Thursday, February 16, 2017

Asher's Nursery Wall

All the jokes about the second kid are absolutely true. For the first kid, you put so much time and energy into doing everything "right" for your kid. You find all the right books, get the best crib, the best stroller, the toys that will make her the smartest. You decorate the nursery with a wonderful theme that will allow your child to grow and develop even while she's sleeping. The second kid gets hand-me-down everything and, if he's lucky, at least one family picture that he's in. Poor Asher.

You won't go as "all out" with your second kid as you did your first.

You may remember the love and care I put in to Zahara's nursery in Harrogate house.

Well, I can't change everything, but I can at least try to make Asher's room a little nicer. Here's Asher's new gallery wall.

I went simple with this wall. I bought craft letters from Jo-Ann's using a 50% off coupon, and wooden animals and arrows from Target. I painted them all using leftover paint from previous projects. I ordered the canvas of Asher using a Groupon, and mom and dad bought us the gorgeous family canvas. Shout-out to Dani for helping me figure out the configuration.

Dan painted the room a while ago, and it really makes the space so much cozier. The rest of the room still needs work, but at least I have something nice to look at while I'm nursing him in the middle of the night.

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

MGM National Harbor and Fish

The MGM hotel and casino recently opened DC's National Harbor, which is around 45 minutes away from us. I've been eagerly awaiting this development since the first announced it. Dan and I aren't big gamblers, but we do enjoy the energy and entertainment that a casino brings.

We had such a fun night out with friends. We started with delicious cocktails at Jose Andres' restaurant Fish.This might have been the best gin and tonic I've ever had. It was so fresh and light. And it better be the best at the prices they charge!

Dinner was just OK. The food was decent, but not the best we've had. I really like Jose Andres and have eaten at many of his restaurants, but this one is not my favorite. There are not a ton of kosher-friendly options, which was strange at a fish restaurant. It's mostly shellfish. Our friends got the scallops and enjoyed them, but in the future I'd come for the drinks and then dine elsewhere.

After dinner we ventured out to the casino. The lobby is stunning. It was nicely decorated for the Chinese New Year (year of the rooster). These sculptures are made out of fresh flowers!

There's no buffet here like there is at the Vegas MGM. Instead, they have an upscale food court. It looked pretty good, actually. There was a patisserie and a sushi stand mixed in with burger joints and Starbucks. When we go back though, I want to eat at the Voltaggio Brothers' Steak House. I know that it's a steak house, but it looks like it had plenty of vegetarian choices. And after eating in Brian Voltaggio's restaurant Volt, I know he makes a mean veggie meal.

The casino itself was really nice too. There are a ton of slot machines and tables. The tables were too rich for our blood though. Most of them were $25 or $50 minimums. We also saw a few $100 and $200 tables. No thanks. We stuck to the video poker and the penny slots...haha! Kim actually won $50, which was fun.

It was such a great, adult night out. Can't wait to do it again!

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

February Thoughts by Z

We can't help but giggle at some of the things that come out of Zahara's mouth. Here's a sample:

Thought 1:
Z: Mummy, when you give me hummus, it is the worst day ever.

Thought 2:
In the back seat of the car after I picked her up from school:
Z: I really missed you.
Me: Thanks! I missed you too.
Z: No, I was talking to the Cheerios.

Thought 3:
Z: When I grow up I want to be an artist who paints and sails a boat.

Thought 4:
While cooking pasta with me:
Z: This is really mysterious.
Me: Why?
Z: Because it is invisible. The pasta is under the water.

See previous Thoughts by Z here

Monday, January 30, 2017

Baby Wed Leaning: Spinach Banana Muffins

Now that Asher is officially eating solid foods, we get to once again experiment with baby led weaning recipes. We had so much fun cooking for Zahara when she was a baby and are excited to do the same for Ash.

Zahara and I made these muffins together this week and they're a big hit with the whole family. They are surprisingly addictive and incredibly simple to make. Plus, they're packed with nutrients. Win-win.

Spinach Banana Muffins
Original recipe, slightly modified, from here

  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened apple sauce
  • 1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 medium ripe bananas
  • 6 ounces baby spinach leaves
  • a few handfuls of frozen blueberries (optional)
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  • In a medium bowl combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt
  • In a separate large bowl whisk the eggs. Add the apple sauce, yogurt, vanilla, and bananas. Gently mash.
  • Add a few handfuls of spinach to the large bowl. Use an immersion blender to puree, adding more handfuls as you go.*
  • Add the dry mixture to the wet mixture, a little bit at a time, and stir to combine. Be careful not to over mix.
  • Add batter to greased mini-muffin tin, filling them to the top.
  • Add two or three blueberries to each muffin.
  • Bake for 12-14 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
  • Remove from the muffin tin and cool on wire rack. Store in the fridge or freezer.

*If you don't have an immersion blender, you can use a traditional blender or food processor to blend the leaves before adding them to the wet mixture.

Read more about our adventures in Baby Led Weaning here

Friday, January 27, 2017

Dear Asher: 6 Months

Dear Asher,

Happy six month birthday! How are you already halfway to a year? This was a big transition month for us; I started back at work and you started daycare. We were pretty nervous about it since you still weren't consistently taking a bottle, but you have been absolutely thriving at Ms. Aster's. She loves you and the feeling is clearly mutual.

First day of daycare

We sold your baby swing and bassinet. I'd like time to slow down just a little bit. Since you are our last baby, it's hard not to get emotional thinking about all of the "lasts" that are happening. Of course there are so many "firsts" still to come, and I can't wait for those. But, still, the last curl of your tiny baby lips. The last snuggle where your whole body fits on my chest. The last gummy smile and chubby, wobbly knees. You are just so perfect and I wish I could bottle this time up.

But, time waits for no man and you continue to grow into a little boy. This month you are sitting on your own like a champ. You still fall over sometimes, but you are so much steadier by the day. Still no rolling yet though. You'll get there one day.

You started experimenting with solid food! Of course you took to it right away--I mean, you are our child. So far you've had carrots, cucumbers, cantaloupe, turkey meatball, cauliflower with garlic, and a spinach banana muffin (recipe coming soon!). I'm not sure that you understand that food is for eating, or that it's any different than your teething toys, but you seem to enjoy it nonetheless.

The number one thing that I hear from people who meet you is how happy you are. And it's true! I love how freely you give smiles and giggles. You are ticklish under your neck, on your chest, and under your arms, but what really gets you going is anything Zahara does. If she's laughing, you laugh hysterically in big, throaty giggles.*

Asher, you are such a delight. These past six months have been so wonderful (truly!). Keep doing what you're doing. We love you to the moon and back!

*If you can't see the video, click here.

Read about Zahara at this age:
Dear Zahara: 6 Months

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Zahara's First Parent-Teacher Conference

I cannot believe how big Zahara is getting. It seems like just yesterday we were introducing her to solid foods, teaching her how to walk, and hearing her say her first words. Now, she's in school full-time, making friends, and learning ballet and Hebrew! She's growing up so fast.

Last week we had our first parent-teacher conference. It was really fun to hear what Morah Tali (Teacher Tali) had to say about Z. She said Zahara is a "rule-follower," and picks her friends with absolute precision. She is content spending hours doing arts and crafts, and Tali and the other teachers are impressed with Zahara's attention to detail and concentration.

It was funny for me to hear that Zahara will often sit quietly and just observe others. I like to call her the mayor of her school because she knows everyone and everything! She can tell me who all the parents are, who has a new baby at home, and who was sick over the weekend.

Lately, Z has been coming home with half of her lunch uneaten. She's always been a great eater, so when I asked her about it she said she didn't have enough time for lunch. When I asked Tali about it though, she said Zahara would have plenty of time to eat if she would just stay still! Apparently she spends the whole lunch hour getting up to chat with friends, get a drink of water, go potty...etc. 

Zahara still naps pretty consistently, and is obviously tired when she doesn't. Tali said she has even fallen asleep on the rug in the classroom if she misses a nap! We're still working on potty training, but it's getting better. Z is fully capable of doing it (since she was potty trained before this summer), but she's also pretty stubborn. Not sure where she gets that from. She'll do it when she's ready, is the school's view.

We loved hearing an outsider's perspective of how she's doing, even if it doesn't necessarily jive with the Zahara we know and love at home ("rule-follower?" cough, cough). It is so nice to see how loved Zahara is. Morah Tali and the rest of the teachers had nothing but good things to say about Zahara. We're so proud of her!

Monday, January 9, 2017

Chanukah in Dallas

This year we celebrated Chanukah in Dallas with my family. My mom, dad, sister, aunt, and uncle all live there, and my grandparents flew in from San Antonio. It was amazing to have the whole family together for such a happy occasion.

Just like they did for Zahara, my parents threw a "meet the baby" party for Asher. It was a great way for all of my parents friends to meet our newest guy. When my parents make friends, they do it for life. Some of them have been friends for more than 50 years! A lot of my parents friends are from their college days and have been around my entire life. It's great that they have such a community.

We spent most of our time in Dallas eating (what else is new?) and just relaxing. My mom was recovering from spinal surgery so it forced us to slow down and just enjoy our time. It was actually pretty nice not having to run around all the time.

We did have one really active evening though. Bradi got a groupon for a trampoline park and we had a blast! At first Zahara was pretty hesitant about it, but by the end she was jumping like a champ. We really loved the kid's zone where we could run the length of the trampoline and bounce against the wall. Dan, Bradi, and I even played dodge ball, which was a hilarious display of our "athleticism."

Spending time with my grandparents was a real highlight. Seeing them with their two great-grandchildren will never get old.

Here are some more highlights from the trip:

Visiting with Family

Seeing Old Friends

Celebrating Chanukah

Cat Pajamas
My mom got us matching pajamas! They are hilarious, adorable, and surprisingly comfortable. It's not the first time we've matched. Hope we continue this tradition!