No Service, No Problem!

WiFi and 4G service is spotty at best when you live in a building made predominately from concrete. It can be quite frustrating when I am in bed trying to download my next RomCom or when we send Luke to his room for some alone time with the iPad (no judgement, our apartment is tiny ya'll). But you know what? I'm happy I don't get service in my daughters new nursery. 

This is my last baby I will nurse through the night. The last time little cries will wake me up, needing me. The last time that I will be the sole provider of what my baby needs to survive. Someday within the next year will be the last time that she nurses and the last time that I will ever nurse a sweet baby.

I want to relish these moments with her. I want look in her little eyes and get her to smile that nursing smile that we all know and love. I want to have both hands available to be able to hold those tiny fingers while she is slipping away to dreamland. 

So often throughout the day I am rushing to get nursing sessions over. We are rushing to get one last session in before picking Luke up from school. I am rushing her, so I can get the next load in the dryer or start dinner for the family. I'm hastily nursing her in the dressing room so I can finish the shopping that has to be done. The time we spend in the nursery is our time and it's one of the few times we don't have too much going on outside that door. 

Since everyone we know is awake while we sleep (thanks, time zones) it would be so easy for me to get lost in social media every night. Instead, I am spending these precious hours soaking up all the smiles, all the cuddles and all the hand holding I can before it's over. My 4 year old needs me less and less these days. One day Ceci will need me less and less too, and that's ok!  But, for now you can find me in the pink nursery loving life without service. 

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Winter Book Review

I had so many books on my, "I will be nursing 24/7, so let's read a bunch" list. Isn't it funny how much less reading happens with your second child compared to your first? One can only multi task so much. So, I am doing a Winter Book Review this time around and includes a little bit of everything.
 Time period reads, beach reads for these dreary pre-spring days and even a YA thrown in there. Let me know what you are reading these days and if you have read any of these books, let me know what you thought.

books to read

Along the Infinite Sea - Beatriz Williams

This book is a must read. It was beautifully written and will grab you from the first page. Any book that is set from the 1900-1940's is going to be a favorite of mine, but this book really captures that time frame and the feelings and emotions around the lead up of World War II. Williams writes two storylines that run together brilliantly. It is multiple love stories, tied up in one and you will love every moment of chase. Please, please, please go and rent or buy this book. I have since found out that this part of a series, The Schuyler Sisters series. All of them are the about women who lived during the early 1900's mixed with a mid century storyline involving sisters. 

This is Where it Ends - Marieke Nijkamp

This was a YA novel and it definitely reads as a YA novel. It follows a day where a school shooting occurs and the lives of a few different students who are living through it. It was hard for me to finish this one, but I am happy I did. I did not feel like it was strongly written, and I thought it was missing something. That being said, I would recommend it to someone who likes emotional YA novels and is OK with lots of character development.

Here's to Us - Elin Hildebrand

I have read a lot of Hildebrand's books in the past year, and while they are all based in the same area of the USA, they are all so different. This book follows the lives of an extended and diverse family, including the deceased three wives! It is funny, heartbreaking and truly makes you think about the situation and what you would do if you were in the same position. Like any good Hildebrand novel, there is some sweetness and some character development, but it is a nice story that has a predictable but good ending.

Between Shades of Grey - Ruta Sepetys

By far, my favorite book I have read this year. It is beautifully written and the content is about events that most people do not even realize happened. The character development is spot on, strong but it does not take away from the content. The book is about Lithuanians that are forced to Siberian labor camps during WWII by the Soviets. It is a side of the war that not too many are familiar with, and while the story is horribly sad and hard to imagine, it is an important piece of history. The author paints a picture of how awful these camps were, but also shows the side of human emotion. I highly recommend this book to everyone.

Salt to the Sea - Ruta Sepetys

This was the first Sepetys book I read, and no joke I think I finished in under 24 hours. I LOVE the WWII era and I especially love when it shows the human side of all the horrible events that occurred. It is based on the largest wartime tragedy in history, no not the Titanic, but the sinking of the Wilhelm Gustloff. Never heard of it? Yup, me neither. This book follows the stories of four teenagers who are refugees in 1945, vying for a spot on the ship that will hopefully take them to safety. You will cry, you will laugh and be prepared to be amazed how the amount of history you do not know. Once again, this is a must read. 

We Were Liars - E. Lockhart

I found this book off a pin that listed suspenseful books that you will want to read in one sitting. While, this book is definitely suspenseful and has all the workings of a huge twist, I was able to predict the twist roughly halfway through. There were times that I continued reading, simply to prove that I guessed correctly. It was an interesting book, and if you like suspense I would absolutely recommend it. It fits somewhere in between YA and Young Adult, since the main characters are rather young.

Happy reading,

6 Simple Steps to Getting Back into the Kitchen After Baby

Cooking is so important to me. Not only do I like to feed my family meals that I have prepared, but I also truly enjoy following a good recipe or creating my own one of a kind dish. Getting back in the kitchen was important to me after we welcomed our second baby, Cecilia. Not only because I love cooking but I am also living in a new country, filled with endless new ideas to add to my recipe book. If I'm being honest, it took me about a month until I really had the energy to spend grocery shopping and cooking a solid meal,  but once I got back into the swing of things it felt so good to be chopping and cooking again. Here are some of my foolproof hacks to make getting back into the kitchen an easy transition.

1. Don't set your expectations too high.
I aim for three good home cooked meals each week. The days where Ryan has to work 12 hour shifts, or we have two doctor appointments during the day, I go ahead and dip into my freezer stash. The last thing I want is to be stressed out and in a horrible mood when I sit down to eat the dinner that I planned, prepped and cooked. 

2. Set yourself up for success.
In the old days when there was just one kid involved, I was really good at getting everything prepped right after I went to the grocery store. But, now that I have a little one that nurses, she always wants to eat as soon as we get home from the store. So I have had to kind of change my routine of prepping. I try to prep all of my vegetables and ingredients before I actually get in the kitchen to cook dinner. If I have a down moment during the day while my oldest is at preschool, I go ahead and cut the vegetables. If the baby is napping and I have already had my power nap, I prep. One of those days where the baby takes a 4 hour nap? Prep all of your meals for the week, trust me you will thank yourself later. It is so much simpler to cook if you have everything prepped and ready. 

3. Distract, distract, distract! 
Luckily, our island in the kitchen is big enough for Luke to sit and color or paint while I cook. He is really good at doing an activity if I sit with him for a few minutes and walk him through what to do and then get dinner ready. Aren't bouncers a gift from God? As long as CC is fed, changed and happy, she will sit in that for a few minutes while I get everything ready. I occasionally wear her, but I am still learning to love that process! 

4. Use a grocery delivery service. 
For those of you that are in the states, the curbside grocery is really taking off. Take advantage of it! I hate grocery shopping, but love cooking. I would rather use my energy to cook in the kitchen than to push a stroller around and try to keep a baby happy while we are shopping. I love the service, The Set Table, they are available out here in Okinawa as well as Leavenworth Kansas, so check them out if you are local. They give you everything pre-measured, all you have to do is read the recipe and prepare the vegetables. It has saved me SO much time you would not believe it. I try to order one or two meals from them a week, which is one or two meals less that I have to worry about. Not in those two areas? Try another meal delivery service.

5. Keep your recipe expectations low! 
As much as I love cooking Rachael Ray dishes, those are just not doable at this point in our routine. Maybe in a few years I'll have the time and the patience to go to three different stores finding all of the ingredients, but for now I love the 3 to 5 ingredient recipes. I also stick to the dinners that I am very familiar with. You know the ones that your husband got sick of a few weeks into your marriage? Those are perfect for right now! 

6. As always, double up those recipes. 
You all know by now that I love having a freezer stash! If I am able to cook one night then why not go ahead and double that recipe so I can freeze the dinner and use it at a later date? It just makes so much sense and has made my life so much easier! I made my Lasagna recipe a few weeks ago (which yields FOUR lasagnas), so yesterday when I was sick all day, I threw in the extra one that I had frozen and dinner was done.  Most recipes can either be cooked and frozen or prepped and frozen.

Happy Cooking,