Pizza always Wins! 

    
My daughter is blessed to have a spring break birthday. The options for celebration are endless. The class party is always the most exciting showcase of birthday hoopla and as a kindergartner this right of passage to the age of 6 is kind of a big deal. 
Upon planning the birthday hoopla of course the Mylar balloons were a must. But something changed when I asked her if she wanted cupcakes or pizza for the class. Now usually I would ask cupcakes or cake but I thought we would live in the edge and throw out a good option. My soon to be 6 year old jumped right in it and was on board with pizza. 
So is pizza healthier than cupcakes? Well it didn’t matter but I did know that celebrating the birthday at the end of the day and sending kids home hyped up on sugar was the gift that no parent would look forward to. Instead kids come home starving from school. I’m not sure why but they can’t eat enough. 

My daughter has a class of 19 and little Caesars pizza has $5 hot and ready pizzas that has 8 slices. When I called ahead the sweet girl offered to double cut the pizza giving me 16 slices. The teacher thought pizza was a great idea and suggested two slices per child so 3 pizzas for $15 is where we ended up. 

I did bring child size waters for the kids and noticed after their first piece they were all about the water heading into piece two. They had a fabulous time and the kid with a nut allergy didn’t have to worry about anything. 

So the next time you are trying to do a class party for under $25 consider pizza. It can be less expensive than the custom cupcakes and more filling. Those kids did not go home hungry, the best party favor anyone could leave with. I was only slightly surprised and the excitement around this option from the kids and to see that pizza always wins 

DIY Outside baby playard

Living in Georgia our weather has been crazy this year. It’s hot then it’s cold then it’s yes then it’s no…needless to say when we get a warm sunny day we are headed outside to take advantage of our pre-pollen season . Pollen will soon be upon us. Not familiar, well it’s pretty incredible how there can be so much yellow pollen that attracts itself to your car in the matter of an hour. 

Yesterday Daddy and I took our 8 month old outside with my almost 6 year old and my 3 year old. Everyone wanted to play something different on the front yard and daddy was riding his bike in the culdasac. After holding the baby for 15 minutes I realized that I needed some non holding baby time too.

I looked in the garage and saw our lovely blue plastic hard sized kids pool. It’s just big enough to move with one hand. I grabbed that baby put a sheet in the bottom for a little padding and some baby friendly inside toys and sat my little non mobile 8 month old right in the middle. She loved it! She had her toys, she could sit and she could see 365 degrees around her. This was a mommy win for sure. 

  
What you will need:

A baby that sits

A hard sided plastic pool NOT filled with water

Baby toys

A blanket or sheet for padding
Make sure to place the pool on a flat surface. You will thank me later.

Share your Baby tricks and tips below. 

The Best Eggplant Parmesan Gluten-Free

  
Gluten-Free Eggplant Parmesan 
My Italian great great aunt Aurora Virga, or as we called her, my “Auntie Lotta” would be proud. It was always a special treat when she would make “melenzani” or as I heard it as a six year old “Millie and Johnny” (eggplant Parmesan). She was a sweet lady who after taking care of her parents in her twenties never married. She was an amazing kind but blunt little old lady who worked hard in her garden and made amazing dishes like Millie and Johnny.

Eggplant’s naturally spongy texture is a turnoff for folks like my mom. Eggplant basically acts as sponge and its texture is a result of its internal fibers ability to  fill with water. Release the water and a tender eggplant slice will stay behind and will be perfect for your dish.

 After finding out about my flour sensitivity and going gluten-free I had to figure out something. Now I make delicious “Millie and Johnny” and am happy to say it’s gluten free. Not fat free but gluten free. So this is a modified version of the eggplant Parmesan.  
Ingredients 

1/8 cup salt

1 large eggplant sliced into 1/2″ slices

4 beaten eggs

1 cup gluten free breadcrumbs

1 cup shredded Parmesan cheese 

1/4 cup canola oil 

4 cups mozerella cheese 

3 cups pasta sauce

Nonstick cooking spray 
Eggplant prep:

You can skip the eggplant prep if you like a more dense spongy eggplant texture. 

   Prepare a cookie sheet with paper towels and a cooling rack. Lay out your slices of eggplant on the cooling rack. The papertowel will absorb the water that will be exiting the eggplant and the cookie sheet contain it.
   Sprinkle half of the salt on the eggplant. Let sit for a half hour or 45 minutes and then flip over and repeat. Let sit for another hour or hour and a half.

   
  Rinse the salt off of the transformed eggplant slices and pat dry. 

 
  

Dredging:

Get out two bowls. Mix your gluten free breadcrumbs and Parmesan cheese in one bowl. 

   
 
  In the other bowl beat your eggs.

  
  Set up your work station to get ready. 

Dip your eggplant in the breadcrumb mixture.  
  Then into the egg. 
Frying:

Place four tablespoons of your oil in a frying pan on medium to medium high heat.

  After dredging the eggplant put the eggplant into your pan and cook on that side until golden brown approx 3 minutes. 
 Turn over and cook for three more minutes. 
Assembling:

Spray your 9×13 pan with some nonstick cooking spray and put down a 1/3 cup of your pasta sauce.

    Arrange your eggplant in your baking dish.
 Put two to three cups of pasta sauce over your eggplant covering them.    

  Put your sliced fresh mozzarella on top.  And put int the oven and bake at 350 degrees for 30 minute so. Cheese should be melted and a little brown. You can serve with pasta or with vetables. 

5 Awkward New Mom Moments 

 5 awkward moments 
As a mom of three I recently was reminded of a few social situations every new mom should be prepared for with the knowledge and understanding that comes with experience and repetition. Here are 5 common awkward new mom moments mothers currently or in the future will relate to.

1. Incorrect baby gender guessing.

Rarely is someone intentionally trying to incorrectly guess the gender of your baby. There is a 1 in 2 chance they will get it right which is better odds than winning the publishers clearinghouse.

Today while at a warehouse store I had a couple tell me how beautiful my baby boy was and asked old he was. Notice the picture for the blog was taken right before we left with a pink hat and a pink and red flowered onsie…

Most people are so busy they haven’t paid any attention that you went out of your way to put that huge pink bow on your baby’s tiny head, or the hat in my case, to help the new baby ambiguity. Not to mention the hot pink and black car seat cover or blanket you have her snuggled in.

People will always be so excited to speak with you (and at your baby in what they consider acceptable baby talk). So excited that they get all mixed up, and can’t relate pink with girl and blue with boy. Just be kind and move it along and realize it’s not you it’s them and even if you say something like I have her and a son and another daughter they will still continue to call the baby girl a boy. These individuals are in every store, church, baseball crowd, pizza carry out line… So of course I just answered the question of “his” age and didn’t even clarify. They were the sweetest couple of about 50 years old and helped me load my groceries on the belt and then happened to park next to me and helped when I was at the car again.

Until age two or three a young baby to toddler’s physical appearance can be tough for people to associate with a gender for some reason. You may even resort to telling them the baby’s name. There is no help just go with the mentality of “bless their heart” and you will get through it.

 I’m happy to say at age two and a half or three years of age this misidentification will decrease significantly although it may still occur especially if your son wears the fashionable shag hairdo.

2. Post pregnancy people will ask you when you are due or if you are pregnant.

You have grown a human inside your body. Your organs have moved, your body has added the fat necessary to prepare your body to provide nutrition to that new bouncing baby. Your uterus is on the shrink but girl, it took ten months for your body to morph it will not change back overnight or sometimes ever. All women who have born children deal with the comments and you are now part of a very elite club of women.

Don’t take it personal! That person would most likely not walk up to someone and say “you look fat, when are you going to start working out.” There is this social curiosity that exists when it comes to pregnancy and babies. People feel the need to “ask questions” and “engage in conversation” everywhere. They are just trying to strike up a conversation and aren’t sure how and what’s appropriate.

Complete strangers care about the wellbeing of mothers and when their little bundles will be joining them. Letting them know how old your baby only help initiate the regret, their embarrassment sets in and apologies flow out of their mouth. Realize you are beautiful because you are a miracle bearing woman who birthed a beautiful baby and one day you can get back to feeling sexy in your own skin whatever changes may have occurred.

It doesn’t even matter if your new bundle of joy is secured in the cart, the inquisitor totally misses that thing in the cart is a baby.

Of course as a brand new mom of a one week old you feel like you look like your three to five months pregnant.  No one told you it would take “time” for everything to return or move and you are tired like no other. If you are like me, I’m additionally a little irritable for the first three months. Just hang in there and keep your cool. If not for you then for their sake. No one wants to unleash the wrath of the new momma.

3. The baby spitting up in your shoulder in public WILL be brought toyour attention by a stranger.

As a mother of three I accept that I will have spitup, buggers, tears, food and possibly poop on me depending on the day and maybe all at once. I chose this when I chose to be a mother and I know that my days of Banana Republic dry clean only clothes are lost. With baby one the frequency was a surprise, baby 2 it was just inconvenient and now with baby 3 it’s expected and I embrace it. I now just say “yep isn’t it awesome” with a smile and I move it along.

I chose to be a mother. I wanted to be a mother. I waited patiently for that day to come. I knew it would be filled with days of vomit, poop and crying but also days of happiness, smiles, cuddles and the cutest little people ever. I wouldn’t trade it for anything. That doesn’t mean that I don’t try to have a plan in place.

I have found that wearing a cardigan and traveling with an extra shirt is helpful for a quick change and dressing in layers is easy. I have two of my favorite cardigans because one will always be washing while I wear the other. 

So thank you stranger for staying the obvious, that yes, I have a babyand that baby is spitting up and yes that baby missed the tiny Burpcloth or lack thereof (it is the third, I’m lucky if I have one onhand) so just flash them a kind smile and a “thank you” to them and keep it moving. No need to waste time talking about the obvious for I am amother and so many don’t have those blessed days.

4. Anywhere you go and anyone you see or speak to will have the urge to  offer unsolicited advice.

Take it all with a grain of salt and remember the less you encourage the person to continue talking by asking them questions the faster it will be over.
Every kid is different. Every baby is different. Have a trusted group of mommas that you can ask your question and get advice from people who know you and the situation.

Be specific if you are asking for advice to minimize irrelevant information. Always consult with your pediatrician if you are unsure, they are baby professionals and have seen the spectrum of severe to more minor things they will tell you not to worry about.

Be cautious of leading questions. You know what I’m talking about. The stranger asks, “is your baby sleeping through the night?” Or “does your baby always cry like that?” The curious person will then vomit advice regardless of the answer or share a personal story to connect. 

We are all experts on something and mothers on everything mother so the “with my baby…” Will happen. I like to always answer positively and withthe mentality once again of “bless their heart” because they just want to feel like their experience can “help” another. You may be surprised when it actually does. So stay open minded and keep that beautiful smile on your face. Undoubtedly we all are guilty of this on some level. 

5. Your child will break down and cry in a public place and someone will point it out. 

Actually you just might break down crying too. Having a baby is an emotional roller coaster. You aren’t alone although you may feel like it. Not every comment is meant to come out as rude. Rude comments may actually leave someone’s mouth but my laugh it off response is “yep, we were all babies once too. It’s a hard life being x years old”.  More often than not people are not being intentionally rude. 

There will be others there to help and lift you up. I have the outlook that we are all just trying to do our best. My best might look different than your best and vice versa. We should try to be patient with one another. 

I remember having my second baby and having to go to a fabric store with my then 2 1/2 year old little girl and eight week old boy.

Waiting to get fabric cut seemed like an eternity with a screaming baby in my cart and an active two and a half year old beside me. (Don’t let this fool you I am amateur at sewing) I was on the verge of tears. I felt like everyone was looking at me and I told myself that they were thinking, “she just can’t handle that baby and toddler” and “why would she be in a fabric store with a newborn anyway?”. I told myself what I thought they were thinking.

First of all refrain from that internal conversation. I had no idea what they were thinking and thinking about it was stressing me even more. As I was on the verge of crying and water already starting to enter my eyes, A lady came to my aid and offered to console my screaming newborn. My immediate response was “Are you sick?” While already unbuckling him from the seat to hand him over. She wasn’t and the handoff occurred. The other 6 ladies (all sweet as can be) somegrandmas some with children who were out of the house chimed in how lucky this lady was to hold the baby and they had wanted to help too.

They weren’t criticizing me at all. They understood and probably were just too scared to say anything. Now I also knew that if the stranger took off with my baby the other 6 women would chase her down and take care of it.

We don’t have to do this alone. I could have said, “no thank, you I’m fine” but I wasn’t fine. I needed help and those ladies could see it. God knew I needed an angel and he sent me one. It felt so good to have an extra pair of hands. 

The lady wouldn’t stop thanking me when she returned the baby. She said she had wanted to hold a little baby for the last five years. Her kids were in high school and she didn’t know anyone with a baby. She told me it made her year and that she was so happy to help. 

Regardless of what comments are made, or not made and the looks you might get, you are an amazing rocking mom. You are not alone and you can do this. The time of your child’s littleness passes so quickly there isn’t enough time to get hung up on everybody else. Do you. Be there and present for your baby and children. They won’t remember the mixed up gender comments or the looks of people who are staring while they are screaming for whatever reason. They will remember their loving sweet kind mother. 

The Doll Dilemma

  
As Christmas is approaching, if you are doll shopping for a little girl, I’m sure you have been thinking about the pros and cons of buying an American Girl Doll verses a retailer store brand like Target’s My Generation Doll or a toys r us doll. You have asked yourself and your Facebook community to chime in on this delimma of which would be best how the quality compares? Here are a few insights geared to help you choose. 

1. Quality comparison

First off I want you to consider how your child “plays”. If your delicate little daisy sips red koolaid in a glass tea cup on white carpet in a white dress and can walk away just as clean and daintily as she arrived then it doesn’t matter what kind of quality you buy. Your princess will be kind and gently and loving to even the most delicate doll. 

This being said, my child may or may not be gentle but her little brother sure is not!! And by the way I would never give my little flower koolaid while wearing a white dress on white carpet! 

The standard of the American Girl Doll quality is far superior to that of any box retailer brand doll. Why do I say that you ask? Because the American Girl Doll Company wants your business for a lifetime…they are in the business of dolls and the world of a doll. They don’t offer deodorant and dvd’s during your shopping experience but detailed doll accessories and vignette play to create a environment for your doll  a hair salon not for you but your daughter’s doll, and of course a bistro that will have a high chair for your doll while you eat and then return to shop of course. 

When baby brother takes your little ones favorite doll and gives it swirlies in the toilet and then a new marker makeover and haircut what can you do? I’m sorry to say most retailer dolls end up in the trash and it can be hard to find another “like” one. Now you did only invest $25 or so which isn’t the end of the world but it is to your delicate flower. American girl has a doll hospital that will repair your daughter’s favorite American girl doll for a fraction of the price of buying a new one. And you can teach your daughter that when we get hurt we don’t get thrown away but we can go to a doctor and get better.

2. Customizable options

American girl dolls can be customized to the skin tone, eye color, hair color you desire and then have matching clothes for your daughter. A lot of Box retailers have preselected combinations.

My daughter could care less what combination of a doll she has. So this isn’t a big deal to our family. My daughter was completely happy with the $50 American girl doll Craigslist special she got last year that had the black square beauty mark in her leg from a non American girl black sock whose color transferred and couldn’t be removed or sent into the hospital in time. 

3. Price

Hands down the box retailer dolls and accessories will be less expensive. American girl dolls and accessories are meant to last and be a doll that your daughter will hand down to her daughter. American girl dolls can range in price from $125 to $150 depending on set combination accessories etc.

 Costco currently has a deal for American Girl Doll gift cards. The gift cards can be combined with discount codes and in store specials. $100 of gift cards for $79.99. So hurry to your local store. Essentially you could save $20 on a $100 purchase. Also keep an eye out for Jill’s steals and deals for crazy flash sales on the American girl dolls as well as zillily.

Here in our household we have chosen to mix box store salon chairs, dogs and carrying cases with our American girl dolls, dogs and beds. My daughter has a our generation doll she got for her birthday and it’s nice but I will tell you brushing it’s hair and dressing the thing is more challenging by far. My daughter asks why the arms are hollow and why it looks different but still plays with it. 

I don’t believe in spoiling a child or overindulging them but if I had a choice between a mega block and Lego brand we all know which one will last. If you are thinking about which doll remember regardless how much you pay that doll will be played with, it will be loved and it will be swung around and thrown by a younger brother or even drooled on. Knowing I can get anything repaired gives me the peace of mind. 

4. Know your child

My daughter doesn’t have to have new. She wears a mix of new clothes and goodwill clothes plays with toys from toys r us and toys from the dollar store. Kids just love to play. Buying her the AG doll was something I wanted to do because my mother had scraped and saved for me to have one for my Christmas  present when I was young. I did the same for mine and decided to sell stuff on my local yard sale site to get her a used AG doll. It makes me see feel good to know her doll has been loved and played with since last Christmas and that if she ever chooses to resell it she could get back the $50 I paid for it. The our generation doll will become a goodwill find one day for $3.00.

I want to add that the American girl doll store makes every effort to service in the salon and bistro all dolls regardless of manufacturer. The hair salon styled my friend’s daughters target doll and made no mention to the little girl that it wasn’t an American girl doll. 

Don’t go into debt for a doll. Your child loves you and will be happy with anything that is bought with love. If you choose the box retailer’s doll don’t worry. If your daughter ever wants the American girl doll help her earn the money to buy one new or used, it will mean that much more to her if you are on the fence because of cost. 

The 5 best baby products

Every year baby companies try to come out with their latest and greatest to remarket to previous and acquire new moms as their customers. With baby number one I was a working momma and I told you about my favorite things for a Working momma in one of my very first blog posts ever. 

Now I’ve been a stay at home mom since baby number 2 and now on baby number three and the last.  My new favorite gadgets or baby “things” are awesome! Don’t believe me check them out. 

1. The WubaNub Pacifier ($12.95 Amazon.com)

This incredible invention is not new by any means but invented 17 years ago by a desperate momma.  (www.wubbanub.com) Forget that lost tiny pacifier that fell between the seat back of the rocking her chair and you couldn’t find. This little stuffed animal makes it a lot easier for you and others helping you, because you know you have told everyone to drop what they are doing and help you find that pacifier. 

So why is this on my new list? They come out with different stuffed animals of course. I was not a participant in the Beanie Baby craze but the retired and new animals are hot commodities. I mean look at their newest addition the “baby lion”. It’s adorable and those cute little two month hands can hold it and squeeze it and when you put the pacifier into your baby’s mouth it doesn’t falL right away to the side when they spit it out but rather the weighted feet keep it put.

  (Image compliments of WubaNub.com)
2. Carter’s Mix & Match Fresh Air Crib Liner ($59.99  Buybuybaby.com)

I know we have all thought about how terribly ugly the breathable mesh crib bumpers are and have owned one out of the feeling of duty and responsibility to our child’s safety. Well Carter’s (and a few other manufacturers) have developed a wonderful little thing called a crib liner. Decorated adorably to match the color theme of your room it provides a breathable mesh but with adorable fabric accents. 

The best part is that the bumper is  part of the liner. Instead of putting your mattress on your crib springs, the springs are covered by the   an attachmesh bottom that is attached. When you secure the liner like a normal crib number you set the mattress in and when you change a sheet there is no need to remove the number since it stays in place. 

  (Picture courtesy of buybuybaby.com)
3. Bright Starts Take Along Toy Carrier ($5.79 Target.com)

We have a Chicco keyfit30 car seat and this little guy has been amazing. Now equipped with Velcro on the sides to attatch the toy to the car seat for the perfect fit, it can be moved to the right height for the baby to reach. 

I put this on her seat last month (she was 2 months old) Mainly so her brother and sister could entertain her in the car. As soon as she turned 3 months she was rattling the zebra by herself and as if this week she is now pushing the Tigers nose to hear the music. 
4. Baby bunners cream by Homemade Addiction ($35.95 In the baby organic gift set Etsy.com )

My doctor said that diaper rash is inevitable. Dr. Aurora proceeded to explain that when urine and feces mix in a diaper it creates a chemical reaction and a irritant to the skin hence diaper rash. I try to be careful what I put on my baby’s behind. When I found the Homemade Addiction Baby Bunners Cream I was hooked. 

This awesome cream has zinc oxide to protect those cute cheeks and is really easy to apply. It’s not sticky or pasty and actually doesn’t appear white once it’s applied. I can read all the ingredients and know what they are. It’s great for sensitive skin. My daughters bum is protected and just as perfect as the day she was born. 

  
Picture compliments of etsy.com and homemade addiction 

5. Angelcare Baby bath support ($19.99 Target.com)

We have all battled the kitchen sink and lost at least once with the baby bathers that supposedly fit any size sink for those delicate little ones. The bathtub in our bathroom was made for bathing. I don’t know about you but I found that I could bath my baby quicker in the tub than the sink. This contoured bath support is made of perforated formed soft plastic. It dries quickly and is soft for the baby. It is easy to use and makes bath time a breeze. 

   Photo compliments of target.com
What’s your favorite baby product? Comment below. 

Easiest baby costume ever!

Whether it’s trick or treating, trunk or treating or just a neighborhood Halloween Party, easy is what I need. Yes, those wriggly, squiggly babies can be tough to chase down or hold down to dress up for this fabulous Halloween holiday so I definitely needed a costume that my three month old could be a part of but not annoyed by. 

We are that family for sure. The ones that will try to pick a theme and go for it on Halloween. So when my son saw the storm trooper of course we were on board. 

You might be that Pinterest mom that loves to sew but I’m more of a mom that can piece a costume together and after looking at what we had I and costume pieces online I realized three things:

1. Baby costumes never fit just right. Unless you are sewing one to the exact measurements of your baby out of comfy material or piecing it together out of their current wardrobe it will be too big or too small and definitely not look like it looks on the image. And finding something that can be converted to the star wars theme is way harder than it looks. 

2. Screaming babies are not fun while trick or treating with two other kids. So make the costume count if you are planning on walking around. 

3. Carrying a small baby is a great option since I need two hands for my other two kids. So a baby carrier is a must. 

I looked online to try to find that uncomfortable baby costume that would be visible and o think Google knew just what I needed when it populated dog costumes even though we don’t have any pets. 

  
Funny I thought so I went over to my local baby wearing Facebook page to see what folks were doing. 

Yes, I found my solution that Google had already showed me. The dog costume!!! Dog costumes in size XL fit perfectly over the back of the baby carrier. PetCo R2D2 costume link.  Mine in this case was an Ergo. The carrier straps went through the hood and arm holes and the baby never knows the difference. The baby can wear their regular comfy perfect fitting clothes while going along for the ride as a contributing costume member.