Category: House & Home

One month ago, we moved from the New York City suburbs to Chapel Hill, North Carolina.

We had our eye on “the Triangle” — Raleigh, Durham, Chapel Hill — for a full year. From the moment we first heard about Research Triangle Park from a recruiter, and all the global companies setting up shop here, we researched, visited, talked to family and friends who live nearby, and obsessively read Sarah O’Grady’s blog to imagine what life might be like down here, what the moms would be like, and if it would really be a better life for our family of six.

And here I am, in my brand new beautiful home, in my new home office, doing the work I love. The children are tucked away at school and preschool, and Ian is off at his new workplace. And here I am.

When contemplating the move, I worried about all the things I loved —  my job, our friends, “artsy, intellectual” and suddenly hip Hastings-on-Hudson community. And all the things that would change — childcare, schools, culture, food — I worried about all of it. How could we leave New York, where we could “have it all” if we just kept working hard….or so the New York mentality goes…

But just as Sarah writes,

“There are smart, well-educated, career-minded people leaning in all over the country. Every metropolitan area in the United States features company headquarters, agencies, banks, law firms, retail stores, amazing restaurants. You name it, you got it.”

And how true it is. The local grocery store has more local produce, dairy, and eggs than I’ve seen at our Yonkers Whole Foods. Craft beer is serious business here. And I had the best eyebrow wax of my life just a few minutes away.

Would I compare it to New York?


But do I thank my lucky stars every single day that we took the leap?


IMG_8235 IMG_8242 IMG_8260

Now that I have the job of stocking up on baby gear for the twinsers (3 months to go!!) I realize how much I’ve forgotten. And this is from the person who used to be able to recite the Baby Bargains book by heart.

(New moms: Baby Bargains = the consumer reports of baby crap. If this is your first time around the block, don’t set foot into a Baby Superstore without your copy.)

So before amnesia sets in, I’m documenting my 5 favorite things to make your life with toddlers easier. Hope it helps you!

1. Graco Nautilus 3-in-1 Car Seat

Forward facing
POUNDS: 20-100 pounds
HEIGHT: 27-57″

They should call this “THE LAST CAR SEAT YOU’LL EVER HAVE TO BUY!!”

As soon as your little one can move into a forward-facing carseat, buy this one.

We made the mistake of going from the infant car seat to the Britax to this.

We could have skipped the Britax altogether and gone straight to this bad boy. Young toddlers will feel like total hotshots with this seat’s built-in cup holders and secret compartments perfect for stashing LEGOs and Hotwheels. And when your toddler turns into a preschooler (overnight), voila — here’s your new booster, friend.


2. Bumkins Waterproof SuperBibsBumkins Waterproof Superbibs

Why don’t I ever hear moms complain about how hard it is to find a bib that:

– Doesn’t soak through

– Doesn’t deteriorate the first couple of times through the wash

– Kids don’t rip off easily

– Isn’t so tight that it strangles your kid

– Doesn’t completely suck?

I have no idea. But I do know that these bibs lasted us through two toddlers in a row, and I think there are still some up in the attic waiting for rounds 3 and 4.


3. Multi-layered mattress protection

The best part, of course, is the product shot.

When your little Houdini graduates from the crib to the bed (we went straight to twin beds at around 18 months for both boys), you’ll want to do everything you can to protect their new twin mattresses.

Because as far as I’m concerned, they’ll be using these mattresses until they move out.

Here’s your twin bed setup:

  • First the Vinyl Zippered Mattress Cover from Target. It zips around the entire mattress.
  • Then a regular quilted cotton mattress pad like this one.
  • Then the waterproof sheet protector as demonstrated by our lovely model. (This way if there is an accident during the night, or god forbid a stomach bug, you might luck out and only have to change this layer and up of bedding.)
  • Then the fitted sheet. (Unlike our fine model above, I put the sheet protector under the fitted sheet.)


4. Ergorapido Ion Bagless Coordless Stick and Hand Vac by ElectroluxErgorapido coordless stick vac

Keep it in or near your kitchen (I’m still trying to find the perfect place to conceal it but have it close enough to make it easy to use). If I used this after every meal, my floor would never be as disgusting as it is this morning.

Note: I had an earlier model of this vacuum and can say that the Ion battery version makes all the difference.



BONUS: Use the code to the left to get 20% off all of their sites

I’ve been using these guys since they launched and they keep getting more awesome. I always get free, next day delivery, and their customer service is amazing.

I’ve use them for monthly diapers & wipes (they sell Kirkland brand wipes, which are awesome), sippy cups, cases of baby food, baby wash, books/toys. And for fun you can always throw in a tube of fancy mascara, laundry detergent, or throw pillows from one of their sister sites.

They also now offer a Baby Registry, which is WORLDS above the baby superstores since shipping is FREE as long as you order is over $49. And what better incentive for your gift giver to put that money toward your gift instead of the outrageous shipping Babies R Us and Buy Buy Baby charge. Really, I hate those stores.


So those are my faves. What are yours?


This post contains affiliate links.


twin pregnancy 18 weeks

I’m 19 weeks pregnant with twins, which means I’m halfway through.

How do I know, you ask?

Since I’ve had previous C-sections, the latest my doctors will let me cook is 38 weeks. The average twin gestation is 36 weeks. So there you have it — halftime, baby!

Ever since about 15 weeks, the nausea has vanished, I make to-do lists again, and I only have to nap about every other day.

The nesting instinct has hit hard (it seems early, doesn’t it?), and after three trips to Ikea with my superstar mom, I’ve assembled the following:

2 Gulliver cribs

1 Mandal dresser (with the help of my brother)

1 Gulliver changing table

2 Hemnes 2-drawer chests to go with the new bed my husband got me for Christmas (he scored a floor model just before collapsing from the flu).

I’m an Ikea assembly machine.


Earlier this week, we got to see every square inch of Bambino and Bambina during our anatomy scan (or “magic baby spy machine” as we told our boys). It took a full hour and a half for the ultrasound tech measure all their parts, and then have the perinatologist come in to give closer inspection to each baby’s heart and brain.

Moments before the ultrasound, my friend Nina texted me to remind me that they always find something wrong at these things, and usually nothing is.

It made me think of the scary news we got four years ago with Isaiah’s anatomy scan, something about one of his kidneys not working and needing surgery immediately after birth. Nina said her daughter Rose was supposed to have some heart issue also requiring immediate surgery. Both babies were born just fine.

It was a welcome surprise to not head home with a head full of worry and a self-imposed Google ban.

Both babies currently weigh 9 ounces, which is exactly what “singleton” babies are supposed to weigh at this point. (“Singleton” is one of those words you will never utter unless you’re a mom of twins.)

The main job of both babies now is to gain weight. This is the part that terrifies me. I mean, just run “twin pregnancy 30 weeks” through an image search and you’ll see what I mean.

Not to sound ungrateful or vain. I know that in the case of twins, gaining weight in the second trimester is hugely important since I won’t be able to carry the twins to a full 40 weeks. The bigger the babies are, the healthier they will be. But man oh man are twin bellies huge.


Meanwhile, our first ever au pair arrives from Brazil this Thursday.

It seems a bit indulgent to have her come so soon, but I was terrified of going on bedrest and decided to have her start now and get settled with the boys just in case.


So here we are, in this sweet pocket of second trimester goodness. May it last as long as it can last.

(My four-year-old took this photo of me in Ikea. Yup. That pretty much captures the nesting madness.)




It’s almost time for our annual summer vacation on Cape Cod. Every year we thank our lucky stars (and our good friend Nina Max) that we get to go to this little piece of paradise yet again—10 cottages owned by one family tucked away on a little island.

The kids run free from house to house (usually sans clothes), pick raspberries, and busy themselves with vintage toys like this one while the grown ups practice out-doing each other as we trade nights cooking for 20.

I’ve given myself the week to pack in hopes of warding off that “oh my god we’re going away for 10 days what have I forgotten” bit. (So cliche, such a downer).

I’m also remembering what packing was like last year, which included the breast pump, bottles, baby food, baby spoons, and the big ass Exersaucer, something we decided our pre-crawler really couldn’t live without. Packing seems a whole lot less overwhelming this year (it also helps that I’m not in the middle of a postpartum breakdown, ahem).

Since we’re staying in a cottage with a full kitchen, I’ve been putting pantry items aside and keeping it all together in one of these clear plastic bins, like so:

(I keep the top locked on it to ward off curious little fingers.)

Last year I also brought a clear plastic shoe box (if you don’t own a whole case of these from the Container Store yet, you don’t know what you’re missing) with “junk drawer” type stuff. The best thing about these shoe bins is that little kids can’t open them, so that’s where I stashed things like scissors, post-its, a Sharpie, extra Ziplocks, and kid medicine.

This might seem like overkill, but when you are staying in a house for 10 days, you’d be surprised how often you need a Post-it. How else are your fellow cottagers supposed to find out who is hosting cocktail hour, and when not to knock because babies are sleeping? Sending DMs via Twitter is so not Cape.

As for toys, I’ll be packing a backpack for each kid and filling it full of their favorite toys and organic junk food bribes for the car ride. I’m also bringing one small bin with art supplies, Legos, some small toys, and a few books.

For kid clothes, one great piece of advice I read somewhere is to only pack for 5 days, even if you are staying longer. (Of course, with toddlers, each day involves at least 3 changes of clothes…) Packing for 5 days assumes your vacation spot has laundry facilities. Does anyone with more than one kid vacation anywhere without laundry facilities? We sure don’t.

And finally, there’s the stuff to do before we leave list. Somehow this cutesy summer printable from Wonderful Joy Ahead makes it more like a vacation countdown than a boring to-do list.

So that’s what I’ve got. What are your tricks for getting off to vacation stress-free?

1 2