I will happily inhale King Cake from the end of Epiphany through Fat Tuesday, usually from the local Rouses grocery store bakery in my husband's home town), so when I make it I want it to be great!

It's taken me three years, but this is the perfect king cake recipe with no eggs!  Sometimes eggless yeast doughs can be dry and tough and I have never made a confectioners sugar glaze that didn't have a weird after taste.  I always preferred the Rouses King Cakes to mine, which NEVER happens, I am not a grocery store bakery over homemade kind of girl.  But this year...score one for mama!

Mama's King Cake

1 cup milk
1/2 cup butter
2 pkg active dry yeast
1 cup warm water
1/2 cup white sugar
1 1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp grated nutmeg
5 1/2 cups all purpose flour

3/4 c brown sugar
3/4 c white sugar
1 1/2 TBSP cinnamon
3/4 all purpose flour
1/2 cup very soft or melted butter
1/2 tsp salt

2 cups powdered sugar
1/4 cup heavy cream
1 tsp vanilla
purple, gold, and green sanding sugar

For Dough

  • Scald milk, remove from heat, add butter, salt, and nutmeg
  • Dissolve yeast in warm water with 1 Tbsp sugar, wait approx. 10 minutes for it to get foamy
  • When milk/butter mixture has cooled to warm but not hot, add to yeast mixture
  • stir in remaining sugar and flour, knead 8-10 minutes.  Dough should be a little sticky but easy to work with. If too dry, add warm water or milk 1 Tbsp at a time.
  • Coat in butter or neutral oil, let rise covered in a warm place for 2 hours (until double)
  • Cut dough ball in half
  • Roll each half out into 10x17 rectangle
For Filling
  • Mix all filling ingredients into a paste
  • Spread on each dough rectangle
For Cake
  • Roll up each dough rectangle to form long roll and join the ends to shape into an oval
  • Bake at 330 for 20-25 min, until top is just starting to be golden on the edges
  • Mix powdered sugar, vanilla, and cream to desired consistency and spread or pour on top of cooled cake
  • Top with sanding sugars

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Our favorite newborn baby items so far...

My SIL is expecting a baby boy this summer, so before I forget I wanted to share our favorite baby items so far...We really do love everything we have for the baby as we tried to keep our list very streamlined and intentional. Pretty much everything was either purchased from craigslist, received as a gift, or gotten from our local parents listserve. We can't wait for baby E to be able to enjoy the toys and books and other items he received, but right now, at this newborn stage, these are our essential items:

Our Top 10 11 14 Baby Items

Dutailier Glider (we got ours in great condition for $25 off of craigslist!) and use it with this nursing stool since we don't have room for an ottoman.

Aden and Anais Swaddle Blankets (we received these as a gift and use them for EVERYTHING, swaddling the baby, make-shift nursing cover, wiping spit-up or breastmilk leaks...super cute and super handy!)

Rock and Play Sleeper (this is the only place baby E will sleep besides my chest.  We did put the wedge insert from our Uppababy Cruz stroller in the seat to make it not such a steep angle and he was still too little for this the first few days home from the hospital, but this sleeper is AMAZING and we are still using it with the insert)

Britax Pavilion Car Seat (we skipped the newborn bucket seat in favor of this, it's an amazing seat and will last baby E for several years)

Earth Mama Angel Baby Mama Bottom Balm (a life saver those first few days after labor, especially if you have stitches!)

Little Joeys Newborn Cloth Diapers (buy the brand name ones, the knock-offs from ebay look like the same design but seem to leak:-(  We have other newborn cloth diapers too, but these are our favorite and the only ones that Ababa will use)

Wool Nursing Pads (whatever you do, stick with medium.  Do not get the largest size as they are literally the size of dinner plates! These are way more comfortable than the cotton pads and don't leave you feeling damp)

Green Mountain Diapers Newborn Prefolds (Absolutely the best prefold diapers!  The newborn size work great on baby E as diapers, but also function as burp clothes, spit up wipers, heavy duty breast pads, changing table liners, and pretty much anything else you can imagine.  We have newborn and infant sizes and used both to stuff B's pocket diapers.  We used these for 2 years with B and will likely use them for the next 2-3 years with baby E.  Our favorite cover is the rumparooz newborn but we also use thirsties)

Womb Sounds (this youtube link has increased our nighttime sleep by 50%)

Zutano Booties (these actually stay on and keep baby E's feet warm. We will be getting the next size up when he outgrows these.  They are great for a winter baby!)

Snusa Monitor (baby E sometimes likes to stop breathing which is terrifying and I have a friend whose son died of SIDS, so this monitor gives me some peace of mind at night...I do have a love/hate relationship with this monitor as it does have some false alarms when it comes out of contact with the baby, but I would rather that than the alternative...)

MIracle Blanket E is a great sleeper during the day, but the Miracle Blanket is living up to its name at night!  He LOVES it.

Sleeping Baby Productions Linen Ring Sling This is working SO much better for us than the Sleepy/Boba Wrap.  I think it may be the perfect newborn carrier and will also be handy in the summer b/c the linen is so breathable.  Plus I got it in purple with black rings and it is gorgeous!!!

Graco Sweet Slumber Machine Since the white noise/womb sounds have become part of E's necessary nighttime routine (for the whole night!) we invested in this so we could reclaim our laptop for work in the evenings.

I am still searching for the perfect nursing bra, nursing cover, and newborn baby carrier (baby E won't be big enough for our beloved Boba 2G carrier until he's almost 1).  I'll keep you posted when I find the right ones.  I just ordered materials to make nursing covers and to convert a regular bra to a nursing bra, so hopefully those projects will be successful.  Also, our sleepy/boba wrap is great, but difficult to maneuver in slushy NYC winters.  I just ordered a sleeping baby productions ring sling and hope that will be a winner (and it is!).

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Welcome baby E and "scrummin' on the old man Joe"

Well, impatience must run in our family, because baby E made his debut on January 26, more than 2 weeks early.  We are in love:-)

My water broke, fast and hard contractions started immediately, and somehow my labor stalled about 12 hours in (turns out baby E was posterior, and tilted, and in general just wasn't a big fan of labor). There were lots of complications (group B strep, meconium, heart rate decelerations for baby E, hyperemesis for me to the point of vomiting blood and being severely dehydrated, a fever for me, baby E not tolerating pushing, and an IT guy who had to come into the delivery room to fix the frozen fetal monitor!...), labor was almost 40 hours long--the first 24 hours were totally natural and then I chose pitocin and an epidural over a c-section--at the end there was a vacuum and a small episiotomy, and literally until he was crowning, the midwife thought that I would still need to have a c-section...but, praise God I had a vaginal delivery and have had a very easy recovery.

Baby E was quite banged up from delivery (a big ridge on his forehead, small hematoma on the back of his head, etc. but he has a full head of straight black hair that covered it all up, so he just looks cute:-)  He's a great nurser and is gaining weight like a champ!

B has been a fabulous big brother and we are feeling very, very blessed.  Despite the difficult pregnancy and labor, about 12 hours after delivery I looked at DH and was like "let's do this again"...hormones are a powerful thing!!!  I pretty much did the same thing after we adopted B.  We were in the trial by fire period of the first week and I was already like, let's start another adoption.  Whether through pregnancy, adoption, or both, Ababa and I would very much like to have a third (and maybe fourth) child.  So, we'll see what God has in store for us...right now we are lovin' life with B and E.

B really, REALLY wanted a girl, so he's already got a plan that "mommy has more eggs, so we can have a girl next...and if we have three baby girls that's call triplets" YIKES!  B's family planning is even more extreme than mine:-)

B is obsessed with "I've been working on the railroad" lately and knows all the his own fashion....he is convinced there is a "dino" in the kitchen and that someone is "scrummin' on the old man Joe".  He cracks me up:-)

I love my boys!