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!