Accidental blog hiatus

Whoops! It’s been awhile since I’ve blogged. Being a working mom is a lot of work and sadly my blog-writing time has dwindled. I’m very sorry for this hiatus and I figured I’d show you what I’ve been up to.

I hope to get back to it soon, so please keep checking back! Thank you for reading!

Baby Michael: Month 1

Baby Michael: Month 1

Baby Michael: Month 2

Baby Michael: Month 2

Baby Michael: Month 3

Baby Michael: Month 3

Baby Michael: Month 4

Baby Michael: Month 4

Baby Michael: Month 5

Baby Michael: Month 5

Baby Michael: Month 6

Baby Michael: Month 6

Baby Michael: Month 7

Baby Michael: Month 7

2016 Super Bowl party

Brandon was born in Colorado and as a result he grew up watching the Broncos. (We even cheered on the Broncos when they played the Seattle Seahawks in 2014.) He knows everything about the team and will root for them every chance he gets. He was offered that opportunity a few weeks ago during SuperBowl 50.

We held a SuperBowl party and went all out– as all out as we can with an infant at home who’d not big on napping. Thanks to Michael’s four-month sleep regression, we had the “pleasure” of waking up at 5 a.m., an hour earlier than we had intended, which worked out perfectly for the brisket. Brandon was able to get it into the Traeger an hour earlier! (It’s all about looking on the bright side, right?)

Here’s the party breakdown.

Our Super Bowl 2016 spread

Our Super Bowl 2016 spread

Menu:

  • Beef brisket (smoked for hours by Brandon)
  • Baked beans (we were going to make them from scratch and then we saw them for sale at Costco: So. Much. Easier.)
  • Superfood kale salad — this kit is available at Costco and is so easy to put together. It’s delicious too!
  • Veggie platter
  • Blue tortilla chips with seven-layer dip (pre-purchased, so worth it!)
  • Half time pepperoni pizza. We bought this ginormous pizza at Costco. It took me mere minutes to rearrange the pepperonis and cut a string cheese as the laces. (Photo below!)
  • Desserts: orange and blue browned-butter Rice Krispie treats and the most adorable and delicious sugar cookies you’ve ever had from my friend Robin (she also made the beehive cookies at our gender reveal last year)

And of course some photos:

The most amazing Super Bowl cookies ever. I wish I could make these myself!

The most amazing Super Bowl cookies ever. I wish I could make these myself!

Orange and blue Bronco Rice Krispies treats

Orange and blue Bronco Rice Krispies treats

Football pizza

Football pizza

Our Peyton Manning prayer candle. Worked spectacularly this year!

Our Peyton Manning prayer candle. Worked spectacularly this year!

Super Bowl bingo was a big hit-- it combined commercials and the game.

Super Bowl bingo was a big hit– it combined commercials and the game.

Our little fan watching the pre-game

Our little fan watching the pre-game

How I watched the game: wearing a wee one, with a {plastic} glass of wine.

How I watched the game: wearing a wee one, with a {plastic} glass of wine.

World champions!!

World champions!!

Michael's new super bowl ring. Tastes like VICTORY!

Michael’s new super bowl ring. Tastes like VICTORY!

We've got Bronco spirit!

We’ve got Bronco spirit!

Hopefully we get to have another successful SuperBowl party next year! This little guy has his game face on and is ready!

Game face = ON!

Game face = ON!

{Read about our 2014 Super Bowl party here.}

Birth announcements

Baby announcement

Our very special delivery!

Michael recently celebrated his five-month birthday and we celebrated by finally getting his birth announcements in the mail! A few months later than I had hoped, but, that’s how things are these days. As I was preparing to send out Baby Michael’s birth announcements, I did some research and stumbled across something great: you can get a welcome note for your new child from the President and First Lady! Send them an announcement or submit the information online.

It’s super quick and easy to do and look what came in the mail the other day:

A welcome note for Michael from President and Mrs. Obama

A welcome note for Michael from President and Mrs. Obama

We also sent an announcement to Mickey and Minnie Mouse. (We haven’t received anything back yet!) If you’re Catholic, you can send an announcement to the Pope for a blessing. Find all of the details on Parents.com.

And since I’m people who knows people, Mayor Ed Murray, the mayor of Seattle, proclaimed Michael’s birthday as a “day” in the city of Seattle. This proclamation is amazing:

Michael Carl Szerwo Day in the City of Seattle

Michael Carl Szerwo Day in the City of Seattle

I worked for the Seattle City Council when Brandon and I got married. The Council members proclaimed our wedding day a “day” in the city of Seattle too! Mark your calendar to celebrate Michael Szerwo Day this year: only 6.5 months to go and at the speed time is flying by these days, it’ll be here before we know it!

Michael’s first valentines

I finally had a chance to use my Valentine’s Day inspirations pinterest board for Michael’s first Valentine’s Day party at his daycare!

There are so many great ideas out there! I especially liked the fish bowls, tic tacs, and chips.

However, since many of those at daycare (including Michael) aren’t eating solids, I went the route of age-appropriate toys instead.

And… voila! Amazing valentines!

These valentines are DINO-riffic!

These valentines are DINO-riffic!

I combined a few of the dinosaur valentines I found online and designed one perfect for “our” (Michael’s, but he doesn’t know what he’s doing yet…) needs. Download the template here. I added these dino bath squirters from Amazon.

The final product

The final product

I hope you have a great Valentine’s Day!

Thanksgiving {2015}

With the excitement of the holidays and a newborn who isn’t fond of napping, my posts are a little delayed these days. But, without further ado, some photos from this year’s Thanksgiving extravaganza.

First, we’ll start with our little turkey. Michael sported a Babies ‘R Us onesie and was a champ. He met my extended family, in town from California, and even decided to nap a wee fit, obviously exhausted from the festivities.

Our little Thanksgiving turkey

Our little Thanksgiving turkey

Not knowing how much time we’d have to prep a dish for the celebrations, we brought appetizers. I was able to find the time (no more than an hour required!) to prep not one but two platters.

I took inspiration from my platters from 2013 and 2014 and created an antipasti tray and vegetable platter.

Thanksgiving antipasti tray

Thanksgiving antipasti tray

Thanksgiving vegetable tray

Thanksgiving vegetable tray

The “turkey heads” are easy to make. Start with a smallish lemon with a bit of a stem nub. Then, whittle a carrot beak and glue it, a “hat” and some candy eyes onto the turkey with super glue. Hats can be anything from a radish top, broccoli, cauliflower, or something inedible too! Once you have your hat, make sure both of the surfaces are dried off, to the best of your ability. This will help the glue stick.

Thanksgiving platter turkey "heads"

Thanksgiving platter turkey “heads”

The trays are easy to create as well. A quick trip to the store a couple of days before the holiday will suffice, with about an hour of “construction” time the morning of the holiday:

The antipasti platter: 

  • Cured meat three-pack from Costco
  • ~1 lb Beecher’s Flagship cheddar cheese (Costco)
  • A wheel of brie (Costco)
  • Trader Joe’s new four-olive medley
  • Marinated mushrooms (Trader Joe’s)
  • ~1 lb of reduced fat smoked gouda (Trader Joe’s)

The vegetable tray: 

  • 1 head of broccoli
  • 1 head of cauliflower
  • 1 bag of baby carrots
  • 1 orange pepper
  • 2 cans of whole baby corn
  • 1 can of asparagus
  • 1 heart of celery
  • A couple of tomatoes
  • Not pictured: Fat-free sour cream with the Hidden Valley Ranch powder packet mixed in. (My favorite veggie dip!)

Here is a photo of the table, with my Aunt capturing the spread from a different angle. It was fun having such a large group (19 people!) to celebrate the holiday!

Our Thanksgiving set up

Our Thanksgiving set up

I also put my new modern calligraphy skills to use (did I tell you that I recently took a class with some girlfriends and discovered a new talent!?) and made place cards for the dinner. Don’t they look nice? I’m so impressed with myself– and clearly very humble!

Place cards by me!

Place cards by me!

I hope these inspire you to make a meat and cheese or veggie platter next Thanksgiving. Now I’m off to help Christmas explode all over our house! Photos to follow!

Baby must haves from a first time mom

BabyMustHaves

Now that I’ve been a mom for two whole months, I’m full of advice and helpful tips. I’m also taking tips and advice, so don’t hold back!

We thought we were ready to be parents, but in reality, we didn’t know the half of it.

Prior to Michael joining the world, we spent a lot of time researching products, browsing reviews online, and discussing needs with friends. Then he joined us and we figured out what works and what doesn’t for our little man.

First and foremost, you need a camera! We use both a digital SLR and our phones and have thousands of photos of our sweet little man!

Phone apps.

MammaBaby. I’ve had some friends make fun of my obsessive tracking of dirty diapers, sleep, and nursing timing, but when you’re this tired — or at least I was — this app is your brain. Plus its so nice to wake up and look at the sleep timer without trying to do math!

Anything white noise. We downloaded a white noise app to an old phone and it really helps Michael sleep. In fact, I think it helps us sleep too, when he’s in our room.

Pandora. I don’t usually use Pandora, but I’ve found that Michael likes music and the Baby Mozart channel plays some really fun classical versions of rock songs. Have you heard of Rockababy? My favorite is the Michael Jackson favorites.

Facebook and Instagram. You’ll never be so caught up on everyone’s business as when you’re up every couple of hours scrolling through the updates.

Pinterest. You won’t have time or energy for the crafting and party planning that you once did, but someday you will (at least I hope) and I will have a lot of great ideas stockpiled and ready for that time!

 

Sleeping.

We love our Fisher Price Rock ‘n Play. We had a bassinet at the ready for Michael to use to sleep in and he hates it. We’ve tried putting him down in it three times all with negative results. The rock ‘n play keeps him him snug and slightly upright, so his breakfast/lunch/dinner stay down. While we have the vibrating option, we don’t turn it on very often. In fact, it seems to bother him more than anything else. All of the sleep training books we’ve ready have actually said that this is a good thing.

Sleep training books. Plural? Yeah, you read that right. Sleep deprivation is horrible thing and after one night of nursing for six hours and actually sleeping for two hours in an eight hour stretch, you’ll reach out to everyone you know with an infant and buy several recommended books from Amazon in the wee hours of the night. We’re reading On Becoming Baby Wise, 12 hours by 12 weeks, and Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Baby, and whatever else folks recommend!

We also learned that a “witching hour” is a real thing and our guy experiences one from 9 p.m. – midnight quite often. He just won’t go to sleep! We try to get him good naps throughout the day and put him down in the 7 p.m. hour. Hopefully he grows out of it sometime soon. I think staying awake with a baby who is nonstop fussy or asleep with his eyes open is more exhausting than waking up a couple of times at night! It was nice to know that we weren’t alone and that this stage too, will pass.

Swaddle Me Velcro swaddles. Michael has mixed feelings about swaddling, he really prefers his hands be out to flail about, but these Swaddle Me outfits came in handy in the first week or so that we swaddled. We also got this Halo outfit that we’ll be using once transition him to his crib. We’ll be using it more as a sleep sack though, so his hands will be out.

Nightlight light bulbs. Or a dim-able lamp works too. We swapped out the light bulbs on a few lamps in Michael’s room and in our room. The low lighting is needed as we rock him to sleep or check on him in the middle of the night.

 

Nursing.

Brest Friend. A nursing pillow was a must have for the first month and a half of Michael’s life. We tried both the Brest Friend and the Boppy pillow. While the Boppy is great for propping him up (mainly during our many photoshoots), I preferred the Brest Friend for nursing. Plus Brandon gets a kick out of saying “Brest Friend.”

Pumping bra. You can cut slits in a sports bra (thanks, Pinterest!), but I really enjoy my Simple Wishes pumping bra. It allows you to go hands free while pumping, so you can multi-task and do things like chop veggies, or blog or something at the same time!

Steam sterilizer. I used the microwavable bags for awhile and then I bought this Munchkin microwavable steam sterilizer for bottles and pumping supplies. I love it! It’s also important to have a drying rack for your bottles. We have this one, since we use Dr. Brown bottles, but I think they’re all created equal and any one will do!

Premie bottle nipples. In the early days, Mr. M would guzzle from his bottle too agressively and would choke a bit. We switched out the nipples that came with the bottles with the premie-sized version. He’s back to the normal size ones now, but these were great for slowing him down a bit.

 

Diapering.

Diaper Genie. Whoever invented this thing is a genius! Dirty diapers go in and an easy to handle baggie comes out! It resembles a weapon of some sort, but we haven’t battled with it yet.

Vaseline. We put a bit of Vaseline on M’s “bathing suit area” after diaper changes and it keeps things fresh! Beyond the $1 difference between the two tubs in the baby section at Target, the “baby” version has a pink label and has a baby powder scent.

Shout! This is a must for babies. When the occasional blowout happens (often), a few squirts of Shout! takes the stain right out. We keep a bottle by M’s laundry hamper and will until he’s mobile.

Two changing pad covers. Sometimes little boys pee on you when you’re changing them. Sometimes they pee on their changing pad cover. For this very reason you need two covers. At least.

 

Other stuff.

Boba wrap. This thing. We were pretty intimidated by it: 18 feet of elastic fabric that you’re to wrap your baby in for hands-free wearing? Without him falling out!? Yeah, right. We watched several YouTube videos and finally got the hang of it, and Michael loves it. We put him in it, walk around, and he usually calms down and more often than not, falls asleep! The latest trick that helps combat that witching hour: wrap and strap up the kid and vacuum! Who would’ve thought?! He loves it and it knocks him right out!

Jack (the cat) and Michael both love the Boba wrap!

Jack (the cat) and Michael both love the Boba wrap!

Beco Gemini carrier. This carrier is great. It requires no “infant insert” like the Ergo carriers and allows the kid to face in or out and ride on my front, back or side. It turns out we were using it wrong initially (thanks, Megan!) and it’s great for walks inside or outside of the house. It’s still a little tricky to unlatch when you’re solo, but I’m getting the hang of it. It also is very comfortable for Brandon to wear.

Michael's Beco carrier

Michael’s Beco carrier

Blankets. We love, love, love the four-pack of Aden + Anais Classic Swaddle Blankets my good friend Traci gifted us. We use them as blankets, as a car seat cover, nursing cover, as a burp cloth, the list goes on. They’re really great and versatile.

Baby monitor. We opted for this model from Infant Optics and we really like it! We like that it’s a closed system and the imaging on the screen is very clear. However, when it’s on and near our computers, our wifi gets spotty. It also randomly loses signal and makes a loud beep, which of course could wake the baby you’re spying on. So that’s annoying. But overall, we’re fans!

Pacifier. This thing is a plug for our occasionally crying son. We have four and have them everywhere. He’s also recently discovered his thumb, which is great for self-soothing.

Diaper bag. You need one if you want to go anywhere! The Skip Hop bags are great. Lots of pockets and reasonably priced.

Car seat. Obviously, it’s a must. (At least if you want to leave the hospital!) We opted for the Maxi Cosi based on friends’ recommendations. We’ve been very pleased with it.

Stroller. I love our stroller for “momming it up.” We have the City GT Mini and I love it. It has a narrow profile, so I can visit most stores freely (Fireworks: widen those aisles and I’ll go crazy inside! Until then, I can only window shop!) and is lightweight and very easy to handle by myself. We have the attachment to place the car seat in the stroller, but the one downside is that you can’t use the stroller’s rain canopy and the car seat at the same time, a bummer for moms on maternity leave during the rainy season in Seattle. Make sure you get the “GT” and not just the City Mini, for the all-terrain tires! We also have the parent console (a must!) and hooks, which are great for shopping or holding his diaper bag.

"Momming it up" in the University Village with most of the gear I've listed here!

“Momming it up” in the University Village with most of the gear I’ve listed here!

Exercise ball. You know that ball you use to do crunches on? It’s also great for bouncing your screaming child to sleep! Have one of these on-hand, especially for the early days. And then when you’re abs re-emerge, you can resume crunches! Or not.

We have so many other items that we have yet to try out– I’ll try and keep this list updated as I find more items that are new baby “must have’s”!

For now, here is Michael at his one-month photo shoot:

2015-10-15-Month-1

And his two-month:

2015-11-15-Month-2