Best Gifts for Teachers Under $20

Let’s be real.  Teachers are heroes.  Shower your teachers with love and thoughtfulness this year and here’s one way you can do it without breaking your back-to-school budget.

Addie’s first day of school is tomorrow!  And by school, I mean daycare.  But explaining the concept of “school” is much easier when conversing with a two-year-old, so it’s off to school she goes!  My sister has been a teacher for many years and I’ve come to deeply appreciate the dedication to education and the individual care and thought she gives to each and every student.  So, I wanted to do our very “first” first day of school up right for Addie’s teacher!

T.J. Maxx is my first stop for many-a-things.  Don’t get me wrong, there is a time and a place for Target but sometimes I can find just what I’m looking for at T.J. Maxx for half the price and with about half the distraction.  Plus, I know I am not the only one who gets a cheap thrill out of the “Regular Price” vs “Our Price” mind game. (See what I did there… “cheap thrill…” Oh, bless it.)

Best Gifts for Teachers under $20

Trail Mix: The way to a teacher’s heart is through their stomach.  That’s how the saying goes, right?  Grab a small bag of nuts, trail mix or dried fruit that they can stash in their desk drawer and sneak out during recess. $3.99 (originally $6.00)

Stationary: Cards are one of those things you always hope to have on hand but rarely think to buy, amiright?  Help your teacher stock up on thank-you notes and blank note-cards and let her focus on educating young minds.  Bonus points for fun and colorful designs! $1.99 for 10 cards (originally $8.00)

Nail Polish: Forget the Wet & Wild polish of your youth. Grab the good stuff for the person who is going to do you the favor of caring for your kid for eight hours a day. Some stellar brands include OPI and Essie. $3.99 (originally $10.00).

Travel-size Lotion: Pamper your teacher with some fresh, lightly fragranced lotion.  Pick a scent that’s agreeable like lavender or coconut.  Travel-sized bottles are perfect for stashing in their bag or school desk drawer for the drier, winter months. $1.99 (originally $5.00)

Small Candle: Our teachers are responsible for so much during the day.  Let them wind down in the evenings with a yummy, scented candle in a pretty jar.  “I hate candles.” – said no one ever. $2.99 (originally $8.00)

Gift Bag: Stash all the small gifts in a bright, fun bag, add some tissue paper and voila! Just remember the cardinal gift bag rule: refrain from writing on the bag tag so your thrifty teacher can re-use as they please.  It’s the gift (bag) that keeps on giving. $1.99 (originally $5.00)

Parents + Teachers: What’s your favorite back-to-school gifts to give or receive?

 

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Best Kid-friendly Restaurants and Bars in Seattle

Forget that frozen four-cheese pizza… every now and then, it’s good for us to go out and grab a nice (or at least, nicer) meal with our families.  Going out to dinner doesn’t have to be inherently stressful or expensive (or LAME!) with little ones – you’ve just got to pick the right place.

One truth I’ve discovered… it’s all about location, location, location.  There might be a super trendy, kid-friendly spot in Georgetown where kids eat free every night but you bet your happy hour hummus plate I am not driving more than 10 minutes to get my family seated for dinner.  Looking for an awesome restaurant or bar to grab a bite and a brew? Check out our favorite local watering holes in Northeast Seattle:

Watershed Pub and Kitchen : Look, when the hostess hands your two year old a dixie cup full of used crayons, you know they fully expect those crayons to be thrown on the ground at least a dozen times during your one hour meal.  I’ve never felt so free to let our daughter be “spirited” or “accidentally” draw on the table yet it felt like the food and beverage selection was nice enough for a date night out.  If you’re a planner like me, you’ll appreciate that they update their draft beer selection on their website daily.  Don’t forget to bring your empty growler so you can enjoy some craft beer or cider long after the kids go to sleep. (Northgate, 10104 3rd Ave NE, Seattle, WA 98125)

2C Thai Bistro & Spirits: When you walk into a restaurant, you will know if it is kid-friendly by the way the hostess greets your kid.  Do they take three Sasquatch-sized steps back in horror and disgust?  Probably not the dinner spot for you.  Step into Thai2C on Lake City and the entire staff will come out to greet your sticky kid and shower you with flowery compliments.  This place has the best chicken pad thai in the whole city (yeah, I said it) and the service is terrific from start to finish.  Moments after sitting down, the owner came out to say hello to our daughter and give her a plastic cup, silverware and then get this… she handed her a sheet of sparkly fish stickers.  Enjoy those stickers, darling… mommy and daddy are enjoying their pad see ew and crispy basil chicken. (Lake City, 12506 Lake City Way NE, Seattle, WA 98125)

Great State Burger:  If you’re into local, organically raised grass-fed beef, this is your haven.  If you’re into things that taste really, really good, this is your haven also.  Their burgers are so delicious, you will undoubtedly steal bites off your kid’s plate when they’re not looking.  Great State has some awesome outdoor seating on their rooftop patio, ideal for the nicer Seattle days.  Your kids will be mesmerized as the bikers and runners breeze by on the Burke Gilman Trail so you and your honey can maybe have a conversation between bites of crinkle cut fries. (Bryant, 3600 NE 45th St, Seattle, WA 98105)

Elliott Bay Brewing: Ya’ll, Lake City is on the rise!  This truly feels like the closest thing we have to a NW “Cheers” pub, where everybody knows your name.  Grab an organic, hand-crafted ale and order some ridiculous “No Doubt Stout Pulled Pork Sliders.”  Elliott Bay Brewing is all about sustainability but even if you don’t plan dinner about mother earth (insert judgey eyes here), your taste buds will still appreciate the delectable breads and brews which are additive-free and preservative-free.  The dining space is huge with ample seating for your whole family.  It’s loud enough that if your kid yells a bit, no one will look up from their IPA but not too loud where you won’t be able to swap stories about your day.  Happy hour runs 3-6pm (weeknights only) so grab your diaper bag or backpack of distracting goodies and park in the back lot. (Lake City, 12537 Lake City Way NE, Seattle, WA 98125)

Mioposto: This is the spot we bring our friends and family who are visiting Seattle which tells you that the food is high quality, the service is spot-on and the ambience is dreamy.  It’s got that idyllic brick interior that makes you feel worlds away.  Can’t go to Rome on a Tuesday after work? Oh well, Mioposto will do.  Our go-to is the Proscuitto Arugula pizza with their happy hour house wine (HH is from 4-6pm daily).  Does your kid like pizza and garlic bread?  Do you like to feel a little fancy while eating pizza and garlic bread, as is your God-given right as a grown adult?  Done deal.  Just get there before the dinner rush – it’s a cozy spot and fills up quick after 6pm. (Bryant, 3426 NE 55th St, Seattle, WA 98105)

Tsui Sushi: Now that you’re a parent, do you think your sashimi eating days are over?  Nope. Tsui Sushi refreshes your sushi-loving soul with their fresh, affordable and sizable rolls and nigiri.  Plenty of seating will make your family’s happy hour experience divine (happy hour runs 5-10pm daily!) If you’re worried your kiddo won’t like sushi as much as you do, order some edamame and let them go crazy with soy sauce.  I’m not even kidding, they will give your kid child-friendly chopsticks that look like sumo wrestlers plus a plastic cup for water as soon as you sit down.  It’s like they want you and your wackadoodle family there or something. Your little ones might not be able to resist trying a California roll once they pick up those rubbery training chopsticks and hear the staff’s encouragement. (Green Lake, 6421 Latona Ave NE, Seattle, WA 98115)

Eureka!: A few moments after being seated, your waiter will bring your kid a plate of healthy goodies like watermelon, avocado and/or carrots at no additional charge.  If that doesn’t scream kid-friendly, I don’t know what does.  While your kid munches on their freebie appetizer, you’ll have a moment to pick your drink of choice from their lengthy beverage list, chalk full of craft beers and small-batch spirits.  Try the Cowboy burger, fish tacos or share a few smaller plates off the happy hour menu (which runs daily from 2-6pm). They don’t take reservations though so get there early to put your name in, then head across the way to Amazon’s bookstore.  Our wait time has never been more than 10 minutes. (Bryant, 2614 NE 46th St, Seattle, WA 98105)

Mama Stortini’s: If your family eats on the later side, you can always count on Mama Stortini’s at Northgate.  The have plenty of tables and can seat large parties with no wait, post 6pm.  Their happy hour is ridiculous – running ALL DAY Sunday and Monday, plus 3-6pm every other day of the week.  And goodness, that happy hour menu is extensive!  It’s the length of a normal menu with something for everyone.  Our favorites include: Roasted Tuscan Meatballs, Drive-in Cheeseburger, and the Grilled Salmon Sliders plus wine because #mamassippycup. The wait staff makes it a point to stoop down to say hello to your kid and supply the token box of four crayons with activity page.  I’ve never felt judged for the mess we’ve inadvertently left on the floor at Mama Stortini’s.  Which reminds me… tip well, fellow parents. (Northgate, 401 NE Northgate Way #1103, Seattle, WA 98125)

Books to Read in 2017, Part 1

Each year, Tyler and I set goals for ourselves as individuals as well as a few shared goals (take a trip to a new place, save up a certain amount of money, etc.)  In previous years, my goals have included trying 2-3 new recipes per week, having better boundaries with technology, and taking a class at the University of Washington.  While our goals vary from year to year, they always include a reading goal.  This year, I kicked it up to 15 books in 2017.  Also, true story, we made our 2017 goals a quarter of the way through the year… because that’s life sometimes.

It doesn’t always feel like there are enough minutes in the day to read something for myself but that’s where my beloved Audible subscription comes in.  I can listen to books while I”m folding laundry, on my way to work, or while getting ready in the morning. I went through at least half of these books on Audible.  The other half, I read on my Kindle mostly before bed (with the brightness turned waaaay down low because #marriagemeanscompromise).

My 2017 reading list so far has included…

1. Smart Girl, Rachel Hollis

3rd book in Hollis’ trilogy so I was already attached to the characters.  It’s nice to have a series that isn’t technically a teen novel or overtly sexualized.  Just a good, ol’ fashioned romance novel. Easy and fun read, great for a vacation.  7/10

2. Talking As Fast As I Can, Lauren Graham

Have you ever seen Gilmore Girls? No?  Stop reading this and go binge watch every single episode and then read this book.  And if you also love Parenthood (wait, how could you not?), you’ll love the behind scenes look into Lauren Graham’s life.  8/10

3. Influence, Robert Chaldini

Want to get people to do stuff? There are some practical and genuine ways to influence those around you.  I worried it would just make me into a master manipulator but instead, it gave me insight into what motivates others.  Longer read with a large dose of psychology. 8/10

4. It Ends with Us, Colleen Hoover

Umm. No. I thought this was a romance novel.  It was more about stalking / a physically abusive relationship / death… I was unprepared and kind of sad.  Maybe the title should have tipped me off?  4/10

5. In a Dark, Dark Wood, Ruth Ware

Another creepy one… but this time, I was ready! If you like being spooked, it’s a decent page turner. Ware also wrote “Woman in Cabin 10” which I think I liked even better. 7/10

6. Lean In, Sheryl Sandberg

Okay, so I’m like 4 years late to this party but… This is a must read – for men and women.  I read this a few weeks after returning to work from parental leave and it was especially engaging as a newly working mom. Has anyone read her newest book, Plan B?  It’s next on my list. 9/10

7. Big Little Lies, Liane Moriarty

So confession, I started watching this TV show and then right before watching the last episode, I bought the book. The book was great, the TV show was fantastic. If you’ve already watched the show, I’d still recommend the book.  There are some big differences (the show is set on the white sandy beaches of Carmel, California while the book is set in Australia!) 8/10

8. Hillbilly Elegy, J.D. Vance

Whoa.  This book is all the rage right now for good reason.  The storyline is heartbreakingly moving.  A real page turner for our current economical time in America. Also, Bill Gates read it and liked it soooo…. 10/10

Working Moms: How to Avoid the Shame Spiral

Around Addie’s 2nd birthday, I posted some observations about her as a real and unique little person as well as some of my reflections on motherhood, specifically what it’s like to be a mom who is also working outside of the home.  It garnered responses like “Wow, someone else is right there with me in this” and “Thank you for sharing, can you do it more often so I feel slightly less crazy?” So friends, back to the blog I go…

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The makers of the Audible are my heroes.  They make my 15-30 minute commute purposeful, might I even say, enjoyable.  It’s a monthly subscription for $14.95 per month and worth every bit of my sanity.  Plus when you’re at dinner parties and people begin to share what fancy books they’ve read recently, you can have something better to contribute that your deep musings on the latest edition of, “Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?” (Why does the teacher look so mad? That is such a diverse classroom of children… way to be ahead of your time, Eric Carle!)

My most recent audiobook: Of Mess and Moxie written by Jen Hatmaker.  I’m only three chapters in (AKA one round trip commute to and from the office) and my mommy worldview has already been blown to pieces.  I’ve also laughed out loud a noteworthy amount of times because Hatmaker’s commentary is both moving and hysterical.

My favorite part so far — Jen’s youngest daughter, Remy, asked her to come have lunch at her elementary school sometime that week.  Jen consulted her calendar and found that she had her workdays already booked up.  She told her daughter that she couldn’t come.  After breaking the news to Remy, she sulked around the house for a while and then came up to Jen and said, “It’s alright, Mom.  I forgive you.”

And Jen’s reaction is priceless:

No. Nope. No ma’am. Forgiveness is offered for someone who has wronged you.  Not a mother who has a job during your 11:10am lunch slot…  My work is not a sin against you, child of sorrow. Most moms on the entire earth work, in fact.  I refused to sink into a shame spiral because I didn’t grant my snowflake’s particular wish, especially because we spend most of every day in the same house together.  A few years ago, that would have sent me to the prayer closet, wringing my hands, yet again, at how often I wound my children.  I might have let that seep into my thoughts, poisoning my hope for their healthy childhoods and our future relationship.  I may have immediately compiled a list of all the moms who would have dropped everything, rearranged an entire day to make it happen.  The ones who already eat at their kid’s school twice a week…  Instead I said, ‘Sorry kid.  Have a great day.  See you at 2:45.’ And shocker… she was fine.  You guys, the kids are fine.  We are fine.

Oh, this is gold.  I think the line that was especially sobering to me was “most moms on the entire earth work.” When did not working outside the home become the goal in my mind?? Before I had Addie, I remember pleading with my stay at home mom friends… “I just don’t want to work… I want to be home… How can I make this happen?” But what I was really thinking was, “I SHOULD be home.  To be a good mom, I NEED to be home.”  But how does that apply to all of the women who actually don’t even have the choice?  Does this mean that there are only good moms in countries, family units, cities that have the financial security or family support to even have that choice?  Nay.

But I had a choice – and I chose to work.  And there are moments, I feel that “shame spiral” creep in… What if I can’t always be there to put her to bed because I have a work dinner? What if her hair is a bit “cutting edge” sometimes because I’m not always the one getting her ready in the morning? If she still sometimes cries as I walk out the door to head to work, does she know I still love her like crazy? Am I totally screwing her up by working – moreover, am I willingly CHOOSING to screw her up?  In these moments, I’ll look to Hatmaker’s sage wisdom:

“No. Nope. No ma’am…  My work is not a sin against you…  You guys, the kids are fine. We are fine. ”

See you at 4:30pm, Addie girl.

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Traveling with an Infant (Baby’s First Flight)

Tyler and I love to travel which is a good thing since his family lives in Tennessee and all of my family reside down in California.  Addie’s first trip (and subsequent two trips) were planned before she was born.  First stop – Nashville.

How the heck do you travel with an 11 week old?  Is it safe?  Can it still be fun?  I vote yes.  Actually, this is probably the easiest flight we’ll have.  Some things I learned about traveling with an infant from our first experience + some advice from other moms and dads that I’ll turn to in the future.

Getting Through the Airport:

  • Be flexible.  Throw your BabyWise routine out the window for the duration of your transit because airports and plane rides are way too fun and stimulating for your baby to sleep all the way through.
  • Respond kindly when the elderly tell you that your daughter is very “handsome.” (And apparently, I need to dress Addie in more pink until her hair grows out.)
  • Carseats and Strollers are hecka expensive so protect them with travel bags when possible.  Some airlines offer these bags for $1 per item, per flight which you can purchase when checking in at the counter.  Worth it. (Thanks for the tip, Tyler and Kim Gorsline!)
  • Dragging along the carseat base is worth it.  Stow it in the basket of your stroller and connect it to your carseat before leaving it on the jetway.
  • Easiest way to get through security with a baby (whether by yourself or traveling with a companion) is to “wear” your baby in a carrier.  If you have your baby in a carseat/stroller, you must remove them to pass through the checkpoint.  If you wear your baby, they just swab your hands with a wand or some magic wizard paper and send you on your merry way.
  • Think carefully about your shoe choice.  I mistakenly wore snug, tall boots and had to concentrate prettttty hard to not topple over when taking them on and off while having Addie suction-cupped to my chest in her carrier.
  • When purchasing your obligatory airport Starbucks coffee, order a grande in a vente cup.  They’ll look confused when you do this but the extra room in the cup will keep your caffiene from spewing all over your precious cargo when stowed in your stroller cup holder. (Credit for this wisdom goes to Ginger Schilperoot)
  • Once you arrive at your gate, ask them for “gate check” tags for stroller/carseat.  You can bring your goods down the jetway, right up to the point before you step onto the plane.  They’ll be waiting there for you there as you deboard the plane.
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Our “handsome” daughter not sleeping while we strolled

While on the Plane:

  • Ask for help.  People (husbands included) love helping moms with their hands full of baby + baby goods.  And when your husband offers to change the diaper, let him.  It’s his adventure, too!
  • Changing a diaper on a plane — I totally googled that before we left.  Ever noticed a changing table in the bathroom on an airplane before having a kid?  Yeah, me neither… but it’s in there!  We love our BRICA goPad Diaper Changer which holds some diapers, wipes, plastic bags (for dirty diaper storage when you don’t have access to a trash can), and a fold out changing pad.  I’m not a germophobe but it was nice to have the pad between that airplane changing table and Addie’s baby butt. Having the diaper changing clutch made it easy to grab the baby and go rather than shleping the whole diaper bag into that tiny airplane washcloset.
  • Mama sits on the aisle, especially if you’re nursing or have a fussy wee one so you can get up easily and bounce around.  It was also nice to nurse with the privacy of the aisle on one side and Tyler blockading me on the other side.  I’m not ashamed of nursing my baby but it’s more comfortable for everyone involved if my suckling child’s head isn’t hitting some stranger in the elbow.
  • Nurse, bottle feed or pop in a pacifier during take off and landing.  It apparently helps your babe’s ears regulate the change in cabin pressure.
  • Babies can’t hang out in the Ergo (or other front facing baby carriers) during take off or landing.  This one doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to me.  The stewardess said if we stopped abruptly, the baby would be smashed between me and the seat in front of me — but how is holding the baby against my chest any safer?  Will I throw the baby up in the air and then she’ll land safely in my arms after deceleration? Whatever.  I’m just bitter because I hate getting reprimanded.
  • Use your dismantled baby carrier as a pillow between your arm and the armrest.  Addie slept for a good portion of our 5 hour flight and the support kept my cradling arm relatively comfortable.
  • If you’re flying alone, find a kind looking “grandma” type of person to sit next to who can help when you’re in a pickle. (Thanks Samantha Weinhausen!)
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Right before I got reprimanded for being an infant-wearing liability.

What to Bring on the Plane:

  • An extra set of clothes for your baby and an extra shirt for yourself/anyone else holding your baby.  Addie doesn’t spit up much so we took a gamble and did not bring extra items for ourselves (this is as close to the casino as I’ve gotten since the day before Addie was born, so sad.)
  • A blanket, maybe two.  Airplanes get chilly.  It’s no coincidence that the body language for “I’m cold.” and “I’m angry with you.” are the same.
  • A kindle or iPad for yourself.  Something you can operate and enjoy with one hand as the other may be occupied with a snoozing babe.
  • A book or two, a toy or two.  We brought too much stuff.  Adeline is 11 weeks old and could have been entertained with our fingers.

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Our next adventure will be our trip to California for Thanksgiving at which point, Adeline will be 18 weeks old.  I’ve been told that adjustments will need to be made as she gets older so more learnings to come in November!

Strolling the Poo Poo Point Trail with a Baby

Yes, that’s actually what it’s called.  Addie’s first day hike was along the Poo Poo Point trail.  How apropos for a newborn.

Here’s a handy tip: the Poo Poo Point trail (PPPT) is NOT the same as the better-known trail UP TO Poo Poo Point.

Our intention was to take Adeline, her Uncle Travis and Aunt Maggie up the novice 0.8 mile trail to the Poo Poo Point lookout, brew some backpackers beer and recline in our A-lites, soaking in the sun and the incredible view.  So being the party planner that I am, I read off the directions to the trail head for The Poo Poo Point trail (MISTAKE) and after a quick nursing session in the backseat of the car, off we went.  Addie’s first hike!  I could hardly contain my excitement.

Pretty quickly, we all sensed something was off.  Turns out the trail we were on did not lead us to the point in 0.8 miles but rather in 7.4 miles with over 1,800 feet in elevation gain. Umm. K.

Not to be braggy, but Tyler and I have definitely hiked more than that in our heyday but this scenario was a bit different.  We had intended to do this “quick hike” which I was sure Addie would mostly sleep through in the Ergo and then head off to a tried and true winery nearby.  It was the only sunny day of Maggie and Travis’s visit and we wanted to make the most of it.  So we decided to give up the Poo Poo Point dream and veer off onto another trail we came across called ADVENTURE TRAIL!  Well, that sounded even more perfect!!

Except “Adventure Trail” quickly turned into “Puget Power Trail” (yes, that was its actual name) which followed some towering power lines along a flat and brown gravely service road for 2 miles.

I think I was the most disappointed hiker in our group.  Addie’s first hike was supposed to be grand, full of wonder, PERFECT.  Except that’s not real life, is it?  We ended up somewhere we didn’t plan.  But after those two miles or so of power lines, we spotted another trail head – one that looked like it led into a forest of old growth and a soft, damp trail.

I don’t even know what that trail was called but we walked a few yards in, set up our hammock and chairs and sat back to enjoy.  It wasn’t the perfectly orchestrated hike I had envisioned but I should probably wise up quick to the fact that most of what you lay out as a parent will not go as planned.  And I could either a) sulk, unleash my frustration on those around me and be full of regret or b) adjust, make up songs with my husband, brother and sis-in-law about power lines, and allow God to take us somewhere unplanned.

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Strolling into Mamma Melina with a Baby

Maternity leave has been dreamy.  I’ll be real, I wasn’t sure how it was going to go down.  I have had a job non-stop for the last 15 years and I’m not exactly what you’d label an “idle” person.  Sure, babies are a sizable amount of work but they also sleep.  Like, often.  What would I do with all of the newborn nap time?  Sleep?  Meh.  I’m not much of a napper.  Watch Bravo TV until my eyes bleed?  Sure, I’ve done that here and there.  Could newborn nap time have more purpose?  This question is still a bit of a mystery as I try to find the balance between “resting” and serving others with this insane gift of spare time.  I am #blessed to be off work until January 11.  Lots more strolling and contemplating to be had.

One big benefit to this chunk of baby-bonding time is coupled with the fact that my husband’s job is extremely flexible so he can sometimes join our strolls, creating impromptu mid-day dates.

Background: By nature, I desire stability while Tyler has always been more comfortable as a risk-taker.  Becoming a real estate broker was pretty risky and it took a lot of faith and prayer for me to get 100% on board.  Had I known it would be such an ideal fit for Tyler in every which way, I wouldn’t have dragged my feet.  And had I thought about what it would mean for his ability to spend so much time with me and Adeline, I would have ordered his first set of business cards years ago.

Today was one of those flexible days for Tyler so he joined us for a little stroll around University Village.  Once we had our window shopping fill, we decided to grab some dinner down the street at Mamma Melina.

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When it comes to happy hour seating, Mamma Melina has two options – 1. the bar area (which technically doesn’t allow minors, no matter how cute – see above) and 2. two couch seats which both happened to be occupied.  The rest of the restaurant was empty (apparently, no one else eats dinner at 3:52pm… wutt?) so the bartender/waitress went out of her way to get us happy hour priced seating in the main dining area.  Her words: “I refuse to turn you away – we’ll make it work for you three.  You deserve this.”  What a lovely way to be greeted as new parents!  HERO TREATMENT!  I will take it.

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There was plenty of room to park our stroller right next to our table.  Oh, and free street parking plus a free 3-hour lot underneath the restaurant.  Quality, substantial, well priced happy hour food plus adult beverages running from 3-6pm (longer on Tuesdays and Thursdays).  The best part of having a little impromptu date night with your newborn at Mamma Melina? Hands down – the art that’s uniquely displayed on the ceiling!  Perfect for newborn gazing from a reclined stroller.

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Side note: Tyler drew a fascinating parallel between a) newborns strapped into car seats which are snapped into strollers and b) old men snoozing in La-Z-Boy recliners on casters.  Next risky business venture? Possibly.

Mamma Melina offered us a place loud enough to belly laugh and not get starred at but quiet enough to hear each other the first time (a delicate balance for a date night choice).  While Addie snoozed, we reminisced about our teenage years with braces (I dutifully wore my rubber bands, he did not), what it will be like to travel to Nashville in October with a baby (he will masterfully pack and prepare our gear, I will bring a boatload of snacks), and how good prosciutto is on pizza (duh).