A new Lew

Didn’t have a camera by my side this time
Hoping I would see the world with both my eyes
Maybe I will tell you all about it when I’m
In the mood to lose my way with words

-John Mayer

I’ve been living life and being less reflective over the last year – in part because I’ve had a forever growing to do list and now have a little one that I want to spend all my time with when he’s awake. When he’s asleep I’m trying to fit in work, a workout, or of course some sleep myself. However, I do enjoy having this little place in the world to share my life with loved ones. Something that is probably more important now that I live on the opposite coast, and boy do those 3 hours difference in time make it hard to find time for a nice phone chat. No promises on regular blogging because in this current state of sleep deprivation I definitely remember less…although that is also incentive to blog.
I wasn’t sure where to start, again a lot has happened in the last year-but, nothing as important as the birth of my baby boy-Walker Kenneth Scott Lew!! For this reason I’ll start with his birth story. I actually wrote this some time ago as a letter to Walker and will share here in that format.

April 15, 2018

Dear Walker,

You have been in my life for just 8 days and despite the fatigue, I’ve never felt such joy in my life. Tears are currently flowing as I write. When you aren’t in my arms I just want to look at pictures of you-probably not the best idea as I need sleep, but you’re so stinking cute. I’ve also never loved your father so much. He was the ultimate support during my 48 hours of contractions-more on that later, and is taking his own sleep deprivation rather well as he keeps you in clean diapers and momma fed so I can keep you fed.

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To be honest, I did not love the last few weeks of pregnancy. I was huge, my belly button felt awkward and tender, and I just didn’t feel like working anymore. I wanted to hold you and feel those powerful kicks on the outside. I did my best to get in 1-3 miles/day of walking and some form of prenatal yoga to get labor progressing and you in the correct position.

After my 38 week appointment I had daddy do acupuncture, well pressure, every night and at the recommendation of my doctor I picked up my breast pump and had every intention of using it to stimulate labor, but it was never needed. I picked up the pump on a Thursday morning and all through the day had some mild contractions. Feeling rather uncomfortable I decided it would be my last day in the office and I cleaned up my desk, locked things up and returned a book I had checked out to the library. By the time I got home contractions were picking up and after watching an episode of Atlanta I told daddy that I thought this was the real deal. With that in mind I headed to bed early thinking it might be the best night of sleep I would have in sometime. I was right. I slept rather well and woke for some of the more intense contractions, but come 1 am things seemed to have slowed down. I woke at my regular 6:30, disappointed that things were not further progressing. Daddy suggested I drink water, thinking that I was dehydrated, and just like that the contractions were back. Unfortunately they were still rather slow, about 10-15 minutes apart and only 20-30 seconds in duration.

 

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I’m not 100% what my thought process was that day-maybe I didn’t think it was the real thing since they had stopped in the middle of the night and so once I was slightly more slept, and fed I did a little work. Things were rather consistently mild at this point with moments of increased intensity so I went and took a nap. I urged your father to do the same, but he was nesting or something and was running around the house cleaning, setting up the birth announcement email, etc. By the time he could have napped the contractions picked up in intensity and I needed him to massage through the contractions. Sometime around 3pm I decided I was done with work and daddy suggested we go for a walk. Best idea that I didn’t want to do because things started to pick up at this point. Much more so than any bouncing on a ball, lunges, or squatting had done all morning.  When we got back we watched the rest of Bates Motel (3 episodes until we finished the series), ordered pizza for dinner-which they overcharged us for and ended up calling to fix their error as we were leaving for the hospital, and started a puzzle. Around 8pm I suggested we try to get some sleep since we were likely going to be up all night. Well I couldn’t sleep with what I thought was intense pain. To be honest I know things got more intense as the night and morning progressed, but in hindsight from this point on they kind of registered the same. I know I coped with contractions differently as they progressed, but I can’t say I registered that pain as any worse.

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Come 11:30 pm we reached the point of contractions being 5 minutes apart, 1 minute in duration, for 1 hour. The 5-1-1 that had been drilled into our heads during classes, hospital tour, and by my OB. I waited it out for another 30 minutes at home before getting into the car and making our way to the hospital. Everytime we hit a bump a contraction was induced. We reached the hospital, easily found parking, and headed to labor and delivery. We went to triage where I was given the news that while fully effaced I was only 2cm. This news relayed by a resident who thought it was important to keep some level of modesty when I was taking down my pants to check for dilation. Modesty at this point seemed silly when she was not only about to go way up inside me, but I would basically be naked for the next 72 hours. Anyhow, an attending came and chatted with me about my options-walk around the empty hospital for two hours or go home. Going home didn’t seem ideal because I wasn’t sure when the appropriate time would be to return. If we were told 5-1-1, how do I know when it was time to come back? However, by staying things might not progress, we might still have to return home, and Daddy would still be without sleep. To be honest I can’t recall the thing that made me decide to go home, a lot of labor was just listening to my intuition, which told me to go home to my own comfort and get Daddy sleep.

The moment we go back home things immediately got more intense. I tried to sleep, but could not and headed for the bath. I also brought along my essential oil diffuser and music. Both proved to be key for my relaxation throughout labor. Between the bed, bath, and toilet (surprisingly good place to labor) I was able to give Daddy 2-3 hours of sleep and he was able to massage me as I slept in between 40 minutes of contractions, half on my left side and half on my right. At this point it was about 7am and knowing that Mei needed her walk I suggested that we all go for a walk. This walk was again key for getting things progressing. That and having to walk up and down the stairs in order to get outside. During the walk we had to stop every hour while I moaned and danced out a contraction-I swore I would not use that move when we were taught it in our various classes. From there I did some positions on my knees-always the most painful position. Perhaps that meant it was the most needed (something to keep in mind when I am crazy enough to do this again). I got into the tub once more. At this point contractions were three minutes apart one minute or more in duration. After chatting with our doula I was confident that staying at home was still the best option. However, once I got out of the tub and laid down, after a few more cat/cows, for ~40 minutes, I knew it was time to go. Things were fast and my mind just said let’s go.

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Now this is where things got interesting…it was 11:30 am and traffic time in Portland-even on a Saturday. Daddy opted for our back road route (meaning all of the curves in the road), while contractions continued every 2-3 minutes and I had to cope on my own. Which meant lots of moans and hitting the dashboard in a rhythmic fashion. As we continued down the windy roads I was starting to think that daddy was taking us to Gabriel Park, the family clinic practice where we had our childbirth classes. Unfortunately I said nothing and daddy didn’t realize until we were three minutes from Gabriel Park, but another 15 minutes from OHSU. Once finally there we could not find parking in the emergency section and were unsure if valet parking was available on the weekends. Thus after getting stuck in the emergency parking area for a minute, we ventured to Kohler (our go to for regular Women’s health appointments) and found parking. I could not walk at this point and needed daddy to get a wheelchair. After stopping twice to stand and work through a contraction and race through the surprising number of people in the hospital we made it to labor and delivery. Triage went much faster this time-I guess they could sense my progression through the level of contraction and my moaning? I was quickly checked for my cervix dilation and was happy to hear I was at six centimeters. In my mind I was thinking four centimeters and that it would still be several more hours at the hospital until I was at ten.

At this point, tears started-but they were all happy, well that and maybe sleep deprivation. All the same the nurses tried to get me quickly moving so I could get some nitrous oxide. It did little to relieve any pain, but did help me to relax, which was probably the most important thing because I was able to cope with each contraction through breath control when relaxed. In the meanwhile they were also trying to get in my IV-apparently quite the challenge when they have one minute to place before I need to work through another contraction.

Once they finally had the IV in place I without thought mentioned that I was having the urge to push. Really I just assumed the pressure was the need for my water to break. But the nurse actually thought I might need to be checked again for my cervix. I brushed off that need and went into the tub.

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Jessie, our doula arrived at that point, and set up lavender and candles and took all the pictures of that lovely time. After 40 minutes in the tub, where I was forced to switch to shallow breathing mostly to avoid the urge to push, I got out and attempted to go to the bathroom. That’s when my water broke. We moved to the hospital bed on all 4s, but a resident quickly came in to check my cervix and informed me via translation of Jessie that I was fully dilated and that it was time to push.

 

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Pushing was by far the hardest thing and the movement I was least prepared. They say push like you’re going to poop, but I never have poos that require anything near that level of pressure. After about an hour of pushing and a slight tear, I welcomed you into this world-4:24pm on April 7th to be precise. You had your hands in your mouth, had quite the vocals, and eyes that were trying to open. I immediately loved you, but was surprised not to cry. I think I was just so shocked that you were here, two maybe three hours in the hospital and you were here!

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Now, not going to lie, recovery-between the stitches and diastasis recti/umbilical hernia are going to take some time to repair, but, that is not part of my birth story, its part of my recovery and so I will conclude here.

Love you with all my heart baby boy!!

 

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Summer songs

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Guilty pleasures…Justin’s got me again. I immediately thought this song was catchy but it wasn’t until Gov Ball with Chance the Rapper’s performance of his rap verse that I was sold.

Did a great dance routine to this during one of my classpass classes…she’s an underrated artist.

Future’s Mask Off…but with the “Mask Off Challenge” back to loving Chace the Rapper.

Another Calvin Harris summer hit.

Nick Jonas (does anyone else confuse him and Joe…maybe its just me since I wasn’t a Jonas Brothers fan…but this song is hot!!).

Catch ya on the dance floor,

Nicole

Yummy food

Hello!

I’ve just returned to Portland after a tour of the northeast. I flew into Philadelphia over a week ago and headed to New York to catch up with old friends and catch performances by Chance the Rapper and Childish Gambino at Governor’s Ball. From there I took a 3 AM bus from New York to Boston and arrived with enough time to drop my bags off at the Airbnb that I was sharing with coworkers, wash my face, grab a coffee, and head to my science conference. This past Wednesday I hopped on a plane back to Philadelphia and grabbed a late lunch with my cousin before heading to my grandmother’s house. Thursday/Friday I attended a machine learning workshop in Center City Philadelphia and visited with more family in the evenings. Friday night I headed to my mom’s house so we could catch up and then 6 AM Sunday morning I was on a plane back to Portland, OR.

In between all of that, I found out someone from my elementary school passed away from a drug overdose. This the second person from my elementary school in less than a year. To say the least I’m intellectually and emotionally exhausted, but extremely grateful that I was able to mix work travel with quality time with my loved ones.

I also got to eat some amazing food during my travels and came home to a seasonal dinner prepped by my husband that consisted of scallops, Dungeness crab, scallions, and asparagus. He’s the best!

For dessert, he made a blueberry and lime tart!

Brunch with Lily in New York at Bondurants…we got all the food 😉 including jalapeno deviled eggs and homemade tater tots:

I also had some amazing wines from Terroir Tribeca…I look forward to my next New York trip just so Ryan can put his hands in the fate of the awesome sommeliers and the wine list of Terroir.

Have a great week!

Nicole

Deep Breath

Hey Readers,

It’s been a week-no!? I saw this cartoon on my facebook this afternoon and it is certainly ringing true. This weekend was not productive at least in terms of all the writing I need to do because I work in the science community. A community that the administration attempted to silence earlier this week, a community where co-workers are scared about their visa status and what might happen if they leave the United States for a conference or to visit loved ones outside of the country.

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I am however encouraged by the thousands of Americans who continue to show up and use the power of speech to express disapproval. I am encouraged and well in tears, over the acceptance speeches delivered by Mahershala Ali and Taraji P Henson who spoke of unity and coming together as a human race.

That all said, we will get through these 4 years and in the meanwhile our mental health must stay intact.  In a continual effort to find a work-life and now media consumption balance, I tried out two new classes this week thanks to classpass – a boxing class and an aerial class.

When signing up for the two classes I was terrified of the concept of boxing; the movies always make boxing gyms seem to ratty and a boys club. In the end I think it might easily become my favorite form of exercise. I’m sure it helped that the instructor and the next student to arrive were both women. During the 30 minute interval training style workout I moved between various punching and kicking bags with a few plyometric workouts mixed in between for an overall sweaty routine. I go back on Wednesday and cannot wait!

The aerial class on the other hand…well, I was so out of my comfort zone. After a quick warm-up and stretch we immediately went into headstands…which I could not do. We then proceeded to bar activities, and again I couldn’t pull myself up in order to flip my legs over the bar. In the end the instructor ended up assisting me. I know we all start from somewhere, but it was extremely frustrating. I left feeling not only deflated but like I needed to go for a run. I don’t think I’ve felt that way since a swim class when I was 5…actually I usually feel this way after bouldering. I guess sports that involve upper body strength are not my cup of tea. I mean really  they have never been even as a child I avoid monkey bars like the plague. I was not able to successful able to cross until high school or maybe even college.  I also need to sweat in a workout to feel like my workout was productive. I know that’s not true for everyone but it’s what I need, and really it does not take much to make me sweat – I even sweat in pilates. I know I should go back, continue to work on my strength and gain some confidence, but my time is so limited. Would it not be better to just focus on activities that give me the needed adrenaline? I don’t know, so conflicted…I’ll let you know if I end up going back.

Take care,

Nicole

Review of Crunch Live

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As noted a couple of post back it took me some time after moving to Portland to find my fitness flow. Upon further thought the first month or so the days were long, the sky was clear, and the temperatures were warm…warm without humidity- a novel thing for this east coast girl. As a result, after work I just wanted to be outside walking, running, playing with the pup, hiking on the weekends, getting the house in order, or attempting to get a late summer garden started. The last was a fail, but provided a nice introduction into moss, slugs, nutrient poor soil, and roots. Now I have about 3 months to research into these hurdles for more success in the spring.

Once a large grant was in and the rains began in October I was in search for better indoor programs. At the time I looked into Crunch Live, and just like with my ClassPass experience, if you go to a website and then leave without completing your account setup (i.e., payment) you’ll likely be given some kind of discount in an effort to lock you in!

Crunch offered a month free for unlimited access to their catalog of online workouts. When I went to leave after this month I was given another 30 days free. At first I was pretty excited. Many of my New York crunch instructors had available videos and at first glance there were a lot of videos. However, once I started exploring and using the workouts it was clear that I was only interested in the chisel classified workouts. Crunch classes are classified as chisel (strength based, usually with HIIT mixed in), dance rhythms (I think the name speaks for itself), and mind and body (yoga, barre, and pilates-although the last two were also considered chisel). Most of the available online classes were only 30 minutes in length, with a few 45-60 minute classes, and 10-15 minute classes for quick workouts. I used the 10-15 min classes for stretching after working out on my own. The 30-minute programs were too short and given their structure if I combined two back-to-back videos I still wanted more – most workouts are organized such that 5 minutes are warm-up, 10 minutes of intense workout, 10 minutes of ab work, and a 5 minute cool down. Combining two videos would result in 20 minutes of ab work. That might be okay once in a while, but I don’t need that much everyday. To be honest I rarely intentionally workout my abs, your abs should be engaged throughout the day and in just about every exercise so they are already getting stronger. As a result without doing a single crunch I have no problem holding a 5-minute plank.

Additionally, the site boast about new routines added regularly. After 2 months nothing new had been added to the site and I was bored with the available options-so I deactivated my account.

I do think the catalog could be a useful resource for beginners, just about every workout has a modifier, unfortunately the instructor did not always remember to explain the modifications.

Overall, I give Crunch Live a thumb down (but not two 😉 ). There are many better resources for at home workouts include the Beach Body series and the thousands of videos online-granted they take some time to weed through to find the best. I would reconsider trying the site again if they included more 45-60 min workouts and committed to adding a new workout once/week.

What’s your favorite at home resource?

Nicole

Christmas things 2016

Hey-

This post has been sitting in drafts for the last 5 days because I’m still trying to figure out sharing photos via my old means! I found a temporary solution….

How is the year of 2016 nearly over! It’s been a whirlwind of a year with some good (move to Portland, buying our first home) but lots of bad (death of my uncle, death of middle school friend, election of Trump).

Additionally, up until this week it has not felt like Christmas. In New York it seemed like nonstop parties from Thanksgiving until New Year’s. I enjoyed having a party month because I had the opportunity to decorate the house, event plan, see friends, dress up, and bake-all my favorite things. Having events throughout an entire month also meant that I approached the season as a marathon and not a sprint and learned to pace myself -mostly eat items I wouldn’t make myself or seasonal treats. With fewer events this year I’ve overdone it at my couple of Christmas events and I am already okay with saying goodbye to sweets and hello salad.

Hopeful my workout plan will help to make me feel slightly less guilty about the chocolate gifts I keep receiving, the 2 holiday parties I have this week, and the Christmas day eating I have left:

Sunday-30 min lower body, lower impact Hiit

Monday-off

Tuesday-upper body and spin

Wednesday-OFF because I was stuck in traffic and missed my class! By the time I got home I was ready to pass out and sleep, sigh.

Thursday-60 min cardio and back/shoulders

Friday-60 min cardio and legs

Saturday-pilates and cardio

Portland is quite festive this time of year and we were able to find time last weekend to attend both Zoo Lights at the Oregon Zoo and Peacock Lane – a small area in the city where all the neighbors decorate their house and open themselve up for the masses who drive or walk through their neighborhood to have a look.

Pioneer square tree in downtown Portland.

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How are you enjoying the holiday season?

Using different a muscle

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Hey all-

It’s not suppose to snow in Portland, but today it snowed…for oh maybe about an hour. From then its been a mixture of rain and freezing rain – enough to shut the city down. I worked from home. Ryan, because he’s able to walk to work went in to his office, but officially his office was also closed. I’m not gonna lie, I very much like living in a city that doesn’t know how to handle snow. Work from home and enjoy the flakes from the warmth of my house-just how I like snow!

I think this is the first December in several yeas that makes me think Christmas. If I recall it was in the 70s last year for Christmas in Philadelphia.

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In the evening I opened up an old sketch book from high school, it was nice trip through memory lane and a reminder that at one time I devoted a fair amount of time to art. At this point I seem to only pull from my creative side at Christmas or maybe to development of a figure for a grant. Sparked by my past work, I ended up pulling out some colored pencils to sketch and cut a few pictures from magazines to do a little artisitc journaling. After about 30 minutes my hands were achy, I suppose I haven’t used those muscles in quite some time. Today its all typing or texting with my thumbs.

Besides exercising my hands, drawing on a more regular schedule can help with brain plasticity – artist are known to be better observers and have better memory. So, as with blogging I hope to continue with artistic endeavors on a semi-regular schedule, whether that be journaling, painting, photography, or baking.

I’ll leave you with workouts for the week.  We had a research participant in the lab and 2 class pass classes were cancelled, one due to the weather, so it was a light week with mostly at home exercises.

Sunday-Pilates interval training

Monday-Long day at work but I was able to squeeze in a 30 min pop sugar video

Tuesday-rest

Wednesday-30 min leg Hiit workout with Ryan, 20 min pilates stretch

Thursday-20 min arm, 35 min low impact cardio

Friday-legs, cardio, stretch

Saturday-Pilates interval training>>classpass class

Later,

Nicole

 

BBC’s Sound of 2017

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Hey all-

First, the Childish Gambino album was just as funky and awesome as promised with the first two singles. I will add that in addition to Prince and OutKast, it has an Earth Wind and Fire vibe.

Now on to BBC’s Sound of 2017, which is probably my favorite long list since I’ve started following the showcase for rising singers. I will also say I feel like they were a little late on Anderson Paak, he’s been on my radar for most of 2016 year. Perhaps he just missed last year’s cut off but he’s worth highlighting all the same. I also don’t think I’ve seen a list with so many “urban” British artist.

On a sidenote that is mostly related, at least in my head-this weekend while decorating the tree and starting on some present wrapping we watched “Chewing Gum.” A British comedy set in the estates, government housing-first season available on Netflix. The show pushes lots of boundaries in a British humorous way-I cannot imagine it being green lit for American television. However, taking about sex, especially in the context of a joke is acceptable television in Britain. The show stars a 24 year shop assistant who lives at home with her conservatively christian mother and sister, the mother is an immigrant from an African country but they don’t specify (or I missed that part). While the main character and her family are black the estate includes Brits from all backgrounds including two white sisters, one with a baby and one with a baby on the way-no mention of the fathers. Despite the range of characters, race is not the forefront of the show but subtlety mentioned. For example, the main character is kicked out of her house and moves in with her mixed best friend. The main character’s boyfriend ask why she didn’t move in with him, and says something along the lines of having to live with a mixed person first, she can’t just make the jump to living with a white person-it’s a black thing (said the character, not me). I’m probably doing a horrible job explaining, but it’s interesting to observe how other cultures handle race relations or at least how they portray them on television. I’m feeling rather nostalgic and would love another opportunity to live abroad.

I’m getting off topic here, but the inclusion of so many black Brits who are unapologetically themselves in their lyrics, dress, style of video is refreshing.

On to the music-my favorites in reverse order, and hopeful prediction of the winner!

5. I’m enjoying the sounds of this youthful British indie artist, reminds of the days when I first fell in love with the Arctic Monkeys and The Kooks back in 2006…I can’t believe it’s been 10 years since I lived in London!!

4. I’m not usually a fan of British rappers, but Dave, another young Brit, is a brilliant lyricist mixed with a range of melodic tempos.

The final three are going to be on rotation for the rest of the year, love, love, them all!

3. Jorja Smith-again only 19 made waves and got attention with this political song.

2. Ray BLK-BLK stands for “Building Living Knowing”

1. I was conflicted between Ray BLK and Rag’n’Bone Man as my number one. Ryan’s vote goes to Ray BLK but this song is just so powerful from Rag’n’Bone. I wonder if he’s too similar to last year’s Jack Garratt to keep him from being the overall winner…

Will keep you posted when they make the final list!

Nicole

Music in my ear 12/1/16

Hey all-

It’s December, when did that happen? Minus the approaching cold I love love love December! Usually because most are in such a joyful state with bright colored lights, scents of cinnamon, nutmeg, and pine. There are many ways to get in my Christmas cheer here in Portland, now just to make time for them in between work…agh. At the very least I want to get a tree tomorrow, we will play the rest by ear. Oh! And non Christmas related December is a great time for whale watching in Oregon, I’m so excited!!

However, we are here for the music. 2016 has been a whacky year to say the least, and one where we lost many musical greats. However, many talented artist also turned up the notch with their 2016 projects including Chance the Rapper’s Coloring Book, and this may be a day too soon to say but Childish Gambino’s Awaken, My Love! is genius.

Coloring Book is like a contemporary gospel track that speaks to the growth of the artist. It’s also truly a project – the album should, at least initially, be played from start to finish, but you’ll keep it on replay (if you haven’t already listened).

As for Gambino, the first two released singles are like something out of the playbook of Prince and Outkast, beautiful and so far from the style of his last project, Because of the Internet.

Notable mentions The XX who haven’t released an album since 2012!

And the Hamilton Mixtape. Few songs are as good as the originals, in my opinion, but a fun listen all the same. The mixtape does bring together quite the group of artist. I am excited to see what #Ham4Ham looks like today in honor of the release, which will be lived streamed at 1pm EST (I believe).

I was planning on talking about the British sound of 2017 long list, but I’ll save that for my next post.

Cheers,

Nicole

Christmas Wishlist 2016

Kitchen items:

  1. French press travel mug

2. Crockpot, specifically this one (see link), Ryan did the homework on that so I guess it’s the best ;)?

3. Griddle or this one

For me:

4. Silver Bangle-could always use a new piece of jewlery 😉

5. Head wraps-something like this one

6. New tennis raquet

7. Cookbooks-I know we have google, but there is something nice about sitting and flipping through a cookbook with beautiful photos. It’s also safer than having a device open in the kitchen…

Molly on the Range

Dorie’s cookies

Grandbaby cakes-this is the top of my list

For the car

8. Floor mats

9. AAA membership

For Ryan

10. A partly leather overnight bag

11. Exploding kittens

12. Edited to add: A classpass membership

Readers, what are your must have items this year?

Nicole