Monday, December 30, 2013

Cross Country Flyin' Tips

Yay!!  I am 20 weeks today!  I've reached the "official" halfway point! Although for twins, my halfway point was a few weeks ago. But however you want to look at it, I am now certainly over the halfway hump. Wooooooo! 

As I prepare to fly back to Boston in a few weeks for my baby shower, I can't help but get a little anxious about flying alone.  Here's a pic of my belly at the gym last night (and I still have 2 more weeks til I fly):


Since I feel nervous/anxious about everything these days, I decided to research some travel tips to help put my mind at ease.  I compiled the "Top 8" of what I thought would be the most helpful, and some of these tips are great for non-prego travelers, too!
  1. Get your Doctor's OK. Before you travel, make sure to check with your doctor to be sure you are progressing without complications, especially if you are in your second and third trimester. Also check with your airline to read up on their specific travel policy. Typically, it is advised not to fly after 36 weeks with one baby or after 32 weeks with twins. Some doctors recommend not to fly after 20 weeks with twin pregnancies...it's all up to your OB and how comfortable and healthy you are. Err on the side of caution, and please play it safe.
  2. Stay Hydrated. Even when not traveling and for non-pregnant women, this is a must!! Drink [at least] the recommended eight 8-ounce glasses of water each day. When flying, I suggest mentioning to the flight attendants that you are expecting and you may be asking for extra water. When I flew back from Boston in September, I got EXTREMELY ill and mentioned to them I was pregnant. They gave me water and an extra pillow. It was very nice of them. I also find it helpful to bring some packets of Gatorade powder to mix with bottled water to switch it up a bit (especially if you get sick, the electrolytes and the flavor is helpful).
  3. Move Frequently. When you're flying, I find it helpful to stroll up and down the aisle. Not only will frequent bathroom trips be necessary, but I've read that moving around every hour or so helps prevent blood clots in your legs. Move and stretch as much as possible on the plane.
  4. Pack Healthy Snacks. Carry some nutritious snacks for when hunger strikes. I suggest fresh or dried fruit, nuts or trailmix, sunchips or energy bars. Nothing is worse than being trapped without any food or stuck with places that are 100% unappealing -- plus, snacks help with the the nausea. And may I suggest, the more protein-packed, the better.
  5. Wear Comfortable Clothes. Stretchy, comfy clothes are the best to travel in, and comfortable shoes are a must because feet tend to swell when you're pregnant. Layers are great, too! You need to stay warm on the plane, but also be able to shed the layers if you are sweltering. And shoes with good arch support for walking around are very important.
  6. Change your Bag. Recently, I've found using a backpack instead of a shoulder bag helps cut down on back/belly strain and pain. I love using my brown Brookstone travel set, but for this trip I am reverting to my 7th grade L.L. Bean backpack with "SHAZZY" written in caps on it. Funny story about this backpack. After my wedding in 2010, I was wearing the backpack at the airport. I was also carrying the top tier of our wedding cake and my flowers since I couldn't part with them. While boarding the plane from BOS to LAX after the wedding, a young guy behind me asked if I was Chrissy's sister. I was shocked, but he said he worked with her at Meditech! He knew my name was Shaz and that I was getting married that weekend. Little smartie put two and two together.
  7. Pack a Travel Health Kit. Some good things to include in a little travel health kit are acetaminophen (or Tylenol - one of the only things we can have), Dramamine, Preparation H wipes, Tums and Unisom/Tylenol PM for insomnia. Insomnia has pretty much taken over my life lately, and that's trying to sleep in my comfy bed at home. I can't imagine what the flight will be like in a few weeks.
  8. Download Books/Music/Movies. I fly across the country often and I must say that having your own movie or book on your iPad is super helpful. You never know what the plane will be playing, if anything. Just don't forget your headphones! It is also nice to have a hard copy book if you have room in your bag. I just started reading "The Power of Now" which I will be bringing on the plane with me. I hope it helps with this anxiety I've been having lately.
Wish me luck on the journey back east!  I'm getting excited!

xo,
Shaz

Thursday, December 26, 2013

The Big Gender REVEAL!

TWIN BOYS!!!



Jim and I are absolutely over the moon about our twin boys arriving this May! We are both sooo so happy and excited. It really hits home for us, because Jim's grandmother Mary had twin boys during her first pregnancy (yup, it all makes sense now). I have to be honest and say that from day one of this pregnancy, I have said that we are having two boys.....

On a personal and rather sentimental note, I feel there are several commonalities between Mary and Paul (Jim's paternal grandparents) and Jim and I. Jim is a lot like his grandfather in many ways, which is a huge compliment. For example, Jim and Paul are/were very hard workers, dedicated husbands/sons/brothers, both love the cape and bought homes there while they were young, both extremely forward thinkers and planners when it comes to finances, family and just life in general. Oh and they both married pretty awesome ladies. Hehehe. Ok, I am kidding, but Jim's grandmother is seriously awesome.

Here's a pic of Paul, Mary, Theresa and I in maybe 2006-ish.

 
I also found this gem going down memory lane at Irene and Tom's 25th Anniversary. I think this was maybe 7 years ago? Man, I am not great with the dates of these pictures. But they are great.
 

Alright, focus. Back to this big gender news....Jim and I saved the most important present for last yesterday.

 
My friend Nicole wrapped up the genders in the most adorable way and we recorded us opening it to watch down the road. We cannot thank her enough for the effort and thought she put into our two little boys.
 
 
And another huge 'thank you' to Lindsey for the most adorable pair of Sperrys I have ever seen in my entire life. Can't wait to get these boys strolling around Cape Cod so they can wear them! :)


Thank you ALL for the support and sharing in the excitement of these two blessings with us! We can’t wait to meet the little dudes whenever they decide to arrive...hopefully May 2014.

Love love love,
The Phelan Family

Soufflés for Days, Folks!

Merry day after Christmas, everyone!! I had a great Christmas -- and hope you all did, too. This year was very memorable, because Jimmy and I were able to Skype with our families, open our gifts to each other, spend time at the beach and then open the big GENDER REVEAL! Check out the "A & B" tab for more info on their production.

Below are a few pics of us FaceTiming with the Callahans and Phelans on Christmas.



The weather here has been beautiful all week. We spent both Christmas Eve and Christmas Day at the beach. We saw a few gorgeous socal sunsets, and made some fun beachy Christmas memories. Shout out to Rock for having us over.

Christmas Eve:



 
Christmas Day:
 

 
I was trying to think of a creative brunch to have on Christmas morning and I came up with a soufflé idea. Last year, Jim and I spent Christmas Eve with the Alexy family (& their amazing chocolate martinis). Kiley made a wonderful ham and egg soufflé on Christmas morning! So basically I stole these ideas from her. This is us opening presents Christmas 2012. Placemats!!!!! Haha.


I opted for one savory ham/cheese/egg soufflé and one sweet chocolate/nutmeg/cinnamon soufflé which was quite similar to a bread pudding. I crumbled up a six 5-inch croissants into two greased pie dishes (each). Here are a few pics.


 
I poured my egg mixtures over each dish and made sure that the croissant pieces were submerged in the all the yummy flavors. I tossed in some dark chocolate morsels in the sweet dish, because the recipe called for chocolate croissants.
 
 
I then cooked them for about 40 minutes on 350 degrees (covered). They came out great! Brunch and dessert all done in one quick swoop.

 
It was quite a delicious Christmas brunch. And we have leftovers for the rest of the week, too. :)
 
xo,
Shaz

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Holiday FUN!

It's December 21st -- what would have been my Grampa Callahan's 95th birthday. It is also my good friend, Milady's birthday! So shout out to MAO and all those who celebrate their birthdays on the first day of winter.

Being out here in SoCal, there isn't much to make you think Christmas is literally around the corner. The sun is shining bright, the weather is about 70 degrees and the traffic is still horrific everywhere. And as much as I want to be home with friends and family over the holidays, I can honestly say I am glad I am not traveling. I need a little break.

My friend Nicole (who is ironically traveling back home to Boston today) hosted a FANTASTIC potluck Christmas dinner at her place in Manhattan Beach last night. We had tons of apps/salads, filet mignon, chicken parm, stuffed shells and tons of other sides and desserts. What a spread. I was in charge of making some sweet potatoes, a kielbasa & pineapple appetizer, and a warm spiked Christmas apple cider.

Here are the ingredients I used for everything yesterday -- at this point, the kielbasa was already cooking because I prefer to make that a day in advance so that the flavors all work together. In order to make this simple app, I slice up the kielbasa (choose your meat preference), saute it until its caramelized/brown, and add the slices to a sauce of pineapple chunks/juice, sweet and sour sauce, yellow mustard, honey and a few other things I like to add to make it unique. ;)


I then moved on to the sweet potatoes. I washed, peeled and sliced up about 7-8 sweet potatoes -- and boy were my hands ORANGE and sticky by the end of the day.

 
My mom spent the day "cooking" with me:

 
I have a rosemary bush that grows out front of my condo. It is one of my favorite herbs, so I cook with it often. I personally feel it is unappealing when you get a hard piece of rosemary in your mouth when eating soft sweet potatoes, so I came up with a solution. Using about 4 sprigs of rosemary, I added the pieces to some olive oil and mixed them in the Magic Bullet. Then I poured the olive oil infused with rosemary all over the sweet potatoes!!


I added very minimal sea salt and fresh ground black pepper, cooked for about an hour (covered) at 375 degrees. Then BAM, they are done!! It is so simple and they are so good for you.

 
As for my spiked warm apple cider, I pour about a gallon of apple cider into a crock pot in the morning. Then added some fresh apple slices and cranberries for a bit of tart and a little festive coloring. I added a dash cinnamon, nutmeg and brown sugar to taste. A few hours later, I added more apples and cranberries to freshen it a bit. Then just before serving time, I gave Jim the task of spiking it with Capt Morgan spiced rum since I can't take part in the taste test (don't worry, I made sure to pour myself a glass before it was spiked!!). Serve on the "warm" temp throughout the night. :)

 
Here are Sarah, Nicole and I post dinner and drinks. We were very relaxed and veggin out with Sky the doggie!


Nicole works with SonoSim ultrasound equipment at her work, so I have been having scans done at her office every now and again to assist with their non-profit work (apparently A and B are helping out big time and they don't even know it yet!). It's also beneficial for me to check in on them periodically, too. So I went in yesterday morning while my cider was brewing. Jim and I wanted to make Christmas extra special this year by finding out the genders of both A and B on Christmas morning, so Nicole wrapped up the predictions in this box!! It is taking everything I have not to open it right now! Stay tuned...............

 
4 more days til Christmas, everyone!
xo,
Shaz

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Travelin', Cookin' & Bakin'

I just got back from a fun vacation in Los Cabos last weekend! I went to an all inclusive resort with my besties Sarah and Nicole. We had SUCH an amazing time. We were nicknamed the party girls by the hotel staff there. It was so funny. Our flights were short and sweet, and everything went very smoothly. Here's a pic of us on a little boat tour near the arch in Cabo and another pic of us at Lover's Beach.



Now that I am back in the states, I am in full fledge Christmas-prep mode! I started cooking a lot again (now that I can stomach most smells) and even baked a mixed berry pie today. I included a lot of photos in this post because there was so much to talk about!

To start, I was craving pie. I really wanted a blueberry pie (or maybe A and B really wanted blueberry pie) but the blueberries weren't on sale at the market. They were each $4 and I needed about 3 containers. I couldn't even think about spending $12 on blueberries alone, and was happy when I remembered I had some frozen mixed berries in the freezer. I typically use them for smoothies. Anyway, they did the trick. I used this simple blueberry pie recipe online. 

Here a few pics of me baking in action...it doesn't happen too often. I started out with my pre-made pie crusts to save time, tossed in my berries and then covered them with the sugar, flour, lemon zest and cinnamon. It was so easy!




 
I then figured I should make some din din because we can't have pie for dinner (sadly). I decided on some chicken parm because I haven't made it in a while. I started with all my ingredients, including three different dishes of flour, egg wash and breadcrumbs. I tenderized and flattened all the chicken breasts and then dipped them in the assembly line of flour, egg wash and breadcrumbs, and dropped them in a piping hot sauté pan with olive oil.
 
Here's how it went...smash smash smash:
 
 
I didn't get a picture of the four and egg wash unfortunately...but here's a pic right before it went into the pan.

 
And here are a few pieces after the cooking was done.


 
I threw them on a baking sheet on top of aluminum foil, added sauce and mozzarella cheese, and popped them into the hot oven since the pie was just in there...for maybe 6-8 minutes or so. I tasted the chicken already and it came out AMAZING! It's super thin and crispy. It's the only way I will eat chicken parm.



Oh, I almost forgot! Here are a few current holiday photos of the Phelan residence. Jim set up the lights while I wrote out the Christmas cards. We also bought a few pointsettias and a wreath which I decorated myself. :) Happily preppin for the holidays! 





Happy travelin', cookin' and eatin' everyone! Love this time of year!!

xo,
Shaz

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Thanksgiving Wrap-Up, Happy December!

Well, I suppose my posts over these last few weeks make more sense now. I mentioned I was trying to eat more protein (the average person needs about 45g/day and the average pregnant lady needs 70g/day...and I have two babies in there!). I have also been overly emotional and homesick recently and of course, couldn't wait to fly back east for Thanksgiving to tell everyone the big news in person.

My parents reactions were absolutely priceless. Shout out to Linds for capturing it all on video. I sent it to a few of my friends and they thought it was either hilarious or it made them cry. You can seriously feel my moms excitement/emotion. My Dad was literally speechless, nothing could come out of his mouth -- he had to leave the room. I posted a shorter clip of it below, but not sure if it you can view it on your phone. You can try viewing on your computer if you are really interested.



For any other mamas or mamas-to-be out there, I wanted to share my recent favs for anything pregnancy related. Here's a list of a few:

1. Sprout App. There are several iPhone apps out there, but the Sprout app is great. It is more high-tech than some of the others, showing you more in depth photos rather than fake pictures of the growing baby/babies. Not to mention all the health tips and pregnancy advice is helpful. Check it out! They have a free temporary version if you want to test it before you buy.

2. Vitamin Waters. I loooove me some vitamin waters lately. I particularly love the Tropical Citrus flavor. It's a nice change from the average water, and also gives you a bit of flavor and energy (sugar). I tend to pour it in a glass and add water. I find it a little too sweet. I don't mind the calories at all these days. In fact, I need them! According to WebMD, studies suggest that vitamin B6 for improves nausea, so I will take all the help I can get!

3. Belly Band. The belly band is a great invention. It's perfect for the first trimester, or anytime before you absolutely need maternity pants. And you know what? It would be fantastic for those holiday meals coming up. :) You basically just leave your regular pants unbuttoned and place the band over your waste. It looks like you are wearing a tank under your top! It's perfect. I wear them almost daily...unless I am rockin my new maternity pants.

4. Palmer's Lotions. While I am not totally sure that the Palmer's stretch mark cream works 100% to prevent stretch marks, I sure do love it. It smells yummy and feels great to hydrate my growing belly. I will continue to use it sporadically throughout the next 4-5 months and see how it goes. I guess I can follow up on this post sometime after May!

5. Pregnancy Pillow. Pregnancy pillows are the best. I pretty much stopped sleeping through the night at week 8-9. I would wake up at 3AM wide awake, starving. I would venture into the kitchen and grab some Greek yogurt and granola or cereal. I would also chug water and then try to go back to sleep. I'd maybe catch another 30 min to an hour of shut eye before my alarm would go off. But needless to say, this pillow really helps. It's very difficult to get comfortable with a growing/moving bump. Too bad they don't make a traveling pregnancy pillow!!


My friend Keryn surprised me with a mama-to-be basket full of little goodies from various baby-safe lotions to face masks/cloths to these teas pictured below. I cant wait to try them!! Thanks, Ker! :)


I have also been reading some twin websites and looking into twin support groups. My doctor and a few friends/fam have recommended reaching out to local moms in the area who have multiples or who are expecting multiples. For example, the 'National Organizations for Mothers of Twins Clubs' is a cute site, http://www.nomotc.org/. There is also a 'Southern California Mothers of Twins Clubs'. From there, I was able to enter my zip code and find this site, specific for West LA.  I am also not embarrassed to admit that I have already started researching scholarships for twins. Haha -- it's never too early to check that stuff out!

I promise that future posts will not always be about pregnancy and/or A and B....I just figured a little follow-up was needed. Oh, and I had my 16 week appt this week. They are healthy and getting bigger and bigger! I saw them moving around in there. It's always very reassuring. :)

A:

B:

I just booked my January trip home for my baby shower! For any other pregnant travelers, I thought this was helpful. http://www.hotelclub.com/blog/air-travel-tips-for-pregnant-women/

Til next time...
Shaz

Sunday, December 1, 2013

A and B....so it begins!

I'm pregnant!!


During the first week of September, Jim and I happily found out we are expecting. We had several important agenda items booked in early fall (i.e. visitors; trips to both El Salvador and Boston; Jim's classes, homework, job hunting and the bar). Needless to say, the first month was overwhelming, but happy and exciting nonetheless. 

My first doctor appointment was around the 7 week mark, right after we returned from our trip to Boston for my parents birthdays and a family wedding. Jim's 2002 Ford Ranger wouldn't start that morning, so he waited for AAA as I proceeded to my appt at UCLA. I figured it couldn't be more than a simple blood or pee test for them to say "yup, you're pregnant!" or "better luck next time".  So off I went....

Turns out, my three home-pregnancy tests did in fact work properly and I am indeed pregnant.  And surprise, we are expecting TWINS!!  Yup, you heard me.  Twins.  We have nicknamed them A and B...because that's what our doctor calls them.  We have no idea the gender of A and B or if they are identical or fraternal. We do know they are growing right on track, surprisingly since all I do is throw up, but we are rolling with it one day at a time.  And I now have some Zofran to help me keep some food down for A and B.  Here's a creepy 3D picture of them together.


Want to hear how the doctors told me??  Sure!  Well, I found out this incredible news (by myself) during my 3 hour appt during the ultrasound...I really underestimated the intensity of the first doctor appt.  My bad.  They were roaming about on the screen and they blurt out, "so you know there are two, right?!"  My response was "ummmm...two arms? two legs? Great! That's a good sign."  No...two embroyos, two sacs, two BABIES.  I almost died.  Then I heard both heartbeats. It was so surreal.  

I, of course, started freaking out and called Jim as soon as I could.  He was super happy (shocked) and said we are blessed.  His dad is a fraternal twin, so we weren't totally shocked...but I was totally shocked.  My reaction photo:


I then texted Chrissy...and she responded with this photo:


One of the hardest things about living 3,000 miles away has been not being able to share the news with my parents immediately, face to face.  We saw them when I was only 6 weeks and we weren't comfortable sharing the news with anyone that early (except our sisters...so Chrissy and Theresa have known since early on).  We opted not to tell our parents until we saw them again in person.  Our trip home during Thanksgiving.  So there it is, folks!!  Two Phelan babies are due May 2014. :)

Cheers,
Shaz, A and B

Here's a video of A fluttering about.