Simple food, first meals

When I’m sick I want to cook as simply as possible. So tonight I made applesauce in the Vitamix. The hardest part was coring the apples. And tomorrow I’m going to dump stew meat, soup, a chopped onion, and a bit of sour cream in the slow cooker and make stroganoff. Then steam some veggies (kale, beets, carrots, green beans), and possibly make a turkey and spinach casserole, and there’s food for the week. And in a week like this when I’m still feeling under the weather, I might even allow myself to have my greens in a morning smoothie instead of having to chew them up in their salad form. Lazy eating! But I gotta say, I love that Vitamix. It makes the difference between forcing it down and enjoying it. Bring on the spinach!

I added a cinnamon stick to the stewed apples. That seemed like a good idea. But in order to grind it up sufficiently, I had to run the mixer on high for long enough that the apple sauce is the consistency of baby food. We’ve decided to take that as a sign, and offer some to the babies tomorrow. If they eat it, it’ll be their first (quasi) solid food. Next time I’ll grind the cinnamon stick first, and then add the apples. Live and learn.

Ted and I recently looked at the video of Hazel “eating” her first solid food, which was pureed spinach. She played with it, smacking it and rubbing it all over the table. It got everywhere, including in my hair, on my shirt, and on the floor. But she was so happy and giggly, it was a fun experience. Now we’ll just have to have a constant supply of wet washcloths around, because food is going to wind up everywhere with two babies to fling it around. It’s a good thing we have nine-foot ceilings.

It was good to do something productive. I had a small supply of energy and used it all up emptying trash cans, doing some dishes, and making applesauce. But I feel better about the day having done so.


Project Time

It’s project time. The twins have been sleeping all swaddled up on Ted’s chest. We didn’t think he’d be able to do that with two babies, but they’re small, and we have these monstrous twin nursing pillows that help frame his arms and keep everything steady. And he’s able to sleep that way, though it’s not the same quality of sleep. Pros are that the babies get wonderful kangaroo care at night, and they and their daddy get to bond. The obvious con is that poor Ted never gets to sleep unencumbered, or fully under the covers. He says that on the one hand he’s looking forward to getting better sleep, but that he’ll also really miss the snuggling with them, and that it’s a phase that’s not coming back.

However, as the babies are starting to roll over, it’s time to move them to their own sleeping surface. Two cribs would take up a huge amount of real estate, too much in our house, and besides, we think that cribs were not designed for shorties like us. Getting a baby in and out over those high sides is a pain in the butt. So, we’ve shoved the twin bed (organic mattress with natural rubber core) into the corner, and today we went to Home Despot, I mean Home Depot, to buy supplies to make walls for the outside and end of the bed. (Note: I had an extensive conversation with our pediatrician about this plan, and she has given it her approval.)

Supplies: 2×4 for a footer; 2 plywood sheets with poplar facing; L brackets, and plates. What we still need: Safecoat (a sealer to prevent emissions from the plywood); some light padding; cloth. We’ll also get a bumper to keep them on their own sides of the bed so they can’t roll into each other at night.

We’ll attach the first plywood piece to the footer, and it’ll additionally be supported by the bed frame. Then we’ll attach the second plywood piece (it’ll sit inside the bed frame too) to the first with angle brackets, and then screw a couple of the metal plates onto the plywood so we can clamp it tightly to the headboard. The walls will extend about 10 inches above the mattress; when the twins get more active and able to start climbing out we can extend them in a number of ways. This is where the fact that the walls and ceiling are plywood too comes in handy; we can affix whatever we want to them and not care at all.

The alternative, of course, would be to have mattresses on the floor, but they can develop mold underneath them, and we just prefer to have our beds in frames.

As Hazel gets used to sleeping on her own (and today she went down for a nap by herself, and slept the whole time by herself, huzzah!) we will gradually transition to all the kids sleeping in the kids’ room. It will be interesting to see, once the twins are older, whether they want to sleep in their own beds, or together. Possibly there is a bunk bed in our family’s future.

Also today we got Hazel a helmet so she can ride her new balance bike. She’s really looking forward to that!


Tonight, Hazel said, after listening to a conversation Ted and I were having about down time (that neither of us have had enough, and that I’m looking forward to having more when I’m 100% healthy), “Mommy, maybe Daddy and me and the twins could all go for a walk and you could stay home and have some down time. Would you like that?” She is the sweetest.

Just now she was arranging things on my bedside table, and she said, “And if you need another cough drop I can come up and choose it for you. I’m the chooser and you’re the eater.” Good to know.

Sleep training at almost-4

After many conversations and tries at various things, Ted and I have decided to set and hold a line with Hazel at bedtime that she really, really, REALLY doesn’t like. So, tonight I took her upstairs for teeth brushing and storytime, and then after spending 10 minutes reading in bed with her and an additional 20 minutes lying down in the dark, I got up to go downstairs. I had a conversation earlier with her about how Daddy and I need some adult time, so I’d spend some time with her upstairs but then I’d need to leave. She agreed, as she always does. When I left she was ok. But I congratulated myself too soon. A few minutes later, as Ted was out walking the twins, Hazel started crying. I made myself wait it out, and eventually she came downstairs. So, I took her upstairs again, explaining that Daddy and I need some adult time, and it’s her bedtime. Once in her room, I turned on her nightlight and asked her if she wanted the story CD or the music CD. She chose the story CD. I gave her a long hug, and left again. She was crying before I was out the door. I went downstairs. She continued to cry. She came downstairs again. I took her upstairs. This time she said she didn’t like the story CD. I changed it to the music one, gave her another hug, and went downstairs. She kept crying. She came downstairs again. I took her back upstairs. This time I didn’t say anything, just got her back in bed and left. She keep crying. Ted came back and we had some conversation while reassuring each other that we’re not terrible monsters or heartless bastards. Hazel came downstairs. Ted took her back upstairs. This happened twice. The second time, it was close to when we were going to go up with the twins, so we came up shortly after Ted had come back down. She was quiet! I fed the twins, and when Ted took them in to go to sleep, Hazel was asleep.

One thing that convinced me of the wisdom of trying this new approach is a comment by one of our babysitters that if Hazel was really extremely upset, she wouldn’t be able to switch instantly into a regular voice in the middle of it, as she sometimes does. She did so tonight; I dropped something during one of the times I was up in her room, and practically mid-gulp she stopped and asked, cheerfully, “Oh, what was that?” I said, “Daddy’s phone.” She said, “I can get it!” I said, “Don’t worry, I got it already.” She said, “Oh.” Then it was back to her reguarly scheduled programming.

We were totally against this method when Hazel was a baby. She couldn’t understand then. And when she was a baby there was no such thing as a fake cry. When she cried as a baby she had a reason. And we wanted her always to feel and know that she was loved and cared for. So, it felt wrong to us for our family, and so we didn’t do it. However, now it seems different to us now that she’s almost four years old. When Hazel wants to convince me to give her a cough drop, if I say no, that’s she’s not sick, sometimes she’ll do this hilariously obvious fake cough. I just laugh. And she usually laughs with me. She’s clearly capable of trying various tactics in order to get what she wants. And she has learned that crying gets her what she wants with this issue. But we have needs and wants too, and we need a better balance between ours and hers. We are positing that setting a good boundary around bedtime will actually serve her better in the long run.

The difference now, also, is that after having had some really good conversations and support from our pediatrician, other parents, and friends, we were able to approach tonight not from a place of anger or frustration, but more with a sense of calm determination. That helped us to survive all the crying and hold the line. And I think it also allowed us to be loving while we were also being firm. So, we’re going to try this for ten days (good advice from one book) and see how it goes. Here’s hoping it will work! With luck, we’ll wind up with some time for conversation at night, as well as a chance to do the dishes and clean the cat litter. A win-win, all around.

Am I Pretty?

Well, last night was awful, but I’m starting to feel better. I really hate sore throats. But being sick did remind me that it’s been quite a while since I had a cold like this. So that’s good. Today we had a full day of babysitting scheduled, thank goodness. I was able to rest in between nursing the babies. That helped.


What’s on my mind right now is Hazel’s recently acquired focus on appearance, and her frequently asked question, “Mama, do I look pretty?” This is often followed by, “I’m going to put on chapstick and a dress, and then I’ll be pretty.” I have been struggling with this. I really dislike the whole pink/princess thing, and I thought I’d have more time before the issue of how Hazel looks kicked into her thought process and our dialogue. I’m definitely doing more parenting on the fly (is any parenting not that way?) I was reminded by a dear friend of the “Free To Be You And Me” movie which was standard viewing material at our very liberal school when I was a kid. I think I’m going to get the soundtrack. I can’t excise the princess virus from society, but I can add other things into the equation in our own home and family.

There’s a land that I see where the children are free
And I say it ain’t far to this land from where we are
Take my hand come with me where the children are free
Come with me, take my hand, and we’ll live

In a land where the river runs free
In a land through the green country
In a land to a shining sea
In a land where the horses run free
And you and me are free to be you and me.

Every boy in this land grows to be his own man
In this land, every girl grows to be her own woman
Take my hand, come with me
where the children are free
Come with me, take my hand, and we’ll run

To a land where the river runs free
To a land through the green country
To a land to a shining sea
To a land where the horses run free
To a land where the children are free
And you and me are free to be
And you and me are free to be
And you and me are free to be you and me

It does feel far away to me, but at least I can play the CD here, and I can play things other than princess with Hazel. The harder thing is to find creative answers to the pretty question she’s started asking. I do wonder where she’s getting that. Not from us. I appreciate the link my friend reminded me of, to return to when I fall into the insidious trap of thinking it’s not a big deal: the Poetry Slam “Am I Pretty?”. It’s good to be reminded of some of the consequences, so that I can be well-informed, intentional and careful in how I address these issues with my daughter(s). But I thought I’d have more time before having to field this one. I was crying about it today. The focus on appearance as a meter of self-worth starts so early. My dear, darling daughter is a beautiful, fantastic, interested, kind, caring, adventurous, strong, interesting person, and I want her to know that in her bones and her cells, her heart and soul.

I will not tell Hazel that she’s pretty. Too much cultural baggage. But I will tell her so many other things.

I will tell her I love her eyes, her curiosity, that she likes to share and give things to people. I will tell her that her voice is so musical and sweet; that there is wonderful strong muscle all over her body; that I love seeing her hair up in hair trees like I used to have. I will tell her that listening to her sing is one of the delights of my life; that she has gorgeous long black eyelashes; and that it’s so fun to go swimming with her, because we share a love of the water. I will tell her that her Dad and I love to build things with her out of the fantastic blocks sent to us by her granddad. I will tell her that it’s so wonderful to see her making friends with other kids and adults.

The list will go on and on through our life together. And as Hazel has been telling me lately (after I explained that our babysitter was still her mother’s kid even though she’s an adult), “I’ll always be your kid, Mommy.” Yes, sweetie, you’ll always be my daughter, and I’ll always love you.

Christmas Day, 2012

Last night I got home at 1 am from the gig. I heard small baby sounds from the other room, so went to check in with Ted and take the babies. We’ve had not enough down time or time together, and so even though the twins didn’t actually wake up to feed, we sat together for an hour, talking and surfing. The problem with that was, of course, that we got even less of our needed sleep. He’d had a really tough bedtime. The twins and Hazel were all crying when I left. We hadn’t thought through the fact that 9:30 – 11:30 pm is probably the worst time for me to be out of the house. It’s when the babies often want to cluster feed, and I’m all that can calm them down. Add to that an overtired Hazel and a frazzled daddy, and you’ve got a recipe for conflict and unhappiness. When I go out for gigs, it’s almost never that late, and it’s doable for Ted to have all three. Hopefully by this time next year it’ll be different!

This morning my sister and her daughter came over to share Christmas morning with us. We made masses of eggs, turkey bacon, and oatmeal, and feasted on that and tea. Then there was the opening of presents, interrupted by conversations across the pond with various UK Osorios, and then further opening of presents. The girls did rather well given the quantities of patience they had to cultivate. By the end there was the usual colorful pile of wrapping paper, and some fun presents to share and exclaim over. My sister held Emily for a while, who attempted to gnaw off her knuckle. I think the baby is teething. That might have something to do with her cold, too. She’s not too unhappy, though. For that we are grateful! She continues to delight with smiles and laughs and giggles.

Then it was time for nap. Astonishingly, we all slept for over 90 minutes, at the same time! And Emily continued the napping marathon, remaining in dreamland from 3 pm until 6:45 pm.

After nap we spoke to various family members on the phone. And Hazel and I put together the Scuut balance bike her granddad bought for her. We tried it out briefly, and will take it for more adventures during the day this week.

Sadly, my cold has escalated, and I’ve got a raging sore throat. Ugh. I am REALLY hoping that my week off won’t turn into a week of illness and convalescence. I had high hopes for downtime this week while our babysitter was here. So here’s hoping that tonight’s sleep will help me turn the corner.

The Day Before Christmas

So, for something like a decade, give or take, I’ve played a midnight mass (in name only; it’s actually at 10:30 pm) gig at a local church. I don’t have to be at the church until 9:45, so we have time for dinner with friends tonight. I’ve been cooking masses of food, and will cook further masses of food today, so there will hopefully be sufficient quantity and variety. Inspired by our UK trip, I even made custard last night. It tastes genuinely custard-y. Yum! The only caveat is that we HAVE to get Hazel down for the night well before I leave, or Ted will be in that bad, bad place of having three exhausted children to take care of all by himself. Not what I want to leave him with! I don’t usually get home from this gig until between 1 and 2 am. I will be sleepy tomorrow.

Hazel wants it to be night all the time, so that the Christmas tree lights glow. This is the last year for the next few that we’ll have a big tree. I can just imagine the havoc a couple of 1.5-year-olds could wreak. I don’t really want to see it in action on the Christmas tree. So, we’ll have a tiny one in the middle of the dining room table, where they won’t be able to get just yet. That reminds me of a picture I saw when living in Philly a number of years ago. A friend’s aunt had gotten two kittens just before the holidays. In the picture, the Christmas tree was denuded up to the very top, and there were two kitten faces peering out about three quarters of the way up. There might have been a stray ribbon or ornament dangling, but they’d done a pretty thorough job. And their little kitty eyes were wild. Our two cats are in their 18th year, far too staid for such activities. There hasn’t even been a paw batting at the ornaments lower down.

Emily has a cold, poor baby. But though it makes it hard for her to sleep as she snuffles and snorts herself awake, she’s pretty giggly and happy today. She’s currently riding in an Ergo on Ted’s chest as he goes around doing tasks and hanging out with Hazel. She does like to stuff her hands in her mouth and then put them on all of us. No wonder it’s so hard to keep a cold from spreading through a family. But we’re taking good doses of immune support and thus far, thank goodness, have avoided the six months of illness we experienced when Hazel was a baby.

I just finished the pesto meatballs. There are ninety of them! Yippee! And Hazel helped me with them. I resisted at first, but then remembered the very good conversation Ted and I had last night, and said yes. The result, a fun shared activity. And Hazel is good at making meatballs. Now I just have to make my hind-brain remember that.

While we were doing that, Ted was cleaning off the dining room table. Tonight we’ll be able to lay a table with my grandparents’ china, Ted’s family’s silver, and our newly acquired table linens. And we won’t be crowded around the kitchen table.

Now we’re having a conversation about how we don’t hunt, since we go to the grocery store and buy food there. Never a dull moment! And in a couple of years there will be two more kids asking questions, making commentary, and generally enlivening our days with new conversational content.