Sunday, April 24, 2016

A Totally 'Fab' Saturday Morning with Benny at Au Fudge!

It had been a while since Benny and I had a "mommy date", especially if you factor in the long months of pregnancy that made me feel too exhausted to go on outings with my son.
But on Saturday, we headed out to actress Jessica Biel's restaurant "Au Fudge", a posh little family place in West Hollywood with playrooms and fun areas featuring a tree house, a photo booth and a mini arcade. The actress and her business partners got it right. They cleverly figured it was time for a really cute grub spot that catered to children and adults alike. 
At the restaurant's entrance sits a lady who does face painting and balloon figures for the littles while parents look over the drink menu and wait to be seated. 

 On this occasion, Benny and I had the pleasure of visiting Au Fudge for a mommy blogger event hosted by FabKids

It was sort of an early Mother's Day gathering and a real treat for me, considering I hadn't left Toby alone with Paul for longer than an hour (the breastfeeding schedule has me pretty tied down)! 

Benny and I munched on grilled cheese sandwiches, Mac n Cheese and brownies and I even got a glam sesh, courtesy of Glam Squad LA, while Benny made crafts with buddies he met there.

Best of all, my son and I reconnected with laughs, hugs, kisses and car ride conversations about Star Wars and his little friend John who likes to play "zombies". 

When we got home I asked Benny if he had fun and he quickly replied "yes". Then he asked: "When Toby gets older can we take him there too?".

My heart liquefied. It just melted again.

Thanks JustFab for the invitation.

Benny's outfit and my shoes were gifted prior to attending the brunch... And we plan on wearing them often! 

Apricot & Chocolate Chip Lactation Cookie Recipe

Toby is almost seven weeks old and I continue to breastfeed my baby. 
The journey of nursing a child is not easy, and mine is one that I plan to share when I reach the 2 month mark!
For now, I've been kinda obsessing with anything that may promote a healthy, increased milk supply.
My best friend Sheryl baked some lactation cookies when she was nursing her baby girl Zuraya and gave me the idea to do the same. So with my eternal sweet tooth and extra time to spend in the kitchen, I got to work the other night.
These came out pretty good. My husband and Benny ate plenty of them and I think I'm ready to bake another batch. 
I can't tell for sure how effective they've been at increasing my milk supply but I did pump almost 5 ounces of breast milk in a single session this weekend (a first for me). This, about four days after baking and enjoying these cookies.
I think the key ingredients are the flaxseed meal, the oats and most importantly, the brewer's yeast.
Here's the recipe, which yields about 2 dozen cookies:

*1/2 Cup butter
*1/2 Cup sugar
*1/2 Cup firmly packed brown sugar
*2 Tablespoons water
*1 Tablespoon flaxseed meal (Trader Joe's)
*1 Egg
*1/2 Teaspoon vanilla
*1 Cup flour
*1/2 Teaspoon baking soda
*1/2 Teaspoon salt
*1 1/2 Cups oats (I used Quaker)
*1/2 Cup chocolate chips
*1/2 Cup dried apricots (finely chopped)
*3 Tablespoons brewers yeast (I ordered this on

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Mix the flaxseed meal & water and let sit for 5 minutes.

Beat butter, sugar & brown sugar well.
Add eggs and mix well.
Add flaxseed mix and vanilla, beat well.

In a separate bowl, sift the powdery ingredients; the flour, brewers yeast, baking soda & salt.
Add these ingredients to the butter mix.

Stir in the oats, chocolate chips and dried apricots.

Scoop onto baking sheet. I used a medium-sized ice cream scoop for cookies the size of the palm of my hand.

Bake for 14 minutes.

You can also add nuts, raisins and pretty much any other ingredient to make them extra yummy!

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

The Perfect Bottle for Baby Toby, plus a DIY Bottle Rack

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #NurseryMusts #CollectiveBias

My two priorities before returning to work after my 12 weeks of Maternity Leave are to find reliable daycare for my baby boy and make sure I continue nursing him. 
The nursing part is a bit more of a challenge because I'll have to make sure my milk supply continues to meet his demands. I will have to pump regularly to leave enough milk for the babysitter and up until recently, I was looking for a bottle that Baby Toby would agree with, especially since I've been breastfeeding exclusively.

Fortunately, I found the perfect bottle for Toby. 
During a recent Target haul, I found and purchased the Playtex Nurser with Drop-Ins Liners

This bottle is designed to simulate the same patterns as breastfeeding— suck, swallow breathe. It's different than other bottles we tried.  The liners, for example, which you place into the bottle, actually collapse gently (just like the breast) as the baby feeds. This prevents air from getting into the milk. 

Anyway, I bought the bottle to give it a try and Baby Toby immediately started drinking from it!! This was such a relief because we had tried other bottles and he either wouldn't drink or somehow the milk would spill out from the sides of his little mouth. We're so relieved that this was not the case with the Playtex bottle...Hooray to better beginnings!  
I say this because now that Toby accepted this bottle, my husband can finally feed him and bond with him (something he hadn't done much). Our oldest son Benny was formula fed and my husband spent a lot of time feeding him. Now he gets to do the same with Toby. 

The liners are available by the box, at Target, which happens to be my favorite place to shop. The few times I've gotten out of the house since Toby arrived, I've somehow ended up at Target. It's definitely my one-stop shop for everything baby and #1 for baby registries.

So now that we found a bottle for Toby and with the extra time at home, I made a simple and kinda' rustic little bottle holder for the back of his nursery closet door. 
It's a little silly but I love to create things and this seemed perfect to hold the Playtex Nurser bottles and Drop-Ins Liners I bought. 

To make a similar bottle holder you'll need:

*wooden stakes 
*metal wire
*white paint & paint brush 
*nails & hammer or screws & screw gun
*small pliers (to cut the wire)

Start by painting the wood. I like the color white because it makes things look clean and minimalist. 
The sizes I used were two 24"stakes and two 18".
Join a long stake with a shorter one and use the metal wire to attach them by lashing them, which basically means to wrap the wire over and under the pieces of wood to connect them.  You repeat this process for each corner where the stakes meet.
Next you use large nails or screws and place them at an angle on each horizontal piece of wood (I nailed three on each piece but using an electric screwdriver would have probably been easier). Note: since the Playtex Nurser bottles have no direct contact with breastmilk/formula, it's fine to let them rest against a nail/screw.

Once your framed bottle rack is ready, you braid together three pieces of wire and attach the final product to the corners of your frame, this will be used to hang the rack. Then you nail it to the top of the door.
I wanted to add a little cuteness to this project so I painted the plastic giraffe black and white and kept a similar color pattern to the baby's nursery.

Another nursery "must" is the Playtex Diaper Genie. I also bought this at Target and placed it between Toby's elephant hamper and my rocking chair. Since the Diaper Genie  has an Ultimate Odor Lock System, with a 7-layer bag to seal in odors, sitting next to it is no problem! 

My over-the-door bottle rack turned out a bit simple and possibly messy looking but it's a practical way to store your bottles far away from the other dishes in the kitchen and keep them handy for feedings. 

Now to find a reliable daycare in my neighborhood!

Meanwhile, check out the Playtex bottles... Maybe your baby will love them too! 

Thanks for reading.
Have a great day!

Monday, April 11, 2016

Fun Activities to Help Toddlers Bond with Their Newborn Siblings - Part II

A few days ago, I shared the first of three activities we created at home with my toddler to encourage a fun play environment inclusive of my newborn son. 
See the post here.
Basically, we wanted our toddler Benny to feel a connection with his baby brother Tobias because he was showing a bit of jealousy when we brought baby home from the hospital. 
Our play activities turned out fun and hilarious but most importantly, served to show Benny that he has a lifelong buddy to share playtime and adventures with!

This is the second of three activities I'm sharing to show how we're dissuading sibling rivalry one play date at a time...

Note: these play activities require adult supervision. AT. ALL. TIMES.

Benny the Barber

It all happened in a corner of our family room! A sign, a gatorade bottle wrapped in striped paper & the top of a miniature gumball machine to serve as the barber pole. 

Benny the Barber started by giving his youngest client a clean shave. No problems there...

Barber accessories were a mix of baby brushes and combs and a play barber set I found on Amazon. Note: the scissors are play scissors!!
Barber shop pricing sign made by yours truly...LOL

Benny the barber said Toby wanted a baby curl... (below-- he prepares to work on baby's hair)

It starts with a smooth brushing of hair...

And the baby curl was a total success! Toby is sitting on a Mommaroo, which made the seating situation possible for a client as little as he...Teehee

 Thanks for reading... Stay tuned for Part III our Toddler-Newborn play activities!

Friday, April 8, 2016

Ralphs Taste of Spain Campaign!

This is a sponsored post that contains affiliate links. All opinions are my own. #TasteofSpain #LovemyRalphs

On a recent shopping trip to Ralph's, I discovered the grocery chain is hosting a "Taste of Spain" campaign.
They have store displays with a wide array of Spanish products-- from Paella kits and tapas sauce to dinnerware and Spanish wine.

I'm currently spending a lot of time at home (and finding any excuse to experiment in the kitchen) so I headed to the produce section, grabbed some russet potatoes, brown onions and a pack of eggs and picked up a bottle of wine, olive oil and a jar of tapas sauce from the Taste of Spain display.
Once I got home, I got to work. My plan was to make a Spanish Potato Tortilla (think of a thick egg omelet with lots of onions and potatoes). This is a popular tapas dish which is very simple to make and only requires the above mentioned ingredients and some salt.
It also pairs very well with a glass of red wine. I'm still not drinking alcohol (I'm nursing my baby boy) but my husband told me so. He enjoyed the combination.

This recipe serves 4.
2 potatoes
1 brown onion
3 eggs
Olive oil

Start by peeling and thinly slicing the onion and potatoes.
Pour a generous amount of olive oil on a skillet and sauté the potatoes and onions. Make sure you stir frequently to avoid them from sticking to the pan, but do so carefully so the potatoes don't disintegrate.
In a bowl, mix the three eggs and pour about a teaspoon of salt on the mixed eggs.
Once the potatoes and onions have cooked (you will tell by their soft texture), combine with the eggs.
Use some of the leftover oil from the onions and potatoes and pour into a separate pan, covering the bottom of the pan.
Pour the potato, egg and onion mix into the pan. Add a bit more salt to the mix,
Let it cook for a few minutes and flip it over (like a pancake) so the eggs can cook thoroughly.
Serve with wine and tomato slices (optional).


Check out Ralphs Facebook page here for more ideas and coupon discounts!
I received compensation in exchange for writing this review. 

Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Fun Activities to Help Toddlers Bond with Their Newborn Siblings! - Part I

My son Benjamin turned three in December. 
We celebrated his birthday at Walt Disney World. 
Before that, we celebrated almost every accomplishment, milestone and cute thing he did with tons of attention, cheers, outings and gifts.
He was the light of our lives-- our first child, the only grandchild on both sides of the family and my inspiration for so many things (including this blog).
But as of three weeks ago, Benny has a baby brother named Tobias. 
Throughout my second pregnancy, we explained to Benny that he would soon become a big brother. We read books for him on the topic and explained that our family would be growing into a family of four. We hyped the arrival of Toby and frequently reminded Benny that his baby brother would eventually become his best buddy.  
On the day Toby was born, Benny had a "Big Brother gift" waiting for him at the hospital. 
He was so endeared by his baby brother that day that he sung a lullaby for him, in front of all of us, in my hospital room. The cuteness and innocence of that moment practically had us all in tears!
But then came the time to bring our newborn home. And that's when sibling rivalry took over!

Benny is a sweet boy and we always knew he'd be nice to Baby Toby.
What was interesting though was seeing him go from giving his little brother soft pats and kisses to ignoring him altogether! 
During the first two weeks, if we asked him questions about Baby Toby, Benny would ignore us or change the subject. He started pretending to be an infant and would try going inside Toby's bassinet and ask for breastmilk. He was very sentimental and desperate for attention. It was as though he loved Toby but felt a lot of jealousy at the same time (which I've read is quite normal). 

But now that Toby is almost a month old, Benny has apparently come to terms with the reality that he is not the only child at home anymore.
He talks to Toby a lot and recently asked me: "Mama, when can I play with Toby?" 
"Is he old enough?"

Suddenly it occurred to me that toddlers need a "play" connection to feel close to other kids. 
So I put on my thinking cap and figured out a few ways to get my toddler to "play" with my newborn!

This is the first of three activities I will share to demonstrate how we made it happen. 
I must say, this was the most fun and laughs we've had in a long time (Hooray for Maternity Leave)!

Note: these play activities require adult supervision. AT. ALL. TIMES.

Benny the Pediatrician

I started out by creating a pretend doctor's office. In this activity, Benny was the pediatrician and I took my baby to see the doctor because he was showing symptoms of drinking too much milk...LOL. 

I printed and framed a few graphics and gathered all of Benny's doctor toys.

During the consultation, I explained to Dr. Benny that Baby Toby needed a check-up because he's always hungry!

Benny said: "Ok, let's put him on the bed"

Somehow he diagnosed Toby with a broken hand,,, (laughing)

In the middle of the consultation, Toby started crying and Dr. Benny turned around and asked him to keep it quiet."Shhhhhhhh," he said.

The doctor visit lasted quite a while, but fortunately, everything checked out fine in the end.... (hilarious)

 Thanks for reading... Stay tuned for Part II our Toddler-Newborn play activities!