Welcoming Ramona

I've been meaning to write about Ramona's birth story for a while now, but I just haven't been able to find the right mindset to sit down, focus, and make it happen. I keep waiting for that magical hour or two when my house is quiet and everything is checked off my to-do list. It turns out, my to-do list is never-ending, and my house is never really quiet except for a few hours in the middle of the night. And you all know I'm not about to willingly give up a single minute of sleep. So, I added this assignment to my to-do list last Monday, and here I am a week and a half later, finally sitting down to do it.


Dupaixs Do Italy: DAY 1

I've been wanting to write down all our memories and experiences from our trip this spring. I thought it'd be fun to document them on the blog, in case any of you are looking for recommendations or ideas.

I promise the rest of the posts from this trip will be full of photos!! 

The Adventure Begins...

After traumatizing goodbyes with the kids and a pretty pathetic episode of sobbing into my Crunch Wrap Supreme on the way to the airport, Zack and I checked in at JFK and found ourselves sitting at our gate with more than enough time to spare. It was pretty shocking to see how effortlessly we made it through security without kids and strollers and backpacks and sippy cups. Since Gunner was born I've only flown without the kids a handful of times, and every time I'm shocked by the difference!

We attempted to sleep on the plane, but between Zack's excitement and my lingering pain at leaving the kids behind, we barely slept a wink. I have to admit, I didn't even feel an ounce of excitement until we touched down for our layover in Portugal and by the time we touched down in Rome I was downright giddy. I couldn't believe we were actually here, actually doing this!!

Our plan was to head directly to the Amalfi Coast, so we grabbed our (TINY) rental car and hit the road. Driving in Italy was an experience I'll never forget. And to be clear, when I say I'll never forget driving in Italy, what I actually mean is I'll never forget riding shot gun while Zack drove in Italy.

The freeways were full of tiny cars and mopeds. Even the trucks were miniature. The rare SUV looked ginormous. As we left the city behind, and the Italian country side opened in front of us, I put on my usual road trip playlist, which consists of John Denver, Cat Stevens, and America, which seemed so extremely out of place in this context.

The countryside was as quaint and beautiful as you'd imagine. The hills rolled on forever, dotted with a house or vineyard or two. (why didn't i take any pictures of this?!?)The drive was relatively uneventful until the sun went down and we saw flames climbing the mountain ahead of us. As if I wasn't anxious enough about the windy roads ahead, a car had crashed into the mountain and gone up in the flames. Traffic was stopped in both directions while the tiniest little firetruck maneuvered its way to the crash.

This was just the beginning of the scariest part of our journey. The last 18 miles were... terrifying, to say the least. The roads wound and weaved their way treacherously through the mountains, and eventually to the coast, where they narrowly curled along cliffs, the waves of the Mediterranean crashing below. I thought it probably would have been less scary during the day, but I was wrong.

We pulled up to our hotel just 5 minutes before the hotel restaurant was scheduled to close and literally RAN down so we could eat before bed. (We were STARVING) After we sat down and ordered our appetizer, Zack realized his wallet was missing. He went back to the car and searched while I franticly emptied our backpacks onto our beautiful, white linen table cloth. It was no where to be found. I was sick. I couldn't believe we hadn't even been in the country 24 hours and we'd lost a wallet.

As the appetizer (a tomato and buffalo mozzarella caprese salad, of course) arrived, my phone buzzed with a Facebook message from a stranger. "I found a wallet that I believe belongs to your husband on the street in Amalfi. I'm staying at the Hotel IL Nido... I'm going to turn the wallet over to the front desk." Are you kidding me JOSE??? I could have cried. In our rush into the hotel, Zack must have dropped the wallet, and the nicest stranger imaginable picked it up.

Anyone could have found it. But an honest, kind, man named Jose found it and not only turned it in , but went out of his way to find us on Facebook and make sure it got back to us. I literally cried. You know, you hear a lot of cautions and warnings about traveling overseas. The pick-pockets, the thieves, the scams. Believe me, I'd read up on ALL of them and was more than sufficiently skeptical. But, this experience, in the first few minutes of our trip, really set my heart at peace. And on our first night in Italy, I fell asleep knowing that there are still a lot of really good people in the world.


CLICK HERE to watch my instastory from Day 1.


Bruschetta Burgers

Whenever people ask me what my favorite part of Italy was, I struggle to come up with something I enjoyed more than the bruschetta. I mean the museums and history were great and all. But those fresh tomatoes... (I'm drooling.)

"Bruschetta" is actually just grilled bread, brushed with olive oil and garlic. But, in America its pretty much always paired with a fresh tomato and garlic mixture. So, if you find yourself in Italy, make sure you order Bruschetta al Pomodoro.

They aren't lying when they say the food is fresher in Italy, and the tomatoes were no exception. They were bright and acidic; some were so sweet I could have sworn they added sugar. I'm not going to lie to you. I'm kind of a bruschetta expert at this point. It was the first thing I ordered when we arrived, and we had it with every single meal. (I'm not kidding.)


I Took a Two Week Break from Motherhood

I took a little break from full time motherhood this month while we went on our big Euro Trip without the kids. One of my fears in going was that I might realize that I prefer living my life without the pressures and responsibilities of caring for two kids. What if I went on this trip and realized that I liked my life better without them? Kind of morbid right?


Dock a Tot

Originally when I contacted Dock A Tot about trying their product, my intent was to use it as we transition Penelope from crib to toddler bed. But then Zack surprised me by planning a trip to Europe for later this month without our kids and we couldn't leave our parents with all the struggles that come from a newly trained big girl bed sleeper.

So, we've postponed the bed transition until after our trip. But, I feel like all this time getting her comfortable in the dock has been extremely useful; and will, eventually, make the transition easier.

Here are my top three favorite things about the Dock A Tot Grand:


Because my Husband is Here.

Can I tell you something about my husband?

He is the best.

Don't get me wrong. He drives me insane sometimes. And sometimes he forgets to take out the trash. And sometimes he makes me stay up late watching scary TV shows. Listen, I'm not saying he's perfect. But, you know what he's really great at? Being here. 

Last night I was frantically running around my house cleaning/preparing for a friend's birthday party. Zack was happily loading the dishwasher just as I'd asked. And my kids were...well let's just say they were complicating things.

For every one thing I put away, they pulled three things out. They were pulling on the vacuum cord and whining about needing this, that, and the other thing.

After the long day I'd had with them, and with the mounting pressure of guests arriving any minute, I lost it. I mean I really lost it. I screamed at my children with just about all the energy I had left. I told them to go play in their room and get out of my way and to leave me alone.

I'm not proud of this moment. In fact I cringe at the thought of even sharing it. But it needs to be noted that I really lost my cool. And both kids were terrified and traumatized. But I was so frustrated and frantic that I just walked away and got back to cleaning.

Before long I noticed they weren't crying anymore and went to see what they were doing. Zack was quietly comforting them and reminding them that Mommy had an important night and they needed to let me clean.

Then he caught me totally off guard when he asked them if they'd like to help him do the dishes. My kids are still young enough to think that's a treat. So he stacked the stools up next to him and the three of them stood there scrubbing and rinsing and having a grand old time.

I was so thankful that he was here. In this moment when I had lost control of my temper and had hurt my children's feelings, I was so glad that he was there to comfort them; to hug them and reassure them. I was so glad that instead of criticizing me, he reminded my children that mommy has needs too. And I was SO thankful that instead of telling them to stay out of the way (like I did) he included them in the work that needed to be done. It didn't make the dishwashing process any faster, but it kept them happy and occupied, and that made my work easier.

Last night, and pretty much every night, I am so thankful that he is here. Like really here. 

It's because he's here that I know I don't have to prepare the house (for a girls night that he's not even invited to) on my own. Because he's here, he's aware of my needs and of our children's needs and I know I can "tap out" if  I need to. And because he's here in the moments when I can't see or think clearly, he is able to pick up my slack, and make up the difference. I find an immense amount of comfort in that.

He could stay late at work. He could work on projects during dinner. He could be a lot of places physically and mentally. I am so thankful that he's here.  

Having Zack home by dinner has always been a priority for us. We have made our education and career decisions as a team, and based on what will be best for our family. We both make sacrifices to ensure we are able to give the very best of ourselves to our children and to each other. Individually, we are far from perfect. But what makes it work, is that when one of us fails, the other is here and willing to pick up the pieces. 

I know having a dad who is home for dinner every night isn't a possibility for everyone. Moms and dads make huge sacrifices to provide for their families. And what works for us, doesn't work for everyone. I would never assume to know what would be best for anyone else's family.

But after that ugly moment last night, I was so thankful that he was here. 


P.S. What helps you guys to be present with your family? I'd love to hear your experiences!


Thick & Chewy Ginger Molasses Cookies

Let me start off with a little secret about these cookies. I had never had them, and never had any interest in trying them (how gross does molasses sound??) , until someone requested them for their birthday treat. So I gave them a shot, with extremely low expectations. The first pan came out of the oven and I bit into one as soon as they had cooled enough and I was hooked! That was all it took.

So these are kind of a traditionally Christmas cookie. But when have I ever cared about traditions?? Never. (Not true.) So, I make these all year round. Literally. And guess what--No one complains. So there. You have every right to make these delicious chewy, spicy, (christmassy) cookies whenever you darn well please. If anyone gives you trouble, give them a cookie.

You'll find a lot of recipes for this type of cookie out there. And most of them will have almost identical ingredients. But there are a couple little technique changes that will make a big difference.


How To: Save Money Online

Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Groupon Coupons. But as always, all opinions are my own. 

I can't be the only person who is addicted to online shopping. Right? I mean you stay home. You stay in your PJs. You turn on Disney Junior for the kids. And you shop in peace. The convenience factor is off the charts. Real Talk. But did you also know, there are tons of ways to save online that you can't necessarily do in stores. So, here are my tips and tricks for saving money online!

Groupon Coupons

I ALWAYS, ALWAYS, ALWAYS, use a coupon or promo code. I'm not kidding. I don't check out online until I have found a coupon code. My favorite place to find codes is Groupon Coupons. Groupon isn't just a great place to find killer deals on products and travel. They also have an entire section of their site dedicated to collecting online promo codes for all your favorite sites. We're talking thousands of websites. (Including, Target, Gap, Priceline.com, Anthropologie, Best Buy and so many more.) They even have a Student Discounts section for all of you college students!

My favorite part is that you can search by category. So when I'm looking for the perfect gift for a loved one, I just click the Flowers & Gifts  or Gift Certificate category and I'm taken to a list of the internet's best deals on flowers and gifts.

Next time you're ready to check out online, make sure you search Groupon Coupons first!

More Tips Below


Words of a Stranger

Have you guys ever heard a stranger say something in passing and have it completely change how you feel about your life?? I have. But let me start from the beginning.

My iPhone sucks. Its been randomly shutting down regardless of battery percentage. It won't turn on until I plug it in. And then, of course, when it boots up it still has 73% battery. After being tethered to my wall charger for a week, I finally arrived at my wits end and made an appointment at the apple store to have it replaced. I was annoyed to pay the $80 for a new battery, but I dragged my kids to the mall anyways. Imagine my delight as I sat at the genius bar and the so-called 'genius' told me they didn't have my battery in stock........... (the pause is to emphasize my annoyance) So he scheduled me an appointment at a different store the next morning.

So the next day I loaded my kids up again and dragged them down to an apple store in the middle of the ritziest downtown area in Connecticut (where I'd obviously never been.) After circling (more like aimlessly wandering and turning the wrong way down one-way streets) for 45 minutes, I decided to park in the middle of the road in front of the apple store and wait as long as it would take to for one of those parking spots to open up. Luckily, it was only 20 more minutes before a spot opened up a few stores down. And I only had to honk and shout at two different range rovers that tried to slip in before me.

Already exhausted and beyond frustrated, I parked. I went to the meter only to find it only accepts change. (Where am I?!? 1984?!? Am I really expected to carry loose change?!?) So I dug all my nickels and dimes out of the little pockets in my wallet and starting pouring them in. Nothing happened. No time was added. It just kept flashing 'EXPIRED'. I asked a passing person if they know how these things works and he said, (this is NOT the life changing stranger) "They only take quarters." QUARTERS?!? Why do I not have ANY quarters?!? It's because I'm always a sucker for those dumb bouncy ball quarter machines outside of diners. I agreed right then and there I was NEVER going to let my children take my quarters for quarter machines again. (Can you sense my mood?!? Haha)

I frantically dug around the car (while my kids whined) for any quarters that may have fallen into cracks or under seats. No luck. I non-optimistically checked the designated change compartment assuming nothing would be there, because (let's be honest) I don't organize my change into designated change compartments. I leave it in jacket pockets and spend it on quarter machines. But thank heavens for Zack. He literally ALWAYS saves the day. He wasn't even there, and he saved the day. He had so thoughtfully placed a few of each coin type into their slots so that my designated coin compartment was stocked for me. I mean... (cue the heart eye emoji. #besthusbandever)

I grabbed the two quarters and threw them in the machine. And unbuckled the kids from their seats and started uphill (yes, up a very steep hill) to the apple store.

Okay, so I want to pause here. Because can you just imagine how I looked? If you looked up "struggling" in the dictionary it would have been a picture of me at this moment. I was positively frantic and annoyed. My hair was a mess, things were falling out of my purse, I was carrying Penelope and holding Gunner's hand (there may have been some dragging involved). At this moment, I wasn't thrilled with my life.

Half way to the store I saw two older ladies walking toward me. They were dressed nicely and had lovely manicured nails. They looked like the picture of leisure and luxury. Just a couple of older ladies lunching in Greenwich. Can you just imagine them? And how lovely they looked? And how wonderful their lives were?? I almost rolled my eyes with pure annoyance. As we approached each other I met eyes with one of them, and she looked us up and down and said to the other woman, completely genuinely, "Oh! How lucky is she?"

I literally scoffed as I walked past. What on earth did she mean?!? Lucky??? Me. Lucky? Couldn't she see me?!? It completely caught me off guard. Here she was, in head to toe J. Crew, lunching with her friend. No children to pull her hair or wipe cream cheese on her or dump her soda all over the floor of a restaurant, and she thought I was lucky?!? (Granted, this woman probably wasn't drinking soda at lunch. Guarantee she was drinking sparkling water.)

The comment stuck with me all day. I kept reevaluating her tone over and over again, looking for some hint of sarcasm. But it wasn't there. She looked at me, with my hands too full to even think straight, and all she saw was that I was blessed. And when I look at my life with a clear head, I know that it's true. But, in this particular moment my gripe list was a mile long. I had a million complaints about my life. I was blinded from seeing that these children (that fill my hands and more) are the greatest treasure of my life.

No gift I ever receive, no peaceful uninterrupted lunch, no perfect manicure, no J. Crew jeans, will ever compare to them. A lifetime of those things could never compete with the privilege it is to be their mother.

So the next time you're frantically scrambling to get somewhere with kids in tow, I genuinely hope a kind stranger will remind you of just how lucky you are to have your hands full.



Stocking Stuffer Faves

We got home from our trip late last Wednesday night. Like really late. Like I may have actually cried while I dragged my stuff and kids for 2.5 miles through the airport to baggage claim. (Has anyone flown into JFK and NOT been in the furthest gate possible?!? Yeah, me neither.) 

Anyways, the kids and I slept in on Thursday. Poor Zack had to go to work bright (dark) and early. But, once I finally woke up I decided to jump start the unpacking process, which is soooo not like me. At least not like 2016 me. But maybe this is, like, my new thing? My new 2017 thing. I unpack immediately after arriving home from a trip. Wow! 2017 me seriously has her cr*p together. (Spoiler alert: It didn't last! There is still one suitcase sitting in my closet. Completely full.)