May 18, 2015

TASTE: Milkmaid Cookies (for lactating mamas!)

TASTE: Milkmaid Cookies (for lactating mamas!)
This recipe is my secret weapon.

As a nursing mother, I have experienced the highs and lows of breastfeeding during my almost 10-month journey. If you are experiencing a drop in your milk supply, but you want to continue breastfeeding, cook up a batch of these cookies and get to eating! The combination of flaxseed, Brewers Yeast and oatmeal is some kind of magic sauce, and helps increase the lactation! I like to refer to these as my boobie cookies, but that probably seems kind of crude to some of you. Although, if you do refer to them as your boobie cookies around the house, it might scare your husband from polishing them all off. I told mine that these would make him grow boobs and start spraying milk in public. However, doesn't seem to fear this, because these cookies still disappear... I need a new scare tactic.

Many thanks to my sister for introducing this recipe to me. I've tweaked it a bit, subbing in a few different kinds of sugar instead of using white sugar. I also added in the variety of chocolate and white chocolate chips and raisins, because I like my cookies to have some extra flavor. Plus, the flavor of the Brewers Yeast (the main ingredient that helps increase milk supply) is pretty bitter, so adding in some punches of add-ins really helps. Also, I used some steel-cut oats because it makes the cookies super nutty and chunky, but if you don't love that texture, you can use all regular oats.

- 3 cups Oats (1.5 regular and 1.5 steel cut)
- 2 cups Flour
- 1/2 cup Chocolate Chips
- 1/2 cup White Chocolate Chips
- 1/2 cup Raisins
- 1 cup Butter
- 4 tbsp. Water
- 2 tbsp. Flaxseeds (or Flaxseed Meal, either will work)
- 1 tsp. Vanilla
- 1 tsp. Salt
- 1 tsp. Cinnamon
- 1 tsp. Baking Soda
- 2 Eggs
- 2-4 tbsp. Brewers Yeast
- 1/2 cup Coconut Sugar
- 1/2 cup Brown Sugar
- 1/4 cup Molasses
- 1/4 cup Maple Syrup

I had the cutest little kitchen helper.
Mixing bowls really entertain babies in the kitchen. Another secret weapon!
I like to freeze half the batch in this "cookie log", then have some for later!
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2. Mix the water with the flaxseed and let it soak for 5 minutes.

3. In a large mixing bowl, combine butter, sugars, molasses, maple syrup and vanilla in a large bowl.

4. Beat in the eggs, one at a time.

5. Add in the Flaxseed mixture, combining well.

6. In a separate bowl, combine the flour, oats, baking soda, brewers yeast, cinnamon, and salt.

7. Slowly add the dry mixture into the wet mixture, taking time to beat the ingredients together well.

8. Last, add in the white and chocolate chips and raisins. Stir to combine.

9. Bake for 10 minutes. Let cool before you dive headfirst into an eating frenzy :)

Let thy milk flow.
I guarantee that you will experience some increase in your milk supply if you eat a few of these cookies each day. I froze half of this batch for later, because this recipe yields like a zillion.

Let me know if you give these a try and how they work out for you!

Get your milk on ladies.

May 15, 2015

And We're Off!

Off on an adventure!

I'm packed. Stevie's packed. Everett's packed.

I really hope I'm not forgetting anything.

Today we leave for a 9-day family trip, exploring Madrid and Rome! The last time we were in Madrid, this is what happened. So needless to say, I don't remember a lot of the trip. But what I do remember... isn't great. So we are excited for a do-over! And the last time we were in Rome we toured hardcore, going underneath the Vatican and meandering through ancient Roman ruins. That trip was pretty epic, because we experienced 30 days of travel with just two backpacks and Rick Steves guiding us to and fro.

This time around, with Everett and his mammoth stroller and all the baby paraphernalia ON EARTH, we hope to take a more relaxed approach. Not necessarily touring and hitting tons of museums. Just wandering around, eating in cafes and taking in the deliciousness of the dolce vita. It feels very strange to have such a loose approach to this trip, but we figure if we set the bar pretty low, the trip will feel like a success if we just make it there without a major breakdown. And eat some gelato.

I am leaving my computer at home (gulp). I can't remember the last time I didn't travel with my laptop (it's been years), so I am excited and a little freaked about that. But I really want to detach and just experience this vacation with my family the old-fashioned way. I know I will have my hands full with my son, but I also don't want him to feel like second fiddle while mommy is blogging incessantly. So it's a big decision for me but I feel really good about it. However, my phone will be working and I will be posting to instagram like a crazy person, because, well, I'm a crazy person. So you can follow along our trip there, if you're into drooling over travel pics like I am. Also, I have a few posts ready to go, so there will be some content that I am excited to share even while I am away, so you can hang around the blog next week and there will be some fun recipes and recent travel posts to browse through :)

We are suuuuuper excited to celebrate two of our friends getting hitched in Rome, and anticipating what it will be like to travel abroad with our little baby... who is just shy of 10 months! Stevie's birthday is this weekend, too, so there is more than enough to clink our celebratory wine (or sangria!) glasses to!

For those of you who have been to Rome and Madrid before, do you have any suggestions on places or things to do/see/eat? Leave me a comment and let me know! And also - prayers for the 9+ hour flight with a baby pleeeeeease!

Love love love.

May 13, 2015

Prom Dresses are Over.

Prom Dresses are Over.
I had a  little life realization last week. At a consignment store in town. I was dropping off some clothes, and decided to take a moment to browse. Everett was happily gnawing on a pacifier, all strapped onto me in the Ergo, like my bitty baby kangaroo, and I decided, "why not just flip through the spring clothes?" Because, well, when do I ever go to clothing stores these days? I'll answer that for you. NEVER.

So there I was, flipping through garments, touching all the gently used fabrics and imagining their previous life before they found their way here... then something caught my eye. Across the room. Something glinting in the sunlight that streamed through the dusty windowpane. Prom dresses. Kind of loud ones. I walked toward the section and just took a moment. Took it all in.

Oh, the ridiculously saturated colors, all primary shades of pinks, blues and purples. The sequins and glitter and taffeta and insane cut-outs (is it just me, or are prom dresses much skankier these days? It's probably just me. I've probably become a total prude. Alright alright. I was always a total prude.) But it hit me in that moment, staring at the gowns.

I'm a mom now. I don't go to the prom anymore.

It doesn't occur to you the day you buy your last prom dress that it's the day you buy your last prom dress.

When I was in high school and college, there seemed to always be some formal event on the horizon, a reason to keep an eye on the prom dress section of the store. Homecoming, winter formal, prom, graduation, etc. And just a few years ago, I was the wife of a business school student, and again, there seemed to always be a reason to be dress shopping. Dinners, cocktail parties, formal celebrations - I often found myself trading dresses with friends, pulling out old prom and homecoming dresses, and shopping the outlets around prom season. It's been a lot of years of "prom dress shopping". And standing here, in the middle of this dusty consignment store, I was suddenly aware that those days were over. I wouldn't prom dress shop again unless it was going to be with my daughter. Gulp. If I ever have a daughter. Okay lets just be real. IF I EVER GIVE BIRTH AGAIN.

You see what I mean. It was kind of a moment.

Everett just kept gnawing on his pacifier. Chewing. He chewed on my face a bit too. He's seriously teething.

Some things in life are stark and weird and silly, all at once. It might seem insane to some of you that I found this particular moment impacting. But I did. Because my role in life has transitioned and I'm not just a teenage dreamer anymore. And I'm not just a single lady anymore. And I'm not even just a married chick who is fun and fancy free. I'm some combination of the old me, fused with being a wife and the newest element of being a mother, and it takes a minute to get the hang of it. It takes a minute to embrace the new while still clinging on to the best parts of the "old" me. But the very craziest part of this whole scenario is that I still feel like a teenager in my head and in my heart. I SWEAR I'M EIGHTEEN IN MY HEAD. Eighteen, excited about the future, sort of nervous about what is to come, armed with that heady rush of "anything is possible!" I am still that teenaged girl, shopping for my "dream prom dress"... aren't I?

The reality is no. I'm literally (and physically, geez) beyond that season. Not only am I past prom dress shopping, but I bought my wedding dress 8 years ago and it hasn't come out to play since it's inaugural wear. I am not eighteen. I'm not. But I am not over.

I have entered the mom phase of my life. And this phase is here to stay. I will never un-become a mother. But that doesn't mean that I've lost my flavor, my lust for life, my relevancy and my right to party. Prom dresses might be over for me. But the eighteen year old that knew how to get down? I like to think she's still somewhere inside, two-stepping or foxtrotting or Irish dancing to the beat of her own drum. But perhaps in slightly more comfortable shoes.

May 11, 2015

Everett's First Haircut!

Everett's First Haircut!
I didn't want to do it. I did NOT want to take my baby son into a strange place and allow scissors anywhere near his beautiful brain, his precious eyes, his bunny-soft cheeks. Did not. Want to go. DID NOT.

Ugh, but husbands.

But my husband kept insisting. "His hair is in his eyes, Kristen." "He is going to be so sweaty this summer with all that hair." "It's going to be in his face when we go to the beach" - well sure. These are valid statements. Rooted in thoughtfulness and fact. But my opinion was rooted in EMOTION. Nobody touch my baby everrrrrr! Scissors?! Drat you! For even considering coming near him with SCISSORS! The devil's choice office supply.

He had these tender little curls. Right behind his ears. They were longer than the rest of his hair. Sure, you could say they were something like the wisps that Gollum kept in the back... but oh. They were so sweet. They were weirdly longer than the rest of his hair. It was like two pony tails at either ear and then a long party on top. Around the sides of his head all the hair had fallen out from sleeping on his back, and that was actually beginning to grow back really nicely. So yeah, he had some seriously uneven hair going.

I didn't mind it.

He didn't mind it.


He won the argument. We went to his barber shop, a laid-back, no-frills place here in our town. We entered, and the glossy black and white checked floor immediately grabbed Everett's attention. Mesmerized, we sat and waited. He had no idea what he was in for.

But then he started to get a feeling. You know, when we put him in Daddy's lap in the huge weird chair. With a forward-facing cape. He was like WHAT.

Oh, let's just get to the photo journey, shall we?

He's thinking it's just a regular Saturday, pal-ing around with the rents.
Waiting. Though he doesn't know what for.
Those wisps. I melllllllt.
The final moment of length.
WAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH. This pic literally makes me cringe.
You've been chopped!
He wasn't so sure.
Oh Jerry. He did such a great job.
Everett got a certificate! And we got to keep a few clippings of his hair :)
And then. He decided he liked his new look.

Oh my sweet baby. I cried like 4 times in the barber shop. Along with him. But he did really great, other than the incessant screaming, and Jerry did the best of us all. He didn't let a hollering child (or his withering, weeping mother) throw of his groove. He just snip-snip-snipped and suddenly, my child was blonde. And a little boy. And STEVIE'S little boy. He officially looks exactly like his father.

We survived the first haircut. And I have to agree, it was a good choice. Now we are all spiffy and ready for the summer heat!

May 10, 2015

Love you, Mom.

Love you, Mom.
She woke up early to fix your breakfast before school. Fed you. Bathed you. Changed your dirty dirty diapers. Made a big whooping deal about your birthday. She was never upset when you woke her up because your tummy hurt. She laughed when you played dress up in her closet. She was always at your school play, your chorus concert, your big game. She came early to bring snacks. She helped with your homework, ordered pizza for you and your friends on Friday night, and let you go to that really awesome concert downtown. Because she trusted you. Although it didn't stop her from calling your cell phone A LOT. She took you shopping for prom dresses. She let you cry on her shoulder about that dumb boy who didn't deserve you anyway. She slipped a twenty in your hand when you were going back to college after being home for the weekend. She helped you move time and time again, coming behind you to clean the bathroom while the boxes were being transported to the truck. She let you travel the country, the world, and didn't let her worries about you being so far away affect her ability to let you go. But she sure did pray. She smiled through her tears on your wedding day. She held your hands while you were pregnant, answered every question when you asked "How bad is this gonna hurt??", and was by your side when you finally, exhausted, welcomed your wiggly, darling baby into the world. She was always, she is always, and will always always be there. For as long as she has breath in her body, she will give all her joy to your existence.

Okay, that was my mom.

But I bet yours was something like that, too. At least, I hope so.

This year is my first Mother's Day. I can't believe I'm allowed to be a mom. I can only hope to measure up in the tenderest way, because I have incredibly large mom shoes to fill. Well, not true. She has dainty little feet. But her footprint over the journey of my life has been immeasurable, innumerable with oodles and oodles of loving tracks. Inexplicable. She has given me her life's blood and her hearty Hungarian laugh. Her full cheeks and strong thighs. I am the mother that I am, because she was the mother that she was. I will probably screw up a lot, but she taught me that having grace for myself is one of the best gifts I can give to my family.

There is no perfect mother, but I would like to argue that she is. Close.

I hope you give mom your whole heart of love today.

A little more about my mom here.

May 9, 2015

Happening Lately.

Happening Lately.
We knew the month of May would be a little crazy. But it usually is for everyone - travel, graduations, birthdays, it always seems like the busiest month of the year. This May is no exception.

We have just gotten back in town after a week-long "work trip" at the beach. Actually, Stevie really did work the entire time, but I got to explore a new locale with Everett and we had such a sweet time together. Everything was slower-paced, both because I had a baby in tow and because the pace of life at St. Simons Island is slooooow. And it was just the absolute best. It gave me permission to relax a bit and get used to having a baby completely on my own in a tiny crowded hotel space - and we made it! More than made it, we totally loved it. More about this lovely trip next week though. I have great pictures and some of my favorite discoveries to share :)

Shopping + Swings Date.
A baby of 9 months is a baby of FUN. I can't believe how full-circle things have become with my little son. In the beginning, the days were long and tiresome. Oh wait. That hasn't changed. But our sleep patterns have improved and I am adoring this season that we are in together. He is a bundle of fun, curious about the world and discovering new things all the time. He has a great compass for humor and he legitimately has me cracking up laughing 10 times a day. I can't imagine what toddler-hood is like, because he is already crawling everywhere and getting into trash cans, eating my shoes, dissembling my purse, the works. But his newest and most favorite discovery is the park swing -  HE LOVES SWINGING. It's a delight! We have started going to the swings everyday, even if its only for 15 minutes. The other fun thing we did this week was shop - he accompanied me in my dress-shopping endeavor to find something for a wedding next week - what a patient gentleman he was. I think we picked a good one. All in all, he is just becoming my little buddy who is along the ride for anything. It's been such a blast.

Everett Got a Passport.
So obviously I dressed him up in a bow tie for his photo. I can't wait to see it - we pick up with completed passport this week. Someone's getting ready for his first international flight! Are we nutso or what?!

Snazzy Atlanta Wedding Heyyyooo.
It's wedding season! We've had the privilege of attending quite a few over the past month, and we are headed to another next week! But this last wedding was a particularly special one, because it was in honor of Stevie's cousin, whom we love, and the celebration was like a family reunion. It didn't hurt that we partied on an Atlanta rooftop whilst enjoying the splendid view, delicious food, and dancing the night away. A baby-free night is a good one, especially when there's a bit of bubbly involved.

Coming Up: Stevie's Birthday in MADRID, an international Flight WITH A BABY, and a Wedding in Rome! Ah!

I'm seriously not sure if I am ready for all of this, but I guess it doesn't matter... because these things are coming up! We leave next Friday for our 9-day trip abroad... if you think about it, pray we have an easy time traveling with our baby! I am compiling gear, packing and repacking, making lists, etc. and hoping that it will all come together seamlessly. I won't be blogging along the way, like I did on our last Eurotrip, because I know I will have my hands a lot fuller this time, figuratively and literally! I really want to soak in the experience and focus on my family. So I have some posts pre-written and ready to go during the time that we will be gone. If you'd like to follow along the Euro experience, I will probably be over-posting on my Instagram, and obviously I will do lots of follow-up posts about our travel once we return. I am a bit of a travel glutton... so there will be lots of sharing!

Happy Mothering.
It's Mother's Day this weekend! My first ever! I have no idea what's in store, but I imagine that I will actually get to sleep in... maybe? That would really be something. If you haven't gotten your mama something yet, I put together a little guide a few weeks back. Hopefully it's helpful? Otherwise, enjoy your weekend, all you incredibly hardworking moms!

May 7, 2015

6 Tips for Road Tripping With a Baby

Tips for Road Tripping With a Baby.
We took a family road trip this week down to St. Simons Island, Georgia. Stevie has a work conference, so Everett and I decided to tag along and enjoy a mini vacation somewhere that we've never been before. We are never ones to turn down a new adventure, especially when there is a beach involved. I'll post more about the trip next week, but I did want to go ahead and share a few things that have worked for road tripping with this little guy. He's only 9 months old, but he is developing into a lovely road trip companion. I'm sure there will come a day where he just won't tolerate sitting in his car seat for so long, but right now, we are able to convince him to ride along with us as we hit some drive-able destinations. I'm not saying he is perfect during the entire trip, but we have found some helpful hacks for coercing him to be a pleasant ride-along car buddy. In light of summertime and everyone's upcoming travels, I thought I would share what has worked for us.

1. Leave at the Crack of Dawn.
I learned this one the hard way. I left at 10am for a 7-hour road trip, and my little babe was awake for most of it. Which meant he was bored, which meant he was LOUD, which meant everyone in the car was exercising their patience. For the next road trip, I decided to leave at 5am, in hopes that he would sleep for a good portion of the trip. And that is indeed what happened. Hallelujah. Here's how the 7-hour trip broke down: I woke up at 4:30am and got myself dressed and ready. The car was already packed the night before. I gently woke him up, changed his diaper, kept him in his pjs and placed him in his car seat. I did all of this in the dark. I was on the road at 5am, and he slept for the first three hours of the drive. At 8am we stopped at a Starbucks, fed Everett in the parking lot, then grabbed a coffee and breakfast sandwich to go. He fell back asleep until about 10:30am or so, and I started handing him toys in the back. One by one. Which brings me to my next point...

2. Pack Toys. A Lot of Toys.
Pack more than you could ever imagine you would need. An obnoxious amount. Once the novelty of riding along in the car gets old, those toys are your lifeline. I purchased this set of toys specifically for roadtripping and it has proven to be a worthy investment. The other thing is, everything can be a toy! A plastic water bottle, toilet paper rolls, Styrofoam cup, plastic sunglasses, you name it! I've started passing the strangest things back there to him, and it amuses him for a bit. My kiddo is a curious soul. Why wouldn't he want to stare soulfully into my hat? Sure.

Gotta stop to feed and change. But these stops are actually kinda fun! LOOK AT MY BABYYYY.

3. Pack Travel Food.
I make Everett's baby food for whenever we eat at home (which is most of the time), but when we travel it's a different story. I admire those ladies who lug around their canisters of homemade blended baby purees - but I just cannot do it. I've tried and it's just too much mess to pack up and take home, to then clean up again later. No thanks. Not for me. I stock up on easy travel food when we hit the road, and Everett LOVES it. I think he feels like it's a special treat :) Our favorites are these by Earth's Best, these by Happy Baby and these by Plum Organics. He is also really loving his appetizers by Happy Baby :) (I've been reading that French parenting book that recommends feeding children in courses, so Everett gets fancy these days with his appetizers).

4. Pack More Clothes/Diapers/Wipes Than You Think You Will Need.
Some weird things have happened on our road trips. Some weird, weird things. Blowouts, showering urine, gassyness that leads to... solidness. I'll leave it at that. But I always pack Everett THREE changes of clothes when we go anywhere. Three. Yes. Three.

5. Budget Extra Travel Time.
The days of blazing down the road, NO STOPS, is over. Man, me and Stevie used to tear up some mileage on road trips. I reminisced about my favorite all-time road trip with him the other day, when we used to drive from before the sun was up until late in the night. Those days. Are over. In the new era, with a baby and gear and breastfeeding breaks and diaper change breaks and YOU NAME IT breaks, we stop often. There's just no way around it. So budgeting extra travel time is a must, especially if you're super type-A and you like to "race" your Googlemaps estimate. Not like my husband does that or anything. Needless to say, we've had to make some expectation adjustments.

Sleeping baby. Makes for a very happy mommy.
6. Enjoy it!
This is so important. I'm continuously learning about how much life has changed with Everett's arrival in my world, and everything is truly, infinitely better with him. It is. Everything is also really truly different. Vacations look different, my idea of rest looks different, and certainly the way I roadtrip is so so different. But he is also so much fun, and I find myself staring at him wondering what I was doing with my life before he came along. Like, why did I wait so long to have him?? Well, actually, I know the answer to that. But still! My baby is the best. So grateful that I can take him along for journeys and adventures!

And bonus tip - Coldplay does wonders for putting a baby to sleep in the car. THAT CHRIS MARTIN. Okay, there it is, folks. All my road trip tricks in a nutshell. For all of you planning to road trip and travel this summer, I hope this helps!