Friday, December 20, 2013

9 Months!

This is the month you started crawling for real! And boy have you been on the move! You also started the month by learning to sit yourself up from a belly down position. Another skill? going up the stairs! For us that means that keeping you safe has become quite the challenge. In one way you are less frustrated because you can get around, on the other hand, the standing obsession has reached new heights and you are already thinking ahead to cruising.

In the food department we've also had great leaps as we've finally moved to two meals a day! Usually fruit and/or puffs for "lunch" and then some of whatever we're having for dinner. Your spoon skills are getting quite good and you are always excited for wintry soups. You have 3 teeth and a 4th on the way, so we let you try some meat and you loved it (and did an excellent job chewing it to death)!


You are very much a creature of habit and have been loving our daily routine. You are particularly happy to go out of the house and you are anxious to leave the house in the morning on our daily walks! Even though daytime hours are short between our walk, meal times and two naps, you love exploring around the house and especially love reading books together.

Quite possibly the most rewarding development for us to hear is your new screech. It is one of delight and joy and we love hearing it when you get up in the morning, or when you wake up your brother from his nap and are just too excited to tackle him in bed. We love seeing you grow and change and can't wait for what's to come!

Monday, November 4, 2013

Mexican "Lunch" Cooking - Part 1

Since Little Boy started going to preschool, we have had to send in his "lunch". This is more like a large snack since breakfast (desayuno) is eaten before school and comida, the main meal of the day is eaten at around 3 p.m. Dinner (cena) is something light like tacos, and that's eaten at about 8 p.m. Ok, back to lunch. Little Boy's school sends us a monthly menu of suggested meals so that the children are all eating the same thing more or less*. To put it mildly, I shudder at the thought that many parents send some of these highly-processed suggested foods, and for my own son I have taken it as a challenge to try and stick with the menu while making the dishes from scratch. Here are some of the most successful snack food recipes I have made based on the first month's menu:

Taquitos:
I took a shortcut buying homemade corn tortillas and refried beans from our mini-market (but with time these are easy enough to make from scratch). Heat the tortillas so that they are super soft- on the griddle or just in the microwave. Fill with beans and cheese and roll tightly. It is easiest to keep them together if you fill your baking pan. Brush a tiny bit of oil on top in the crevices between the taquitos. Bake at 350 until they are golden.
*I also made variations with leftover fish, chicken and salsa. Pretty much anything goes.

Jello:
1 envelope gelatin (7 grams)
1 1/4 cup juice
1/4 cup boiling water
Put 1/4 cup juice in bowl and sprinkle the gelatin on top. Leave it for a few minutes to inflate and mix it up. Add boiling water and stir, stir, stir, until all of the gelatin is dissolved. Add in remaining 1 cup of juice. Pour into containers and let set in fridge over several hours.
*I used 100% grape juice and it came out perfectly.

Chicken nuggets:
Cut chicken breast into small "nugget size" pieces. Bread in flour, then egg, then bread crumbs. Pan fry in a little oil.
*For Little Boy I just used the yolks and it came out just fine.

Lara bars/ Granola bars:
The base of the bars is equal amounts (by volume) of cashews and pitted dates. I generally use 1 cup of each.In food processor, blend nuts until the largest pieces are no more than a quarter inch. Take them out, and spread dates on bottom, pour cashews on top, and anything else you want to add. Process until it all turns into a giant ball. Then roll out. I prefer to put it in wax paper folded in half and roll the paper to avoid a sticky mess. Cut into bars after chilling. (We love them with dried cherries or blueberries and sometimes a little bit of lemon rind and I generally keep them in the fridge for minimal stickiness).
If you want to make into granola bars, take out the "giant ball" and fold in by hand toasted oats, raisins and anything else you want.


*This was actually a huge plus for us compared to the schools where the parents bring in lunch for everyone on a rotating schedule.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

8 Month Update!

What a fun month we had! You're on the move, crawling on your belly like a little army commando! We've had to scramble to fine-tune our baby proofing as you clearly point out all the little hazards lurking around the house. Your new found mobility also means that you like to follow your Mommy around the house and hardly ever stay where we last left you! You've been doing pretty intense push ups and we're anxiously waiting to see if it's going to turn into a real crawl or you're going to sit up on your own.

We are discovering that you are quite fearless in your movement which results in many bumps and bruises as you try to pull up on items that are not sturdy enough, or pick up items that are a tad too big (toddler chair?!). You are just dying to walk and love being in the activity center and going round and round in a circle. When you pull up on the coffee table, we are seeing the beginning of cruising, just a few steps over to get you to the object. And you are happy to stand only holding on to one hand!


In the teething department we are happy to report that we have a tooth! Though it was a rough patch while coming in we love that little gleaming white spot. Of course, this month was marked by a bunch of new foods for you including chayote, puffs, bread, pineapple, pumpkin, hummus and white fish amongst others. You are getting really great at picking up a pre-loaded spoon and we are seeing that you're finally consuming a decent quantity of food! You've mastered pulling off your bib (with brute force), and figured out removing the top of your tray.

It seems that we can't go a month without mentioning how happy and smiley you are, and this one is no different. We're particularly enamored with the twinkle in your eye when you take off towards a coveted object. You love your older brother and look up to him so much even when he's not being so gentle, just entering his room makes you giddy! But usually he is, and it's you that bothers him: grabbing at him over the stroller median, trying to use him to stand up. Happily for now it's all in good fun. Other favorite activities this month: spinning the beads on the abacus, playing with balloons, and kicking the soccer ball in the jumper. It truly is a joy to spend the days with you and see you grow and discover what the world has to offer. We love you SO much!

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

I Want (Need) a Village

Recently, a women from one of the expat groups that I am a member of, posted an article about how hard it is to be an expat wife. To sum it up: losing your job identity, living in a place where you don't speak the language, and having to set up a life for your spouse and children is hard. So even though there are perks, the emotional toll is extremely difficult. And I had to laugh, because the other choice was crying.

The stereotype that the above mentioned article was try to dissipate is that all these women do is sip gin and tonics. But fortunately for them, the stereotype is not that far off. I have met many of them in person. They are here for their husbands' jobs'. Jobs which pay enough to live and then some. Most of them are older than us, so I understand that language acquisition is more difficult. Some need to set up children in new schools; I can definitely see that being a challenge. And moving in general is no piece of cake, so I definitely don't discount that. On the flip side, many have "helpers"- maids, nannies, drivers, or all of the above. While they might not be in the comfort of their home country, their time is freed up to join the county club, and volunteer and have adventures around town in their "exotic" surroundings. As much as I empathize with some of the individual struggles, I do not feel bad for these women, and actually feel that they are quite lucky to live this life!

---

One of my friend's favorite quotes is about becoming a mother:


The moment a child is born, the mother is also born. She never existed before. The woman existed, but the mother, never. A mother is something absolutely new. -Osho


The one greatest realization I have had since becoming a mother is that I cannot do it alone. It was cathartic. Me- the officer, the academic, the independent "I can do anything and I can do it by myself"- can not do it alone. A mother can be a child's many things but she can not be a child's everything. 

---

The modern nuclear family doesn't make sense. One person can not cook and clean and sustain the house (upkeep, decorating, holidays) and do that while also breastfeeding, playing (educating) kids, and not sleeping well at night. 

When I martyr myself and try to keep it all together, that lack of breathing space for my mind eventually gets so small that the whole system collapses. When I don't and I have a messy house because playing and cooking come first, I do a little better but the clutter also gets in my head and it doesn't quite work. The internet is full of affirmations of women admitting that they don't have it all together, and while I most certainly admire the candid approach, in my personal life I find it hard to live with. It's not so much about lowering expectation (and they most certainly have been lowered) but about being content with the things you're letting slide. 

When you're on your own there are two options to get everything back together. The first option is hiring your village: daycare workers or nannies, housekeepers or cooks or maids or just a cleaning lady, restaurants or take away, gardeners or drivers. The hired village has many forms: choose the ones that make the biggest impact for you and focus your energy on the remaining tasks. Some of the expat women have very big hired villages. I would take a hired village over no village any day of the week.

The second is having/making a village in the place you are living. This is the village I yearn for. In an ideal world, I want to be close to people that care about my children and their well being. I want to get a day off cooking because I'm going to eat at someone's house and not because I'm shuffling to a restaurant. I want to be able to ask someone I love to stay with my sleeping children so that I can go out. It's sad for me that I don't know what our city looks like at night, that I don't recognize the twinkling lights and the sketchy dark back roads. I am ready to plant roots and assemble a village. Or move. 

At this point in our lives, we cannot hire our village, but I really wish that we still had one. 



Monday, October 7, 2013

7 Month Update!

Wow! Another great month has gone by! Most of all this month marked our real segway into starting solids. You are already showing us that you have great self feeding skills as we explored fruits and vegetables. We tried: sweet potato, regular potato, watermelon, honeydew melon, carrots, zucchini, cucumber, apples, bananas, avocado, and salmon.

We also had a bunch of motor advances. You can pull to a stand! You do it so easily, like it's no big deal and it's a bit of an obsession. You are trying really hard to crawl, and in the meantime pushing backwards, but the real movement has been that you realized that you can roll over both ways! After several nights of back and forth you now settle into side sleeping fairly quickly.


You've settled into a nice routine and are quite enjoying the predictability that it brings. You love being outdoors, going on walks, watching the city go by in the stroller, flirting with anybody that flashes you a smile and pushing yourself into discovery. You lunge forward with no restraint and we're so excited to see you keep growing and developing. You are our joy-child and we love you so much!

Friday, September 13, 2013

New Orleans with the Kiddos

*Catch-up post from this summer...hopefully a few more of these to come.

We arrived in New Orleans with not much of a plan except trying to do some wandering around, seeing some street performers and eating at Cafe du Monde. Upon arrival we asked the concierge at at the hotel and he told us the three most popular activities for kids are 1) the cool zoo (like a water park in the zoo), 2) the aquarium, and 3) story land. Since we had recently been to the aquarium and zoo in our hometown (and they are $$$) we decided on Storyland as our kid-centered activity. We decided to visit Storyland in the morning and leave the French Quarter for the afternoon post nap. 





We had a quick breakfast at a diner down the street from the hotel and then drove to City Park. The park is huge and we could tell that there was a lot of exploring to do there, but we had limited time and a destination so we went directly to Storyland. In sum, Little Boy absolutely loved it! It was story book characters and structures that he could walk in/on/over. (We also realized that he doesn't know very many classic fairy tales yet so we need to get on that!) Adjacent to Storyland is a little amusement park called Carousel Gardens. Little Boy was too small to go on most rides but he did go on his very first carousel and very first ferris wheel ride. 






We had some snacks and headed to the hotel to try for a nap. That was a total fail! So we decided to just leave and head to the French Quarter for lunch and wanderings. We had a great lunch at the Acme Oyster House, then walked down to  have beignets and coffee for dessert. We enjoyed just walking around and  watching street performances and finally the heat was just too much and we headed back to the hotel for a dip in the pool before dinner. Of course Little Boy passed out in the stroller on the way back! And Baby Brother? He was a trooper and let us do what we wanted to do. All in all a really great day!


Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Quick Trip to the Beach

After this post, M decided we needed to re-group to prevent burn out. So we decided to head out of town for the weekend. Here are the highlights:












Friday, September 6, 2013

Breastfeeding the Second Time Around and Tandem Nursing

Baby Brother was born knowing how to latch on and that is a blessing I do not take for granted. While he did not nurse immediately following the birth, within a couple of hours he sure did and by his second day of life my milk had come in and we were on our way. During the early weeks, we woke Baby Brother up every two hours during the day to feed and I think that was instrumental in getting his days and nights sorted out, because in no time he was giving us a 4-5 hour stretch at night which by 6 weeks extended to 8-9 hours! (Of course since this post is about nursing and not sleep I will not go into details but he's not giving us that same stretch at the moment).

Along the way, we have definitely had a few bumps. First and foremost, dealing with MSPI has been rough. Secondly, just as with Little Boy I have gotten a few blocked ducts and once almost mastitis, but being hyper-aware of this and pulling out the pump and nursing in crazy positions we have managed to avoid anything serious. With Little Boy I was able to take lecithin to prevent the blocked ducts, but since I am soy-free I haven't been able to do that and have been relying on drinking lots of water and pumping to take care of any issues as they come up.

Things that have made a big difference in my comfort this time around have been:

  • Getting a glider; I love it and have not had any back pain from leaning over while sitting on the bed. 
  • Learning to nurse in the side-lying position: we started at about 6 weeks and quickly mastered it helping night wakings be MUCH easier to handle. 
  • Using a My Brestfriend pillow in the early days for better positioning, then a Boppy for a little while after that, and now nothing because the kiddo is big and just lies in my lap. 
  • Focusing 100% of my effort on breastfeeding in the early days. No cleaning, no cooking, no worrying about guests (and yes I was nursing in the living room with no cover). The only thing I did other than nursing/carrying/changing Baby Brother was trying to spend quality time with Little Boy. I really think this is essential in establishing a good groove and I wish it was easier for other new moms to do just that.

Other differences? I have not been pumping on a regular basis, just as needed and a few short sessions here and there with the manual pump in the early days to make a small freezer stash. If I'm feeling particularly full I just pump a couple of ounces and call it a day. Baby Brother has never had a bottle, so at this point even if he were to get pumped milk we would just move onto a cup. I never use a nursing cover. Ever. It it is a pain to get situated with it, a pain to keep it in place, an extra thing to carry, and mostly because I just don't care. I actually see myself as a walking poster board for breastfeeding (in a place where it's not very popular) and when asked people are actually shocked that Baby Brother is such a big baby and has been fed solely breast milk until the past couple of weeks when we started solids. Finally, the biggest difference of all is that I am tandem nursing.

My milk monsters

During Baby Brother's first week of life, Little Boy did not get to nurse. M would do the bedtime routine with him and that was that. By the end of the week though, Little Boy was begging to nurse and I felt comfortable that Baby Brother was nursing well and establishing my supply so I let Little Boy nurse before he went to bed. During the next few weeks, Little Boy was extremely jealous and wanted to be a baby as well and so he began nursing before his nap time and then for a short time upon wake-up as well. He did/does not like to share, so I do not nurse them at the same time. This was exhausting and I actually felt like it was too much for me (physically).

As soon as we left town, just before Little Boy turned two, that morning session was eliminated (by M getting him from bed). Since then we have stuck with twice a day, but now that Little Boy is going to preschool we are working on eliminating the pre-nap session as well since I'm just getting tired of it. I don't offer if he doesn't specifically ask. Our bedtime session is the only one I really enjoy because Little Boy is calm and gets his cuddles and one-on-one time with Mommy. It is always after Baby Brother has already gone to bed, so I am not worried about him and Little Boy can take his time.

What more is there to say? I never in a million years imagined going down this road, but if it helps keep my boy healthy (the research indicates it does), well then I'm not going to push him to wean (at least for a little while longer). 

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Little Boy's First Day of Preschool

I mentioned earlier that I was searching for a preschool and I'm happy to say that we found one, we started, and so far I am feeling great about the decision! Let me rewind a bit: I started the search by making a list of all the options near our house within a couple mile radius. There were A LOT of options. I then looked up their websites and narrowed down to about 10 places that were a) not religiously affiliated, b) were more than just daycare. From there we made some calls, focusing on those that we got personal recommendations for. When all was said and done, after visiting the schools and ruling some out for being too academic (workbooks for 2 year olds? no thanks!), too religious (even though there was no mention on the website), too tech-y for my taste (iPads for 2 year olds? not my cup of tea), we were left with two options. My preferred school originally was a Montessori, but it was too far away to walk and the drive there would have left me sitting in traffic every morning. Considering it's only a half day, I just couldn't justify the drive.

So our final choice ended up being a small hands-on preschool that has a little of everything (arts, gym, play etc), is a 20 minute walk/3 minute drive from the house, and with teachers that made us feel comfortable and created a warm environment. I also liked that they have a suggested menu (we bring our own lunch based on a schedule so that the kids eat more of less the same but I have control of the ingredients), that they were easy going with us on the registration (I did it the day before school started), and that we found out about some acquaintances that also send their kids there. The day before Little Boy started we went to meet his teacher and I was put really at ease finding out that she likes to emphasize the same things I was hoping for: socialization and independence.


After all that, there's not much to say about the first day. Little Boy had a great time, came home tired but happy, and was excited to go the next day. We still have an adjustment period ahead of us as the day was a little long for him and I still need to streamline our morning routine. All in all though I'm excited for some one-on-one time with Baby Brother and having some time to tackle projects around the house when he's napping!



Friday, August 23, 2013

6 Month Update!

I'm going to sound like a broken record but you are such a HAPPY and BIG baby! You've been sitting nice and stable for most of the past month and you are ready to move! You lunge forward (generally landing flat on your face) and make huge efforts to get toys that are out of reach. If I glance away for a minute I can pretty much guarantee that you will not be in the same position that I left you. When I set you down in the chair, you instantly sit up and start rocking yourself and reaching for items all around you. You push with all your might and are trying so hard to stand up- it's a borderline obsession!


You love being outside: watching the trees, pulling at the grass, observing the people and activity around you. You give free smiles at all times: even when you are tired or teething, to strangers and loved ones alike; your smiles are a ray of sunshine to anyone that glances your way. That said, you are very much a Mommy's boy and miss us at night if we're not by your side. You have already learned that sometimes you need to make a fuss to get attention, but that's just how things go.

Just before your cumple-mes, we finally let you try some sweet potato. You could not get over your giddiness and how happy you were to finally join us at dinner instead of smacking your lips out of annoyance. It is already evident that you have great self-feeding skills and they're only going to get better. Happy half year my darling!



Monday, August 12, 2013

5 Month Update!

My baby is getting so big, so fast. This is probably the month with the biggest changes in babyhood- from one sleepless night to the next our smiley yet static infant became a smiley baby: one with a twinkle in his eye that sees the world in a whole new light. You've started moving in whole new ways, interacting with us with a whole new understanding, possessing a fierce desire to learn and explore.

You started off this month by rolling over (tummy to back). It's still not a skill you've mastered but you certainly have the strength to do it if you so please and like hanging out on your tummy now. About half way through you found your legs (and felt the need to check they were still there in the middle of the night). Most recently you have started doing crunches and can sit yourself up from a reclined position.


We took you to a couple museums and realized that you really love art! You are incredibly interested in looking at books- both the words and the pictures hold your interest. You also love baby-music and being outside in nature. But most of all you are interested in putting everything in the mouth! How fun it is discovering the world with you! We love you little one!

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Pregnancy Led Weaning: My Experience Nursing Through Pregnancy

At the one year mark, Baby Boy was nursing four times a day: wake-up, before or after 2 naps, and before bed. Right after his first birthday, we found out that I was pregnant again. Almost immediately nursing became a lot more painful for me and by 6 weeks I had developed severe breastfeeding agitation. Basically every time I nursed Baby Boy, I got really annoyed and was praying for him to be done. It also coincided with the onset of nausea and lasted for about a month. I did not make any effort to wean Baby Boy though because we were on our many trips and in my mind he was still so young.

When we got back home, and just as Baby Boy was turning 14 months, I decided that as we dropped his morning nap we would also drop that nursing session. It was definitely accompanied by some guilt on my part but went well. For about a week after we dropped that session, Baby Boy would ask to nurse right around his old nap time, but I just offered him a snack instead and after a while he stopped asking. Luckily, by this point the agitation on my part had stopped and it was not that uncomfortable to nurse.

I had always assumed that by the second trimester of pregnancy my supply would dwindle and that Baby Boy would naturally wean, but I was thrown for a loop! By 16 weeks my milk had changed into colostrum (or some transitional milk) with no intermediary supply loss. The result was very loose stools on the part of Baby Boy, and bowel movements going from a regular once a day, to 5-6 times a day! This alone was reason enough to motivate me to drop our last middle of the day session.

Since nap time was usually around 1:30 p.m. Baby Boy had just had lunch, so a nursing session was really just a matter of habit and not a dietary need. One day, I just laid down with him and cuddled before his nap and he easily started falling asleep. The next day we did the same thing and within a few days, that nursing session was all but forgotten. Our loose stool situation stabilized at 3 times a day, still more than I liked dealing with, but much more manageable. At this point, nursing became completely comfortable again, and I was prepared to let Baby Boy nurse morning and evening as long as he still wanted to.


But then around weeks 18/19 my supply took a major dip! It really frustrated Baby Boy, and I felt so sad when he would cry after a feeding because he wanted more milk but there was really nothing there. We continued until 21 weeks with our morning/evening sessions. Baby Boy then got sick and just wanted to be cuddled all the time. He wasn't necessarily asking for feedings though and so I decided to move on to the No Offer/No Refuse method; if he asked for it I would feed him, otherwise I wouldn't be offering it.

We continued at twice a day until week 23 or so (16.5 months). M was usually getting Baby Boy from the crib in the morning, and while he was always really thirsty for water, if he didn't come to our bedroom, he didn't ask for a feeding. We were down to one evening session and it was just a matter of time. About a month later when Baby Boy was 17.5 months and I was entering my third trimester, M started intermittently taking over the bedtime routine.

All in all, it was about a 4 month process to get down to that one last feeding. I definitely have some guilt about taking the lead on the process, because I think the kiddo probably would have continued for several more months if the situation had been different. But with a baby on the way, and all the other changes that were coming up in the following months, I just couldn't fathom tandem nursing. In retrospect, all the initial struggles were SO SO worth it, for a nursing relationship that could not be replicated or replaced in any way. The bonding, comforting, and ease, that seemed like bonus features to me when we first started (over the nutritional benefits) are something that I came to cherish, and they will be on my mind as I embark on the journey with Baby Brother. 

*When I first wrote this post, I thought it was the end and that by 18 months Little Boy would be weaned. That's sort of laughable now, and hopefully I can come back with another post on the next part of our journey. 

Monday, August 5, 2013

Long Time No Blog...and this is why

This is probably one of the longest blogging breaks I've taken in a few years. No, I'm not pregnant. Yes, I am busy. Life with two is just a lot right now. Not too much, but a lot.

1:
Our schedule looks something like this:
7- Baby wakes up, try to coax back to sleep, fail, get up
8/9- Toddler wakes up, dress, feed, try to eat myself
10-1 Do stuff: errands or housework or playing in the house, hopefully Baby takes a nap at some point which is quality time activities with toddler, maybe eat lunch depending on how late/how big breakfast ended up being
1/2- Put down toddler and baby for naps, Baby wakes up after an hour then have quality time reading and playing, in my "free time" I eat lunch and start prepping dinner or making other food staples
3/4- Toddler gets up, go for walk to park or just play outside in common areas, sometimes one more Baby nap
5:30/6- M gets home, hand off kids, make dinner, eat
7- M takes Baby to bath, I finish dinner with toddler, M takes toddler to bath, I put baby to bed, I put toddler to bed
9- Chores: usually cleaning up dinner, doing dishes, folding laundry
10- Time to unwind even though I should really go to bed because Baby still has several night-wakings, generally spend at least 20 minutes figuring out food for the next day, then answering emails, anything else I need to do...
Midnight- bed, finally
***Repeat. every.single.day.

2:
It's World Breastfeeding Week- so a happy week to all the lactating mothers out there! It's a wild ride but one so very worth it. I'm going to try to post a little more about this since I have been nursing now for over 25 months, yeah.

3:
Related to the above- I am making everything from scratch, or almost everything. This is a) because Baby Brother still has MSPI so for practical reasons there's just a lot I can't buy, b) I've been reading a lot about environmental/ecological toxins, GMOs, epigenetics and how all those relate to food allergies, c) As a result of the first two, I've decided that even though for years now I have leaned towards green products and clean eating, now is the time to complete the transformation; I'm giving myself a year to figure it all out and turn us into an organic household.

boys enthralled by getting our couches cleaned

4:
So close yet so far away- next summer we are moving! I would be lying if I said I wasn't excited. I also know that it will not be an easy move with the little ones and that my schedule will probably be just as difficult after we move. But it is something to look forward to, and I'm starting a little project to clean up our house- aiming to sell or donate at least one item or group of items per week until we have to leave. We still have to figure out logistically how much we want to sell vs. take with us but we've accumulated so much over the past 3+ years (and nesting through 2 pregnancies, and having two kids) that I need to start sooner than later.

5:
School- We're thinking about sending Little Boy to preschool. I've visited several schools and we have a frontrunner. That said, Little Boy has been showing mixed emotions about actually going. He wants to play with the kids but he also wants to stay home, and he still very much needs his nap. I think we are leaning towards doing it, but I can't say I'm totally ready either.


So that's where we're at. Just a lot going on. I'm going to try to make an effort to catch up on some posts I have pending but even this one took me 3 days to actually finish, so no promises over here.


Thursday, July 18, 2013

Little Boy's Fish Themed 2nd Birthday Party

If there's one thing Little Boy loves more than anything it's water! Agua! Mayim! He can't get enough! So as soon as we knew we would be Stateside for his birthday, I started planning a little pool party for the kiddo! His two favorite "things" this past year were balls and fish, so a little fish-themed pool party seemed like the obvious way to go. I'll save you the suspense- it was a big success. Here are some of the details:

Invite- I took a picture of our aquatic stuffed animals on our play mat and then edited on PicMonkey.


Food- Our fish themed goodies were: Goldfish, skittles on a fish shaped plate, "fish in water" (swedish fish in blue jello), and a fish-shaped birthday cake. We also had fruit, veggies, chips and a beach-ball cake for M since it was a joined party.






Decor- This was pretty easy- pictures of Little Boy from the last year in the shape of a two, and foam fish cut-outs that I bought for 10 pesos (80 cents).





Entertainment- The pool! It was so easy and so perfect! We bought some extra floaties to have for people.  (We also bought a little blow up pool just in case but all the kiddos wanted to be with their parents in the big pool).  And a fish piñata to close out the party.




Monday, July 15, 2013

Little Boy's 2nd Birthday Day

Once again, Little Boy's birthday became a multi-day affair. On his birthday eve he got to open an awesome present from his auntie. On the actual day he got gifts galore from the family. All he asked for was a balloon and we were happy to comply! We had a leisurely breakfast and then went on a playdate. And the next day was his party! Lucky kid! That post will follow. Happy Birthday Little N!

already obsessed!





Thursday, July 11, 2013

I Get it Now

When people used to ask me if I was loving having a newborn, I was pretty meh about it. Of course I loved Little Boy in that mama bear I'll do anything for you protection hug. But man, those newborn days were tough! I was lucky to get even 3 straight hours of sleep, and let's not even open the can of worms that were our feeding issues for the better part of two months. So I answered that I was loving being a mom or that he's a great baby but that was as far as I was willing to go. 

After several months I couldn't help but marvel at how lucky I was. Little Boy became such a happy, easy going baby. He charmed strangers and once his sleep got better we could really enjoy him. It was then that I was warned, with an ominous tone, "you'll see, all babies are different". Apparently I was too lucky with my firstborn so surely I had a nightmare ahead of me. Then I became pregnant again (despite all the warnings) and started thinking ahead, but of course all I could imagine was having the same experience again: not sleeping, lots of pumping, and a mix of love and exhaustion from being an all inclusive on call caretaker. 


Baby Brother is different. Different in that he is the most chill-relaxed little dude you will ever meet. The only fussing I ever hear is when he's having trouble falling asleep, which cues me to just bounce him a little more, or walk around, or nurse him to sleep. In the day to day we don't really hear crying, except when he's been "abandoned" in the car seat. He is that poster child for the cuddly newborn; just hold him and he's a happy baby. I get why people love newborns! Holding him tells me: have more kids! This is fun! 

Baby Brother melted into my arms at first sight. He was quite literally born knowing how to nurse. His sleep from about 6 weeks has been mostly really good (first wake-up around 4 a.m.) with just the occasional nightmarish night. He's a big baby that's heavy to carry around but that's really my only complaint. While I have a feeling he will be more of a handful as he gets older*, for the time being I am enjoying his babyhood. And reminding myself of how much I dislike being pregnant.


*And yes by the time I've gotten around to publishing this post we've hit the four month sleep regression and our first bout of teething- indeed more of a handful. 

Monday, July 8, 2013

24 Months!

Our last monthly update is here! My little boy is two! A couple things from the last month: The language explosion has continued and we've expanded to three-syllable words. In particular you like describing opposites (chico/grande, atras). My personal favorite words right now are lalai (layla=night), mamaya (mañana) and toym (tachtonim=underwear). The other thing you've begun doing is "yoga"; you know one pose like a downward dog with one leg up that you do at fairly random times. We've begun swimming lessons and you absolutely love to "nadar" with your "Mis"; it puts you in a great mood for the rest of the day! We just can't believe how lucky we are to see you grow and discover all that life has to offer. And now for a little round up. 




This Year:

You became obsessed with Daddy's car!
You started brushing your teeth!
You went from walking to running to jumping!
You visited the Holy Land!
You built towers!
You collected dozens of gingis (tree berries)!
You went from signing to talking!
You loved going to the zoo and children's museum!
You met your Great Grandmother in South America.
You did lots of baby gymnastics!
You loved playing soccer with Daddy!
You started playing on the play ground!
You loved going to events with niños!
You went trick-or-treating for the first time!
You started loving hats!
You became a big fan of books!
You started putting together puzzles!
You became a big brother!
You stopped wearing diapers!
You started learning to swim!
You gave us endless kisses, hugs and cuddles!

You are thoughtful and kind. You love your little brother and watch out for him. You like being funny and the center of attention. You are both cautious and fearless at the same time. You love people. You are a creature of habit. And you are a bundle of energy. We can't wait to see what the future has in store for us!

Friday, July 5, 2013

Their First Baseball Game

Both kiddos recently went to their very first baseball game! It was no Fenway but the AC'ed Minute Maid Park to see a game that actually turned out to be really good against Milwaukee (even though we only stayed just over half way through). We got there just a little early to buy tickets and walk around a bit. Little Boy just loved the lights, sounds and overall commotion of such a large stadium. We found our way to our seats and then ordered some food. The anthem, and then eating snacks and lunch easily took up the better part of three innings. Then we made our way to the bathrooms, and explored some other parts of the stadium including getting a commemorative certificate for their very first Astros game! We got to see one more inning as Little Boy was enjoying his free bag and towels and then it was way past naptime and we had to head home. All along Baby Brother was perfectly behaved sleeping in the carrier and then taking in the lights himself. It ended up being a really fun family outing and we can't wait to do it again!




Wednesday, July 3, 2013

4 months!

My little baby is actually quite literally a big baby! You are 4 months old and over 18 lbs putting you off the charts, but inside you are my sweet and sensitive baby. You love being held, smiling, and hanging out with us! And when I look into your beautiful eyes all I see is an innocence I will do everything to protect for as long as possible. You love things that are soft- like your cozy blanket to nap, and little rags or soft toys to grab.


Even though you are a very relaxed kiddo, you're still kicking like crazy, day and night, and love to "stand". As a result, I've been swaddling you with your feet out; it's pretty funny but you like it and your arms still wake you up so we're going to stick with it a while longer. You've started babbling here and there- like you have something to tell us. And your squeal of joy is just adorable!

You can't take your eyes off of anything flashing (like the lights from the internet modem), so we try to avoid them as much as possible. You've been doing pretty good push-ups during tummy time, and have been half turning, making us think that a roll over is impending. You're still loving your fists, especially putting them in your mouth. You've begun grabbing objects, like the hanging toys on your floor mat (and holding on to them with all your might). We can't wait to see what lies ahead!

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Bedtime with Two

Lluvia. Or if you're Little Boy: yuya. It's new; it's fascinating; it's slightly scary, but kind of fun. Until the day we heard- boom! Little Boy had barely seen rain twice in recent memory (last rainy season he wasn't even a year old) and he was already being introduced to thunder and lightning. And this, of all days, was the day that I needed to put both kids to bed on my own. Fun!

Normally, M and I do the bedtime routine together. M bathes Baby Brother while Little Boy and I clean up dinner. Then I go nurse and put Baby Brother to bed, while M bathes Little Boy. Then post pajamas and tooth-brushing I go put Little Boy to bed with a story and sometimes nursing. All this means that I could technically do it all myself except for that overlapping 45 minutes when I need to put Baby Brother to bed in a dark and quiet room.


The first time I had to do solo-bedtime I was rescued by a friend that came to play with Little Boy for a little while but this time I was not so lucky. After mulling it over- I came up with a plan: We brought the video monitor to the living room, and I would leave Little Boy on the couch watching a movie while putting Baby Brother to bed. All in all it mostly turned out as planned! Little Boy helped me to bathe Baby Brother. Then we went downstairs and TV ended up being a pretty good babysitter as Little Boy was excited for screen time for so long and so late in the day. I put it on pretty loudly to dull out the scary thunder sounds. When the video ended and I was still a few minutes shy of swaddling Baby Brother, I got on the intercom and told Little Boy to hold tight. Needless to say that was some of the fastest swaddling I have ever done (and he might have been slighly freaked out). Then I started bath time with Little Boy, teeth, nursing, stories, potty and bed. It took me about 50% longer than usual, so Little Boy went to bed a half hour late, but all things considered it wasn't too bad (on his end). I, on the other hand, was exhausted (but also feeling somewhat super-mom-ish), and the only real bummer was starting cleaning chores after 10 p.m.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Swimming Lessons!

Little Boy absolutely adores the water. During all the warm months he plays almost on a daily basis with our DIY water stand, along with a baby pool and several containers and toys. It is the one activity the keeps him occupied for an indefinite amount of time (and probably a major reason he like washing the dishes, the car and mopping the floor). Needless to say, we've been wanting to try some swimming lessons for quite a while. The popular thing around here is Mommy-Baby classes, but since I have two babies now, we were looking for private classes. After looking on and off for several months (and the birth of the little one) we finally found a place to take classes.

demonstrating what he does in class



The routine has been a bit of a shuffle, but we've learned to just get dressed at home, and quickly change afterwards with a snack in hand (and Baby Brother in the carrier). It's amazing how much the kiddo has learned after just one month! Even on difficult toddler days when we've encountered some resistance about going to class, by the time he's in the water the kiddo is enthralled, and he ends up being a joy for the rest of the day. It's been a great experience and we can't wait to continue after our little summer vacation.