Thursday, October 5, 2017

CrockToberFest.

Up until about a month ago, I had never heard of CrockTober, or CrockToberFest. One of my neighbors told me about this type of get-together, where neighbors, friends, and family gather to eat, drink, and share crockpot/slow-cooker recipes. Every person or family shows up to the CrockToberFest get-together with a crockpot/slow-cooker dish to share. Guests can also print out their crockpot recipe on cards for others to take home.

This week, I was back on The Jason Show with a couple crockpot recipes, that you can make for your next CrockToberFest get-together!



The first recipe was given to me by another mom, who makes this dish for her husband's work pot-lucks all the time. This Buffalo Chicken Chili is a two-time cook-off winner at her husband's office! I tweaked it a little bit, to make it work for me.

CROCKPOT BUFFALO CHICKEN CHILI

Ingredients:

1 lb. ground chicken
15 oz. can of white navy beans (rinsed and drained)
2 cups chicken broth
14.5 oz. can of fire-roasted tomatoes (drained)
3/4 cup buffalo wing sauce
1 pkg of ranch dressing mix
2 cups frozen corn kernels
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp celery salt
1/2 cup fresh cilantro
1 tsp salt
8 oz cream cheese

Toppings:

Blue cheese crumbles
Chopped cilantro

Combine all of the ingredients in the slow-cooker (except the toppings and cream cheese) and cook on low for 6 hours. Make sure to mince the ground chicken up with a fork before you turn the crockpot on. Otherwise, you'll have a big block of cooked ground chicken in your chili. Once the chicken is cooked through (about 4-5 hours), toss in the cream cheese and let it melt. Stir often until everything is creamy and blended (about 6 hours total). Serve in bowls, and top with blue cheese crumbles and cilantro.


SPINACH ARTICHOKE DIP

Ingredients:

1 cup mozzarella cheese (grated/shredded)
6 oz Neufchatel cheese
1/2 cup parmesan cheese
14 oz. can of artichoke hearts
1 clove of garlic
2 cups fresh spinach leaves (chopped)
1 tsp black pepper (ground)

Combine all of the ingredients in a mixing bowl, and mix well. Then dump into a crockpot, and cook on low for 3-4 hours. Turn crockpot down to "warm", and serve with crackers, ciabatta bread, or veggies.


AUTUMN VEUVE CLIQUOT SPRITZER

Ingredients:

Ice
Lime zest
Fresh cranberries
Veuve Cliquot Rose Champagne

Fill a large wine glass with 5-6 ice cubes, lime zest, a handful of cranberries, and champagne. If you want the best champagne, always go with the Veuve. Another one of our go-to's when it comes to wine: Black Box. My number one wine choice is always a beautiful bottle of a Marlborough New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc, such as Matua or Grey Rock. But a glass of Black Box Red Blend on a fall evening is pretty darn good! Plus, one Black Box holds 4 regular-size bottles of wine. Yes, please!


Monday, September 18, 2017

We had "the talk" with our 6-year-old.

Ohhhhhh I can just feel all the judgment and opinions after this blog post. Yes, you read it right. We (ok, I) had "the talk" (AKA "the sex talk") with our 6-year-old. Was this something we planned on doing.

Oh no.

But a recent conversation that I had with one of my well-respected mom friends, and some research on my part, had me rethinking our whole outlook and "plan" for having "the talk".

(This video cracks me up, because I can see
myself in every single one of these parents.)

In our house, we talk about penises and vaginas as if they were an arm or a leg. Has it always been this way?

Nope.

For the first three years of our now 6-year-old's life, we referred to a vagina as a "who-ha", and a penis as a "pee pee" and/or "wee wee".

Yeesh.

Lesson learned, and we now refer to these body parts by their proper names.

So, why did we decide to have "the talk" with our 6-year-old? I mean, 6 is REALLY young, and does she even need to know what sex is at this age?! It seems like a little bit of a mature subject matter for our "baby".

I was actually at a playdate with a couple moms, one of whom is a psychologist and just an all-around amazingly intuitive human being. She's married and has two kids, who are both fantastically well-rounded little humans. She told me about a seminar she recently attended, where the speaker talked about having "the talk" with your kids between the ages of 5-7. The reason: Kids get the "gross out" factor, and start tuning parents out once they reach age 8. At age 5-7, kids are genuinely curious, and are able to absorb and retain facts, without getting "grossed out". Plus, the older they get, the higher the risk of having your kids hear about sex from their peers, which is almost always the wrong information.

So, when our 6-year-old (who, mind you, JUST turned 6) asked on a car ride home from Target, "Mom, how did the baby in your belly, get there?", I knew this was the point of no return. I could either give her the "God gives us babies" talk, or have "THE talk". I choked back my nerves, and gave her a boatload of information. Now, THIS is one of those moments when I wish my life was a reality show, because I'm sure all the flies on the wall were having a joyous time watching me TRY to keep my composure and act mature.

Baby Saigh #3... The little one who sparked this BIG conversation.

6-year-old: "Mom, how did the baby in your belly, get there?"

Me: "How do YOU think it got there?"

6-year-old: "I don't know, that's why I'm asking you."

Me: "{Dammit} Well {deep breath}, babies are made when a mom and dad who truly love each other, have sex. Do you know what sex is? {Errrrr mah guuuuuurd, is this really happening?! There's no turning back now!}

6-year-old: "No."

Me: "Well, sex is how a baby is made. When a married couple who really love each other are ready to have a baby, they have sex. The dad puts his penis into the mom's vagina, and the dad's penis releases tiny sperm. The sperm kind of look like tadpoles, but are very tiny, and they swim to the egg that's inside the mom's body. The sperm fertilizes the egg, and that egg grows into a baby. Isn't that amazing?! {I was literally dying inside, and seriously wanted to drive off the road.}

6-year-old: "But how does the penis get inside the vagina?"

Me: {OMG, I can't.} "Well the dad's penis just goes in there. But that is only ok when a mom and a dad are in love, want to make a baby, and they're married. {Changing the subject} You know what's really cool?! Every month, a mom's body releases an egg... A tiny egg that you can't see without a microscope... And that egg can turn into a baby. Isn't that amazing?!"

6-year-old: "So you lay an egg like a chicken every month?"

Me: {THANK YOU, my darling 6-year-old for lightening up this awkward conversation!} "Hahahaha, no, but wouldn't that be funny?! Actually, the tiny egg just comes out in my pee if it doesn't turn into a baby." {I'm choosing to tackle one subject at a time. Periods and "the change" talk will come later.}

As we drove home, the two of us laughed at the thought of me laying eggs like a chicken each month, and I let Linna ask me any follow-up questions she had. Her questions were all about the size of a mom's eggs. She wanted to know EXACTLY how big they were. She didn't have any other "how does 'that' get in 'there'" questions... PRAISE SWEET BABY JESUS!

I made sure she knew that sex is something we talk about at home, and that it's NOT something we talk about with our friends, cousins, etc. I reiterated the importance of keeping private parts, private, and how no one is ever able to touch her body in a way that makes her uncomfortable. This is SUCH an important conversation to have, as often as you can. I also made sure that Linna knew she could always feel comfortable asking us about anything, and that she should never feel embarrassed to talk to us about whatever is on her mind.

I have to admit, although I was incredibly uncomfortable having this conversation with my 6-year-old, I'm SO happy that I did. I'm pretty sure Papa Saigh is even happier that he didn't have to be a part of it. However, after our "talk", I did have Papa Saigh let Linna know that she could ask him about anything, anytime.

So, there you have it. I know there are going to be a hundred different opinions on this subject, and even a hundred more judgments about how we decided to tackle "the talk". But, here's the deal: Sex shouldn't be a topic that's avoided (even though it's SUCH an awkward conversation). Especially if you want your kids to be able to come to YOU when they have questions about things they are hearing at school. As much as we want the topic of "sex" to stay within the confined walls of our homes, that's just not going to happen. Kids talk.

One of my mom-friends uses the term "fairy eyes", which I think is incredibly precious. Trust me, I'd love for my children to waltz through this world with "fairy eyes", but that's not reality. And, in the long-run, it's doing nothing to prepare them for their natural curiosity. When my kids get curious, I want me or Papa Saigh to be the first person they come to.

According to Deborah Roffman, the author of "Talk to Me First: Everything You Need to Know to Become Your Kids' Go-To Person About Sex", kids have 5 core needs when it comes to sexuality: Affirmation and unconditional love, information about healthy and unhealthy behaviors, clarity about values such as respect and integrity, appropriate boundaries and limits, and guidance about making responsible and safe choices. This isn't rocket-science, but great things to keep in mind as our kids grow up right before our eyes.

So, have you had "the talk"? How did it go? Or, how do you plan on handling the topic of "sex" with your kids?




* Note: I'm not an expert (duh). I'm just a mom trying to survive motherhood, one difficult topic at a time. Where's the wine?!

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

SURPRISE: We're expecting baby #3.

That's right, our little family of four is growing! While I am beyond excited about our completely shocking news, Papa Saigh is slowly digesting the fact that we will welcome another baby into our family.

Holy sh*t, is right.

I'm sure you're wondering if this was planned.

Um, not one bit. However, if you know me, you know that I have always wanted a dozen children. Papa Saigh on the other hand, has always been content with two. I've been trying to convince Papa Saigh to try for a third for over a year now, while he's been busy researching vasectomies.

Oh, the irony.

But here's the thing... We haven't been using birth control since we had Jimmy. So, while the news of Baby Saigh #3 was a huge shock, it's not like it was an immaculate conception.

I'm currently 10 weeks pregnant, and our new little love is due on March 23rd (my brother's birthday)! I've been blogging since the day we found out about Baby Saigh #3, and now that the dust has settled, we're so excited to share our news!

5-6 Weeks Pregnant

I got what I thought was my period, and then it stopped. I didn't really think anything of it until about a week later. I was getting ready to go work the red carpet for the Starkey Gala, when it dawned on me that I still hadn't gotten my period. I had a random Dollar Store pregnancy test from a TV segment on The Jason Show (random, I know), and decided to pee on it. Within seconds the second line showed up.

Papa Saigh made me buy a second pregnancy test to make SURE the results were accurate.


Holy sh*t balls.

I seriously had to think back to figure out how this was even possible. Then, I had to figure out how I was going to tell Papa Saigh. He was sleeping (it was his morning to sleep in), and I couldn't keep it in any longer. So, I woke him up and said, "Good morning! I'm going to give you this (pregnancy test), and let you just absorb it all...".

He looked at me in bewilderment and said, "You're kidding right? We can't do this."

Well, Papa Saigh, we're doing this.

In all honesty, it took Papa Saigh a good week before he started to see the silver lining of this shell-shocker. I don't blame him. It's a total game-changer. While we're still figuring out how we're actually going to handle life with three kids, we're both pretty excited about Bub #3. We decided to wait to tell Linna, even though she saw and picked up my positive pregnancy test and asked what it was. I told her it was a water quality test.

Now that's quality parenting at its finest.

7-8 Weeks Pregnant

Well, I feel like I'm carrying twins. My stomach is swollen, I'm starving, nauseous, and so tired. I went in for an ultrasound and got to see our tiny little surprise. He or she had a heartbeat, and everything looked great. The best news that I got to deliver to Papa Saigh after that appointment... It's just the ONE baby.

My boobs are starting to get even bigger, and they're incredibly swollen and painful. Not as bad as I remember with Jimmy, but taking my bra off is no longer the highlight of my day. During week 7, I started having some brown discharge when I wiped, which totally freaked me out. A few of my mom friends told me they had the same thing happen to them, and when I called my OB they assured me that what I was experiencing sounded normal (no cramping, red blood, back pain, etc.). The discharge stopped after a couple days and hasn't returned. I remember having something similar happen when I was pregnant with Linna, although it was later in my pregnancy, and it turned out to be a kidney/bladder infection.

All I want to do is nap, which is a little hard while I'm chasing two small kids around this summer. I'm also dealing with a very painful Planter Fasciitis in my right foot. I need to get that sh*t figured out before my belly starts throwing me off balance. Yeesh.

9-10 Weeks Pregnant

Baby Saigh #3 at 10 weeks.

I'm still super tired, but at times my pregnancy symptoms have seemed to disappear for days, and then return. This, of course, freaked me out, but then I'd bite my tongue when my symptoms returned.

Woof.

I feel like I was more pukey when I was pregnant with Linna, but my boobs were sorer and I was more exhausted with Jimmy. So again, this pregnancy is different than my other two pregnancies. Maybe I'm having a puppy this time?!

When Jimmy goes down for his nap, I lay on the couch with Linna and close my eyes for 15 minutes. That's all I need, and Linna watches a show when I do this. I'm also overly emotional this week. I was listening to "Girl on Fire" by Alicia Keys in the car the other day and started tearing up, thinking about my oldest being a "strong young lady". I'm typically an emotionless human. I also got emotional thinking about telling our kids about this baby. Everything is making me sappy these days.

We decided to tell the kids about their new sibling this week. I put the 7-week ultrasound photo in a frame, wrapped it up, and wrote a message from #3 to Linna and Jimmy. Here's the video of how it all went down...



I'm pretty sure Linna thought the gift she was getting was a pool, and she was WAY more excited when we told her that she and Jimmy would be getting bunk beds next year after the baby is born. Jimmy was more interested in his toys. Go figure.

I had my 10-week ultrasound on Monday, and the baby is measuring 10 weeks and 4 days. His or her heart-rate is 175 beats/min. Linna got to come with us to see her new baby brother or sister. She said the baby looked like jello.

Linna has been really excited to tell people about her new sibling, followed up by the even MORE exciting bunk-bed news. I'm definitely showing, so I'm actually relieved to FINALLY let the cat out of the bag.

Here we go!

* Make sure to follow our InstaStories (@MelissaSaigh) for daily updates on this pregnancy, and the craziness that is our everyday lives.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Linna's final thoughts as a 5-year-old.

Every year (starting at age 2), I've recorded a video of our oldest right before she goes to sleep on the eve of her birthday (I'll do this with Jimmy too). I ask her questions about her current favorite things, and then ask her to give her "final words/thoughts as a __-year-old". She loves going back to watch these videos, and so do I.

Here are the videos starting from age 2, through age 5. Her little voice has changed so much!

Happy 6th birthday, Linna!

(Linna, age 5)

(Linna, age 4)

(Linna, age 3)

(Linna, age 2)

Monday, August 7, 2017

To my almost 6-year-old.

My how time flies. Tomorrow, our first-born will turn 6 years old! And this fall, our baby girl will be in first grade. She's the little love-bug that inspired this blog nearly 7 years ago, when we found out that she was growing inside my belly.

Miss Linna, you are a sensitive, creative, sassy little lady, that truly keeps us on our toes. This year has opened my eyes to the reality that you are 100% your mother's daughter. Your wit, sass, and argumentative personality will serve you well in life, but also drives your mama crazy. You are quite the little diva, but also have an incredibly loving soft-spot for your baby brother. I know how much he annoys you, but your love for him is truly heart-warming. Your baby brother is your biggest fan, and you are his first role-model, teacher, and best friend. I wish you could see how lost he is when you aren't around.

Your love for learning, curiosity, and desire to follow the rules, while still pushing the limits, will take you far in life. You're so kind to everyone you meet, and I hope you continue to spread that gift. The giggles and laughter that come out of you every day are infectious. Your jokes and stories are always surprising, and give life to our home and family. I love that you want to marry me and live in our house forever. I hope this never changes.

I think you're really going to find your place on the dance stage this year, as well as in the classroom. While you're losing a handful of your kindergarten classmates to different teachers this year, I have no doubt that you will make new friends, and keep the old. You'll all be back together sooner than you know. I am so inspired by your thirst for knowledge, and your interest in the Chinese culture and language. You're the "spice" that brings together our "Asian-American" family.

Look how much you've grown, kiddo!

We are so proud of the little lady you have become, and are anxious to watch you grow even more as a 6-year-old. But seriously, slow down. How are you 6?! I hope you always keep your innocence, your baby face, and your love for your family... Especially the love you have for me.

XO,

Mama

Thursday, July 27, 2017

2017 back-to-school fashions.

Click the photo above to watch video of this entire segment. The below post contains
affiliate links. However, all thoughts are my own.

When it comes to back-to-school fashion, getting more "bang for your buck" is always the way to go. While I love shopping at second-hand stores like Once Upon a Child, Children's Orchard, and even garage sales, it's always nice to be able to buy our kiddos a few brand new outfits to make the start of the school year a little more exciting. There's some good sales happening right now, and all prices (below) are accurate as of the publish time and date of this post. I was so excited to be back on The Jason Show this week with our soon-to-be first-grader, and a few of her buddies/cousins, to showcase some of these great looks.

Cute kiddos on The Jason Show

Happy shopping!

Dress by Crazy8 : $17.42
Tights by Gymboree: $9.71
Ankle Boots by Gymboree: $29.96

(GymBucks: Save $25 on every $50 spent, through 7/31/17)

Shirt by Cat & Jack for Target: $8.99
Jeans by GAP Kids: $24.00
Hat by Cat & Jack for Target: $5.99

Short-sleeve "Meow" top by H&M Kids: $4.99
Joggers by H&M: $14.99

Ankle Boots by Gymboree: $29.96
(H&M: Get 20% OFF a $60+ purchase online, 7/31/17 - 8/6/17, and in-store through 8/13/17)

(GymBucks: Save $25 on every $50 spent, through 7/31/17)

Hoodie by Cat & Jack for Target: $10.00
Patchwork Jeans by Cat & Jack for Target: $17.99 
Backback by Gymboree: $27.71
(GymBucks: Save $25 on every $50 spent, through 7/31/17)
Head-to-toe look from Crazy8

Denim Jacket by Gymboree: $28.79
Dress by H&M Kids: $17.99
Purse by H&M Kids: $12.99

Ankle Boots by Gymboree: $29.96
(H&M: Get 20% OFF a $60+ purchase online, 7/31/17 - 8/6/17, and in-store through 8/13/17)
(GymBucks: Save $25 on every $50 spent, through 7/31/17)

Star Dress by Gymboree: $26.21
Sparkle Tights by Gymboree: $9.71
Headband by Gymboree: $6.71

(GymBucks: Save $25 on every $50 spent, through 7/31/17)

Dress by H&M Kids: SOLD OUT
Boots by Cat & Jack for Target: $24.99
Purse by H&M Kids: $12.99
(H&M: Get 20% OFF a $60+ purchase online, 7/31/17 - 8/6/17, and in-store through 8/13/17)

Poncho by GAP Kids: $44.00 (sale price)
White Stain-Resistant Skinny Jeans by GAP Kids: $29.99 (sale price)

Entire Outfit by Crazy8

Entire Outfit by H&M

Entire Outfit by Gymboree
(GymBucks: Save $25 on every $50 spent, through 7/31/17)

Entire Outfit by Cat & Jack for Target

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Our experience with hellofresh.

A couple months ago, we decided to give HelloFresh a try, after my sister and brother-in-law raved about it and gave us a free (three-meal) trial. For the first time in almost six years, I started working full-time (for six weeks), so I needed to figure out a way to make our dinner-planning a little bit easier. Here are the pros and cons of our month-long experience of the HelloFresh meal-delivery service (and yes, we're still using it)...

Crushed Peppercorn Steak


PROS

Convenience: I downloaded the HelloFresh app to my phone, and I'm able to skip weeks, select my weekly meals, etc. It couldn't be easier. We selected the two-person (three meals per week) plan. Now that our almost six-year-old is becoming interested in the dinners we're eating, we might need to think about upgrading to the family meal-plan.

Ease: Our meals are delivered to our doorstep on the first day of the week, and I put the boxes right into our refrigerator. All of the ingredients for each meal come in a box that fits nicely in our refrigerator, and I put the protein (meat or fish) in our freezer or fridge. While I do need to chop all of the veggies, garlic, etc., all of the ingredients are fresh, and come portioned and packaged, which makes dinner-prep very easy. Plus, I do like prepping meals in the kitchen, but I don't like doing ALL the work.

New Go-To Recipes: I'm always looking for new, healthy, easy recipes for family dinners. So when I prep and cook a "winning" HelloFresh meal, I add it to my recipe book, and shop for the ingredients myself without having to use the HelloFresh service (which is more cost-effective). We've added so many new recipes to our meal rotation after starting HelloFresh.

Taste/Portion Size: While we've had one or two "eh" meals, a majority of the meals we've tried from HelloFresh have been really tasty. A couple of our favorites are the Speedy Springtime Pasta, Montery Jack Burger with Red Onion Marmalade and Crispy Zuccini Fries (this one is SO good), Crushed Peppercorn Steak (I loved this, but Papa Saigh wasn't a fan), and Crispy Chicken Milanese. When you look at the ingridents that come inside each box, you might think to yourself, "this isn't going to fill us up". However, Papa Saigh and I have been completely satisfied after finishing our HelloFresh meals (and we are big eaters), even after the almost six-year-old samples what we're eating for dinner.



CONS

Immediacy: Because of the freshness of the ingredients, you need to cook your meals sooner rather than later. We actually freeze the meat/fish that won't be cooked until day three, so it won't go bad. However, if you know you're going to be out of town, eating out, etc., you can always skip a week (or as many weeks as you'd like), so you don't waste food.

Cost: While I don't think the cost of each HelloFresh meal is extraordinary, it is less expensive to grocery shop and meal-plan on your own. However, I often find that when I try to save money by grocery shopping and meal-planning, I usually end up going the easy and unhealthy drive-through route, or order in pizza. This adds up, and often ends up costing more than the cost of our daily HelloFresh meal.

Dishes: HelloFresh needs to come up with a way to send a "dish fairy" along with each delivery. While prepping and cooking our HelloFresh meals is pretty easy-peasy, there are dishes to be done after the meal prep.

Overall, we are happy with our experience with HelloFresh. There's no commitment, so you can skip as many weeks as you'd like (at no cost), and cancel anytime. Here's the best part: You can save money on your HelloFresh weekly deliveries by using our code F476HG. This link/code will get you $40 off your first HelloFresh delivery. Give it a try, and let us know what you think!