My Mom Life: Jennifer Armstrong

Eight years ago I adopted my daughter, who was eight at the time, and I became a single mom to a scared small person who didn’t speak much English. Being a children’s book author meant I was home all the time, and for the first few years, my main job was helping her adjust to her new life in a new country. Now she’s in 9th grade (at the Waldorf High School), and I work four days a week as lead bookseller in the children’s department at Northshire Bookstore. I had a long and successful career as an author but now I prefer a more social role. I do think it was becoming a mom that did that – it made me less focused on myself and my own thoughts, and made me more outward-looking.

firstofallOur first photo, first time I held her hand. We are following the director of the orphanage and my daughter is looking in the window at her first grade classmates.

What is your typical schedule like during the week?

My daughter and I have breakfast together around 6:45 on school days – I’ll review what’s on the horizon for the next few days with her, and if we need to coordinate transportation for something, we’ll work that out. She’s almost 16 and we live in a walkable town, so for a lot of her activities she can get herself where she needs to go on her own (to school, to the orthodontist, to her friends, to downtown, etc.) . If I have an event at the bookstore in the evening or I’m working late, we’ll figure out if she’s going to get dinner started for us to have together or if she’ll be eating alone, or if she’s going to meet me downtown for dinner out. I’m usually at the bookstore until 6 or 7. I don’t work on Mondays and Tuesdays, so those are two days I’m available for driving to ski club or voice lessons or the Y, the after school activities she can’t walk to. I work Saturdays but not Sundays, so Sunday is a day she and I can hang out. It’s not often she wants to hang out with me (she’s 15, after all), but I’m here if does. She did once refer to me on Facebook as her “cool mom,” so when her other options for socializing are unavailable, apparently I’m an acceptable substitute.

What do you like best about your current schedule?

It works!

Do you have time for yourself? What do you do with that time?

Monday and Tuesday during school hours are mine. My job requires endless reading, so that’s usually what I do on my days off. I also am on my feet all day when I’m at work, so I often spend one of my days off lying on the sofa, surrounded by books, tea mugs, and dogs. According to my FitBit, I walk about five miles a day while in the store! Sometimes I listen to audio books at home so I can do other things at the same time- art projects, chores, cooking. I go to Reform Pilates once a week. If I’m really on my game I’ll arrange to see a friend for lunch or coffee on one of those days. I’m in a book club (surprise!) and I play cards once a month with a gang of women friends, mostly other moms.

If you had an extra hour in the day you would spend it…? Reading.

Do you find it hard or difficult at all to stay connected to friends/people in your life now that you have a child? Do you find there is any gap or gulf in between you and the friends/people in your life that don’t have kids? Any tips on how to stay connected to those people?

For me, it’s really more that my attention and my goals have shifted. I’m not interested in reproducing the lifestyle I had before I adopted my daughter. It was great at the time, but now I have a different lifestyle, one that I chose very deliberately. I don’t want or need my life to be the way it used to be, just with the addition of my daughter. That being said, it is definitely easier to have an adult social life when your child is old enough to leave at home alone. I couldn’t be in a book club or a regular poker game if I needed to get a sitter.
I also have friends who don’t have kids, and it is often uncomfortably obvious that they don’t understand this shift in attention. When you are a mom, there’s no “out of sight, out of mind.” As for staying connected – at the risk of sounding painfully cliche, I think Facebook serves a very useful function for this. Sometimes months go by between visits with friends – but I do try to like and comment on pictures or updates of good friends just to say “I’m still here, I still love you, we’ll reconnect eventually.” It’s not ideal, but it’s better than nothing.

What are some of your top must have products for the parenting part of your life? What are some non-mom must haves?

A big freezer and Ziploc bags. Seriously. I precook a lot of our dinners and freeze them. I’m like a food hoarder – two fridges, one upright freezer. And it’s just two of us! Dinner time is important to me, and I don’t want the excuse of working until 6 to prevent me from putting a good meal on the table for me and my daughter to share. And no surprise: my cell phone and my daughter’s cell phone. Her ring-tone for me is an obnoxious voice screeching “Pick up the phone! It’s your mother!” I allow her a lot of independence, but I have to be able to reach her. Non-mom? There’s a scented candle I buy at Schuyler pond all the time from the Trapp Candles collection – it’s called Water. I love the scent, very clean, very serene. It helps restore my equilibrium after work. My other current obsession is smoked salt from Healthy Living Market. I put it on everything, even apples. I use coconut oil for hair, skin, cooking – you name it. I’ve even used it on wood furniture. And lastly, Gimme Brow – the only makeup I never leave the house without using.

What advice would you give to other moms about how to balance work and life?

Plan ahead. The more advance work I can do, the fewer at-the-last-moment moments there are. Some people thrive on a hectic, high-energy dynamic, but not me. I look at the next week on the calendar and ask myself, what can I do now to make that event smoother when I get there? Being a single working mom means that there are realities about running a family and a household that I cannot escape, and I have to fit them into everything else in the time I have or things can start falling apart – literally and figuratively.

Do you ever wonder how other women manage the juggle? Do you think people are open about it?

I do often find myself wondering how a mom with a Monday through Friday work schedule does it. I have two weekdays for scheduling doctor’s appointments and furnace check ups and business calls and vet visits and anything else that can only happen in the workweek. I can only assume that it requires a lot of asking for time off for those women. I also sometimes wonder how other moms manage to raise kids while maintaining a relationship with a husband. So many interpersonal dynamics to maintain! On the one hand, being a single parent can be challenging logistically, but on the other hand, when I see parents who are not in agreement about fundamental parenting issues I think I’m the one with the easier job.

What is one thing you’ve realized/learned about motherhood that no one ever told you before you had kids?

I actually found managing my daughter’s social life when she was younger very stressful. Sometimes she liked kids I didn’t particularly like, or whose parents I didn’t particularly want to hang out with on the playground. So from time to time I had this ethical dilemma on my hands – do I let her choose her friends, or do I manipulate those relationships to suit myself? I was actually quite taken aback by this issue.

Is there anything about making a family through adoption you wish people understood?

Don’t ever tell an adopted child she’s lucky. Adoption always begins with loss, usually with tragedy. If I could change the past, I would wish my daughter was still in Ethiopia with the mother who bore her and loved her from day one, and that she had never suffered that primal loss. But I can’t retroactively protect her from that, so I’m trying to do my best as the consolation prize. Like all moms, I am making it up as I go. Mothering is largely a job of getting out of the way, isn’t it? I just need to create the space for this wonderful person to become herself.

DSCN2164Many thanks to Jennifer for sharing her story. I can’t tell you guys enough how much I love this series, to read more from the My Mom Life series, click right here.

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Go Ahead, Treat Yourself (Current Wish List)

indexYou deserve a little treat, we all do. Here is my current wish list (including some items I’ve already picked up just because…)

First off, can we just FORGET about low rise jeans?! Enough tugging pants up that are falling below the line of decency. I’m embracing the high waisted (normal waisted? I don’t even know anymore) jean and this is my first pair into the brave (more comfortable) new world.

I am not a water drinker. Like, I don’t do it at all. But I SHOULD (hi I spent a week in the hospital with kidney stones, what did they keep saying? DRINK WATER). The other day at Spa Cascada I picked up a bottle of Pure Inventions Health and Wellness water (the tranquility version) and I am so hooked. Just a dropper into a plain glass of water makes it not only totally drinkable, it makes it totally enjoyable and totally good for you.

Forget thinking spring, I’m already thinking summer with this tunic top from J.Crew. Throw a blazer over it for now and wait for those ginormous snow mounds to melt.

Readers, meet Justin’s Maple Almond Butter. It will change your life slash make you a total addict who makes a trip to Healthy Living Market and Cafe just for a jar because you NEED a spoonful.

Speaking of Spa Cascada, I am in love with my pedicure, I went with a green which wasn’t my usual style and I think I’m going to do it again (Essie’s Fall in Line).

These cuff bracelets are spring. Those pastels, I could just put them on a cone and eat them up.

Maybe it’s the whole high waisted jeans and tunic vibe, but I am digging this leather headband.

Sparkling Cabernet Sauvignon? Oui, s’il vous plaît! (Mas de Daumas Gassac Rose Frizant from Healthy Living Market and Cafe Divine Wines, perfect for V-Day, no?)

I love my slouchy woven bin from Target so much (in our house it holds baby pajamas) I might just go back and snag another one, since it also comes in turquoise, so, you know…

Baby Talley and I had such a relaxing and just downright pleasant afternoon at baby yoga yesterday I can’t wait to go back. The space at Rise Yoga & Movement Arts Center is just beautiful (see their plant wall installation in the photo below and just breathe in) and the class had the best laid back vibe, exactly what you want from a mommy (dads are welcome too) and baby yoga class. Essentially, it was exactly what I have needed after a not so great past few months. If you have a baby (or are expecting one) and want to come try it come by on Thursdays at 3 and see what I mean.

IMG_0320 IMG_0330

 

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My Little Local Valentine’s Picks

pop-corn-valentineI have to admit, I love Valentine’s Day. It comes right at the exact moment that I am SO OVER WINTER and itching for spring, it is like a little pink chocolate coated bright spot amidst slushy grey snow skies that reminds me how lucky I am to have so much love in my life. And a day that is all about love is something we need more of in this world.

I also love to give little gifts, little surprise tokens of my affections, nothing major or overdone, just a few sweet little things to brighten the day. This year I have my sights set on a few local goodies, first here are some great book choices from Jennifer at Northshire, and below find my absolute favorite little love tokens, all can be found locally in Saratoga Springs…xoxo

It’s okay to fall over from cuteness overload when you look at this Maileg mouse in a box. I bought one of these for my daughter years ago, a little matchbox “bed” complete with a tiny mattress, pillow and blanket and you tuck the little mousy into bed, OMG SO CUTE. File this under “Toys I Wish I Had Growing Up”. I would have cherished this! This one is on my list for her because of the ridiculously adorable floral print and tutu the mouse is wearing. Seriously it’s like 6 year old me dreamed this up and delivered it so I could give it to my own daughters. Lex & Cleo has an assortment of little Maileg mice (including some “boy” mice as well and some “baby” mice for those of you with a soon to be big brother or sister, Jack is a huge mouse fan too). This is the kind of toy you remember having when you grow up, trust me. Oh and the mouse is wearing tights. TIGHTS, people.

flowermousegetimage.aspxNext up I have two food items, one for the whole family and one I suggest you “save” for just you and your sweetheart (aka eat after the kids are in bed with a nice glass of champagne). First, these customizable sweetheart cookies (also come in a gluten free version!) from Healthy Living Market and Cafe. Get the kids names put on them for the cutest little surprise. You MUST order these by Feb. 12th though, click here or call them at 518-306-4900.

10906353_745647238876605_6651237555888186888_nFinally, this is the one you’re going to want for yourself and your sweetheart. If you STILL have not tried the macarons from TC Paris Bakery, make this Valentine’s Day macaron day because these are the best macarons you will find this side of Paris. They are unlike any other sweet treat out there and just thinking about them right now is making me want to stop everything and drive over there. Plus these are just the loveliest little things with the sweetheart messages on them. Might I also suggest the Rum Celebration Cake (you are welcome and I’m sorry because you will be an addict like me). Pre-Order your Valentine’s Day gifts by calling the store at 518-306-4315.

10471569_848436655218702_6300243036086665338_nSending you all so much love…xoxo

 

 

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Valentine’s Gifts for Little Book Lovers from Northshire Bookstore

booksloveJennifer Armstrong, bookseller at Northshire Bookstore in Saratoga is on the blog today giving us some sweet reads for your darling little readers. All of these titles can be found on their Children’s Floor in the store at 424 Broadway in Saratoga Springs perfect for gifting on Valentine’s Day. Thanks Jennifer! xoxo

Poetry is the language of the heart and the voice of love.  Poetry gives expression to those things that take your breath away – how the baby looks sleeping, how it feels to watch your child stand up for a friend, what joy floods in at the most unexpected moments.  Never underestimate your children’s ability to “get” poetry, which should be shared early and often, while their imaginations are still wide open! Here are a few suggestions to start with:

For the littlest babies, who will respond to the rhythm and pattern of metric rhyme and the cadence of your voice long before they understand the words, try Nancy Tillman’s It’s Time To Sleep, My Love, a beautiful, graceful board book with magic in it just perfect for bedtime.

For your toddler, try Everything, by Emma Dodd – as in, I love everything about you!  Like all of Emma Dodd’s books, this is a sweet expression of unconditional love, and like her other toddler books, this is highlighted with shiny foil to delight your toddler.  Again the gentle rhythm of the poetry will speak volumes.

And for your grade school children, share What the Heart Knows, a collection of chants, charms and blessings by acclaimed poet, Joyce Sidman.   Here are subtle insights and surprising metaphors, new ways of looking at every day things that offer the possibility of wonder.  Read them together, or take turns finding new favorites.

For your whole family, I also recommend buying a beautifully illustrated treasury of poems such as the Barefoot Book of Classic Poems, which is filled with poetry that has brought delight and inspiration to children for generations.  Leave it out where it can be picked up and enjoyed regularly.  In the words of poet Marianne Moore, “Poetry is the art of creating imaginary gardens with real toads in them.” After even just a few minutes spent in the thoughtful company of poems, your children will see the world with fresh eyes.  What better gift could there be?

Happy Valentine’s Day from Jennifer Armstrong in the children’s department!

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Oh Baby I LOVE IKEA

ikealoveOne of the stores I WISH we had up here was IKEA, picture me running through the huge aisles Sound of Music style, arms outstretched, singing happily as I grab inexpensive items off the perfectly pristine Swedish shelves.

Now, if you are new to IKEA and think it is all futons and hard to put together shelves, let me tell you about the kids and baby stuff. It is THE BEST. When my oldest was little, before my mom moved up here from NJ we would do a huge IKEA shopping trip at the Paramus store, and I would stock up on their simple wooden toys and trains, I got him an art easel and paper, kids cutlery, everything. But since she moved up north to the frozen tundra Saratoga we don’t get down there as often, but I have filled my IKEA fix online. Yes, ONLINE SHOPPING FROM IKEA.

clockwise l-r (all available online):

We got Finn one of these trucks like 8 years ago and it is still going strong. I consider it a personal best that I still have all the parts.

This baby gym is great because you can easily move it from room to room, floor to crib, you can even bring it with you if you’re going to grandma’s house. Plus, the little toys that hang from it can be taken out easily and replaced with other toys, I usually attach those carseat toys that have a velcro loop to this and Talley goes crazy, or you can take a couple out and just leave one if your baby needs a down day at the gym.

We don’t have this cash register YET but it is on my list, you don’t need batteries because the fully functional calculator runs on solar cells (I know, the Swedish think of everything). It also comes with play money the kids can color and customize themselves.

This little shape sorter house is so super cute it looks adorable on your shelf, it’s definitely one of those toys you’ll want to leave out rather than stuff it into a toy box. This is another item we have had since Finn was little. Do I have all the pieces still? Yes I do (I might be a little OCD about finding/keeping toy pieces, just maybe).

Their duvet covers are so unbelievably inexpensive but have the sweetest designs. All three of my bigger kids have IKEA comforters (the smaller toddler sized ones are beyond cute).

The tea set! How fab is this tea set?! Cute without being cutesy, this set has the sweetest pale pastel colors so it is pretty without being too “girls only”, my boys love it too.

The Holy Grail of Ikea toys has to be this train set. We STILL have our original one, and I’ve added a bunch of pieces along the way. A simple yet well made little set, you won’t believe the price on this (the 20 piece basic set is under ten bucks, seriously).

I am a big connoisseur of play food, and IKEA has it nailed. Their soft food is great for smaller kids or older kids, and the one set comes with bowtie pasta, fish, eggplant…not your average play food.

A pretty and practical stacking toy for babies, this is another minimal designed piece with bright colors that you will want to leave out on display.

As a little sweet treat with the tea set, this little cupcake grouping is adorable, and again with these prices you can stock up their entire play kitchen without breaking the {real} bank.

Finally, the high chair. Now, I’m not a fan of high chairs. We never got Jack one, we just used a portable high chair that we strapped to a seat at our table (which he still uses now as a booster seat). They get in the way, they are hard to clean, I just wasn’t into them. Until I saw this one. Minimal, totally Swedish sleek design, this simple white high chair just spoke to me. Plain without being boring, it is SO easy to take apart and store and a breeze to clean. Plus it’s under twenty bucks. SOLD.

 

 

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My Absolute Beauty Must Haves {aka my High School Beauty Routine}

beautysecretsI call this my “High School Beauty Routine” because I’ve been buying and using most of these products since I was a teenager, they are that good. I’ve thrown some new ones in for good measure, but these are the products I use (almost) every day, and you’d be able to locate all of these in my house at any given time. These are my top must have beauty products: some drugstore, some a little pricier, but all worth every penny.

clockwise from top left:

  • Elizabeth Arden Eight Hour Cream is like a miracle worker and can be used for a million different things. I actually like the traditional fragrance it has (it also comes in fragrance free though), and I use it for everything from soothing little irritations, hydrating skin overnight, cuticles, eyebrows, lip balm and more…
  • A good Mason Pearson brush will last you a long time, and as a long hair person it is the BEST one you will find (I have tried them all).
  • Rosebud salve, one in every bag, every room, at all times.
  • I love the Sally Hansen Hard as Nails, the clear pink one gives nails a healthy sheen. I’m not into color on my fingernails (toenails I’m all about it), so this gives me a little bit of “polish” without showing chipping and it strengthens nails. I’ve been using this since I was in middle school at least.
  • I don’t like to blow dry my hair if I don’t have to, so I shower at night, put a little bit of Frédéric Fekkai Glossing Cream (or Moroccan Oil) through the ends a bit and let it dry overnight. This glossing cream gives the ends a little bit of moisture and also a little bit of texture.
  • Hands down the best conditioner, especially for a long hair person like me that uses a TON of it, Pantene has been my main gal for years, YEARS. I love the Moisturizing one, it’s the best.
  • Weleda Salt Toothpaste isn’t for everyone, but if you love it you really LOVE it. It helps get my teeth a nice clean without any synthetic-y mint flavor. Find it locally at Healthy Living Market and Cafe.
  • For every day I use just a little bit of Body Shop vanilla oil, subtle but noticeable enough, great for year round it is warm in the winter and sweet in the summer.
  • For nights out I wear Hermes Amazone, I picked up a bottle in Paris when I was in my 20s and have been wearing it ever since.
  • I know some people hate high heels, but I am not one of those people. To me they give an instant adjustment for the better, and I swear by Badgley Mischka. Especially when I have to wear them all summer long running around from event to event.
  • Palmers Cocoa Butter has seen me through four pregnancies (it is in fact my #1 pregnancy beauty recommendation, just buy it at the drugstore and USE IT). If I run out and don’t have a backup bottle I get all panicky. Plus the coconut smell just makes me happy.
  • Natural Calm helps soothe out those crazy days, find it locally at Healthy Living Market and Cafe in Saratoga (I mix it with fresh squeezed OJ and a little lemon seltzer)
  • If I need a little tan in my life I use this super duper cute and always fab Hoola by Benefit.
  • I’ve shared this one before but it merits a second share, the best drugstore beauty find ever.
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My Mom Life: Kimberley Christiana

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I’m Kimberley, I live in Clifton Park with my husband, Paul, my 16 year old daughter Brianna and 7 month old son Mason. I’m a Childcare Provider and a Makeup Artist. My husband and I have been married for 6 years. We tried for a couple of years to get pregnant and after a miscarriage and two long years of trying, finally fell pregnant with our son, Mason. I was a young mom when I had my daughter and it’s very different being a mom in your thirties, then it is when you’re nineteen. I have one child who is getting her first job and getting her drivers permit and the other one is learning to crawl and babble.

 

What is your typical schedule like during the week?

During the work week, my day usually starts around 6:30am. I get my daughter off to school at 6:45am, then I pump before my son wakes, which is any where between 7am and 8am. He’s a sleeper, which is great! My husband usually helps me feed and change our son when he wakes. I’m a Childcare provider in my own home, so I usually am getting last minute things ready before the first child shows.

What do you like best about your current set-up/schedule?

Our schedule seems to work for everyone in our household. Nothing really changes much during the week. We’re able to keep to a pretty set schedule.

Do you have time for yourself? What do you do during that time?

Working at home, you can feel very isolated, especially during the winter months when you don’t get out often, because of the weather, I try to at least get out for an hour yoga class a week or to get my hair done or do some shopping. It’s hard for me though, because I feel guilty leaving and when I do have a little time for myself, I’m constantly checking in and I don’t really relax.

kimIf you had an extra hour in the day you would spend it…?
With my husband.

Do you find it hard or difficult at all to stay connected to friends/people in your life now that you have kids? Do you find there is any gap or gulf in between you and the friends/people in your life that don’t have kids? Any tips on how to stay connected to those people?

Yes! This is something I talk about a lot with my husband. Since having our son, we don’t see friends as often as we’d like. It’s hard when everyone has different schedules and life is so busy, but it’s important for our relationship to have that time, whether it be with friends or a date night, even if it isn’t that often.

What are some of your top must have products for the parenting part of your life? What are some non-mom must haves?

My Medela breast pump, Fisher Price Snugabunny rock n play sleeper, my son wouldn’t sleep flat for the first few weeks, so we had to go on a search for something he would sleep upright in, and this thing was amazing! Also, I absolutely love Mama Mio skin care products. This is a skin care line that is safe during pregnancy and while your breastfeeding. I love their boob tube cream. Some of my new mom must haves are Evolution fresh pressed juice, these are great for on the go. Laura Mercier illuminating tinted moisturizer, Burt’s Bees tinted lip balm and Blinc mascara.

kim3What advice would you give to other moms about how to balance work and life?

Make sure to make time for yourself! When you plan your week, make it a point to schedule time with your friends, a date night with your spouse, or activities that help you recharge. you’ll have something to look forward to and an extra incentive to manage your time well.

Do you ever wonder how other women manage the juggle? Do you think people are open about it?

Of course! I’m able to work from home, which allows me more time with my son and I’m home when my daughter gets home from school. I also get to be there to see all those “firsts” with my son, which is incredibly satisfying.

musthavesWhat is one thing you’ve realized/learned about motherhood that no one ever told you before you had kids?

Breastfeeding is hard! At least for me, because I’m not one of those woman who has an abundant milk supply. I have to pump constantly! I have to say I am very proud of myself for not giving up and I’m still able to keep up with my son’s needs at almost 7 months old.

Is there anything you find yourself doing as a parent that you swore you would never do before you had kids?

Go to bed with a messy house! The delusion that I thought that I’d always have energy to continue to ‘never go to bed with dirty dishes in the sink’ or a ‘messy house’ is hilarious. I think this rule got put right behind ‘shave legs on a regular basis’!

kim4 kim2A big thanks to Kimberley for taking part in the My Mom Life Series. To read more from the series, click right here.

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Sunday Pancakes: Lovely Lemon Ricotta

lemoncakesWeekday mornings are always so hectic no matter what time we all get up, and we have our weekday routine pretty much down, but on weekends I like to loosen it up a bit and take our time in the mornings when we can. The kids stay in their pajamas, we watch a movie or put on some music, and the kids always request pancakes. Now, I’ve given you the Best Pancake Recipe Ever and Rainbow Pancakes, now I want to mix things up a bit with a restaurant favorite of mine that I never attempted at home. I’m sort of a wimp in the kitchen, but my motto is “If I can make it, anyone can make it”. All three older kids LOVED these lemon ricotta pancakes (so incredibly rare to have all three agree on one food) and I think you’ll love them too. Happy weekend! xoxo

recipe adapted from Chow.com…

ingredients:

5 tablespoons unsalted butter (and a bit more for coating the frying pan)
1 cup whole milk
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon fine salt
3 large eggs, yolks and whites separated
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 tablespoon packed finely grated lemon zest (from about 2 to 3 medium lemons)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup whole-milk ricotta cheese
Powdered sugar (to sprinkle on top before serving)

directions:

Place the butter and milk in a small saucepan over medium-low heat and stir occasionally until the butter melts. Remove from heat and let cool slightly.

In a medium bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, and 1/2 teaspoon of the salt and set aside.

Whisk together the egg yolks, 1 tablespoon of the sugar, the lemon zest, and vanilla in a large bowl. Whisk in a quarter of the milk-butter mixture first to prevent the eggs from curdling, then whisk in the remaining milk-butter mixture until smooth.

Add in the reserved flour mixture and stir with a spatula until just combined (be careful not to overmix) and set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk egg whites to soft peaks (I had a slight problem with the egg whites making “peaks” but my pancakes turned out great anyway so don’t sweat it if you run into the same issue). Halfway through whisking them, sprinkle in the remaining 1 tablespoon sugar and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Using the spatula, fold the whites into the reserved batter until just combined.

Very gently, fold the ricotta into the batter, being careful not to break down the texture of the cheese (the batter will be lumpy and streaked with ricotta) and set aside.

Heating the pan ahead of time is important, so take about 4 minutes or so to heat a large nonstick frying pan, griddle, or seasoned cast iron skillet over medium heat until hot. Flick a few drops of water on the pan to see if it is hot enough, if the water bounces and sputters, the pan is ready to use.

Lightly coat the pan’s surface with butter, then use a 1/4-cup measure to scoop the batter into the pan. Cook until bubbles form on top of the pancakes, about 4 to 5 minutes. Flip and cook the other side until the bottoms are golden brown, about 1 to 2 minutes more. These are great with a little powdered sugar and maple syrup over them, and you can also top them with fresh fruit too. Enjoy! xoxo

Screenshot 2015-02-07 18.46.53

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Mamatoga Mini City #Saratoga Guide Surveys are HERE

minicityI can’t wait to put together this awesome comprehensive guide for you guys with listings on what shops and restaurants are stroller friendly, where you can change a diaper, get a kids menu, breastfeed comfortably and much more. If you are a local business or restaurant and would like to be included in this yearly guide for FREE follow the links below to take the quick survey. If you would like to snag one of the one sized only advertising spots (first come, first served until they are gone!) contact me at Jenny (at) Mamatoga dot com! xoxo

Local Saratoga area RESTAURANTS click here to take the survey

Local Saratoga area BUSINESSES and/or SHOPS click here to take the survey

minicityinfo1 minicityinfo

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My Mom Life Revisited: Jess Updyke on Life with Two

mombodhiphoto by Holly Therrien

Jess recently went from mom of one to mom of two with the birth of her second child, son Bodhi, so I asked her to revisit the My Mom Life questions to see what changes she noticed and how things are different this time around. Read her first My Mom Life here to see how the two compare…

I have heard from countless people that the hardest transition was going to from one child to two.  At first I was feeling a bit anxious about adding a second child to our “works pretty smoothly” clan of 3.  I listened to friends, family, and even strangers tell me all the reasons it’s going to be “harder.”  As they told me their stories and theories, I was convinced I would find a way to do it better (for lack of a better word) so I did not have the same issues they had.

So by the time we welcomed our new little bundle of love, Bodhi Robert, my mind was made up, “I got this!” Rob and I talked about how we are going to share and take on new and different duties to make this having two kids a breeze.  But no matter how much we thought we could do this so easily, the fact of the matter was, it’s still a big transition to go from just having a toddler at home to having a toddler and a newborn.

As a working mom, I already felt strapped for time when we only had one child.  Now, the hours when we are home as a family after work race by in a blur as we divide the little time we have left between two children.  Finding an hour to spend quality time with Rob has been nearly impossible, unless it’s in the middle of the night and we are trying to figure out how to get the Bodhi back to sleep.  There is also the issue of trying to make Rowan (3.5 years) feel included and loved, when I have to nurse or change Bodhi at that very moment Rowan wants to play or cuddle, etc.

I was unprepared for the change in behavior with Rowan, not so much with Bodhi but with me.  He seemed to be more demanding, would outright refuse to listen to me, and basically dismiss me.  That was/is hard for me to handle.  We try to talk about what is bothering him and sometimes he can clearly articulate what it is, other times we still struggle to pinpoint it.  It’s a work in progress.

hithere brothersOverall it is difficult, but it is manageable and I know in time we will figure out our new normal.  I’ll find my best way of parenting, which may not look like anyone else’s way, but it will work for our family.

What is your typical schedule like during the week?

During the school year the mornings are quite hectic—getting both kids dressed, fed and out the door is like herding cats.  I hate being late, so I have to take that into consideration, and have extra time planned so by the time we make it out the door, we make it on time.
School vacations throw everything off.

In between Bodhi’s feedings and naps, I try to cram as much as I can into that block of time.  It varies from trying to work a little, clean, respond to emails or catch up with a friend, etc. There is a lot of juggling everyday so for us it really comes down to scheduling and communication.  We try to set aside time each night to talk about the next day and week ahead.

What do you find tricky about your current set-up/schedule? What would you change if you could?

The one thing I find very tricky and would change is to be more spontaneous. I miss being able to do something at a moment’s notice.

What do you like best about your current set-up/schedule?

Right now I am very fortunate to have a pretty flexible schedule, which I value. Also my husband Rob, does A LOT! He does all the cooking for the family and generally handles bath and bedtime.

mymenwhatupwiththatDo you have time for yourself? What do you do during that time?

There is very little time where you can do what you want to do without being interrupted or a minor crisis erupting.  I really savor any time I have when nobody needs anything from me.  It feels like I have a chance to just breathe.  And if it is quiet on top of that, it’s a little slice of heaven.  But I do try to carve out some time for me with the help of Rob.  I spend it by doing various things, it could be sleeping, to showering (uninterrupted), getting a pedicure, catching up on a favorite show, calling a friend to catch up to sometimes literally doing nothing and enjoy the silence and solitude.

Do you ever wonder how other women manage the juggle? Do you think people are open about it?

Yes, I am always curious how other people manage.  Instead of trying to figure it out, I find myself asking…especially if it is something I am struggling with, I am always looking for good tips.  It helps tremendously to have someone to talk to, who can relate to some of the struggles and experiences.  I do feel like I am more relaxed overall this time around.
I don’t feel there is enough open discussion about it, mostly because it is hard to admit to ourselves and others when things are really hard.  We can learn so much from one another.

What are some of your top must have products for the parenting part of your life? What are some non-mom must haves?

For the parenting part:
Arbonne’s ABC Baby Care line
My Boba wrap from The Bundle Store
Anything monogramed/personalized
The baby/boy clothing from Spotted Goose
Schoola, an online shop dedicated to recycling brand-name children’s clothes, with the money going to support school programs

Non-mom:
Arbonne’s RE9 Intense Hydration Overnight Mask
Jewelry from Tallulah Boutique (you can even have your kid write their name in their barely legible kid scrawl, take a photo, and they’ll immortalize it for you on a necklace)
Netflix
Moleskine Journal

picksIf you had an extra hour in the day you would spend it…?

The list is a mile long of what I could do with an extra hour. As of right now, it’s a toss-up between sleep or sit and enjoy the silence.

jam sessionrowanbodhi2photo by Holly Therrien

Do you find it hard or difficult at all to stay connected to friends/people in your life now that you have kids? Do you find there is any gap or gulf in between you and the friends/people in your life that don’t have kids? Any tips on how to stay connected to those people?

I definitely find this a little more challenging with 2 kids. It’s rare to find quite time to call a friend and catch up. It hard to find that sweet spot in schedules between feedings and naptime for us to get together with friends, but we manage every now and again to make it happen. Yes, I do think there is a bit of a gap with friends who don’t have kids. Our conversations have changed. Our lives have changed so it’s hard to find that balance of talking about the kids and being able to talk about everything else.

What is one thing you’ve realized/learned about motherhood that no one ever told you before you had kids?

You have no idea how much time you have to yourself to waste (for lack of a better word) until you have kids.

What advice would you give to other moms?

It’s hard and completely worth it. If you are in a challenging situation, it will not be forever. And be gentle and kind to yourself. Don’t put so many expectations and pressure on yourself. Embrace these moments; they are gone before you know it.

Is there anything you find yourself doing as a parent that you swore you would never do before you had kids?

Yes, there are a few…give in at the grocery store, watch a little extra TV so I can finish up something, go to McDonalds occasionally, bore people with kid talk.

bodhi madewithloveMany thanks to Jess for sharing her Mom Life with us this second time around. To read more in the series, click right here.

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