Friday, August 17, 2018

Our Kitchen Organization and Favorite Toddler Trays, Cups and Bowls

I wanted to share with you our favorite toddler trays, cups, and bowls because this has been quite a decision making project in the making. By no exaggeration, we have easily tried 25 different types of toddler plate ware, which needed to change as everything started falling on my head when opening our cabinet doors. We were very picky and selective on which to purge and which ONE product in each category would make the cut going forward, and our VERY clear winners were the following:

Re Play Divided Plates

Re Play Bowls

Munchkin Miracle 360 Cups

Thermos Funtainer Bottles (for school lunches) 

And here's why! 

The Re Play Divided trays have 3 deep sections with high walls which makes it easy for toddlers who are learning to independently eat to scoop food. Oskar also hates when his different foods touch, so this keeps everything neatly divided.

Their trays and bowls are BPA, Phthalate, PVC and Melamine FREE. The AAP does not recommend dishwashing or microwaving plastic products with recycling codes 3 for phthalates, 6 for styrene, and 7 for bisphenol. These trays and bowls are free from these chemicals and dish wash safely.

The Re Play trays and bowls are DURABLE. We've had several of these from when Oskar was a baby all the way to present day, and they've lasted. Apparently they've been put up to the test of being run over by a car. No cracking or chipping if they're thrown off of a high chair. 

They're USA made out of FDA approved recycled milk jugs. And when you're ready to move on from toddler trays or bowls, they'll take these right back and recycle them all over again. I love this part.

And finally, they stack SO NICELY, thanks to those deep divides. No toppling over or slipping and sliding.

As for the Munchkin Miracle 360 cups, if you haven't heard of these, you can thank me later :). These were a game changer in our house. We transitioned fully to these after 12 months. For little hands, they make an option that has two handles to hold. Forget the sippy cups with a million different parts. These are far better. The boys love to drink their milk on the couch in the morning or during snack time. Which means toppling over their cups, accidentally leaving them laying on their sides, dropping their cups onto the ground and carpet, and so on and so forth. These cups stop 99% of spills, though they will drip if left completely upside down. They have a spoutless design, which is dentist recommended, and a 360 degree drinking edge which seals as soon as its not being drank from. They're also BPA free, dishwasher safe, and easy to clean with no extra valves or parts.

And finally, the Thermoses for school. We needed something to keep the boys' milk cold, which these do very well, for up to 12+ hours. They come in about a bajillion different character options, so you'll be sure to find your kiddo's favorite. The reason why we don't use these day-to-day is because I'm not a huge fan of straws. Even though you can dish wash them, they always come out looking all murky. I use these to get them completely clean. We throw these into a wired basket on an upper shelf since these have lids and straws. 

And there you have it! So what to do with all of the mismatched sets you have now? I found a local Facebook group of moms in need and donated all of our other trays, bowls, cups, and sippies to some thankful recipients. A great way to give back while making your life easier at the same time. Simplify and streamline--I promise you'll never look back!

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Sweet Summertime

Here we are, middle of the month of August (which still is mind blowing to Oskar that it's August, AND he has a brother named August...), with just a handful of weeks left of summer. It slips away just as fast every year, and as much as we try to make the most of it, we never have enough time for everything I dream up or jot down on our summer bucket list. Here’s a little round up of what life has looked like lately and what the boys have been up to. They’re both growing so fast…time is truly a thief. 

Oskar learned to SWIM this year! He’s always been our fish. As much frustration as pool ownership can bring, and trust me, it has brought LOTS this year, it’s worth it for the amount we use it. He’s jumping in the water every spare minute he gets, and is in and out of the water 100 times a day.  My mom calls him Jacques Cousteau because he lives under water with his goggles. He’s also all about diving rings and sticks, and throws them to himself to grab before they sink to the bottom. All of this makes me a little more comfortable from a water safety standpoint, and the stronger he gets at swimming, the less I have to worry. We’ve practiced jumping off the diving board and swimming right to the side, which he’s able to do really well 2 or 3 times before getting too tired. This article really resonated with me and touched me deeply, and I’ll never think about pool safety the same again. A worthwhile read for any parents of little ones. We’re thinking about continuing swimming lessons into the fall and winter months—both because he just loves to swim, and also because it lessens my worry. I was a competitive swimmer through middle school and into high school, and I can already see him following in my footsteps.

Oskar also starts Pre-K on Monday, which is still somewhat surreal. How I have a 4 year old attending a class with the word Kindergarten in it, I’ll never know, but here we go! He’ll still be attending the same school he goes to now but will transition into the older classroom along side some of his best little friends. I’ve been working hard on a back-to-school lunch ideas post, which I promise is coming soon, but for now, we’re loving this Bento Box and these little cutters for sandwiches, fruit, cheese, and cucumbers.

On the August side, we’ve gone though a really rough few days. On Monday evening he bashed his teeth into his brother’s head and pushed his upper teeth up into his gums and back toward the roof of his mouth. Matt rushed him to Children’s ER and then we were seen emergently by a Pediatric Dentist the following day. The long story short is that nobody knows what the future holds with his affected teeth. For now, they’re leaving them be, in hopes that they descend and reposition to some extent on their own. It’s so heartbreaking to see your sweet baby in pain, and to see their beautiful smile looking so different. His gums are still black from being so bruised, and he has lots of swelling that we’re waiting to go down. He’s completely back to his normal, hilarious, crazy self though, and he was ooh-ed and aah-ed over at the dentist where he sweetly told everybody what happened to him, word for word, and that it was his DADA that cried. So, for now, we wait, and go through our Rolodex of soft foods for 2 weeks.

On a happier note, he had his first hair cut after 2 years and a handful of months, which resembled shearing a sheep. His long, unruly baby curls were all trimmed off and he now looks years older. New hair, new attitude for our little Boss Baby.

As far as summer activities, we’ve gone to Kennywood, Roundhill Park, Oglebay, the Trolley Museum, Sarris’, and the Carnegie Science Center, and more often than not we’ll take a drive somewhere on a Saturday morning. We’ve had lots of pre-school birthday parties and play dates with our friends, and are still hoping to check off the County Fair and an Outdoor Movie in the Park.

As for us, Matt’s been working like crazy and I have a work trip booked to Germany early next month. We celebrated our 7 year wedding anniversary by ordering take-out and drinking wine at home, which was exactly what we wanted. 

Looking forward, we'll be soaking up the sunshine during these warm weather days. These boys and their endless energy...there's no better place to be than outside, wild and free. Fingers crossed for no more lost teeth.

Monday, August 6, 2018

7 Pieces of Advice for a Happy Marriage

Today, we’re celebrating seven years of marriage. It’s gone by in the blink of an eye, but at the same time, our lives have completely transformed. We bought a house, had a baby, Matt graduated med school,  I navigated going back to work postpartum, Matt graduated residency, we bought another house, Matt started his first job as a physician, we had another baby, and we travelled to St Lucia, London, Portugal, Denmark, and Finland 6 whopping times. Even as the world keeps spinning and our lives keep changing, and we’re certainly not the people we were when we met at 19 years old, it all just feels like we’re exactly where we’re meant to be. So today, I’m bringing you 7 pieces of advice (for 7 years) that I think are critically important for a happy, healthy marriage.
  1.  You don’t have to agree on everything, but make 100% certain you agree on the following things: how you spend your money, how you spend your time, and whether or not to have children. I really think that each of those are critical pillars, and when there’s disagreement over one, the whole foundation can crumble. 
  2.  Words of affirmation and acts of service. These two love languages are everything. There isn’t a day that goes by when we don’t tell each other how thankful we are to have each other, and how the other person is a great husband, father, wife, mother, person, friend…in other words, “I see you. You make me happy. You’re doing a great job.” Everybody needs validation, especially from their partner. On the acts of service end, it’s all about the little things. I make him his morning coffee. He loads my bags into the car. He’ll get up with the kids and let me sleep an extra hour on the weekends. I’ll tell him to head to the driving range—that I can hold the fort down for a little bit. It’s the give and take that makes it all work so well.
  3.  Surround yourself with mutual friends who will strengthen your marriage and bring out the best in you. Find your tribe and laugh with them. If you’re lucky, travel together. If it’s challenging to get away, drink wine and make memories while the kids all play. It’s one of my favorite things to do.
  4.  Model the kind of marriage that will make your sons want to grow up to be good husbands, and your daughters want to grow up to be good wives. This is so critically important to both of us. I have no doubt in my mind that our boys will make the BEST fathers and the BEST husbands. They’re always learning, always watching…and sensitivity, vulnerability, and humility are traits learned from modeled behavior.  
  5.    Rarely will both of you be strong at the same time. Take turns being strong for each other. Life can be really hard sometimes, but knowing that your struggle can be divided between the both of you makes it that much lighter to carry.
  6.    Marry your best friend. This sounds so cliché, but really. Matt’s the first person I want to text to tell anything. We can’t stand being apart and want to do everything together. We have the most inside jokes, laugh the hardest together, and understand each other more than anybody else could. Everything is just more fun when we’re together. Find that person for you and marry them.
  7.  Set big goals for the future. Dream together. It doesn’t matter if they come true right as you would have liked, but a common, shared purpose—something to drive toward together—keeps the day to day more intentional.  A lifetime of adventures is what it’s all about.

 First picture of us from 2005
 Lisbon, Portugal
 Medical School Graduation
 London, England
 Baby Oskar
 Travel with kids...slight difference.
 Baby August