Meet the Sullivans: May 2012

May 31, 2012

Baby Loot We Love @ 4 months

It's been a while since I last shared some of the baby loot we love and since then we've added and changed what we use, so I thought I should share some of our current favorites. Baby Gear

  • Inflatable Stadium Ball We discovered this "trick" for tummy time at our Gymboree class a few weeks ago. We bought a small beach ball and use it to balance Owen on as a alternative form of tummy time. Babies usually like this a little more since it's softer on their tummy and a bit more comfortable. We also sit him on top and sway him side to side, which helps him work on his core. Of course you have to hold on tight so your little one doesn't take a tumble.
  • Baby Einstein Musical Motion Activity Jumper We bought this on a whim one weekend after deciding Owen was ready for more activity. He really loves this toy and we are so glad we bought it. At first he would get tired and over stimulated after 5 minutes, but he's been working up to playing in it a little longer each week. He's learned to bounce in it and can turn the chair to face whichever direction he wants. 
  • Graco SnugRider Infant Car Seat Frame Stroller Graco We also have a BOB Stroller, which we love, but cane be difficult to pull in and out of the trunk when I'm out running errands. This frame stroller is so easy to pull in and out of the car and to maneuver when I'm out shopping alone with Owen. 
  • Vulli Sophie the Giraffe Teether Everyone knows this toy is a must for tethers! There is something about the shape of the giraffe that makes this toy easy for babies to hold on to while they suck and chew. The little squeaking noise it makes keeps the baby interested too. 
  • Fisher-Price Ocean Wonders™ Soothe & Glow Seahorse This was recommended to us by a co-worker of Keith's at the hospital. She said he baby falls asleep instantly with this toy, but it doesn't work that way for us, but we still like the toy. Owen likes to snuggle with it when he's having quite time and it calms him during middle of the night diaper changes on the changing table. He loves the soothing music and the glowing tummy. 
  • Carter's Neutral 3 Pack Monkey Teething Bib Owen is really drooly these days and these bibs have been wonderful! They have three layers, including a water proof layer that keeps my baby's clothes clean and dry. We also really like that the velcro is on the side so we can easily remove it when we need to. The velcro isn't too rough either which is something to consider for your baby's comfort. 
  • Especially for Baby Color Change Ducky Owen loves his bath and now insists on sitting up while we bathe him, so we've been adding toys to our bath time routine. We have a few bath toys for him to play with but he really loves his Ducky. He likes to swat at him in the water, grab him and chew on him. This is a fun classic toy! 
  • HALO SleepSack Wearable Blanket in Cotton Owen now wears just the SleepSack, not the Swaddle ones we used when a newborn. Ours are pretty big on him and he seems to enjoy the extra wiggle room. These are a must in the micro-fleece and cotton for warmer weather. We it's really warm we don't use any blackout / sleep sack, but he doesn't sleep as well as he does when he wears this. 
  • BooginHead Booginhead PaciGrip Pacifier Holder I love these pacifier holders for when we're out in public and Owen is being held or riding in the Bjorn because if the paci falls we don't have to worry about getting out the wipes or finding a sink to clean his paci. 
  • Sassy Ring 'O Links We uses these as toys for Owen and also to keep his toys in reach for him while he plays. They're fun and colorful. We have a few different sets. 
  • Hats & Sunglasses We have sunglasses, various baseball caps, swim hats and sun hats for Owen. Our boy is on the fair side and is happiest in the shade, but when we do venture into the sun for a walk, etc. we always make sure he is wearing SPF, and a hat and/or sunglasses. 
  • Avent Pacifiers These pacifiers have continued to be THE paci for us. Owen just likes them and instantly calms when he gets these in his cute little mouth. 
  • Baby Bjorn Owen loves to look around and this truly gives him the best seat in the house when we're on walks or shopping. His stroller can keep him for a bit but sometimes he just wants to wiggle and being in the Bjorn allows him to kick his legs, smile at passersby, and look around.
So there you have it! I'm sure I've forgotten something especially useful and important, but this is most of what we use and love. 

Is there something wonderful I'm missing out on that you use? Please let me in on your secrets! 

May 30, 2012

Modern Manners

Many years ago when I first got an iPod I started downloading a ton of podcasts. For those who don't know: podcasts are multimedia digital file made available on the Internet for downloading to a portable media player, computer, etc. On iTunes they're free to download and they're like an audio version of a magazine.

In my search for fun things to listen to while running, other than music of course, I found the Quick and Dirty Tips podcasts. When I saw there was a category all about modern manners with Modern Manners Guy I started downloading them immediately!
I truly believe in having good manners and proper etiquette in all situations. There is no excuse for rudeness. Learning them is an ongoing process. Every social situation requires a different set of etiquette. Not all rules can be applied blindly to every situation. Manners and etiquette are messy and confusing, but I try my best to use them properly. The world would be a much nicer place if we all listened to these podcasts. Imagine how much less annoying Costco would be on Saturday and how much more enjoyable family gatherings could be!

There are a variety of other "experts" you can listen to and read: grammar with Grammar Girl, all things domestic with Domestic CEO, fitness with Get Fit Guy, and with practical parenting with Mighty Mom and lots more right HERE

image source
I'd like to start a weekly post about manners inspired by Modern Manners Guy himself. Each Monday we'll have a different topic. I'll share my experiences and opinion and I'd love to hear your advice and point of view in the comments section. I think this has potential to be very interesting, educational and maybe even fun! 

So come back Monday for that!

May 29, 2012

Barbecue Shrimp

Owen had his 4 month well baby check up today. The little guy was so good and so brave. He got shots and barely whimpered. I was lucky to have my sister-in-law Kelly with me to help out and keep him happy. This was definitely the most successful trip to the doctor we have had thus far. Owen spent the remainder of the day camped out on my lap sleeping and/or eating. Keith is at the Giants game tonight so I'm on my own for dinner tonight and unfortunately I'm having leftovers, which are unfortunately NOT as delicious as this dish I'm about to share with you. 

I found this in a Southern Living special edition magazine full of semi-homemade dishes. Despite the misleading title, there is no barbecuing involved in this dish, but it still was amazing. Don't forget to serve it with some Texas toast to sop up all the tasty sauce! 
Barbecue Shrimp
1 1/2 pounds unpeeled jumbo raw shrimp (2 1/25 count)
1 large lemon, cut into wedges
1 (0.7-oz.) envelope Italian dressing mix
1/2 cup melted butter
1/2 cup loosely packed fresh flat-leaf parsley

1. Preheat oven to 425°. Place shrimp and lemon in a 13- x 9-inch baking dish. Stir together dressing mix and butter. Pour butter mixture over shrimp, stirring to coat.
2. Bake, covered, at 425° for 25 to 30 minutes or just until shrimp turn pink, stirring once.
3. Remove shrimp mixture from oven, and sprinkle with parsley.

May 25, 2012

Fun Gifts to Give

I'm so tired of giving bottles of wine as token "I'm thinking of you" birthday gifts for our friends and family. Who doesn't love a great bottle of wine, but I've been itching to get a little more creative with my gift giving. 

Recently I was doing a little shopping for gifts and was pleasantly surprised with what I was able to find without much searching, in a short amount of time, with my tiny man in tow. 

Nordstrom's Half Yearly Sale is going on right now and they have Philosophy's bubble bath and shower gels on sale (3 for $33 or 2 for $25). Wrapped up really cute in a clear gift wrap and a bright bow any of the scents could make an adorable little gift. Why not give a birthday girl Vanilla Birthday Cake, or a bride-to-be Unconditional Love?

Up in Brass Plum I also found this cute bracelet ($8), which is similar in style to the Michael Kors 'Safari Glam' Adjustable Leather Cord Bracelet ($55) I've had my eye on, but for a much much better price.

And finally, the gift I was actually shopping for, a birthday gift for a family member who is a Jimmy Buffet fan. Margarita Mix for the Margaritaville lover, right? Williams-Sonoma currently has a few fun flavors including Key Lime, Mango Passion Fruit and Morello Cherry Pomegranate. 

I'm always looking for fun new gift ideas. Anything you like to give?

Tissue Paper Pom Poms

We made a bunch of these tissue paper pom poms to decorate my mother-in-law's house for our celebration following Owen's baptism. 

Though I knew they were easy to make, I briefly considered buying them pre-made at Party City ($6.99) when we stopped there for a few party essentials. They're reasonably priced if you only needed a few, but I wanted a bunch in various sizes and the colors in person didn't match what I had in mind, so I purchased tissue paper instead and we made them ourselves! 

I did a quick Google search when we got home from shopping and found these easy step-by-step directions. The pictures where helpful, but make sure you read the directions too. 

Here's what you need: 
  • 8 sheets of tissue paper (per pom pom)
  • scissors
  • floral wire
  • ribbon
I found that the shorter we cut the "curves" or "points" the fuller they looked. 

The best party was that after the party I strung a few of them together and hung them in Owen's room. Aren't they fun?

May 24, 2012

Meals for Moms

I was so excited when I got an email last week from my local Mother's Club about bringing a meal to a In A Pinch family! When Owen was born we received so much help from family and friends in the form of lunches, dinners and treats--which helped us out so much in those busy sleepless first few weeks.

It felt so good to "pay it forward" when I delivered a meal to family in my neighborhood this week who just had a baby. I'd seen this recipe for Bow Tie Fiesta on Erin of Blue Eyed Bride's blog. I made extra for us too, so I can vouch for it that it is a great meal!
Bow Tie Fiesta 
For a printer-friendly version click here.

1 (16 ounce) package ronzoni bow tie pasta, uncooked
1 lb ground beef
1 medium onion, chopped
1 medium green bell pepper, chopped
1 (15 ounce) can tomato sauce
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
1 cup sliced pitted ripe olives
1/2 cup sliced jalapeno pepper
1 cup salsa
1 cup sour cream
1 tomato, chopped

1. Brown ground beef in skillet, and while meat is browning, add onions and green pepper. Cook until onions are tender, but not browned. 
2. Stir in tomato sauce, chili powder and salt.
3. Afterwards prepare pasta as directed on package, cooking about 15 minutes on fast boiling water, and drain.
4. Toss meat mixture, pasta, sour cream, salsa and tomato and spoon into greased 13X9 inch glass cooking pan, and sprinkle the top with cheese.
5. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 to 30 minutes, and take out of oven.

I dropped it off with a green salad, dressing and dessert. The family has a 5 year-old also, so I kept the recipe kid friendly and skipped the chiles (which is something to consider if the mom is breastfeeding too). I included cute napkins, disposable utensils and brought the food over in throw away containers--all to make it as easy as possible for this family.

Here are a few other recipes I think would be great for anyone you'd like to bring a meal to:
  • Mini Meatball Sandwiches bring the meatballs over in a separate container and include a side of rolls, the cheese, and a green salad. A fun dessert would be nice too! 
  • English Cottage Pie is great for a winter meal, as it's really hearty. It reheats well too! It has lots of veggies in it, so you don't really need to worry about a salad.
  • Lasagna Cupcakes would be a great meal to bring also, since they reheat well and can be popped into the microwave for a quick meal or snack. We all know a quick and nutritious meal is paramount for new parents. Don't forget the french bread! 
  • Chicken Enchiladas with Salsa Verde is a always a big hit! You could include chips, salsa and a taco salad. 
  • Slow Cooker Beef Stew with Potato Dumplings was easy for me to make as a very new mom and could be simple to throw together if you're bringing a meal to a family during the week when you don't have a ton of time for extra cooking.

May 23, 2012

Chia Seed Banana-Nut Muffins

My husband Keith is really into chia seeds. He adds them to his water, to his smoothies and oatmeal. When I saw this recipe for Chia Seed Banana-Nut Muffins on Ingredients, Inc., that also includes greek yogurt, I knew I had to make them for him! They were really great and I felt better eating them for breakfast with my morning coffee knowing they had a bit of nutritious ingredients!
Chia Banana-Nut Muffins
For a printer-friendly version click here. 

1 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup granulated sugar
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 cup butter, melted
2 large eggs
11/2 cups mashed ripe banana (about 3 bananas)
1 (6-ounce) container nonfat Greek yogurt (I used Fage)
1 to 2 tablespoons chia seeds
1/2 cup chopped walnuts or Pecans (optional)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1Cooking spray

1. Preheat oven to 350°F.

2. Lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flour, sugar, baking soda, salt, butter, eggs, bananas, yogurt, chia seeds, vanilla and walnuts, if desired, in a large bowl, mixing well. Pour batter into lightly greased muffin pans coated with cooking spray.

3. Bake at 350° for 22 to 25 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes in pan on a wire rack; remove from pans. Cool completely on wire rack.

recipe credit: ingredients, inc. 

Owen's Baptism & Celebration

Sunday was a very special day for our family, it was the day we baptized Owen, and the day he joined us in our Catholic faith.

Owen wore the same outfit Keith wore for his baptism 33 years ago. We were so happy it fit him!

Fr. John Ryan baptized Owen. He married us almost two years ago.

Receiving the oil cross on his head.

With his godparents Aunt KC and Uncle Kevin.

Owen (giving me his "boo boo lip) with his sweet cousins Megan and Natalie.

After the ceremony friends and family met back at Keith's mom's house for a BBQ.
I made this banner. It said God Bless Owen. If you're wondering how I managed to make perfect circles I used THIS neat thing.

This bunting usually hangs above his crib, but was used to dress up the mantle a bit.

With my niece Natalie's help we made some tissue paper pom poms to hang from the chandler in the living room and various other places. 

We kept the reception simple and laid back with a BBQ at home. 

I made a fruit salad and laid it out like a rainbow like we've all seen on Pinterest.

We ordered the strawberry shortcake cake from the Italian bakery nearby. 

Keith, his cousin Eric and brother Kevin.

Aunt Janet and my SIL Kelly.

Nephew Nick, MIL Barbara and niece Natalie.

My sister, Aunt Lesley and me.

Connie, Grandpa and me.

I just know that someday Owen is going to have a huge crush on Siena, our friends little daughter! Isn't she adorable?

I wasn't able to get any good pictures of him in his adorable sailor outfit, but this one of him looking giant with my mom is probably the best one we got!

May 21, 2012

Mozzarella, Tomato, Basil & Avocado Salad

Everyone enjoys a fresh tomato / basil / mozzarella salad, right? Well, this variation of that will knock your socks off! It is seriously yummy, and (you guessed it!) super simple. 

Mozzarella, Tomato, Basil & Avocado Salad 
For a printer-friendly version click here. 

1 container cherry tomatoes, cut in half
1 carton fresh mozzarella cheese pearls, drained
1 avocado, peeled and diced
1/3 cup basil, julienned
2 tablespoons fresh parsley
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/4 cup olive oil
salt and pepper

1. In a large bowl, combine the tomatoes, mozzarella, basil and parsley, set aside.
2. In a small bowl, whisk the lemon juice, oil, salt and pepper. Pour over tomato
mixture. Toss to coat. Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour before serving.
3. Just before serving the salad, stir in the chopped avocados. Serve salad with
slotted spoon. 

I served it along side a shrimp dish (the recipe for which I plan to share later this week) and Texas toast. It was one of my favorite dinners I've made in a long time. The original recipe says to serve it with a toasted baguette, which would be great too!

recipe credit: valsocal

May 18, 2012

Owen is 4 Months!

Dear Owen,
This week you turn 4 months old! One third of your first year is now behind us. You've continued to amaze us with your strength and sweet personality. We could never have imagined how much joy, laughter and smiles you would bring to our home.

Stats: We'll be going for your 4 month doctor's visit next week, but I believe you're  currently around 14lbs 5oz+. And you definitely feel that heavy!

Clothes: We've been buying 6-9 month clothes although they are a bit roomy on your right now. You grow so fast, so this just gives us a bit more time in certain outfits and I think you're more comfortable in clothes that give you more wiggle room.

Eating: You are still a chow hound! You nurse every 3 hours during the day and go longer most nights. I can't wait for you to experience "real food" in a couple months. We know you're going to love it. You find lots of entertainment watching us eat and we think it's because you want to give our food a enough, buddy!

Sleep: Sleep this month has been good. You wake up 1-2 times in the night and take a few naps each day. You've been putting yourself to sleep in your bouncy chair for naps during the day.

Activity: You're quite the wiggler! You've been rolling from side to side and have almost made it from back to tummy. You're great at tummy time and mo longer cry much when we do it. You continue to prefer to be standing or sitting up right. When we do lay you down you've been trying your darndest to grab at the toys around you. You're able to hold onto objects with two hands. You loooove to grab my hair with both hands when I lean in to kiss you. More on all you're movin' down below!

You've discovered your voice and use it to let us know how happy you are and to talk to your friends. 

Here is a great example of all the wiggling and squiggling you do: 

We haven't been using your beloved activity mat much toward the end of the month. I think you're done being stuck laying down. You love your new exersaucer because you like to see what's happening in the house.
Your great-Grandpa and Connie came to visit you again!

We took you to the park! You enjoyed looking at the leaves blowing in the wind on the big oak tree. 

 We are no longer using the sling in your bath--you're just too big for it, baby boy! You're starting to splash around in the bath a lot. You just love the water! Hopefully we'll make it to the pool this month!

Your hands continue to be your #1 favorite toys! And you're sucking on your thumb, but haven't figured out how to curl your fingers down, so we have to make sure you don't poke yourself in the eye. ;-)

 Not only are your hands fun for you to eat, but you also have figured out how to put them to good use! You've been pulling your paci out of your mouth, although it sometimes upsets you.

 You held a bottle yourself for the first time (on accident?) at cousin Megan's First Holy Communion.

 Hanging on tight to Granny!

 You're so lucky to have two Grandma's who love you so much--they can't get enough of you!

We've been going to Gymboree every Tuesday. Aunt KC comes with us to watch and Daddy got to come once this month too! We bought you a Gymbo the Clown puppet because you really loved playing with him in class. You talk with him and smile at him.

 With a little help you sit up like this "on your own".

You are thisclose to being able to roll over from back to tummy. You tried at Gymboree class this week...Daddy and I were both there to witness it!..but you got stuck on one arm. You're so close buddy keep on trying!!

You've been sitting in your Bumbo comfortably and play with some toys while I get things done in the kitchen. 

Your sure do love your Daddy! 

 You brought me a flower from the backyard. It was sweet. You picked it yourself and carried it inside.

We celebrated our first Mother's Day together. I used to think it was a day for kids to celebrate their moms, but now that I'm a mom I realize that it's really a day for mom's to celebrate being a mom. Don't know if that makes sense. Being a mom is a special job and I'm lucky to have it.