Monday, December 6, 2010

Broccoli egg "cupcakes"

To say that these were a huge hit is an understatement. My girls each ate 2 1/2! It was really an impromptu recipe but I thought I'd share it.

Mini broccoli egg cupcakes
Cheese (I used cheddar)
Cooking spray

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and spray muffin tin with cooking spray.

First I cut about 2 crowns of broccoli up into small bite size pieces. Then I threw them into a bowl with a few tablespoons of water and put them in the microwave for about 30 seconds to steam them. I separated them into a muffin tin. I had enough for 7 cupcakes. Then I took an egg, cracked it in a bowl, and scrambled it with a fork. I did each egg one at a time and then placed it in a muffin tin. I had a total a total of 7 muffins filled.

Pop the muffin tins into the preheated oven for 8 minutes. Pull out the tin & sprinkle the tops with a little cheese. Put back in the oven for 10 more minutes. You can tell that the cupcakes are done because the egg will look completely cooked. Mine had white spots on the top from where some of the egg white congregated.

I would have posted a picture but seriously, my kids ate them all! I was kind of hoping for leftovers for when Matt got home. Sorry!

Ok, now go make them and let me know how they are! Hopefully your kids will like them as much as mine did. (They even ate all the broccoli!)

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Feeding Wars and ppd

For the last 2 days I've felt my heart was heavy. I've been thinking about something that happened and something of which I have little control. Let me start at the beginning:

About 3 days ago I received an email from a woman in my breastfeeding group. I found this group shortly after I had Kate and it was a Godsend to me. It finally gave me contact with other new mothers - which I so desperately needed. Anyway, a woman who had a baby close in age to Caroline Grace sent an email out about how to best "encourage" a friend to continue breastfeeding. She said that the baby was about a month old and her friend didn't like how constraining breastfeeding made her feel. She wasn't comfortable nursing in public and it took a long time to feed the baby. She thinks her friend has definite signs of ppd but has no experience with anyone who had ppd to really know. Friend is going to the doctor later this week.

So as the advice kept pouring in, I kept thinking about this new mom and remembering.
Remembering how difficult those first few weeks were after the thrill of the first few days wore off.
About how sleep deprived I felt.
About how I was going through the motions of taking care of this little tiny human being and there never stopped being something to do for them. I sometimes didn't know what day it was.
I remembered how Kate didn't latch on for the first 9 days and I kept trying, determined to breastfeed.
I remembered how when she did finally latch on at every feed how the doctors told us she was failure to thrive.
I remembered how I had to use a special Medela scale to weigh her before and after every feeding to see how much she was drinking.
I also remember the crying. Hours and hours of crying. So much crying.

Kate cried for at least 6 hours a day - sometimes more. She wouldn't sleep for longer than 22 minutes at a time. Weren't babies supposed to sleep the day away? Not mine. She had reflux which I am sure didn't help, but that baby would only sleep in my arms and would cry the rest of the day. This behavior only added to my crying. I felt helpless. I felt that I couldn't take care of my baby. I couldn't get leave her with anyone else because my anxiety would skyrocket and I honestly didn't believe anyone else could take care of her as well as I could. I didn't even want to give anyone else the chance. So as I was dying to have a moment of peace to myself, I was glued to that baby girl.

It was 8 months later when I was 2 months pregnant with Caroline that I realized I needed help. I was rocking Kate in her room and I was uncontrollably crying. It looks ridiculous now, when I picture it. Me, hysterically crying while trying to maintain the melody of Twinkle Twinkle. it was then that my 8 month old baby reached to my face and wiped my tears. She wiped MY tears. What the hell was going on? I was supposed to be taking care of my baby, not have her take care of me. It was then that I decided I needed to call my OB. I also reached out to my friend, Amy, who had bravely shared her story of post partum OCD with me.

Fast forward 3 years to this email. As the advice came rolling in (get out of the house, pump, etc), I carefully typed my own email and sent it. Here's what I wrote:

I've been thinking alot about how to respond to this post. I was/ am someone who deals with post partum depression, post partum anxiety, and post partum OCD (not like regular OCD). And I've been trying to think what I would have wanted to know in those early dark days.

I had a friend who had already nursed 3 babies and I called her regularly to ask her questions - even in the middle of the night. She always answered my questions and welcomed my phone calls (even the 4am ones). She also called me regularly to check on me. Kate didn't latch on for 9 days but I was so determined to breastfeed. For me, I think I needed to feel like I had control over SOMETHING. And with a newborn, there isn't much you can have control over. However, for some people, nursing is what pushes them over the edge into post partum issues. And if you suspect, there may be a good chance she is suffering from it or will be. There's such a stigma with the whole breastfeeding/ bottle feeding debate. While I totally agree that breastfeeding is best (and I've been doing it for the better part of the last almost 4 years), if she's having a tough time, it may not be best for her. I know that's not commonly said in our group but formula never hurt anyone (I was formula fed). She has to take care of herself first before she can take care of the baby.
That being said, I think the first 6 weeks of nursing are hardest. My friend had suggested I stick with it for 6 weeks and then evaluate and see if I wanted to continue. By 6 weeks, it was so much easier. It took me a while to nurse while we were out. I'd go out between feedings and plan on being home in time to nurse, or I'd take a bottle with me. Eventually when I was out, I would hide in dressing room to nurse. Now, 3 babies later, I'll nurse anywhere! Getting out of the house is key. I always had spring babies but even enrolling in a library story hour (or even at B&N) is a great idea. Kate went to story hour at 2 weeks old because I didn't know what else to do with her but I needed to get out.
Post partum issues are easy to recognize in hindsight. Here's a fantastic website:

Katherine Stone champions for women with post partum & perinatal mood disorders because she suffered at one time too. The link above is a great link to to see the symptoms. Have your friend take a look at it. It might help.
If you, or anyone else, have any questions, please don't hesitate to ask. I am very open to talking about it. And I've done a ton of research on it.
Hope that helps!

And this was part of her response:

I agree that formula has a valuable role if breastfeeding won't work -my concern is that she may consider giving up on breastfeeding when the reality is that feeding an newborn takes a long time, whatever way they are fed, and that the feeling of isolation may still be there too.

Yes, I agree, the feeling of isolation may be there. Any new mother feels isolated. It's a whole new world. But I disagree that bottle feeding takes just as long as nursing. I've bottle fed babies (Kate when she didn't nurse and Rebecca who didn't nurse for 3 weeks after she was born) and it's a whole lot quicker. Like, seriously, much quicker.

I suppose I am more bothered by this than I should be. After all, I've been nursing 3 babies for the better part of the last almost 4 years. I'll nurse anywhere and don't let it stop me from getting out. However, I almost feel like the underlying message is "since breastmilk is best, don't even consider doing anything else."

So is she supporting the new mom or the act of breastfeeding? Aren't we as moms hard enough on ourselves that we need to be hard on each other too? Shouldn't we just support the mom and whatever she chooses to do? I mean, formula never killed anyone (not the last time I checked... which was never, but you know what I mean).

Am I wrong to be bothered? Would you be?

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Top 10 Toddler Books

I have to admit that when I heard Katie's Top 10 list for this week, I was hooked. But I had no idea how I would make a list of ONLY 10 books.

I mean, seriously? I was a teacher. And not just a teacher but I have taught in different grades. So technically I could comprise a 3rd grade Top 10 list, a 1st grade Top 10 list, and a Toddler Top 10 list. I could also do an adult Top 10 list since I love to read. And hey, while we are at it, I could do a Parenting Books Top 10 list. I think I'll do the Toddler one today and maybe do some others another day.

Top 10 Toddler Books (in no particular order):

That's Not My Puppy - Fiona Watt
These books are fantastic for little ones. It teaches describing words and has something to touch on each page, including the cover. For the longest time I didn't realize that the story really started on the cover. And to be honest, any of the Usborne books are fabulous. There are characters for everyone: trucks, dolls, princesses, dinosaur, train, car, and teddy bear (another favorite!).

Mommy Hugs - Anne Gutman
This is such a sweet book and I love that it teaches kids names for groups of animals. The girls always giggle when I read, "Mommy mouse loves her pinkies." Who knew baby mice were called pinkies? Also each page is numbered and the number on the page is the number of baby animals on the page.

Chicka Chicka Boom Boom - Bill Martin, Jr & John Archambault
This book is so fun for my girls. Every time we read "Boom Boom" I bounce them around on my knee. They think it's hysterical. I love that this book does lower and upper case letters too.

Brown Bear, Brown Bear What Do You See? - Bill Martin, Jr.
What a great book to teach colors, animals, and the skill of prediction.

The Going to Bed Book - Sandra Boynton
This was, and still is, a definite favorite. It's read to the girls at least 4 times a week. And it's always the standard bedtime book for our babies until they are at least 6 months old. I can recite it by heart (and so can Kate & Caroline).

Counting Kisses - Karen Katz
Very short book so it's perfect as a first book. I also like that it not only teaches counting but also teaches body parts.

Daddy & I - P.K. Hallinan
This is a cute book about the things kids do with their Daddy. Since Matt works so much I read this book often to remind the girls of the things they did with him. I also like that P.K. Hallinan always sticks a religious comment into each of the books.

Water, Water, Everywhere - Julie Aigner-clark and Nadeem Zaidi
This was a favorite for a long time. We read this to Kate every night (along with The Going to Bed Book) for over 6 months. What can I say? She was a creature of habit and liked predictability. I think we need to buy a new one because Oliver (our Yorkie) chewed it for dinner and we haven't had it in a long while.

I Love You Through & Through - Bernadette Rossetti Shustak
A good reminder that we love our children - every part of them, regardless of what they do.

Barnyard Dance - Sandra Boynton
This book is such a fun book and I find myself singing it to a made up tune everytime. It alwasy makes me smile when I read it. Heck, I am smiling now just thinking of it!

It seems as though the majority of our favorite toddler books are by Sandra Boynton. And that's no surprise to me. Her books are funny, well-illustrated, and short. They are perfect for short attention spans. I also think the girls (and I) see something different in the pictures every time we read it. And we sometimes try to sing them. Like Snuggle Puppy! What's up with that book? I swear I can't read it. I must sing it and every time I do it's to a different tune. I think there's supposed to be a song that goes with it. I'll have to look for it so I can sing the correct tune.

Also, while on Sandra Boynton's website tonight I found this:
Now you can get a personalized Sandra Boynton book with a picture of your child and their name. You can bet each one of our girls will be getting one of these for Christmas.

That's my list! Whew, that was tough! I am sure I left out a ton. And as Matt reminded me, the girls favorite books are changing now as they get older. They LOVE longer stories now. I guess I could do a preschool Top 10 list, too!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

10 years ago today...

10 years ago today, Matt & I got married. Wow. I always thought 10 years sounded like a long time. Honestly? It flew by!

I don't know where the time went. 10 years ago tonight we were dancing on the dance floor and doing our best to personally talk to everyone who came to our wedding. Two days after that we began our honeymoon in Aruba. A week later we were spending our first night in our new home.

And now 10 years later we have finished a degree, travelled all over the world, moved, changed jobs, built a home... and a life. We started a family and have 3 beautiful daughters.

You know how when you read a really good book and you are tempted to turn to the last few pages to see how it ends? That's how I feel sometimes. These first 10 years have been so great, I can't wait to see how the rest turn out.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Do you see what I see?

This weekend we went to church on Saturday night. We got there right on time but since it was so crowded we stayed in the "crying room". And let me just put it out there: I don't like that term. "Crying room." It's like an invitation for all kids to cry. My kids don't need permission.

And what's with all the adults who are without children in the crying room? I have a real problem with them taking up precious space. It's not like the crying room is that big to begin with. I generally think they go in there instead of the church because they are late and are embarassed to be late. But seriously? They're there! And that's what's important. I never feel bad if I get to church late. The way I see it, I made the conscious choice to go when I could have easily stayed home since I knew I was going to be late. I don't think that's a popular view, though.

Ok, so the crying room was pretty crowded but thankfully there were enough seats for all of us. Goodness knows, Caroline wants her own seat - even if she doesn't sit in it.

There was a man in front of us with his son and younger daughter. They were reading books together. Then the son got up and picked up a different book from the floor. The daughter immediately grabbed it from him. He was not happy. He wanted the book back. I don't blame him. He picked it up and she didn't even ask him for it. She ripped it out of his hand. The dad turned to him and told him to let her have it because she is little. Because she's little? Seriously? She was only about 2 years younger than him. Now to the dad's defense, he didn't see the whole thing. He just stuck up for the little sister. He didn't see the sister stick her tongue out at the brother when she got her way.

I do understand that as parents we all do the best we can. There is no way we can see everything. And I don't think I'd want to! But is there always one kid who's the scapegoat?

Here's my concern: Will this little sister grow up to be an entitled because she is learning she will always get her way? Will the brother grow up thinking he is not worthy of as much because he has to relinquish everything to his younger sister? Regardless of gender, what does that say about self worth and the importance of teaching sharing & using manners?

Side note: While all this was happening, Matt was in the hallway with Rebecca (who was ready for her late evening nap). Kate (who didn't nap this day) and Caroline were moving around like crazy and started "fighting" over who would stand where. Kate was staring down Caroline - which she knows drives her sister crazy. I grabbed Kate and moved her to a chair on the other side of me. But I wonder if what I saw was what other people saw...

Friday, October 22, 2010

I need a do-over

I need a do-over. In a bad way. The day started out great. I nursed Rebecca at 5:17. It's our standing date. ;) I was able to go back to bed for a bit before Caroline woke up.

Kate usually wakes up first. I am thankfully when it's Caroline. She likes to snuggle next to me in bed and play games on my phone. Kate is such a morning person she wants to go downstairs right away.

Anyway, I got to snuggle with Caroline which is rare. Kate woke up and came in and we started heading downstairs. I swear the minute their size 7 & 8 feet hit the last step they started fighting. I was able to get them some breakfast (frozen waffles today - mom of the year, here) and lay on the couch. I was exhausted!

Not a minute later Kate starts complaining that she wants cookies for breakfast (hello?) and Caroline wanted candy (we don't even have any!). More fighting. 2 minutes later, the baby was awake. We were not off to a good start. I hadn't even thought about making the coffee yet.

I call my mom who was coming over so I could take Caroline to swim lessons. I beg her to come over early. When she says that she'll be there as soon as she gets dressed, I know I am out of luck. Hey, someone should be enjoying a quiet morning. I just wish it was me.

As the day escalades - broken toys, spilled milk, fighting, hitting, wrestling, crayon on the kitchen table, dog peed on the rug, a fall down a few steps (to name a few) - it doesn't get any better. And I realize I am yelling. Yelling at my sweet children who don't mean to spill a bag of pasta all over the not-cleaned-this-week kitchen floor.

The volume of my voice got louder and louder. I tried to put myself in time out. I really did. But somehow, today they decided to be Mama's girls and follow me everywhere. Where's Daddy when you really need him? Oh, he's at work so that I can stay home with these angels. (I am thankful for that!)

As I think about work, I remember how when I used to teach in South Philadelphia I had 38 third graders in my class. 38 is a huge number for a class. How is it that teaching them was easier than handling my 2 toddlers? I am not even throwing the reflux spitting baby in to the mix!

We did bath and bed with no yelling from me. Once I realized I was yelling so much I didn't even want to listen to myself. And as I tucked my sweet girls in bed they both asked for extra kisses and hugs. How can I be upset with that?

Tomorrow I will get a do-over. And hopefully it will go better.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Small accomplishments

Every Tuesday I go to a Mom's Group at the church where Kate and Caroline go to preschool. I LOVE this group. It's a Christian based program and I always feel very centered when I go. One of the perks of this program is that they offer child care. For free. Heck, their whole program is free. Fantastic!

Anyway, I have always left Kate and Caroline there with no worries. There's one girl in particular that the girls adore and I know she takes good care of them.

This year, Caroline is the only one who was going because Kate is in class on Tuesdays. I was keeping Rebecca upstairs with me, while Caroline played in the church nursery. I convinced myself that Rebecca needed to nap/ nurse/ snuggle. Really? It was anything to keep her with me.

You see, one of my biggest post partum struggles is not allowing others to take care of my babies. Caroline is able to do things for herself and communicate to others her needs. Rebecca? Not so much.

Well, today I put Rebecca in the crib in the nursery. It just worked out that she was ready for a nap around 9:30 when Mom's Group begins. I honestly knew there was no reason to keep her with me when the nursery has cribs available. I brought her sound machine and placed it on the floor under the crib. I rocked her while I sang our traditional "ABCD" and "Twinkle, Twinkle." I laid her in the crib and she started to close her eyes. (I swear she is competing for best baby in the world!) I checked on her a few times but knew she was asleep and wouldn't be waking up anytime soon.

When I went upstairs I was thankful for the friendships I've made. The women were very supportive when I told them I had left Rebecca in the nursery. They did their best to engage me and be supportive and remind me that if Rebecca was no longer sleeping that she was being well taken care of.

At 11:30 when I went to pick up my 2 little girls, I felt a sense of triumph. Rebecca had slept longer than I expected. She was happy to see me and was changed. And I didn't call once to check on her.

Now here's hoping I can repeat that next week!