Do This Everyday

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Real talk here... I'm exceedingly happy in my role as a mom, but in recent days I've been having these brief (thankfully passing) moments of dread that interrupt my contentment.  Maybe not even dread, but a heaviness. Like a super duper mild version of the postpartum depression I suffered with Sisi. It's hard to put my finger on what or why.  I think it has to do with the monotony of everyday life as a mom of two.  My kids do so well with schedules and routines.  Every day follows a somewhat predictable rhythm where I'm staying one step ahead of their hunger, fatigue, boredom and overstimulation.  With Matteo, this routine is totally cyclical and happens 3 or 4 times a day- Wake up, nurse, diaper, play, nap.  Wake up, nurse, diaper, play, nap.  Over and over and over. Then I try to weave in Sisi's schedule as seamlessly as possible, and I find I'm always multitasking (which isn't really a strength of mine.)

babywearing at dinner is the norm.  that means lots of food gets dropped on matteo's fuzzy little head.
Don't get me wrong, this rhythm is good and keeps us all sane.  I'd rather have repetitive days than crazy chaotic days.  But I find that I myself don't have a routine for my own needs.  My meals, my showers,my playtime, my naps are never regular and sometimes just don't happen. I've managed so far to be very zen about this- to breathe and tell myself that it's ok for my own life to be a little jumbled up right now if it means giving my kids a calm and balanced life.  It's a worthwhile sacrifice. 

But those moments of dread still creep up a few times a day, and I don't like them.   I've decided to listen to that tight-chested feeling.  I think it's telling me I need to make time for my own little routines.  Comfort rituals.  If I can make the time to do these few things every day, I will feel a little more cared for.

Morning rituals:

1.  Brush teeth, use rose water toner (my fave! this stuff makes my face come alive, seriously.  also, my pores are so small now) first thing in the morning.  BEFORE I let the kids out of their rooms to start their morning rituals.  As an HSP, the feeling of fuzzy teeth and an unwashed face REALLY bothers me.  If I can take care of that first thing before I tend to my kids, I will feel one step ahead of the day.

2.  Get dressed and do makeup.  I've been pretty good about getting dressed thanks to my minimal wardrobe.  I love everything in my closet and it's all comfortable, so it's not hard to pick something out for the day.  My full makeup routine only takes 5 minutes because I prefer a really natural look, and I have a bare bones version (lip stain, powder, blush and curl lashes) that is good enough for days when I don't even have 5 mins to spare.

3.  Make the bed (even if I know Sisi will mess it up later.)

4.  Stroll in the garden in the morning.  Sunshine is important for health and wellness, but morning sunshine between the hours of 8-11 is particularly beneficial.  I don't know why, ask my husband.  Anyway, morning sun just feels amazing on my skin and I love checking out the garden to see what flowers are blooming and which vegetables have popped up overnight.

Evening rituals:

Ok, the moment I've been waiting for.  The kids are both tucked in, at least for a little while.  The house is quiet, lights are dimmed.  How should I spend this glorious hour or two before I fall into bed unconscious?  The answer is not online shopping on amazon (so very tempting!)

5.  Do a bit of yoga.  Even if it's just a couple rounds of sun salutations.  I sometimes feel like a hunchback with all the baby cradling, nursing, and bending down talking to tiny people I do each day.  Yoga is the remedy.

6.  Cup of tea.  My favorite way to get hydrated before bed for those middle of the night feedings :) Right now I'm digging Tazo Spicy Organic Ginger.

7. Acknowledge the dogs' existence.  I do feel bad that the dogs are my last priority right now.  I don't have much energy left for them.  But the least I can do is cuddle them and pet them for five minutes (and then immediately wash my hands because I've become very allergic to them since having kids).

8.  Read.  Preferably fiction.  Feels so indulgent.  My attention span for reading has grown so much since I stopped watching TV/movies.  I go through a book a week at least.

9. Most importantly, kiss the hubby goodnight.  Sometimes I'm so tired that I can't even make the effort to walk up to my husband and kiss him goodnight.  That is soooo very sad.  No more of that!

Curious- what are your must-do rituals every day?  I love to hear about how women incorporate the simple pleasures of life into their hectic days.  We are definitely worth it.  


5 Month Little Man

Monday, May 18, 2015

Matteo is five months!   He is still a delight- generally easy-going, friendly and full of smiles, chuckles and coos.  He loves to be cuddled and tickled.  He is very content to be held by the ankles upside-down for minutes at a time. He mouth-breathes with excitement at the dogs, gazes admiringly at his sister, and belly laughs when I kiss his neck.  He isn't too phased by big crowds or loud noises (we were at my brother's college graduation and he had to put up with cheering and airhorns) which leads me to believe he is an extravert. The only extravert in our family, that's for sure.

Matteo at a Glance:

  • suddenly starving!  waking up once, twice, or on an especially bad night three times to eat! also suddenly wants to eat every 2 hours during the day.  ready for solids maybe?  growth spurt?  
  • unswaddled!! wears zipadee zip and peke moe so he still feels cozy and secure. 
  • once Wonder Week 19 passed, he went right back to putting himself to sleep happily and napping longer stretches, thank goodness.   i will honestly take that over sleeping through the night!  a happy napper is my sanity! 
  • rolled over a few times, but isn't obsessive about it like Sisi was.  
  • definitely more interested in people and faces than in toys. 
  • likes to take tiny sips of water from my cup. 
  • still not a fan of the bottle!  we will try a sippy cup with breastmilk soon.
  • no teeth yet
  • 50th percentile for weight and height.  still wearing 3-6 month digs. 


Matteo is 4 Months!

Monday, April 20, 2015

He keeps giving me Dave Matthews expressions.
Our little charmer is four months today.  He is still a mellow, go-with-the-flow baby, although I find 4 month olds to be quite intense. He's no longer a passive observer; he needs to grab and stuff everything into his mouth.  He wants to experience it all firsthand. There is so much he wants to do- the will and the energy is there, but the coordination is not. Some days, he needs extra cuddles and reassurance.  Some days his naps and nights are crap, but we're getting through this phase just fine.  I found this old post about Sisi and "Wonder Week 19" and just had to laugh at myself a little.  I remember taking Sisi's fussy periods so seriously (so personally, too!), and I would slip back into depression with each Wonder Week. It's only funny now, it wasn't then. I thank God almost every day that I am feeling so sane and balanced this time around. And HAPPY.  I enjoy both my kiddos so much I get butterflies when I look at them.  I expected to be a total wreck.  How's that for positivity?  ha.

The (often contradictory) comments I receive most about him are:
  • He looks like an adult! 
  • He's a mini Joe.  
  • He doesn't look like either of you.  
  • He looks so Italian/masculine/not Asian.  
  • What a mellow/content/happy baby!  
  • He is so serious. 
  • He has expressive eyebrows.  
  • He doesn't look like Sisi.  
  • He looks just like Sisi, but a boy version.  

Matteo at a glance:
  • starting to understand object permanence.  If I move a toy out of sight, he will look around for it. 
  • when it comes to learning new skills, he seems pretty aggressive. He reaches, grabs, punches, slaps. Two days ago, he was just starting to think about rolling over.  The next day, he was charging it and got 95% there! Is this a boy thing? 
  • still happily swaddled in the miracle blanket for night sleep. He was consistently busting out,  then I found boingo diaper clips to keep the flap closed, and they work perfectly.
  • just for naps, we've eased him into the peke moe sleep sack. He self-soothes much easier if he is allowed to suck on his hands, but I think he transitions sleep cycles better when swaddled.  Any non-parents out there are probably annoyed at all this baby sleep jargon.
  • sleeps about 11-11.5 hours straight, although inconsistently.  He'll do a great week of long nights, and then a crazy week with wakeups.  Sisi was the same way- slept through the night very early on, but off-and-on until she was about 1 year.   
  • sometimes gets himself to sleep by clicking his tongue or sucking on his bottom lip.
  • size 2 diapers, size 3-6 month clothes, no idea how much he weighs but he's a healthy little chunker. Definitely had a growth spurt last week.  
  • sometimes 3 naps, sometimes 4.  We're in that weird transtion period.  
  • still won't take the bottle!  Hope this changes soon so I can resume my Saturday morning surfing ritual.  
  • eczema is pretty much a non-issue now that I can control it with Formula One cream. 
  • first beach outing on Easter.  Dog beach is not a good place for a baby, btw.  He almost got trampled and peed on many times.   
  • seems to love movement.  He laughs with glee when I do airplane with him, and seems oddly content when Joe holds him upside down by the ankles.  Sisi didn't (and still doesn't) like a lot of movement or horseplay.  
  • finally has a middle name!  "Saja", which is a Korean word.  Does anyone know what it means? Hint: it coordinates with our last name.  
content to hang out in the grass for long stretches of time.

better post a butt picture before it's no longer ok!


Matteo is 3 Months!

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Matteo turned 3 months last week!  I enjoy him so much.  He continues to fit like a glove into our family and he seems very happy to be here.  I know I shouldn't put labels on him, especially this early, but I predict he will be an extravert. He is a people person, more interested in faces and voices than in objects or animals (opposite of Sisi).  If you want to catch one of his smirky smiles, just sing him a ditty; he loves to hear songs, and he will try to sing back.  He is not really a crier, but he doth protest a lot. Compared to Sisi (and we can't help but compare kids, huh? even though we shouldn't) he is quite vocal. In the last few days he started doing this adorable high pitched dolphin squeals when he's exasperated. It's so hard not to laugh at him when he does this.  It's neat that he's discovering other ways to express himself besides crying.



Itchy cradle cap and eczema.  Ugh. He's always grabbing chunks and scales off his scalp.

 I think he's soooo handsome!  A lot of people tell me he looks very masculine and adult-like.

He still sleeps in his Moses basket, but he's almost too big for it!  Luckily, putting the Moses basket in his crib has gotten him used to the crib, so it shouldn't be too rough of a transition. 

Matteo at a glance:
  • We took our first babywearing ballet class last week!  He slept the entire time in the ergo carrier while I did my rond de jambes and plies.  I am so grateful for creative ways to work out with baby.  I am also taking him to my mommy yoga in the park and he just lays in the grass watching me do my sun salutations. 
  • Size 3-6 month clothes, I am not sure how much he weighs.  Probably like 13.5 pounds or so? 
  • Still sleeping through the night most nights, but it's been a little rocky the past few weeks (eczema itchies? wonder week? who knows! I don't overthink it too much.)  
  • Beginning to self-soothe by chanting, just like Sisi did around this age.  She would do this "hmmmmmm" meditation to get herself to sleep, and Matteo does more of a melodic "haaaaa haaaa haaaa haaa" sound like he's doing vocal exercises or something.  It's pretty fascinating. To all those who don't believe young infants can self-soothe, I beg to differ.  When given the chance, they find creative ways to get themselves to sleep.
  • Starting to grab things.  
  • Turns the pages of Joe's books on biophotons.  
  • Drooling lots.  Loves to suck my knuckles.  Pre-teething?  Is that a thing?  
  • Was taking the bottle, now he's not.  We've tried like 5 different bottles.  It's a good thing I'm not working outside the home or this would be a very stressful situation!  Google "3 month bottle strike"- apparently it's a thing.  
  • His eczema is getting slightly worse each day, which is discouraging to me.  I am already on a fairly strict paleo diet so I avoid the major allergens like gluten and dairy already. But I am also trying to cut out eggs (and maybe cut down on nuts, which is a super bummer for me) just in case it's diet-related.  We use all-natural cleaning and bath products, and are now using water wipes instead of our beloved costco wipes because we are wondering if he has chemical sensitivies.  I also wonder if our household mold issues during pregnancy have anything to do with it?  Eczema is an autoimmune reaction, and the fact that my bedroom was a petri dish of toxic mold could be to blame.  Thankfully, his eczema doesn't seem to bother him as much as it bothers me.  The so-called "miracle cream" that everyone raves about is coming in the mail tomorrow, so we will see if that makes a difference! I hope so, because his skin issues are starting to drive me bonkers.  I can now empathize with other eczema mommies out there!
  • ECZEMA UPDATE- the miracle cream works.  Just started using it yesterday and the redness and inflammation is gone, there is just some rough skin left but that is quickly disappearing.  I'm totally amazed!!!
Oh Matteo, you bring me so much joy!  They say mommies and sons have a special bond, and I think it's so true.  I can tell you adore me.  You light up when I talk to you.  It feels so good to be so needed and appreciated.  Trust me, the feeling is mutual x a million!!!  


Paleo Meals Lately: Newborn edition

Monday, February 23, 2015

 Even though 4:30-7 pm is probably my most stressful time of the day (newborn witching hour + "hangry" toddler time), I still try to cook most nights. I would say my meals lately have actually been more inventive and thoughtful than ever. With all the repetition of the day (nurse, change diapers, swaddle, repeat) I need a creative outlet, and since I have to cook dinner, might as well try something new and interesting.  

I actually used to find cooking really stressful.  Early in my marriage, I'd yell at Joe in a hangry rage (hungry anger runs in the family), "I have no idea what I want to cook! Just go get takeout!"   But now that I'm a stay at home mom, feeding my family is a big part of my job description, so I may as well put together a repertoire of good easy meals.  And I may as well have some sort of plan for the week because on the paleo diet, there is no such thing as just resorting to spaghetti or grilled cheese sandwiches. 

My meal planning is not very detailed.  That just doesn't work well for me because I like a little spontaneity in the kitchen (If I were working away from the home, and more detailed plan would be necessary). I just write out 5 or 6 basic protein ideas for the week, like "sauteed salmon", "pork stir fry", or "something with ground beef." I use recipes as a jumping off point to do my own thing.  I can't think of a time when I actually stuck to a recipe exactly.  We get a big box of veggies every other week from our CSA program, so I incorporate whatever we get.  Joe buys our meat from a handful of different sources, as he is picky about meat.  

Some of our meals lately: 

Home grown broccoli tossed with diced chicken, almonds, apples and bacon, with balsamic vinegar and paleo mayo for the dressing. 

My dear friend Rachel made all this gorgeous paleo food for my "Sip and See" party, and we enjoyed the leftovers for quite a while!  I froze the meatballs and had them for lunch 4 days in a row.

Beef Stroganoff (made with cashew sour cream, because I'm completely avoiding dairy while I'm nursing. Except butter.  I eat lots of it, but it is mostly fat and very little lactose.) Roasted spaghetti squash on the side.  This picture doesn't do it justice, it was fantastic.

The beef stroganoff recipe came from the Against All Grain: Meals Made Simple cookbook.  I'm really impressed with this cookbook!  Some of the recipes have more steps and require more pots than I usually prefer, but they are all truly delicious and foolproof.

Our new crock pot has a liner that can go on the stove, so we can brown the meat and then slow cook it in one pot.  It's wonderful! I've only had it 2 weeks, and have already used it 5 times.

But sometimes it's nice to slow cook the old fashioned way.  This is Pioneer Woman's Perfect Pot Roast.  At the end, I blend half the veggies with a few cups of the broth and extra wine to make the most flavorful gluten free gravy.  

Lobster is a splurge, but less so when you get it on sale at the Asian market.  This guy was 4 pounds, and was almost the same size as Matteo. 

These pics are from the Summer, but all our lobster dinners are the same.  Pressure cooked lobster, drawn butter with lemon, and steamed artichokes brushed with olive oil and balsamic. Easiest meal ever.

This one was a real crowd pleaser.  I made paleo naan, which is only 3 ingredients (almond flour, tapioca flour, and coconut milk) and is so chewy on the inside/crispy on the outside when cooked in butter.  It would also make a great pizza crust I think.  I also whipped up a samosa-inspired ground beef filling with masala spices, cinnamon, and pureed sweet potato all sauteed together.  Sounds weird, but it was so tasty. On the side I made an apple-mango chutney.

Paleo Sloppy Joe stuffed peppers. 

Sauteed salmon with greens and roasted sweet potatoes.  

We don't eat chicken much because organic free range chicken is so expensive and relatively less nutritious than other meats, so for us it's a splurge.  I think whole roasted chicken is such a treat, and so ridiculously easy to make.  

Messy wedge salad with bacon bits, blue cheese and homemade dairy free ranch dressing.  

Made a nourishing chicken broth from the chicken carcass (the only way I can justify spending 20.00 on a chicken!) and turned it into tom kha goong (Thai coconut soup with shrimp.)  

And if you're curious, Sisi's lunches usually consist of leftovers and random finger foods.  That day it was quiche and paleo naan with lamb, swiss cheese and frozen peas (peas are not paleo but she eats them in moderation.)

Another simple lunch- cheese, plantains, carrot, big ol strawberry, and tuna salad.  I am a lazy mom and don't peel, let alone cut, the carrot.  

Is anyone else obsessed with these salt and pepper pistachios from TJs?  Sisi doesn't like how spicy they are, so they are the only snack I don't have to hide from her.