Chicken Marsala.

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This dish is one of my faves at a restaurant, so I was skeptical when this package cried out to me in the supermarket.

Let’s put it like this: it made it look easy and taste restaurant-quality, but man was this a challenging work-intensive recipe!  Seriously! It is basically pre-measured spices that you will need to create a dish.  This one had marjoram, pepper, minced onion, minced garlic, basic leaves and something else I can’t recall.   The only convenience of these “packaged spices” was the pre-measured amounts but the rest was hard!  Still, it came out fabulously!  YOu just need to follow the instructions.  You also need other ingredients on hand like flour, chicken, spaghetti if you desire, olive oil, butter, mushrooms, chicken stock and marsala wine.  OH and bummer, just saw on McCormick’s website that these will be discontinued in January of 2013.  Man, just when I discovered these gems!  The other flavors they have are:

Apple and Sage pork chops

Asian Sesame Salmon

Caribbean grilled steak

Chicken cacciatore

Chicken tikka masala

Country herb chicken and dumplings

Garlic Lime chicken fajitas

Mediterranean herb crusted tilapia

Quesadilla casserole

Rosemary roasted chicken with potatoes

Tuscan Chicken stew

OK, here are some pics from the fantastic meal.


Definitely worth a try in my opinion, but don’t think it is too much of a short-cut.  The box said 30 minutes and it is pretty accurate.  Enjoy!

Sleep Training and the Baby Tranquilizer

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I apologize ahead of time for the text-heavy lack of picture post, but sleep related pictures are hard to find. I make up for it with a funny video though.

Sleep.  It is probably definitely the most concerning, most talked about issue among parents old and new.  Anyway, it is safe to say that my opinion on “sleep training” (i.e. the process of getting your baby to sleep well both at night and for naps) has changed drastically from before my baby actually got here 😉  Before, I thought “Ferberize him!  Let him cry it out!  We ALLLLL need to sleep.”  haha.  Turns out my approach to sleep training is a little different. and a bit more gentle than this.  I read a LOT about sleep training, especially when I would be up for endless hours many times throughout the night.  My Google history was pretty much as follows: how to get baby to sleep more, how to get baby to sleep, when will damn baby sleep.  Anyway, I did not end up going with any one method of sleep training. As I have mentioned before, all of “those books” are great but in reality, my child is MY child.  He is certainly not like any other child, because no children the same, nor did he come with instructions relatable to one of those books.  So I basically thought about my own values and perceptions regarding sleep, and tried a few things. I had to make sure that I was comfortable with what I was doing, that I was CONSISTENT (so very important) and that it was the best thing for everyone involved.  So here are the things I had decided:

– My baby is small (in terms of percentile) so I really wasn’t and am still not ready to not allow him to eat during the night.  He also is very distractible and as much as I try to limit distractions and get him to eat as much as possible during the day, I felt he still needed a bit in the night.  I also know that sometimes I wake up thirsty and want a drink (I know, I’m a sucker).  But, I was done at five months with having this be an open-ended thing.  Based on literature and what I feel to be true about Zach (from experience) he CAN go about 6-7 hours without food.  So, if he went to bed at 8, he would not need to eat until about 2.  So I decided I would feed him twice during the night AT THIS POINT (once after the long stretch, and then the second time ends up being around 5.  Anyway, I decided to institute a dream feed (feeding him while he is asleep) at about 10 or 1030 when I go to bed so that the stretch corresponds more with my sleeping schedule.  So he normally eats at 1030 dream feed then gets up only one more time (again knock on wood) at about 5.

– I was not against helping him soothe IF he tried it on his own for five minutes.  This is for if he woke up other than the two times I said I would feed him.  So if he “cried” (fussed, etc.) for five minutes, I would send my husband in to simply pat him, so he knows we know he is there (and love him and have not abandoned him; something I was super concerned about) and then leave.  He almost always (knock on wood) goes back to sleep after that.  I send my husband in so it does not confuse him (he won’t think it is time to eat).

-Zach IS a really good self soother (knock on wood hehe- i have to say this because as I have said before, babies change so often!) so if he continues to cry is IS usually because he is suuuuper hungry and it tends to correspond to the times above.

-One of the things that MOST sleep training experts/books speak of is the idea that baby should be put down “drowsy but awake” which helps babies get used to “putting themselves back to sleep.” This is due to object permanence which babies can develop around 4 months.   When they develop object permanence, if they fell asleep in your arms, they wake up in their crib and are suuuuper confused (like if you woke up on your front lawn).  Up until about 4 months, I nursed Zach to sleep.  Not a good idea.  When he woke up with the boob gone from his mouth he was not only confused but pissed.  I weaned off that but was still rocking him to sleep at about 4.5 months.  At this point I knew I needed to stop because of object permanence.  So, I began putting him down sleepy but awake to avoid this issue.  Sometimes actually, he is WIDE awake, as you will see in the video until the “tranquilizer” sets in. It is HYSTERICAL!  I don’t know what it is but he will be talking, razz-ing whatever and just all of the sudden ZONK!   Too funny!  Excuse the white noise in the background.

-Importance of routine. So we have an exact routine for nighttime and bedtime sleep. I really think it helps cue Zach in and tells him “time to sleeeeep!”  Nighttime routine= bath, goodnight to the room/mommy/baby, swaddle (only waist down, generally in a sack), white noise, nurse, song in rocking chair, put in crib.  Nap time routine:  5 minutes quiet crib time on back looking at mobile with classical music on, brown bear brown bear book, white noise,  swaddle, nurse, put in crib.

-We have started waking him up at a consistent time every day (730) because I think his erratic wake-up schedule was throwing off his nap schedule (more on this below).  He goes to bed between 745 and 815.

OK, now for NAPS.  Naps seem to be more influx than night time sleep.  I mean the schedule changes far more often.  For instance, he takes three naps now (it used to be five at first, then four) but I think is phasing into two.   His am nap is most consistent.  It happens from about 930-11.  The other nap(s) are less consistent.  As I said he is working on consolidating those two.  We used to, and still do sometimes,  have trouble with the 45-minute nap intruder.  Click to read more about it.  But the idea is that the nap is cute short, only lasting one sleep cycle, for a variety of reasons.  We are aiming to have two two-hour naps, so a 45-minuter stinks.  Anyway, I am just letting the nap thing happen; I think there will be more of a schedule soon.  It can be challenging to make plans though!

So, tell, me:  what are your experiences/thoughts on sleep training?!


On Running.

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OK, so I just need to vent this out a bit…I had NO idea how challenging running is post delivery.  I do not know what the exact problem is, although I will hypothesize below, but I see gals like this chick back to crazy distances and speed very soon after baby and I just can’t get myself together.  First of all, my average distance is a 5k.  I used to run half marathons!  Argh!  I guess the reason for this is multifaceted:

A.  I “train” (ha if you can even call it that) while Zach is napping; either on the treadmill or on a lovely lucky day outside if the Husband is home, so I don’t have a ton of time.

B. It is soooo damn hard.

Here are the reasons I think it is so hard for me:

1.  I stopped running on normal surface at 4 months pregnant so I am technically “out of running” shape even though I walked a ton and ran in the pool throughout my pregnancy

2.  Breastfeeding…ok so yea, the “girls” are definitely a speed killer for me and sometimes it hurts.  I have to double bag ’em.  Ill leave it at that. I am also burning 500-600 calories a day (or so they say) and it tires me out!  Maybe I am imagining that?!  Can someone  let me know if they feel the same way?

3. My c-section scar still feels a little wonky while I’m running.  It aches underneath at times. Boo.

4.  I can’t seem to get my “fueling” right. I am usually STARVING one mile in.  Basically I eat when Zach goes down for a nap, because it is hard to eat when he is up (at least slowly and peacefully) but this is also when I go for a run so I usually ditch the eating and tell myself I’ll eat when I get back because I also can’t eat then run right away. So, I am usually SOOOO hungry (add breast feeding into the mix which makes me eat enough to feed a small country to begin with) and weak. I usually try to drink a glass of juice before hand for some easily digestible carbs that won’t hurt my stomach but it really doesn’t cut it.

5. I just don’t have the “drive” I used to.  Back in my running heyday, I used to push HARD.  I don’t know why exactly but I just don’t have it in me anymore.  I guess I just run for enjoyment now, which in effect is great, just not for race goals.  Oh well. I’ll take it. I am lucky to be able to run at all…and to be blessed with this little peanut 🙂

What I never thought I’d do:


Sorry. I recognize most of these posts have been in list form.  Much easier for my mind to formulate at this point in my (still somewhat) sleep-deprived mind.  So here we are…what I never thought I’d do:

-Enter my child in one of those “cute kid” or “Gerber Baby” contests.  After all, I used to make a LOT of fun of moms who did this prior to having my own kid.  Really.

-Nap every morning during his morning nap.  After all, I am the “girl who doesn’t DO naps.”  uh-huh

-Not be cool with CIO (acronym for cry it out).  I thought before Zach was born. “ehhhh I’ll tooooootally let him cry it out!  I’ll Ferberize him!”  hahhaha. funny.

-Ha actually use all of those “dumb” acronyms like CIO, LO (little one), etc.

-Talk about shit this much.  No I mean like poop.  Color, quantity, quality, you name it.  OH and get so excited about said poop.

-Want to have another baby.  They are right: you completely forget how much you hated being pregnant and how awesome your delivery was

-Discuss nipples so frequently

-Have six machines capable of producing “white noise”

-Have a “preferred swaddle.”  Seriously?!  Like this is the Kate Spade of swaddles.  Argh.

-Plan my day around naps and (gasp) cancel plans in the midst of being a “nap nazi” yup. I’ve seriously done that.   Remember the whole “oh I’ll just strap my baby to me and go anywhere anytime” thing?! Ha.

-Push my annoying opinions on people – I seriously try not to but sometimes I hear this crap coming out of my (give-me-a-break-sleep-deprived) mouth and I’m like “who iiiiiiis this woman!”” Put a sock in it girl.  But seriously.  I mean five months of being a Mom DEFINITELY entitles me to an opinion.  Ha. not.

-Be late to EVERYthing. ‘Nuff said.

-Get my engagement ring back on after pregnancy. yay! It is back!

-Skip workouts in favor of rest.  Really, people, I was relentless but sometimes this mommy thing kicks my ass!

-Compare making Mom friends to dating. Yup.  totally did.

-Consider toilet time to equal alone time

-Wipe spit up on my sleeve/pants/sock/anywhere pretty much

-Memorize Zach’s favorite book to recite to him in my singsongy voice…and in the shower

-Get LIVID over “wasted” breast milk (“you threw away WHAAAAAT!??!”) Listen. That shit is gold.

-Eat this much chocolate.  It normally is not my thing.  File that under breast feeding.

-Consider leggings to be a fancy version of sweats. HA! Who am I kidding.  This is not new for me.

– “Keep driving” the car because “he is still sleeeeeping!!!” UgH I used to avoid extra driving at all costs

-Love my crock pot even more.  ESSENTIAL to a mom.

-Breast feed my baby while he is in the carrier and we are walking down the street.  True story.

-Get pissed at motorcycle riders- they are so noisy when he is napping in his stroller ! Oh, add trash trucks to this list for naps. GR.

-Spend more money on someone else’s clothing than mine (gasp!)

-Divulge this crap on the internet.  OH well.

Friends, I got BIT!

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UGH sorry for my blog-absence.  I got bit, my the STOMACH BUG!  Can I tell you how challenging it is to care for an infant whilst your head is in the can?! TMI?!  SORRY! It is da truf.  Aaaaanywhoooo thank heavens for my mom who came to help me the care of baby Zach.  It was brutal.  That actually leads me into the topic I wanted to discuss today:  getting help as a SAHM (stay at home mom).  I just read an article on BabyCenter about this.  Like most things mom (and life related) my opinion is: WHATEVER WORKS FOR YOU!  So it goes liked this: For the first five months of Zachary’s life, I didn’t have a need for too much consistent help.  I would have someone come every so often (ex: my mom, or a postpartum doula) if I were ill, exhausted or overwhelmed but it was inconsistent and need-based.  Now that Zach is five months, I have actually hired a wonderful babysitter to come for six hours a week (twice a week for three hours each time) consistently.  The reason for this is that my needs have changed.  I am planning on being at the house with the sitter and Zach most of the time minus when I need to leave to teach a graduate course.  She will then watch him for two hours before the husband comes home. I am also looking into doing some tutoring so she would be of use then too.  But for the time that I will be at home, here is the deal…not only has laundry piled up, but I have paper upon paper to grade for the course I teach, class to prepare for and the like. I simply can’t do it when I am here alone with Zach..or I can’t do it well I’ll say.   And his naps are not sufficient or consistent enough to count on for work time.  So this is how I have tried to make it work.  She has only come once so far, but it is GREAT and I got tons of work done when she was here.  I actually interviewed MANY sitters.  I put an ad in the University of Pennsylvania nursing school e-newsletter and got a great response from a LOT of qualified candidates.  One was more qualified than the next.  Anyway I eventually found someone that is reasonable, responsible, reliable, trustworthy, and more importantly, I feel comfortable with. I am not ready to leave her home alone with Zach yet, but I will get there.  And for ME, this works.  Many SAHMs feel they do not need help, but based on my situation, I feel I do, and just as I wouldn’t judge anyone else, I would expect I would not be judged.  I want to do what I do well and this will help me do that.  In other news, Zachary is STILL adorable!

We took him to a Phillies game and he lasted the whole time! (granted we were a tad late, shocker for those who know me)

He has learned to wake up and stare into the monitor which is HILARIOUS!

Oh, and my Baby turned five MONTHS!  I cannot believe how fast time has flown and how much my heart has exploded with love for this child.  I cannot wait for what is to come, but I want to cherish every day.  Love you baby!



Up next on upsanddownes:

The Wonder Weeks

Sleep Training

Fave Five: Baby Brands

Song Nostalgia: My life according to Springsteen

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“Now get yourself a song to sing and sing it ’til you’re done.  Yeah, sing it hard and sing it well!”   -Death to my Hometown (Bruce)

I grew up on Bruce Springsteen. Like really truly grew up listening to him.  The soundtrack to my life most certainly can be summed up with a loooong Springsteen “greatest hits” album.  Music, to me, represents not only head bopping tunes but memories.  Feelings, thoughts, even smells of times past.

I was thinking about this when we took Zachary to his first concert this week. Of course, it was Bruuuuuuce!

I think I could write a memoir using his songs, as like I said, I grew up on Springsteen, and continue to do so.  And so will my son.

Hungry Heart

“Everybody needs a place to rest, everybody wants to have a home. Don’t make no difference what nobody says.  Ain’t nobody like to be alone.”

This is the earliest Bruce song that I can remember knowing.  It is also the first “real song” I ever knew all of the lyrics to.  My family and I used to spend a week each summer at our time share in Disney World.  We used to drive.  My mom was not fond of flying.  This provided many opportunities to listen for my parents to flood my brain with Bruce songs. I had a penchant for singing “Hungry Heart,” which is very amusing.  Picture a five year old singing “got a wife and kids in Baltimore, Jack.”  Yup.  Very funny.

Little Jess

Thunder Road

“You ain’t a beauty but hey you’re alright.  And that’s alright with me.”

On the aforementioned car trips (and many other times as well) I could hear my mom singing along to this song; her absolute all-time favorite. I still get chills when I hear that piano intro.  Classic.  I can still hear my mom singing…oh wait, that was like yesterday 😉  Seriously.  Bruce concerts are family tradition, as is telling my mom when Thunder Road comes on, “it’s your soooooong!”

My Mom and Zach

Born in the USA

My dad had a huuuuuuge record collection. Of every album I remember, the one that sticks out in my head the most is Born in the USA.  I distinctly remember listening to this with my Dad, especially the fact that it evoked discussions of wars, politics and the like. I would ask my dad about what it mean to “go and kill the yellow man.”  It was during these years that the ideas of “patriotism” and political empowerment first became prevalent in my life.  I felt like I had just introduced to whole world, where there were so many things that I was able to formulate an opinion on.  And still do.

 Secret Garden

“She’ll let you in her heart, If you got a hammer and a vise.  But into her secret garden, don’t think twice”

This song reminds me of college, and primarily my college boyfriend. It was the first time I truly let someone into my heart.  That’s it.

Streets of Philadelphia

“I saw my reflection in a window.  I didn’t know my own face.”

This was a song that was in the movie Philadelphia.  That movie came out when I was in middle school and awareness of the AIDS epidemic was at its peak.  I don’t often remember movies that I’ve seen, something I get made fun a lot, but images from this movie still run through my brain.  A truly memorable and touching story.  I remember I went to the AIDS walk that year and raised money for the cause.

Should I fall Behind

“There neath the oaks bough soon we will be wed.  Should we lose each other in the shadow of the evening trees, Ill wait for you, and should I fall behind, wait for me.”

My husband and I danced to this song at our wedding.  Obviously meaningful 😉

Rocky Ground

“Tend to your flock or they will stray.”

The album that this song is on, Wrecking Ball, came out during my pregnancy.  It was my anthem. I LOOOOVE that album.  I would walk A LOT while I was pregnant and my favorite route was across the Ben Franklin bridge into New Jersey and back.  I looooved the scenery and the feeling.  Anyway, I would put Rocky Ground on repeat, daydreaming about what my beautiful baby boy would look like while melting into Michelle Moore’s hypnotizing repetition of “we’ve been traveling over rocky ground.”  I did that walk, and sang that song on repeat while walking, the day Zach was born.

Wrecking Ball

When Zachary was first born, I used to sing to him A LOT (mainly to get him to sleep). Now a days I primarily stick to “hush little baby,” “rock-a-bye baby” or something of the like.  But back then (you know, before I was a “seasoned mom” ahem five months later. hahahha TOTAL JOKE) I was REALLY into Bruce’s album “Wrecking Ball.”  My interest had been carried over through my pregnancy (see previous song) and I actually went to the Springsteen show at the Wachovia Center the week before I gave birth.  We sat in a club box with a bathroom. Obviously necessary at the time.  So wait, would this be considered Zach’s first Bruce show or last week’s?”  ANNNNNYWAY, I used to sing Zachary the whole album thorough.  I eventually discovered the chorus to Wrecking Ball HAD to be his favorite (either that or he was so damn tired by the time I got to that song. ha).  So I remember singing this song to him in the dark, at first with the lyrics on my iPad.  Whaaat?!  Gotta know the lyrics 😉

I look forward to building future memories like this to Bruce songs and maybe even one day Zach screaming to me “that’s youuuuuuur song!’ at a Bruce show.  “My song” is No Surrender (“There’s a war outside still ranging, you say it ain’t ours anymore to win.”).  Anyway, thanks for listening.   I realize that was a SUPER long and nostalgic post.  Tell me though, are there song/artists that you feel are like “the sound track to your life?”

I have a severe addiction.

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It starts with old and ends with navy. I cannot go into that store and not spend money. It used to be for myself, but now it is for Zachary….aaaand maybe a little for me. I am absolutely not one to wish away the summer, but Old Navy has a fantastic line for the fall… and I bought up almost every piece. I seriously outfitted Zachary for the fall;) Check these out:

That Doggie Paw was on sale too 😉 Bright colors:

All about the owl prints:



My husband always makes fun of me regarding the quantity of clothing that I buy from places like Old Navy, where quantity is doable. He prefers quality over quantity. I guess my opinion about my clothing right now (that I wear through easily), and Zachary’s (that he grows through easily), is that quantity trumps quality. What is your opinion? Do you like my new finds from Old Navy?

“I just can’t quit you”

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Great movie.  But this post is about the things we “quit” (primarily food/drink) when we become pregnant or are nursing.  Let’s discuss.  So, when I got pregnant, I was first and foremost concerned with my beverage consumption.  Not in the (alcoholic) way you are thinking, but in terms of amount of coffee and diet soda. Both are HUGE vices of mine, definitely moreso than beverages of the alcoholic variety so that really was not a concern of mine. But this was.  Each morning on the way to work I would stop at my beloved Wawa (Don’t judge. I’m just not a Starby’s person. I know; gasp!) and get a…get this…22 oz coffee.  Granted it would last me almost until lunch, but still..22 ounces.  I knew I would have to nix or at least minimize this habit.  Then, I got EXTREMELY “morning sick.” Ha!  What a misnomer.  Morning my bum. Try “every minute of the day” sickness.  I know, I am not the first to make this joke…and mean it.  But seriously, let’s put it like this; coffee was the LAST thing on my mind for the first four months.  I was more concerned with making sure all toilets were flushed in case I had to toss my cookies.  Sorry. It is true.  AAAANYWAY, when I could finally eat/drink I decided I could handle a 12 ounce daily and that this would be ok for the lil bebe growing in me.  OK, now onto the even harder bevvie for me…the diet soda.  Listen, I’ll tell it like it is: I LOVE IT. My favorites are orange, birch beer, root beer, dr pepper and I don’t discriminate.  Love it like cannot. live. without. it.  For my teacher/mom friends, I’ll put it to you like this: I will drink it in a box, I will drink it with a fox. I will drink it here or there. I will drink it EVERYWHERE!  Ha.  Really. But I knew all of the chemicals couldn’t possibly be good for the growing fetus inside of me, so I cut down to one can a day…which I savored like none other.  OK, moving on to food.  I will preface this with the following fact:  I am crazy.  So please do not judge OR follow the same guidelines. But I was hugely paranoid when I was pregnant which made me lay off three of my faaaaavorite all-time foods (in no particular order):

1. hot dogs

2. deli turkey

3. fro yo

Yes, it was an atrocity to me.  Very heartbreaking.  And kinda extreme.  But then again, I can be extreme.  OK so you would think I would have that baby and be freeeeeee! Ha!  Nooooo!  Turns out me and dairy, and my poor son and dairy, do not really get along(as in it causes huge fireworks in his little belly and I will spare you from what it does to me ;)).  So, for the past month or so I have been avoiding dairy with positive results.  I do plan on reinstating dairy into my life when Zach is six months as his digestive track will be more mature.  Or so I am told.  But please be true, because dairy, I can’t quit you!  I do not let this get in the way of my morning relationship with cereal:  I just have it with an amaaaaazing lactose-free milk called Skim Plus. It is sooooo good; even BETTER than regular old milk. It looks like this:



I also didn’t break up with my (nightly) relationship with ice cream/fro yo. I have been subbing in deliciousness like Edy’s fruit bars and goodies like the ones I posted about last post. Hellooooo chocolate! But, I do miss some of these:

Bagel w cream cheese and tomato

Cheese in salads

pizzaaaaaa-my favorite!

…and much more.  Anyway, tell me: what have YOU had to quit either because of becoming pregnant, nursing or a diet?!

Currently satisfying my sweet tooth


I have alluded to this before, and there is no doubt about it, I have a serious sweet tooth post- baby. I do not know if it is due to breast-feeding or what, but is definitely alive and well. Anyway, here is how I have been satisfying my current sweet tooth:

All products, minus the Unreal candy which is from CVS, are from whole foods. Listed in no particular order (all are to die for):
1. Salted caramels (milk chocolate)
2. Natural gummy stars
3. Milk chocolate covered graham crackers
4. Chocolate crapes that are only 140 cals!
If you have a whole foods near you, definitely try one or all of these products! Yummmmm!