9 Years Ago Today!…

Nine years ago today, Mike asked me to be his girlfriend.  We were seniors in college and little did I know that he would be the man who I now call my husband and the father to our precious, Brielle.  I am so thankful that he came into my life when he did.  He has changed it for the better and I can truly call him my soul mate.

HopeandMike

Words cannot express how deep our bond is with each other.  We started off as friends and our relationship has built into something so deep that I cherish.  He has been there for the good and the bad.  He has been my rock and the one who is there when I fall to pick me up.  He has seen me at my worst and at my best.  I truly love him so much.

hopeandmikewed

0766

 

 

 

 

 

The moment that Mike became a father to our Brielle, I fell in love with him all over again.  There is nothing like watching a father bond with his daughter for the first time.  My heart was filled with so much love and emotion watching him take care of Brielle in the first few hours of her life.  The connection that I see between them is something so special.  I know for a fact that she is going to have him wrapped around her little fingers when she is older. I love watching her face light up when he comes home from work.

I am so thankful for my little family.  We definitely have had a rough couple of months and things are hard but I know with Mike and I working together as a team that we can accomplish anything.  So today, I reflect on the 9 years of my relationship with my now husband and thank god everyday that he was brought into my life.  Here’s to the next 9 years!

0722

 

Seasons 52 Preview Opening in Princeton, NJ!…

Hey there!  I hope your week is going well.  I’ve been meaning to post this blog post for a while now but time just escaped me.  I was given the opportunity to attend a preview opening of Seasons 52 opening in Princeton, NJ about two weeks ago.  I was really excited when I found out that Seasons 52 was opening in Princeton.  That location is closer to where we live than the other two locations that they have in the area.  I enjoy the concept of Seasons 52.  The menu changes for each season and is inspired by seasonally influenced foods.  Fall is my favorite season and I love all of the fall foods so I couldn’t wait to see what they were going to have on their menu!

At this preview opening, we were given the opportunity to order an appetizer for the table, a salad for each of us, an entrée for each of us and a dessert for each of us.  We couldn’t wait to try some great food while enjoying each others company.  Our little Brielle was with us but she slept the entire time.  The atmosphere is very dark in the restaurant which made perfect conditions for Brielle to take a nap and relax.

My handsome date

My handsome date

Yours truly!

Yours truly!

We started off with an appetizer that our waitress suggested we try: Lobster & Fresh Mozzarella Flatbread (roasted sweet peppers, slivered scallion, lobster sour cream).

Lobster & Fresh Mozzarella Flatbread

Lobster & Fresh Mozzarella Flatbread

Delicious flatbread!

Delicious flatbread!

I love flatbread because of the crispy texture and how light it is.  This flatbread was fantastic with the lobster and the mozzarella.  I love fresh scallion and that just added to the flavor of the lobster.  I would highly recommend this flatbread.  It was the perfect appetizer.

I chose the Crisp Romaine and Kale Caesar Salad (shaved Parmesan cheese, toasted garlic ciabatta croutons).

Crisp Romaine and Kale Caesar Salad

Crisp Romaine and Kale Caesar Salad

I haven’t had a caesar salad in a very long time because of the dressing when I was pregnant.  So I was really excited to order one before my meal.  I loved the ciabatta croutons.  I liked the mixture of the romaine and kale.  It made for texture in the salad.

Mike ordered the Warm Roasted Tomato Caprese Salad (fresh mozzarella, basil pesto, bruschetta).

Warm Roasted Tomato Caprese

Warm Roasted Tomato Caprese

I love the plating of this appetizer and Mike enjoyed that it was roasted tomatoes.  It brought out the flavor of the entire salad.  Normally caprese is cold and he liked that it was different and was warm.

For our meals, I ordered the Caramelized Grilled Sea Scallops (butternut squash and leek risotto, broccolini, lemon butter).

Sea Scallops

Sea Scallops

I haven’t had scallops in such a long time.  I am always hesitant to order them in a restaurant because I am very picky with how they are prepared.  I decided to order them because of the fact of not having them in a while and I liked that they came with risotto.  I made a great choice because they were perfectly grilled and had the texture that scallops should have.  The risotto was a wonderful accompaniment.  I love butternut squash and the leeks made for added flavor.  I really enjoyed my meal.

Mike decided to order the Oak-Grilled Filet Mignon (harvest mushrooms, roasted tomato, broccolini, Yukon gold mash, red wine sauce).

Filet Mignon

Filet Mignon

Mike enjoyed his steak.  It had a lot of flavor and was so tender you didn’t even need a knife to cut it.  I tried the steak as well and I thought it was seasoned right and was cooked properly.  I am not a huge steak fan which is why I didn’t order it myself but I thought it was definitely the right choice for Mike.

We couldn’t leave without trying two of Seasons 52′s mini desserts.  The best part is that they bring out an entire tray of mini desserts for you to choose from.  I went with the Pumpkin Pie because I am a pumpkin fanatic.

Pumpkin Pie mini dessert

Pumpkin Pie mini dessert

The pumpkin pie tasted just like pumpkin pie filling complete with a gingersnap cookie!  It was so good.  I probably could have had another dessert because it was that tasty!

Mike decided on the smores mini dessert.

Smores mini dessert

Smores mini dessert

Overall, I have to say that I was really impressed by Seasons 52.  I loved not only the food but the atmosphere.  They have a bar that has jazz music on the weekends.  It would be the perfect place to go for a small bite, glass of wine and to listen to some jazz music.  I think the location of this restaurant will do really well for itself.  I would highly recommend trying Seasons 52 if you have never been there before!

Have you ever been to Seasons 52?  If so, what is your favorite thing on the menu?

Pampers Giveaway Winner!!..

Hey there!  I hope your week is going well!  I wanted to check-in quickly and announce my Pampers Giveaway winner!  Thank you to all who entered!  Without further adieu, the winner is:

Nicki Joseph

I would like to win because I have a 9 week old and we use Pampers! This would help!

Congratulations Nicki!  Please email me your address and phone number so that Pampers may send out your prize!!

Thanks again to all who entered!!

Brielle’s 2 Month Favorites!!..

Hey there!  I hope you had a great Halloween and a nice weekend.  This weekend was freezing in our area.  I don’t think I’m ready for this cold weather to make its return.

I am really behind on posting about Brielle’s 2 month favorites because she is already almost 3 months!  I cannot believe how quickly time is flying by.  I know people have told me to cherish each moment because their first year goes by in an instant.  They weren’t kidding.  It feels like it was just August and she was born.

Mike and I have noticed so many changes in Brielle during her 2 months.  She is now cooing and babbling a lot.  She is a little chatterbox.  She also smiles all the time.  I love seeing her smile.  It absolutely brightens my day.  She is really trying hard to completely hold her head up.  It’s still a little wobbly but she is doing really well when we do tummy time.

2 months

brielle and me 2 months

You can see in the background of the above picture that it was taken in Brielle’s room.  I never did a tour of her nursery.  I will post about it at some point.  Her room is Winnie the Pooh themed and I am very happy with how it turned out.  Anyway, let’s get started on some of Brielle’s 2 Month favorite things!

Fisher Price Rainforest Melodies & Lights Deluxe Gym

This gym is what Brielle and I use for her to lay on and do tummy time on.  She loves it because it plays music and it lights up.  There is a lot for babies to look at and play with on this mat.  I love that there is a mirror, swinging animals, a leaf that is crinkly, among other things.  Brielle looks forward to our playtime on her mat.

Winnie the Pooh Activity Toy

Brielle loves looking at this toy and grabbing for the things that Pooh is holding.  I usually hold this Pooh and move it around while Brielle is on her activity mat.  She loves reaching for him and watching him.  This Pooh has a clip so it can easily hook onto your child’s stroller or car seat.  For now, we are just using this toy at home with her.

Eeyore Stroller Toy

We have this Eeyore attached to Brielle’s car seat.  She loves looking at him.  It plays music when you press Eeyore’s stomach.  I think it’s really cute and I am all for toys or activity items that you can attach to the car seat.  Brielle loves looking at things like that.

Nuk Disney Minnie Mouse Pacifier

We love this brand of pacifiers.  I had received one as a registering gift from Babies R Us and Brielle loved it.  So we went and bought a few more of them.  She has this exact pacifier.  I know there is controversy about pacifier usage.  To each their own.  We happen to use a pacifier to help soothe Brielle when she needs it.  She likes falling asleep with one in her mouth.  I think it’s okay to use as long as it’s not a crutch for a baby.  She uses it more for a comfort thing.  I think it’s up to each parent whether or not they will use a pacifier.  Brielle happens to like it and I am okay with that.

So there you have a few of Brielle’s favorite 2 month baby items.  I am very much looking forward to seeing her change as we approach her 3 month birthday.  I am very thankful that I have the opportunity to spend time with her everyday and watch her grow.  I truly feel that I was meant to be a mom.  I love being a mother to Brielle more than anything.  Mike and I are just head over heels in love with her.  She has brought so much joy to our lives.

If you are a parent, what are some of your child’s 2 month favorites?  Anything that I should try?

Don’t forget to enter my Pampers Giveaway!!

 

Pampers Daylight Savings Time Sleep Tips & Giveaway!!!..

As you may know Daylight Savings time is approaching on Sunday morning and that leads to nervousness and anxiety for many moms regarding their baby’s sleep patterns.  It leaves moms wondering, how will the baby adjust to the time change?  Will that mean an earlier wake up time for both little ones and their parents?

I was selected by Double Duty Divas to participate in Pampers Daylight Savings Time Campaign.  I was provided with a coupon to try Pampers diapers and wipes.   I was also asked to provide my own sleep tips in order to prepare your baby for the time change.

1.) Create a normal bedtime routine so your baby knows when it’s time for bed.  Our routine for Brielle is changing her diaper in her room.  While doing so, I usually talk to her and sing her a song to help her wind down.  Then we bring her into our bedroom and keep the lights dim and Mike will give her a bottle.  Once she is done her bottle, we sing her a song or read her a book.  We swaddle her and place her in the pack and play in our bedroom and turn out the lights.  When the lights go out, we go to bed at the same time as she does and that is what we have been doing since she was born.  So she knows that it’s time to go to bed.

Brielle waking up from her nap

Brielle waking up from sleeping

2.) Between naps expose your baby to sound and lights so they know the difference of play time and bedtime.  This is a huge thing.  I always make sure that Brielle is exposed to different sounds and light during hours when she is not sleeping.  I play with her a lot.  So she knows that when it is time to go to bed or nap, the room is darkened.  I think it helps her realize the difference between night and day.

A 2013 survey conducted by Pampers found that nearly one-quarter of mothers (24%) felt that a dry diaper was the number one thing that enabled their baby to sleep through the night.  Moms instinctively understand the importance of sleep – and research proves her right!  Sleep contributes to well-being in many ways, from physical and cognitive development to sociability and day-to-day mood.  That’s why Pampers is so committed to keeping baby dry during the most important parts of their day: love, play, and sleep.  Through Pampers’ extensive research on sleep, they’ve learned that babies are more vulnerable to waking up when they’re wet.  Unlike other diapers that offer two layers, Pampers diapers have three absorbent layers that provide up to 12 hours of overnight dryness protection.  It’s Pampers hope to minimize sleep disruptions so that little ones get the sweet slumber they deserve and need!

Brielle has been wearing Pampers since she was born.  Those were the diapers and wipes that our hospital used and we continued using them.

pampers

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I am a big fan of the Pampers Swaddlers diapers because they have a wetness indicator and they are soft and gentle on Brielle’s skin.  The wipes are gentle on her sensitive skin as well.  I can rest assured that she is in good hands while wearing her Pampers Swaddlers.  I highly recommend them!  If you want more information, you can check out Pampers Facebook page and their Twitter.

Speaking of Twitter, Double Duty Divas and Pampers are hosting a Twitter Party on Wednesday, October 29th at 9pm EST.  If you are interested in joining the party you may join and RSVP here.  To participate, follow your hosts @DoubleDutyDivas, @BridgetteLA, @CeceliaMecca @AngieKcom @WhatMommiesNeed @RamblingChick, and our sponsor @Pampers.

Twitter Party Prizes Include:

  • Prize 1Twinkles Nightlight in Blue, 148 ct of Pampers diapers and a pack of wipes.
  • Prize 2 – Pottery Barn plush security blanket, $50 Barnes & Noble gift card, a pack of Pampers diapers and wipes.
  • Prize 3 – A gift card to The $125 Children’s Place for pajamas, a pack of Pampers diapers/wipes
  • Prize 4 – A Kindle Fire so parents can purchase baby bedtime books, an $100 Amazon gift card to purchase the e-books, a pack of Pampers diapers and wipes.

If you are unable to join the Twitter party but still would like a chance to win something then definitely enter my giveaway!!  Double Duty Divas is offering to send one of my readers: one coupon for free Pampers Wipes and one coupon for free Pampers diapers!!!  If you would like to enter please do the following:

One entry – comment below telling me why you would like to win the coupons

One additional entry – follow me on Twitter @withasideofhope and leave a comment telling me you did

The giveaway will end on November 4th!  You have one week to enter!  Good luck!  I will select a winner on the following day!

This review was made possible by Double Duty Divas and Pampers. I was provided the featured product free of charge to facilitate my review, but all opinions are 100% mine.”

 

 

I have the opportunity to offer a fellow blog reader a chance to receive a coupon for free Pampers wipes and free Pampers Diapers!

Time Flies By!…

Hey there!  I had all intentions of posting more frequently but last week time just escaped me.  I knew what I wanted to blog about and then I just didn’t have the time to sit down and write it.  So this post is just going to be a brief update of what has been going on and then I will be back and post about some other things.

Since I’ve posted last, Brielle turned 2 months old!  I can hardly believe that she is two months already.  Time really does fly by.  So many things about her change daily and I really enjoy taking in each moment, good or bad and seeing what she is going to do next.  I will absolutely do a two month post and talk about some of her favorite things and show pictures of her.  I am thankful that I am able to cherish these moments with her.

Last Saturday was the first time that I had to leave her for longer than one hour since she has been born.  We had Mike’s cousin’s wedding and we left Brielle with Melissa and my mom.  I wasn’t worried about them taking care of her one bit.  I was just nervous being away from her for such a long time.  The worst part was saying goodbye to her as tears streamed down my face.  I want her to be independent and strive without me.  It’s just very hard being away from her.  I’m trying to be strong and to do it more often but it’s hard.  It’s something that I need to learn to cope with.

The wedding was in Philly at a hotel.  It was the first time that I got really dressed up since having Brielle.  I was pretty self-conscious of how I looked but it felt good to dress up.  I have been wearing my hair natural for the past few months now.  I’ve taken a break from straightening my hair and I have to say, I’m enjoying wearing my hair curly.  The picture below is how my hair is naturally.  It made getting ready for this wedding a breeze knowing that I didn’t need to spend a ton of time curling my hair.

mike and me

I was glad that we were able to share in the moment of watching Mike’s cousin get married.  Her and I have become pretty close over the past few years and she actually lives around the corner from us.  So I was really happy to watch her get married.  Funny thing is she married a guy that I graduated high-school with.  It’s such a small world!  We have Mike’s other cousins wedding in May which I am also looking forward to.

Last Monday, I was able to spend time with my friend Courtney.  She came over and hung out with Brielle and I for a while.  Yesterday, we were able to get together with our friend’s Russ and Kristen.  They had their second baby in June and we haven’t had a chance to meet him yet.  It was great to see them again and meet their son and also see their daughter.  I can hardly believe that she is almost 4 years old.  I remember when Kristen was pregnant with her.  It’s just crazy how quickly time flies by and that is why I try to savor each moment.

So that is what has been going on in our lives lately.  I will be back tomorrow with a baby giveaway and then Brielle’s 2 month favorites another day this week!  Stay tuned!

Brielle’s One Month Favorites!..

I can hardly believe that next week Brielle will be two months old already!  Time really does fly.  It’s incredible to see how much she has grown since she was born.  She is changing so much and I love being able to witness everything.  I wanted to share her one month favorites since I wasn’t able to when she first turned one month.  Let’s get started!

photo-19

Aden & Anais

Aden and Anais sent me a few products to try while I was pregnant and to use once Brielle was born.  They sent me their Ultra Gentle Lotion Skin Care:

ultra gentle lotion skin care

This lotion is safe enough to be used for both myself and for Brielle.  The lotion is light and has a slight fragrance to it which I like.  I use it on myself and I’ll use some on Brielle’s legs which tend to have dry skin.  They also sent me their Stretch Mark Reducing Cream Skin Care:

stretch mark reducing cream skin care

I love this cream and I still use it today.  It’s not greasy at all and feels light on your skin.  I used this throughout my pregnancy on my belly to prevent stretch marks.  It really helped.  The only time I noticed a few stretch marks is after I delivered Brielle.  I have some on the lower portion of my stomach and I use this cream to help minimize it everyday.  The last item they sent us was a package of their Jungle Jam Classic Swaddle Blankets:

jungle jam classic swaddles

photo-20

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Brielle loves these swaddle blankets.  We use them all the time and wrap her in them while she is sleeping.  We also use them to cover her or for her to lay on.  They are VERY soft which I like and it’s gentle on Brielle’s skin.  I cannot say enough things about these swaddle blankets.  I sometime use them to cover her when she is in the car seat and I’ve had people stop me in stores to tell me how much they love Aden and Anais blankets.  I couldn’t agree more.

Dr. Brown’s Standard Bottles, Bottle Warmer and Sanitizer

Fits ALL Dr. Brown's® baby bottles, and most other brands, too!

I had mentioned that Brielle has some digestive issues and acid reflux.  It’s been a process trying to find bottles which work for her and don’t allow her to suck down as much air.  We’ve tried numerous bottles and we finally found one that works.  We love Dr. Brown’s products.  These bottles contain a vent system inside of them which eliminates air and allows the baby to feed comfortably.  Brielle loves these bottles and I couldn’t recommend them enough.  I really like the bottle warmer too because you can program the unit for the exact amount of time that you need it to warm for and it will beep when it’s ready.  The sterilizer is great and it makes for getting the bottles completely clean and safe for the baby to use.  It holds 6 bottles and you can also put pacifiers or any other baby item that you might need to be sterilized in the machine.

Fisher Price My Little Lamb Platinum Edition Cradle ‘n Swing

This swing is one of the best baby items that we own.  Brielle loves to lay in the swing and fall asleep.  It has a few different swing settings, plays music, has lights and a mobile.  It’s very soft and plush.  This past week, Brielle realized that there is a mobile above her that lights up.  She absolutely loves it.  Her face lights up and she smiles and coo’s when she see’s it.  I love it.  If you are going to purchase one baby item, I would recommend this swing.  I can’t say enough great things about it.

Graco Minnie Mouse Pack ‘N Play Playard with Cuddle Cove Rocking Seat

This pack ‘n play has been in our room since Brielle was born.  She sleeps in this next to my side of our bed.  It was difficult to put together but it is completely worth it.  The bassinet is removable and is great for transporting her around the house if she is sleeping in it.  I love the print on it since it is Minnie Mouse.  The changing table was a lifesaver when she was born.  She was able to sleep in it and we could change her on the changing table and then put her back to sleep.  It made things really easy.  This pack ‘n play has so many settings on it too.  The unit plays music, has a light, and vibrates.  The best part is that you can take it apart and bring it with you.

Boppy Heirloom Pillow – Giraffe

This boppy pillow is great!  It is perfect to use when feeding.  The baby can also be propped up on it and it can be used for tummy time.  I have this exact pillow with the giraffe print on it.  The cover is very soft to lean on and the print is super cute.

Carters

I LOVE love love Carters baby clothes!  They are by far my favorite.  Brielle is a small baby.  She is long but tiny.  Carters clothing fits her the best out of the clothing brands that I have tried.  Their clothes are super cute and they always have coupons that you can use on your purchases.  I have found Carters clothing at Kohl’s and Target in addition to the actual Carters clothing store.  Kohl’s sends a lot of coupons and I have bought Brielle numerous Carters clothing items for next to nothing pairing with sales and coupons.  I am always looking for great deals on Carters because they fit her so well.  If your baby is on the small size, I recommend trying Carters.

So those are some of Brielle’s one month favorites.  I’m looking forward to sharing her favorites for each month.  I know when I was pregnant, I was always on the search for items that I could use for Brielle once she was here so I think this will be helpful for those who are interested.  Feel free to let me know of any good items that I should try out too!

Have a great day!