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Archive for October, 2008

 

I had a couple of ideas for longer food-related post ideas for today, but then I realized that 1) It’s Halloween and

Tigers for Halloween last year

Tigers for Halloween last year

2) I am completely exhausted from our craptacular week this week (someone recently questioned whether this was a real word—believe me! He would not have done this had he lived my week this week). I will summarize by saying that at my house there is a sad little 18 month old girl with an infected split lip that hurts too much for her to eat. And Miss Abigail is really very fond of her food. It makes for sad, crabby times.

And wizards this year

And wizards this year

Anyway, I wanted to invite those of you who are creative in the kitchen to share your fun Halloween recipes with the rest of us. Do you make spiderweb cookies or tombstone cookies? Or pumpkin cupcakes? Or are you looking for a use or two for those leftover candy corn? 

To those little trick or  treaters out there—have fun tonight! I think we’re skipping the festivities tonight and having a early bedtime for tired little ones and a glass of wine, or two, for tired big ones.

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Have a question for the HDYDI moms?  Ask away in the comments or on our Features page.

What about reintroducing intimacy into your relationship with your husband – physical and emotional? How to be romantic when you worry about chores, finance, sleep deprived and the kids are sleeping in the next room? Early “physical” limitations (post-C-Section, vaginal birth, breastfeeding).

Oh yes.  The nookie.  Those of you rare few who were breaking rules and getting back in the saddle well before your postpartum appointment… this isn’t for you.  It’s for the rest of us.

So, OK, you drag yourself (with or without babies) to your six-week postpartum OB checkup.  Your doctor says all is well, and you’re clear to resume sex.  And just as soon as you stop laughing, she actually has the nerve to ask what you want to use as birth control!  Um, did she forget that time six weeks ago when she pulled two small people from your body?  Hahahahaha!

But sex is a serious topic, people.  And one we’re all about here on HDYDI.  For as much time as we spend as devoted moms, we are also (among other things) the beloved spouse/partner of some other grownup.  And I’m going to come right out and say it: I think physical intimacy is a really important part of that kind of relationship.  But, good lord, how is that supposed to happen with two needy newborns, zero sleep, and a body that has been through a war?  Here’s our advice…

Talk, talk, and talk some more

Communication can very easily break down in the first weeks and months of being a new parent, especially with two.  In addition to the mind-addling lack of sleep (and showers and meals that can’t be eaten with one hand), mama’s got some serious physical stuff to deal with.  You’re healing from delivery, your hormones are more volatile than the stock market, your boobs are leaking milk all over the place, and your belly resembles a lump of raw pizza dough.  You’re stressed and tired and trying to figure it all out, and sex is the farthest thing from your mind.  Well, guess what?  It might be lower on your beloved’s list than you think.  Maybe you’re on maternity leave but he’s gone back to work already, only to come home and help out with the night shift.  He’s tired and stressed too, so maybe postponing the return to the marital bed is just fine with him.  Or, maybe he’s more eager than you are.  But the only way you can understand each other is to talk about it.  If you don’t feel up for it, he needs to know that.  If he misses that aspect of your relationship, you need to know that, too.  But keep talking.

Make a choice, make a date

You may find that you both want to get back in the saddle, at least theoretically, but motivation is low and timing is poor.  But if you’re both in agreement: make a date.  Make several.  Make the choice to carve out time to re-connect, both emotionally and physically.  You don’t need to go anywhere, you don’t need to find a babysitter.  Just decide that you’re going to light some candles and sit down at the table for dinner.  Turn off the TV, don’t answer the phone. Open a bottle of wine. Maybe it leads you back to the bedroom, maybe it takes a few times. Maybe you just make a totally concrete, un-romantic decision to jump back into bed.  That’s OK. You have to start somewhere. The psych majors among us should think about behavioral therapy: set the behavior first, if you need to, and the emotional part will come along.  If nothing else, you’ll be glad you made the time for each other.  And I’m not kidding about that bottle of wine.  I’m all for (consensual) enforced relaxation.

Don’t rush, and don’t expect it to be the same

Everyone has their own timeline.  Some people are so looking forward to reconnecting that they go for it right after they get the green light (or some just decide to get that first time “out of the way”…).  Plenty of people don’t feel physically or emotionally ready for several more weeks or even months.  Don’t feel like you need to rush into anything that you aren’t ready for.

Speaking of getting things out of the way… know that the first time post-kids, nobody’s socks are getting knocked off.  Maybe the first few times.  It’s unlikely going to be the sexual highlight of your entire relationship, so don’t build it up in your mind.  It may be awkward, it may be a little painful, there may be some seriously leaky boobs. Keep your sense of humor about you, and know that it’ll get better/easier.

Another important bit of expectation-setting is this: your relationship with your significant other has now changed.  Your lives and priorities have changed.  This is neither all-bad nor all-good.  It’s different.  New stresses, new demands on your time.  New ways to connect, too, and new shared passion.  But it’s different.  As for what frequency of sex is “normal?”  There’s no such thing.  Some may find the time once or twice a week, some are not entirely sure they had sex for the entirety of September (or October…?). You have to find the balance that’s right for the two of you.

To the partners out there, I offer two important tidbits that I’ve picked up (the studies I, of course, cannot find right now, or I’d provide the links).  Tidbit 1: a study was done that showed that women who perceived that their partners did a “fair share” of housework and childcare were more likely to be interested in sex.  Laugh all you want, it’s true.  We stress about these things, about how many loads of laundry need to be done or whether the dishes are clean.  The more you can proactively take this stress off of your wife/partner/beloved, the more amenable she might be.  Not in a quid pro quo kind of way, but more as a general stress reducer.  Which brings me to tidbit 2: I read somewhere that, in general, men like to have sex to relax while women need to be relaxed to have sex.  Think about that.  Some men may want to have sex as a way to unwind after a stressful day.  But, I assure you, your wife is likely to need a lot more winding down (and maybe a few glasses of wine) before she’s ready to join you.

Don’t forget the birth control

If you’re not planning on trying to get pregnant again anytime soon, please do not neglect your birth control.  Don’t assume that breastfeeding will take care of it, don’t ignore it just because you figure you won’t be having sex all that often, anyways.  Remember what you learned in sex ed: it only takes one time. Research the methods (pill, “mini-pill,” IUD, condoms, etc…), and pick one that you will be able to use as directed.  Or, if you are all about continuing to expand the family, more power to ya!

There you have it, a few words of collective wisdom from the moms of HDYDI.  Sex after kids is real, it’s possible, and frankly, it’s important. When you’re ready, go for it!

For additional reading, see HDYDI contributor Cheryl Lage’s book, Twinspiration.  Also, a great entry by Dooce on the subject.  Or, check out what our readers have to say!  Comment, people, comment!

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Making Baby Food

In the interest of time – that being that I don’t have much of it – I have shamelessly plucked this post from my personal blog. Because sometimes, that’s exactly How We Do It: we double up or skip something or use something twice for the sake of efficiency. Enjoy!

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During Ike, we started each of the kids on rice cereal, but that’s just because we had time to kill being evacuated in San Antonio and what better thing is there to do than to video your kids eating food so you can post the clips for the Internet to see?

However, we didn’t officially start the RJBs on rice cereal until October 4, around 5 ½ months. We were in no rush to start them on solids because we’re just beginning to enjoy the time of feeding them without projectile vomiting, covering ourselves in towels, and in general, having the house wrapped up like the quarantined cloaked and hooded mess in the movie ET before ET finally found his heartlight, let it shine wherever you go, let it make a happy glow for all the world to see, Amen.

Three days after their 6 month birthday, and two days before their 6 month appointment, we gave them their first solid: sweet potatoes. Up until that time, we had been giving them their solid at mid-morning and mid-afternoon, starting with 1 tablespoon once a day and moving up to 3-4 tablespoons twice a day and not as runny. At our doctor appointment, though, he suggested giving them their solids when WE would eat solids – breakfast, lunch, and dinner – so that as time passes and they drop bottles, what’s left is regular meal times.

INFANT FEEDING SEATING
As an aside, I address here, for purposes of relevance, a question my good friend Meg asked about the chairs we use for the kids. We use the Chicco Hippo Hook-On Chair. They retail for a totally-worth-it $49.99 each. Our house is small and narrow and there is no space for two traditional highchairs. The Hook-ons are best used on tables that are well grounded with four legs (not the tables with one central ‘leg’ which become a tipping hazard). The seats are very secure after installation and the fabric is removeable and washable. And with messy eaters like Mateo, that is SO HANDY. To keep the table clean, we use Tiny Diner Placemats by Kiddopotamus. They wash and wipe easy and the little scoop is pretty invaluable.

Breakfast

We haven’t gotten to the point of having to seriously attend to the rug under the table (since they are not yet feeding themselves), but after polling my local Mom’s of Multiples group, suggestions include clear office mats, oilcloth purchased from a fabric store, plastic floor protectors from Ikea, splat mats from Land of Nod, or a Mimi The Sardine mat which I’m told can also double as table covers for arts and crafts. Sure those last two are cute, but the sizes seem awfully small, particularly for the price. Two feet by three feet? Add some velocity to the wingspan of my kids and that will be no match, even if it does have cute ladybugs on it. For now, we use the purchased-on-clearance towels that are no longer protecting the couch from barfing.

INFANT FEEDING SCHEDULE
As for our infant feeding schedule, every care provider and parent is different, but we’re doing the following:

  • Breakfast: 2 cubes solid + 2 tbsp rice cereal, followed by bottle if still hungry
  • Mid-Morning Snack: bottle only
  • Lunch: 2 cubes solid + 2 tbsp rice cereal, followed by bottle if still hungry
  • Mid-Afternoon Snack: bottle only
  • Top-Off Bottle: this is something we have the daycare do at 4:00p.m. because if the kids had to wait from 2ish to 7 to eat, their heads would spin off the axis of their necks. We have seen this happen and do all we can to avoid it.
  • Dinner: 2 cubes solid + 2 tbsp rice cereal. No bottle. Mostly because they just had a bottle (anywhere from 2-7 ounces) at 4:00 p.m. and dinner is around 6:15 p.m.
  • Night Snack: Bottle only – they get this after their baths.

MOTIVATION
I am by no means an extremist: I’m not a vegetarian, I don’t buy only organic, I do use disposable diapers, I do get my kids vaccinated, I do use tap water (though filtered through the refrigerator) for their bottles, I do use generic formula from Costco, I do use formula instead of breastmilk, I do use cleaning chemicals in the house and not just vinegar and water, I don’t grow my own vegetables, I do store food in plastic containers, I do not compost food scraps, I do recycle for the most part. Basically, I’m right down the middle when it comes to being environmentally conscious and responsible within reason for the kids. And I say because I am making their baby food (so far), but I don’t do it simply for green or health reasons. I also do it because I enjoy cooking and being in the kitchen.

RUNNING THE NUMBERS
In my first batch, I made TEN DAYS WORTH OF ORGANIC FRUITS AND VEGGIES FOR TWO BABIES FOR UNDER $22.00. For this post, I ran some numbers and discovered that 16 packs (servings) of Stage 1 food in a container that is 2.5oz each would run an average of $10.50. (and would probably include some waste because the kids are not yet eating 2.5 oz solids at each meal yet). For two kids then, $22.00 worth of containered food would get me through roughly 6.5 days.

Ok, so yeah, there’s the time factor (5 hours over three nights, including prep and cleanup, split up that way because we also wanted to watch TV or needed to do laundry, etc.) and the gas-factor. And I could go around justifying this dollar and that trip and whatever, but the fact is I love being the kitchen, don’t find it stressful, and am rather enjoying it. SO MOM, IF YOU ARE LISTENING, I AM NOT TRYING TO BE A SUPERMOM OR SUPERHERO OR TOO EARTHY, IT’S JUST A NON-ISSUE FOR ME SO BACK OFF BECAUSE MY STUBBORNESS CAME FROM YOUR SIDE OF THE FAMILY.

MEAL PLAN
The first batch included sweet potatoes, pears, apples, butternut squash and carrots.

DSC_8165

This week, I’ll make cauliflower, peas, mangos, watermelon, and zucchini. I’m mostly running through the veggies first, but there will be enough stored to last us (including what they’ve already eaten) through the end of November. Not bad.

RECIPE BOOKS
To be honest, I could have just as easily found some basic information from the internet and gone from there. For example, an old Young Life Wilderness Ranch Staff buddy recommended Wholesome Baby Food and I am sure there are countless others. I know of some readers who love the Annabel Karmel website. But since I had purchased or received these books from my registries prior to the Vomit Months, I’ll go ahead an list them here:

Baby Blender Foods – decent book. Tells you what can be frozen, gives some recipies, etc.

Anne Karmel’s Top 100 Baby Purees – pretty pictures, better information on freezing/serving, but hugely skimpy on the first foods, and some of the multi-ingredient recipes are just flat out frightening.

METHODOLOGY
Step 1: Depending on the vegetable or fruit, I may have to peel or cut prior to cooking. My favorite peeler is the Swiss Kuhn Rikon, first recommended to me by Chef Randy Evans, the executive chef I spent the day with during my fabulous 33rd birthday present.

I picked up the Swiss Kuhn Rikon peeler at Sur La Table , they’re super inexpensive and super sharp. I know this because I accidentally peeled half my finger nail off in one stroke while peeling sweet potatoes. They’re no longer on Sur La Table’s website, but I know they sell them there.

Step 2: Because steaming food preserves the nutrients, has less nutrient runoff from water, and I can also use the same water (with nutrients still in it) to thin the food item in the food processor, I mostly steam the food. But let’s get real here, I steam the food because it gives me a chance to use my lovely Dr. Weil™ Spring® Healthy Kitchen 2-Tier Steamer that I love almost as much as Mateo loves his Wubbanub Penguin and as much as Harper hates to take naps. I tend to make enough of the vegetable to cover dinner(s) for Jen and I and at least 4 days worth per food item for the kiddos. (Some families do far less than that between introducing new foods, some go a whole week. This works for us.)

Step 3: I’ve had a Cuisinart® Pro Classic 7-Cup Food Processor a very long time and am only now appreciating its usefulness. I can puree in seconds, or later, chop just as quickly.
My food processor just recently asked if it was getting a pension for all the use I’m giving it now.

Step 4: After letting the puree cool, I pour the wholesome goodness into the ice cube trays directly from the food processor container. For somewhat thicker puree’s, I use a collapsible funnel that I picked up at Bed Bath & Beyond quite a while back.

For ice trays, I really like my “Perfect Cube” Ice Cube Trays. Each cube, when filled just below the top (so you don’t spill) is approximately 2 Tablespoons = 1 fluid ounce = 29.5736 Milliliters. You can order them online from Target, but I ended up purchasing mine from Sur La Table because they were, surprisingly, less expensive there and there’s a storefront not far from home. A “serving” of baby food is usually about 50ml, so there.

Step 5: I cover the ice cube trays with plastic wrap and stack them in the freezer over night. Usually by the next morning, and most definitely by the next evening, I can pop out the cubes from the trays and store accordingly.

Step 6: The majority of the food cubes, particularly since when I am making baby food, I’m making it in bulk, gets stored in the freezer using my Foodsaver Food Sealer Vacuum. FoodSavers keep food up to 5x fresher than traditional ziplocks and risk of freezer burn is close to the chance of Mateo not drooling for a whole day. I purchased mine from Bed Bath & Beyond about two years ago, and it’s in their stores, though not on the website. I just gotta use those 20% off coupons that come in the mail.

Apples & Sweet Potatoes

Step 7: I leave out and/or take out of the freezer 24-48 hours worth of food at one time. I store these in serving portions in The First Years Take-N-Toss Bowls with Lids containers which my sister suggested and I now love. They come in a pack of 7 for around $3.50. I bought three packs so there’s enough for two kids for a day’s worth to be in the dishwasher, the refrigerator, and daycare. I made labels (we have to label everything for day care) and have containers labeled Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner. So no matter who is feeding them or whether it is at home or away, there’s no question as to what and how much to feed.

I’m not willing to say that I’ll forever make their food, or even that I will not use jarred food. I’m not averse to using jarred food in a pinch. If parenting has done anything to me, it has made me a much more flexible, this-is-somewhat-our-plan-but-we’ll-see-how-things-go kind of person. For now, it works, and it gets me back in the kitchen, doing a thing that I love to do, and knowing that I’m participating in providing my entire family with nutritious foods.

Organic

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A lot has been said on this website about joining your local multiples group. In addition to becoming involved in my multiples’ group, I also joined a new moms group through my hospital. When I showed up the first day, I was bummed to find I was the only mom with twins. Now that I’ve been part of the group for over two years, I would highly recommend this strategy to every mom expecting multiples. Reasons:

1. When their one baby is sleeping, their hands are completely free to help you with your two (or more).

2. Hearing “I don’t know how you do it” on a regular basis can be a much-needed ego boost during those early months with multiples.

3. Singleton parents often have more time to do research, read parenting books, and help get advice from experts during those crazy early months. They are also more likely to get out of the house on a regular basis, so they can help you scope out baby-friendly places. They are a great, underutilized resource.

4. If you ever find yourself in a complete bind, they can leave the baby with their partner to help you.

5. Having a network of new moms can help you see that being a new parent is hard on everyone, not just on parents of multiples.

Of course, there have been gaps in communication along the way. I think some of the moms thought my twinproofing was a little extreme. I cried when our group had a discussion about games to play… with your two month old. (My games were “watch mommy shower” and “watch mommy eat.”) And to get by while keeping my sanity, I frequently “broke the rules” by letting one kid sleep in a Boppy or feeding the boys right out of baby food jars. But overall, I think being exposed to different ways people parent helps us think about why we parent the way we do. Being part of a singleton moms group has opened my eyes to how many different ways there are to be a good parent. And seriously, there can never be enough extra sets of hands in those early months!

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Rosie the Virus

Ah yes, our good friend Roseola paid us a visit this weekend.  It was only my daughter (so far), but that was plenty.  From KidsHealth.org:

Roseola (also known as sixth disease, exanthem subitum, and roseola infantum) is a viral illness in young children, most commonly affecting those between the ages of 6 months and 2 years. It is typically marked by several days of high fever, followed by a distinctive rash just as the fever breaks.

Rebecca was textbook on this one.  She was warm all day Friday, but it seemed to come and go and I blamed it on teething as she was drooling and chewing way more than usual.  And super cranky.  But by shortly after bedtime, when she woke up quite unhappy, we realized something was up.  She was hot to the touch and bright red, and the thermometer jumped up past 103 degrees.  Off she went with Daddy to our local hospital, since it was way after hours and that’s what the on-call doctor would have had us do, anyways.

A diagnosis of roseola is often uncertain until the fever drops and the rash appears, so the doctor may order tests to make sure that the fever is not caused by another type of infection.

Indeed, the poor, tired thing got the whole workup.  Checked for an ear infection, even the dreaded catheter to rule out a UTI.  Three hours later, she was back home and we rotated Motrin and Tylenol and she spent a very out-of-character night in bed with mommy.

The viruses that cause roseola do not appear to be spread by kids while they are exhibiting symptoms of the illness. Instead, someone who has not yet developed symptoms often spreads the infection.

God only knows where she got it.  We spend plenty of time around other kids, and I’m just not a germ-phobe. Not that I would intentionally let them get sick, but frankly a little virus here and there just isn’t a battle I’m going to fight.  Thankfully my kids are a fairly robust pair, so aside from the flu shot and general good sense, I don’t take it all that far.

A child with roseola typically develops a mild upper respiratory illness, followed by a high fever (often over 103° Fahrenheit, or 39.5° Celsius) for up to a week. During this time, the child may appear fussy or irritable and may have a decreased appetite and swollen lymph nodes (glands) in the neck.

Fussy?  Irritable?  Bwa ha ha!  Cranky as all get-out.  Screaming.  Over-tired. Fever with shivers. I’m sure generally feeling crappy.  Oh my lord was she a cranky girl all weekend.  Sleep was all kinds of messed up, which obviously didn’t help the cranky factor.  And poor not-sick Daniel was almost as cranky, since his weekend was no fun, either.  And Mommy and Daddy?  Let’s just say we weren’t at our shiny best this weekend.  Short on sleep, nerves frayed from being screamed at by a sick little girl… not a recipe for marital bliss.

The high fever often ends abruptly, and at about the same time a pinkish-red flat or raised rash appears on the child’s trunk and spreads over the body.

The fever stuck around all weekend, still getting as high as 102.5 between doses of medicine. Thankfully, by this morning, things seemed relatively back to normal.  The tell-tale rash is on her little shoulders, but the fever is gone and she’s eating like a normal toddler again (mediocre, at best, but better than Saturday).  I’m just glad it’s over, and I’m hoping against hope that Daniel lucks out and doesn’t get it.  Granted, I did nothing to really keep them apart, and they still stole each other’s toys and sippy cups per usual.  But hey, maybe we’ll get lucky…

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The Candy Tax

In an effort to keep my readers informed, I am going to spend some time today explaining an important, but often overlooked, law that will affect all of us in the near future.

I’m speaking of the Candy Tax. Not only is this a Federal statute, I think it is worldwide. I believe this law will soon be put before Congress for a vote to amend the Constitution.

Simply put, the parents of any youthful recipients of large amounts of candy are entitled to a percentage of said candy. This percentage is up to and including any and all snickers bars if they constitute 10% or less of the total haul. Candy that has been collected in pillowcases or other outrageously large containers is subject to a 15% Candy Tax. This covers the time and stress of the parent having to manually inspect each piece upon re-entry of the youthful person into the home.

In the case of really awful sour candy being the sole form of candy collected, the candy recipients may petition for a deferment of the candy tax until such time as they receive a form of candy acceptable to the candy assessor. For example, if at Halloween the recipient returns home only with awful sour candy, they owe the parent the ears and feet of the next chocolate Easter bunny they receive.

Additional taxes may be levied in the case of a parent creating a homemade costume. Because said costume was created in an effort to assist the Candy Recipient in accumulating more candy, the parent may collect up to and including all snickers, 3 Musketeers, and Hershey bars in compensation for their time.

The payment of the tax is at the sole discretion of the parent, and may include substituting Reeses for Snickers if they so desire.

Candy eaten on the way home from trick-or-treating still counts towards the total haul, and parents should take into account not only the number of pieces of candy, but the number of wrappers present during candy inventory.

If the candy tax is not promptly paid, the candy may have to go on time out on a high shelf in the kitchen until such time as the parent can properly inspect it and collect the tax.

You can meet my little tax deductions over at Lit and Laundry

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Food is such an integral part of our lives…..and around the holidays, it seems to take on an even greater importance. Holiday traditions often revolve around food–Christmas cookies, the Yule log (our Christmas Eve dessert), latkes on Hannukah, turkey and stuffing on Thanksgiving, pies, sweets, cranberry sauce….the list goes on and on. And if one of your children has a food allergy, well, then these fun holiday traditions are full of potential issues, tantrums or epipen moments.

My babies get wheat for the first time. Yum, gluten.

My babies get wheat for the first time. Yum, gluten.

We have been lucky, so far, to have kids who are allergy free except for an issue with amoxicillian. However, we have close family members with Celiac’s and a constellation of other allegies, including eggs, nuts, peanuts, peas and chickpeas. Seriously, who knew people were allergic to chickpeas? But I digress. Now, our Thanksgiving dinners have gluten (wheat) free stuffing (not as good, but the sausage is a nice touch). We can’t add chestnuts either due to the nut issue. And pies are out for the Celiac. I once ate a gluten free, egg free, nut free, dairy free cake at a toddler’s birthday. It wasn’t the tastiest cake I’ve ever had (ok, not even on the top ten) but it had a pile of frosting and candles and the birthday boy in question didn’t seem to notice a difference. Meatloaf gets made with rice as a binder, instead of egg & breadcrumbs (not bad at all). And, did you know you can buy dairy free, egg free cookie mixes? Or dairy free margarine?

I’ve learned a lot about allergies in the past six years or so. For those of you dealing with food allergies, what are your tricks to getting through the holidays? What recipe can you not live without? What food substitution works well for you? How do you make tasty holidays meals for everyone in your family?

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