Have you heard of the documentary, Blackfish?  I hadn't, but my parents rented in via Netflix and let my husband and I borrow it on Thanksgiving night.  I'm not always a fan of documentaries, but this one was gripping.  Essentially it's a documentary about orca whales, and is a glimpse at how captivity can impact their mental health and behavior.  The film focuses particularly on a large male orca whale, Tilikum, one of orcas in SeaWorld's fleet.  This movie was quite captivating, with testimonials from past SeaWorld trainers, and gives an insider look at the practices of animal theme parks.  Definitely a must see!



I'm feeling especially thankful this Thanksgiving, just to name a few...

+ I am thankful for my beautiful, healthy daughter.   I am thankful for my healthy pregnancy. I am thankful that I carried my baby to term, and for our smooth delivery.  I am thankful for the gift of motherhood.

+ I am ever thankful for my husband, who embraced fatherhood without the slightest hesitation, and is equally smitten with our little bug.  I am thankful to have him as my partner, and know we are on the same team in this parenting journey together.

+ I am thankful for my parents, to my mom who clears her schedule often to be available to help us out.  I am more thankful for my parents now more than ever, as I can now clearly appreciate and recognize what they went through to raise sisters and I.  It's very humbling.

+ I am thankful for gainful employment. Even though I'm reluctant to head back to work after the blessing that is maternity leave, I am thankful to have a job that has security.

+ I am thankful for my family.  My extended family is loud, boisterous, sarcastic, and full of life. Even though they're scattered across a handful of states, and we don't all come together nearly as often as I'd like, it is comforting to know they're just a phone call, or plane ride away.

+ I am thankful for my friends.  My girlfriends are a close knit group.  I know I can lean on any of them if need be, which in itself is a comforting thought.  We celebrate together, cry together, laugh together, and share a bond that has only strengthened through the years.

+ I am thankful for my life.  It has been a year of blessings and I feel especially grateful and happy this year.

What are you thankful for?

Dinner Last Night: {Paleo} Sausage Stuffed Acorn Squash

not my photo, but the end result looked similar...

Another Paleo success - two dinners in a row, I feel like I'm on a roll!  (We'll see how long this lasts...) This was the perfect dinner for a cold, crisp, November night.  I love the flavor and heartiness of acorn squash, and while my husband is still acquiring a taste for squash, I think I may have sold him with this dish.  Sausage stuffed acorn squash - we picked up a red pepper ground sausage at the market which paired nicely with the onion, celery, apple, and rosemary.  All in all, a successful, filling, PALEO dish!

Paleo or Bust

Woohoo, we are back on the making dinner bandwagon!  With our little one almost 3 months, it's high time we start using our kitchen more frequently for its intended purposes!  What kick-started this return to cooking was my husband and my decision to try eating Paleo.  Perhaps you've heard this buzz word mentioned before - Paleo for all intents and purposes is eating whole foods that our hunter-gatherer ancestors would've thrived on, i.e. meat and vegetables - no grains, no dairy, no processed anything.  

Sounds intense, right?  Well, my husband has been excited about this since he learned about this way of eating through CrossFit, and I've decided to try it as well, after educating myself about wheat and its negative effects on the digestive system via the book Wheat Belly.  Many people recommend jumping into the Paleo lifestyle headfirst, literally throwing out anything processed from your cupboards.  While we've made some changes, not restocking once necessary items, we've decided to take a slower, steadier approach.  However, we've unanimously agreed to refrain from omitting beer, wine, and chocolate.  Because you just gotta indulge a little, right?

Anyway - our first official made at home Paleo dinner was last night - an amazing roasted pork tenderloin, stuffed with a mushroom, bacon, spinach, garlicky concoction....Mmmamazing!  Not only was it flavorful, but the pork was moist and cooked perfectly, always a plus in my book!  We're currently whipping up Paleo stuffed acorn squashes tonight, I'll report back tomorrow...

Anyone else out there eating Paleo?  Please share your favorite recipes!

Quote of the Week

"We can only be said to be alive in those moments when our hearts are conscious of our treasures" 
- Thornton Wilder


Hospital Bag Essentials

I read dozens of these posts prior to my labor, and ended up bringing many items I never touched, or even took out of my hospital bag!  As such, I thought I'd do a post about the items I found MOST essential to have in my hospital bag.

1. Comfy slippers: hospital floors are hard, cold, and tiled.  During labor and after the birth, comfortable, cozy slippers make all the difference when everything else hurts.  I personally love these cute, cozy, and affordable ones!

2. DVDs: Since I was induced and later in my labor had an epidural, we had some opportunity for "down time," where not much visible action was happening on the baby front.  My husband packed a few of our favorite DVDs, which was a great way to pass the time and soothe any anxiety and anticipation I was feeling as we waited for our girl to debut.

3. Nursing bras: Purchasing a nursing bra pre-baby was difficult for me, I kept wondering if the size I was buying was accurate, but really had no way to know.  I ended up trying on a few while pregnant, and buying a size up from there, which worked out perfectly.  My favorite nursing bras then (and now) are the ones without underwire, especially Gilligan & O'Malley available at Target, and Elle MacPherson via Amazon.

4. Baby onesies: You're going to want at least one outfit to dress up your new little one, preferably one with a matching hat.  Our hospital offered a complimentary newborn photo shoot from which you could purchase prints, and of course we wanted our new babe to look her best!  In retrospect, I would buy newborn onesies with zips over snaps, it's just THAT much easier when you're dressing and undressing them every hour or so for diaper changes.

5. Nipple butter:  Laugh now, but you'll need this!  I preferred Earth Mama Angel Baby Nipple butter to Lanolin.  The hospital will provide you with lanolin if needed, so you can see what works for you.  I found Earth Mama's brand to provide much more soothing relief in those first few weeks, plus it's all natural, organic, and has a pleasant scent as well.

6. Swaddle blankets: There are a million out there, but Swaddle Designs are hands down my favorite swaddle blankets, they're thicker and warmer than Aden & Anais' swaddle blankets (which we also liked), and come in a plethora of adorable designs, and can be used as blankets once you've decided to stop swaddling.

7. Socks: Your feet get cold!  Even if you have slippers, I'd recommend bringing at least two pairs of cozy socks to keep your tootsies warm during labor, delivery, and recovery.

8. Shampoo & Conditioner: Once you've been moved into recovery, are up and mobile, that first shower post delivery is wonderful!  Truly, it will revitalize you more than you can imagine!  While the hospital does provide shampoo and conditioner, it's typically the generic 3-in-1 gel, which personally doesn't do wonders for my hair. I brought little travel size bottles of my favorite shampoos, and I felt like a new woman afterward!

9. Hairbrush: This seems like the most obvious item, however, I almost forgot mine!  After an hour and a half of pushing, my hair got all messed and matted, and I was happy to have a hair brush on hand to smooth it over.

10. Lip Balm: Your lips will become chapped no doubt, and EOS brand was my favorite (especially honeydew and pomegranate).  These lip balms are super easy, because you can apply quickly without getting balm on your fingertips.

Too Bright or Not Too Bright

I need some fashion advice, so I'm putting this question out to the blog.  I recently purchased these Nike Free tennis shoes on sale in this vibrant blue/orange combo, but I'm concerned they're a little too bright.    I guess I'm not used to wearing neon on my feet!  My husband claims this is the trend (at least among his CrossFit buddies).  Thoughts?  

What's your opinion?  Keep or return?  I need some help!


Christmas Wish Lists

In an effort to save money, my husband and I are opting out of gift-giving this holiday season, and asking our families to do the same.  In the long run, we'd rather have our dream house than a new necklace, jacket, pair of shoes...etc. However, a girl can't help but make an online wish list and lust over a few items this holiday season, just for fun, of course...  

I'm currently loving:

Isn't Christmas list making fun?  What's on your wish list this year?

Next up... Christmas wish list for baby...


Quote of the Week

"I want to be light and frolicsome. I want to be improbable and beautiful and afraid of nothing as though I had wings." // Mary Oliver


10 Reasons Why I Love You

1. I love how when you're sleeping in our arms or lap, your hands fold gently across your chest, one atop the other.  It's the sweetest thing to watch when you sleep, you look so peaceful and content.  The soft folds of your hands, the smoothness of your sweet skin, I could stare at little baby hands all day long and be wholeheartedly content.

2. You've found your thumb!  After we put you to bed one night, but before we retired ourselves, we heard this loud sucking sound coming from your crib.  I tiptoed in to check on you, and there you were, sucking your little left thumb with gusto.  I hissed at your dad to come in and see, and together we quietly leaned over the edge of your crib, watching you in awe, so proud of your feat.  It's truly amazing how you're already learning and discovering new things for yourself.  Now, a few weeks later, as you're getting more skilled at consistently finding your thumb, you had this adorable habit of sucking your thumb with one hand, and twirling your hair with the other.  It's the sweetest!

3. You've become such a talker, you coo, and smile, and flirt.  It's as if we're having a secret conversation that no one else understands.  Your dad and I have been trying to capture this magic on video for a few weeks now, and I finally got it.  You cooed, smiled, and babbled up a storm.  I've watched that clip on repeat.

4. Oh, how I love your snuggle!  At our mommy and me movie, after I burped you, you curled up on my shoulder, and nuzzled into the soft fabric of my shirt, burrowing your head around until you found that sweet, comfy spot.  With one arm curled around my back, the other resting across my chest, your eyelids grew heavy, your head grew heavy on my shoulder, and you snuggled in for a good nap.  I love  these moments, the closeness of your heartbeat against mine, your warm breath against my neck, our heads nestled against each other in pure bliss.  You can nap on me anywhere, anytime sweet girl.

5. I love your smile, you are such a happy baby!  When we tickle and smile at you, your gummy grin lights up right back at us.  You also love to smile in your sleep, it makes me wonder what you're thinking and dreaming about.

6. You have the cutest little rolls on your wrists, it's the perfect little fold of skin, right where your arm and hand meet.  It's as if you have a rubber band or hair tie right folded right at the crease of this joint.   It's such a small detail, but I love it.

7. You are soo long! At your two month check up this week, the doctor exclaimed, "She's so long!" You are topping the charts at 24 1/4 inches!  Officially in the 95th percentile for your age, you're going to be a tall girl just like your mom!  You're a long and lean little baby, growing more everyday.

8. Turns out, the love for the Detroit Tigers pacifier was short lived, your dad and I joke that you're a fair weather fan, as you gave up your fondness for it shortly after they lost to the Red Sox.  Your latest interest, your lamb Wubbanub, affectionately known as "Lambie."  If we're out and you're feeling fussy, you can bet mom and dad are scrambling going, "Where's Lambie, do you have Lambie?"  However, Lambie does play second fiddle to the built in soother known as your thumb, occasionally we'll find Lambie (who we left on your chest, mid suckle), thrown across your crib in the middle of the night.  Guess there's no substitute for the real thing!

9. You're an active little one.  Lately, the changing table has become center stage for windmill arm and leg acrobatics, kick, kick, kickin' and flailing all around.  It's a mini workout on your back.  We love watching you play.

10. You think mommy is hilarious!  One of our new morning routines is for you to gently rock in the swing, while I playfully dance around the room in faux ballet poses and stretches.  It's a sight to see, let me tell you :)  You smile and crinkle your eyes when I goofily dance around, while you wave and kick and coo happily, amused and entertained by my silly antics.
Mommy appreciates this vote of confidence, by the way.  Love having you by my side. :)

Fair Isle

One of my favorite things about winter is cozy sweaters.  And of the cozy sweaters, I definitely LOVE fair isle sweaters.  Something about them, the thickness, the scratchy soft wool just screams Christmas for me!  This seasons it seems that fair isle is everywhere, which I love!  Here's a few fun fair isle finds from around the web.

+ fair isle cozy knit throw

+ fair isle poncho for baby

+ snowed in fair isle PJ's

+ fair isle sweater dress

+ contrast stripe fair isle scarf

+ fair isle earflap hat

+ fair isle baby tights

Any good fair isle finds you've found?

Cookbook Crush

I have my eye on a new cookbook for my Christmas wish list, JERUSALEM the cookbook to be exact.  My friend Lindsay made us an amazing meal from here, chicken with caramelized onions and cardamom rice, and that alone has me intrigued to discover what other gems author Yotto Ollenghi has to offer.  When I looked up this cookbook on Amazon to read a few reviews, I was delighted to that consumers are quite happy as well.  Literally of all 397 reviews posted, they were almost unanimously 5 star reviews.  

Anyone own this cookbook?  If so, what's your favorite recipe?


Quote of the Week

"The journey toward our beauty is a magnificent struggle.  Achieving an integrity between what we believe and how we live is a challenge worthy of the gift of life.  A thousand obstacles stand between ourselves and the honoring of our truth.  A thousand distractions.  A thousand ego generated delusions.  To dive down, find the beauty, nurture it and offer it to the world is magnificent.  Staying with your beauty, your truth, your integrity is difficult, but out of these things comes meaning, and meaning is all transcendent."

~ Rod MacIver

Day at the Movies

Yesterday, Riley and I ventured out to a "Mommy and Me" movie!  A local movie theater offers three movie options to moms and babes every Thursday.  There was about 10-12 other moms there, a few fussy moments, but a pleasant experience overall. The best part - when they take your ticket, you're handed a menu to order concessions from your seat!  Isn't that brilliant?  Needless to say, we enjoyed ourselves and it was a fun activity for mommy, although Riley was definitely intrigued by the screen.
We saw the movie "About Time," with Rachel McAdams, one of my favorite actresses.  When I heard this movie had the same director as Notting Hill and Love Actually, I knew I'd like it.  I do love me a British dramedy!  It's a sweet movie, and a perfect first movie out for a new mom, there's a few sentimental anecdotes about parenting that hit home for me.

Flowers In Bloom

I adore Rifle Paper Company's prints!  In addition to collecting their notecards, calendars, and stationary, my daughter's nursery boasts not one, not two, but FIVE of their colorful prints.  Lately, I'm loving these photographs from Rifle's lookbook which pairs the artful floral stylings of NYC florist Amy Merrick with Rifle's colorful floral prints.  Stunning!
images via riflepaperco

Quote of the Week

Love this.

by emily mcdowell 
image via designmom