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Angela

Organic Mattress Products

Our Search For A Non Toxic, Organic Mattress

November 29, 2017

One of my New Year’s Resolutions at the beginning of the year was to make our home as non toxic and eco-friendly as possible. I admit it. I’m a sucker for those articles that pop up on your Yahoo! homepage that scare the living daylights out of you by discussing the typical toxicity levels of homes and the impact of this on our health. Though I am a big believer of everything in moderation, I wanted to start this non toxic reboot mission in an area that we would perhaps benefit from the most. For me, a good night of sleep is one of my top priorities. Thus, first on my plan of attack? New mattresses.

Let me preface this by saying, I do not claim to be an expert in the mattress field. Nor do I intend to make this seem like a research paper. The information below is merely brief summaries of what I’ve learned in the last six months of reading online and talking to countless mattress companies.

First off, I found it to be down right scary learning about conventional mattresses (including ALL of the mattresses we had in our home). Most conventional mattresses are made of toxic materials and chemicals like petroleum-based polyester, formaldehyde, polyurethane, flame retardant chemicals like boric acid, and typically covered in PVC vinyl. Essentially, this means your mattress is releasing toxic fumes over time that not only you breathe in to cause allergies, long-term diseases, and respiratory problems, but they can also get into our body tissues. (They’ve even been known to show up in pregnant women’s placental tissue!) No bueno!

I literally spent six months researching and testing mattresses before narrowing our option down to the one we eventually chose. I educated myself about the many different kinds of mattresses, what to look for in finding an organic and non-toxic option, which materials and chemicals to steer away from, which certifications are best and what they mean, and like with any big purchase, we read TONS of reviews. After all, we spend a third of our lives on our bed…why not take your time and ensure you’re making the best decision, right?

In terms of our needs and wants, we decided the following were most important to us:

  • Organic, eco-friendly
  • Comfort level
  • Natural latex (as it is much better for your body long-term compared to a coil mattress)
  • Meets certifications (i.e. GOLS, GOTS, GreenGuard, certiPUR, etc.)

The below mattress companies are those that met our ‘green’ and healthy criteria. All are awesome companies that offer mattresses made of natural latex, organic wool, and/or organic cotton, AND they’re all made in the USA.:) It’s important to know that the reason these beds do not need to use fire retardant chemicals is because of their organic wool material. Wool acts as a natural fire retardant. (The second great thing about wool is that it also works as a heat regulator. It helps keep you cool when it’s warm and warm when it’s cold.)

  • Nest Bedding
  • Plushbeds
  • Zenhaven
  • Sleep On Latex
  • White Lotus
  • Brentwood – (Note: The Ojai Mattress is their only coil-free mattress option.)

Runner Up: Avocado Mattress. I LOVE this company, however, the only reason we did not test out their mattress was simply because they do not offer coil-free mattresses. They have pocketed support coils rather than open coils, which is good, but nonetheless, we wanted coil-free. If coils aren’t an issue for you, this is a great company!

OUR WINNER:  Nest Bedding!


We ended up going with their Q3 Mattress and the BKB mattresses for our children. Here are some of the main reasons why we chose Nest and what makes their mattresses so amazing:

  • CERTIFICATIONS. The Q3 Latex is both GOLS and GOTS certified. (Nest only uses materials that have a third party certification whether it’s foam or latex.)
  • COMFORT. Both the Q3 Latex and BKB mattresses are incredibly comfortable! Upon our first time lying on a Q3 in the showroom, my hubby and I looked at each and simultaneously said, “This is the one.”
  • AFFORDABILITY. Both mattresses were very affordable for organic, non toxic mattresses with proper certifications. The BKB mattress starts at $299 and Q3 starts at $999. (Note: We did choose the Alexander Signature Cooling Topper to go on top of our Q3 which runs at $159.)
  • SHOWROOMS. They have a showroom here in Los Angeles (along with ten other cities around the country) which made testing out the mattress easy and convenient.
  • ALLERGY OPTIONS. Nest provides the option to have an Oeko Tex certified blended latex mattress for those with latex allergies.
  • FAMILY OWNED. Being factory direct and family owned, you can get higher quality for less than major brands with better warranties and better service.

I’m happy to report that after a month of use, we are still in love with our Nest Q3 Mattress. We’ve been getting some of our best sleep ever! It has met and surpassed all of our expectations, and we highly recommend it as a fantastic option for a high quality, affordable, non toxic, organic mattress.

Birthdays Golf Mini Golf

Mini Golf Birthday Party: Look Who Turned Fooooooore!

November 3, 2017

I knew it was bound to happen. I knew a golf-themed birthday party would be in my future, I just didn’t know it would be this soon. My husband, who is a scratch golfer, has a love for golf that I knew eventually would be passed down to at least one of our kids. (I play golf as well, and I enjoy it…however, I don’t watch the Golf Channel around the clock and spend my time at the gas pump practicing my golf swing with an imaginary golf club. Yes, my hubby does this and yes, he gets a lot of strange looks.) Our son AJ LOVES golf, especially mini golf. When asked what he wanted to do for his 4th birthday party, without an ounce of hesitation, he shouted, “a mini golf party!” 

We rented a 9-hole portable mini golf course which was set up at our golf club. It was the heavy-duty wood-framed holes with lots of different colorful obstacles on each (i.e. windmills, mazes, etc.). There aren’t too many companies that have portable mini golf courses like these in the Los Angeles area so it took me a while to locate one. Most companies have the flimsy, thin boards that have poor reviews or the kind that use your own grass and simply provide a border for a hole. I found this one from Party Pals. It looked adorable, especially with a sea of preschool-age kids in their little polo shirts and khaki shorts with colorful golf balls and clubs.

The kids had a blast! There were many kids that had never before played mini golf, but soon became hooked. They were incredibly excited to be able to go home and continue practicing as the party favors consisted of their own personalized putters from Noochie Golf and Mabel’s Labels. They also received two kid golf balls and a Stephen Joseph pencil box to keep their pencils and score cards.

We used Polkatots Cupcakes again for the cupcake cake which turned out AMAZING! Not only are they the most delicious cupcakes on the planet, but they did a remarkable job with the golf theme. 
Overall, it was an incredible par-tee with lots of fun had by all. Our little golfer was super-excited to share his love for golf with his family and close friends on his special day. His 4th birthday was one foooore the books!

Breastfeeding cabbage leaves and nursing Nanny Connie Weaning weaning process

Weaning Our 2-Year Old: The Process That Worked For Us

October 26, 2017

It’s official. After two and a half years, we are DONE breastfeeding! Woo-hoo! (Or from my son’s point of view, “Boo-hoo!”) I remember thinking last spring that I never thought this day would come, as he didn’t show any signs of slowing down. I swear…my milk must have tasted like a strawberry or oreo milkshake to him. You could sway a lollipop, cookie, or his favorite strawberry cupcake in front of him and he would choose my “milks” over all of it every time. And I didn’t mind. I LOVED breastfeeding. I am a huge advocate for it not only for the amazing nutrients it provides your baby, but also for the bonding element. The sweet bond you get to experience never gets old. Even after two and a half years, I loved every moment of it. Sure, at times I thought, boy wouldn’t it be nice to have my boobs back? But I knew this moment of my child being little only lasts such a short while, and I wanted to let him nurse as long as he wanted. One of my favorite nursing quotes by Marni Jackson reads, “Breastfeeding is an unsentimental metaphor for how love works, in a way. You don’t decide how much and how deeply to love – you respond to the beloved, and give with joy exactly as much as they want.” This quote couldn’t resonate more perfectly to me.

Sadly, due to the fact that I needed to start a major detox (from living in black mold) that is unsafe for nursing mamas, I needed to have Anders weaned by an actual date (September 1st). Since we knew I had to be finished nursing by then, we decided to schedule our first no-kids-vacation at the same time. Thus, the pressure was on!

When I started the weaning process, I had no clue where to start. My first-born weaned himself at 15-months. (I was also six-months pregnant at the time so I’m guessing the taste and flavor must have changed a bit which probably was a major factor in the self-weaning process.) The seemingly daunting task of weaning a two-and-a-half-year old (who was nursing four or more times a day) was a bit overwhelming at first. I called friends for advice, among them my go-to guru for all-things-babies-and-toddlers, Nanny Connie. (She is AH-MAZING…I’ve learned so much from this lady! You can pick up some great tips on her Instagram at @nannyconnie or nannyconnie.com). Obviously there’s no one-size-fits-all for the weaning process, especially when you’re dealing with toddlers, but what we did, worked! We basically listened to friends’ advice, completed our own research, and based on knowing our own child, we created our own process of weaning. Here’s what worked for us:

For two weeks, I stuck firm with the following…

  • I fed him more snacks in-between meals and was sure to offer him liquids more frequently.
  • My husband put the boys to bed, (instead of both of us), so Anders wouldn’t have the option to be nursed to sleep.
  • I changed up his daily routine a bit so he wouldn’t expect to nurse during his normal feeding times.
  • When I did nurse, I shortened the amount of time by half.
  • After the two weeks, I went for two days straight of not allowing him to nurse at all. I refrained from pumping during those two days as well.
  • On the third day, I pumped all my milk out, (a HUGE hallelujah moment!) and placed cabbage leaves on my breasts to absorb the little milk that came back.

Shockingly, this worked like a charm. He didn’t experience hardly any of the emotional behaviors that I had read so much about. We took our trip on the following day (after pumping all my milk out), and I was officially done with nursing. I wore cabbage leaves during our long flight to Tahiti, and once we landed in Bora Bora, I was milk-free and pain-free. It was truly a pleasant surprise. And equally shocking, Anders did just fine while we were away. When we arrived back home ten days later, however, it was a bit of a different story. He definitely tugged at the shirt and asked for his “milks,” but I stayed firm on not allowing it. He tried relentlessly for a couple of days, and has even tried a few times since, but thankfully, all of that is lessening. When you wean at this age, it’s definitely not something they soon forget! It’s a natural tendency, and they certainly remember how soothing it is for them.

I never knew how long I would breastfeed my babies when they were born. I simply hoped I was going to be able to breastfeed, and once I could, my goal was to breastfeed for a year. Two and a half years for my second son was far longer than I ever thought I would breastfeed. I’m grateful I was able to do it as long as I did considering I know how much he needed and loved it. I miss it more than I thought I would, yet at the same time, it is pretty darn nice to have my boobs back! Best of luck to all of you weaning mamas…no matter the age, it’s still a daunting and bittersweet process that requires some tough navigation.

 

 

 

Bora Bora Travel Vacation

Bora Bora Vacation Review

October 23, 2017

After four years, we finally did it. We took a husband/wife trip without kids! For a year, we had tried planning a kid-free trip to nearby places like Palm Springs, San Diego, and San Francisco. For whatever reason, (usually my husband’s work schedule), none ever materialized. After an insanely busy summer on top of being out of our home due to water damage/renovations, my husband and I decided to pull the trigger. “If we’re going to do this, let’s commit to it and just go big,” I said. “Otherwise, it’s never going to happen.” I had always wanted to show my husband my all-time favorite island destination, Bora Bora, which I had visited a few times before for work. (Not too shabby work, huh?!) I’ve raved about my favorite Polynesian paradise for years…how “nothing compares to it,” and “when you’re there, you feel like your surrounding is fake,” and “it’s too beautiful to be real.” After showing photo after photo and acting as though I was a sales representative for the Bora Bora Board of Tourism, my husband gave me the thumbs up. Thus, we went online, put our saved up airline miles to good use, and booked our adult getaway to the “Pearl of the South Pacific.” Bora Bora, here we come!

When I had previously experienced Bora Bora for work, I visited some lovely resorts. I stayed at the Intercontinental, Sofitel, and my favorite property was what is now the newly renovated Conrad Bora Bora Nui Resort. However, I had heard and read so many amazing things about the Four Seasons Bora Bora. After doing our own research and finding a deal, we decided to give it a try.

To provide an overview of the hotel, Four Seasons Bora Bora is perhaps one of the most picturesque spots on the island. The location is phenomenal. The resort is surrounded by white sand islets on an outer coral reef harboring the most gorgeous color of turquoise lagoon. And as if that isn’t enough, the backdrop is the absolute best views of Mt. Otemanu. (It’s seriously the most gorgeous views EVER!) Talk about some major beauty-sensory-overload! It consists of 300 over-water-bungalows and ten beachfront villas. The resort’s sprawling property includes a spa, lagoon sanctuary, infinity pool, fitness center, tennis courts, four restaurants, and a chapel.

HIGHLIGHTS

  • SPA – The spa is FABULOUS! We enjoyed a couples polynesian massage in the spa suite which was divine. The massage tables are situated over a glass window in the floor so you can admire the large amounts of fish in the lagoon while you lay on your stomach. The suite has its own charming soaking tub with flowers, coconut oils, and fresh fruit.

 

  • FOOD – The four restaurants offered a great diversity of lunch and dinner options. Our favorite was the beach restaurant with live entertainment. The elegant French restaurant was excellent, as was the sushi restaurant. Our favorite dining experience, however, consisted of simply ordering room service on our private deck in our bungalow at sunset…it was by far the most romantic and picture-perfect setting for a private dining experience.

    Overwater bungalow room service dinner on our deck…

  • ACTIVITIES – Despite wanting to mostly relax, we did venture off to do some activities. We ended up booking the Vitamin Sea Catamaran which was a must-do! We also rented jet skis off property and had a great time on the 2-hour tour around the island, which included a stop to wade in the water and a second stop to learn how to open a coconut. We loved it so much that we ended up doing the tour twice. We also went into town to dine at the notorious Bloody Mary’s, shop, and enjoy chatting with the locals. The boat transfers to the main island were a bit on the pricey side, but it’s pretty much the only way to get there.

 

  • STAFF –  The staff were so welcoming and lovely. The staff didn’t just know our names, but every person we saw who walked by a staff member would be greeted by name. How they memorized all of us, I have no idea but it was mighty impressive! The attention to detail in the rooms was quite special. Each day, we came back to our room with a different ‘surprise.’ Whether it was an already-drawn bubble bath with petals and champagne, or a plate of delicious sweets and fruit at our bedside, the little details were very memorable. A big, heartfelt “maururu” to the staff for making our experience so magical.

 

  • OVERWATER BUNGALOWS – The famous straw-roof luxury huts on stilts in the middle of the most beautiful lagoon are just as amazing as they sound. To be able to fall asleep with the sound of waves beneath you -even on the windy nights with the crashing waves- is so soothing. The private decks enable you to jump into the ocean around your bungalow and admire the colorful fish and sea life underneath.

Overall, it was truly an unforgettable, magnificent experience. Our mission to spend quality time together, recover and rejuvenate from our summer, and create some beautiful memories in such a special place was accomplished. It truly exceeded all of our expectations and then some. We HIGHLY recommend a Bora Bora vacation, hands down. I didn’t do any scuba diving on this particular trip, but I have in all of my previous trips to Bora Bora. To date, it has been my most favorite scuba diving destination with the vibrant colors and amazing variety of sea life. If you can stay a while and are able to travel around, I would definitely suggest visiting Moorea and a day in Papeete (the downtown market is a must-do!), both of which I’ve visited on my previous work trips. I have also visited Rotorua and Huahine which were also memorable. (Huahine has some great vanilla bean fields…I love me some vanilla beans so I greatly advise to order vanilla bean-flavored desserts in Tahiti as they are the real deal! Best Vanilla Bean Ice Cream on the planet!) A few of the friends we made on our vacation visited The Brando on Tetiaroa and said it was unbelievable. I have never been but it sounds exceptional! Even though Bora Bora is a hike for those in the Midwest and East coast, I would still highly recommend this Tahitian paradise…(especially considering the Zika scare in other tropical destinations). It’s truly a magical place that you will create some beautiful memories with your loved one.


 

Photos by Sadry Ghacir and myself






 

 

Birthdays Parenting Products Toddler Products

2nd Birthday “Rock” Party

October 20, 2017

After fixing some website issues, I am finally back up and running! HOORAY! With that said, I am now able to post some of my saved posts from the last six months. I’m starting out with my favorite…Anders’ 2nd Birthday “Rock” Party!

I don’t know what it is about rocks, but my Anders is OBSESSED! Small, big, rough, smooth, ugly, pretty…it doesn’t matter what they look like, he loves them all! Thus, when I was trying to figure out a theme for his 2nd birthday, I asked my husband, “Why don’t we throw him a rock party?” I knew it sounded strange, but I couldn’t imagine him loving anything more than a party centered around his passion for rocks.

Since the party-goers consisted of his fellow two-year old music class pals and their siblings, we kept the rock activities very little-kid-friendly. We had large bins filled with cereal in the shape of small pebbles/rocks and provided small shovels to scoop the ‘rocks’ into little dump trucks and buckets. We also had a rock painting table which seemed to be the favorite among the older siblings. In lieu of gifts, we asked everyone to bring a cool rock. The actual invitation read, “In place of gifts, please bring a rock of any shape, size or color. Whether it’s from your backyard or off the side of the road, anything will do!” Needless to say, Anders LOVED his new rock additions to his collection. Some of the gifted rocks were quite impressive! He received some awesome geodes, a large rock with his name painted on top, and one that was bedazzled. Who knew an actual rock party involving rock-gift-giving could be so cool?!

A big thank you to our photographer Ashley Burns for the awesome photos! And thank you to Stephen Joseph Gifts and Hape Toys for the great party favors, as well as our beloved Polkatots for the AMAZING cupcake cake (with edible rocks)! And I can’t forget my son AJ who helped his mama decorate the night before and make the Oreo dirt cups…he loved putting the gummy worms and mini dump trucks on top of the “dirt” topping. This party theme truly “rocked.”:)

Pics below by Ashley Burns.

 

Our simple table decorations of cheap work hats, cones and Hape dump trucks.

 

Our lovely street-table runner made out of construction paper.

 

Our party favors were these adorable Stephen Joseph activity books and pull-string backpacks. Dump truck-theme for the boys and a pink garden/owl-theme for the girls.

 

Polkatots never disappoints! How awesome is this dump truck cupcake cake with edible rocks?!?

 

Rock painting table.

 

The pebble/rock table (i.e. Cheerios and the healthy version of Cocoa Puffs) with small scoops.

 

Our awesome Oreo ‘Dirt’ Cups, which was one of my personal favorites as a kid. AJ took great pride in decorating them with the worms and dump trucks.

 

Dessert table consisting of Polkatots cupcake cake, two cakes (red velvet and strawberry), and “dirt” pudding cups.

 

 



 

 

 

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