Hi, I'm Rachel.

A few years ago I could barely boil water.

True story.

Determined to be a kick ass wife, I developed a love for football and learned to cook in my tiny Jersey City kitchen. I spend my days working in Manhattan, my nights and weekends chasing after a rambunctious toddler, and the hours in between cooking with my husband and feeding my TV habit...oh, and I blog about it all! 

Welcome to my world!

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Tuesday
Aug262014

10 Things You Should Know About Sending Your Child to Daycare

 

Next week, school will start and many of you (including some friends I know!) will be sending your children to daycare or 'school' for the first time. Whether for a few days a week or full time, making the decision to send your child to daycare is not an easy one. We began sending Penelope when she was a mere 6 months old and it was one of the hardest things I've ever done in my life. I look back on that first week and wonder how I got through it? In the months leading up to that first day, I wouldn't even allow myself to think about it, let alone accept it. But here I am, over a year later. We've made it through so far and I'm here to share a few things that I've learned with all of you first timers. 

1. You are going to cry. Probably a lot.

During the days leading up to her first week, I cried myself to sleep. I kept thinking to myself (and whining aloud to Shaun), what if she needs me and I'm not there? Not such an unreasonable thought. I cried each day any time I thought of this. When I finally brought her that first day, I put on a brave face until I handed my sweet baby over. And then the floodgates opened, and I cried. I cried the whole way to work and a few times in the bathroom stall throughout the day. The next day, it was a little less. And even less the day after that. Eventually, I stopped crying. I saw her happiness each morning as she was surrounded by loving caregivers in a safe and fun atmosphere with children her very own age. And my tears were replaced with smiles.

 

2. Remember that schedule you finally got her accustomed to? Yeah, that's going to change.

I wrote out Penelope's schedule in fun colored markers on bright white paper and proudly handed it over to her 'teacher'. I'm pretty sure that was deposited right into the garbage. Once your child is in daycare, they are a whole new plan that may follow the whole class or vary by group. Either way, you just have to accept it. Since P hated naps when she was younger, I realized that I should be excited for the professionals to get her on a new schedule!

3. She will learn to do things without you.

And it sucks. It sucks hard. I remember dropping Penelope off one morning and being told that she was crawling. Like, no big deal. She started crawling. I felt so devastated because I had yet to see her crawl. It made me sad. And made me realize that there will be things that I'll miss. I'm a full-time working Mom and that's just the reality of it. So I asked them not to tell me those things. As long as she was progressing...Great! But I wanted to pretend like seeing her crawl on a Saturday morning was the first time she did it. And so I did.

4. Your child will get sick.

I always read and hear about how 'daycare kids' get so sick all the time. Well, it's kind of true. Penelope certainly is not sick all the time, but P has had two rounds of Coxsackie and at times, a seemingly constant runny nose. We got through it. In a way, I'm glad that she is exposed to germs so she can build her immunities!

5. You will get sick. And maybe your husband too.

I've had 3 debilitating stomach bugs since P started daycare.
THREE.

 

6. The first time you see the center's number light up your phone screen, you will probably have a small heart attack that may take a few years off of your life.

The first time this happened, I was completely rattled. I saw the number and just panicked. It turned out that they were calling all of the parents with a reminder that the tuition payment deadline was approaching. So, yeah. Heart attack unnecessary.

7. She will make friends.

And really, what is cuter than that? Penelope has made friends in daycare and when I ask her if she is excited to go to school and play with her friends, her face lights up. Her teachers tell me that she and another girl played together every day last year and they'd wait for each other to wake up from naps. Does it get better than that? I want Penelope to be comfortable around kids all the time. I know it will make her a more patient child and someday, hopefully, a great big sister. I know she would not be getting that same interaction with kids her own age; learning to share, learning to play, learning to socialize; if she were at home with a nanny or even with me.

8. She will have fun.

After sending P to daycare for over a year, I would never take her out or look back and regret our decision to go from nanny to daycare. In fact, I can't imagine her being cooped up in our apartment, day after day, with me or with anyone else. At daycare, she has a big room to play in, special chairs for breakfast and lunch, and exciting, new toys to discover.

9. You'll wonder if you are doing everything wrong.

Isn't that the everyday life of being a parent? I second guess everything that I do as a mother. And at the end of the day, as long as I know my girl is happy and so, so loved, well, I feel like I've done my job. It might not be a perfect set-up, but what would be? 

10. You will be ok.

It won't always be easy. In fact, like so many other parts of parenthood, it's really, really $&@!-ing hard. I still cry some days when I have to leave her. Last week was especially taxing since P was teething and had a raging, blazing diaper rash. It broke my heart to have to bring her to someone else for the day and head off to work. I worried all day long. But knowing she was in excellent care and that she was happy every day at pick up got me through it. I think it's usually harder on Mom and Dad than on our little ones. So many days I hate being a working mom (many days I love it, too) and I can't help but wonder if I'm making the right choice for my sweet baby doll. When I see her happy smile, her little round belly and chubby cheeks, and those long yawns and eye rubs at the day's end, I can't help but feel as though I am. 

 

Tuesday
Aug262014

Sweet Mini Donuts

Last week, I mentioned that we took a trip to Siesta Key, Florida. We rented a condo on the beach and cooked a lot of our meals, and thus little food finds were extra special. One morning when Shaun ventured out to find me Splenda for my morning cup o' joe (just can't go without it), he found this sweet little donut shop on the main drag. We enjoyed fresh, warm donuts for a few mornings thereafter. These donuts were not only adorable but so, so delicious. 

I seriously could've eaten my weight in donuts :\ There were a few different flavors, ranging from strawberry cheesecake to classic powder and cinnamon and sugar. On our last day, we decided on the strawberry cheesecake, key lime and chocolate peanut butter cup.

Tiny, warm, fried donuts, straight out of the fryer. We brought these back to the condo and devoured them immediately.

How cute are they?! Now all I can think of are little warm donuts. I think it's time I got a donut pan.

Isn't vacation food the best? What are your favorite vacation food finds?

Monday
Aug252014

Emmy Awards 2014

So, tonight is the 66th Primetime Emmy Awards. Though I'm still pretty annoyed that it's taking place on a Monday and I don't get to do my Emmy-watching tradition with my Mom, I'm still looking forward to watching...even if it means with Dukan-friendly meatloaf and a semi-reluctant husband (he is a trooper, though, and I know he will happily watch if I ask), rather than with less-than-healthy dips and desserts with my Mom.

Ah well.

I admittedly don't watch all of the shows that are nominated for this evening, and my expertise is really limited to the drama category. But, I think I've watched enough of these award shows to make educated picks, so here goes!

DRAMA

Best Actress in a Drama Series

Nominees: Lizzy Caplan, "Masters of Sex"; Claire Danes, "Homeland"; Michelle Dockery, "Downton Abbey"; Julianna Margulies, "The Good Wife"; Kerry Washington, "Scandal"; Robin Wright, "House of Cards"

My Picks: I'm going with Julianna Margulies on this one. I actually did not watch any current seasons of the aforementioned shows (I'm behind on Downton Abbey and threw in the towel on Homeland). The Emmy's loves her and apparently she rocks. Her competition here is Robin Wright and Lizzy Caplan, who could pull this one out.

Best Actor in a Drama Series

Nominees: Bryan Cranston, "Breaking Bad"; Jeff Daniels, "The Newsroom"; Jon Hamm, "Mad Men"; Woody Harrelson, "True Detective"; Matthew McConaughey, "True Detective"; Kevin Spacey, "House of Cards"

My Picks: This is a tough category. I think Bryan Cranston ultimately will and should win for his portrayal of high school science teacher geek turned murderous meth lord. He was so believable and...dare I say...actually had me rooting for him in the end? I adored Matthew McConaughey in True Detective...and that role actually made me an MM indifferencer-turned-lover. I think for the final Breaking Bad season, Cranston pulls this one out. Also to note that I think Woody Harrelson was also phenomenal here, however, he was overshadowed by Matthew McConaughey and may have been better of submitting as a supporting actor...

which brings me to...

Best Supporting Actor in a Drama Series

Nominees: Aaron Paul, "Breaking Bad"; Jim Carter, "Downton Abbey"; Peter Dinklage, "Game of Thrones"; Josh Charles, "The Good Wife"; Mandy Patinkin, "Homeland"; Jon Voight, "Ray Donovan"

My Picks: I love Aaron Paul so much, but my vote goes to Peter Dinklage. If Paul wins, it will be because of Breaking Bad's last season, and I could see a sweep here. But you can't not adore Peter Dinklage as the underserved, always put down imp in Thrones. You can't not love him or root for him. Find me one person who doesn't. And he consistently gets sidelined, betrayed and heartbroken. His storyline was my favorite this season and if anyone is to be recognized for Thrones, it's Dinklage. I'll be sad if he loses this one, but I'm not discounting Aaron Paul or even Jon Voight for this one.

Best Supporting Actress in a Drama Series

Nominees: Anna Gunn, "Breaking Bad"; Maggie Smith, "Downton Abbey"; Lena Headey, "Game of Thrones"; Christine Baranski, "The Good Wife"; Christina Hendricks, "Mad Men"; Joanne Froggatt, "Downton Abbey"

My Picks: Like I said, I haven't kept up with Downton, though I know these ladies really rock it. Lena Headey once again brought it like nobody's business on Thrones. But I'm going with Anna Gunn on this one. I think she'll be rewarded for years of her performance of Skylar White, the housewife turned philanderer turned protector of her home & children. I typically dislike her character so much, but her turn as a wife scorned who would do anything to protect her kids..well, that I can get behind.

Best Drama Series

Nominees: "Breaking Bad"; "Downton Abbey"; "Game of Thrones"; "House of Cards"; "Mad Men"; "True Detective"

My Picks: Another toughie. Thrones ruled this season. It was so good that I couldn't wait for the weeks to go by, if just to see how it all played out. Certainly my favorite (yet most disturbing) season thus far. And we have newcomer True Detective, which rocked the TV world for better or worse. Stellar acting, a compelling story and whether the show's ending left you loving it or longing for more, it's hard to disagree that it was one of the top shows of the year. Mad Men, you've seen your day and I think you're getting shut out this year. In the end, I think Breaking Bad will take the cake for not only a great mini season of television, but for being one of the greatest shows on TV EVER. 


COMEDY

Best Actress in a Comedy Series

Nominees: Lena Dunham, "Girls"; Edie Falco, "Nurse Jackie"; Julia Louis Dreyfus, "Veep"; Melissa McCarthy, "Mike & Molly"; Amy Poehler, "Parks & Recreation"; Taylor Schilling, "Orange Is the New Black"

My Picks: The Emmy's LOVES (with a capital, capital L) Julia Louis Dreyfus and I adore her. However, I think it would be a crime to discount Taylor Schilling's portrayal of Piper in OITNB. Positioned as the stuck up, priveleged New Yorker, I can't help but root for her as she does such an amazing job of just being likeable. If I get sent to prison, I want Piper as my roommate. Just sayin'.

Best Actor in a Comedy Series

Nominees: Jim Parsons, "The Big Bang Theory"; Ricky Gervais, "Derek"; Matt LeBlanc, "Episodes"; Don Cheadle, "House of Lies"; Louis C.K., "Louie"; William H. Macy, "Shameless"

My Picks: We know the Emmy's loves them some Jim Parsons. But I've had enough, I tell you, enough. This category is filled with amazing actors. I'm not taking anything away from Parsons, but let's give someone else a chance, no? My pick goes to William H. Macy in Shameless. For being exactly that. Somehow, I continue to root for him (and LOVE WHM!!) though his portrayal of Frank is so vile, so unforgiveable and so beyond the beyond. And for that alone, he deserves the statue. I also wouldn't be disappointed to see Louis C.K.

Best Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series

Nominees: Mayim Bialik, "The Big Bang Theory"; Julie Bowen, "Modern Family"; Allison Janney, "Mom"; Kate Mulgrew, "Orange Is the New Black"; Kate McKinnon, "Saturday Night Live"; Anna Chlumsky, "Veep"

My Picks: Once again, I'm going OITNB here. Kate Mulgrew is a supporting character who is so vital to the dynamic of the show. I could see Julie Bowen taking this one (again), but again...snoozefest.

Best Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series

Nominees: Andre Braugher, "Brookiyn Nine-Nine"; Adam Driver, "Girls"; Jesse Tyler Ferguson, "Modern Family"; Ty Burrell, "Modern Family"; Fred Armisen, "Portlandia"; Tony Hale, "Veep"

My Picks: I would love to see Adam Driver take this one home for his portrayal of Adam on Girls. He is my favorite character on the entire show and the only tolerable personality. I think he's about to explode in popularity and he isn't to shabby to look at, either. Again, I wouldn't be surprised if this went to a Modern Family member, but I'm kind of over it.

Best Comedy Series

Nominees: "The Big Bang Theory"; "Louie"; "Modern Family"; "Orange Is the New Black"; "Silicon Valley"; "Veep"

My Picks: I like Orange is the New Black's chances. I think it could end up being the surprise of the night. Everyone is talking about this show. It's got it all...sex, nudity, humor, drama. It may be too racy for the Emmy's, and that could be its only stumbling block. Realistically, though, I think it goes to The Big Bang Theory, once again proving that I know nothing. I don't care for the show and clearly I'm alone in that! It's been all the rage since it went into syndication and so I guess it's earned its dues. 

So that's how I'm thinking things will go down tonight at the Emmy's!

What do you think? Agree? Disagree? Think I'm crazy?

What are your picks for tonight's telecast?