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How to Get a Baby to Sleep

Posted by on July 24th, 2013

There’s been a lot of new babies in our life lately. In April, we welcomed a new daughter, our second. Both of John’s sisters are welcoming their first kids this summer and our neighbors just had their first last month. Our oldest daughter is around two and a half now and even though that still makes us fairly new parents, we feel like seasoned veterans. Gone are the days of fumbling through baby books, calling up our pediatrician once a month and scouring the internet for answers to “Is that normal? Do they all do that?” Instead, we’ve reached a level of confidence we never thought we’d get to and we got there fairly quickly. With all these new children in our lives and more than two years of bona-fide baby experience under our belts, we find ourselves doling out advice and recommendations regularly. The most frequent topic we discuss is one that had us frustrated for a few months ourselves after our first daughter was born. That topic, is of course, how to get a baby to sleep.

The holy grail of new parenthood, by far, has to be a solid night’s sleep. While it can take several weeks or months of restless nights before newborns start sleeping more than two hours straight, there are some products that we use on a nightly basis that can help us and our daughter sleep longer.

baby-sleep-products

(all Photos courtesy of Amazon.com)

1. Angelcare Baby Movement Monitor. This is the number one product we recommend to our family and friends with newborns. The monitor is a battery powered base that is connected via cable to a mouse pad sized plate that goes under a crib, cradle or bassinet mattress. The plate senses movement and relays that info to the base where it is either illuminated with a bright green LED or an audible clicking sound. The idea here is that if a baby stops moving or breathing, the base will emit an audible alarm. The motion sensing plate is sensitive enough to detect a baby’s breathing and it features an adjustable sensitivity level. This product is pure peace of mind. It helped ease our worry over SIDS. The only down side is the base needs to be connected to the pad at all times and so it isn’t mobile. It needs to stay within so many feet of the crib or cradle. The good news is, however, the alarm is so loud that it normally can be heard through the regular baby monitor. We leave ours on silent to avoid hearing the constant clicking sounds and when we want to check in on her while she’s sleeping, we just look for the blinking green light. Perfect product for worriers like us.

2. Pillow Pets Dream Lites. These little stuffed animals have a mini planetarium on their back that shines a colorful night light onto the ceiling for maybe 20 or 30 minutes while the baby doses off to sleep. I’m not sure if newborns are even old enough to be afraid of the dark, but it can’t hurt to leave a little night light on for them. Our daughter usually seems to fuss less if her pillow pet is on.

3. Cloud b Sound Machine Soother. Another stuffed animal. This one plays a white noise for several minutes until the baby falls asleep. There is an adjustable volume knob and four different white noise options that include rain, ocean, whales and mother’s heartbeat. The only real concern I have with this product is that I miss it when we move our kids out of the bed side cradle and into the nursery. You may want to pick up one for yourself.

4. Swaddles. If we don’t swaddle our infant, she doesn’t sleep well. She tries to roll over or her arms and legs come perilously close to the crib slats. If she gets swaddled, she sleeps 8-10 hours a night, no lie.

5. Summer Infant Baby Touch Digital Video Monitor. Bottom line: you need one. There are a ton of baby monitor options out there and I urge you to shop around. This is the monitor we use in our home and it’s worked out well so far. So why is there a baby monitor and a motion sensor on a list of products entitled “How to Get a Baby to Sleep”? These two particular items will help parents sleep more soundly knowing they have nearly full monitoring capability of their child. It works for us.

Always check with a Pediatrician for safe parenting practices and follow the manufacturers instructions for every baby product. Pediatricians are your best source for baby related recommendations and advice. Not every product or method will work with every baby, this is just what worked for us.

Posted in Baby Stuff. Tagged in ,,

15 Can’t Miss Pinterest Recipes

Posted by on June 27th, 2013

If you’re anything like me, you have a huge Pinterest board loaded with mouth-watering recipes you have yet to try.  For the past few months I have been slowly making each recipe from my recipe board for a weeknight dinner. The result? Most were delicious and even one picky-eater approved (cough cough, John)!

Today I will share with you (in no particular order) 15 Pinterest dinner recipes we have tried and thought were delicious!  (P.S. follow us on Pinterest here!)

pinterest food collage

1. Easy Lemon Dijon Chicken – made this for dinner a few nights ago. It was a success. The lemon and dijon combo worked well together and we had leftovers to make chicken salad.  I even made chicken stock from scratch with the leftover chicken carcass afterwards.

2. One Pan Pasta – this recipe is delicious and super easy to make.  Added bonus: it’s vegetarian.

3. Salsa Verde Chicken Tostadas - I love cooking chicken in the crock pot. It is so easy and makes perfect shredded chicken.  I served this dish with soft tacos instead of hard tostadas and it turned out fantastic.

4. Irish Beef and Stout Stew – made this stew for St. Patrick’s Day this year. Yum!

5. Rigatoni with Broccoli and Sausage – this was an ideal one dish meal.  It has it all protein, starch, and vegetables rolled into one plate. It is super flavorful and freezes well (this was one freezer meal I made before the baby arrived!).

6. Chicken Curry - simple and flavorful chicken curry recipe in the crock pot. This one makes the house smell unbelievable!

7. Shrimp with Cous Cous – an easy one-dish meal that comes together very quickly (tip: use pre-cooked shrimp for an even faster meal prep).

8. Quinoa Chili - terrific recipe for vegetarian chili that is perfect for the cold winter months.

9. Better Than Take Out Chicken Fried Rice – the name doesn’t lie!

10. Lemon Angel Hair with Chicken and Spinach - follow the recipe for amazing chicken and you’ll have an impressive restaurant-style meal.

11. Freeze Ahead Lasagna Primavera – wonderful make-ahead meal that definitely qualifies as comfort food.. and it’s packed with veggies.

12. Crock Pot Santa Fe Chicken - John loves this one.. lovely, flavorful chicken recipe.

13. Ham and Egg Crepe Squares – yes this is a breakfast/brunch recipe but we enjoy breakfast for dinner once in a while and this is a special treat. To make this meal even quicker and easier, buy store bought crepes.

14. Confetti Mac and Cheese – this is a favorite of our toddler and is an easy way to disguise vegetables.

15. Chicken and Biscuits Pot Pie – this yummy dish is filling and super delicious.

So there you have it – 15 Pinterest dinner recipes we’ve tried and given our stamp of approval.  While making this list, I noticed that most of my recipes are from Martha Stewart – this post was not sponsored by her, but I just love following her on Pinterest.  Enjoy!

What are some of your favorite Pinterest Recipes?

Posted in Cooking,Favorites. Tagged in ,

Homemade Mini Eclairs

Posted by on May 1st, 2013

Hey, hey friends! Thanks for all the congratulations on baby number two.  Baby is doing great.  Today I am sharing a recipe my mom and I made a few days ago while she was here helping me with the kids: mini eclairs!

My mom used to make eclairs and cream puffs all the time when I was younger.  I mentioned that John and I went to our local coffee shop on Sunday after mass and he was bummed they didn’t have any eclairs left.  She suggested we make them as a surprise.

Since we were making these during nap time, we used instant pudding mix to speed things along, but she usually makes her pudding from scratch.

The recipe we followed can be found here.  We did make one modification -we made mini eclairs instead of the larger ones the recipe calls for.  I like everything mini – I think desserts taste and look better the smaller they are.  Plus, bite size is fun size.  The baking time changes though if you make them smaller.  I baked the pastry for ten minutes at 450 degrees and then six minutes at 325 degrees. My batch made 27 mini eclairs.

Here’s all the ingredients for homemade mini eclairs:

eclair ingredients

First, I made the pastry part of the eclair.  It was really simple.

mixing eclair batter

Meanwhile, my mom prepared the pudding.

eclair cream

I used a ziploc bag with a large corner cut out as my pastry bag and squeezed out the dough onto a cookie sheet.

piping bag

While the pastry was baking, my mom whipped the cream and folded it into the pudding mix.

eclair cream 2

After the pastry cooled it was time to gently slice the eclairs and filled with the pudding mixture.  I used a frosting spatula to fill the eclairs.  I would say I used about two tablespoonfuls for each eclair – no skimping here.  I should mention that there was a lot of filling left, so next time I would halve the pudding mixture (and I bet there would still be some leftover).

mini eclairs baked

mini eclairs in half

adding the cream

While I was filling, my mom made the chocolate icing. Once she removed it from the stovetop, I used a sugar spoon to ice the eclairs. This chocolate icing is so good!  I definitely licked the bowl after I was done icing.

mini eclairs

The eclairs taste pretty good right away, but a few hours in the fridge makes all the flavors sing. These little gems are so delicious!  They were John approved inhaled and were a delicious dessert for after dinner.

These may be my new go-to dessert to share with family and friends.  Do you have a favorite dessert recipe you like to make with your mom or family?

Posted in Baking. Tagged in ,,

Our Nursery Drawers

Posted by on April 3rd, 2013

Hey there! I hope you enjoyed our last post about preparing for baby numero dos. With the finish line in sight, we’re pretty much ready to go. I need to write a post about all the baby gear expectant parents need for a newborn and I’m hoping to share a little more in depth about my make-ahead meals later, like the recipes and such, but I can’t make any promises. I’m hoping this baby shows up sooner than later!

Another necessary baby prep all nesting moms do is organize the nursery. Last weekend John completed some touch up paint and gave the nursery a deep clean (thanks!!). After that was complete, my mom and I cleaned the dresser drawers and washed all of the baby clothes. When we first set up the nursery for our daughter, I took the time to line every drawer with contact paper. I’m so glad I did that because this time around cleaning the drawers was a breeze. We used non-toxic baby surface wipes for the drawers and allowed them to air dry while we did all the baby laundry.

I organized each drawer to have a “theme” and tried my best to group like age times together (like clothes for 3 or 6 mo. old). Some items, like bedding for example, will be in the drawers temporarily until the baby comes home and we are ready to use the cradle and crib sheets. There’s no use to put them on now because they’ll just get dusty again. Also, I know once the baby arrives I will be tweaking the drawers since I will end up getting more clothes.

Here are some photos of the drawers in the nursery. We still owe you updated Nursery pics, but to be honest, it’s not much different than the last time. Oh and btw, these photos were taken at night with my iPhone, so the quality isn’t too great.

The top drawer of my changing table houses newborn diapers, wipes, and a cosmetic bag that has a baby brush, baby nail clippers, butt paste (there is such a thing), and lanolin. These are the essentials I like to keep near so I can grab an item with one hand if necessary.

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I also have a drawer of washing essentials – all of my hooded towels and washcloths get placed together along with my changing pad covers.

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The bottom drawer is filled with crib bedding. I have my mattress protector, waterproof pads, and multiple crib sheets tucked away nicely.

nursery drawer

The top drawer of my tall dresser has baby socks, newborn hats, and my burp clothes and cotton bibs. I also have my activity mat in the back until I am ready to use it for baby tummy time.

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Below that drawer are my long and short sleeve onsies, sized 0-3 month. I also have my 3-6 month onesies ready to go. Next to those are my gender neutral pajamas lined up as well as my printed onesie and pants. I have these items separated by fabric bins I bought a couple years ago at Ikea.

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Next I have my cradle bedding, pack ‘n play bedding, boppy covers, and swaddlers.

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Last but not least are my baby blankets.

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There you have it – a peek into our nursery drawers. Babies sure need a lot of linens n things!

Do you have any drawer organizing tips you want to share? Anyone else buried in baby clothes?

Posted in Baby Stuff. Tagged in ,, ,

Irish Recipes

Posted by on March 17th, 2013

Happy St. Patrick’s Day! We hope you had a good weekend! We were busy with “second baby preparations,” which we will be sharing in the next few weeks, btw. We did get a chance to have a low key, but tasty St. Patty’s day dinner!

First off, I made homemade honey butter at John’s request. I’ve never had it, but it sounded good to me. I used Alton Brown’s recipe for the ingredients, but just eyeballed the measurements. I used my Cuisinart hand mixer with the whisk attachment to cream the butter, honey, cinnamon, and vanilla extract. Then I placed the mixture in a small ramekin and let it chill in the refrigerator for a few hours. The honey butter was a great compliment to the store bought Irish soda bread.

honey butter

For dinner, I made Martha Stewart’s Irish Beef and Stout Stew. I halved the recipe and still had left overs for this week! This was a great tasting recipe and was very simple to make. John loves any kind of stew and this one was definitely a notch above my standard go-to stew recipe I make in the crock pot. This recipe is a keeper for sure.

irish stew

For dessert we had chocolate cake with green frosting. Pretty straightforward so no pictures here. My personal preference would have been for a few shamrock shakes from MickyD’s, but no one felt like running out of the house to fetch them, so I will have to wait until tomorrow! I don’t know about you guys, but I love shamrock shakes. I have been drinking them since February and will continue to order them until all the McDonald’s near me run out.

So that was our low key St. Patty’s day celebration – what are your traditions?

Posted in Cooking,Holiday. Tagged in ,, ,