Saturday, August 16, 2014

Adjustments

Radio silence on the blog, sometimes a good sign, sometimes a bad sign. This time it was just a busy sign; in that too busy to think (let alone write) kind of way. But things are finally, slowly but surely, winding down. Before I know it we will have a new normal, but in the interim we have adjustments, lots of adjustments. 

So let's catch up. The move was stressful. I flew with the kids to Texas, M drove and made it there two days later. We were packing until the very last second; it was beyond crazy and intense. The next couple of weeks we spent in Texas involved scouring rental listings, checking out google maps, coordinating the second part of the move, unpacking some stuff to leave in Texas and repacking some stuff we had waiting there for us. M flew to NYC for a weekend to see some places and I was just trying to survive solo parenting in a totally not baby proofed house.  We tried to do a few 
activities while we coordinated part two but all in all it was a very nomadic feeling.

Once our things were finally all packed in a pod and heading north, it was time for us to do the same. This was probably the best part: we took a week to drive up to New Jersey with the kids. The drive was intimidating and the longer stretches were not easy by any means, but they were troopers, and we even saw some cool places along the way. Dare I say, it was kind of fun. We arrived and headed straight to get some permits for our pods that would arrive the next day. And that just sums it up right there because the logistics were just exhausting (and something we are still dealing with). Since then it's been a lot of unpacking, organizing, buying, returning, and just figuring out how to set ourselves up. To sum: moving with kids; it was worse than I could have imagined. 

Now we are adjusting to a new place. Apartment living. Sleeping on a twin mattress (for Baby Brother), not going to school/speaking the language (for Little Boy). New routines for all of us. I'm looking forwards to a few months from now when hopefully we'll be a bit more organized, know some more people, and feel less like foreigners. In the meantime we'll just keep on truckin'.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

16 and 17 Month Update

16 Months

Things you like:
Air kicking, like the players kick in the world cup, accompanied by "pa!"
Popping balloons and saying "pop"
Climbing onto the couch and lounging
Pointing out birds and airplanes in the sky

New words:
Click- like a horse
Bam- water
Ke- yes
Bakbuk- bottle
Mira- look
Ack- Snack


17 Months

Things you like:
Hiding in little corners/away from us
Wrestling with your brother
Going through tunnels (real ones in the car, and little ones at the park)
Climbing on everything and standing on boxes
Walking down the stairs facing forward (with help)
Playing on the playground and especially the slide
Face planting onto your mattress
Playing baseball/tennis with various items+ a ball

New words:
Ah-yes
Bulbul
wack- quack, like a duck
Mayim- water
Signing "eat"
Ya- yad- hand (for help getting down)
Wow!
Pak- park




Sunday, May 25, 2014

MSPI Friendly Muffins

The hardest part of being dairy and soy free, other than giving up cheese, has been being limited in options for store-bought baked goods. After trying many recipes, this one has emerged as our family favorite: it's tasty, filling and uses ingredients I always have on hand. 

MSPI Friendly Muffins

2 carrots, shredded (1-1.5 cups)
1 1/2 cups whole-wheat flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp salt
1/3 cup coconut oil, melted
1/3 cup honey
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 egg*
1 cup applesauce, or other fruit purée**


1) In large bowl shred carrots.
2) Add dry ingredients, then wet, and mix together.
3) Spoon into muffin liners. 
4) Bake at 350 F approximately 25 minutes

*To make egg-free, add an extra teaspoon of baking soda, and finish off with a tablespoon of vinegar.
**I usually use unsweetened applesauce, but have also made these using pumpkin, strawberry/banana and apple/berries purées. Essentially any sweet puree or baby food you have on hand should work.

Adapted from 100 Days of Real Food


Sunday, May 18, 2014

14 and 15 Month Update

14 Months


Things you like this month:
Sweeping with your little broom
Drying your hands with a towel (by yourself)
Playing with the magnets on the fridge
Helping us get you dressed
Playing the piñata game (hitting the bushes with a stick)
Eating whole tomatoes, bananas, and carbs
Playing in our ball pit
Climbing up slides from the bottom
Taking all the books off the shelf, and flipping through some them
Splashing water (from the pool, bath, sink, toilet, water bottle, puddle, etc)

New words:
mama- mayim/agua (water)
sss (while crouching)-potty (although we've never seen any results)
bzz- bee soud
Ma- Ima (mommy)
Pa- puffs



15 Months

Things you like this month:
Climbing, and moving boxes in order to get up on the couch or table
Lying down on the floor and rubbing your belly so that we will tickle you
Only the obstacle course part of your gym class
Dancing by nodding your head and clapping your hands
Trying to jump on the floor mattress by bending your knees
Dogs! (real dogs, stuffed animals, and pictures of dogs)
Blowing kisses! 
Flipping through books on your own, and bringing them to us to learn names of words 
Sitting on something (chair, couch, bench) like a big kid
Going through "tunnels" at the park, gym, behind the couch, etc.
Blowing on Mommy's (hot) coffee
Trying to pry the door open so that we go outside

New words:
Oof- woof (like a dog)
Mam- mayim (water)
Nana- banana
Da da - dale dale (the piñata song)
Ba- ball (in English!)
Bama- lemala/lemata (interchangeable, used to mean going up or down stairs)



Monday, April 14, 2014

Fiesta!

My boy is obsessed with birthdays. Can I blame him? Games, candy, cake for dinner, kids running around, and the main event...the piñata! What's not to like?

It's hard to describe the level of obsession: from the day we receive an invitation until party day, he talks about it every day, especially about how there's going to be a piñata with candy inside. One of his favorite imaginary games is hitting the piñata and then fake collecting candy. Then the day of a party he tells us numerous times that *he* is going to break the piñata, no matter that he is almost always the smallest one at the party.

Since Little Boy started preschool, we've been going to lots of parties and boy do they go all out here: ponies (check), spa (check), crafting/painting something ceramic (every.single.time), bouncy house (of course), playground (check), carnival style ride (check), characters and clown shows (yup, yup, yup). In our foreign eyes, sometimes these get a little excessive because where do you go from here if you've already had many of the above attractions by your third birthday? But from my parenting point of view the only thing that is often lacking is food: usually it's a plethora of candy and fried snacks, cake, and jello, not exactly a nutritious meal. But the kids love it, a lot! Happy kids, happy parents!







Friday, April 11, 2014

Monkey see, Monkey do

Baby Brother is our imitator extraordinaire. He is not an observer, he is a do-er. This week he decided to walk up the stairs, walk not crawl. Of course his short and chubby little toddler legs can't really reach. So he stops and stands mid-stair and waits for us to help him, and of course we do because otherwise his erect little body would fall straight back.

Exposition number two: Little Boy is allowed to jump on the small crib size mattress. He's also a little monkey so we figured it was safer to give him a designated spot than having him try to jump on the rest of our beds or couches where he is much higher off the ground. So now the little one gets on the bed, stands up and tries to jump! He obviously didn't get the memo that that is a two year milestone.

And for the grand finale, the other day Little Boy was stacking pillows on the ground as part of his imaginary play. Then he decided to jump off his stack. We immediately put a stop to that since our tile floors are not conducive to that. Well low and behold Mr. Daredevil was watching and has now decided it is a great idea to try and pull pillows off the couch to stack, climb on, and attempt to slide off. Boys.

Mr. I do what I want to do

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Thoughts

Ten years ago I left a (very) high stress job and knew that I would never again choose to be in a position where I had so little say regarding my overall well being. 

It was a moment of change in my life, of pushing boundaries, of prioritizing my desires. I didn't know where it would lead, but I made a rough plan and started moving forward, figuring out the details as I went along. Never in my wildest dreams did I expect that within a few months I would meet my future husband,  start changing the course of my life based on shared interests, and prioritize goals that were not my own. I never for a moment regret that leap of faith, but throughout this entire period I also stayed true to that decision I made so long ago; no more stress. 


Recently, however, the stress has found its way back into my life. For a few weeks now I've been walking around with an intermittent pit in my stomach. I'm finding it difficult to deal with having no control over the course of our future. Of course, I will be involved in the details, but that big picture, over arching trajectory: it's not in my hands and it is SO hard. I can make contingency plans, although they end up feeling mostly like a mental exercise without much substance. I can focus on the day to day, but sadly, I don't find that quite enough to be truly fulfilled. I can think about myself instead of "us" but seeing as it's difficult to separate the two that does not feel very fruitful either. 

In the meantime, I'm trying to distract myself enough to not think about it until there is a concrete plan. I'm trying to inspire myself with new recipes, house organization projects, and enjoying the little moments with our awesome little boys. I'm finding that being proactive helps a little, but ignoring the problem helps more. That's something I didn't expect...hmmm. 

Monday, April 7, 2014

Homemade Mickey and Pluto Costumes

We recently dressed up for Purim and I asked Little N what he wanted to be. He answered with the only character he knows: Mickey. Seeing as I am all about procrastination, and I wasn't about to go buy a costume for a few hours of dress up, I got crafty and made the kids costumes. 

Mickey's ears were made out of a paper party hat I had leftover. I cut the triangle off and left just a strip at the bottom with the elastic. Then I cut some black foam and stapled it onto the party had. The white circles were just card stock attached to the shorts with a paper clip. For his shoes I just cut a piece of yellow foam that we slipped on like an anklet and they rested on top of his shoes.

I couldn't resist making Baby Brother into something matching, and after looking at my materials and some Disney pictures I decided to tackle a Pluto costume. I again used the party hat trick. I staples two pieces of yellow foam and then a couple pieces of black foam for the ears on top. The nose is a pom pom I just glued on top, and the eyes white card stock that I stapled. For his green collar I just took a little piece of green foam and paper clipped it onto his onesie.  Ta da!

The whole project took only about an hour, using scraps I had around the house and the kiddos loved them!

It was so sunny!

 Here you can see the party hat, paper clips, "anklets" etc.


Friday, April 4, 2014

13 Months!

Let's keep it short and sweet: this month was all about walking! You learned to stand up without holding on, took your first steps and then a few days later took off. You are constantly on the move, constantly communicating and telling us what you want, "ze" (this), or showing us. You still love all of the same things: balls, instruments/music, wrestling with your brother, playing in the ball pit, exploring outdoors (especially inspecting the water meters), running away from us and climbing up the stairs, and you like to know exactly what is going on. You expect to be kept on the schedule that suits you (whining at 6:04 p.m. for dinner), to be explained/shown the world, and to be treated like a big boy, like your brother, namely in the form of equal snacks. You consistently light up the room with your endless smiles, and we couldn't possibly love you any more!


Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Snapshots

I've been trying to take mental snapshots of our life right now. I want to remember the moments that are just plain, every day snippets of our life here before everything gets turned upside down. I suppose that's what happens when you have children, suddenly every day comes with the thought that they will never be this exact age again.

 read to head to preschool (junk we need to sell in the background)

 weekend walk on the trail 

 checking out the fountain

playing in the common area (hiding behind the shed)

checking out exercise equipment 

Monday, March 31, 2014

Crazy Zoo

We went to this teeny tiny little crazy zoo. In general M and I are of the mindset that zoos are pretty sad. This type in particular, with small cages, random animals and being able to get shockingly close, was rough. The kids, however, loved it.




Friday, March 28, 2014

12 Months!

This was such a big and fabulous month for us! Most exciting is that we are communicating! You now wave goodbye, sign "more", "all done", and are saying your very first word "toda" (thank you) quite consistently when you want something. In general you have just been imitating both gestures and sounds all the time. It's so cute and you are quickly learning from us. On the flip side, you also tend to screech when you don't get what you want.

In the movement domain you are walking with a walker (or the large stool) or holding our hands. You seem most excited to "walk" so that you can  kick a ball or balloon. Overall though you still prefer crawling at lightning speed. Your favorite game is chasing a ball or balloon and you keep yourself entertained for quite a while doing that.


Other than balls, you are also a big fan of noisy toys, especially ones that make music, which you then dance to, bopping your body up and down or clapping you hands. Not surprisingly you also love playing instruments and have a particular affinity to the tambourine, although the maracas, xylophone and guitar also get some attention. You are interested in books and will listen to very short stories, but mostly you like to flip the pages on your own and move on from book to book. You really love going on walks but only in the double stroller, and preferably with your brother. You do not like the single stroller at all, and most of all you like being carried!

You absolutely love bath time. In particular: splashing, filling bucket and spilling, trying to "catch" the stream of water coming down and a recent game of pushing a ball underwater and watching it pop back up. Other things we are loving: you like to put toys into containers and not just take them out, you've learned how to turn on the iPod, and you've been playing really nicely with your brother.

You are now the proud owner of tooth number five. You love to eat puffs or oatmeal or frijoles for breakfast, fruit for lunch, and veggies, especially potatoes and sweet potatoes, hummus, or soup for dinner. And you blow on your food when it is too hot! Adorable. You can perfectly pick up an open cup of water and drink. You also like to start "spitting" conversations with your brother that send us into fits of laughter. Really it's not surprising, you have brought so much joy to our entire family. You melt our heart as you wave goodbye heading upstairs to the bath, and fill us with awe as we see your determination to get exactly what you want, all while keeping us entertained like it's your job. We love you beyond words!


Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Pom Pom Play

My criteria for a successful activity mostly involves a ratio between set up time, to time played, where a 1:10 ratio is pretty much amazing....and that's what we had on this fine day. Last week we were home for many days in a row. Luckily, I had happened to pick up a bag of pompoms at the dollar store, and Little N found them under the stroller and brought them to me, asking for an activity. So we hopped on the computer and this is what we came up with.

1) Putting pom-poms through toilet paper rolls taped on the wall! He experimented with different sized containers and their positioning. Big hit in that it took 2 minutes to set up and kept him entertained for about 15.  

2) Sorting by color into a muffin tin. Another hit. We then went over the names of the colors together. To collect them back into the bowl, I called out the colors and he would find the correct one.


3) Practice with chopsticks. Little N re-sorted them into the muffin tin by color, and then used the chopsticks to transfer and collect the pom-poms. This was nice for some fine motor practice and because he could do this on his own.

4) Putting through a hole into a container. This seemed like it was a little too easy and maybe he would get bored, but on the contrary, Little N actually loved it. This time when we were taking the pom-poms out of the container, we counted together.

5) Gluing onto paper. At first I just put a ton of glue on a piece of cardstock and left him to make his own design but he was not really into it. So instead, I drew a caterpillar for him with circles, and he much preferred having a designated area to glue them on. He actually asked for more drawings, so we went on to make a flower and an elephant!



Monday, March 24, 2014

Pinterest Ball Pit Follow up

Way, way back I made a ball pit out of our pack 'n play. And for the past couple of months is has seen pretty heavy use:


Both kids have actually been playing in it at least a couple times a week. It's obviously a conspiracy to derail my selling baby gear. ;)


Thursday, March 6, 2014

Deactivated

It was time. It was past time. After months and months of debating and delaying, facebook is out of my life. At first I was keeping it to stay connected to the expat group, but I realized there was absolutely nothing being posted that was of any use to me. The only social events had turned into charity fundraisers and just highlighted to me how different our worlds. I couldn't handle the thought of seeing  one more post complaining about a maid.
Then I was keeping it to stay in touch with friends far away, but I realized that the vast majority of those people I really want to communicate with have email or whatsapp. I did the "birthday test", removing my birthday and lo and behold all the friends that messaged me are true friends (that also have my email).
But the cow that broke the camel's back? My closest group of friends, wives of the medical school students, disintegrated to the point that we haven't been able to get together even once all semester. With that and so much of my newsfeed already hidden there was really no point and browsing became a totally waste of time.
It's been a few weeks and I haven't looked back. Living in the real (non-internet) world is very freeing, and I highly recommend it!


Saturday, March 1, 2014

Our Big Family Trip

I'm not really sure how to even describe everything that we did during our big family adventure. For four years, I'd been itching to see other areas of Mexico that were not driving distance. After putting it off in favor of family visits and study time, we decided to finally take the plunge this past December, knowing full well that we might not have another opportunity to do this. I've mentioned that there was a lot of planning involved, and there was! I started by scoping out what we wanted to see, made an itinerary, booked flights and then hotels, and brought printouts of information we would need for our day to day. The way the flights worked out best, we actually came home for a weekend half way through and it was a perfect little break to unpack, do some laundry, and then re-pack. I'll start with what we did and try to keep the info short:


Part I- A: Yucatan
We arrived in warm and humid Merida for four days. One day we took a day trip to Celestun to see the flamingos. Then we went to the tiny town of Izamal...amazing. From there we took a taxi to Piste so that we could see Chichen Itza the next day. And then we went to Valladolid for a couple more days, where we saw Ek-Balam and a couple cenotes. To say we LOVED the people and food of Yucatan would be a gross understatement.


Part I- B: Quinata Roo
For the beach portion we spent the better part of a week in Tulum, first in rustic beach cabins and then in a larger hotel. We got one day in Cancun and then flew home for above mentioned re-packing. Little Boy had the time of his life; he is a beach boy through and through. Baby Brother on the other hand, thought that sand is a baby-torturing device.


Part II: Oaxaca
We spent just over a week in Oaxaca, including Christmas and New Year. We walked the town, visited several of the surrounding villages to see where handicrafts are made, and saw quite a few ruins. We had mixed feelings about this portion, partially because of the experiences with tourism-related people and partially because Little N was sick for about half the week. Nevertheless we came home with a few awesome souvenirs.


Gear:
During part I we took 3 bags: two hiking backpacks with clothes for the four of us and a third duffle with beach related gear, plus diapers.  This was so that we could each carry a bag and baby, and M carried the extra bag. With the limited amount of clothes we ended up doing laundry twice. Our most important pieces of gear were two Ergo Baby Carriers. We did not take a stroller (because of the lugging and buses), so we used the carriers every single day. They were super practical for the hiking days, and even around town when Little N would get tired of walking we would pop him in one. We also had the Ergo backpack that we used as our only daypack, but we found that it was more comfortable to wear it in the front with baby in the back (or visa-versa) rather than attached behind the baby. We decided to forego the carseats because we were not renting a car. We took a combination of buses and taxis and I was super tense every time we were in the back seat but with the amount of moving we did it was just not practical to lug them with us. During part II we did take a single stroller and that was nice to have around town because we could put our daypack underneath. Unfortunately Little N is very attached to his stroller, so he didn't want to walk too much and Baby Brother ended up being carried most of the time. (They were perfectly happy with this, but we were hoping that Little N would walk more, Baby Brother could be in the stroller, and our backs would be free...oh well). This time we took 3 (large) bags because it was much colder and we needed winter gear with us, but didn't need the mobility of backpacks because we weren't moving around.


Eating and Sleeping:
Apart from a bunch of snacks that I brought from home (dehydrated and dried fruit, nuts, granola bars), and we kept with us, we generally ate out two meals a day, a large breakfast and either late lunch or early dinner. The boys had to eat what was offered and it was not a problem at all. All our rooms had two double beds so Baby Brother slept with me and Little Boy with his dad. It was nice to not deal with a travel crib when we knew they would end up with us anyway and this ended up being a really easy arrangement.


Routine:
We found it much easier then expected to get into a routine even though every day was different. We did our main activity of the day first thing in the morning. The advantage to having kiddos that wake up early, is that we were able to eat breakfast and still make it to our destination shortly after opening, thus missing the big crowds that arrived later in the day. Baby Brother was on two naps; his morning nap would happen whenever he fell asleep in the carrier. In the afternoon we tried to head back to the hotel on most days so that Little Boy and Baby Brother could take their afternoon nap in bed. More days than not this went really well. A few times we stayed out later than normal (and then had to pay for it with some over-tiredness the next day), but mostly it was not too hard to be back at the hotel for baths and bed at the normal time. This was facilitated by the fact that it was winter and gets dark early anyway, so we didn't feel like we were missing out on travel time.


All in all it was wonderful! By the time we got back, M was happy to have a break from all of us, Baby Brother was happy to be back at home in his routine, Little Boy was happy to go back to preschool, and I enjoyed returning to some normalcy and being able to eat without thinking twice about possible MSPI ingredients. Obviously this was a lot more involved than a weekend at the beach for us, but given the time and funds this is definitely a type of trip we would take again in the future. Travel doesn't have to stop when you have kids!

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Anatomy of a Sick Day



This was actually snapped during one of our calmer moments, when Baby Brother was sleeping, and Little Boy decided to embrace pinterest activities! Most of the rest of the past few days have been much whinier.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Baby Brother's Birthday Day

In so many ways our day was just a normal day. But of course it was special, because it was a celebration of our little man. We started with a breakfast of champions: puffs, and took Little Boy to school. Then we came back for nursing, nap, reading and we were off again to pick-up. We had our final monthly photo shoot, played around, had lunch (roasted sweet potato and eggplant) and it was time for nap number two. Then we went to play outdoors on the grass until Daddy came home and we all went out to dinner. We got home and then sang and lit a candle for the birthday boy who got his first taste of chocolate cake. It was relaxed and fun and I didn't want the day to end.


Wednesday, February 19, 2014

One.

One year ago I was in labor: I meditated through contractions, trusted myself, my body and my little baby to do what we knew how to do. I can't quite explain how amazing it feels, a redeeming experience, after having my first birth experience whisked out of my hands. It gave me a new respect for myself and what I could do. It helped our bonding and our family as a whole.

One year ago, I brought home Baby Brother. It took a few weeks for Little Boy to realize what was going on, but truly his brother has been a gift. A little dude that looks up to him, idolizes his every move, is a captive audience for his shenanigans and a partner in crime in household sillies. They love each other so much and mostly love playing together.

One year ago, our life as a family changed. Somehow we became closer, more of our own little unit. The day to day routine became fuller, more dynamic, more hectic and yet more full of joy than we ever knew possible. The juggle became both a challenge and a purpose in and of itself.


One year ago, I became a mother of two, and mothering became half as hard and twice as fun. I truly can't believe it has been a whole entire year!

Happy birthday Baby Brother!

Monday, February 17, 2014

Baby Brother's Balloon Themed First Birthday Party

Baby Brother's birthday was inspired by the book A Tale of Five Balloons, namely because he: loves balloon, loves popping balloons (what happen to the first four balloons in the book), and likes to wave goodbye (what happens to the fifth balloon). So maybe it was a stretch...but it gave me a little something to go off of for our decorations and everything came out just perfectly.

We kept the party small and low key: pizza, veggies, fruit, cookies, popcorn and cake. I made a little art station for the kid-guests with coloring pages from the book and stickers. And as usual we had our play pen ball pit out. But most of all we had lots of balloons to play with!




The only crafting I did was a balloon name banner and putting up his monthly pictures (that will be reused in his baby book). Baby Brother loved his cake! And the piñata!

 

It was a great time and most importantly Baby Brother loved the attention, the cake, the gifts and the festive atmosphere.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Happy Valentine's Day!


Happy Valentine's Day! Did you know that elephant ears are heart shaped? We might have had a few for breakfast around here...Today Little N handed out valentines for the first time, Baby Brother had his very first valentine's day (his last "first" holiday), and we've had lots of sweetness all around. We're still looking forward to a fun family afternoon. Hope your day has been lovely!



Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Quick trip

For a hot second I made it Stateside with the kiddos. First of all, it was my first flight alone with both of them. It was about as much of a nightmare as I expected it to be, helped by delay after delay (thank you United #nothankyou). There was a lot of nap-skipping, needing to go to the bathroom on the plane multiple times, waiting for.ev.er. in immigration...ah well. We survived.

 enjoying new toys

The visit itself was short but sweet. We did a few errands, saw some friends, and mostly spent time with family. Little N in particular just loved it: the attention, the change of scenery. One day we made it to the Children's museum: amazing. Both boys had so much to look at and play with and there were plenty of kids; it was nice.

 Indian food

 children's museum

back at the airport already

The flight back was equally bad, although we got back much earlier so there was still time for a short nap on the drive home. All in all, it was great!

Friday, February 7, 2014

Did you notice?

I'm back, mostly. I've been trying to get back in the blogging mode after several months of minimal posting. It wasn't a new year's resolution or anything like that. Rather an attempt at doing something I enjoy, chronicling things that I'm already forgetting, pushing forward.

We* are in our last year of medical school. Finally. I really didn't want to come back for it in August. As I told a good friend, I felt like I needed an attitude adjustment. I did. Probably still do. I would stare in the mirror holding my sweet little baby and think, gosh I am so darn lucky to have this life. And still as the hours crept by I kind of wished for the days to just go by, counting down the minutes until bedtime, so that I could go to sleep for a bit before the night wakings began. Things got better as I distracted myself with planning our incredible trip. So instead of processing (or even just recording) our life, I delved into the world of reservations, hotel reviews and travel forums. All that planning paid off: it was the most planning I had ever done for a trip but it was really amazing (and mostly on budget). It was the ultimate distraction, and between juggling preschool activities with household stuff, time just disappeared. So blogging fell by the wayside.

As much as I was looking forward to getting back into a routine, when we got back, my heart just wasn't in it. I already wrote about some of the reasons why so I don't want to revisit them, but I recently had a revelation: I need to spend some time with myself, thinking, processing, enjoying the quiet. I had (I think) become a better homemaker, utilizing naps quite efficiently, but my mind needed a work out too and by the time the kids were in bed I was just too tired to think, let alone read or write. Something else happened along the way: Baby Brother started sleeping through the night. Suddenly it was ok to stay up.

If you've read this far, kudos for sticking with the rambling. So what's on my mind these days: uncertainty. How would you feel if someone told you: "In 5 months (or maybe 4 or 3) you're moving to an unknown location and you're going to have to pack everything up, or maybe just sell all you stuff because there won't be room to pack it up, or maybe actually you're not going to move and you're going to stay here another year (even though you don't want to), but you we won't tell you until 3 (or 4 or 5) months from now, and you have no say about what happens"? I would say that's how I'm feeling. And in the mean time, who will understand? Not the baby or the toddler. Not the friends that have already left or the ones from back home. So that's where we are. Uncertain (but very much still optimistic).


Wednesday, February 5, 2014

2.5

I love this age. Love it. A lot. Little Boy is sweet and funny and fun! Yes we have difficult weeks with some pushing or troubles with sharing but overall: so.much.fun. I love that we can have conversations,  back and forth. I love that he is a source of information, though not always a reliable source. I love when he "translates" for us, or when he responds to something when the adults are really just talking amongst themselves. I love that he can play by himself. This, I really love a lot. Especially outside with balls or sticks or plants, or indoors with car and trains. Or water, anything with water will hold his attention for so, so long. And it's not just the break that it gives me, although that's great too, it's about seeing him figure things out on his own, be creative, explore. Watching him turn my whisk into a plumbing tool to stick down a hole outdoors (and work "together" with the plumber outside)...totally worth the destroyed whisk! The independence drives us crazy some times, but seeing him put on his underwear and pants for the first time completely by himself without getting frustrated, my heart just burst with pride. Sometimes he goes up to strangers and just starts chatting, other times he stares people down and won't answer a single question; the kid has so much character I am intrigued to see how he keeps growing. Other things I love: opinions on clothing (i.e. hilarious outfits), getting into the car on his own (and telling his teacher how to buckle his car seat), random moments of absolute sweetness with his little brother, insisting on eating exactly what the adults are having, and a love of helping around the house. I don't know how we got so lucky with such a sweet one!


Monday, February 3, 2014

Routine- 7 & 27 months

**I wrote this so, so long ago that I had to re-read it to see if things were still the same. And at 11 and 31 months the only difference is that Baby Brother now also gets breakfast and lunch, his second nap is later and shorter (around 3 pm for 45 minutes) and we've dropped the night-wakings so that he usually wakes up around 7:30 for the day!

*This routine has been going on since about 6 months and is still working for us at 8 months. The only major changes we've had is that at 7 months Baby Brother started napping in the crib (and Little Boy consequently in our bedroom), and then at 8 months Baby Brother started going to sleep in the crib as well until his first wake-up when he comes back to our bed.

4 a.m. Nurse Baby Brother, go back to sleep

6 a.m. Nurse Baby Brother, go back to sleep

7:30 wake up, convince myself to get out of bed 

8:00 change, dress baby brother

8:20 get Little Boy- who is usually already awake. Help him take off pajamas, begin negotiation on wearing school uniform.

8:40 downstairs put Little Boy's lunch in his backpack, get him breakfast, get me breakfast (sometimes).

9:00 go drop of little boy at preschool. If I'm not super late we usually go walking (it's one mile, so just under 20 minutes), if I am then it's a two minute drive.

9:30 assuming I walked, I now take baby brother for a couple short errands, or sometimes to sit in a coffee shop or park before heading back home. If we have specific plans for the morning I try to head straight back home for an early nap.

Baby & Groceries

10:30 Baby Brother's morning nap time. I try to be home by this time so that he doesn't fall asleep in the stroller and mess up the nap. We change diaper, nurse, sleep sack and bed. This is my time to finish eating breakfast, do some housework, prep meals etc. I try to leave a little time to relax as well because the rest of the day is hectic.

12:00 wake Baby Brother. I do this so that in the afternoon they nap at the same time. 

12:50 go pick up Little Boy from school. Upon return, Baby Brother goes in the activity center for a little bit while we set out Little Boy's lunch leftovers with additions from home as necessary. 

1:30 Baby Brother is fussy and ready to go to bed. I set up a DVD for Little Boy so that I can put his brother to sleep quickly and effociebtly without the house being destroyed in the meantime. We nurse, sleep sack and in the crib he goes with noise machine blaring. 

2:00- Little Boy's nap time. We nurse, potty, story and I put him down in our bedroom.

3:30- Baby Brother is up. We change him and then bring him downstairs for some quality one on one time. We read some books, pull out some toys to play with and hang out.

4:30- Little Boy is up. We play, read books, count the minutes until Daddy is home...


5:30- Daddy is back and takes over play time. Usually they head outside to play on the grass while I scramble to finish up dinner.

6:00/6:30- Dinner for everyone. 

7:00- Baby Brother's bath time. Little Boy and I finish cleaning up dinner and washing dishes. 

7:30- Little Boy heads to bath time with Daddy. Baby Brother nurses to sleep. 

8:00- Baby Brother in bed, Little Boy comes to Mommy for books and nursing.

8:30/9- Little Boy in bed! Time to finish up final tidying, and crash on the couch for a little while before heading off to bed. 

Friday, January 31, 2014

MSPI Friendly Birthday Cake

Baby Brother is about to turn one! Cue the tears. I just can't believe my baby is not quite a tiny baby anymore. I was looking through our photos to pick out a few to print for his party/baby book and man, I got all nostalgic. I mean he wasn't small for very long, but he's still my baby, you know?

Anyway, it's about time for some baking and luckily for my jeans I already practiced before Little Boy's party last summer, so here are my dairy-free, soy-free (and bonus points) egg-free cakes! They turned out perfectly this summer, so most likely I'll just be repeating. Although now that we have cut out white flour and vegetable oil from our diet I might have to rethink these.



MSPI Friendly Chocolate Cake

1 ½ cup flour
⅓ cup cocoa
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
1 cup sugar
½ cup vegetable oil
1 cup cold water
2 tsp vanilla
1 Tbsp vinegar

Mix dry ingredients. Make a well in the center and add wet ingredients except vinegar. At the last minute, incorporate the vinegar and bake at 350 F for 25 minutes.


MSPI Friendly Lemon Cake

3 cups flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
¼ tsp salt
1 ¼ cup sugar
⅓ cup veg oil
3 Tbsp water + 3 Tbsp oil + 2 tsp baking powder (mixed together)
1 ¼ cup water
2 tsp vanilla
¼ cup lemon juice
1 Tbsp grated lemon peel

Mix dry ingredients. Make a well in the center and add wet ingredients in the order listed.
Bake at 350 F for 40 minutes.



Wednesday, January 29, 2014

11 Months!

Another amazing month has gone by in the blink of an eye. The theme of the month is most definitely cruising! From wall to wall, couch to table, tv stand to couch, toilet to shower door, cabinet to oven, you have been on the move! One of your favorite activities is standing and banging on walls or just  feeling walls with your hands if we are holding you. You especially love seeing reflection in unexpected spots: the oven door, the car window, etc. Your other daily activity is emptying: emptying bins, emptying cupboards, emptying bookshelves. It makes for lot of fun and lots of unending mess all over the house.

In the world of language your favorite sound from last month"a-ta"continues and has evolved into the ocasional "dadada". In particular, we enjoy your long morning monologues. We imagine you are telling us about your lovely dreams and wonderful sleep. Even more prominent than spoken language though has been your gesturing signs. The most delightful is when you wave bye bye! You also open and close your hands when you want us to give you something (like more food, or water), and you tug your tray hard so we know you are done. Dare we wait for a minute and you will start tossing the leftover food piece by piece on the floor until we get the message!


You are quite the alarm clock in terms of your schedule: up at 8, nap at 10:30, lunch at noon, nap at 3 and dinner shall be served at precisely 6 o'clock without fail. We are now squarely on three meals a day and though breakfast and lunch are not that big, dinner ends up being a feast of whatever we are eating.  You absolutely love bath time and splashing the water or trying to grab the stream as it comes into the tub. If given the opportunity you are keen to fill a cup with water and start drinking it. But the thing you love more than anything? Being held, and preferably by your mommy. You are our cuddly (not so) little baby and we love you more than anything!




Monday, January 27, 2014

MSPI- Friendly Brownies

MSPI Friendly Brownies

After much tinkering around with the recipe, we finally perfected chewy, chocolatey brownies!

1/3 cup coconut oil (melted)
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup cocoa powder
2 eggs (room temperature)
1/4 tsp salt
1/3 cup flour (we use whole wheat)
2 tsp vanilla extract

Mix in the order listed. Note that the eggs aren't too cold otherwise they will cause the coconut oil to harden and you won't be able to mix together.

Bake at 400 F for 20 minutes. Brownies are ready when a toothpick comes out almost clean. Be careful not to over bake otherwise they will become hard.

Enjoy!

*I taught the husband how to make brownies and these were waiting for me when I came home from our last trip. Yum!

Friday, January 24, 2014

Time to Leave?

I've been getting the hint that it's time to leave...

Our next door neighbors had time to separate, move out, sell the place, renovate it, and the new owners have moved in. Our across the street neighbor bought a house elsewhere and left. Our up the street neighbor has finished construction on a new house and they are moving next month...two of our original three guards have left. And that's just around our house.

My mommy group friends have had a mass exodus: one in August, one in October, two in November, two in December, one just left, one more is leaving in March, and the last one in April. Then it will be just me.

I just got notice that our rabbi is having a going away part next week.

Somehow leaving is a lot easier than being left. I don't like saying goodbye over and over, keeping a smile on my face, telling our friends that they'll be fine. I know they will. I'm ready to start packing, to have that burning desire to organize perfectly, finish up loose ends, sell, sell, sell. But where would I go? I don't know.