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February 28, 2010

Observations on the Journey...

…from baby food to “the good stuff!” (Yes, that’s a weighty title, but I think it’s a pretty momentous event!)

As the girls continue to add more and more “big people food” to their diets, I’ve had a few revelations along the way…

1) I have a new perspective on the price of produce. Once upon a time, I would never have considered buying avocados at $1 EACH! But, as the girls can split an avocado and have it count as one vegetable serving each, that’s equal to the price of a package of processed green beans. $3.48 for a package of strawberries??? Bring it on! From that, the girls can eat four or five fruit servings apiece, which makes that much more economical than Grandma Gerber’s finest. Just don’t tell the Produce Manufacturer’s Association…they’ll realize they can partner with the Baby Food Maker’s Association to fix the prices.

2) At last I’m reclaiming some space in my pantry. Our house is no mansion, but it’s quite comfortable for a family of four…with the exception of the pantry, which was surely designed with a take-out-lovin’ family in mind. For the past six months, I had to devote an entire shelf of my precious few to the baby food we needed for just a week. And that meant everything else had to be condensed. Let’s just say that resulted in one memorable avalanche involving a very large canister of oatmeal, an opened box of macaroni, and this short momma reaching for an elusive roll of paper towels.

3) For the newly unearthed pantry space, I have lost a couple of shelves in my refrigerator. I try to cook a number of dishes ahead of time to have on hand for two or three days. This makes for an excessively full refrigerator about every third day. My husband almost landed in the doghouse last week for an unplanned trip to Sam’s that yielded an impulse purchase of an 18-count carton of eggs. Yes, we use a lot of eggs, and I guess that was thoughtful of him on some level…but doesn’t he realize that two 12-count cartons will stack on top of each other, while the 18-count carton consumes a third of the bottom shelf of the ‘fridge? Hello???

4) I need more Tupperware for said made-ahead dishes. I’ve actually decided I need a Tupperware make-over. (Do they have a show on TLC for that???) Not only do I need more storage for the girls’ food, but I would like for the storage containers to be uniform so they fit in the refrigerator as efficiently as possible. My tawdry collection of plastic containers that dates back to The Single Life ain’t cutting it. Hey…maybe I can apply some savings from my fresh produce purchases to the Tupperware fund!

5) I love ramekins. Huh??? I only have a handful of ramekins, that until recently I used only when I wanted to pretend I was hosting a cooking show. (And yes, I sometimes wear an apron to act out my fantasies…but I digress.) I’ve found ramekins are perfect to serve the girls their food. Pier 1, here I come!

From this in-depth analysis, one might think I have too much time on my hands. That’s far from the case. It’s just that it takes a lot more time to cook than it did to open those little plastic packages, so I have plenty of time in front of the stove to ponder the meaning of life, love, and feeding babies.

February 26, 2010

Fab 5 Friday

So here is a sampling of just a few of the things that made my week fabulous. [In case you'd like the 2-point Cliffs Notes version, it's 1) Baby A; and 2) Baby B. :) ]

1) Whole milk! Baby B transitioned the day of her first birthday party with no issues, but my stubborn little Baby A steadfastly refused anything but formula. I've spent the past MONTH transitioning...milliliter by milliliter...until at last she joined the ranks of the big kids. But we haven't said this aloud...what if she understands more than we think? :)

2) The girls have got a definite "groove thang" going. They've started "dancing" when they hear music, or even when Mommy sings (which doesn't actually qualify for music by most standards, but they don't seem to care). Now if I can just teach them to "raise the roof"! (Or maybe I'd better leave that in the '90's where it belongs???)

3) Roller skating (me, not the girls)! My girlfriends took me to dinner...and then SKATING...for my birthday (long after the girlies were in bed, of course). This doesn't actually have anything to do with the girls, but it will one day. I will be the coolest mom on 8 wheels...as long as the DJ will play a little Bon Jovi now and again.

4) The girls are doing well with sign language. They've mastered the sign for "sleep"...and they have actually used it, unprompted, to tell me they're ready for a nap. It's absolutely one of the most adorable things I've ever seen, them with their little hands curled under their chins, looking so cuddly.

5) Baby A started walking a couple of months ago, and she's progressed to literally running at times. Baby B started taking steps about the same time, but I'm proud to report she's at last walking to get from one side of the room to the other. Ladies, take your marks!

February 23, 2010

Hey, Baby, What's Your Sign?

Many years ago, I saw a very smart friend make what I thought was a funny hand gesture to her then-two-year old daughter. She must have caught my puzzled “what did you just do?!” look, and she quickly explained that she was practicing “baby sign language.” Because she is a very smart friend, and her ten-year old daughter is now also very smart, I invested in a big thick book on the subject.

The book is quite thick, and although I read it through with my trusty highlighter in hand, I’ll admit I was a little intimidated at the thought of me learning – and then trying to teach the girls – the sign for “hippopotamus”. (There aren’t generally a lot of hippopotami in this geographic area, you know. [And yes, that is an acceptable plural of “hippopotamus.”]) I decided to start small, with a few key words and phrases that I hoped would aid in our daily routine.

The first phrase I taught the girls was “All done!” I thought this would be a great solution to some of our eating challenges. Instead of the girls starting to spit food at me when they’d had enough to eat, they could simply tell me they were finished. Within a couple of weeks, they learned this sign. But then, when they would “dust off” their hands after only three bites, did I have to believe that they were really finished??? Surely they were confused. Oh, and the spitting didn’t end. I’ve decided that’s a random occurrence, or one that is tied to some cosmic phenomenon not yet identified.

Anyway, after the girls learned “All done!” and “ball” (as we have approximately 27 balls in our toy arsenal and I say that word at least 2,700 times a day), I decided to have a little fun. And before I could do my cheerleader dance to the Alabama fight song, the girls were throwing their arms in the air to the call of “Touchdown, Alabama!”

But then I began to feel a little guilty at my fun. Yes, “All done!” and “ball” were legitimate signs, but the girls couldn’t even identify their ears, yet I had already hooked them into football lore.

(On a positive note, when Daddy scolded Baby A, “Don’t touch that!” she threw her little arms up in the air to signal a score….and she didn’t touch the stereo speaker. It looked like a hold-up, but it worked just the same!)

I decided to buckle down again. I’m starting to “believe” the girls when they tell me something. And they now know several additional signs, including “sleep,” which comes in really handy in deciding when we should begin our trek upstairs for naptime. They can also identify most of their major body parts.

And then I was reading Guess How Much I Love You before bedtime last night. In a deliberate, animated voice, I recited, “’But I love you as high as I can hop,’ smiled Big Nutbrown Hare – and he hopped so high that his ears touched the branches above.” From “hare” (hair) to “ears” to “touched”, you would think the girls were signaling offensive play calls from the sidelines. So here we go again with the football thing....

....or maybe I just need to start reading stories about hippopotami, as they don’t know that sign.

February 19, 2010

Fab 5 Friday

I’m taking inspiration today from my friend Jenny’s blog, and in turn from her friend Emily’s blog (in the house that Jack built…). I say “inspiration” as I’m not following the “rules” of "Fab 5 Friday" exactly….Jenny said these are supposed to be five PHYSICAL THINGS that made your week. I have begun to blog about THINGS on another site, so I’m tweaking this a little bit to fit this blog. So, following are five not-necessarily-things that made my week fabulous:

1) Antibiotics are finished! Baby B seems completely well, and Baby A is down to only an occasional runny nose and cough.

2) Warmer weather! Coinciding with the girls getting better, temperatures are supposed to near 50 degrees today. We’re going to have a girls’ lunch…for the first time in OVER TWO WEEKS!

3) The girls have eaten several new foods this week, including kiwi, pineapple, pears, and cauliflower. We’re making progress towards our (well, my) goal of eating Mexican food by the time they’re 18 months old!

4) The girls are learning to play hide-and-seek! We had a BLAST last night with them peeking from beside the armchair.

5) The girls are mastering the fine art of hugging. Talk about melting your heart!!!

Now the only hard thing about this was narrowing down the fabulousity (???) of the week to only five things. :)

February 17, 2010

Finally...Economies of Scale!

When my husband and I drove up to the rural Mississippi farmhouse with the permanent “Free Kittens” sign in the yard, we intended to get one cat. But the farmer’s wife was so sweet in her pleading. “There’s just two left. Please take ‘em both,” she said. We agreed to adopt the brother-sister pair.

Our two cats are precious together….they groom each other, play together, sleep together, and keep each other wonderful company in general. Seeing the companionship they offer each other, we’re big proponents of having more than one pet. Two cats are really no more trouble than one. You still have to clean the litter box every day, right?

Our two girls are also precious together….there’s nothing sweeter than seeing them snuggle when they wake up in the mornings or hold hands while they eat. They play together, and there’s no telling what kinds of “conversations” they have! It warms my heart to know that they’ll always be there for each other, facing the world together, side by side.

Since the girls were born, my husband and I have often joked that the economies of scale associated with two cats DOES NOT hold true for two babies, however. “Impromptu” has become a very relative term. Everyday tasks – such as mealtimes – require considerable planning and coordination. And forget “running by the post office”.…not without my double stroller! It sometimes feels like managing twins is *more* work than two babies, as their needs are very similar, at the same time.

At long last, though, and after much consideration, I have identified some economies of scale with the girls. I have started feeding them “big people” food. Each morning they SPLIT a scrambled egg, and they each eat HALF of a banana! It’s only taken me 13 months, but I eureka! I finally found it!

February 14, 2010

What a Difference a Year Makes!

I honestly can’t say I remember much about Valentine’s Day last year. The girls were just shy of six weeks old, and I know that means they were eating roughly every four hours. They weren’t yet sleeping through the night, and Mommy and Daddy were probably dragging a bit.

Fortunately, we did make pictures of the girls in their “I Want Lots of Kisses!” onesies. Look how sweet and tiny they were!

And wow…what a difference a year makes! At 13 months old, the girls are eating three square meals a day. They love to laugh and play, and at the end of the day, they sleep like little angels (knock on wood!). Mommy and Daddy are well-rested, and enjoying every minute of it.

Check out my baby girls in their Valentine’s Day frocks!

While I think the girls were content on this day last year, I would bet they had a good deal more fun this year. Mommy made them special strawberry cupcakes with strawberry cream cheese icing.
They were apprehensive of the first bite, but they were soon “grunting” for more!

Valentine’s is the first holiday the girls “celebrated” after they were born. We may just have to make this a tradition…dressing them up in hearts aglow and taking their pictures. It will be a fun way to see how they grow.

Thinking back to last year, I know I thought my heart couldn’t get any fuller, but it somehow continues to grow with each day…with each smile…with each snuggle…with each new milestone. So here’s to many more!

February 11, 2010

Thank Goodness for Snow!

The inevitable happened this week: both girls got sick at the same time.

The girls are 13 months old, and we’ve been really lucky to date to have had minimal bouts of sickness. (I say “lucky,” but I believe our “luck” has something to do with the thick bubble I kept the girls in until they were about 9 months old!)

Baby A has a sinus infection, and Baby B is the proud owner of our first ear infection. On one hand, I am happy to think that we’re getting this out of the way at the same time. But my other hand is so busy wiping noses and measuring medicines that it’s hard to appreciate any economies of scale.

Tuesday night the girls didn’t sleep well, and yesterday was a bad day. Both girls were really clingy, and their noses were running like faucets. I found myself thinking, “When it rains, it pours...but thank goodness for snow!” Huh???

I haven’t been so excited for a Snow Day since I was 12. My husband was out of school yesterday, so he was able to help me manage the girls. Before the girls were born, I used to roll my eyes at Snow Days, as I always had to go to work, while Hubby enjoyed a nice day off with the kitty cats. Yesterday, though, I felt like a middle-schooler (minus the acne and big hair) as I rejoiced at the school closings.

Hubby is back at work today, and I’m glad to report that the girls are on the road to recovery. I know this is just part of the joys of parenthood, but I have to admit I’m considering dusting off their “bubble.”

February 7, 2010

Ten Truths

One of the bloggers I follow, Krissi at http://myordinarymiraclesblog.com/, included me on a list of blogs she thinks are good (thanks, Krissi!). In this context, she challenged me to list 10 "truths" about me. I thought this would be an interesting exercise, one that I thought I might get around to in the next few days. The more I thought about it, though, the more I couldn't wait to sit down and let the thought process flow.

This was a really fun exercise, one I chose to explore in the context of being a mom. So...here's the good, the bad/sad, and the funny!

1. I feel like I was just “made” to be a mom. While I loved living the career-driven life, for me, I now know THIS is what it’s all about.

2. I always intended to leave my job after I had children. I was extremely career-focused for almost ten years, and the announcement that I wouldn’t return to work shocked the majority of my colleagues. I couldn’t help but smile a little bit on the inside.

3. I loved being pregnant, and it makes me so sad to hear other women complain about it. I can’t imagine anything more miraculous than being able to give life to a child; it is such a blessing. Oh, and I still have the sweater I wore to the hospital in the bottom of my clothes hamper…I can’t bear to wash away the last trace of this magical time.

4. I know it’s a moot point, as we have two beautiful, healthy babies, but I feel a lot of guilt for not carrying the girls past 34 weeks’ gestation. I wish I had been more aggressive in challenging my OB when I started having contractions, but I trusted his judgment and his “just relax; this is normal” attitude. Deep down, I knew something wasn’t quite right. I will try to let this be a lesson to listen to my inner voice more often.

5. I pray the exact same prayer every night, the same one I started praying when I was pregnant with the girls. I pray for the girls’ health and happiness, and that we will be able to lead them into a life of servitude.

6. Since having children, I miss my mom more than I could have ever imagined. How I wish I could share in this experience with her, from the mundane details to the biggest milestones. And I can only imagine how taken she would be with these two little girls. I smile thinking they would have an endless supply of handmade smocked dresses.

7. I am addicted to sugar…primarily candy…and I don’t want to pass this ugly habit along to my girls! Right now I can indulge when the girls are asleep, but one day they’ll be going through the pantry themselves. I’ll either have to hide my stash, or come clean and shape up! HA!

8. (Despite my admitted sugar addiction…) I feel an intense need to take care of myself, as it’s something I owe my girls. I want to do everything in my power to be here for them for as long as I can.

9. I would love to move back to Sweet Home Alabama, but not at all costs. After my baby-rearing sabbatical, I want and need to get back into the consumer packaged goods arena. My ears are always open for opportunities closer to home, but I don’t think I can afford to sacrifice salary and experience for location at this point in my career. No matter where we live, though, I’ll do everything I can to steer the girls towards pulling for the Crimson Tide!

10. Although I can sometimes get a little aggravated, I secretly love it when strangers ogle over the girls.

February 6, 2010

Food Critics

Once upon a time, before the girls were born, I had intended to make my own baby food. I had researched the neatest gadget from Williams Sonoma, and I could just picture myself in my little apron, cooking only the best for my precious babies. I somehow never got myself in gear, though, and before I knew it, the girls were four months old and the pediatrician told me to start feeding them. I found myself standing in front of a sea of Gerber packaging at the grocery store.

I worked diligently to introduce the girls to every possible variety of baby food, even going to several stores in town to find different fruits and vegetables. They eventually developed a liking to literally everything I fed them, and I felt really good about having built a solid foundation for them to be "not-picky" eaters.

All the while, Aunt Karen would comment about the poor babies having to eat baby food as smells from Mommy’s home cooking wafted through the house. How fair is it, she would challenge, that they are eating pureed squash, just knowing that Mommy and Daddy are going to enjoy five-cheese lasagna with banana bread for dessert???

During the girls’ one-year check-up with the pediatrician, he said it was time to transition them from baby food to “big people food.” As exciting as this was, it also seemed very daunting…what would I cook for them? And what if they didn’t like it?

Over the past several weeks, I have been trying to plan our menu to include foods the girls can eat. To date, they’ve eaten dishes such as baked sweet potatoes, roasted carrots and Irish potatoes, creamed spinach, split pea soup, white bean chowder, and baked tilapia. (And how nice was it not to buy any baby food during my last trip to the grocery store?!!)

While at first they balked at the new textures, they have begun to take a liking to what I think is “the good stuff.” With some dishes, though, I can tell they’re still not so sure. I can just imagine them talking to each other after supper, saying, “Hey! What happened to Grandma Gerber???"
 
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