Weekend Activity

April is historically the month that things start to really pick up on my social calendar. It seems like there are a ton of things to do every weekend and I’m always juggling and overcommitting and all that good stuff. Last year it was a challenge because I was pregnant and couldn’t do everything, and this year it’s a challenge because I have two kids and can’t do everything. This weekend was a classic case of pick and choose.

I ended up not doing 3 things that I would have liked to have done, including a 5K that I was quite looking forward to. What I did do was take Elena to soccer (where she only cried twice, so…progress), went to book club (took Zoe with me and put her in a baby pile with several of her contemporaries), had drinks with friends, had a date afternoon with Ben, made some baby food, put away the dishes like seven times, went for a nice run, and bought storage bins for Elena’s toys so that Zoe won’t choke on a Barbie shoe.

Looking back at this list, I’m pretty happy with how I split up my time. I had some quality time with everyone and also managed to have some fun for me. I left for work this morning feeling accomplished and organized.

I could do without putting away the dishes quite so often though.


Baby Food

Now that Zoe is seven months old, we are officially through the Early Babyhood phase and into a phase that I enjoy very much. Zoe can sit up, she can roll around, she does not yet crawl, she expresses her delight in me as well as several other key adults in her life so I don’t feel like a complete heel if I go out for an evening, and perhaps most enjoyably, she’s starting to eat actual food.

Because I enjoy cooking, I make most of her baby food, just as I made most of Elena’s baby food. I use this book for month-specific recipes (along with my doctor’s suggestion sheet for introducing foods). However, cooking food for a baby basically involves these steps:

(1) Steam the food, or otherwise cook it until it’s real soft and squashy
(2) Mash it up or put it in a food processor or something
(3) Either serve it soon or freeze it and serve it later

Making baby food is easier than making dinner for the rest of us, so we’re all eating frozen pizza while Zoe has homemade butternut squash.

We started with rice cereal, and I’m actually going to make myself a liar because we do use store-bought rice cereal, but I did say I make “most” of her food so I am being consistent after all. Zoe has since had sweet potato, butternut squash (also very easy, and a nice consistency for early food), zucchini (same), peas, green beans, apples, carrots, and bananas (which I believe to be her favorite thing of all time).

I’m doing a lot more mixing of foods with Zoe than I did with Elena. Whenever I introduce a new food I’ll mix it with rice or apples or something she’s familiar with. I started doing this after a fair bit of zucchini was spit out the first time she ate it.

Zoe is an “enthusiastic eater” (my parents’ words) and I definitely credit the fact that I’m able to feed her homemade food without making a “this smells disgusting” face.

Catch Up / Picture Post

I realized several days ago that I have not posted in some time. This is largely by accident but probably mostly the product of going to DC last weekend. I used to be able to hop in the car with very little planning (although let’s be real, there was never “very little planning”) and go away for a long weekend. Now there needs to be a pre- and post-vacation buffer day as well as a week’s recovery time. And there is still a mountain of laundry in the basement, but at least it’s folded?

Anyway, here are a few pictures from my trip. Some of them I’ve already put on Facebook but some are brand new.

I lived in DC from 1998-2002 and the last few years there I was in the Capitol Hill area, so it was fun to stay at a hotel near where I used to live and, like, walk by my old gym and stuff.

Old stomping grounds

Old stomping grounds

More old stomping grounds

More old stomping grounds

Sunset on Capitol Hill

Sunset on Capitol Hill

Our dinner the first evening there was at Tortilla Coast.

The famous red white and blue margarita

The famous red white and blue margarita

Race day was beautiful, and I timed my arrival at the race very well – bathroom, Washington Monument selfie, standing around for five minutes, go!

Ready to run

Ready to run

Following our run we went to Perry’s for drag brunch. I cannot recommend this activity highly enough. The waiting situation is kind of insane but it’s worth it.

Brunch at Perry's

Brunch at Perry’s

Brunch at Perry's

Brunch at Perry’s

Meanwhile, on the home front….

Zoe turned 7 months old this weekend! She’s been sleeping better-ish but it’s still not something we can count on. She’ll have two nights of phenomenal sleep followed by two weeks of getting up every three hours. Right now she’s either teething, got a cold, having a growth spurt, or some combination of the three. But doesn’t she look cute during the day?

Seven months old!

Seven months old!

Bru is going to be thirteen tomorrow! You wouldn’t believe it but he was the runt of his litter, born I think 30 minutes after his brothers and sisters. Now he’s 20-some pounds and practically an old man in cat years. “In my day, you carried around a flip phone and you were happy about it.”

Thirteen YEARS old!

Thirteen YEARS old!

Because of the trip and various baby needs, I haven’t been able to spend as much time with Elena as I’d like. Fortunately this weekend we were able to spend a LOT of time together. She started soccer on Saturday, and after soccer my parents watched Zoe so we could have some time together. We were initially going to go to a play but the timing didn’t work out (which I’d anticipated) so we went bike riding and to Target. Sunday we had a playdate at Mollie’s and went to the park, both without Daddy and Zoe. I’m so glad the weather is getting nicer, it gives us a whole world of additional options.

Winter is over! Even though it's supposed to snow tomorrow!

Winter is over! Even though it’s supposed to snow tomorrow!

Weekend Away

I’ve posted about this before here, and the time is finally upon us: on Saturday, Elizabeth and I are heading to DC for the Cherry Blossom 10 Mile Except that I’m Only Going to Run the 5K.

Although it seems somewhat silly to drive 250 miles to do a 5K, I’m looking forward to the trip and to the race. While a 10 mile race would have been an unpleasant hardship, a 5K is not that big of a deal for me (I’m not saying I’m going to have some phenomenal time, or even manage to run the whole race – but I can handle this distance without a problem). This allows me to focus on several other things:

(1) Road-trip-related items, such as the making of lists, the packing of clothes, the purchase of road-trip-essential Twizzlers.
(2) Printing out the various emails that tell me when and where to be.
(3) Dinner on Saturday and brunch on Sunday, obviously.

For those of you keeping track at home, this will be my first trip away from Zoe.

Do I look like I'm ready to take care of myself?

Do I look like I’m ready to take care of myself?

Elena was much older when I left her the first time. If memory serves, it was my trip to Philadelphia (also with Elizabeth – the nerve of her, always dragging me away from my children) when Elena was about 21 months. Nevertheless I’m sure everyone will be fine at home. (Partially because Elena will be spending most of the weekend with her grandma.) However, if you see Ben this weekend and he doesn’t have a child with him, you might just want to ask him if he knows where they are. You know, just to be safe.

Pittsburgh Guest Blogger Event: A Post from The Pittsburgh Mommy Blog

Our Guest Authors

Today’s post comes from Nadine Champsi of The Pittsburgh Mommy Blog, and is part of a special day of shenanigans from other Pittsburgh Bloggers. You can see my post over on Yinz R Readin, where I discuss my top five favorite childhood authors.


I was thrilled to be invited to participate in the 2nd Annual Pittsburgh Guest Blogger Event this year. Pittsburgh has a uniquely supportive blogger culture, and I think it’s just great :)!

That being said–I was a little nervous about which blog I would get during the swap. What if it was a sports blog? A technology blog? Or a fashion blog? Luckily, I got Orange Chair Blog, a local parenting blog. I was in safe territory.

After checking out Orange Chair Blog, I discovered that it has a really unique and cool niche: a Mommy AND a Daddy Blog. Since I’ve wanted my husband to write a blog post on the Pittsburgh Mommy Blog since its inception, I figured this was the perfect platform for his BLOGGING DEBUT! Here it is:

What do you think is the biggest challenge in raising kids in our generation?

Mommy:  I think the biggest challenge is probably maintaining mindfulness during our interactions with our kids.  We are constantly pulled in a thousand directions by Smart Phones, computers, television, carpools, play dates, classes, work, and about a million other societal pressures.  It can be incredibly hard to stop, look your child in the eye, and really connect with him or her in a mindful, peaceful way.

Daddy:  The biggest problem that I see with my friends and coworkers is the fact that their careers and schooling has separated them from their natural supports (i.e. family). I think that this forces us to find alternative sources to fill this void. This is hard, because even a best friend is far less likely than a parent/aunt/etc.  to drop everything and come help out when a crisis hits. Having kids magnifies the unpredictability of life dramatically.

What do you think are the good and bad parts of social media?

Daddy: This is easy for me. In our society where most people are plugged in with phones, social media is THE way to get fast and personalized information. It is powerful, and can be overwhelming. It has the ability to connect us, teach us things, and really personalize our life experience. I think it becomes toxic when we don’t build boundaries between our access to this information and our day-to-day life. I think it is a profound weakness that many people have: to be unable to relax, breathe, and enjoy the moment they’re in, without intrusive desires to take a picture of it, tweet it, or see what is going on somewhere else.

Mommy:  I think about this question a lot, since I rely heavily on social media to spread the word about new blog posts.  Plus, since I’m living far from my entire family and many of my friends, I use social media to stay connected to them.  That being said–it can be a horrible addiction.  I have, on several occasions, purposely erased all of my social media apps on my Smart Phone because I just can’t stop checking them!  I think the danger in using social media too much, is that it can take you away from an appreciation of the present moment.  On the flip side, it can help you spread important information, build supportive networks, and stay connected to those near and far!

What’s your favorite “Pittsburgh” thing to do with your kids?

Mommy:  My absolute favorite place to take my kids in Pittsburgh is Beechwood Farms and Nature Reserve located on Dorseyville Road.  It is run by the Audubon Society of Western PA and is just beautiful.  Quiet.  Picturesque views.  Hikes through meadows filled with wildflowers.  Loads of bullfrogs in the summer.  A very cool natural playground that the kids love.  It’s the place I find the most peace, and where my kids are the most free to run around and connect with nature.

Daddy:  I’m cheap. I’m partial to free places that are fun and relaxing. I LOVE the Water Steps by PNC Park for the amazing views of Downtown and the rivers.  Plus, the kids are just transfixed by the running water. They love crawling over the irregular patterns and I consider it pretty safe even for our clumsy 2 year old. It is a great place to relax during the summer! We have so many great parks all over the city too. My favorites are Beechwood Nature Reserve and Frick Park. In the winters you’ll find me and the kiddos at Shaler North Hills Library, a friendly and brilliantly-designed place for kids and families.

Summer in Pittsburgh

Summer in Pittsburgh

Why do you think that Pittsburgh is the coolest city on Earth?

Daddy: Because Pittsburgh has great balance. It isn’t the best at anything, but it is really good at almost everything. Great neighborhoods, great public places, beautiful scenery, huge inner-city parks, low cost of living, great sports, nice airport, and wonderful schools. I also love that it is somewhat “off-the-radar.” It isn’t a flashy city, but this city kicks butt!

Mommy: I really DO believe that Pittsburgh is Planet Earth’s best-kept secret.  My favorite part about it:  I think Pittsburgh has an ENERGY that has been progressively growing stronger as the years go by.  This energy is filling up this city with creative people, beautiful art and music, amazing new restaurants, innovative technology, sustainable lifestyles, a giant Rubber Ducky, a knitted bridge, Randyland, a Free Store in Braddock.  It’s so inspiring to be a part of it all!

Our Guest Authors

Our Guest Authors

Nadine Champsi is the founder of the Pittsburgh Mommy Blog, one of the leading locally-focused mommy blogs in the city. Her blog exposes parents to unique, fun family-friendly opportunities in the city. It also seeks to support local mothers who have started businesses and nonprofit projects that benefit the city of Pittsburgh.

All of the photo credits are Nadine Champsi.

The other participants:


Sean’s Ramblings

Small Town Dad

Sole for the Soul


The Firecracker Blog

The Pittsburgh Mommy Blog

The Steel Trap

West of Mars

Ya Jagoff

Yinz R Readin


Yum Yum PGH