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.


Matteo is 6 Months!

Friday, June 12, 2015

We've already reached the halfway mark!  It has really flown by, and it's been mostly lovely.  Matteo is such an even-keeled baby.  Even on hectic days, he remains pretty zen.

He does have his limits though- he likes to be in bed by 7pm, and if I stretch him too far past that, he gets quite fussy.  He also wants to eat every 2 to 3 hours, sometimes even more, no negotiations.  But his fussiness isn't usually wailing and screaming, it's more sad faces, silent cries, and whimpers.  I can handle silent cries and whimpers.

I think he's incredibly secure for a baby.  Not only has he been soothing himself to sleep since 5 days old, but I can already see good coping skills during the day, too.  He is able to distract himself when he's feeling tired or lonely.  He has incredible patience.  Although he's getting more active and wiggly, he is pretty content to sit back and watch the world go by.  It also means he's not super ambitious with the milestones, but we don't mind him taking his time.  Trust me, we are perfectly happy with him not being mobile.

Matteo is so in love with his big sister. Siena's silly antics make him belly laugh.  We're trying to teach Sisi that she doesn't have to be his mommy figure (she is constantly lecturing him- "Matteo, don't touch that.  Matteo, don't smile at me.  Don't even look at me.") But he seems to admire and look up to her anyways, like she can do no wrong in his eyes.  I am excited to see how their relationship develops.

Matteo at a Glance:

-Pretty consistent schedule right now.  Naps at around 9:30 and 1:30, for about 1.5 hours each, then in bed around 7-7.30, up for the day around 7am.
-Still waking up to eat once or twice a night, but increasingly able to go back to sleep without my intervention.  I try to wait at least 10 minutes before I go in, and by that time he's often back to sleep. He gave me a nice 11 hour stretch last night, but that is a rarity and a gift.
- Starting solids today!!! I was trying to find some good solid food advice, so I googled "paleo baby first foods" and stumbled upon an old article I'd written when Sisi was a baby.  That's when I realized "if it ain't broke don't fix it" and maybe we should just do exactly what we did with Sisi, since she's a very adventurous eater.  So we'll start him on avocados, liver, egg yolks, fish and assorted veggies like we did with Sisi and hope for another amazing eater!
-The only solids he's had so far are tiny bites of raw butter and coconut oil.  He likes it.
- Finally takes the bottle (kinda!)  Just a few ounces, but it's allowed us to get away from some date nights.
- Starting to embrace independent play.  This is a skill that I highly value in my kiddos for their own good and my sanity.  I don't think it comes as easily for him as it did for Sisi since he's definitely a people person, so we're being strategic about it.  We started leaving him in his crib with some very simple toys for a few minutes here and there, and each day we increase the time. I'm always sure to casually say, "I'll be back" and "I'm back" so he knows I always come back and he doesn't have to be watching for me.  He's now doing up to 40 mins of play in the crib, although some days he refuses.

- Our dear Mother's Helper Miss Katie has graduated from high school and can't work for us anymore :(  I'm forced to go on more outings with both the kids and it's definitely becoming second nature, but we keep it simple.  We go to Dana Point Baby Beach once a week, the local library every 2 weeks, walk to the grocery store and Petco, the mall, etc.  But our favorite thing to do is lounge around and sunbathe in the yard.  Teo has a pretty good base tan going on.
-Eyes are still brownish/grayish/hazel (aka brown). Inherited daddy's luscious lashes.
-A few weeks ago, he woke up with a light brown birth mark above his right eye.  Weird, right?
-I cannot resist his fussy caterpillar hair and his intense Dave Matthews brows.
-Someone said that he has "smiling eyes", and I agree!  He is not a super smiley baby (in fact, he usually looks quite serious) but his eyes are very twinkly and full of joy.
-Size 6 mo clothes, not sure about height and weight but we have a well-check appt next week.  I am guessing he's still exactly average.
- Nicknames- Teo, Taters, Saj (his middle name is Saja)
-Nighttime routine-  nurse, read 2 books, put on his zipadee zip, close blinds, turn on waterfall sounds, sing the "Matteo song" and gently place in the crib.

Matteo Song by Joe Brancaleone

Matteo, Potato bug butt.
Matteo, Sack of potatoes in a swaddle.  
Matteo, potato bug butt. 
Matteo, lots of farts after his bottle. 

He's a lot of fun, 
He's a little baby. 
He's a lot of fun,
He's a little baby.


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.