Saturday, December 16, 2017

Favorite Things: Gluten Free Goodies for Miss Sophia

Anyone who knows Sophia knows she loves her dessert after dinner #takesafterherdaddy
We are so thrilled to have stumbled upon a LOCAL, yes, local, gluten free pastry business that makes the most delicious gluten free treats, Mad Batters Pastries. 
I first came across these pastries at our local deli and bought a variety to try. They were deeeelish, so I immediately looked them up on Facebook.  I chatted with the owner, Kristen, for a bit and thanked her for keeping those with dietary restrictions in mind #thankyou 
I ordered a platter of cookies from Mad Batters for Jameson’s baptism and am considering about getting some for Christmas. 

For my local mamas, Mad Batters Pastries are sold throughout the Hudson Valley.  Check out this link for locations...
Thank you, Mad Batters for making delicious treats for our girl to love (and not give me anxiety after she eats them!)

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Favorite things: Magnolia

After seeing the latest edition of Magnolia Journal
(Isn’t this image breathtaking?!?)

I couldn’t help but finally start reading the book, “The Magnolia Story”.
(I only got it a year ago) #opppsie
I’m not done with it yet, but I can tell you, Joanna and Chip’s story of starting her store, Magnolia, is inspiring!  Love how Chip supported her, no questions asked, while she thought this vision of her store was more of a “dream”.  
I’m not a “die-hard” Fixer Upper watcher because quite honestly, I’m not completely gaga over the whole farmhouse/rustic feel in a home... However, I can say Joanna has inspired some of my future DIY projects #thankyoujoanna. 
 And their new collection at Target, Hearth & Hand with Magnolia, may make an appearance in the Nikola home. #donttellandrew
Anyone else a fan of Joanna and Chip Gaines?

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Favorite Things: Andrew loves his Jeep

When I asked my husband, Andrew, what is one of his favorite things, there was hardly any hestation when he said, “My Jeep”.  #duhiknewthat

I am not surprised.  It’s been his dream to own a Jeep Wrangler for years and when he finally decided to invest in one, I laughed thinking, “How silly must we look, rocking two car seats in a Jeep with its top off?!”

Fast forward one year later, we’re measuring the backseat to make sure another car seat can fit in the back #jamesondrewenterstheworld

Luckily, our Diono car seats are awesome and can accommodate Jameson’s seat so we can be THAT family, rocking in the Jeep, three car seats deep! 

When asked why the Jeep is on-top of his favorite list...

  1. Top off, doors off..nothing better than feeling the wind and sun beating down while cruising. 
  2. Off-Road.. Brayden and I had too much fun the other day driving through the snow..
  3. Memories we make in it...whether it’s just the kids and I driving to school singing Bruno Mars, or a family trip to get some ice cream, the Jeep is fun... and Babe, don’t tell me you don’t like to drive it and do the “Jeep Wave” when you pass another Jeep!”

Haha, he’s got a point.. it’s a Jeep thing... #ifeelspecial

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Favorite Things: My Favorite Accessory with a Technological Twist

In honor of the Nikola Clan’s favorite time of the year, I will be sharing a series of blog posts (hopefully 12) within the next few weeks, that will highlight just a few of our “favorite things”.

Each Nikola Clan member will share their "favorite thing" and of course, I will throw in my favorites when it comes to being a mama, fashion, beauty, food, and fitness!

First up!!!

One of my favorite accessories with a technological twist...

My Apple watch!

I was a Fitbit wearer and loved its fitness tracking features. However; while pregnant with Jameson, I couldn't work out as much and found my Fitbit wasn't being utilized for its purpose.

Andrew noticed my frustration and bought me an Apple Watch for my birthday #bestbdaygift and since August, it hasn't left my wrist.

Why I love this watch (in rose gold):
  • Of course, the instant text messages (great to get the ones from daycare)
  • Syncing an email- I Synced the email Sophia's teacher uses to communicate with us, in case she emails me throughout the day #celiacprobs
  • When I first started nursing, I downloaded the app, "Breast Feeding Timer" (highly suggest it) which tracks how long you nurse for and which side.. Plus, it reminds you to nurse...  I accessed the app through my Apple watch to track it all #totallifesaver.  
  • Calendar alerts, so I'm not super, super late to appointments #maybejustalittle
  • Lastly, if you happen to lose/misplace your cell phone, the Apple watch can "ping" (make it ding) your phone so you can find it.  I use this feature just about!  It's to the point where Sophia will hear the ping and say, "Mommy, it's over here!" #sheknowsmetoowell

I know there are many more amazing features about this watch I haven't discovered just yet.. But so far, I'm loving it!  

Stay tuned for more of The Nikola Clan's favorite things...Andrew's next ;)

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Happy Holidays from the Nikola Clan

This years' holiday pictures were taken by Little Hoots Photography, the same amazing photographer who did my maternity photos.

Trish told me this year's shoot was going to have a rustic feel to it, so I kept that in mind while designing our outfits.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays from The Nikola Clan <3 

Outfit details:
Sophia & Brayden- H&M
Jameson- Old Navy
Mine- Old Navy
Andrew- Kohls

Monday, July 24, 2017

Jameson Drew's Newborn Photos

Thank you to Katie Lewin Photography for doing such a stellar job on Jameson's photos.  She has captured our family for the past few years now and she never disappoints! 
Thank you, Katie, for taking our vision and bringing it to life... especially incorporating Andrew's Jeep #shesthebest

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Welcome Jameson Drew

June 9, 2017
5:00 AM
"OMG, I'm peeing!" was my first thought. 

I jumped out of bed and ran into the bathroom and actually jumped into the shower to realize I wasn't peeing but in fact, my water was breaking!!

"Andrew!  Andrew!  ANDREW, my water broke!"

Never saw him jump up so fast to call his parents to say, "It's go time!"

My sister-in-law popped over just in case we had to leave earlier than when my in-laws arrived BECAUSE I thought for sure things would go quickly since this is baby numba three. #pahaha

I asked her to braid my hair so it's out of my way while doing the whole labor thing ;) 
We entered the hospital around 6:30 and waited in triage until my bed was ready in labor and delivery.  It's funny as when I walked in, one of the nurses recognized me as she was my nurse when I delivered Brayden.  Sounds weird to say, but I felt at home...

Contractions started around 7:30- nothing consistent... 3,4,7 minutes apart.  I kept track of them on a great app, "Baby Bump Pro" #getitforsure

The nurses never asked me if I was "sure" my water broke (last time, they asked if I was sure I didn't pee myself) but I remember one nurse saying, "Yes, she definitely ruptured." 

I arrived in my labor and delivery room around 10 AM and found myself just watching the clock and asking myself, "Do I need an epidural?"

I had an epidural with both Sophia and Brayden and I wanted to see if I can go without one.  My thought process was, "Since this is my third, things will go quickly.  It may hurt but it will be done and over with- FAST."  #ifitwereonlythattrue

It wasn't until 3ish or so is when the contractions really started to kick-in and I was brought to tears a few times.  My hubs kept saying, "Just get the epidural, Heather... There's nothing wrong in getting one.  It will make things easier."

My doctor came in and it wasn't until she said, "There's nothing wrong getting an epidural.  I can tell you, it will hurt without one and you'll remember the pain.  The epidural will ease the pain and make it more comfortable."

Between her and my hubs, they convinced me to go ahead with the epidural and I'm sooo glad I did.  #noregrets

I still felt the contractions, but it was more pressure than a "pain".   As the contractions continued, I had to be flipped to my side because the baby's heart rate would drop during a contraction.  At that point, I was thinking, "Do I need an emergency C-section?"  However, flipping to my left side seemed to do the trick #thankheavens

Before the epidural, I was 5-6 cm dilated and 90% effaced. 

 Within 40 minutes, I went to 10 cm, 100% effaced and ready to push.

"Why don't you try- bear down and push.... OK STOP!  We need the doctor, this baby is coming!"

As soon as the nurse said it, I bursted into tears!  
"Why are you crying, Mama?  You're going to have your baby."

I know, that's just it! 

 I was so relieved that I can finally hold this baby in my arms.  My diagnosis of Lyme disease at 28 weeks pregnant seriously took such an emotional toll on my body and mind, and just the thought of he/she being born within minutes totally took over me. The nurses gave me an oxygen mask to help me get it together! 

"Push.  Wait, Stop... Push, Stop... LOOK!"
(4:17 pm)

"IT'S A BOY!" I screamed and started laughing and crying.  
 I looked at my Hubs and he was wiping the tears from his eyes.  He was telling everyone "She swore it was a girl the whole time." #iseriouslydid

"You want to do skin-to-skin?"  One of the nurses asked as the baby was peeing on her.  #itwashysterical
"Of course!" 

 This was the first time any of my babies were placed on me without being wiped down and it was just the most blissful experience.

I had no pain-
 just pure joy, relief, excitement, and gratefulness. 

A sweet boy, Jameson Drew.

How did we come up with his name?

The Hubs and I can't seem to remember "who" came up with it, (I think I did but he swears he and no, we aren't hardcore whiskey drinkers so it's not after the alcohol #inevertriedit

 Originally it was "Jameson Thomas" but when I came up with "Drew" (after the Hubs, "Andrew") for our girl's middle name, "Elliana Drew," it kinda just stuck with us.

Jameson Drew Nikola has a great ring to it!

 He completes our The Nikola Clan <3 
Jameson Drew Nikola
June 9, 2017 (12 days early)
4:17 pm
7lbs., 9oz., 20 inches long

Sunday, May 21, 2017

"Are your Fries Gluten-Free?"

"Are your fries gluten-free?"

"Yes, they are!"

"No way!  That's great.  Are you sure?"


The fries were not gluten-free.

This is my then, four-year-old daughter, Sophia, who ate an order of french fries from a profound restaurant just two hours prior, now exhausted in my lap after violently vomiting, seven times.

Her little arms gripped the toilet bowl, her body convulsed as she got sick, telling me, "This is the worst, Mama."

I held her hair back and cried... 


my eyes out while telling her I'm so sorry this happened. #worstfeelingever

You see, I brought her gluten-free food to the restaurant and just decided to ask if the fries were gluten-free out of a whim.  Once the server said, "Yes" and was even reassured they were- I was sold. I have to tell you though, a little voice inside me said, "Ask to talk to the chef, just to be sure." #lessonlearned

After her reaction to ingesting gluten (about two hours), I contacted the restaurant via its Facebook page (because I was too upset to call). My message to the restaurant was to please be sure the waitstaff is educated in how the meals are prepared.  Thank goodness Sophia's reaction to gluten isn't as severe as a peanut allergy... That would have been a whole different story.

The response back was immediate, apologetic, and sympathetic.  The restaurant's manager expressed her own son has food allergies so she understood why I was upset.  She even invited us back for a guaranteed "gluten free" meal.

From this experience on, I always ask to speak to the chef or someone from the kitchen when we are out for a meal, which is rare.

"How is the food prepared?"  

"Are separate utensils used?"  

"Is her meal prepared in a separate location or on a separate grill?"

Yes, I get eye-rolls and looks as if I'm speaking a different language.

However, just like any mama would do for her child, I double, triple, check with the appropriate people because my daughter's health is at risk.

Sophia has celiac disease and was diagnosed with this autoimmune disease when she was two-and-half years old.  This is something she will never.. 

I repeat.. 

NEVER outgrow. 

She needs to eat a gluten-free diet for the rest of her life and even just a bit of gluten or cross contamination can set her off into severe vomiting spell.

According to the Celiac Disease Foundation,  "When people with celiac disease eat gluten (a protein found in wheat, rye and barley), their body mounts an immune response that attacks the small intestine. These attacks lead to damage on the villi, small fingerlike projections that line the small intestine, that promote nutrient absorption. When the villi get damaged, nutrients cannot be absorbed properly into the body."  Without proper nutrients, she will not develop or thrive."

May is celiac disease awareness month.  Like any other mamas of children who have this disease, we are #sorrybutnotsorry for asking 1,000 questions when it comes to ordering a meal, attending a birthday party, or even school for the first time.  Although it's not nearly as severe as other diseases/allergies, restaurant owners/food providers need to be educated in the meals they offer and prepare.  I beg those in the food industry to please understand eating "gluten-free" isn't a "fad" or a trendy diet.  My daughter's life, and others, actually depend on it.

I am happy to say that Sophia hasn't had a gluten "episode" in the past 10 months.  I will continue to be that annoying mama, asking multiple questions to ensure my daughter continues to eat gluten-free so she'll be a healthy and thriving little girl.

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Nikola Kids Birthday party at Poughkidsie!

Today we celebrated Sophia and Brayden's birthday at an awesome 5,000 square foot play center called, Poughkidsie, located in Poughkeepsie, (get it?) NY. 

Knowing I was going to be eight months pregnant, I didn't want to host their party at our home or have to do much of the work for it (sad, I know; especially since I love planning parties and bringing themes to life...But this mama is feeling way too PREGNANT for any of that #only6moreweeks) 
So after asking other mamas for recommendations, a few month back via social media, I discovered Poughkidsie. 

After scrolling through their website and seeing a "gluten free" birthday package, plus its diverse activities which encourage creativity and imaginative play, I decided let's give it a shot! 

The kids started off in the "Create Workspace" where they can choose to paint and decorate a dinosaur or hand-held mirror! 
After painting, it was off to "The Village".  I have to apologize because I didn't take as many pictures as I should have to show how cute this "Village" really is- It has six themed shops with props and dress-up clothes. Just make sure you bring a pair of socks, no shoes or bare feet are allowed in the village #keepingitclean

So impressed with the "x-ray" viewer plus a real exam table!  Kids were "fixing" babies and animals!

Ringing the bell=Pizza time!!! 

After playing in the village, it was pizza time!  I could have taken advantage of a gluten-free pizza being delivered but I decided to bring our own for Sophia.  I didn't want to chance anything, especially today!

Then it was back in the village for more play!! 

Finally, it was time to sing, Happy Birthday!  Cake/cupcakes were not included in the original package, however, you can order through their preferred vendor.  I decided to just bring our own gluten free cupcakes and brownies!

The party lasted two hours and I am very happy with how everything went- smoothly!  The kids took their projects home, plus they received another craft in their goodie bag, which was provided by Poughkidsie. #score

All the gifts were packed up in two bags for Sophia and Brayden which made leaving super easy.

I highly recommend Poughkidsie for birthday parties or even just an afternoon/morning of crafts and play.  The facility is clean and the owners and employees are friendly and hospitible. 
Sophia and Brayden both said they had a great time, playing with their friends and painting their dinosaur and hand mirror! 
Anddd as you can see, they had so much fun, they couldn't stay awake on the car ride home!   #missionaccomplished 

Check out Poughkidsie's website here for all the info! 

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Sophia's Birthday Celebration to American Girl!

This trip has been on my mind for the last two years.  Going to the American Girl Store is like a right-of-passage for a little girl.  
I wanted her first trip to be special and meaningful and I knew back when she was three, we would make our trip to the NYC American Girl Store to celebrate her fifth birthday!

Fast forward to #Sophiais5 and the time has finally come!

 I woke up super early (and giddy) to do my research as to how to navigate from Grand Central Terminal to AGS.  BTW- take the rear entrance out of Grand Central which brings you out to 47th and Madison.  You are literally less than 5 mins away from American Girl.  It was the BEST shortcut, ever! 
Props to NYC for the beautiful splashes of Spring!

The whole process can be extremely overwhelming, so first timers, be prepared!!
Sophia wasn't into a "girl" doll at first.  She wanted a "Bitty Baby" (mainly because that's all she plays with are "baby dolls".)  However, after showing her around and Daddy's magical ways, we were back looking through the two floors of "girl dolls" #waytogodaddy

I couldn't get over the "doll holder" in the bathroom... lol! 
And we finally have a winner, Rebecca!! 

Cafe Experience: A+

I have to admit, the price to eat lunch at the American Girl Cafe is "fair" for the amount of food you're given, plus being in NYC.  You can access the menu, here
The Cafe had a variety of gluten free entrees as well as providing the first/second-course gluten free.  I'm not going to lie, I was a nervous wreck after we ate, waiting for Sophia to get sick.  THANKFULLY, she was A-Ok!  
American Girl Cafe is definitely gluten free-friendly!
 Overall, the day was so memorable for all of us.
 Seeing Sophia interact with "Rebecca" after having her for a few days now just puts such a smile on my face.  Rebecca enjoys walking with Sophia, taking bathroom breaks, and changing into various outfits throughout the day.
 I think Sophia has herself a life-long friend in Rebecca ;)
And I'm not going to lie, I can't wait to go back ;)