Meet the Sullivans: February 2012

February 29, 2012

Baby Loot I Love

Like most moms-to-be I spent my pregnancy searching for all the essential baby gear. I asked friends, read reviews and check out friend's baby registries. We got it all, and thought we were armed and ready for anything our baby would bring our way. When we went to the hospital to be induced (one of these days I will share the long story of how all that went...when I'm willing to relive it all) the baby's room was pretty much ready, minus the pictures on the walls, and we felt like we were ready too.

We'd read the books, taken the classes, watched videos and talked with friends and family for advice. But alas, all the gear, research and planning can only prepare you so much. We've only been parents for about six weeks, but already I know which products work for our little guy and what was a waste of time or money, so I'd like to share with you a few golden pearls of wisdom from this new mom.

The Physioball In the last two hours of my 24 hours labor my nurse suggested we use a physioball to help ease my pain until the anesthesiologist came to give me my epidural. The ball helped a bit in between contractions, but it was especially helpful after Owen was born. Our little guy loves to move and be bounced. Keith and I sit on the physioball holding him when he's fussy and 99% of the time he is calm in minutes. It's like magic! Bonus: we get a little workout in too!

White Noise apps The photographer who took Owen's newborn photos used a white noise app on her cell phone to soothe him while she snapped pictures. The calming rhythms of rain falling and waves crashing helped him settle down when he was upset and have continued to work wonders in the car and when we're putting him to bed at night. We've each downloaded the apps on our phones and iTouches. We take the iTouch with us in al outings!

Cloud B Sleep Sheep Plush Sound Machine
Sleep Sheep We actually have two of these! One for the nursery and one for our room. At night we turn on the Sleep Sheep and prop it up on my bedside table near the co-sleeper to help him settle back to sleep after I've nursed him and he's been changed. We turn the one in his room on during middle of the night diaper changes to keep him feeling sleepy. We definitely don't need two, but it doesn't hurt!

Summer Infant Video Monitor

Video Monitor Our friends suggested this one to us and I'm so glad we got it. I can be downstairs in the morning having coffee while Owen is still sound asleep upstairs in the bassinet. I like that I can't just hear him, but see him too. Eventually this will be even more golden when he takes regular naps in his crib so I can get things done around the house.

aden + anais muslin burpy

Burp Cloths A friend gave us these and they are the best burp cloths. They are more absorbent than any of the other burp cloths I've tried, and if you have a spitter you know absorbency is a top priority. The other great thing is that it doubles as a bib so you can snap it on your little cutie to catch any unexpected spit up too.

HALO SleepSack
Wearable Blankets Owen sleeps best when he's swaddled. It gives him the comfort and warmth he needs to sleep comfortably and keeps him from waking himself up when he wiggles his arms and legs around. The wearable blanket is much much easier to use in the middle of the night than trying to swaddle him up in a blanket.

Infantino Jittery Pals Baby Toy
Stroller Toys We have the little mouse and he has become Owen's little best friend. We clip him onto the carseat in the car and stroller, onto his bouncer and crib. He just recently began noticing toys and really responds to this one. He seems to like the vibrating, colors and rattling noise the mouse makes. We might need a few more of these! 

Babies change so quickly and so do the toys, gear and strategies they enjoy. What works this week to entertain and soothe Owen may not be what works next week. I know I'll be back again soon with a whole new list as I continue to discover new products and as Owen continues to grow and gain new interests. 

February 28, 2012

Spicy Szechuan Tofu

Keith went back to work this morning, so the little man and I are really going to miss him today. Owen and I are going to attempt a trip to Costco this morning and my sister is going to come by in the afternoon to spend time with us, so the day should go by fast.

Moving on to the recipe I'm sharing with you today...

I've been doing 90% of our grocery shopping in the last few weeks at Trader Joe's. Do you have a Trader Joe's near you? They have the neatest food products there and I don't know a single person who doesn't love that place. Anyway, yesterday when I went out to do our weekly shopping I made a quick stop at the bookstore to pick up a TJ's cookbook. There are a variety of TJ's cook books to chose from, but I went with this one Cooking with All Things Trader Joe's and the Spicy Szechaun Tofu is the first recipe I've picked to try out. Keith has been wanting to try a tofu dish for a while, so this was an obvious choice. 

I'm linking up with 33 Shades of Green for Tasty Tuesdays this morning to share this recipe!
Spicy Szechuan Tofu

1 package firm tofu
1/2 lb ground turkey or beef
1 glove garlic, crushed
1 tsp crushed ginger (I used powdered)
1 cup frozen peas
1/2 cup General Tsao Stir Fry Sauce
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 tsp toasted sesame oil
2 green onions, chopped

  1. Cut the tofu into 1/2 inch cubes. Place cubes between paper towels and press to draw water out. Set aside.
  2. Cook turkey/beef/pork in a skillet, breaking it up as it cooks. 
  3. Add garlic, ginger, and peas; cook 2 minutes longer. 
  4. Add tofu, stir fry sauce, soy sauce, and sesame oil. Cook for 3 minutes or until heated through. 
  5. Add green onions and remove from heat. Serve over steamed white rice.
I really liked this dish! Our first experience with tofu was a good one and so I might even make some again sometime. This dish will definitely become part of my regular rotation for easy dinners. I can't wait to see what else is in that cookbook! 

In other news...
Happy Birthday 
to my sister Kathleen! 
Happy birthday Kath! I hope this year is filled with exciting new adventures for you! You're smart, talented, kind and really funny (or maybe that's just cause I really get your humor because its the same as mine?) I'm lucky to call you my sister and Owen is lucky to have you as an aunt. We can't wait to see you this afternoon! xoxox

February 27, 2012

Catching Up

Last week was Keith's last week home with Owen and I. He goes back to work tomorrow and boy are we going to miss him! I'm not going to just miss the extra two hands and another adult to talk to, but also having him here to see Owen grow and experience each day. It has been so fun to experience our first 6 weeks as a family together.

We had quite a busy and fun final week together. On Wednesday we took Owen for his one month doctor's visit. He now weighs 10lbs 2ozs and is 22 inches long. He is growing so fast! I've started packing up his newborn clothes because he is starting to bust out of them. He also had to get the first of his shots at the doctor's office (he has some in the hospital too). He was already a little upset at this point so, he didn't seem to notice. He did great in the car on the way there and on the way home, so instead of heading straight home we took a chance and went to the mall. We needed to get a few things done and were able to do them all AND get him home with no crying! Yay, Owen!

Noah and Owen

Jackie and Nico
On Thursday our friends Jackie and Allison came over with their boys Nico and Noah (respectively) for a little baby play time, which really consisted of us holding them and bouncing them.  Noah will be 1 year-old in May and he is really on the move! Aunt KC came over too and helped me take care of the little man while Keith ran some errands.

On Friday I was able to take Owen out on a few errands with me to the post office, pharmacy, dry cleaners and even made it through a whole shopping trip at Trader Joe's! Once we got home he slept for another hour and a half. We're really making progress on being able to get out together!

Happy Birthday little sis! 
On Saturday Keith stayed home with Owen while I went to lunch with my mom and sister to celebrate her birthday (which isn't until Tuesday). We went to one of our favorite places, the Half Moon Bay Brewing Company. Lunch was delicious and we had a good time chatting and enjoying a Mai Tai. It was a strange feeling being away from Owen for 3 hours, but it was also nice to get out on my own for a bit.

On Sunday we took Owen down to Foster City and met up with the Smith family for a nice long walk with the boys. Its so much fun having friends who have little boys the same age as ours! Its a blessing and will be even more fun when the boys can play together!

Well, starting tomorrow I'm all on my own, so wish me luck! I hope you all have a wonderful week!

February 26, 2012

A Fresh Start

How do you like our new blog design? I've been wanting to find a new one ever since we found out we were going to be parents. I thought the birth of our baby and the beginning of a new chapter in our life would be the perfect time for a blog makeover... and I messed up my last one when I tried to play with some of the code. I am definitely not an expert at HTML, but I thought I'd had enough experience to be able to play with it a bit, but that was a big mistake...

I looked around for months trying to find something that fit exactly what I'd been looking for. I wanted a few new features, a different look while still keeping the same understated / versital color scheme and a unique design that would not cost me an arm and a leg. I was so glad when one of my favorite bloggers shared the source for her new and beautiful design by Maricruz at Cappuccino Factory. I clicked around on her site and found a great pre-made design that satisfied all of my needs. Maricruz was easy to work with, responded to my emails promptly and delivered exactly what I asked for! I highly recommend her to anyone looking for a new design.

We've added at flash slide show and new pages About Colleen & Links.

Please take a few minutes to browse around! Oh, and don't forget to subscribe to our blog by clicking the blue "join this site" button in the column on the right-- I love getting to know everyone who is getting to know us!

February 20, 2012

Day in Photo: Monday, February 20th

Today I took Owen to visit our friend Jackie and her new baby Nico. This is the first time I've taken Owen out all on my own in the car and it was also the first time he's been on an outing without any crying!

(We've taken him to the doctor for his appointments, Safeway and Babies R Us all of which resulted in crying or a major meltdown)

It was so much fun to be able to get out of the house with him and be able to see our friends. We hope this is the beginning of a new trend for Owen and the beginning of a great friendship for Owen and Nico!

February 18, 2012

Owen is 1 month old!

This week Owen is one month old! Time has flow right by us!

Owen loves to be held, pretty much 24/7. He naps in our arms during the day and wakes right up if we try to put him down.

He loves to be bounced or rocked to sleep in the rocking chair in his room or on the physio ball. White noise apps, the Sleep Sheep and his pacifier are helpful in getting him sleepy too.

Owen's First Bath!
Happy baby by bath number 4! 
We've started giving him nightly baths before bed. He hated his first two baths, started to like it a tiny bit by the third try last week and this week he's been pretty content. Aunt KC and Aunt Kelly were here to help with the first bath and took videos and pictures for us to remember the occasion.

Last week Owen started being less fussy when he has his diaper changed. Its like he finally realizes that we're doing it to help him out, not torture him! Now he looks around (mouth wide open :) and punches his arms around in front of him. We both like to take this opportunity to talk to him and sing to him and even do a little dancing. 

Owen is getting chubbier! He looked so scrawny at his 2 week doctor visit, but we noticed last week that his legs are getting more rolls! We love our new chunkier Owen :) At his one month doctor visit he weighed 10lbs 2 ozs and was 22 inches long! 

He smiles as he falls asleep. Its the sweetest thing.

Does this guy look happy?
We tried the Moby wrap for the first time and he really loved it. I just have to get a little better at putting it on so its not too tight and not too loose. I think we'll start using the Bjorn soon. 

Rocky, Keith and Owen during Owen's first tummy time. 
We've been able to do tummy time with him. During tummy time (at about 2 weeks) Owen rolled over from his tummy to his back TWICE! I guess this is not ordinary behavior for a newborn. The doctor said he is a very strong baby. He already has pretty good neck control.

Poor guy developed some baby acne on his cheeks (which you can sort of see here) and chest and had peeling skin, both of which are fading away each day. 

Owen's 1st smile on his first Valentine's Day! 

At night I nurse him to sleep, Keith changes him (he always needs a change after a feeding), swaddles him and bounces him back to sleep before bringing him back into our room and putting him in the co-sleeper. We usually (on a good night) get a 3-4 hour stretch when we first put him down. After the first stretch he usually wakes up for a feeding, eats, burps and sleeps on me for 15-20 minutes before Keith changes him again. If its a good night he'll wake up 2 more times and sleep until 7am.

Owen was born very alert and wide eyed. As the weeks go on he becomes more and more alert and has been checking things out around the house. Keith thinks it is hilarious to prop Owen up on our bed like he's a big boy sleeping in a real bed or sit him in the arm chair in the living room. 

PS Is this becoming a baby blog? Not quite, but all I've really had time for lately is my baby and the occasional nap or shower. I hope to get back to cooking sometime very soon! But until then...this is what I'll be doing! 

February 6, 2012

Owen's Newborn Photos

When Owen was three days old we had professional photos taken of him in the hospital. He looks so adorable and peaceful in these photos, but it was actually a really stressful situation for all involved. The little guy was pretty upset for a lot of the shoot. Not sure I would do it again because of how upset it made him (and me), but I'm glad we did it because these are just priceless!

It's amazing how much he's grown in almost three weeks! He already looks so much different, probably because he's put on a little weight! Good job, Little Man! 

February 4, 2012

Slow Cooker Beef Stew with Potato Dumplings

This is an incredibly easy and tasty slow cooker recipe. For the first week we had Owen home I couldn't imagine having the time, energy or desire to cook for a while, but once we got into a bit of a groove I started getting the urge to cook again.

Trying to cook something while standing over the stove is, at this point, kind of out of the question, so I picked a slow cooker recipe I've had filed for over a year. This recipe is from the November 2010 issue of Family Circle magazine. I thought the addition of gnocchi instead of potatoes was interesting and different.
Slow Cooker Beef Stew with Potato Dumplings 

Makes: 6 servings
Prep: 10 minutes
Slow Cook: 5 1/2 hours on HIGH or 7 1/2 hours on LOW

1 pound chuck steak, trimmed and cut into one inch pieces
3 tablespoon flour
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon black pepper
3 medium size carrots (or two handfuls baby carrots)
1 package cremini mushrooms, cleaned and quartered
2 clovesgarlic, minced
1 package frozen pearl onions
1½ cups low-sodium beef broth
¾ cup dry red wine (I skipped this)
¾ teaspoon dried thyme
1 package gnocchi

In large bowl, toss together steak, flour and 1/4 tsp each salt and pepper. Place steak in slow cooker with carrots, mushrooms, garlic, onions, broth, red wine and 1/2 tsp thyme. Cover and cook on HIGH for 5 hours or LOW for 7 hours.

Remove lid and stir in remaining 1/4 tsp each salt and dried thyme and the gnocchi. Cover and cook an additional 30 minutes or until gnocchi is tender.