Monsters, babies and giants! Oh my!

Lena is on the cusp of turning three and it has been out of this world, literally, watching her imagination take flight. As an avid reader it’s been particularly gratifying to see her have a voracious appetite for books.


The imaginary play lately is outrageously funny. In the pool the other day she was pretending a leaf was a monster. She almost dissolved in tears when it kept floating against her leg and she couldn’t escape! Another day she set up school on the stairs and had her Papa sitting there for almost 20 minutes. Every time we turn around it’s a new game and a new set of rules. Another favorite is role reversal. When I get the esteemed privilege of being Lena and she’s Mommy, I take full advantage and ask an infinite series of “Why?” questions.

As we launch into these in depth discussions eventually I’ll have to give in and start laughing. To which she’ll reply with a grin, “Me just ‘tending mommy!” Priceless.

Finding healthy.

Having a baby is a crazy, life altering, mind numbing, ecstatic time in your life. Shortly after you emerge from the baby bubble and resume normal life, everything just falls into place and life goes on…right?

Yeah, not so much. I honestly thought I was busy all the time before baby #1. Once Lena was born, I didn’t find any time for my self or my personal well-being. I was equal parts elated, exhausted and emotionally drained. That’s all with a reasonably “easy” baby. I mean, what new parent isn’t constantly wishing for a nap?

Baby #2 brought much the same, with a whole new level of sleep deprivation. Five hours of interrupted sleep is sufficient for most anyone, right? During the day she is a happy, easy going kid so I can hardly complain. Those few occasions I got a straight six hours I should have felt amazing…but I didn’t.

I’ve always fought this constant battle with feeling tired and run down. Having gone through two pregnancies, I just wasn’t feeling like my old self. I used to play sports, take long walks and was a rather energetic individual. Now, I felt like my body just wasn’t responding the way it should and I had aches and pains that made it that much worse. I had no energy for anything beyond our day-to-day necessities. Once the kids were in bed, we’d collapse on the couch for some TV and then call it a night. Something had to give.

My husband and I made a pact to start eating better. We both have a sweet tooth so we started eliminating dessert and making an effort to curb our sugar intake wherever we could. The next step was cooking more and avoiding take-out, I’ve written about one of our strategies here. Next up? Exercise!

With an infant and a toddler, we had mismatched nap schedules so getting out of the house for a decent walk was problematic on the best of days.  I’d tried and failed at so many home workout programs and getting to a gym was out of the question. A friend talked me into giving one more program a try. Twenty one days, half an hour a day. I could do that. With a huge assist from the hubbie, I made it work. I couldn’t go on feeling like I did.

Fast forward to today and I am so glad I took the chance. I have energy again, I sit down at the end of the day and five minutes later I’m up again doing something to prep for the next day. Not only that but I’m pushing myself to do things I haven’t in ages! Reading, writing, swimming, meeting up with friends occasionally. It’s still a work in progress, but at least I know I’m on the right track.

A few things I’ve learned?
1. Be ready to change bad habits. 2. Take small steps, make it fit your lifestyle.
3. Be realistic and make changes that you can keep long-term.
4. Find your motivation! (Mine was finding energy for myself and my family, but that’s only part of the story…more to come.)

The end of ‘stationary’ life as we know it.

I’ve been in denial for weeks, hoping this stage will just wait a bit longer to surface. I mean, babies are supposed to sit in one place and be perfectly content for hours right?!

Maggie is on the cusp of crawling. I mean, literally…any day now she’ll be stalking across the floor to gleefully pull on her sister’s ‘oh so tempting’ curls (Hair has long been a fascination for her.). Gone are the days of stranding her in the jumper while the rest of us buzz around in our various pursuits. Lately, she’s only happy if she’s sitting in the middle of the room with toys strewn all around her. That way, she can cast about in any direction and snag something of interest before growing bored and flinging it away. Eventually, she teeters just a smidgen too far and ends up on her belly (or just face planting in the rug, no big) and sqwuaks in irritation until someone has mercy and pulls her upright again.  Then with a devilish grin she repeats the process all over again.




So far, I’ve managed to discourage Lena from attempting this maneuver as I’m fairly sure it’ll end badly. Probably for Lena. The sweet little girl isn’t quite sure what to make of her little sis’ new-found mobility. We’ve been talking a lot about sharing again since it’s taken on a whole new meaning now that Maggie can more adequately defend her own territory. Gone are the days of stealing toys and skipping away with a blithe, “Maggie sharing me, Mommy.” Sure love, of course she is.

Watch out world…Maggie will shortly be on the move!

“Why, Mommy?”

Somewhere in the vicinity of two and a half and three years old, a toddler comes to a momentous milestone. Gone are the days of blithely following along with conversations or a simple repartee of  “What’s that?”. This new question will forever haunt your days with endless strings of queries that will lead from one topic to the next with reckless abandon. Never one to quell an inquisitive nature, you’ll forge dauntlessly forward with every good intention. And yet, as the 20th “Why, Mommy?” in as many seconds emanates from that tiny person in that little girl voice, you’ll want to scream in completely and utter frustration. You’ll find yourself curtly changing the subject, or automatically  replying with a nonsense answer before your conscious mind even registers the inquiry.

I consider it a major victory that during our ride to daycare today, I was inundated with a string of at least eight whymommies before I replied with a simple “Lena…”. To which I was treated to the unexpected reply, “Me asking silly questions!” and a giggle. Progress!!

We have a few ground rules we try to follow in our house, namely:

1. A simple “why” doesn’t cut it, ask an actual question!
2. Quite frequently turn the question around on the child, let them puzzle out their own reasoning…sometimes with hilarious results! 3. Try incredibly hard not to dismiss the questions offhand, because sometimes you see the world from a whole new perspective because of a simple “Why, Mommy?”.




Second child: What schedule??

With our first child we were a bit strict about keeping a consistent routine and sleep schedule. We knew we were being a bit manic but with your first kid, there are so many unknowns and you want to feel control over something! While we may have been a bit over the top at times, it worked in our favor. Lena had always been an excellent sleeper and handles transition very well. We moved house, put her in a big girl bed and added a baby sister with almost no fuss. Who does that?!

With our second, things have naturally been a bit more chaotic. Naps aren’t always at the same times and more often than not, they’re taken on the run while life goes on with big sis. That said, we have a pretty good routine despite all the disruptions. So far, Maggie is doing great but she’s nowhere near as consistent a sleeper as her big sister. We are still struggling with night wakings that have no rhyme or reason. Two teeth and various winter sniffles have played a large role in this so we are holding out hope for some future changes.

I actually went back and read some of my old posts about teething, feeding and scheduling. Most of this still holds true! One big bonus is both girls go to bed by 7 pm. At least we still manage to get a little adult time before the day is through!

Finding time to eat better

It’s amazing how you look back at life before one child and think, “What did I do with my day?!” Well, the feeling grows exponentially with the second!

With our first, we were both working full time and our evening routine consisted of rushing in the door, throwing together kid good, getting said kid washed and into bed, scarfing down something vaguely food related and collapsing into bed. The second time around I was determined to avoid this. I’m an organized person. Really, I am. Sudden changes to routine send me into a tailspin. Ask my husband how many times I check with him to be sure he’s picking up the kids! Changes to the routine equals bouts of anxiety quickly escalating into panic. Seriously, don’t mess.

Over the past three months of maternity leave I felt like I gained a lot of traction in organizing our lives. It was complete chaos most of the time but the last few weeks we had full cupboards, healthy meals (albeit from a relatively limited menu) and clean clothes the vast majority of the time. I remembered why I enjoy cooking so much and took pride in our new house , actually having time to keep up with most (ok, some) chores. Facing the end of leave, I was living in abject fear. Let’s just say I have a hard time giving up control. There, I said it.

I couldn’t fathom spending one minute away from my not-so-tiny babe and my precocious two-year-old, let alone commuting for the first time in two years. Anxiety induced paranoia? Check. Floods of tears? Check. Begging to stay home even though I knew I’d be miserable and it would be fiscally impossible? Check. Week two and I’m totally better. I didn’t actually burst into tears upon leaving my kids in the hands of my mother, who lives roughly three minutes from work and feeds me lunch (when I stop in to check on the kids) while also delivering said kids to my doorstep at least once during the day. Yep, SO much better. You get the picture.

Anyway, one way we have introduced some sense of sanity (because clearly I have none) is through a nifty service we saw online and decided to give a whirl. Blue Apron is a game changer. Not only do they deliver delicious and easy recipes to your door, they’re healthy too! What’s better than fresh ingredients and fun recipes that encourage you to try new things?

Also, they’ve recently upgraded their menus so now you can more accurately select the types of foods you enjoy and opt out of foods you don’t eat. Can it get any easier?

Ok, so it might be slightly more expensive than your average home cooked meal but I believe you make up for that in lack of waste. I mean, how often do you need a head of red cabbage or an entire jicama? Most of the ingredients are readily found in most grocery stores so if we like a recipe we just buy the basic ingredients and recreate it on our own.

So now, three nights a week we have meals planned. We wing the rest but have rediscovered our love of cooking. New ingredients, new recipes…and it’s relatively brainless time we can spend together when we are burnt out at the end of a long day. We just have some fun and eat a great meal, together. Hard to pass that up!

A few of our favorites:
Kumquat lime glaze over chicken with a side of freekah with Brussel sprouts, mint and almonds.

Chicken potstickers.

Shortrib burger on a pretzel bun with sweet potato chips.

Turkey with lemon caper sauce over mashed potato and roasted broccoli.


A day in the life…

Or maybe just a morning!

We actually managed to get dressed upstairs today, only because the toddler had wet through her pull-up and we had to change out of pajamas. At least we managed to roll that into some straightening up of our rooms but mostly because we had to change all the linens. Dressed beds, exciting!

We even managed a few more chores while the babe took a short nap. Laundry time is a blast. Especially when soaking poop stained clothes. Fingers crossed the stains come out! It’s only the fourth, epic poop explosion of the week.

Next up was story time while I fed the babe. Pleas for TV went unrewarded. We don’t let her watch that much, I swear! Why does she ask constantly?!


Time to tease the babe! She doesn’t seem amused.


Little mommy had to mimic everything baby sis was doing…


…including tummy time.


During babe’s nap we decided to make cookies (after a clean up session, where did all these toys come from??), friends are visiting tomorrow!


Best part is eating the ingredients of course.


Lunch was a success until we had a disagreement over what type of crackers were on offer. Fortunately, that resolved without real tears.


Real tears erupted when I refused more crackers…off to bed!


Toddler down and baby up, is there room under there for me?


Pumping revisited.

Ok, so here are my two cents. I’ll start by mentioning that my methods were far from scientific and no efforts were taken to standardize the results.

Manual vs. electric pump

Old faithful: the annoying, yet consistent old electric pump is a workhorse and on child #2 is still holding it’s own. Mine is a Modela pump in style advanced that costs about $299.

Pros: fairly effortless operate, needs very little supervision, can be hands free with the right accessories.

Cons: the awful noise!, it’s size and bulkiness, set up is time consuming, not exactly discrete at the office, makes me feel like a milk cow tethered to a milking station. The cost!

The contender: a Lansinoh manual pump that retails for about $29.99.

Pros: extremely portable, quick to trigger let down reflex, more natural rhythm, virtually silent, mobile if necessary.

Cons: needs a bit of attention, not quite as effective unless you’re fairly full.

I used both pumps over the last few days and had a pretty consistent nursing schedule. I found that for day time pumping the manual is far superior. Having a toddler and a 3 month old, I wasn’t tied down (yes, I have curtains and no neighbors were scandalized during this process!) and I could express pretty quickly and get on with my day. These times I was only expressing from one side at a sitting so it was really manageable. In the evenings when I wanted to express both sides and express a larger quantity before bed, the electric pump won out purely for speed and the ability to express both at once.

The manual pump has a little bit of a learning curve in finding the right methods for you. However, once you get it right I found it was much faster than the electric. When I head back to work I’ll definitely be using the manual pump at the office and reserve the electric pump for home use. Hopefully this will help streamline the process!

Baby poop debacle.

We have officially reached the diaper blowout stage. No solid foods have been introduced yet so we are blessed with the over so lovely mustard poop that stains everything!

I’ve tossed a few outfits and lived with many a stain in my day but after a week of eruptions, even after upping the diaper size and liberally applying stain remover to no avail…something had to give. The consensus of online research seemed to say that an overnight soak in Oxiclean and a regular wash with your favorite detergent should do the trick.

We’ve had plenty of practice and I’d add a few tips. Try to rinse off as much debris as possible before soaking. Also, try to avoid letting the offending stain set in by soaking as soon as possible. I’ve gone as long as 24-36 hours before soaking so far and have still had success.

Here’s hoping we manage to preserve a few more outfits!

I prefer, circularly challenged.

Just when you hit your stride and begin to see light in your exhaustion filled days. During your triumphant visit to the pediatrician to report a decent nights sleep you get the dreaded news…your baby has developed flat head! Good sleepers are prone to flat head, go figure.

The good news is that despite your inevitable incessant worrying, most cases resolve themselves on their own. It’s essentially a cosmetic problem and as the baby spends more time upright or on their belly, the head gradually returns to a more rounded shape. In many cases, the worry is more about the muscles on one side of the neck losing flexibility because of the tendency to turn a certain direction.

The bad news is that despite having myriad sources tell you this information, you’ll probably spend hours examining your baby’s head from every angle. You mean it’s not normal to take weekly pictures of the top of your child’s head? Hmm. How about obsessively using sleep positioners to angle her to sleep facing the opposite of her favored direction?

Let’s just say we are improving but we are not out of the woods yet!