Friday, December 10, 2010

Friday Foodie: Not-really-refried beans

Since I met Billy, I have been on the bean bandwagon. Make all the jokes you want but beans are easy to cook, taste great, can be eaten any time of day and, bonus, are very healthy! In El Salvador, like much of Latin America, beans are a staple food. Beans and rice together form a complete protein which is a great substitute for lots of people who cannot afford meat. So, down there, its normal for everyone to eat beans every day, sometimes at more than one meal. When I'm there, I have beans at every breakfast and sometimes at dinner, too. When in Rome...

Anyway, today's post is specifically about refried beans. This is one of the two ways they typically eat beans in ES, the other being a pan fried bean and rice combo called casamiento. I had never had refried beans before going to ES so I didn't know how to cook them myself. We tried to get the recipe when we were down there but things got lost in translation and I was not able to really understand the steps. Google to the rescue. I found this recipe on my favorite recipe site, Allrecipes, and its so easy even a caveman can do it. You should probably go get your crock pot out now. This will only take a second.

Not Really Refried Beans


3 cups dried back or small red beans
1 onion, peeled and cut into quarters
4-6 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
1 small jalapeno, seeded and roughly chopped
5 tsp salt
2 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp cumin
9 cups liquid - any combination of water, chicken stock or vegetable stock will do.

Put everything in the crock pot. Set to high for 8 hours but check periodically to make sure that you haven't run out of liquid. Add more if necessary. When 8 hours is up, pour away any remaining liquid on top and reserve. Mash beans with a potato masher or put in food processor for a smoother consistency. Use reserved liquid to achieve desired texture.

Here are some great uses for refried beans:

Grilled beans and cheese
Beans and eggs
Breakfast burritos
Rice, beans and veggie bowl
Mexican Pizza
Pupusas (see recipe next Friday!)
Bean and avocado quesadilla

Buen provecho!!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Craftiness: Silhouette Portraits

Every so often, my crafty side makes its way to the surface. Lately, it came around to help with Christmas. It knows I need it.

Specifically, I needed help getting a cute gift for the grandparents that wasn't a typical picture of the kids is some picture frame that says "LOVE" or "FAMILY" on top. Luckily, a week or so ago, I saw on the Zimmer Zoo a post about silhouette portraits. There is a very talented local artists who does them free-hand (ya, amazing, I know). She was in town but I didn't have my act together to make an appointment. Shocking, right? But I still loved the idea as something a little different but just as nice to give to as a gift. So, I was on a quest to do it myself.

My Google search for how to do it resulted in a lot of professionals, which would require time and money, two things I don't have lots of. But, I found another blog (I would link but for the life of me, I can't find it now...) that showed how to do it yourself. She used Photoshop. I don't have Photoshop so I had to improvise. If you, like me, are short on time, money and Photoshop, here is how you can still do your very own silhouette portraits:

Step 1

Take a picture of your child in profile. Catch them while they are watching TV or something else interesting. You may already have a photo that works - check your albums.

Step 2

Using whatever software you have (I use Picasa), crop your picture so that you can zoom in just on the head. Then, to save on color ink, switch it to black and white or grayscale.

Step 3

Using MS Powerpoint (or MS Word, but I prefer PP), insert your photo onto the page and adjust it (keeping the ratio intact) to your desired size. The first ones I did were as big as possible and now will barely fit into an 8X10 frame. Learn from my mistakes and do them a bit smaller. You could also fit two on one Powerpoint slide and that will give you portraits appropriate for a 5X7 frame.

Step 4

Print out the slide. With a pen or pencil, trace along the outline of the head and face. Then cut out very careful along your line. Be especially careful around the nose and mouth as those areas will really tell you whose portrait it is.

Step 5

Take your cut out and trace it onto very nice black paper. I found this paper at a craft store. Its much heavier than regular card stock but regular card stock would work just fine. Just don't use construction paper - it's not a very dark black and won't look as nice in the end. Cut out along your lines, again very carefully, especially on the face.

Step 6

Now you can mount your portrait. I sued the same kind of paper for my mount (not shown in the picture below) in an off-white color to give it an antique-y look.

Step 7

Place in your frame of choice, wrap and give to Grandma.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Matteo at 4 months

Matteo hit the 4 month mark on Saturday. This is the age I swore I would do CIO with him if wasn't already sleeping through the night. But, now that it's here, I'm not quite ready. he just seems so young. I did CIO with the twins closer to 6 months so perhaps that's why. Either way, I will probably wait until after our vacation to El Salvador for New Year's to bother with it. Feeding him at 2am is not ideal but it's not so bad either. With the twins, I had to feed them both which took longer, even if I did it at the same time, and I had to pump afterward. With Matteo, I just feed him for 5 minutes and then stumble back to bed.

Other than nighttime sleep, here is what's going on for Matteo these days:

He is napping better, although his morning nap is still shorter than his afternoon nap which surprises me. Usually 1 -1.5 hours in the morning vs. 1.5 - 2 (sometimes more!) in the early afternoon. Most days he usually needs a third nap but if he naps for a very long time in the afternoon, he can make until bedtime without it.

He still nurses almost every two hours during the day. A lot of this has to do with the fact that I nurse him before naps. On the bright side, he only needs to nurse for about 5 minutes so I don't really mind how often it is.

He smiles and laughs so much. He loves to watch his brother and sister play. And the dog, too. He loves when I talk right to him and tickle his belly.

He does not really love his exersaucer yet but tolerates it. He much prefers to playmat with the light-up star. ANd his bumbo so he can get in on the action at meal times. He tolerates tummy time but doesn't enjoy it for more than a few minutes.

My boy is still growing fast. He is in size 3 diapers but I still have so many size 2 diapers left that I am using those during the day and 3s at night. He is in 9 month clothes for the most part but can still squeeze into some of his 6 month stuff.

He is a hand-sucker. I may have my first thumb-sucker with this one once we ditch the swaddle. And he won't take a paci - an endeavor a gave up on a while ago, actually. I don't want him turning out like his big brother, addicted to that thing like baby crack.

And here is, all 4 months of him!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Birthday Number 2!

It's official. I no longer have 3 babies under 2. Yesterday, Sebastian and Collette turned two! We didn't have a big celebration, mostly because Thanksgiving is just 4 days away and we are hosting. Also, Billy and I were looking forward to something low-key after last year's 1st birthday extravaganza.

On Saturday, we took Collette (and Matteo) to Build-a-Bear as a special birthday gift just for her. She definitely enjoyed herself, even if she didn't 100% get what was going on. After going back and forth between lots of stuffed animals, she finally ended up with a fluffy bear which we named Happy because that's the only part of "Happy Birthday" she will say.

Helping fill up her bear

Proud Momma

Saturday night, Billy fought his jet lag and put together the train table so we could surprise the twins with it on Sunday morning (their actual birthday). No surprise, it's a big hit.

For Sebastian's special birthday gift, I took him to the toy store to pick out his own special train. He picked a Thomas with snowman car.

Overall, we had a very nice day, quietly playing at home with FavAuntie (who is still staying with us!!) and Grammy and Grandpa. This year was such a busy one, I'm glad we celebrated in a calm way.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Friday Foodie: Spinach Balls

I know that's not the most attractive name for a food but if I call something a ball, my kids (OK, Sebastian) is more likely to eat it. Garbanzo beans are known as balls in my house. It always feels weird to say it - Want to try some balls? More balls? - but us moms do what we gotta do, right?

Anyway, to the spinach balls. Technically, they are called Spinach Gnocch-Wee. Yes, you guessed it - this is a recipe from the infamous Weelicious site. Catherine does a fantastic job of incorporating grown-up flavors and nutritious ingredients into toddler-friendly recipes. I have been trying a bunch of her concoctions lately and this one is a hit with the whole fam.

My only suggestions are to use extra flour (I doubled what she said, using about 4tbsp total) and I added marinara sauce on the side for dipping. 'Cause kids love dipping. Otherwise, this tasted so good and its not as pasta-y is other pastas (think tortellini or macaroni) so I don't feel like I'm giving the kids one big carb-overload for dinner. I cooked half and froze half (ended up with about 30-35 balls) and my kids ate about 4 each. It doesn't sound like much but they don't eat a lot at dinner so that was actually quite good for them. And Mommy and Daddy ate the leftovers :)

Hands on time isn't bad. You have to drain the spinach really well, and form the balls but the food processor does the hard work of mixing everything and that just takes a few seconds. The cooking time is quick, which I really like because once my kids see me head to the kitchen, they want dinner NOW. Definitely a recipe I would make ahead of time and then cook right before serving.

Also, I did make tortillas (like I said I would try last week) and they came out OK. Taste was great, texture was good, but shape left a lot to be desired. It was hard to roll them out and because of that they did not make nice circle-ish shape. So, I will try again and let you know how it goes next week!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Two vs. One: Part 2

More on my thoughts about how my one baby is, as expected, way easier than two. Part 1 here.

Nursing vs. Bottle Feeding/Pumping

I hope I don't get any grief for saying so but nursing your baby is way easier than bottle feeding and especially easier than bottle feeding AND pumping. Now, don't get me wrong - I know that getting good at nursing can be really, really hard. Especially with twins. Especially with baby(ies) born early who won't latch. That being said, once you have figured things out, it is so much simpler to just pop a boob in a baby's mouth than prepare a bottle (pump and/or mix formula) and then have to worry about cleaning said bottles. So much of our time in the first month or so was devoted to those fucking bottles. And pump parts. I felt like I was living in a sea of plastic. After two months, when I finally became fed up with things and realized I would need to manage my time better once I was on my own with the twins, I figured out some short cuts to the bottle/pump madness. But even then, it's way more work than nursing a baby.

There are the downsides. No one else can feed Matteo for me. (He has only had 3 or 4 bottles in his little life). There is just a bit of anxiety over nursing in public. He still eats more often than the twins ever did. There is no real way to do it in the car, which has been an issue more times than I would have expected. But on the whole, life is so simple this way. I don't have to worry about being out too long with the twins because I don't have a bottle for the baby. I never have to run to the store because I ran out of formula or bottle liners.

I don't know how I would feel if I had the experience of nursing twins to compare this to. I imagine its very difficult to do that out in public, if only that it takes twice as long which might be uncomfortable for some. But in the first few months with the twins, I was inside most of the time anyway, just getting out for quick errands like Bjs or going for long walks, usually right after they ate. I would love to hear what moms of twins think about their successful nursing experience. Did you often feel like it was harder than bottle feeding would have been? Or did you think you had it easier because you were able to nurse?

Monday, November 15, 2010

Two vs. One: Part 1

When I announced that I was expecting for the second time, everyone's first question was, "is it twins again?!" to which I answered a very relieved "no!" Their next comment to me was always something along the lines of, "well, one baby will seem so easy compared to twins!" And that's what I was hoping, too. I didn't want to jinx myself and end up with a colicky baby so I tried to keep hush about it. Now that Matteo is here (and more than 3 months old!) I no longer have to worry about that. He's no longer a newborn and I can now compare notes from his first 12 weeks with the twins' newborn days.

As expected, having one baby is way easier than having two. For me, it's so much more than just a question of two vs. one. I always said that I was grateful to have two (mostly) happy newborns and not one very fussy one. So, here is what really stands out to me as the difference makers in my own two vs. one experience.

Preemie vs. Full-term:

Sebastian and Collette came nearly 6 weeks early and that impacted a lot of what we had to do for them as parents. Going back and forth to the NICU, measuring their every ml of formula-enhanced breast milk, lots and lots of doctor visits. It was the main reason I pumped instead of nursed. Having two preemies was scary and stressful, for the most part.

But, as new parents, I must say that there were nice things about it, too. The nurses taught us so much about how to care for a newborn and they got the twins on a wonderful eating schedule that made sleep very possible for both of us. With Matteo, the nurses didn't show me anything with the baby. I got no CPR training, no lesson on how to bathe the baby. Hardly any free stuff. And then two days after giving birth, they kicked us out. Of course, I left the hospital with an 8lb. baby who could nurse without any issues so it was fine. I would take a full-term baby over a preemie any day but there were a few benefits (for us) to the latter.

Overall, I worry much less about Matteo and a lot of it has to do with how he started his little life. Some of it has to do with now being an experienced parent, which I'll get into in a separate post, but mostly I trust nature to take its course with him. With Sebastian and Collette, I still find myself using their adjusted age in my head sometimes. Not sure when that will go away...

(Of course, not all twins are preemies so this experience is certainly not universal for twins and their moms. And there are lots of singletons born prematurely, as well.)

Stay tuned for Part 2. I gotta spread this one out if I'm going to make through my mini-NaBloPoMo.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

At least there's one thing we can do on the plane...

Our annual pilgrimage to the homeland (El Salvador) is fast approaching and as it does I am getting more and more concerned about how Billy and I will get through two flights (each way) outnumbered by people who still crap in their pants. Our best idea (other than drugging them, which is frowned upon despite its effectiveness) is to set each twin up with a portable DVD player and let them rot their brains for each flight. This plan will only work if they will wear headphones. So, the lovely and generous Mommy Esq. loaned us her pair. And here are the results:

Now I just need 10 hours worth of Elmo and Wiggles DVDs and we'll be all set!

PS - if you have other suggestions for airplane travel entertainment, I'm all ears. We have magna-doodles and tons of books. Coloring has been big lately, too, so we'll take some crayons along. Other ideas?

Friday, November 12, 2010

Friday Foodie: Homemade Hummus

For a while, I have been thinking about incorporating more food posts into this blog. I tried to start a food blog but I just don't have the time to devote to it. And I didn't want to put random recipes on a blog that's supposed to be about me and my kids and family but, in reality, food and family intersect quite a bit. 3 times a day, in fact. And I have posted here and there about cooking food, especially for the kids, so I decided that I would make Fridays my food post day. This isn't intended to be a meme (am I even using that term correctly?) but if you'd like to join in, I'd love you to, if only so that I can cook your favorite recipes for my family!

To kick things off, I am writing about hummus. Pretty simple stuff that most of us buy at the grocery store. Collette loves it. Like, eat it by the spoonful. Well, handful - who am I kidding? That girl won't let a spoon slow her down when there's hummus around. However, hummus isn't cheap - the big tub (16oz.) is $5! Collette could eat half that in the blink of an eye. At first, I was upset that she wouldn't eat it on pita or a sandwich. I wanted the bread to slow her down and fill her up so the hummus might last a few days. Big shocker - Collette won the hummus battle. But that's ok. Because I remembered that making your own hummus is super easy. I did try it once and it didn't come out well but that's when I only had a blender. I now have a food processor and knew it could do the job.

I used this simple recipe. As I make it more often, I'm sure I'll play around with flavors. Weelicious also has some great twists on hummus that I'll be giving a try eventually. Now that I have made it once (and it tastes great!) I will never buy hummus again. And the cost can't be beat. I did a little back of the envelope calculation and my 16 oz of hummus cost me a little more than $1 to make. I do cook my own chickpeas (instead of canned beans) and that also brings the cost down. But still. Such a deal.

I have lots more on my list of things to make from scratch because we go through them so fast. Next up is probably tortillas. We gotta stay in touch with out Latin roots here at la Casa de Soto. If they come out well, I'll put that up next Friday.

Bon Apetit!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Bad Habits?

I have a mommy confession to make.

I have been trying so hard to get Matteo to take decent naps. I follow the two-hour rule, a la Dr. Weissbluth. I use white noise, room darkening shades. Swaddle. Routine. But my little boy still wakes up after 45 minutes, wanting to eat, or play, or just hang out.

So. I've been doing something else. I've been nursing him to sleep. Not that he needs it to fall asleep. He's pretty darn good at that part. But, miraculously, nursing before a nap help stretch that 45 nap into an hour and a half, two, even two and half hours! It's blissful and he is so much happier for it.

But I have to wonder - am I starting a really bad habit? Will I regret this down the line? For now, I don't nurse him to sleep for the night. He nurses before I change him and bathe him and swaddle him and rock him. The nap thing is different, though. I think part of the problem is that he wants to eat every 2 - 2.5 hours. If he eats when he wakes up, then is up for an hour and a half, he'll want to eat again in less than an hour. So, I am hoping this is only temporary, and won't be necessary when he starts to stretch out those feedings. Lord knows when that will be. In the meantime, I just hope I'm not creating a little monster.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Appreciating the cuteness

Lately, I have been feeling the SAHM blues some more, what with the toddler whining, eating strikes, toy fights and infant juggling. To be brutally honest, there are lots of times where my kids kind of annoy me. My threshold for whining is so just so low. I've been having a hard time enjoying this age. I keep fantasizing about them as older, more rational, agreeable beings. All the things we'll be able to do, the things they'll be able to tell me and understand.

But the other day, I had a neighbor/friend/fellow twin momma over for a playdate since we were both flying solo over the weekend. She had 3 kids, too, but did hers the other way around - one first, then twins. Her oldest is nearly 4 and her twins are just 6 months old (and crazy adorable!). Anyway, her son is a typical preschooler. He always wanted to be talking to the grownups, asked a million questions, needed us to explain everything to him, wanted us to watch everything he did, etc. He is a very sweet boy, but it was exhausting, too.

Later, when it was just me and my twins again, I realized, after gaining some perspective, that this age is actually quite cute. They run up to me with unabashed glee and throw their arms around my neck. They run around saying my name because they're so excited to tell me something really important like, "my shoes!!!" or "B!" They still like to play peekaboo. And they are just so tender and sweet at this age. I need to keep all this in mind those times when they start to press all my buttons with the epic whining...

Monday, November 8, 2010


Guess who is flyin' in on a jet plane to help get me through my 15-day solo parenting stint?

Auntie Stacey!!

She is moving back home for good (about TIME!) and is staying with me until all her stuff gets here. So, I really can't complain too much about being all alone, since I won't be, at least for a bit.

I am curious to see if the twins will be confused as they call Auntie Kim "Stacey". Or "Sheeshee", as they say it. I don't know if they think they're the same person or if they think that's what you call an aunt. Kim was with us all day yesterday (do I have the best sisters or what???) and we were trying so hard to get them to say "Kim" or "auntie" - mostly to no avail. At least the real Sheeshee is coming home. They're gonna be so excited! I know I am :)

Now I just need to sync up our Outlook calendars so I can schedule her for free babysitting!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

New Discovery

I have been using this oven for over three years and only just now discovered the oven light. The kids delighted in seeing their dinner cook. Now, if their delight would only get them to actually eat it...

FYI - I was cooking black bean burgers, recipe I got here. I cut some into stars in hopes that it would encourage the kids to at least try them. Sebastian did eat two bites of the "ya ya's" so I'll throw it in the win column.

Saturday, November 6, 2010


...or, "Happy Birthday!"
(since watching Ni Hao Kai Lan before bedtime, my Mandarin has really come along.)

Billy is celebrating his 35th birthday in Beijing. Although he's all alone, he's making the most of it. His goal (other than work goals, of course) on this trip is to eat as many weird foods as possible. So, for his birthday dinner he dined on this:

In case you're curious, this table included, but I'm sure was not limited to, sea horse, scorpion and silk worm. To each his own.

When he comes home, it will be a day before Sebastian and Collette's second birthday (gah!!) so we will do one big celebration that weekend. And the cuisine is sure to be much tamer. :)

Friday, November 5, 2010

Mini NaBloPoMo - Day 1

It's been really difficult for me to devote time to blogging lately (reading, commenting and especially writing) that I was looking forward to NaBloPoMo as a way to motivate myself. But naturally, November 1st came and went (along with the 2nd, 3rd and 4th) so I can't honestly participate this year. However, I have a plan to do a half-NaBloPoMo. Think of it like a half marathon. Except way easier.

I am starting today because today marks Day 1 of a 15-day solo parenting spree. That's right - me and my 3 under 2 gang are all alone for 15 straight days as Billy is on a business trip to Asia. I told him how jealous I was that he gets to go on this exotic trip and he looked at me like I was crazy. He knows that flying across the world so that you can work 12+ hour days is not a fun, exotic trip. He kept going on and on about how much he didn't want to go and how he'd miss us. Grass is always greener, and all that shit.

Since I'll be posting every day for the next two weeks, I will be piggybacking on some memes out there. I haven't done a Halloween post (I'll save that for later!), so I'll participate in LauraC's Show me the Mommy! with a little sneak preview:

Me and Tater at our Twin's Club Halloween party that I co-organized

Stay tuned to keep me honest with my mini-NaBloPoMp!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Spoiled or Neglected?

I go back and forth thinking that my Matteo is one of these two extremes. Although lately it's leaning more toward neglected. Poor guy.

When we first brought him home, he got all my attention. Nursed every two hours. Was held all the time. Snuggled with me in bed. Rarely sat in a swing or bouncy chair. And now that he is older and I'm on my own with all three, he still gets held a lot, at least compared to the twins when they were his age. When we are out and about, he gets to ride in the Ergo instead of being in a stroller. Being just one baby, its so easy to have him with me, on me, all the time. I feel like he's mine. I don't have to share him with anyone. A momma's boy in the making!
Matteo, 2 weeks old, napping in our bed

But then there is the neglect that comes with being a third child to a harried mommy. Lately, he has been spending a lot of time on his play-mat. I did the same thing with the twins, but I usually "played" with them, took their picture, talked to them. When I put Tater on his mat, I go off and do 100 other things, 99 of them for his brother and sister. I have so few pictures of him, its embarrassing. I drag him all over the place - play dates, gymnastics class, EI play group, errands - with little respect for his nap schedule*. I'm not sure how long I can keep this up. At some point (soon), it will be too hard to just treat him like luggage.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

A sentence and other news

Back to talking about my big boy, except this time, it's good news. Today, after getting up from a nap that should have been much longer, Sebastian was looking out the window at the cars in the parking lot behind our house. (This is a favorite post-nap activity of his as he has perfectly stereotypical car obsession.) I was in the middle of changing Collette's diaper when I heard him say, clear as a bell, "I see a car!" I can't wait for our speech therapist to come tomorrow so I can tell her!

This language spurt is coming on the heels of same major fussiness, as you may recall from my previous posts. Hopefully, this explains some of it. We are also having Sebastian checked out by an ENT specialist, after our speech therapist suggested it because she has concerns about his mouth breathing and excessive drooling, which is even worse now because of the constant runny nose he gets during the cooler months. She suspects that all these things may indicate enlarged adenoids or some other issue in his sinuses. Our appointment is on October 28th so we will see what they say. My hope is that they find something we can fix and make him more comfortable. If our speech therapist is right and Sebastian has trouble breathing through his nose, I can only imagine how uncomfortable the past 23 months have been for him.

And in case you want to know how bad his drooling can get in the winter, here is a prime example:

Tuesday, October 12, 2010


I'll give Sebastian a break and focus on his baby brother for this post. But, I do thank all of you for your encouraging words. I needed them and we are working on things. Slowly but surely.

So - Matteo. He has finally been upgraded to his big boy crib! It's odd to be "celebrating" this milestone since it's one the twins didn't even have. The closest I had with them was switching from sharing a crib to their own cribs but they were always in their own room. True to form, I am not terribly emotional about the move. In fact, I probably sleep better :) Matteo, too. One night, he made it all the way to 4am! Hoping that's a trend. And now I have my closet back. If you know anyone in the market for a glider and a bassinet, send them my way.

Also, I was right about his size - he's 14lbs 8oz! I bought size 3 diapers at BJs over the weekend because, by the time he finishes the size 2 diapers I have, he will be big enough for the 3s. And while this is all well and good, I just need him to stay below 22 lbs through New Year's because I really want to be able to use the bucket car seat on our trip to El Salvador. Slow down, Tater!!

Colie is probably feeling left out - my easy going girl does not give me much to write about, other than that she is a cutie pie. Here's a pic of her with Tater:

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

And the crying continues

This is one of those times where I openly solicit advice from my dear readers. I wrote last week about Sebastian's crying, one of those , "oh, being a parent is tough, huh?" kind of posts. But now I seriously feel like I have a problem. Or I think I do. I guess I'm not sure - that's part of the advice I seek.

Like I said in that earlier post, Sebastian has always been a crier. And when you have a baby, its so easy to chalk it up to being a "phase" or just part of that age. But it seems like with him, we never get out of it. To a certain degree, I can accept this. It seems that he is a just a sensitive boy. And he is allowed to be sensitive. I took up the advice I got in the last post and am reading some books on highly sensitive kids. Its helping, but truthfully, not that much.

Basically, I feel like I am not cut out to parent my son. And I feel like he can't enjoy "normal" activities because he gets so upset. I have brought up the issue with EI (a few months back) and they actually suggested letting him have his pacifier when he got upset. They said its age appropriate for a kid his age to have a comfort object and if that was his, and it's the only thing that helps him self-soothe, we should allow him to use it. So, he gets his binky whenever he needs it at home, in the car and in his crib. But I simply can't bring myself to let him have it in public. As if it's the scarlet letter of incompetent parenting. And it's in these public situations where we find ourselves in trouble.

Two good examples: First, we have been doing an EI playgroup since March(ish). The playgroup is very low key and parents stay the whole time. The first half hour is open play, which goes over quite well. No surprise there. The last half hour is circle singing time and that's when the crying starts. 6 months in, Sebastian still cries (and I mean wails, not whimpers or whines) every time we get to the parachute. No matter how much I prep him or remind him of what will happen, he loses his shit every time. And I know what his issue is: he wants to go underneath the parachute. But that doesn't happen until after we shake the parachute and after we go on top of the parachute. So he cries and cries and cries until its time to go underneath. Often, he is too upset by that point to even go under. I have tried holding him in my lap, reassuring him that it will be time to go under soon. I have tried ignoring him. I have tried removing him from the situation. I have tried counting down until its time. But nothing has stopped his anger over this.

The other new fit-inducing activity is gymnastics. The thing is, he likes gymnastics. He likes doing the obstacle course, walking on the balance beam, going down the slide. He especially likes the trampoline. And this is where things start to go south. Yesterday, he was on one the little trampolines. I told him he could have ten jumps and then it would be the next girl's turn. I counted to 10 (very slowly, something we do all the time at home with turn taking and has worked very well) and when I told him his turn was up he got off. But then he immediately wanted to get back on, demanding that it was his turn again. I explained to him that he could have anotehr turn when she was done. No dice. I explained to him that there was another trampoline in the room he could use. I even brought him over there and told him he could have a turn. No dice. He was completely distraught and not able to recover for about 20 minutes. Additionally, he got even more upset while we were in the big room because he didn't want to wait for his turn on the big trampoline. Like the parachute, this is an activity we do every week. Part of me feels like he should be getting used to it.

I'm at a loss. He wants to do these activities and have fun but he seems to sabotage himself. And I try to help him cope but nothing I do seems to make a difference. It would be easier if it were just about him but he has a twin sister and I can't do separate activities with them. I feel like we're damned if we do, damned if we don't. Lastly, it doesn't help matters that he is the only child acting like this. Others may cry from time to time but he is the only one who does it every time over the same things. It's hard to not feel like I'm doing something wrong.

Will we ever get past it? Or will we struggle with this at every stage of his development until he moves out?

Friday, October 1, 2010

Baby Cliche

Matteo is growing up so fast. That's my age-old baby cliche as of late. And he is literally growing fast - he has been in 3-6 month clothes for a couple weeks now, well before his 2 month "birthday", which is this Sunday. He'll have his 2 month check up the week after next but I estimate him to be near 14 lbs. Lord knows how long he is but he certainly does not feel like a newborn anymore. This make nursing a lot easier as he is stronger and can hold his head up more but its bittersweet. I was never a newborn person but with my last baby, I find that I am missing it even as it goes by.

Because of his improving head control, I dug out our bumbo seat and he has been hanging out in there for a few minutes at a time. This has made dinnertime so much easier! I usually feed him shortly before giving the twins their dinner so that he is settled. But even then, that 5pm - 6pm is rough for a wee one like Matteo and he is hard to keep happy. With the bumbo, I can put him on the dining room table (shhh!!) and he can face me while I do dinner with Sebastian and Collette. Being part of the action at least somewhat distracts him from his bedtime fussies.

His growth has had some not so great consequences as well. He has been busting out of every swaddle I can do because his legs are so long and strong that he untucks the wrap with his kicking. I will have to try what I did with the twins around 3 or 4 months old, and wrap his arms down underneath a Velcro swaddle sleep sack. The problem is, they only come in newborn size (that I can find) and he is WAY too long for that. So, I think I will cut out some feet holes for him so he can fit. The things we do for sleep...

I really never thought I would miss those newborn days. Billy is scared that I will demand another baby, seeing how much I have enjoyed these past two months with Tater. But all that is a post for another day. (No worries, though. I am NOT planning a baby #4!)

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Cry Me A River

Oh, dear Sebastian. I love you but lately, you are making my job as your mommy really hard. Not even lately. Always. You are just a tough nut to crack.

Since he was a baby, Sebastian has always been my fussy baby. Still a good baby but definitely the fussier of the two. He had to be held a certain way, had to be rocked for a long time, had to be swaddled extra tight. I even wrote about his fussiness back when he was just a wee one. When I watch that video of him as a whiny 8-month old, I feel like not much has changed. He still cries that exact same way.

He loses his shoe. Cry.
I wipe his snotty nose. Cry.
The food looks suspect. Cry.
I take too long to get him in the swing. Cry.
I give his sister the yellow spoon that he wanted. Cry.
I won't let him go in the car at 8:30am for no reason. Cry.
Waiting at the the top of the stairs while I bring the baby down. Cry.
He can't reach his binky that he just threw. Cry.
I go downstairs to go to the bathroom. Cry.
Diaper change. Cry.

So, wiser moms, is there a proverbial light at the end of the tunnel? Or will he be whining that his graduation cap doesn't stay on his head?

Tuesday, September 14, 2010


Sometimes, I feel like I don't give Collette and Sebastian enough credit. They are growing up so fast and I honestly am having a hard time keeping up. I often think to myself that certain things are far beyond their mental grasp and more and more, I am wrong.

It should be obvious. They talk SO much more. They understand more of what we say. They *seem* to listen more. So, it would follow that they are capable of doing things at a higher level. For example, I didn't think they really understood dress-up play. And, to some extent, they don't. It's not like they can act out mini-plays with each other in costume. But I didn't even think that they would like to dress up in funny clothes. Surprise, surprise - I was incorrect. They have been having fun trying on all sorts of things, most recently, our sweaters and sweatshirts that have been pulled out for the (wonderful!!) cooler weather.

Here they are, in Daddy's sweatshirt, which they both insisted be zipped up while they reminded me that it was "papa's!":

So, I am having to reevaluate how I interact with them and really start treating them like big kids and not babies. Thank goodness I have Matteo for that :)

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Colie's First Haircut

Well, it was time for the 'Fro to go. Collette was seriously getting dreadlocks in the back so we had to get her some professional help. In the form of overpriced baby haircuts at Snip-its.

Truthfully, the place was fantastic and, IMO, well worth the price. It was easy to bring all three kids (no, I was not alone!) and let them play while they waited. They could walk around and not be in the way like they would have been at a real hair salon. So, if you need to get your kid's hair cut, I totally recommend this place.

Collette was sold as soon as she get her lollipop. Animal crackers filled in the gaps. Overall, a very easy, fun experience.

Collette with the 'fro

Oblivious to the snips. Thank you, lollipop!!

Have you ever seen a cuter thing in your life?

Sunday, September 5, 2010

One Month!

Believe it or not, Matteo is now over one month old! And he is doing so well - eating and sleeping are both still great (back to waking up once at night now that his bedtime is a firm 730pm) and as he is more aware during the day, he is starting to enjoy his play mat and bouncy seats more.

The day after his one month birthday, he got to attend his first wedding. My dear friend/surrogate sister tied the knot on Saturday and Tater stayed awake to watch the whole ceremony. The commotion was too much for him, though, and he had to nurse twice during the reception to help him fall asleep. Thankfully, by the time dinner was served, he was out cold for the night. Billy and I even got to dance a bit before packing it up.

Also, I am now officially "on my own" with kiddos - my MIL left after 3 weeks of tremendous help. Tonight went really well though. Not a single tear was shed during bedtime and Matteo only started to fuss right at the end as I was getting Sebastian and Collette into their sleep sacks. I may have to add feeding the baby into their bedtime routine but we'll see. I'll be tweaking things as we go but I now know that its definitely doable. Hopefully things go just as smoothly tomorrow night when I actually have to bathe them...!

Lastly, we will continue the tradition of chair pictures with Matteo. Same chair, new baby! Here he is in his wedding outfit:

Matteo, one month and one day old

Keep an eye out for more posts coming up. I have a lot to share after being away from the blog for so long.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Life with 3 under 2

Now that Matteo is three weeks old, we are all starting to get used to each other. Sebastian and Collette like their new little brother. Or at least they accept him as part of the family. They like to give him kisses and Collette will even go so far as to bring him blankets. They both like to point to his body parts - a little scary when they try to poke him in the eye. And Sebastian especially likes it when he wears onesies that feature cars. Other than that, they pretty much ignore him which is much better than acting jealous. Hopefully things will stay this way once I am on my own with them and they aren't getting all that extra attention from Mimi (my MIL).

As for Matteo, he has inserted himself nicely into our lives. He must now how spread thin Mommy will be because, for a newborn, he seems to be making things pretty easy for me. He nurses like a champ and has since day one. He gets right down to business and is finished within 15 minutes, sometimes just 10! This makes feeding him and watching after the twins manageable. And he is already developing some very promising sleep patterns. He generally takes a longer nap from about 9-11 and then again from 130-330. Otherwise, he seems to take shorter naps, especially in the evening when he is nursing more frequently. Plus, he is already showing signs of readiness for an early bedtime. he gets crabby and needy around 6pm if he isn't asleep. If this goes on, I will probably just incorporate him into the twins' bedtime and that way they will all be down by 730ish. That may mean I have to give up my one night feeding (usually around 130am) but it might be worth it to have my evenings back. Or is that idea totally age-inappropriate?

So, all in all, life with 3 under 2 is going well. It's hard to believe that in such a short time I opened and closed the book on having babies. It'll be a tough first year but I know it'll pay off in the long run!

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Matteo Meets the World

After much waiting, Matteo finally made his arrival on Tuesday, August 3 at 12:33am, weighing 8lbs 5oz and measuring 21.5 inches long. The experience was not exactly what I expected but for those of you have been through it, you're probably not surprised. Since this will be my last and only time, I want to record, to the best of memory, how Matteo made his way into this world.

8:00am - We started the pitocin. I got comfortable and not much happened for a while. I could feel contractions, but they were more like menstrual cramps than anything else.

12/1:00pmish - My water broke. Or I thought it did. Turned out to just be a leak but it sure felt like more than that. After that, the contractions started to get much stronger. Billy was great at helping my breathe and relax through them.

4:00pm - My OB arrived and by that point, my contractions were 2 minutes apart but I had not progressed much - still at 2cm. Contractions were beyond manageable so I agreed to the epidural.

5:00pm - Got epidural and everything was immediately better. They reduced the pitocin so the contractions slowed down a bit but, either way, I couldn't feel it. I took the opportunity to get lots of sleep.

8/9:00pm - The checked my progress and I was 8cm dilated. Finally, some progress!!

10/10:30pm - They checked me again and I was 10cm! OB told me I would start pushing soon but the nurse told me otherwise as soon as she left the room. (I love the nurses vs. doctors thing. Very entertaining to a layperson like me). She told me I would push when I felt like I had to and that I should ignore the doctor. She spent some time trying to keep her out of the room. so as not to interfere with nature. :)

11:00pm - I declared that I felt the need to push. My doctor had sneaked into the room somehow and helped intruct me through my first few pushes. Then she told me average length of time to push out a first baby was 2 hours. I tried really hard not to believe her.

The nurse came in and took over the coaching along with Billy. There was lots of moving positions but, because of the epidural, I could do much more than lie down. I stayed mostly side lying which was much more comfortable for me and seemed to work for the baby, too.

Pushing was hard and not really what I expected. Both people who gave me advice on pushing said that you do it like you're having a #2. I would now agree with them. What I didn't expect was how hard it would be on my abs! It was like every push was the hardest crunch I ever did in my whole life. And I did them for 10 seconds at a time, 3 or 4 times in a row with a 30-60 second break in between "sets." It was a workout like nothing I've ever done and I played 4 years of rugby in college. To help me push, they brought in an extra nurse so I had a nurse on each side for me to push off against and Billy helped me hold me head up to do the crunches.

12:15am - They called the OB in and then I knew that we were truly getting close. They had the mirror set up for me to see what was happening but I couldn't really make out what I was seeing. At some point, I got an episiotomy but couldn't feel it. About 15 more minutes of pushing as hard as I could and Matteo finally made his way out at 12:33am.

I couldn't hold him immediately because he had swallowed something and they had to check him out. The pedis declared him 100% fine, I got stitched up and by 1am, I got to hold him and nurse him for the first time.

All in all, I am so happy that I got to have this experience. And, above all else, so happy to finally meet our littlest boy.