Matteo is 11 Months!

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

This month was major for Mattay.  He grew up so much.  He bonded with Daddy while I was on my one week trip to Costa Rica.  While I was gone, he began crawling on hands and knees.  He now prefers to scoot forward  on his tush while propelled by one foot and one knee.  It's a bizarre way to get around, but it works! 

These pictures were taken a few minutes after he crawled off this chair and face-planted into the tile floor.  Yes, I turned my back for a few seconds to grab the camera.  I'm sooo sorry boo boo! But you can see from these pics that he bounces back quickly. He is such a resilient, sweet (and forgiving) baby.

Matteo at a glance:
  • A male cashier at Target remarked, "His eyes are so fascinating.  It's like he's looking right into my soul. Where'd he get eyes like that?"  
  • Just like that, at exactly 11 months, his hair stopped sticking up.  I guess it got so long and heavy that it could no longer defy gravity.  
  • He can say "dada" and "mama" and Joe swears he said "dog dog" but I was not there to verify. I think he can say "baba" for bottle but time will tell.
  • 6 teeth!  4 on top, 2 on bottom.  He is a moderate teether- typically gets a low fever and might have trouble falling back to sleep.  But nothing too dramatic.
  • Sleeping well through the night.  One short nap in the morning, one longer in the afternoon typically.
  • Growing, finally! Haven't weighed him in a while, but he fits into 12 month clothes just fine, so I assume he is on track now. 
  • Nursing 6 times a day to build my supply back up after my trip.  Also having a small bottle of raw goat's milk to supplement.  
  • Now on 3 solid meals a day.  Breakfast is "baby smoothie"- raw egg yolk, goat kefir and fruit blended.  Lunch is puree or bits of whatever cheese, meat, and vegetables Sisi is eating.  Dinner is some kind of meat/fish, some veggies, and fruit for dessert.  
  • He seems to be getting pickier about food.  He just spits out what he doesn't want or is unable to swallow, which makes our dogs Pesto and Basil very happy.  He is still a remarkable eater though. 
  • Fascinated by doors and gates, dog water bowls, and the water draining into the tub. 
  • He barely noticed I was gone for a week in Costa Rica. He enjoyed his adventures and outings with his daddy so much, and drank all his bottles like a champ.  When I came home, he stared at me like I was a ghost, like, "You look familiar, lady, but I can't put my finger on it."  Then he buried his face in Joe's chest and wouldn't look at me for a few minutes.  When I tried to nurse him he kept biting down and forgot what to do.  Then it came back to him, he settled into my lap, and remembered that I am his mommy.   Didn't realize I was so dispensable! jk.  
  • He sometimes puts sand or pebbles in his mouth, but takes them back out with his fingers.  I believe you should let babies figure out what is edible or not by themselves.  I realized that if you are always reaching into their mouths to grab stuff away from them, you add stress and confusion to the situation, and make them want to do it more.  
I can't believe we have only 1 more monthly update left!  The other day, Sisi and I had a party planning meeting for Matteo's 1st Birthday.  I brewed some tea and toasted some paleo bread with strawberry jam, and Sisi decided on colors (rainbow), theme (costume party), decor (balloons and streamers) refreshments (cheese platter, lamb and steak kabobs, salad), and cake (vanilla cake with vanilla frosting.)  It won't be pinterest-worthy, but it will be swell and heartfelt!  

Matteo crawling from kristin brancaleone on Vimeo.


Matteo is 10 Months!

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

I've been told he looks like a baby Marlon Brando.  He is dreamy, isn't he?

I adore him from spiky head to tiny curled toes. Knowing that he's probably my last baby, I am savoring him.  When I rock him or nurse him, I sniff him, kiss him, rub noses, and rub my cheek against his cheek with a big smile on my face. Maybe it's overkill, but I don't want to take his delicious babyness for granted.

Matteo at a Glance:
  • Growing!  Thanks to the generosity of a friend, I am able to give him a few extra ounces of breastmilk a day.  Even that small amount has made a difference in his chub factor and his demeanor.  
  • Scooting around on his belly across the room.  Has ventured out of his room a few times at Sisi's prompting (she sets up little toy "rewards" along the way).  But still not that ambitious about moving around.    
  • As of today, pulls to standing, but still very wobbly!  
  • Eating like a champ! Two solid meals plus 5 or 6 nursings/bottles a day. His recent culinary adventures include blood sausage, lamb brain puree, and ahi poke.  Now he prefers small bits he can feed himself over purees.  Good pincer grasp- even able to pick up those slippery salmon eggs. 
  • Sleeping miraculously well. 
  • Currently in the thick of Wonder Week 46.  Not seeing too much clinginess or moodiness right now.  Only  a few abnormal behaviors that I've noticed- he's crying himself to sleep lately, which is unusual.  He's so tired that the crying only lasts a few minutes and then he's out.  Also, he seems extra sensitive to loud noises (especially his sister's random outbursts.)  
  • 4 teeth!  Sicilian gap tooth coming through :)
  • Claps with one hand and one fist. 
  • Imitating some consonant sounds.  For example, when I say Sisi, he will say "sss, sss, sss".
  • Separation anxiety has melted away. For now, he's easy to pass around and doesn't mind being babysat.  This can change at any time. 

This video is kind of boring, but I've found that the videos I cherish most over the years are the ones of everyday life.  The everyday expressions, movements, and sounds that you can't consciously remember. When you see them on video, your heart remembers and you're brought back to those moments.  And then you cry because time is marching on way too fast.  

Matteo and Siena 10/2015 from kristin brancaleone on Vimeo.


Matteo is 9 Months!

Saturday, September 12, 2015

9 months in the belly, 9 months out! Can barely remember life without Matteo. And pregnancy seems like eons away.

Matteo is expressing his opinions more now (lots of baby tantrums!) and is quite vocal about his needs.  But he is able to calm himself down pretty quickly.  His mood changes every minute. He's been a bit clingy- always wants either me, Sisi or Joe playing near him.  It's a little hard on me because at this age, Sisi was happy to play on her own for long stretches in her crib or playpen. I was a little spoiled. Matteo is not on board with "alone time" most days! But we're still working on it.  

It's been a month of incredible sleep.  No complaints in the sleep department right now, as little guy has finally resumed sleeping through the night consistently.  Round of applause!

As a mom, it's hard to admit when you need help, but I may have to reach out for some breastmilk donations soon.  Teo is healthy, but verrrry small.  He's not gaining much weight from month to month. His pediatrician was not concerned, but I am a little.  He almost always cries when I'm done nursing him, and I wonder if he's not satisfied.  My instinct is telling me I need to supplement.  I'm trying to boost my supply but not seeing a lot of improvement.   I should totally be ok with this, since I supplemented with Sisi around 9 months too.  It's my pride and perfectionism that is telling me I must do it all myself.  He's my last baby and it's my last chance to prove myself!  But prove what? Mommy guilt is the worst! I'm working on it.

Matteo at a Glance:

  • 3 teeth!
  • Recently able to chew and swallow some more solid foods, like ground beef, caviar, sardines, salmon, cheese, and melon.  Still spoonfed most meals. Recent favorite purees are steak with asparagus and white sweet potato, beets with pork, and lamb liver with sweet potatoes and cinnamon.   
  • Sushi lover!  Devoured uni (raw sea urchin) and salmon eggs.  I think uni is the PERFECT baby food- it's slightly sweet, mushy, creamy, and packed with healthy fats and nutrients.  
  • Started scooting on his belly, but not very efficiently.  Sometimes he accidentally scoots backwards and gets mad about it.  Nowhere near crawling yet!
  • Sitting up well unsupported.  Still tips over once in a while.
  • Drinks water from a straw! I discovered this on accident when I let him play with my iced tea.
  • We haven't pushed Sisi to embrace her new brother. We've been patient while she works out her mixed emotions. We are delighted to say that even though they were off to a rocky start, we're seeing evidence of strong bonding.  She has been so tender and helpful lately.  Sisi has started asking to bathe with Matteo, and loves to pet his fuzzy head, brush his hair, and feed him bits of food.  The best part is that it's truly coming from her heart, with no pressure or prompting from us.  Kids are pretty amazing if you give them time to shine.
  • My hairy Italian boy- peach fuzz on the face, furry eyebrows, and a slight mustache.  
  • Has started bopping up and down to the beat of music with a goofy smile on his face.  Loves when I sing "Winnie the Pooh".
  • Totally doesn't mind the carseat now, but not a fan of the stroller.  It's a good thing he's so tiny because it's still doable to wear him a lot.


New Blog! For all you Highly Sensitive Peeps

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Ok, so this blog has clearly become baby spam.  I didn't intend to, but somewhere along the way I stopped posting about my etsy shop.  I am still crafting masks almost every day (Lots of masquerade weddings these days!)  but I don't really blog about them.  Instead I've been journaling, with an actual pen and paper, about motherhood, postpartum depression, and being highly sensitive.  I decided to type up these diary entries onto a new blog called Highly Sensitive Mom.  If you are HSP, a mom or want to be a mom, know an HSP, have a sensitive child, are introverted, or just an overthinker, you may find value in these posts.

Learn why I hate talking on the phone, why I can't drink caffeine, and how I discipline my highly sensitive child without crushing her spirit.

Click here to go to Highly Sensitive Mom! 


Matteo is 8 Months!

Monday, August 17, 2015

Teo, me say Teeeooo.  Daylight come and me wan go home.

My smirky, babbly, serious yet fun-loving dude. Time is going too fast. He is now way closer to 1 than to zero. I love watching him grow up, but I'm also sad to lose my baby.  I know, he'll be technically a baby for at least another year, but that year will whiz by and I'll have no more babies (unless God really surprises us.)  His two tiny teeth will become a mouth full of chompers. His caterpillar fuzz will flatten out.  I know it just gets better and better, but growing up is bittersweet. Makes me treasure each drooly kiss, each gummy chuckle, each raspberry.

Matteo at a glance:
  • His head is ridiculously fuzzy.  Everyone admires his spiky coif!  I love to bury my nose in it.  
  • First cousin playdate with several of his out of town "first-cousins-once-removed", Eudora, Ronan, and baby Miles, just 2 weeks younger than him. Such a special time!
  • Loves playing in the sandbox and at  the beach.  Doesn't eat too much sand.  
  • Sitting up pretty well on his own.  Falls down once in a while.
  • Still not crawling!  
  • Very musically inclined!  Mesmerized by my sub-par banjo playing.  Loves to drum on pots and pans.  
  • Likes to make sounds in general.  Raspberries, fart sounds, babbles, scratching surfaces with his fingernails.  
  • Starting to throw any and everything. 
  • Two teeth and counting! 
  • Still sleeping through the night about 50% of the time.  Waiting patiently for the number to increase :)  
  • Used to be a mini-Joe, but I think he's starting to look like me a little bit.  Still doesn't look Korean at all!  He is all Italiano! 
  • Loving solids, although still only eating purees.  He is not quite able to chew and swallow yet unless the food is super mushy.  His recent favorite is lamb heart pureed with zucchini, carrots, cinnamon and coconut milk.    
  • We've started giving tiny bits of fruit- loves it!  
  • I'm nursing him a lot these days- about every 2 to 3 hours during the day, because he's so itty bitty I want to give him lots of the good stuff.  Plus, it's been really hot and dry here in socal.  
  • Loves his daddy!  Joe is able to comfort him and put him to sleep just as easily as I can, at least for now.  I'm so grateful for this since I'm leaving for Costa Rica (just me and my friend!) in November and Joe will be watching both kiddos for a week.  I know, crazy! 
  • Still adores Sisi unconditionally.  Sisi is coming around more and more.  I love listening to them babble to each other and crack each other up in the back seat of the car.  
  • Sadly, had to say goodbye to his beloved Grandpa Sam this month.  I will always cherish the sweet moments and silly smiles they shared.  I know Grandpa delighted in Matteo, and did until his last days.  
miss you already, dear Grandpa.

Eudora (2), Matteo (8 months), Miles (7 months)

MVI 2978 from kristin brancaleone on Vimeo.


Matteo is 7 Months!

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Still delightful.  Still warming hearts with his gummy smile and dreamy brown eyes.  I adore this boy from head to toe.  My favorite moments with him are in the morning.  I walk into his room and he is fussy and grouchy in his little zipadee zip sleep sack. I shouldn't say this, but I LOVE his grumpy face. Then I nurse him, and he gets all sleepy again, a soft curled up baby in my arms. We spend 10 minutes cuddling in the chair while the rest of the house is still asleep, and he looks around his room with a renewed sense of wonder and amusement. Every day is exciting and new to this little guy.

He is starting to recognize words.  If I say, "Where's Basil and Pesto?" he will scan the floor for the dogs. I say "daddy" and he smiles expectantly. When we're nursing, I say "other side" and he pulls off to switch.  It's amazing what a baby can learn and process at such a young age. 

Matteo at a glance:

  • He's a small fry.  He didn't gain any weight between 4 and 6 months.  That's crazy, right? However, because he's nursing well, is so healthy, sleeping well and content between feedings, the pediatrician didn't seem concerned at all.  I'm a teeny bit concerned, so I've increased his nursing sessions during the day and am giving him nutrient dense solids.
  • 6 month clothes fit him best, but he can still fit into his 3 month onesies.  Like I said, he's a small fry.
  • We have added daily reading to the bedtime routine.  His favorite book by far is "I Love You Through and Through", which Sisi also loved.  The pictures of the boy and his bear are so expressive.  He does a funny grunt of approval, like "hhhhunh" each time he sees the boy's face. 
  • No teeth yet! But I see a raw white bump on his bottom gums.  
  • Likes to mimic sounds like raspberries, fake coughs and fart sounds.  He LOVES when I fake cough at him. 
  • Loving solid foods- especially the more complex combinations of proteins,veggies and herbs.
  • The mysterious birth mark above his right eye disappeared this month!  
  • Killer tan from daily naked time in the sun and beach trips at least once a week. 
  • Sleeping through the night more and more (about 50/50 chance).  I'm now limiting him to one feeding per night so he will eat well during the day.
  • Two naps at approximately 9:30 and 2pm.  Bedtime around 7 or 7:30, wakes up around 6:30 or 7am.  
  • He is making strides toward mobility, but in a very type-B non-aggressive kind of way.  He is strategically rolling his way toward toys and reaching and pivoting while on his back.  He can cover some decent ground this way. But he's never attempted to crawl or use his arms to scooch, which I'm totally ok with :)  He still seems content to observe the world on his back.  
  • I secretly love when he tries to eat my chin or nose or fingers (baby hickies).

MVI 2883 from kristin brancaleone on Vimeo.


Paleo Baby #2: Matteo's Solid Food Plan

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

I am grateful that my husband pushed to raise Sisi on a paleo diet from the very beginning.  When Sisi first started solids 4 years ago, I wasn't even on the paleo diet yet.  I was just dipping my toes in, and not fully convinced that it was the best diet for adults, let alone babies.  I decided it couldn't hurt to raise Sisi paleo.  She immediately took to healthy foods and we've never really had food battles with her.   Mealtimes are generally happy and stress-free for us, and I attribute that to starting off with savory nutritious foods, coupled with the "French Rules" and the fact that she just LOVES to eat-   that definitely helps.

Now it's just second nature to feed Matteo paleo. He turned 6 months a few weeks ago, so he's only had a few different things.  He seems willing to try anything, but will only actually consume it if it's very smooth and liquidy. Most of it ends up on the bib or his face, but that's ok with me.  I just want him to get used to different tastes.  I know milk is his primary source of nutrients until 1 year.

Our Strategy: 

In theory, we like the idea of baby-led weaning (no spoon feeding, baby feeds himself chunks of soft food) but we also like the French way of eating (starts with simple vegetable purees, then they get chunkier and more complicated over time.)  Since France has the lowest rate of child obesity in the developed world, and French kids are renowned for eating well, the French method won.

Before 6 months I'd given him little tiny bites of raw butter and coconut oil to make sure he wasn't sensitive to them.  I knew we'd want to mix these into the purees right away.  So far everything has been either steamed or lightly pressure cooked and pureed with breastmilk to a soup-like consistency. At this point, we're still nursing 5 times a day (plus occasional night feedings) and doing 2 solid meals per day (lunch and dinner.)  Once again, I'm talking an ounce at the most.

I make a batch of food at a time (for example, steam a filet of salmon with some zucchini in the pressure cooker, then blend it with butter and milk in my mini blender.)  I serve some right away, and freeze some in silicone storage trays for later.  On days when I don't have time to cook, I take out a few different frozen portions and blend them together with a little boiling water.  The boiling water warms it to the perfect temperature and helps it blend more easily.

Lunch is his heaviest meal, usually containing egg yolks or meat, and dinner is usually some veggies mixed with some kind of fat (butter, breastmilk, or coconut oil).

We are holding off on fruit, like we did with Sisi.  In our family, fruit is a special treat or dessert served after the meal, similarly to the French.  You should see Sisi's eyes light up when someone offers her a piece of orange or a berry.  The farmer's market samples are her candy store.

I know you're supposed to start off super slow to catch reactions, and I kind of did.  I waited a day or two between new foods.  But after a few weeks, I couldn't resist mixing and matching and starting to add more interesting herbs and spices.  I really want food to be delightful for him.  I'm excited for him to try basil, oregano, cinnamon, nutmeg, etc.

First foods in order of introduction.  *= actually ate more than a few spoonfuls.

  • steamed zucchini with raw butter
  • avocado with lightly cooked egg yolk
  • *egg yolk with lamb heart
  • *egg yolk with salmon and raw butter
  • carrots with butter
  • *egg yolk and breastmilk
  • avocado slices (didn't eat them)
  • green beans and carrots with butter
  • *green beans and salmon with coconut oil
  • sweet potato with butter
  • sweet potato with salmon
  • salmon with coconut milk and dill
  • *mahi mahi with butter and breastmilk
  • *lamb liver with spinach, butter and mint

So far, he seems to prefer the protein meals instead of the veggies.  When I try to give him avocado, he looks both confused and repulsed.  He didn't even like sweet potatoes with butter, to my great surprise.  His faves have been the egg yolk, pureed lamb heart, lamb liver, and pureed salmon mixed with veggies.

I bought the book Bebe Gourmet for some new puree ideas.  The combinations are creative and elegant!  Elegant baby food- it's possible. I use the book more as inspiration, since many of the recipes are not paleo.

I truly hope we are raising another awesome eater!  You just do what you can and hope it all works out.