Sunday, December 30, 2012

Christmas with Two and What About After Christmas?


The whole Christmas season has always been my favorite time of year. I get this from my dad. Thanksgiving is celebrated with a big feast and then the preparing begins - listening to Christmas music, baking, shopping for presents, decorating, general merry-making. With the two babes there were fewer things on my to-do list this year. I did most of my shopping online, and no one got a homemade present this year, but there was a tree and cookies and all the Cristmas music we could ask for. We had lunch out one day and friends over for dinner a couple of times. Alessia met Santa in Downtown Crossing and ate her first candy cane. We went to Malden's tree lighting where two youth choirs sang Christmas carols, and there was a countdown to turn on the lights. The countdown was then repeated at home every morning. My friend Jen had us over to decorate gingerbread houses. Pointing out Christmas trees became a regular past time, on city streets, in stores, in our favorite coffee shops. I bought a child friendly manger scene, and we talked about the baby Jesus' birthday. Then, on Christmas Day, presents!


So, what happens now? I know quite a few people who have a hard time with the post-Christmas season. This is my advice. Don't stop celebrating the day after Christmas. Leave the tree up until Twelth Night, and make a special pot of tea or coffee or hot chocolate to sip while taking it down. Celebrate New Years, even if it's just a slightly-more-special-than-ordinary dinner with the family. Have friends over for an everyday dinner for no particular reason whatsoever. If you garden, by seeds. Eat chocolate on Valentine's Day, buy a cake for Fat Tuesday and eat beans on Ash Wednesday, make corned beef and cabbage on St. Patty's Day, come up with your own special days. My sister celebrates her kids' "half birthdays" in January and February. You don't need to go crazy. We're not trying to replicate the grand celebrations of Thanksgiving and Christmas. Just do a little something to acknowledge the day as different than all the other cold and gray days of winter.


Saturday, December 1, 2012

Tis' the Season

My favorite time of year is here! One of the best things about being a mom is getting to introduce my girls to some of life's simple pleasures. Yesterday we had to go downtown. We went over to Downtown Crossing and there was a brass quartet playing Christmas music and Santa Claus. Alessia was mesmerized. She loved listening to the instruments, and Santa gave her her first candy cane. Oh, what joy in that little plastic wrapped candy cane. Once on the T, I opened it up and showed her how to eat it without biting or chewing. By the time we got home her cheeks and hands were covered with sticky pink. Her hair was stuck to her face. Her coat had dried on sugar all along the collar, and she was as pleased as could be. The candy cane joined the pile of books and paper and crayons on the coffee table and was occasionally revisited all afternoon, even though by then it too was covered in hair and lint from her jacket. Such fun.


Saturday, November 17, 2012

Fresh Mozzarella in Winter

Fresh mozzarella is generally considered a seasonal food. Demand goes up with the arrival of fresh tomatoes in the garden and in the farmers' markets and then crashes again in early fall.  

I buy it year-round though. In fall and winter I replace those fresh tomatoes with cooked vegetables. Three of my favorites combinations are fresh mozzarella...


... with sauteed peppers and onions. This combination I discovered as a vegetarian. I had a craving for a peppers and sausage sandwhich one day. I replaced the sausage with fresh mozzarella, and added lots of oregano to the peppers and onions. Delicious.


... with artichoke hearts. This is a new one. I saute a little onion in a melted cube of basil frozen in olive oil, and then add sliced artichoke hearts (preferably frozen, not canned) and a splash of red wine vinegar.


... with sauteed mushrooms. I saute garlic with fresh mushrooms and herbs. I prefer oregano with the woodsy flavor of mushrooms, but anything you like will do.


These sandwhiches are perfect for other odds and ends as well. A few sliced olives, a few slices of roasted peppers from a jar, whatever you have on hand. So, the next time you see those fresh mozzarella balls on sale in the grocery store, go ahead and buy a few, even if tomatoes are not in season.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Two Years and Counting

Today my little Alessia turns two. She runs around making motor boat noises and stops just long enough to declare "I'm running." A couple of weeks ago at the park she conquered the slide, which she prefers to call by its Italian name "scivolo." She's starting to be aware of her emotions, like fear. She'll happily eat a whole bowl of mixed veg and cold plain tofu or a bowl of spaghetti with butter and cheese, but don't even think of offering her a piece of cheese or mashed potatoes. She is definitely living up to her new status as a 2-year old. She's very contrary and does naughty little things with a twinkle in her eye. She is madly in love with her daddy. She's jealous of Olivia, and takes it out on me and Adam. At the same time, as Olivia grows I think Alessia is starting to see the possibility for interaction. All of this is to say that she is amazing, and I adore her.


Today is my two-year anniversary as a mom, specifically a stay-at-home mom. I wouldn't change my decision to stay at home with my children for anything. That's not to say there aren't days when I dream of an hour-long commute on the train and lunches out with co-workers. I just wouldn't give up my current job to have those things. Watching Alessia, and now Olivia, develop and grow and taking the major part in the direction that development takes is a great joy.


Sunday, October 28, 2012

Alessia's Language, Olivia's Sleeping, and Food

Alessia will be two soon. Her language skills amaze me. This morning with a little prompting from Adam she recited Where The Wild Things Are. She corrects me when I recite nursery rhymes and make a mistake. She loves learning Italian. Sometimes when I am speaking in English she says to me "No. Italiano." She's still trying to figure out what Olivia's arrival means. Is she no longer the baby? How should she interact with Olivia? She's definitely testing boundaries, and occasionally does naughty things just to get my attention or to get me to tell her not to in Italian (unravel the psychology on that one). She's super cute and increasingly creative in her play.


Olivia is utterly adorable. She smiles and coos. She has discovered her toes, and stares at the trees when it's breezy. Yesterday she giggled when I was getting her ready for bed. It made me so happy. Alessia took forever to giggle. At the same time she is an awful sleeper. She doesn't nap well, and I don't think I have had four hours straight of sleep in a month. I'm really not sure how much longer I can handle the night waking. We've tried offering a bottle so that Adam can help at night, and she was not impressed with our offer. Adam actually said to me today "you're losing your happiness." So I need to figure that out.


And now food, one of my favorite subjects. Last week was the last for our CSA share. I'm sad to see the end of the season, but it can be a lot of work, and it was a bit much this summer with the two babies. I have a freezer full of tomatoes, peppers, green beans, butternut squash, and a few other odds and ends, and I will enjoy cooking them over the next few months. My current culinary project is green tomatoes. We stripped the plants last weekend. Last summer I made chow chow, but we really don't eat that much relish, and I didn't have time to can this year. So I went looking for recipes. I found all the standard fried green tomato recipes, but I don't have time to stand at a frying pan. So I tried recipes in Italian. Given enough time in a pan with oil and garlic, what litte sugar there is in green tomatoes will caramelize, becoming an amazing little sauce for pasta. What a great discovery!


Saturday, September 29, 2012

Rice - my health vs the environment

For years we ate imported Thai white rice. It's delicious, and in my multicultural city, cheaply bought in 25 pound bags. About six months ago we decided to switch to brown rice. It's healthier and better for the environment. Grown here in the United States it's not shipped across oceans, and it takes less energy to produce the same number of calories of brown rice as white rice. I could even get organic brown rice for not much more than the white rice we had been buying.

Then this study by Consumer Reports came out. Thanks to years of high-pesticide cotton farming in the South and the fact that rice is grown in standing water, rice contains an alarmingly high amount of arsenic. That's right. Arsenic. Arsenic is a carcinogen. There are federal guidelines regulating the levels of arsenic in drinking water, but no regulations concerning arsenic in food. All rice tested contained some arsenic (and most other grains contain small amounts as well), but rice grown in the US is particularly high due to pesticides containing arsenic used on cotton farms (a practice that is still legal).

The solution seemed simple. Buy brown rice from Thailand or India. The problem with this is that most Asian cultures don't eat brown rice. The only brown rice we found by an Asian company is grown here in the US. So, with my apologies to the environment, we are back to eating Thai white rice in the 25 pound bag.


Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Olivia at Three Months

Olivia is three months old. She is as cute as a button. She is such a smiley baby, and gurgles and coos at very opportunity. She has finally settled into riding in the stroller. She doesn't sleep in there, but every once in awhile she finds the ride so relaxing that once we get somewhere and stop moving, she falls asleep. Her hands have found each other, and she has started staring at her toes. That last trick cracks me up every time I see her do it. Her eyes really aren't tuned in to what the rest of her body is doing yet. She is a much better napper than Alessia ever was. In the morning I have even had some success putting in her crib while still awake.

At moments I wish she were an only child and I could give her the attention I gave Alessia at this age, but then I see how she adores Alessia, and I'm glad that she is a little sister.




Saturday, September 8, 2012

Two Under Two - the vacation episode

After much back and forth, we decided to go to Maine this year. Every year Adam's parents rent a cottage in mid-coast Maine near where they lived for about ten years when Adam was growing up. We had only joined them once in the previous five years, and the more we thought about it this summer, the more determined we were to go.

The biggest difficulty was getting there and back. Without traffic, it's a 3.5 hour drive. Olivia nurses every two hours, sometimes more, during the day. Alessia is better about car rides than she was a year ago, but not that much better. So we planned two bedtime runs. We were nervous, but it worked. Both girls were asleep within an hour of departure and slept (almost) the entire way. It was no fun for Adam driving in the dark, but there was virtually no traffic, and it was worth not having to stop.

Alessia had a grand time. We went to the beach twice. The water scared her, but she loved all that wonderful sand to dig in.


We had second breakfast in coffee shops, and lunch in restaurants most days. Alessia's diet is still fairly limited, so became very skilled at packing her lunches. We balanced trips to boring adult shops with trips to the toy store and the children's room of the local library. For the most part we had our adventures in the mornings and quiet afternoons at the cottage. With some books and toys for indoor play and a huge deck and back yard, even spending time at the cottage was fun and exciting, and Alessia got some serious time with her nana and papa.

Olivia also had a fine time. She nursed in coffee shops and restaurants, on the beach, in the library, in the parked car, and even on a bench on the main street of Rockland. At the cottage I mostly nursed her on a comfy little couch, with this view.
Nobody got enough sleep. Alessia didn't nap most days, and while she slept fairly well most nights, she is teething so that woke her up a couple of times. Olivia reverted to the newborn stage and nursed every two to three hours all night, every night we were there. So we are very glad we came home Friday night and have two days to sleep and put the house back in order.


Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Making Dirt

For the first time this year, the household budget does not include a large house project. So we have allowed ourselves a few smaller purchases including a new stove and this:


This is a Jora Compost Tumbler. I first read about these on my favorite gardening blog You Grow Girl. For several years we have maintained a cold compost pile which gave us all sorts of trouble during the summer with fruit flies. We just could never seem to find enough appropriate brown material to make it work, and we never really got that serious about turning it and watering it and all that stuff one is supposed to do on a regular basis to maintain a hot compost pile. Once our CSA share this summer started I just couldn't stand the thought of the scraps going into the trash, and so we went ahead and bought the Jora.

This composter isn't cheap, but it is made of stainless steel and should last many more years than the plastic composters out there. The genius behind this composter is the two chamber system. Right now we are filling the left chamber. When it is full, we will start filling the right chamber. By the time that is full, the left will be fully composted. The chambers are also lined with foam (the one thing I am not thrilled with, but still better than all-plastic composters), which means it is usable all winter long.

The Jora is designed specifically to deal with kitchen waste. It takes very little brown material. We are using saw dust that we get from the carpenter down the street. Some people buy sawdust pellets.

It's been pretty amazing to watch the process at work. The first two weeks there were a few fruit flies. Then things started cooking. Now there are no fruit flies, and every time I open it, steam comes out and I can feel the heat. Best of all, it is nice to know that the scraps from all those lovely CSA vegetables are going to nourish my own garden next year rather than going to a landfill.


Sunday, August 19, 2012

When Stuffed Animals Go Bad

This post contains two stories.

The Killer Rabbit

Alessia has an organic cotton lovey with a bunny head. His head and ears are perfect for teething. Last winter I was rocking Alessia before a nap. She was teething and taking it out on lovey's head and face. At the same, it had been a cold couple of days and Alessia had a split lip. By the time she fell asleep, I couldn't help but notice that this cute little bunny lovey:


Closely resembled a Monty Python killer rabbit, covered in the blood of its victims.


Attack of the Killer Giraffe

Yesterday I put Olivia in her crib so that I could get Alessia ready for her nap. So that Olivia would have something to look at, I propped up Alessia's old giraffe on the side of the crib:


While I was getting Alessia ready, Olivia started to fuss. By the time I put Alessia in the crib, Olivia was screaming. I walked in my room, and there was the giraffe mauling my screaming, flailing baby girl. He had fallen in such a way that he was draped over her neck, face down, going for the jugular. I ran to rescue the poor little girl, laughing all the way.


Tuesday, August 14, 2012

The Red Tractor and Il Trattore Rosso

For about a year now, I've been speaking to Alessia in Italian. I don't manage to do it everyday, but most days we read a few books or play a game or eat our lunch in Italian. She understands quite a few things and says a couple of words and phrase - sporco (dirty) and "non c'e' piu'" (there is no more) are some of her favorites.

Last weekend she received a present from our cousins in Italy, a book in Italian about the farm. Each page has a farm scene and the words in Italian for different objects. Looking at it together I realized that one two-page spread had all of the essential characters of one her other books The Red Tractor. It's a very simple book, and she mostly has it memorized. So I told her the story from the English language book in Italian while pointing to the key characters in the Italian language book. I used the same intonations and the word "splash" (because I don't now the word for that in Italian) as we use with the English language book. The first time I did it, she looked at me funny. I could see the wheels turning in her brain. So I did it a second and a third time. After the third time, she looked at me and said, "no." Then she went to her shelf and brought me The Red Tractor. Too funny.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Doctors, Babies, and Phone Systems, oh my!

For the last two months of my pregnancy, my ears were stuffed up. I thought it was seasonal allergies. My nurse midwife told me I could take Claritin. That didn't work. Before trying another allergy med, I talked to two pharmacists. One told me that allergy meds wouldn't help my ears. Sudafed would help, but given I was pregnant I would need to talk to my doctor. Another pharmacist asked if it could be wax, but since the pressure moved from one ear to the other, I told him that I didn't think that was it. He told me I could try the drops that swimmers use for water in their ears. That didn't work either. In the meantime I was getting closer to my due date and had read that some pregnant women experienced pressure in their ears as part of the general congestion that comes with pregnancy (pregnant women tend to be champion snorers). So I decided to wait and see.

A week after Olivia was born, I called my primary care doctor's office and discussed all this with a nurse. She said it was probably pregnancy related, and if it continued I might need Sudafed, but that could lesson my milk supply, and so I was best off waiting a few weeks to see if it got better on its own. When Olivia was four weeks old, I woke up with no ear pressure or stuffiness whatsoever. Hooray! Three months of compromised hearing (really, I was beginning to feel like one of those old men who refuse to wear a hearing aid) was over. Two weeks later I couldn't hear out of my right ear again. After a week of hoping it would go away I called the doctor's office this morning and made an appointment. Adam works from home on Tuesday, so I made the appointment for noon. He could take a long lunch, feed Alessia, and put her down for a nap. I would take Olivia (who has refused our attempts to offer her a bottle) with me to the appointment.

I sat down to feed Olivia an hour before I needed to go. Of course she decided this was a good time to snooze rather than eat, and so she wasn't really even getting started until a few moments before I had to leave. At the same time, Adam informed me that his phone system at work was imploding, and when I needed to leave, I should just bring Alessia up to him in the studio. Right before it was time to go, I told him that if it was that bad, I could take both girls with me. He told me that no one could get a call through on either the main phone number or the 800 number. So, yes, that's pretty bad. So I bundled both girls into the stroller and off we went. Olivia complained the whole way to the train station, having been interrupted just as she was really starting to eat. I nursed her on the train. At State Street I put her in the stroller. Well, I guess being interrupted twice was just really too much, because by the time we got to the doctor's she was pretty hysterical. I took her out of the stroller while I checked in and paid the copay, and then I carried her, screaming and crying, up to the 6th floor, while pushing the stroller with the other hand.

I got to the waiting room ten minutes early. I knew she was way too upset to nurse, but I figured I had at least ten minutes to get her in a sling and asleep. I set her in the stroller, got out the sling, and heard the assistant call my name. Really? When are they ever running early in a doctor's office? So I wheeled the stroller in, apologizing for having both babes with me. They found a room big enough for me and the stroller. As Olivia was still crying, the assistant asked me if I wanted someone to hold her. I said we would be fine if she gave me a minute to calm her in the sling. As I'm getting Olivia in the sling we made small talk, and I noticed for the first time the heart beat monitor in the assistant's hand. That should be interesting, I thought. Once I got Olivia asleep she held out the monitor and I obediently stuck my finger in it. "Your heart rate is through the roof," the young, obviously childless assistant said to me. "Yeah, the baby is pretty upset. Could we do that at the end?" I replied. She said she would explain to the doctor.

After nine months of prenatal appointments, Alessia had gotten used to being on her feet and sitting on my lap during doctor's appointments. So she started asking to get out of the stroller. It occured to me that while ob/gyn doctors were used to small children accompanying adults during appointments and even seemed to enjoy it, a male, internal medicine doctor would probably not approach the situation the same way. So I amused Alessia with books and crackers (remember my brilliant plan to make the appointment for noon, lunch time?). The assistant must not have told the doctor about Alessia, because he looked surprise to see her when he came in. My assumption about him was right as he proceeded to ignore her completely. She only fussed once, during which the doctor proceeded to talk as if it wasn't happening, and I thought, "I did just tell you I'm having trouble hearing, right?" So I interrupted him to say something to Alessia and hand her a cracker.

Well, it turns out that I can't hear, because I have ears full of ear wax. That's it? I totally could have dealt with this months ago. The doctor explained that they could irrigate my ears today, but it was a wet process and the drops need to sit in my ears for ten minutes. He looked at Olivia while saying all this. I said alright. The assistant came in and explained that the process involved me laying down as the drops sat in for ten minutes, per side. The whole process could take half an hour. She looked at Alessia while saying this. Remember my brilliant plan to make the appointment for lunch time, also known as the pre-nap event? So I made another appointment for next week.

Alessia fell asleep the last five minutes of the trip home, which meant no afternoon nap, and I pushed the stroller with one hand all the way through downtown Boston and Malden as Olivia slept in the sling, so I know have really buff arms.

And that's my courageous story.


Sunday, July 29, 2012

Three Babies?

No, we aren't having another baby. I did get your attention though, didn't I?

Alessia has a doll who goes by the name of "Dolly." While Alessia was becoming increasingly attached to Dolly before Olivia was born, Dolly is now an ever-present part of our life. Dolly comes to the grocery store and on walks. She is taken up to bath time and is critical to napping. Alessia has also started mothering Dolly, making her the third baby in my house. It began with swaddling. Alessia will present me with Dolly, a blanket, and the request "wrap Dolly." She will then put Dolly in the swing and say "shhhhhhhh." She offers Dolly Olivia's binky and uses my phrase "try binky." Here she is carrying Dolly in the sling I made for them after watching Alessia try to get Dolly into my sling. This mothering is very sweet to watch, especially since it is happening at Alessia's initiative.


On another note, many people talk about how parents block out the more difficult memories related to their children's early years. I thought it was a process that happened when children got older, but apparently it starts immediately. Yesterday I interrupted Olivia in the middle of a feeding in order to change one of Alessia's diapers (it was a stinky one and just couldn't wait). Well Olivia became so hysterical that she wouldn't take the breast again, and after fifteen minutes of trying to convince her that what she wanted was right in front of her, I finally had to swaddle her and walk around bouncing up and down while holding a binky in her mouth. After about five minutes of that, she was calm enough to eat again. Later on I remembered that we had to stop burping Alessia halfway through a bottle when she was about the same age. Otherwise when we took the bottle out of her mouth to burp her, she would become so hysterical that she couldn't see the bottle in front of her nose. That was only 20 months ago, and I had already started to forget.


Monday, July 23, 2012

Sleep And Babies

First of all, I would like to thank God for the makers of the electric swing. I held Alessia while she napped for the first four months of her life. Her doctor then suggested that I try a swing. Magic! She took four, half-naps a day for about two months in this swing. At first we thought Olivia would be different. She didn't sleep much during the day her first month, but we could put her down for a two to three hour stretch of sleep in the middle of the day. Then all that changed. Swaddled, not swaddled, with a binky, or without, she started waking up screaming five minutes after being put down. So, at just over a month, we're back to a swinging, sleeping baby in the living room.


Second, I would like to thank Alessia (and Adam, the real hero of this story) for learning how to fall asleep on her own. For some months Adam has been in charge of Alessia's bedtime, in anticipation of Olivia's arrival. Alessia is often very wired at bedtime and would chat and squirm after finishing her bottle, while Adam tried to gently rock her to sleep. So he got into the habit of gently putting her in her crib, where she would talk to herself and squirm for a short while before crying for him. Sometimes this process was repeated several times before she succumbed to sleep while being rocked. Right before Olivia was born, Adam and I were discussing how difficult Alessia was at bedtime, while she burbled in her crib. Suddenly we realized it was very quiet. When we peeked in her room, there she was asleep in her crib. Joy! In the past two weeks she has fallen asleep at night on her own more nights than not and has even managed it twice at nap time, when I am sitting with her and Olivia starts crying. I'm proud of her. The baby is slowly slipping away and she is becoming an amazing little toddler.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Olivia at One Month

So the newest addition to the family is one month old today. In the past week Olivia has started making those goofy newborn smiles (open-mouthed with the lips curled in) and her first cooing sounds. She loves a shaken rattle and a spinning mobile. She's a miserable daytime sleeper, but a generally good nighttime sleeper (although last night we were up from 2:00 to 4:30). Unfortunately, at the moment, she won't sleep in the stroller, which means I can't go with the often repeated suggestion of taking the babies to the park and letting the newborn sleep in the stroller. She is in love with her big sister.

I told Adam a few weeks ago that Olivia has entered a louder and rougher world than Alessia did. I think she's up to the challenge though.


Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Baby Blues

Baby blues are a seemingly inevitable part of having a baby. All the pregnancy books talk about them. With each of my babies, about a week after they were born I had one good sobbing meltdown. After the first, I explained to Adam that a big part of it was hormonal. With pregnancy hormones crashing and mom hormones surging, if I hadn't just had a baby I would be on medication for a hormonal imbalance. Add to that all of the life changes and responsibilities of having a new baby, and the occasional tears are to be expected. A couple of weeks ago, it occured to me that with Alessia my tears were generally about my fears that I couldn't care for Alessia. With Olivia, my tears have been generally about my fears that I can't care for Alessia. Olivia will be fine. I know that, because I know from caring for Alessia that the tough newborn stuff passes. It's Alessia that is having a hard time right now. I know that she will adjust, but right now it is very difficult for her and for me. I miss playing with her as much as she misses playing with me. Today she tried to give me a full body hug, and I had to stop her, because the only way I could get Olivia to sleep this morning was in a sling. Last night she was having a bath with Adam, and I mentioned to Adam that I was "going to get her ready for bed," meaning Olivia. Alessia thought I was referring to her and started crying and clinging to Adam. I am simply not welcome at bed time anymore, and that's hard. I know that as the next few months pass, and Olivia does not need every moment of my attention any more, I will be able to reconnect with Alessia. Until then though I still may have a few moments of the "baby blues."

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Meal planning with a full CSA share and two babies

Even though we knew this summer would be extremely busy with two babies, we went ahead and signed up for the full CSA share. The first couple weeks were easy. Adam was home and did all the cooking. Now that he is back at work, we are going to have to get more deliberate in our meal planning and prep. I came up with a meal plan for this week based on the CSA veg and the various beans and precooked meals in the freezer. Today, I prepped lettuce for several salads, froze kale to use later in the week, cooked a pound of lentils and froze one 2-cup container of them, and prepped enough beets for tonight's dinner and a second dinner. This is the plan:

Saturday: grilled beet and zucchini salad with feta, bread, blue cheese (we are picnicing in the park this evening)

Sunday: grilled ham steak, grilled green beans and onions, bread, sliced tomatoes

Monday: lentil salad with leftover beets and fennel, sauteed zucchini, rice

Tuesday: swiss chard and chick peas over pasta, salad

Wednesday: kale and black beans over quesadillas

Thursday: sauce from the freezer (from the last time I made pot roast) over pasta

Friday: order in pizza


The goal for each night is to keep cooking to a minimum - sauteeing garlic, boiling pasta, putting rice in the electric rice cooker, dressing lettuce for salad. Wish me luck!




Monday, July 9, 2012

Two Under Two

Olivia is almost three weeks old now, and today is Adam's first day back at work, which means it is my first day solo with two under two. Somehow two babies works out to more than twice the work. While there are two bums to keep in clean diapers, two mouths to feed, and two to entertain, the fact that whenever I am doing for one, the other is there with her own needs, means that doing for one is more work than it once was. Did you catch all that?


Olivia loves to nurse. This is a pleasant change from Alessia who took the opposite approach and ended up a formula baby. On the downside, she wants to nurse ALL THE TIME. If Alessia ends up resenting Olivia, it will be because she has heard "mamma can't right now, I'm feeding Olivia" one too many times. At the same time, Olivia is a very wakeful baby and enjoys wriggling and gazing around from the comfort of her boppy chair. When she does finally take a break from eating, I have had some success swaddling her and putting her down in her bassinet. At this age, Alessia did nothing besides eat and sleep, and we could not put her down during the day without her screaming in protest.


So far Alessia is handling this new development in her young life fairly well. She is very curious about Olivia and is already trying to share with her. She offers crackers, crayons, and sips of water. Hopefully she will still be in the sharing mood when Olivia is old enough to actually accept. I'm the one that Alessia is mad at. I completely understand why. I went away for three days, something that had never happened before (well, once before, but she was only four months old). Since coming back, I all too often have this little baby attached to me. My lap used to belong to Alessia, and I used to be ready at any moment to play ball and accept a full body hug. Things will get better between us, and all this will be a distant memory, but these first few weeks have been hard for both of us.


I think the hardest thing about this next year is going to be that babies change so much. Every time Alessia changed (new nap routines, eating routines, sitting up, cruising, crawling, etc) I had to adjust, but I'm an adult, so big deal. With two of them, as Olivia changes, Alessia will be affected as well, which is going to be difficult for both of us. Toddlers enjoy routines, and while Alessia has proven herself to be very flexible, she is no exception here.


At the end of my first day as a stay-at-home mom of two under two, I am so glad to have two beautiful baby girls and a wonderful husband. This morning I found a note in my diaper bag that read "I love you. You can do anything."


Friday, July 6, 2012

First Adventure

This morning I ventured out alone with both of my girls for the first time. We weren't over ambitious, just a trip to the library. I had Olivia in my new Baby K'tan carrier (it's a cross between a wrap and a sling), and Alessia was in her stroller. Overall it went well. Alessia loves the library and was very eager to go. I nursed in public for the first time, changed a newborn poop overflow diaper (I had forgotten how common those are), and Alessia had her snack in the stroller on the way home. All in all, it was a very successful trip.

We're still debating wether or not to get a double stroller though. I love how compact and easy to manuever Alessia's stroller is, and I've always loved "babywearing." At the same time, I can see many situations in which I would want to put Olivia down in order to deal with Alessia, and that doesn't really work without a stroller equipped for a newborn. (Yesterday, for example, Alessia was outside with Adam and fell face first down a step onto concrete. If something like that were to happen while we were out and about, I couldn't pick her up with Olivia in the sling.) Also, Olivia often cries a bit when I first get her into the sling. She always calms down after a minute or two, but it wasn't ideal in the library when I was getting us reay to go home. This particular problem will get better over the next couple of months though, and I hate to make any purchasing decisions based on short term need. I'm also worried about getting a double stroller in and out of the house. There are two concrete steps to negotiate in order to get to my back door. With Alessia's stroller this isn't a problem. I could see it being very difficult with a double stroller. I know eventually I will need a double stroller (I carried Alessia in a baby bjorn until she was about 6 months old), but if I wait, I don't have to worry about wether or not the stroller is suited to a newborn.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

What an entrance! (Olivia's birth)

Baby number two was due on June 7. This past Tuesday (June 19) I once again went to my weekly appointment with my nurse midwife. At 41 weeks and 4 days, I was almost two weeks overdue. She told me I was in the schedule for induction at the hospital on Wednesday. I went home pretty bummed about that. I had heard that Pitocin-induced contractions were particularly painful. I'm a big wimp, so I had visions of horrible contractions followed by an epidural and another protracted labor. My nurse midwife assured me (as she had been doing for months) that this baby was going to fly out of me. While I had mixed feelings about inductions, I really do trust my nurse midwife, so I went home and made plans for my in-laws to come down in the morning and sit with my daughter.

At the same time, during my appointment my nurse midwife had "stripped my membranes" and told me to go home and " get a vibrator, read some trash, whatever it took." All of this of course being one last ditch effort at starting things naturally. So we had lunch and after I put Alessia down for a nap, I "took a nap" myself. At 1:55 contractions started every two minutes apart. I knew that things could slow down again, so I decded to wait and see where things were going. After 45 minutes of this (during which I decided to water my tomato plants, ha ha) I had Adam call his parents and ask them to drive down, just in case. Well, having been told that we were being induced the following day, they had gone outside to the garden without their cell phones. I called my doctor's office. When the nurse called me back, my water broke, and she told me that we should go ahead and head to the hospital. In the meantime the two women on the street who had said they would watch Alessia until Adam's parents arrived were not at home, and all of our friends were at work. Just as we were debating what to do, Adam's parents called and then another neighbor was seen pulling into her driveway and Adam ran down the street to talk to her. Luckily Alessia napped through all of this.

At 3:30 we got ourselves into the neighbor's car. They were away for the week, but had insisted on leaving us their keys, just in case. We headed out, hitting every red light on the way to the highway, and stopping for gas, having mistakenly read the gas meter as on empty, when in fact it was on full. Luckily traffic wasn't too bad. For those of you who aren't in the Boston area, any drive that involves Storrow Drive and the Longwood Medical Area is going to involve traffic, the question is how much traffic? Somewhere in there I realized that the nature of the contractions was changing. Just a few days before I had been reading about the stages of labor. I hadn't experienced the physical sensations of the last few stages of my first daughter's labor since I had an epidural. I realized that the change meant we were getting closer, but kept this to myself as I didn't want to alarm Adam. We got to the hospital. I eyed the emergency entrance, but decided we weren't quite at that point. The valet got me right into a wheelchair and into admitting. The person staffing admitting took one look at me and quickly pulled out the paper work and had me sign it. I laughed inside, thinking that I would have signed anything at that point. She took us up to the delivery floor and parked me in the triage area. At some point in all of that I started to feel a burning sensation which I remembered reading was the head starting it's dissent, and I started to feel a lot of downward pressure. After a few moments the triage nurse came out and after one look at me asked if this was my first or second baby. I said second and she told the staff at the desk that I was a direct admit. She skipped the triage exam and took me straight to a delivery room. The nurse and nurse midwife started to ask me the usual questions. I turned to Adam and said "hold me, I think I can feel the head." He repeated what I had said to the nurse. They sat me down and Adam helped me out of my clothes. "There's the head," he said. Technically I entered the delivery room at 4:20 and Olivia was born at 4:24. I got to hold her on my tummy while they cut the cord, and started all the post-delivery clean up.

While we of course thank God for our beautiful baby girl, we also thank God for Adam's parents finally going inside and checking their messages, our neighbors coming home when they did, our other neighbors leaving us their car, the lack of traffic, and a triage nurse who really knew her job. If any of these things had happened differently, we would have had this baby at home, on the highway, or in the triage nurse's room. I also thank God for Adam who is calm and clear-sighted in all circumstances.


Sunday, June 10, 2012

The First of the Peas and a Family Tradition

Today I picked the first of the peas. A few weeks ago when it got hot, I didn't think I was going to get any peas at all. Then the weather got cooler again, and the plants took off. The majority of the peas still have a few days to go before they will be ready for picking, but I got a couple of handfuls today. Adam and I sat on the front porch in our rocking chairs and ate them all. My mom told me later on that every year she grew peas, and between my dad and us kids, not a single pea ever made it into the house. It's good to keep up family traditions.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Are we there yet? (a post on pregnancy)

In general I am very patient when it comes to waiting. I find it easy to amuse myself, and generally enjoy time spent waiting for a train or plane. As long as I have a book, some knitting, or a cafe latte and am in a place with lots of people (I am a shameless people-watcher), I'm content. At the same time, I hate the kind of waiting that involves twiddling my thumbs in the house. Once I'm packed for that train, let's go to the train station already. Who cares if the train doesn't leave for another three hours? Once I've washed all the newborn baby clothes, set up the bassinet, and packed a bag, let's just have the baby. I've done all the preparing a person can do, so why are we still hanging around the house? Unfortunately having a baby doesn't work that way, and so I wait, impatiently, around the house asking myself "Are we there yet?"



Monday, May 28, 2012

The Garden Push Before the Baby Push

I'm over 38 weeks pregnant now. We decided to make the garden a priority on the pre-baby project list. We've always enjoyed having flowers and vegetables growing in our yard, and we knew that if we didn't do it before the baby was born, we would very much feel their lack in mid-July when we had two babies and no time to garden.

Friday I worked on my perennial herb garden. I added thyme to replace the thyme that didn't make it through the winter. I also planted a second oregano plant and garlic chives. I took cuttings of my overgrown sage plant. I am trying to root them both in water and dirt. If I get a few viable plants out of this 5th-grade science experiment, I will pull the existing sage plant this fall and replace it with a new one.


Saturday my in-laws came down and played with Alessia, while Adam and I went to the garden center and bought plants, dirt, mulch, and compost. Our own compost operation still isn't sorted well enough to provide for our needs, but we were very pleased to find lobster compost and organic mulch from the coast of Maine. When we got back to the house, we ate lunch, put Alessia down for a nap, and with four sets of adult hands we did some serious planting.

Along the back fence, in the shadiest part of our yard, my mother-in-law planted ginger and a few other perennials that she brought from her garden. In two of the three raised beds in back (also fairly shady), Adam and his mom put ginger and various flowers. Adam planted ornamental grass and some flowers in a few containers for the patio.


I pulled out what was left of the spinach plants and the arugula from the front raised beds and planted tomatoes and eggplant. We also added several containers to our vegetable growing this year. I planted three more tomato plants and a hot pepper plant. I planted rosemary, tri-color sage, lemon balm, and stevia in pots. I bought a small parlsey and basil plant at the garden center, just in case my seed starting doesn't go so well. Those both went in the large raised bed with the tomatoes. To top it off, my father-in-law did some heavy-duty weeding and mulching just about everywhere. These are not jobs I would ask of anyone. He just jumped in and did them.


Sunday I potted up my Italian basil, Thai basil, parsley, and cilantro seedlings. I have a fear of finding my self in the hospital and having all the seedlings die neglected in the basement. So I am going with a tough love program. Some of the seedling went straight into the raised beds. Some went into 4" pots in the cold frame. A few are still living the good life under the grow lights in the basement. I also direct seeded some, just to see if it was worth all the effort of starting seedlings.