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Angela

Family

THE TRANSFORMATION OF DATE NIGHT

June 29, 2015



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I still remember my first date with my now-husband, Alfonso, as if it were yesterday. I wasn’t particularly excited about it, as I knew from our first encounter with mutual friends, that we didn’t have much in common – or so I thought. (After all, how much could a girl from a pig farm in Iowa have in common with a boy from the Bronx?) I agreed to the date mostly because I thought it would put an end to the dinner requests from “Mr. Persistent.” In addition, I hadn’t realized I agreed to go out on the night of Grey’s Anatomy. Thus, I called Alfonso last-minute to adjust the time to 6:00 pm, thinking that was early enough to allow me to make it back in time. (Priorities, right?)

We met at the restaurant of his choice, Mr. Chow, a high-end Chinese-influenced spot in Beverly Hills. After being seated, Alfonso proceeded to order not only for himself, but for me as well. “Who does this guy think he is ordering for me?” I thought. “What guy orders for a girl on the first date? And why did he order himself four pieces of the chicken satay and only two for me?” Needless to say, I was a bit peeved. I expressed my displeasure by simply saying, “I like to order for myself.” He responded, “Trust me. You’re gonna love it.” (He later informed me that this was the only restaurant at which he orders for everyone. He had been going there for years and knew all of the must-taste items on the menu.)

Turns out, he was right. I loved everything he ordered. More than the food, however, I loved our conversation. We discussed everything from our childhoods, politics, religion, travel, and sports. (He explained how a Bronx-native is a die-hard Dallas Cowboys fan. Apparently, it was a decision he made as a 10-year old and it was heavily influenced by the fact that the team had cheerleaders… as well as Tony Dorsett.) We quickly discovered that we had many similarities, with the exception of our favorite NFL teams. (I am a Bears and Giants fan.) Even more so, our chemistry was undeniably perfect. It was as if we had known each other for years and were old friends catching up.

Unsurprisingly, I never made it back in time for Grey’s Anatomy. In fact, we shut the place down. We were talking and laughing for so long that we didn’t realize the restaurant was closed and we were the only patrons still there. It was by far the most fun I had ever had over dinner and was oozing with anticipation for the next date, which we had conveniently set for the following evening.

Fast-forward to a wedding ring and two kids later, my husband and I still love our date nights. After we got married, we both made it a priority to maintain date nights at least once a week. We continued this tradition after the birth of our first son. Even when we were on the Dancing With The Stars Tour for two months, we made sure to fit in lunch dates since every evening consisted of a show. (This was actually easier than it seemed considering all 12 of the DWTS dancers jumped at any opportunity to babysit AJ.)

Now after two babies, date night has taken on a bit of a transformation. We skipped date nights for the month of May while Anders was still a newborn, but I’m proud to say we reinstated our ritual for June. Our first stab at date night, as members of the ‘two under two’ club, was more of a learning curve. It involved a date night at home with a sitter to watch the boys. We had planned to watch a movie in the living room while dining on a nice, homemade meal of filet mignons, mashed cauliflower, and baked zucchini sticks – my personal favorite. However, after my toddler decided to skip his nap that day and my infant uncharacteristically didn’t sleep during the same time frame, my cooking plans quickly became nonexistent. To add to the change of plans, our toddler kicked us out of the living room as he and the sitter were in the middle of a serious game of kickball with his beloved Barney on in the background. Deciding to go with the flow, our date night soon turned into Alfonso and I working out, picking up some In-N-Out burgers (protein-style, of course), enjoying the burgers in our sweaty workout attire in the comfort of our bedroom while watching SportsCenter, and ending the evening with a dance party in the kitchen with both sons. Though it wasn’t what we had planned, we still managed to get out of it what we wanted… some alone time to recharge and reconnect without child interruptions.

Since then, we’ve actually ventured out for date night at a few local restaurants, from which we’ve had great success. We have found it’s easiest to bring Anders along with us. Not only is he super easy, as he is a very chill and quiet baby, but I also prefer breastfeeding during dinner rather than having to bring my breast pump and excuse myself to the restroom for ten minutes. (I always wondered if it was a little inappropriate to breastfeed at a restaurant with my first baby, but now with Anders, I don’t even give it a second thought. It’s fast, easy, and very discrete with a cover.)

It doesn’t matter if we have date night in our sweats at the house with a pair of In-N-Out burgers, or out at a nice restaurant with our chill 8-week old, we benefit all the same. It enables us to recharge, stay connected, and simply have a moment to enjoy ourselves without a toddler climbing all over us or the whistling theme song of Barney & Friends chiming in the background. Sometimes it’s challenging finding the time (and a sitter) with our busy schedules, but since we make it a priority, we always seem to make it work. And by no surprise, we still make it a point to schedule our date night at Mr. Chow at least every other month. I still let Alfonso do the ordering. The only difference? He now orders four pieces of the chicken satay for both of us.:)

Family

FATHER’S DAY TRADITIONS WHILE TRAVELING

June 24, 2015

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When I used to work on private jets, there would be years that I would spend every holiday – with the exception of Christmas – in a foreign city. I’ve spent New Years in Johannesburg, Easters in Riyadh, Valentine’s Days in Paris, and Thanksgivings in Tokyo, among a slue of others. (My all-time favorite was spending St. Patrick’s Day in Dunedin, New Zealand. As far as I’m concerned, Dunedin owns that holiday – outside of Ireland, of course.) I can’t help but laugh as I remember thinking how I needed to get the ‘travel bug’ out of my system before settling down and having kids. Little did I know, things wouldn’t be so different!

This Father’s Day was quite similar to the past several… we were out of town. Three years ago was Chicago. Two years ago was New York. Last year was Florida. And this year we found ourselves in Sacramento for a comic con gig that Alfonso booked. Fortunately, we were able to join Alfonso on his work trip, allowing us to spend Father’s Day weekend together. (The only one missing was my stepdaughter, Sienna, who is still in Nashville.) The trip also served as our first flight with a toddler and an infant. I’m happy to say it went considerably well, as it was much easier than we anticipated. The only glitch I experienced was coming to speed with a new baby carrier. If only the straps, buckles, and snaps were the same for all of them!

Despite Daddy not having much free time, we certainly made the most of the little time that he did have. We were able to meet up with him during his lunches, enjoy a nice pre-Father’s Day dinner (during which we were complimented on our well-mannered toddler, who was uncharacteristically quiet and sat in his booster seat during the entire meal! We kept wondering, who is this child and what did he do with our high-energy, never-can-sit-still son?), order room service for some Father’s Day morning breakfast in bed, and take a family stroll around the impressive Capitol building downtown.

Even though it’s a common theme for our family to be out of town for Father’s Day, as well as with several other holidays throughout the year, we still try to uphold and create our family traditions while on the road. (Note: We are always home for Thanksgiving and Christmas, as I won’t be referring to the traditions we have for those holidays.) We’ve been successful with some traditions while traveling with my stepdaughter and now my boys, and unsuccessful with others. The ones we seem to have the most success with include:

  • Breakfast in Bed. This is usually a manageable one, as long as the hotel has room service or a kitchenette.
  • Homemade Cards. I’ve always been keen on making my own cards for all holidays, and I hope to inspire my children to do the same. I’ve done it with my stepdaughter several times in the past while traveling during Father’s Day. It also serves as a fun activity to do in the hotel room.
  • Family Dinner. I normally try to find a nice steakhouse since my husband’s favorite meal is a filet mignon and mashed potatoes dinner. Luckily, I found a fabulous restaurant in Sacramento.
  • Photos. I always make sure to take some fun and creative photos of Daddy and the kiddos. I add them to the Father’s Day album and write where we were and what we did next to the photos. (I do the same for my Mother’s Day album.)

Please feel free to share any family traditions for Father’s Day (or Mother’s Day, birthdays, etc.) your family enjoys that can be implemented while traveling. I’m always up for some new ideas in this department!

~Angela

Family

ADJUSTING TO TWO UNDER TWO

June 10, 2015

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Adjusting to life with two under two is a lot like getting comfortable with a hurricane and a tornado occurring at the same time. At least it was in the Ribeiro household for the first few weeks. You can prepare yourself all you want and tell yourself, “it will be manageable,” and “not that bad” with two… but there’s no way to fully know what to expect until the time comes.

Currently, the name of the game is defense. AJ is an extremely active and energetic toddler. He’s not aggressive, but because of his excitement when it comes to playing with his toys, he indirectly becomes a safety-hazard to Anders. Fortunately, Alfonso and I have developed mad defensive skills in blocking the toys and balls thrown in Anders direction. AJ is improving with being more gentle around the baby, but that’s only when he is next to and focused on Anders. Once he steps a foot away in the direction of his toys, he’s a full-out boy, and likes to play hard using every square inch of the room. (His favorite indoor activities are playing soccer at full-speed, throwing balls, using the furniture as gymnastics apparatuses, and crashing his trucks and cars off the back of the sofa and ottoman. Sound familiar to those of you with boys?)

As for Mama, I’m starting to get a bit of a routine down and learning some tricks as I go. For starters, I’ve been wearing Anders in a carrier or in my Lalabu Soothe Shirt around the house in order to be more efficient. I feel quite proud when I’m able to wear and nurse Anders while feeding AJ simultaneously. (Oh the talent!) I’ve learned the fabulous method of changing their diapers at the same time. I’ve been perfecting my routine of ensuring Anders sleeps during AJ’s only nap of the day so that I can have some ‘me’ time. And even though I haven’t taken our double stroller on its maiden voyage yet, I’m perfectly happy going for my power walks with AJ in his single stroller and Anders in my carrier.

The main challenge starts next week when we begin our summer travel schedule. (When AJ was a baby, he had traveled on over 40 flights before his first birthday! Needless to say, I mastered the art of flying with an infant.) Fortunately, our first flight experience with a toddler and an infant will be a relatively short one. I’m not too daunted by the thought, as Alfonso will be in charge of AJ and I will have Anders. Rather, I’m more concerned about the two out of nine flights in July that involve flying with my two little guys without Alfonso. (And yes, nine flights in one month… it’s a statistic I’m not proud of!) I’ve witnessed lots of mothers fly solo with their little ones. I’ve seen everything from complete train wrecks to end-of-the-flight high-fives for the mom from nearby passengers. I certainly hope to be among the latter. For those of you who have tread these waters before, feel free to share any tricks or advice that worked for you. The more the merrier!

~Angela

Family

GOLF WIFE

June 1, 2015
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AJ fetching balls on the putting green for Daddy and Jerry Rice.

My husband plays golf…a lot of golf. He is a scratch golfer, which, for those of you who don’t watch the game, is equivalent to a baseball player being able to hit a 90-mph baseball with ease. In other words, he’s really good…and I’m not just saying that because he’s my husband! Fortunately, I enjoy golf as well. (During college, I worked as a golf caddy in the summer months and picked up the game then.) Even though Alfonso takes it far more seriously than I, it’s still a fun activity we can enjoy playing together. Pre-babies, we played at least once or twice a week. Post-babies, he continues to play the same amount, but I unfortunately do not. I’m sure I won’t be out there regularly again until our kids are in school, but in the meantime, AJ and I (and now Anders) still enjoy cheering him on from the sidelines. (My stepdaughter, Sienna, on the other hand, generally considers golf to be the most boring sport known to man. I’m sure I felt the same as a 12-year old!)

Since my husband is addicted to golf and super competitive, he plays in several celebrity golf tournaments throughout the year. We just returned from one of these tournaments, the annual Celebrity Championship in San Diego, of which Alfonso has participated in for years. It involved four days of golf, galas, and trying to teach a toddler how to be quiet during golfers’ backswings – not an easy undertaking! Typically, these events are only a day or two, but this was one of the larger events that many of the players on the celebrity circuit use as a practice before the ‘Superbowl’ of celebrity golf tournaments –the annual American Century Celebrity Championship in Lake Tahoe. In addition, there’s prize money at stake that always serves as an extra incentive for the players. (Note: Most of the players on the celebrity circuit are former and current professional athletes. Needless to say, these guys aren’t messing around and treating it like a leisure round of Sunday golf with a cigar and a Coors beer. At times, I think some of them actually think they’re playing in the Masters. Words of advice should you ever attend one…put your phone on silent and Do. Not. Talk.)


The tournament marked Anders’ first golf experience. My parents, who accompanied us, walked and rode with AJ in Alfonso’s golf cart. (I usually prefer to walk for the exercise.) Instead of usIMG_8593ing the stroller to navigate the course, I opted for my Lalabu Soothe Shirt, which proved to be much easier than a stroller or one of my bulky carriers. You feel like a kangaroo with your little one snuggled up in your little pouch. The best part is the built-in nursing bra that makes it incredibly easy to nurse in a concealed manner. I only wish they had these when AJ was a newborn. (They started selling them the month AJ was born, but I hadn’t heard about them until recently.) I had a wrap and a regular carrier for AJ, but they both got hot and I was never a fan of wrapping 20-feet of fabric in a complex fashion around my body. The Lalabu has been a much easier option for me, especially at this stage. Since the pouch holds babies up to 15 lbs, I’m planning to use it a lot in the next several months!

Sadly, my husband didn’t play nearly as well as he had hoped. (To his defense, he hasn’t played much in the past eight months due to Dancing With The Stars and the DWTS Live! Tour.) He definitely plans to work on getting his game back on track before the big tournament in Tahoe next month. And you can bet I will be wearing my Lalabu during that tournament with my husband’s newest golf fan, lil’ Anders. (At least, we hope he becomes a fan!)

~Angela

Cookies Family

Best. Cookie. Recipe. Ever.

May 19, 2015

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It’s official. I am the luckiest post-partum mommy around. I have had the pleasure of having my 90-year old grandmother, Grandma Lou, in town from Iowa, and I’ve been devouring her always DELISH baked goods for the past five days. From her famous Swedish Rye Bread, Swedish Cinnamon Rolls (these put Cinnabon to shame!), Swedish Pancakes (my ultimate favorite since I was a kid…I once ate 12 in one sitting), and her Ranger Cookies (the BEST cookie you will ever sink your teeth into!), our mouths and bellies have been quite busy. And if you couldn’t tell by the names, she is Swedish. (She even lives in a town called “Swedesburg,” She also travels the world, takes selfies, rides her bike everyday, and texts with all of her grandchildren from her iPhone. Not bad for a 90-year old, eh?)

Now, I’ve been making her famous recipes for years, but for some reason, they never taste the same as when my grandma makes them. Don’t get me wrong, whenever I bake one of her recipes, I am suddenly the most popular person on the planet and deal with endless requests to bake more. However, for some reason – probably from the 70 – 80+ years she’s had to perfect them – hers just have that extra ‘grandma’s touch.’ (My husband agrees. In fact, whenever we visit Iowa, his first stop is always Grandma Lou’s kitchen. His personal favorites include her apple pie and the famous Ranger Cookies.)

To share our family’s absolute favorite version of the ranger cookie, here is my grandma’s Ranger Cookie recipe. WARNING: They are extremely addictive!

Ranger Cookies

1 Cup White Sugar

1 Cup Brown Sugar

1 Cup Shortening (soft)

2 Eggs

2 Cups of flour

1 tsp Baking Powder

1 tsp. Baking Soda

1 Cup flaked coconut

1/2 Tsp. salt

2 Cups Rolled Oats

2 Cups Kellogg’s Corn Flakes

1 Tsp Vanilla Extract

 

Cream shortening and sugar, add beaten eggs and vanilla.  Combine dry ingredients and add shortening mixture.  Drop from tsp to ungreased cookie sheet and bake at 350 for 12-15 minutes. ENJOY!

~Angela

Family

FINALLY HERE

May 15, 2015

IMG_4683Welcome to the world, Anders Reyn Ribeiro! Our little bundle of joy was born on April 30th at 6:16am weighing in at 7.7 lbs and 19 inches. He is a little beauty with his daddy’s features, his mommy’s blue eyes, and a very chill and pleasant disposition. We couldn’t be more blessed and excited to add this little angel to our growing family.

My first labor was 48-hours, 36 of which I spent attempting to have a natural childbirth. With the recommendation of my doctor and husband, I finally gave in and received an epidural. This time around, I was in labor for nine hours, which, compared to my first labor, seemed like minutes. One thing that was the same, however, was the pure joy experienced at the sight of seeing my baby open his eyes for the very first time. It’s truly amazing to see your baby search for your familiar voice as they open their tiny little eyelids. What a powerful moment we as parents have the pleasure of experiencing! That was one of the many milestone moments during those first hours that I was sure to soak in as much as I could.

Fortunately, since his birth, Anders has been a dream baby. Breastfeeding is going great. He poops, pees, and sleeps all like a champ. It’s been easier on me since I feel more laid back this time around. I let Anders sleep as long as he wants during the night rather than waking him every 3-4 hours like I did religiously with my firstborn. I don’t constantly check on Anders’s chest to make sure he’s still breathing throughout the night. (Oh the paranoia I had with my first baby after reading about all of those horror stories!) Needless to say, I feel better equipped to enjoy the little things with Anders. I find myself constantly taking more moments to smell his head knowing that sweet newborn smell doesn’t last forever. I find myself admiring just how teeny-tiny this beautiful little being is. (Perhaps I’m just accustomed to carrying my 18-month old everywhere, but Anders just feels like a little peanut.) I even take a moment to appreciate how quiet a newborn can be, especially compared to a toddler!

Speaking of my toddler, we’ve experienced some challenges with AJ adjusting to the new baby. We had hoped our efforts preparing him would be helpful, but 18-months is still quite young to expect him to understand. Up until today, he had been acting out with never-before-seen tantrums that usually started after witnessing me nurse Anders. He routinely gives me the ‘sad eyes’ look anytime he notices me holding or singing to Anders. And he simply just hasn’t been his normal self since the baby was born. Thankfully, I feel we had a breakthrough today as he attempted to put the pacifier in Ander’s mouth a few times when he cried, and he actually kissed the baby’s head. Both my husband and I erupted in pure joy – after a moment of shock, of course – and excitedly gave AJ ‘high-fives’ for his sweet gesture. After seeing how his kiss created praise, he kissed Anders again before resuming play with his toys. This was an enormous improvement based on his previous behavior. I truly hope this is a sign that we are finally heading down a road to success! Fingers crossed!

~Angela

 

 

Family Pregnancy

ALMOST TO DUE DATE

April 23, 2015

IMG_8562Despite being fully aware that there are no proven non-medical ways to help induce labor, I’ve begun trying the myriad of strange and wacky natural induction methods in hopes of giving this baby of mine a little nudge. (Note: I’m 39 weeks pregnant and received the green light from my OB.) With my firstborn, I ate spicy food as my sole attempt to induce labor – and it seemed to work! This time around, I’ve already tried several of the popular techniques ranging from having a pressure points massage, eating loads of pineapple and papaya, drinking red raspberry leaf tea, taking primrose oil pills, walking more than usual, ordering lots of spicy foods, snacking on dates, and bouncing on my exercise ball (on which my son AJ loves to join me). I’m beyond ready to meet this little angel – and incredibly ready to be able to sleep on my belly again! If only they made mattresses with a large belly hole for pregnant women!

Aside from trying to coax my baby out sooner rather than later, we (my husband and I) continue to work on preparing our 18-month old for his new baby brother or sister. We aren’t sure how AJ will respond when he/she comes, but we have been doing our best to help him. I’ve read him books about the baby in Mommy’s belly. We have a baby doll that we have him practice holding and rocking, which sadly always ends with him beating up the baby doll once he’s through (sigh). We’ve had him around a friend’s baby in hopes he realizes that a baby isn’t the same as a doll. We’ve shown him pictures from when he was a baby. Mostly, however, we’ve been trying to cherish the time and appreciate the one-on-one relationship before the baby’s arrival by taking him on little trips (i.e. Los Angeles Zoo, Travel Town Train Museum, Dancing With The Stars rehearsals and shows to see his DWTS pals, etc.).

Being 18-months old is very young to understand what a new baby is all about, let alone what it means to be a big brother. I’m just hoping and praying he adjusts well. I welcome any suggestions that have worked for you on this subject matter. I’m all ears!

Here’s hoping the next time I write, I will be the newest member of the ‘two under two’ club. 🙂

~Angela

Family

WELCOME!

April 19, 2015

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Prior to being pregnant with my first baby, I remembered hearing about this thing called “pregnancy brain” as a real condition causing memory loss and clumsiness. To me, it seemed absurd. I dismissed my pregnant friends inability to remember our lunch dates, or their newfound habit of never returning calls in a timely manner from sleep-deprivation. This momnesia ailment that produced verbal and physical deficits they talked so much about was something I was certain I would never succumb to. After all, I was always an astute, quick-thinking woman. I could never be that forgetful and clutsy.

Boy was I wrong. Very wrong.

During my first pregnancy, I had a series of uncharacteristic mishaps thanks to this thing called “pregnancy brain.” While curling my hair at four months pregnant, I grabbed my curling iron… on the hot iron part. Then, instead of dropping it like a normal person, I grabbed it with my other hand (yes, again on the hot iron part) producing second-degree burns on both hands. At seven months pregnant, I was attempting to give our handyman a can of varnish when I fumbled and spilled it all over myself and our newly remodeled kitchen. I was on my hands and knees for hours scrubbing the Kona-colored varnish from the crevices of our lightly-colored tiles, as well as from the cabinets and stainless steel appliances. (Essentially, I took a bath in varnish – a product they tell pregnant women to stay far away from- as I was covered in it from head to toe.)

I asked several of my mommy friends how quickly after pregnancy their brains returned to normal. Almost all of them said they didn’t resume normal functioning until they were finished breastfeeding. Great, I thought. My goal was to breastfeed for a year so I made the assumption I wouldn’t be back to normal again until October of 2014. I think back to that and just laugh. Not only did I end up breastfeeding for 15 months, but I found out I was pregnant with our second baby when my son AJ was ten-months old. My quest for my brain to return to normalcy would have to wait.

Even though this pregnancy has been a breeze compared to my first considering I’ve had zero morning sickness (hallelujah!), my bout with “pregnancy brain” has not been much better. For starters, the reason I decided to take a pregnancy test in the first place was due to the seeming return of this dreaded brain dysfunction. Over a three day period, I fell – actually tumbled/cartwheeled/crashed – down the stairs with my nine-month old (AJ) in my arms. (Don’t worry. My tumbles were a result of protecting AJ who escaped the incident unscathed. I, on the other hand, walked away with some black and blue bruises and a very sore bum.) The following day, I left my husband, Alfonso’s, car unlocked and it was broken into. The day after that, which happened to be Alfonso’s very first day of rehearsals for Dancing With The Stars, I somehow managed to send his bowl of cooked oatmeal flying across the room while attempting to merely set it on the table. The bowl shattered into hundreds of pieces with cooked oatmeal splattered everywhere. I simply looked at the mess, looked at the clock, and then at my husband. I apologized and literally ran out the door with AJ to his MyGym class (for which we were already late), leaving the disaster for my husband to clean up. He made the comment to me later in the day, “What is your deal lately? It’s as if you’re pregnant or something.” Basically, when I’m pregnant, my brain function is so bad that I need a team of bodyguards around me at all times to protect myself, my family, and everyone around me.

I have been journaling the past couple of years specifically about my pregnancies and of my adventures being a mommy. Journaling, along with regular chats with my fabulous fellow mommy friends, have been very therapeutic – especially in dealing with pregnancy brain, mommy brain, and both simultaneously. I recently felt inclined to convert my journaling into a blog in hopes of creating an open line of communication with other moms to learn from and potentially help or inspire new moms-to-be. I will be sharing my journey of being a wife, mother, stepmother, and a stay-at-home-mom (SAHM) living in Los Angeles. I will share my trials and tribulations as I try to balance it all with an 18-month old son, a very pregnant belly (I will join the ‘two under two’ club in a week or two), a 12-year old stepdaughter, a husband in show business, and an often crazy and hectic travel schedule.

I look forward to sharing my ‘Mommyhood Tales’ and experiences with you. Any and all suggestions, advice or feedback are always welcome!

~Angela