Sometimes You Just Need a Laugh

Y’all, as someone who loves food, I am a fan of Chef’s Table on Netflix – the documentary series that profiles world renowned chefs. Being familiar with the show, I couldn’t help but chuckle at this parody that was sent to me recently. Take a watch!

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Recipe for Vacationing with a Baby – Bring a lot of Stuff & Let Go

Vacation time!

Vacation time!

We’re in Saint Martin with my husband’s entire family – and our baby. So I have limited time on my hands – and limited brain capacity. I posted a photo of me and Isla enjoying a beautiful view on vacation (the one good photo we took after about 12 outtakes) and Stephanie, a friend of mine from college who I have not talked to in years, mentioned she would like to see a post about traveling with a baby. Stephanie, 1. I was so excited to see you read my blog! That means a lot. 2. Thanks for giving me an idea on what to do for today’s post. Because vacation brain is in high gear, y’all.

I’ll be honest. The key to traveling with a baby is to manage your expectations. Whatever is going to happen is going to happen and accepting that certain things are beyond your control makes it less frustrating when things don’t go according to plan. Like nap time. Look, your baby is going to be out of whack while away. So don’t panic. I’m a firm believer in the fact that Isla can pick up on my stress level. So if I stress that she isn’t getting her regularly scheduled nap program in, I’ve got a tired and cranky baby on my hands who is picking up on my stressful energy. Not good!

Below is the recipe we used for packing up Isla for a week-long vacation at the beach. The house we are staying at has a washer/dryer (CLUTCH!), so keep that in mind as you read the list. We wanted her to have some stuff around that was familiar, since there was so much newness that was going to happen.

Prep time: 4 days
Cook time: 5 hours
Serves: One happy family – kind of

Ingredients:
7 outfits – cute ones for going out and such. Because babies like to look cute on vacation.
5 pajamas – we just did onesies.
4 swimsuits – the girl needs options!
2 rash guards
3 swim diapers – the reusable ones.
24 disposable swim diapers 
84 diapers – Isla goes through about 8 diapers a day and we are gone for 7 days. So, we packed a lot of extra diapers. But y’all, on the plane ride Isla went through 4 diaper changes – always bring extra diapers.
Diaper wipes
Diaper cream
Baby sunscreen – we use Babyganics
Travel sized baby shampoo , body wash and lotion – we use Johnson & Johnson – judge if you must.
Aveeno Calming lotion – for nighttime
4 bottles & formula – or your boobs! We calculated how much she drinks and then made sure we had extra.
21 packs of food pouches – I usually homemake her food, but there was no way I was packing homemade food to take with us – and there was no way in hell I was going to spend time homemaking her food on vacation. 21 packs is a lot for how much she’s actually eating, but again. Extras. Always have extras of EVERYTHING.
Car Seat
Stroller
– We just brought our stroller caddy frame. It’s basically a snap ‘n go that is specific to our stroller. It’s easier to collapse and smaller than our ginormous stroller frame and we aren’t strolling her around much, so this works for us.
Toys
– we brought a few of her favorites that are easy to pack (and by easy, I mean we packed an additional suitcase for all of her items) so she has some familiar stuff while we are away. In all honesty, she’s been pretty happy playing with things such as water bottles, toothbrush covers, my hair and Neil’s chest hair.

Medicine – Just in case we packed our entire medicine cabinet (and here is a helpful dosage chart, but ALWAYS CHECK WITH YOUR PEDIATRICIAN FIRST!):

  • Infant Tylenol
  • Infant Advil
  • Children’s Benadryl

Directions:

Think about how long you are going to be away.

Panic about how much shit you know you’re going to have to take with you. Think about the fact that you never realized how easy it was to pack before you had a baby, nor did you relish in the simplicity of prepping for a vacation before you had a baby.

Lay all of your baby’s stuff in the middle of the living room. Look at it. Think about how ridiculous it is that you need to take all of this stuff with you. Find a suitcase that will fit all of this stuff. Pack up your own bags. Put everything by the front door so you don’t forget a bag on your way out.

Look at all of your suitcases and laugh. Pull out your phone and take the obligatory look-how-much-stuff-we-need-to-travel-with-now-that-we-have-a-baby photo.

If you’re flying with your baby, basically just subscribe to the fact that it’s a game of chance. Hope for friendly neighbors that will understand you’re at the mercy of your baby. If your baby does freak out on the plane, it’s nice to do whatever you can to try to make her stop crying – even if you know nothing is going to stop her. Basically you want people to look at you and see that you’re doing what you can so you don’t receive the “why aren’t these people doing anything to help their baby” eyes. We did a lot of standing up and walking around with Isla. She did take a 20-minute nap on my lap, which was adorable. She then sat in between me and Neil for about 25 minutes while we sipped our bloody mary’s – this baby clearly understands her parents priorities.

She did lose it a few times, and I gave my seat-mates the “I’m so sorry, please don’t hate me eyes.” You might want to practice those in the mirror for a few days before you leave.

As for schedules while you’re away – Isla usually takes two 2-hour naps. One at 9:30am and one at 2pm. The day we flew she slept for a total of 45 minutes before bedtime. We did what we could to get her to sleep, but she wasn’t having any of it. Yea, she eventually lost it and cried like she was a ravenous newborn who had no clue that someone was actually going to feed her, but you know what, we put her to bed that night and she slept just fine. Like I said, just have the mentality that things might not go according the plan and it makes things a whole lot easier. We are doing what we can to keep her on a schedule, but we aren’t being as strict. Because hey, we’re on vacation y’all.

Hanging out in her designated play area.

Isla hanging out in her designated play area.

Having fun with daddy!

Having fun with daddy!

Sleepy baby on vacation.

Sleepy baby on vacation.

Adult & Baby Frittata – Plus Some Bonus Baby Prep

I realized this weekend that no matter how prepared I think I am to get myself and my baby out of the house, now that I have a baby everything takes me one hour and 30 minutes. Yes, ladies and gents. I’ve become that person. But, let’s face it. I’ve become THAT person on so many fronts. I can’t help it. I HAVE A BABY, NOW. But a little piece of me HATES this part of me. Because I swore I wouldn’t be this person.

An aside: I reference becoming the person you swore you would never be in this post – because before you become a parent you actually have no fucking clue who you are going to end up being as a parent. You heard it here first. Also, the post gives you a glimpse into why everything takes you 90 minutes – even when it shouldn’t. Though I bet, if I read a post like this before I was a parent I would most likely swear that I would figure out how to not be the person the writer of the post became.

Sometimes when I get sad that I have partially become the person I swore I would never be, I take a good look at this mug my husband got me for Mother's Day and remind myself that despite the fact that I might be what I said I would never be, I'm the world's OKAYEST mom. And that's pretty damn good.

Sometimes when I get sad that I have partially become the person I swore I would never be, I take a good look at this mug my husband got me for Mother’s Day and remind myself that despite the fact that I might be what I said I would never be, I’m the world’s OKAYEST mom. And that’s pretty damn good.

On Saturday Neil and I were supposed to be at our friend’s apartment at 8:15am. Jeff and Jaime are doing the NYC Triathlon with Neil in a month and they have a daughter who is about 15-months. I’m on baby-duty while the athletes train. We woke up at 7am. We were prepped for the morning. But something happened – I guess I blacked out – and we weren’t ready to walk out the door until 8:30. And lord help me, I needed to stop and get an ice coffee on the way.

This is me with Isla and Em after arriving 30-minutes late to Jeff and Jaime's. But I made it! And they got to do their athlete training stuff. So, it's a win win!

This is me with Isla and Em after arriving 30-minutes late to Jeff and Jaime’s. But I made it! And they got to do their athlete training stuff. So, it’s a win win!

I’m telling y’all this bit of information because: 1) If you’re a parent, you’ll understand what I’m saying and 2) If you’re not a parent and plan on being one, but swear you won’t be like me, maybe one day you’ll remember this post when you do have kids and say – well at least I’m not the only one – and she warned me. And then you’ll thank me.

Now that we have that all cleared up. Sunday was Neil’s first Father’s Day and it was pretty damn good, if I do say so myself. It involved family time AND A TWO HOUR NAP FOR THE ENTIRE FAMILY. So, any way you slice it – it was good. I LOVE FAMILY NAP TIME. Mainly because I miss naps like you wouldn’t believe. Y’all, if you don’t have kids, or if you’re kids are grown up enough to take care of themselves for a few hours, PLEASE TAKE LOTS OF NAPS.

Sunday also involved cooking for the adults and the babe. I didn’t have enough time to make the baby food and freeze it, so instead I prepped the baby food so tonight I can easily purée/mash and it’s ready to go.

For brunch I made a potato, kale and red pepper frittata that is baby friendly, and prepped additional red bell peppers for baby food. I also sliced up some corn to be made into baby food while the frittata cooked.

Here’s the recipe and break down of how I managed my time:

Potato, Kale and Red Pepper Frittata

Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 45 minutes
Serves: 4 adults (or 2 if you’re me and Neil) and makes 1 cup baby food; Plus additional red pepper and prepped veggies for your baby food

Ingredients:
2 red peppers – one diced for the frittata and one sliced for baby food
30 frozen tater tots
1 1/2 cups frozen kale
2 garlic cloves finely diced
1 shallot finely diced
1/2 a Vidalia onion (or any onion) roughly chopped
4 eggs
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese, or any cheese you like
Veggies that you would like to prep for baby food, since there is some down time while the frittata cooks (might as well make use of the time since you’ll already be in the kitchen)

Directions:
Preheat oven to 400.

Bring a large, oven safe pan with a flat bottom to medium/high heat. Put a small amount of water in the bottom of the pan (about 3 tablespoons) – it should simmer when it hits the pan. Add the shallots and garlic and cook until translucent. Add the onions and a little more water if the pan is starting to look dry. Bring the heat down to medium. Cook until shallots and garlic are golden and onion is translucent. Add the diced red pepper. Bring the heat down to low, add a little more water and cover the pan for about 4 minutes.

Downtime! Take 4 minutes to start prepping veggies you want to make for your baby. I had some leftover fresh corn on the cob, so I sliced the corn off the cob and then packed up the baby veggies in tupperware and put in the fridge to be dealt with later. I also bagged up the additional sliced red pepper.


Back to the frittata – after the 4 minutes, all the veggies in the pan should be soft. Bring the heat back up to medium, add a little more water (two tablespoons or so) and add the tater tots. Let those cook for about a minute, cover and bring the heat back down to low. Cook for about 5 minutes.

Downtime! In this downtime you can prep some more veggies for your baby. I was done with what I wanted to prep, so I sipped on a Rosé-Mimosa. What’s that you ask? That’s a bit of Prosecco topped with Rosé. It was good.

Back to the meal – once the potatoes are soft, mash and break them up so they mix in nicely with the other veggies in the pan. Then add the frozen kale. You might need to add a bit of water, a tablespoon or so. Cover the pan again for about 3 minutes, allowing the kale to cook down. Uncover, mix together and remove a cup of the mixture to be stored in fridge and mashed later for baby food.

Adult and baby food, side by side.

Adult and baby food, side by side. Baby food ready for fridge for mashing and freezing. Adult food ready to be crisped, cheesed and egged.

Now you can get to seasoning the adult portion of this meal. I used some smoked salt that I had along with some pepper. Season as you like. Then mash the adult portion down to make a flat pancake along the bottom of the pan (see above photo for reference) and turn the heat up to medium/high. Let that cook for 2 minutes, flip and cook for another 2 minutes. This creates a nice crust.

Sprinkle the top of the hash with shredded cheese and put the pan in the oven for about a minute, allowing the cheese to melt. Remove the pan from the oven and crack 4 eggs over the top of the hash. Put back in the oven and cook for 3-4 minutes for a runny yolk. If you want the yolk cooked more, cook it longer.

Remove from pan and serve.

Sometimes You Hate Your Partner – And That’s OK

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Back in 2013 I wrote this post about my two-year wedding anniversary. Ben Affleck had recently won his Oscar and thanked his wife with a “marriage is work” speech. Some people thought it was insulting; others, like me, thought it was one of the most heartfelt, honest, loving and spot-on, partner-thank-you speeches of all time.

Guys, let’s face it. Marriage is hard work. And here is a cliché for you – when you add children into the mix it gets EVEN HARDER. Who would have thought?

Our first family photo.

Our first family photo.

Father’s Day is around the corner, and this post is an honest tribute to the best father I know – who just so happens to be my husband. But guess what – sometimes I really want to kill him. Because I’m human. And he’s not perfect. And neither am I.

We may not be perfect as parents or partners. But there are moments of perfection sprinkled around our life. Like this.

We may not be perfect as parents or partners. But there are moments of perfection sprinkled around our life. Like this.

The first night we had Isla at home we were on our own – no grandparents. No night nurse. No nothing. Just me, Neil, and this tiny human who I was convinced we were going to somehow ruin. As I held Isla in my arms at 3am, tears streaming down my face, I cried to Neil about how we definitely didn’t spend enough time together before Isla was born and that I was certain we had just ruined our PERFECT marriage. Somehow, bringing a child into the world made me completely black out and forget that I ever got frustrated, annoyed, irritated or sometimes-hated Neil. Y’all, relax. I only sometimes hated him. You know what they say – you don’t know what you got ’til it’s gone. I had paved paradise, and put up a parking lot. I LOVED NEIL SO MUCH. And this tiny baby parking lot was going to fuck it all up.

Me at 3am on our fist night home with Isla, crying and asking Neil to document this moment. Because I wanted to remind myself how much I loved him when I forgot. Hormones will make you do really sweet things...and really CRAZY things.

Me at 3am on our fist night home, crying and asking Neil to document this moment. Because I wanted to remind myself how much I loved him when I forgot. Hormones will make you do really sweet things…and really CRAZY things.

Someone's in love.

Someone’s in love.

Don’t worry – this super-love fest I was experiencing lasted about four days. I got over it in a hurry. And then instead of feeling like I loved Neil like I never loved him before, I felt a protective instinct inside of me that I had never experienced. I had to keep this creature who I had brought into the word alive. That was my sole responsibility in life. I wasn’t quite sure how I felt about her in general. But lord help me, I was here to make sure she survived. I was going on seven days of no sleep and Neil finally told me it was time for me to cool my jets and take the night off.

“ARE YOU SERIOUS? I CAN’T LET YOU TAKE CARE OF HER ALL NIGHT!” I howled as Neil held Isla and looked at me like I was a wild animal. Because let’s face it. I was. I hadn’t brushed my teeth or my hair for seven days. And by all night, what I meant was a three hour stretch. Because I was breast feeding and hadn’t figured out the pump yet (which I would eventually master). And Isla was going to need to eat.

“Baby, calm down, it will…”

“DON’T YOU TELL ME TO CALM DOWN!!” Neil’s brow furrowed, which really pissed me off. “DON’T YOU MAKE THAT FACE AT ME!”

“Shhhhh. It’s OK. Relaaaa….” As the word relax started to come out of his mouth he looked like he wanted to take it back. As he should. Never tell a woman to relax. And NEVER NEVER NEVER tell a woman who just birthed a baby who hasn’t slept for a week to relax.

“YOU CAN’T HANDLE THIS. YOU DON’T UNDERSTAND.” I sobbed. The exhaustion had gotten to me. I cracked. Neil rocked Isla in his arms and I realized I had to let go. I couldn’t stay awake forever to make sure she was alive, every second of the night. So for one three-hour stretch Neil could stay awake to protect the little monster who I wanted to keep safe more than anything. I took a deep breath, wiped the snot from my upper lip and said, “OK. I’ll sleep. But you have to swear not to sleep. And to make sure she’s breathing.” I shuffled off to bed – and turned around to add, “If anything happens – just remember – it’s still my fault because I trusted you to take care of her – and I’m sure you don’t want to live with that.”

Neil did indeed keep our daughter alive for that three-hour stretch. And soon enough we mastered the night-time. And the day-time.

Neil documenting what he did on his first stretch of baby duty - just in case you needed to prove to me that he stayed awake. Smart man.

Neil documenting what he did on his first stretch of baby duty – just in case he needed to prove to me that he stayed awake. Smart man.

I look back on that first night now and smile. It was Neil’s first moment taking care of not only his daughter – but his daughter’s mother. I had an overwhelming feeling that I needed to protect my daughter. And Neil had an overwhelming feeling that he needed to protect his daughter – and his wife. He saw me crack, and he picked up my pieces. It wasn’t in some grand gesture of a push-present. It was in my darkest hour. He put up with my irrational state. He forced me to let go a little. He got me to bed. Most importantly – he knew what I needed when I was completely lost.

Neil dove in head first into fatherhood- wanting to be a part of everything – and he still does. Which is sometimes REALLY annoying. He’s got an opinion on almost EVERYTHING. He questions me. A lot. But the bottom line is – he’s the best friggin’ dad out there. And while he might drive me crazy, he’s always there to pick me up when I don’t really know that I need it. We fight. We yell. I scream. He huffs. But he’s my rock. And as Ben Affleck said about all of this, “…it’s work, but it’s the best kind of work, and there’s no one I’d rather work with.”

Happy Father’s Day!

Headed to Central Park.

Headed to Central Park.

Park dad.

Park dad.

Just bein' a dad on a Saturday.

Just bein’ a dad on a Saturday.

Neil's besties jumping in on the baby fun. And nailing Three Men and a Baby.

Neil’s besties jumping in on the baby fun. And nailing Three Men and a Baby.

Top 10 Things I didn’t Fully Understand (or understand at all) Until I Brought My Baby Home

Hello Simply in the Flavor followers! It’s been quite some time. Since we were last together I got pregnant, birthed a baby, took three months maternity leave, got a new job and have been trying my hand at parenting. I’ve been a little busy! I’m back (until my next hiatus) and thought I’d share something with you I wrote when Isla Jaye was a little over three weeks old. As you know, sometimes I stray from the food writing, and this is one of those times. We can call this some what of a recipe of things I learned very quickly after bringing Isla home. Isla is now seven months old. A sense of normalcy has settled into our house and I can tell all of you first time parents out there who are in the beginning days, weeks and months of your babies lives that it will get better, you will sleep again and it really is all worth it.

____

Babies are so emo.

This was taken in a 60 second span. Babies are so emo.

As prepared as I thought I was for the arrival of my daughter Isla, I wasn’t prepared at all. Yea, after 37 hours of labor and a very difficult delivery, I thought I was a warrior. Little did I know it was all fun and games before I left the hospital. Parents tried to tell me what it would be like to have a baby and I thought I got it. But I now know nothing prepares you for being a parent like being sent home with a baby. Now that I am an expert on these matters, having had my beautiful daughter at home for just over three weeks, let me at least help you expectant parents out there by telling you the following 10 things, already learned in such a brief period of time (not that it feels brief), are really really true.

1. You can’t get anything done – and people aren’t just saying that
Babies have a sixth sense. They know the exact moment you are becoming productive and they will somehow fuck it up. For example, after I wrote the third sentence of this piece and thought to myself, “Hey! I’m back in my writing groove! This feels great!” my daughter decided to start wailing over absolutely nothing except for the fact that my undivided attention was not on her. I thought during my maternity leave I’d catch up on a whole bunch of stuff that I had put on the back burner – you know, working on getting my novel published, starting my next book, organizing closets. Because I would have SO MUCH time on my hands! Well, let me tell you how a typical day goes: I start a project. My daughter cries. I feed her. Change her. Soothe her. Forget I started said project. I begin another project. Rinse and repeat until I have 14 different things going on and my husband comes home to a disheveled mess that I thought would be a sparkling clean and orderly house. My intentions are always good – and every day is going to be THE day I get shit done. So far, no day has been that day.

2. You will get excited over a bowel movement, a pee, a burp and basically any bodily function
I never in a million years thought I would be the parent who would praise my child for a poop diaper. I was wrong. After Isla’s first poop, I said in an all out baby voice, “Way to go! You’re such a good girl! Mommy is so proud of you!” And every time after she burps I sing-song that she is a genius. Because she is, isn’t she? Oh – and FYI for all you future moms out there – you’ll be excited about your own bowel movements, too. No one seems to talk about how your own bowel movements after delivering a baby are a triumph. So, now you know.

3. People say “sleep while you can” for a reason
This drove me insane at the end of my pregnancy. I was so ready to meet the little one inside of me and was so over being pregnant. I was annoyed with people who told me to enjoy the last few weeks before our baby’s arrival. I wanted to say, “I’m fucking swollen and uncomfortable and over being pregnant. Stop telling me to sleep and lounge around and do nothing!” And now, a little less than a month into this gig, I’m telling any pregnant and non-pregnant person who will listen to sleep while they can. You won’t believe how quickly your previous dreams of some luxurious vacation turn into dreams of eight hours of uninterrupted sleep.

4. Don’t get pissed at people who tell you “As prepared as you are, you can never be fully prepared”
I was prepared for how hard this would be – and I understood I would be sleep deprived – but I was COMPLETELY unprepared for how out of control my hormones would be and what an emotional roller coaster this gig is. The bottom line is, no matter how prepared you think you are, nothing prepares you for this role except diving right into it…which leads me to…

5. The first night you will ask yourself “Did I make the biggest mistake of my life?” and if you’re like me, you’ll ask yourself that a few times…or maybe more than a few times
And hey, it’s OK. Because babies can be major assholes. They can’t help it, of course. They are helpless beings and suck every ounce of what you have to give out of you. Just know that at some point you will wonder if you can do this. And trust me – you can. You might have to cry your way through it multiple times, or lock yourself in a closet and hide from the sounds of your baby crying for a little while. But YOU CAN DO THIS!

6. It’s important to find friends who are parents
Don’t get me wrong, my friends without children are amazing – I can tell you right now that I wouldn’t be able to do this mom thing without them. But there is something about looking into the eyes of another parent while telling a story of how you haven’t slept for days and have that parent look right back at you and say, “ME EITHER. THIS SUCKS”. Misery loves company, and all that jazz.

7. Eating a meal over the kitchen sink is a perfectly acceptable way to eat a meal
I never understood why people eat standing over the kitchen sink instead of plating a meal and sitting down. Until Isla was born. You have to shovel the food in as fast as you can while the baby is still asleep – because who knows how much time you have before she wakes up – and when she will sleep again. Kitchen sink meal, I love you.

8. You will receive unsolicited advice from anyone who has children – and some people who have never had children
When it comes to babies, people have opinions. People will tell you the “miracle worker” that magically put their baby to sleep (does that even really exist? I feel like these offerings are unicorns that I will chase forever and never find). People will tell you what bottles you MUST use or that breast feeding is the ONLY way. Also, people who don’t have children will decide they some sort of advice that is helpful – and it will annoy the shit out of you because you will suddenly feel like until they have babies, they don’t know what the fuck they are talking about. I was this person. Before I had a baby I loved to give little tidbits of things I had picked up from friends who had children. I now hate myself a little and want to apologize to everyone out there I ever advised before I had my baby. Sorry!

9. Something as simple as the very first smile will make it all worth it
The cliches are true – all of them. Recently my daughter cried for what felt like the entire day. Or an entire three days. But who’s counting? When my husband came home from work I threw her into his arms, forced him into the bedroom, made him turn on the sound machine, and closed the door while I hid in our hallway closet because it was the only place in our one bedroom apartment (yes, that’s right. one bedroom) that I couldn’t hear the painful cries of our daughter. I hid in the closet and sobbed, wondering if I made the biggest mistake of my life (see point number five). The next morning while filming Isla mastering the art of the pacifier (yes, something like that becomes an incredible achievement) she smiled at me for the first time, and I caught it on video. Suddenly every horrible and awful moment we had been through together was worth it. And I could watch the video 1000 times (note – Isla is now seven months and I have watched the video almost on a daily basis. it never gets old).

10. You will, at some point, become the person you swore you would never be when you became a parent
Whether you’re suddenly telling people to sleep while they can before they have children, or find yourself talking about the color of your baby’s poop at an adult dinner party, though you swore you would never do stuff like that before you had children, you will indeed become the person you swore you would never be before becoming a parent. Because hey, you had no fucking clue what you were in for before you baby arrived. Welcome to the club.

-November 19, 2014