Monday, January 31, 2011

Baby Foodie Goes On An Adventure

It's easy to get stuck in a rut with babies when it comes to food. Right now we're deep in a sandwich rut. It takes some planning to fit in two protein sources for my somewhat newly vegetarian kiddies, and lately I've been relying too heavily on hummus and peanut butter sandwiches at lunch. It's so, so important, though, to offer lots of food variety for little guys in order to encourage forming healthy tastes and to discourage picky eating.

How's a mom to get out of a food rut?

A buffet!

On our recent Veda-Mommy Day, my little gal and I hit up the buffet at Earthfare (a Whole Foods-ish store). Take a look at her plate:

You're looking at Greek pasta salad, brown rice, fruit salad, grilled vegetables, and citrus-glazed tofu.

Veda's enthusiasm for the pasta salad gave me inspiration to create my own Greek-style pasta salad, but I'll add my own tweaks, like adding more vegetables and beans, using whole wheat pasta, and eliminating the cheese. It was also fun to see that Veda would eat olives, which I wouldn't have known otherwise since neither my husband nor I are olive eaters. 

I'll also be serving up fruit salad with pineapple, a fruit that the babies had previously rejected. The Earthfare buffet ain't cheap, but it's still more cost-effective than buying a whole unit of something they might just throw on the floor. Pineapple may not be the best example, but you get the picture.

Inspiration for Mommy and exploration for Baby - what's not to like?  

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Sunday, January 30, 2011

Twins Are People, Too

Now that the babies are getting older, one of the questions people like to ask is "Do they have different personalities?".

Well, yeah! They're two different people!
Breastfeeding made it a little tough for me to be separated from the babies very much due to my lack of success with pumping. Now that we've dropped the afternoon feeding, though, we've got more freedom to split up, which means that we get to have some one-on-one time.
With twins (and all multiples), I think this is so, so important to do. As silly as the above question is, in parenting twins, it's easy to get lost in the mechanics of the day - to treat them as a unit, "the twins". I've called our daily routine a "baby assembly line" before, and it is. It has to be. But each baby deserves and needs some time to get all of Mommy's (and Daddy's) attention. And at the risk of ticking off the singleton parents, having to care for just one baby is almost like having a mini-vacation.
Here are a few photos from our recent one-on-one days:


Linus waiting on the doctor at his ear re-check (BTW, his ears looked perfect then, and he had a massive, raging infection again two days later.). How handsome is he?!

Enjoying a good book and a beverage at the bookstore cafe. I have dreams of the four of us spending weekends this way in the future.
Veda enjoying lunch at Earthfare. I bet you think that's a lot of food for such a tiny person. She ate almost all of it.

Just us girls

As crazy as our "normal" is, it's worth the effort to make time for these one-on-one days. And truly, sincerely, from the bottom of my heart, I can't wait for the next one.

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Thursday, January 27, 2011

Dining Out Toddler-Style

     Like so many of us, I worked for a time during college and graduate school in the restaurant industry. As is the case with most wait staff, I wasn’t thrilled when a family with young children was seated in my section because such patrons tend to leave both a huge mess and a meager tip. I remember in particular one family who left a mess that took me a good thirty minutes to clean up at the end of the night - we’re talking papers shredded and thrown everywhere, goo mashed into the carpet, and condiments smeared on the walls - and about a $2.50 tip. Thank you so freakin’ much.
     It’s those memories that make me so anxious about taking my own children out to a restaurant. I don’t want to be those people. I will go to places that don’t meet these criteria, but these days I prefer my restaurants to have tile floors, be noisy, and be self-serve (i.e., order at the counter, etc.). Then I don’t feel so weird about hunching down under the table to pick up the chunks that have migrated to the floor.

     Is it just me that does this??? Seriously, I'm thinking about getting one of those little crumb sweeper things for the diaper bag.

     Since most kid's menus consist of junk food, I bring my own unless I'm going somewhere where I feel comfortable ordering something off the menu for the babies. Maybe that makes me a jerk, but I don't really care. I'm not about to ruin all of the good work I've done on developing their healthy eating habits for the sake of a stranger's feelings.

     It is after much experimentation that I feel ready to tell you what I believe to be the best meal to pack for a toddler. I have selected it both for its clean-upability and lack of refrigeration requirement. Are you ready?... Wait for it...

Peanut Butter Sandwich and Box of Raisins

It's simple, and there are no vegetables, but that can be taken care of with the meal at home. But you know what? I'm still thinking about the mess we're making the entire time we're eating. Come on, am I the only mommy who worries about this?

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Monday, January 24, 2011

Clean House

It's so mundane that no one really talks about it (Well, except for Martha Stewart. And the Real Simple people.), but aren't you kind of curious about how other people clean their houses?

Since I'm preparing to end our family visit and return to life on our own, I've been retuning the cleaning schedule. When the babies were younger, I scrambled to get all of the housework done during their naps. Now that they're older, I no longer need to make baby food. Don't get me wrong - making baby food was easy, but it did take time, especially making it in quantity for two little tummies. But on the other hand, they're down to just one nap now, so getting it all done during nap time is out. And since I don't get any time in the evening to myself thanks to my little bit's intense separation anxiety, nap time is IT for getting my read or write on.

Before, I was cleaning according to making the most efficient use of a tool - like the vacuum on the day I cleaned all of the floors. Now I'm cleaning according to room so that I can keep the babies close by while I clean.

Here's how I've divided the cleaning/chores up over the week:
Monday - Kitchen, Diaper Laundry
Tuesday - Dining Room, Entryway, Stairs, Hallway, Load of Laundry
Wednesday - Bedrooms, Diaper Laundry
Thursday - Bathrooms, Load of Laundry
Friday - Office, Diaper Laundry
Saturday - Living Room
Sunday - Grocery Planning, Shopping

I've also made a checklist for each day that incorporates the daily stuff like making the beds. I'm going to keep the checklists in sheet protectors inside my Home Management Guide so I can check them off every day with an overhead projector marker. Maybe that amount of organization makes you want to punch me in the face, but in my defense A) I love the heady thrill of checking things off on a To Do list, and B) If you know me, you know that I'm just scatterbrained enough to forget any number of the things on the list for months at time.

In case you're interested in creating your own checklist, here's Martha's checklist to use as a starting point for making your own.

Now it's your turn to dish - How do you do it? Do you have a schedule or routine? Just go on an as-needed basis? Let it go until you can't stand it anymore? (*Confession* All of the above have applied to me at some point.)
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Sunday, January 23, 2011

This Week's Meal Plan 1/24-1/30/11

Age: 12 Months

Apple Spice Cereal
Peanut Butter Sandwich, Squash, Kiwi
Raisins, Crackers
Black Beans, Brown Rice, Mixed Vegetables
Yogurt, O cereal, Banana
Pasta and Veggie Salad w/Lemon Juice, Apple Slices
Freeze-Dried Peaches, Crackers
Vegetable Soup, Cornbread
Scrambled Egg, O Cereal, Pear
Hummus Sandwich, Thawed Frozen Mango, Zucchini
Cherry Tomatoes, Crackers
Vegetable Stir fry, Brown Rice
Yogurt, O Cereal, Pear
Pasta and Veggie Salad w/Lemon Juice, Black Beans
Raisins, Crackers
Spinach, Roasted Sweet Potato, String Cheese
Apple Spice Cereal
Peanut Butter Sandwich, Clementine, Green Pepper
String Cheese, Crackers
Fish Sticks, Mashed Potatoes, Green Beans
Scrambled Egg, O Cereal, Banana
Cream Cheese Sandwich, Orange, Cucumber
Raisins, Crackers
Veggie Tots, Roasted Sweet Potatoes, Green Beans
Baby Foodie French Toast, Thawed Frozen Blueberries
Hummus Sandwich, Cucumber,
Pear Slices
Freeze-Dried Peaches, Crackers
Black Bean Patty, Roasted Sweet Potatoes, Spinach

BF - Breastfeed

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Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Four Websites Worth Your Precious Mommy Time

Stonyfield Rewards - With most rewards programs, it takes forever to build up enough points to get anything. Not so with the Stonyfield program. If your family uses Stonyfield products (hello, YoBaby yogurt!), you've got to get in on this. I've already gotten a free magazine subscription, a free four-pack of YoBaby yogurt, and two free HappyBaby products.

Upromise - I didn't use Upromise for a while because I thought that since we don't do much shopping at conventional grocery stores, it wouldn't work for us. And then I discovered that they also offer online shopping savings. Savings as in "free" money going into a college fund for the babies based upon a percentage of what I spend shopping online. I downloaded the toolbar that reminds me when I'm visiting a participating site, and just with Christmas shopping, I added about $30 to their account. Yeah, it's not going to pay for a degree, but if I can save enough over the course of 18 years to pay for a semester of books, it's worth it.

Environmental Working Group's Cosmetic Database - This database has cosmetic products rated according to toxins and allergens. I'll admit to not running everything I use on myself through this database, but I certainly do for anything that goes on the babies. Just run some of your family's favorite products through it for kicks and giggles. You might be surprised.

Amazon Mom - Okay, this one isn't exactly a website, but it's definitely worth checking into. When you sign up for the program, you get 3 months of free Prime membership, which means that you get free 2-day shipping. Then for each $25 you spend on baby products, they add another month of free Prime membership, all the way up to a year (and the Terms & Conditions page says they may extend it - yippee!). As if that wasn't fantastic enough, if you do the Subscribe & Save thing on their diapers, you save 30% on diapers. Seriously. (Yes, we do cloth diapers, but I'm on an every 3 months schedule with the Amazon subscription. It works out well with any traveling, weekend excursions, nighttime diapering, etc - and having two babies. You could even do every six months.) The only catch is that you have to cancel the membership when your time is up or they'll charge you for another year of it. Eh, put a reminder on your calendar.

What about you? Any wonderful websites to share with fellow mommies?
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Saturday, January 15, 2011

Greek Gods and Cow's Milk

    Teaching The Odyssey was fun. Teaching it to ninth graders was hilarious. After background lessons about Greek mythology, some baby-faced kid would usually ask, "Did this stuff really happen?". If this question was asked in front of the rest of the class, you can imagine the response of the other kids. Partly to help the first kid save face and partly because it's true, I'd remind them that one day people will think some of our beliefs and practices were quaint and outlandish. The toddler sippy perpetually filled with cow's milk will be among those practices heaped in the odd pile.

   I told you in my January challenge post that I'm transitioning to veganism and am in the research stage of making a dietary decision for the babies. In the pro-vegan corner is my desire to save them from the ill-effects of animal protein. Even though there's no history of Type-1 diabetes in our family, I'm still afraid of them consuming the casein in cow's milk, which is linked to the onset of Type-1. In the pro-vegetarian corner was every pediatric dietary recommendation I've been handed at the doctor's office about the 16-24 oz. of cow's milk toddlers are supposed to be slurping down on a daily basis.

    But how does that work with extended breastfeeding? Was I supposed to be cutting feedings to make room for cow's milk? What did my breastmilk lack that they needed from cow's milk? How many times a day should I be nursing them, anyway? Turns out this information isn't as easy to find as you might think.

    Here's what I found out: There's absolutely NOTHING that cow's milk provides (except for added Vitamin D) that human breastmilk doesn't. In fact, human breastmilk is still the best choice for human toddlers. It's species-specific and is richer in the brain growth-friendly fats that humans need.

    So to break this down for you, our culture encourages:
  1. Weaning babies from human milk, the best nutritional choice for human babies and toddlers
  2. Replacing an ideal, species-specific nutrition source with one designed for baby cows
   This brings me back to a fun fact about human gestation. Why are human babies are born at 40 weeks? It's because our giant-brained heads get too big. Think about it. What's the hardest part to push out? The big 'ol head. Humans are kinda special like that. We also have such a long juvenile period because our brains are so complex that they need all of that extra time to develop.

    But we replace a nutrition source designed for advancing brain development in favor of one tailored to fast-tracking the growth of a four-legged critter to several hundred pounds within a matter of months. Huh. How... quaint.

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Wednesday, January 12, 2011


Last night Veda woke twice, and Linus woke three times. It was a "good" night for us.

It's been a year since I slept all night. That's not counting pregnancy sleep disturbances.

On the days after a "good" night (i.e., a night where I feel like I've completed at least one sleep cycle), I can laugh about it.

On the days after a bad night, sure, I'm pretty cranky about it. Desperate middle-of-the-night utterings of "I can't do this anymore" have been made. Still, you know what? I keep doing it.

But here's the point of this post: It isn't my fault.

Maybe you disagree, but hear me out. I've read many sleep books. I've read practically every bit of baby sleep information available on the internet. And I've tried everything I felt I could do in good conscience. Here's the conclusion I've come to:

I can do my best to lead the babies to sleep, but that's all I can do.

It isn't my fault.

It may not seem like a big deal to you, but that little revelation was a BIG DEAL around here. Giving in to that idea meant that I got to stop feeling guilty about some mistaken idea that I was depriving my children of the sleep they need to grow. It meant that I got to stop the pointless research that wasted time I could have spent doing something enjoyable. It meant that I got to stop feeling like a failure.

So, Internet People, some kids aren't good sleepers. You do what you can do, and that's what you can do.
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Monday, January 10, 2011

Happy Birthday

The babies celebrated their first birthday a couple of weekends ago. Yes, it feels like this is all going
by too fast, but I'm going to focus on the fun stuff, because I'm guessing that that's what you and Future Linus and Veda want to hear about. 

Here's the setup. Please note the Baby Foodie First Birthday Cupcakes at the front of the table. They were a hit with the babies - and the adults, too! The cupcakes in the center of the table were supposed to look like a bunch of balloons. Can you kind of see it??? Eh.... not exactly my greatest acheivement. 

Birthday boy and girl. Linus is a dinosaur, and Veda is a pony.

Enjoying their cupcakes. "Are you going to eat that?"

Giggling at Daddy blowing bubbles.

Playing with balloons. Don't worry - Veda got to play with one, too.

Everyone knows the best part of the present is the paper.

At 12 months of age...

Veda can crawl and has started to cruise. She has eight teeth and can point to the flap hiding an object in her peekaboo book. She says Mama, Dada, and Nana. She loves books and flips through them by herself. She has some pretty potent separation anxiety, and consequently cosleeps with us.

Linus is the world's fastest army crawler - so fast he looks like he's swimming - and is getting pretty good at cruising, too. He has eight teeth, and his first molar is starting to come in. He loves chasing balls - sort of like he's playing soccer, but with his hands. He says Mama, Dada, Papaw, and Veda ("Da").

They're pretty much the best babies ever.

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Wednesday, January 5, 2011

January Challenge: NOT On a Diet

... But I am going to change my diet.

At this point in life, I think I'm pretty much done with "diets", so don't read this as a New Year's resolution to lose x number of pounds. In fact, I'm not making this change in my lifestyle to lose weight at all.

Back in high school/college, I was a vegetarian for two or three years. At that time, though, it was about the ethics of eating animals. I don't remember a whole lot about it, except that I ate a lot of Gardenburgers.

This time I won't be eating Gardenburgers, (Why? Because they're processed and contain lots of things I can't pronounce.) but I am going to pursue veganism

My friend Chris recommended The China Study to me, and reading it has proven to be the tipping point for me. I do quite a bit of food reading, and in concert with other books I've read that warn about the health consequences of eating a Western diet and its (lack of) sustainability, The China Study has convinced me to give up animal protein altogether.

Here's what I'm hoping to gain from adopting a vegan diet:
  • Preventing Type-2 Diabetes - I've mentioned before that I have an insulin resistance problem. It's part of the joy of PCOS, but it would be nice to prevent if from becoming full-blown diabetes. Really nice.
  • Maintaining a healthy weight - Thanks to breastfeeding, my last glucose tolerance test was within normal limits, and feeding two babies helped me reach a healthy post-pregnancy weight. I have a not unfounded fear that weaning will mean the return of IR and consequently the return of unwanted pounds.
  • Preventing breast (and other cancers) - Consuming animal protein contributes to the initiation and progression of cancer.
  • Preventing a whole other list of ailments - including autoimmune diseases, Alzheimer's, and deterioration associated with aging, to name a few.
This month is the fact-gathering month. February will be the actual diet change month. This month I'm generating a list of go-to recipes and looking for answers to a couple of big questions I have:
  1. How much soy is safe? My mother, a breast cancer survivor, was told to avoid soy because her cancer was estrogen-sensitive. Given my family history, should I also be avoiding soy? I've yet to find a doctor who could answer that one with anything more than a guess. How much soy is safe for my little ones to eat?
  2. Should the tots be vegan as well? Or should they be vegetarian?
Back to that list of recipes... easier said than done. I made a trip to the library to check out vegan cookbooks. Just a few of the hundreds of recipes I found that won't work for us:
Beet Ravioli with Balsamic Pickled Figs and Green Garlic Oil
Ponzu-Glazed Tofu Crystal Rolls
Black Soybean and Kabocha Squash Stew

To say nothing of the long list of ingredients I've never heard of. And I say that as a person who could identify more ingredients than any of the contestants on Master Chef. I LOVE food, and I would likely order any of those out, but right now I need practical, quick-fix stuff. Verily, this is a challenge.
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