2018: Heck of a year!

Never in a million years I would have guessed all the emotions and experiences I went through during the last 365 days. It was seriously a roller coaster.

For starters, I was a brand new mom (I still feel like I am, when do you stop been a new mom anyway?🤷🏻‍♀️😂). But all the moms out there would agree with me that the first 4-6 months of postpartum are insane: learning to breastfeed, then bottle feed, pump, go back to work (tears), keep pumping, take your brand new baby to daycare (lots of tears), keep pumping, wash bottles, clean blowouts, still keep pumping. You get the idea, right? 😂

As if that wasn’t enough, opportunity knocked on our door and we took the pivotal decision of relocating to Boston. This included lots of traveling with brand new baby, selling our also brand new house, having to go into the market twice, looking for a new place in Boston, selling our small car, getting a big car, saying goodbye to our friends and family from Florida, and to the place we called home for 10 years. It took, and still does, lots of figuring it out.

2018 taught me a lot about myself. It taught me a new identity that I did not know I had. I’ve been staying at home with my baby for about 6 months now. This has been a blessing yet it’s been one of my biggest struggles. I’ve always been an “independent, strong woman” who has been in the workforce since I was 15. So when the moment came to introduce myself to others, I didn’t really know what to say other than “I’m a pediatric nurse but I’m currently staying at home with my baby.” My profession is such a big part of who I am that for a moment I felt lost without it. After reflecting a lot, I’ve understood that who I am is way more than just my profession. Now I know that I still get to be a STRONG woman, if not stronger because raising a child is not joke.

In a nutshell, 2018 was extraordinary. It was full of change, firsts, adventures, new places, new people, adjustments, and finding a new “normal.” But it was darn exhausting and I’m ready to SLOW DOWN!

For 2019 I have very few new intentions. I want to slow down, settle, and have zero changes (or minimum changes if I’m been realistic). I think I need that. I need some sort of constant in my life. Stick to a routine and find comfort in all this “new” stuff.

So whatever your intentions are for 2019, I truly hope you make the best of it. After all, every.single.day is a clean slate; and nowadays it takes a lot of courage just to be alive and be who you are.

May 2019 be your best year!

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Top Essentials For Baby’s First Year

Completing your baby’s registry can be one of the most exciting yet stressful things from your pregnancy to-do list. There’s SOOOOOO MUCHHHHH stuff to choose from, it is easy to get overwhelmed.

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When I was pregnant, I knew from the get go that I wanted to be a “practical mom” and keep baby gear to a minimum. Now that I’ve been a mom for almost a year, I would like to share  my top 5 essential items during baby’s first year.

Rock and Play Chair

If I were to choose one item, this would be it! Thea used this bouncy chair on daily basis until she was about three months old. This chair is very basic. It rocks and vibrates, that’s it. But, it is very light and easy to move around. Throughout the day, I was able to move her around the house allowing me to cook, workout, and take a shower without interrupting her naps. At nighttime, I would place the chair by my bed. We kept her sleeping in the chair because the incline helped with newborn reflux. Eventually, once I went back to work and we started bottle feeding, she would only take her bottle while sitting in the rock and play chair so this chair seriously became a life saver!!!

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Taking a selfie with daddy. Thea was 2 weeks old.

 

Nursing Camisole

I’ve been breastfeeding Thea for almost a year and I have wear these nursing camis  every.single.day. I will probably burn them by the time I’m done breastfeeding lol. They are very soft and comfortable. The V-neck design gives very easy access, making night time feeds a breeze.  They don’t provide a significant amount of support, but since I don’t have large breasts, I’ve been able to wear them comfortably with no bra.

Abiie Beyond Junior Y Chair & Silicone Pocket Bibs

We started introducing solids during the middle of our relocation from Florida to Boston. During that time I noticed the high chair we had at the time was not gonna work for me. It wasn’t easy to clean and Thea’s posture was not the best.

 

You can see how the food tray was higher than her elbows making it more difficult for her to reach for food. We had to put a pillow behind her to assist her reaching for food. So I knew this chair although “practical” in the sense of space saver, was not practical for the BLISS solid introduction method we were doing (more about that here).

After doing some research, I came across the Abiie Chair  and I’m soooo glad I did. It is a little pricey but it’s designed to grow with the baby so you will definitely get your money’s worth. As a matter of fact, while we were waiting for our furniture to arrive, I sat on this chair for several weeks.

The Y shape chair has several access points to truly clean up all food crumbs and messes after baby eats. The cushion is water resistant and dries up immediately after you wipe it down. I honestly spend less than 2 minutes cleaning up after Thea’s meals, and trust me, her meals can get pretty messy.

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Similarly, after trial and error, I started using this silicone feeding bib. What I like the most about this bis is its adjustable neckband. It stays on even  when my baby is super active. I can also wash it as many times as I need to without the neckband getting damage (as oppose to velcro ones that after 3 washes they don’t stick anymore). These bibs are truly water proof, so her clothes stay cleaner throughout; and as a bonus point, it is hilarious to see her hiding food and then eating it from the pocket.

Nail Trimmer

Another favorite of mine has been the battery operated nail trimmer. To be honest, when I first got this I thought it was one of those “fancy” items I probably didn’t really need. However, it has become a favorite and a scratched face preventer (I might have made up that word hahaha). The trimmer has 5 adjustable settings to choose from and an LED light. It is “whisper quiet” and very easy to use. Most of the time, I trim Thea’s nails while nursing her or once she’s fallen asleep.  This thing works like a charm!

Medela Pump In Style Advanced

Last but not least, it’s my Medela breast pump. We definitely had a “love-hate relationship.”  Any mom who has had to pump would totally understand.  It was supplied by my health insurance with zero cost!!! The Medela pump has worked great for me. I used it daily, several times a day for about 5 months and had no issues. Even though I hated pumping, it was because of this machine that I was able to provide breastmilk for my daughter while I was away working 12 hours shifts at the hospital. So thank you Medela breastpump for helping me reach my breastfeeding goals!

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FYI for all expecting mommies planning on breastfeeding, your health insurance plan (from USA) MUST cover the cost of a breast pump.

Let’s keep in mind that none of these items are truly essential. Yes, they make our lives easier, but having any or none of them wont make us better moms. At the end of the day, what our babies need is food and lots of love and cuddles.

PS/ Little Bonus

As I was thinking about this topic, I remember another life saver… Fels-Naptha laundry bar. If you have a baby/toddler, this bar soap is a must!!! I’ve been able to remove ALL blowout stains (trust me, my daughter had some serious blowouts, I was tempted to share some pictures but don’t want to gross you guys out hahaha), and breastmilk and food stains. I usually spot treat it, then throw it in the laundry machine, and let the soap does its magic. Use it and let me know what you think!

Introducing solids like a BLISS

One of the most exciting moments in a baby’s first year of life is when they get to try food for the first time. For baby Thea, this happened when she was about six months old (as recommended by the American Pediatric Association).

I decided to follow what is  known as the Bliss method. The Bliss method is a combination between Baby Led Weaning (BLW) and the traditional puree method. I chose this approach because I was very interested in all the benefits from BLW. It helps babies practice hand-eye coordination, improve dexterity, practice pincer grasp, and encourage them to use facial muscles that later will be needed for talking. In addition, it is wayyyy easier. There’s minimum meal prep required and since baby feeds herself/himself everyone gets to eat at the same time!

Nonetheless, the control freak on me wanted to make sure Thea was actually swallowing and digesting her solids, specially during the first few weeks, while she was getting the hang of self feeding, so I included a few pureed meals like oatmeal and yogurt. Yet, it is important to keep in mind that infants’ primary source of nutrition is still breastmik/formula. Solids should complement breastmilk/formula, not replace it.

Anyhow, we started with two meals a day, breakfast and lunch, to give her lots of practice. Since I was exclusively breastfeeding, I always offered the breast before attempting solids so that my supply wouldn’t be affected. After her meals, we would offer her a sippy cup with water. Increasing  fluid intake might be necessary for many infants once they start eating solids in order to prevent constipation!

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Thea’s very first meal, malanga/ yautia.

After about 4 weeks, Thea started joining us for dinner as well. Most of the time she eats a “baby version” of whatever we are having. I just seasoned her food with a little bit of oregano, cumin, or thyme so that she can start getting used to the flavors we serve at our table. I’ve never added salt or sugar to her meals and I’m planning on limiting the intake of those until she’s about 2 years of age.  Research has shown that early exposure to sugar and salt are related to childhood obesity. Either case, their taste buds are so virgin that they don’t need any of those to be impressed by food flavors.

Zucchini was her favorite for a while
Devouring tomatoes

Thea is currently 11 months and I’m very happy with where we are with her nutrition. She’s tried most fruits and vegetables, as well as chicken, fish, meat, grains, and beans. I must say her favorites include zucchini, salmon, any berries, yogurt, and her obsession… green peas hahaha

My ultimate favorite bib! It’s super easy to clean and hilarious to see her grabbing food from the pocket.

This is what her meals look like in a day:

  • Breakfast: plain Greek yogurt mixed with papaya, peanut butter, and a little bit of cinnamon
  • Midday snack: home made apple banana cookie (recipe here)
  • Lunch: omelette, slice of sprouted bread sprinkle with olive oil, and tomatoes
  • Dinner: salmon, grilled zucchini, quinoa, and strawberries for dessert
  • I offer her water after every meal and breastfeeding on demand!

I don’t know if all the thought and dedication we’ve put into her nutrition will prevent having a “picky eater” but we can only do our best. We teach by example and we offer her the best nutrition options she can possibly have.

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Disclaimer: I’ve used ready-made baby food a few times but I keep those for emergencies!!! When choosing ready-made baby food, I always look at the ingredient list and make sure it only has natural ingredients and no preservatives.

Apple-Banana Cookies

After going apple picking a few weeks ago, more about our experience here! I became super creative with all the apples we had and decided to make some apple banana cookies for my baby girl. This is a very tasty and super healthy snack for babies.  Just make sure your baby already tried all the ingredients individually and had no allergic reactions to it.

Ingredients

  • 2 steamed apples or 1 cup applesauce
  • 1/2 cup oatmeal flour
  • 1/4 cup almond flour
  • 1 egg
  • 1 small banana
  • 1 tsp yeast
  • 1 tsp cinnamon

Instructions

  1. Puree steamed apples (skip this step if using applesauce).
  2. Blend together the apple puree/applesauce, oatmeal flour, and egg.
  3. Pour mixture into a bowl and add almond flour, yeast, and cinnamon. Mix with a fork.
  4. Mash with a fork the small banana and add it to the mixture.
  5. Make cookies about size of a spoon
  6. Bake at 360 F for 20-25 minutes.

I had a little extra batch so I made some for ourselves. I added walnuts as toppings!

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Slow-cooker Apple Oatmeal!

A few weeks ago my family and I went apple picking for the first time. We went to a farm about 40 mins away from the city in a beautiful Saturday morning.  My daughter was 10 months old at the time but that did not stopped her from having a great time. She truly enjoyed touching the apples, the trees, the leaves, dirt, well… you get the idea.

It might seem silly because I know she wont remember any of this, but making memories and starting new family traditions with her are my favorite things to do.

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By the end of our adventure, we had lots LOTS of apples. I had enough apples to make apple turnovers, baby cookies for Thea, pie, and of course, oatmeal!

This was my first time making oatmeal in the slow cooker. I loved how creamy it turned out; and, the smell you wake up to in the morning is like having fall in your plate.

Slow Cooker Overnight Oatmeal

Ingredients

  • 2-3 apples (about 3 cups) peeled, cored, cut into 1/2-inch pieces. I leave 1 apple with skin on for extra fiber.
  • 1 1/2 cups milk (I use almond milk but you can sub with any milk).
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 1 cup uncooked steel-cut oats
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons butter (optional)
  • 1 cinnamon stick plus 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon (feel free to add more if you like cinnamon)
  • 3-4 small cloves
  • 1 tablespoon ground flax seed or chia seeds
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

Instructions

  1. Coat inside of slow cooker with cooking spray. Don’t forget this step or you will have a hard time cleaning your pot afterwards hehehhe
  2. Add all ingredients. Stir, cover, and cook on low for approx. 7 hours (slow cooker times can vary).
  3. Wake up to yummy, delicious breakfast!
  4. Toppings: I love to add walnuts or pecans!! You can also add brown sugar or maple syrup to sweeten it more!

Boston Summer Adventures

As a Floridian, I’ve never not lived in summer. In Florida is summer pretty much all year round, helloooo sunshine state!!! So when we decided to relocate to Boston, the very first thing that came to my mind was “how am I gonna survive winter?” Well, I don’t have an answer to that yet. However, on preparation for the hibernation period, I made a goal to spend as much time as possible doing outdoor activities. I wanted to saturate myself with so much outside time that hopefully I wouldn’t miss it in the winter… we’ll see if it worked hahaha

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“What do you mean summer is over?”

We arrived to Boston just a week after June 21, the official start of summer. Since then, during weekends we’ve been venturing out in the city. We’ve visited touristy areas such as Boston Common, Boston Public Garden, and the North End (little Italy). We’ve been to several festivals like Revere Beach Sand Festival, Saint Anthony’s Feast, and Melrose Victorian Fair.

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Boston skyline from Charles River Bridge

 

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Keeping it real… when you can’t find a changing table.

 

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I hadn’t had coconut water from a coconut in over 2 years. It was soooo good!!!

We’ve done some out of town trips to Portland, Maine; and to the town of Salem.

 

During weekdays, I’ve enjoyed several walks around town and of course, park and pool days. Wednesday evenings we hold picnics in our backyard, and on Thursdays, we go to our town’s farmers market. This is one of my favorite things to do. I always find some yummy treats to bring home and my daughter loves to play on the grass while people watching.

 

I made it a challenge to find as many swings around town as possible hahaha.

 

I read somewhere we only have 18 summers with our kids, I really hope I made this one count! And seriously, how cute is her smile?!?! Amazing to see how much she changed in just three months.

Oh summer 2018, you will never be forgotten, first summer as a mom and first summer as a Bostonian. See ya next year!

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Oatmeal Pancakes!

The weekend is approaching and in my house that means PANCAKES (well… more for my husband because I eat pancakes almost everyday -.-). This is one of my favorite pancakes recipe, which includes 2 of the 5 ingredients I talked about in my Give me Five! post.

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups of whole rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt (you could use cottage cheese as well)
  • 1 medium apple (can also replace with 1 banana)
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 tsp of baking powder
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • Cinnamon to taste

Directions

  1. Put everything in the blender and blend until it becomes an uniformed mixture. Let it rest for at least 5 minutes.
  2. Heat griddle/nonstick skillet to medium temperature and spray with cooking spray.
  3. For each pancake use about 1/4 cup of the batter.
  4. Once you see bubbles, flip, and cook until golden brown.

This makes about 8 pancakes, which is 2 servings!

I use walnuts and fruit as my toppings. You could also use any nut butter or my husband’s guilty pleasure… nutella -.-

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