I can cook!

I feel like I’ve hit a real milestone in terms of my cooking. This week I improvised three meals, two of which were pretty good and one of which turned out ok.

I realize that improvising meals is commonplace for many people, but for me it’s a hard-won goal. I didn’t grow up cooking very much, I don’t really know why. Cooking meant making Kraft Macaroni & Cheese, Top Ramen or Snow’s Clam Chowder. After I graduated from college my food appreciation grew as I started earning money and was able to go out to restaurants more. I still didn’t cook much, but my standbys extended to Dad’s simple meatloaf and Betty Crocker’s white chili. Interestingly my boyfriends have nearly always been better cooks than I was. Sometimes I felt like I didn’t need to know how to cook because they did it so well.

Another part of my hangup was a streak of perfectionism and fear of getting it wrong. My motto back then was: “It’s better not to try at all than to try and fail.” (Yeah, I know how dumb that sounds now.) Fast-forward through years of therapy and I finally became interested in risking more. That, plus I got a boyfriend (now husband) who chided me for my lack of cooking ability. In 2009(8?) we took a cooking class together, which helped me get more comfortable in the kitchen. After that I was more willing to cook, though I nearly always followed a recipe and panicked if I got any part of it wrong or if I didn’t have all of the ingredients.

Now, as a full-time stay at home mom for 10 months and since then, a part-time stay at home mom, I cook _all the time_. I’m finding I really enjoy cooking now, especially when it means feeding my family yummy, somewhat healthy meals. And to no-one’s surprise, when you practice something for hours and hours and hours, you get better at it. It’s really starting to feel more natural. I’m starting to intuit how to construct meals with certain flavors and outcomes. In no way am I saying that I’m now a gourmet chef, but I am becoming a halfway decent cook. One of the best parts about it is that it’s less stressful. Either I don’t care as much about getting it wrong or I have more confidence about getting it right, but whatever it is, I can relax more when I cook.

Which brings us to this week. I defrosted a couple of pork shoulder blade steaks from our CSA farms Riverdog hogs. I didn’t remember offhand how to cook them so I looked up a couple of recipes on the internet, but from there I winged it (and even more importantly, I didn’t worry too much about how it would turn out.) I found a spicy rub mix that we had laying around in the herb cupboard and rubbed it all over the pork steaks. Then I sliced a half onion I had laying around, a shallot and some garlic cloves and put that on the bottom of the slower cooker. I laid the steaks on top and poured in 1/2-3/4 cup of water and set the slow cooker to high for 4 hours.

By the end of that time the pork was about to fall off the bones– it was nice and tender. I washed some spinach (from the aforementioned Riverdog farm) and served the steak with a simple spinach salad with bottled honey mustard dressing. Nothing fancy but a decent meal and Dan mentioned that the pork and the spinach went well together.The cool part was the next couple days!

The next day I decided to make an Asian-style salad out of the leftover pork steaks. I shredded a portion of the pork, mixed it with the leftover washed spinach and boiled (over-boiled, oops) some asparagus to add to it. I cut up some candied ginger, some cashews and tossed them in there. I dressed it all with some bottled sesame ginger salad dressing we had lying around. It turned out pretty well and I did it all by instinct!

Then on the third day I decided to make tacos with the remaining pork steaks. I shredded the rest of the pork, cut up some cilantro, some black spanish radish (again from the farm), avocado, heated up some tortillas on the stovetop and served it all as make-your-own tacos! (Margaritas courtesy of Dan.) Along with some sour cream, salsa, shredded cheese and a simple salad on the side, it made for a simple and surprisingly satisfying meal.

Recent Excitement

My mom’s visit started us off on quite the eventful week! First, I thought my mom got stuck in Portland’s mini-snowpocalypse on the way to the Portland airport on Thursday, the day before her flight. It wasn’t until 5pm when she finally called me back that I learned she was safely ensconced in a motel 30 miles from Portland and out of the snowstorm. Early Friday February 7th she drove the rest of the way and had a smooth flight to Oakland (there was no way she was missing her visit with the boys!)

Friday night, Dan and I had a date night of Monument Men & a drink afterward at Honor Bar (our first time.) Both were enjoyable, though I managed to chip my front tooth while chewing on a cuticle (and looked a little funny thereafter).

On Saturday, Cormac started having a hard time sleeping. It turns out that Cormac is working on his first (top) set of one-year molars and Ansel is teething the second (bottom) set. Cormac’s new teeth actually caused him to drool a little pool of blood onto his crib sheet. :( For the next several days, Advil was our friend to help them deal with the pain.

Cormac Sleeping Peacefully Before the Teething Fairy Came

Cormac Sleeping Peacefully Before the Teething Fairy Came

Otherwise we mostly enjoyed the rain during Grandma’s visit. The boys were happy to stand on the couch and stare out the window as the rain fell from the sky. It won’t fix California’s drought, but I liked having more wintry weather during these winter months. We even went on a little walk to deliver mail to a local USPS mailbox between downpours. Both the kids & adults had a great time stomping in the puddles & jumping the “creeks” that flow down the sides of the roads.

Tea time with Grandma

Tea time with Grandma

On Monday, Grandma and I took the boys to the doctor. They are doing great, very healthy & normal and following their growth curves (Cormac is still in the 80th percentiles for height and weight and Ansel is in the 60th percentiles for height and weight.) I predict Ansel’s adult height will be around 5’11” and Cormac’s adult height will be around 6’1″.

The only issue that the pediatrician mentioned is that normally 18mo toddlers have about 50 words and our boys only have about 5. (For the record their five “words” are: “nomnom” (for food), mama, dada, meow and roar.) I think I have contributed to their reticence by talking to the boys as if they were adults instead of using fewer words and talking slowly as many caretakers do. Doh! I’m doing my best to talk slowly and simply now. That said, I also recently heard that Dan & his brother didn’t talk until they were two and I didn’t talk until I was three! Considering that, I’d be shocked if they said much before they turned two. I’m guessing it will all even out in the long run. (As my mom & Dan can attest, I won’t stop talking now!)

Happy Despite Words

Happy Despite Words

Monday night, Ansel started having trouble breathing and was making some funny coughs. We brought him into our bed, worried about him and wondered if it could be a reaction to the vaccinations he got at the doctor’s (flu & Pentacel). Dan called the pediatrician’s off-hours line and the on-call nurse diagnosed Ansel with croup (an inflammation of the larynx that makes it hard for him to breathe). The nurse suggested the following things: propping up one side of his crib, turning the heat off, getting him outside, using a humidifier and holding him in a steamy bathroom. The next few days we tried most of these things (other than the humidifier which I hear are mold factories) in an effort to help Ansel breathe and feel better. Monday night and Tuesday night were the worst– he woke about every hour (Cormac woke once or twice too, but nowhere near as often.) We felt so badly for him and were wrecks ourselves due to lack of sleep. I’m grateful for his relatively quick recovery– he started breathing a lot better Wednesday afternoon.

After Recovering from Croup We Visited a Real Creek

After Recovering from Croup We Visited a Real Creek

Tuesday morning I visited the dentist at 7am to address my chipped tooth. I had assumed my dentist would assess the damage and recommend a procedure for another time, but she fixed it then and there with some dental bonding. Afterward she warned me that the bonding is not as strong as the original tooth so I would have to forgo any risky tooth behaviors, like chewing on pencils. I asked if chewing on cuticles counted (I have a pretty entrenched cuticle chewing habit) and she said yes. So let this be my public declaration that I am determined not to chew my cuticles!

These Boys are my Witnesses

These Boys are my Witnesses

Now that the boys have mostly gotten over their sicknesses and teething pains, they seem to be rushing headlong into toddlerhood. The way they’re bonded to us now is by turns endearing and frustrating. Oftentimes when I’m sitting on the floor, Cormac toddles over with a book, carefully turns around and plops himself down in my lap so we can read it together. Ansel also comes and plops himself into my lap but he is almost always bringing shoes that he wants me to put on him. Ansel often wants to be held in our arms (especially mine), but only while we’re standing. Given my increasing back pain, I’m not sure this is feasible for the long term. If I sit down on the floor and offer to hold him, he’s not interested. :(

It’s funny how hard it can be to get Ansel to eat (what he likes today he may not like tomorrow!), yet he’s always chewing on non-food items. The box of Girl Scout cookies and the box of macaroni and cheese were his latest victims. Cormac continues to be a good eater of actual food– it’s nice to have the contrast. Also, I’m happy to announce that Coco has one freckle on his chin! We don’t have a picture of it yet, but we can now officially start calling him freckle-face.

Feed Me, Seymour

Feed Me, Seymour

It seems that they are finally ready to drop their two nap a day schedule and move to one midday nap. Monday-Thursday they only took one nap a day and seemed to be doing ok, mood-wise. Most of their peers went to the one nap a day schedule months ago, so it will be nice to match the other kids their age. Though as a tired mom, I appreciated having two separate opportunities per day to get things done and/or rest.

Always on the Go

Always on the Go

A Very Satisfying Christmas

I’ve got so much to be grateful for this Christmas. Those dear to me are healthy. I was able to spend time (and Facetime) with my folks. Our little boys had the best time ripping off (and then ripping up) the wrapping paper from their own presents (and ours). They have enjoyed all of their gifts and I wonder if this is the apex of Christmas-time for us– they understand it’s a special day and it’s fun for them, but they are not yet at the point where they have expectations of what they’ll get or feelings of disappointment if it didn’t work out. :)

Chaos

Chaos

We’ve eaten very well– butternut squash/leek risotto two nights ago, dungeness crab last night and mustard-crusted lamb tonight. The sweets are amazing, we’re swimming in cookies and we got a surprise treat of my mom’s famous (at least to me) LaRoy peanut butter and chocolate fudges.

Close-Up

Close-Up

I received many wonderful presents, some anticipated and some unexpected. I am particularly excited to receive from my mom the watch my grandmother wore in 1941 when she was one of the princesses of Kalama Strawberry Fair. It’s a delicate Bulova watch that’s pretty beat up with “Princess Bette” inscribed on the back. It no longer works and I doubt it has much monetary value but I don’t think our family has many “heirlooms” so it feels special to me. 

Fun in New Caps

Fun in New Caps

We started our Christmas vacation on Sunday when we met my dad & step-mom in Napa for a one-night stay. We arranged this so they could babysit while Dan & I (finally) took the balloon ride that Damon so kindly gifted us for our wedding 3.5 years ago. The balloon ride was fantastic– it was magical to float above the world in silence. Our pilot maneuvered us near the Mayacamas Mountains that separate Napa and Sonoma valleys and we got a great view of the foliage, cattle and some wild turkeys. It even got a little exciting near the end when there wasn’t a great spot for us to land. We heard the ground crew tell the pilot that his first choice for a landing spot was inaccessible to their vans & truck. We had been descending toward it, nearing a bunch of trees and for awhile I was really wondering if we would end up in the trees. But we ascended again and he found another good spot, this time accessible to the vans and truck. He headed toward it and told the ground crew he would throw them a long rope that they would catch and help pull the balloon down. Unfortunately when he threw out the long rope it got caught in the branches of another bunch of trees so the ground crew couldn’t grab it! Quite the tense 60 seconds while the balloon lazily descended towards the ground in a semi-controlled manner. Luckily our horizontal movement pulled the rope out of the trees and the ground crew was able to catch it and help pull us down.

Hot Air Balloon Ride

After our exciting balloon ride, we had a little bit of time before we had to check out of the hotel, so we took this opportunity to get some pool time with the boys. The pool itself was located outside and not quite warm enough so we ended up in the hot tub with them. They had a grand old time “swimming” (with mom and dad’s help) around in the hot tub, especially when Grandpa turned on the jets for them!

Pool Time

My intention is to child-proof the kitchen with the rest of our time off. This will require a lot of drilling but I’d love for the kids to be able to be in the kitchen with me while I cook & clean. Wish us luck!

Unwrapping

Unwrapping

Happy in High Chair

Happy in High Chair

Superbaby!

Superbaby!

Recent Developments

A short post about recent developments.

Both boys are practicing standing without hanging onto anything, though Cormac does it more often. Yesterday Dan was in the kitchen simultaneously roasting a chicken and amusing the babies when he saw Cormac stand up from sitting without holding onto anything. It has only happened once so far, but this will undoubtedly start a trend and we all know where it ends up… walking!

Ansel is still a speed demon crawler. He is now getting good at crawling onto things– if I sit cross-legged on the couch he can use my legs as anchors, grab onto them and hoist himself onto my lap. He’s also crawling onto the shelf of our kitchen island (about six inches off the ground.) Both kids can crawl up the stairs but can’t get back down. :)

Yesterday Ansel played peek a boo all by himself– I was nursing Coco in their room while Ansel played in the crib next to me. He started using a lovey to cover and uncover his face while I said peek a boo! I was impressed.

No new words though they may be starting to understand “come here”. We’re trying to teach them “up” and the names of their body parts but they don’t get it yet. The other day Cormac seemed to understand drawer (we have a drawer in our coffee table they love to play with) and also seemed to be able to open and shut it when I told him to but that might have been wishful thinking.

We’ve been trying to teach them that they have to tip up the sippy cup to drink the water… Ansel may finally be getting the hang of it.

They have been in the wading pool twice now (thanks Grandma Jerianne!) The second time Cormac seemed to enjoy it much more than Ansel– Coco sat in the pool and splashed around. Ansel spent most of his time outside the pool, occasionally crawling in to see what was up and then crawling back out again to watch Coco. Coco also seemed to enjoy the water during his bath time. When I laid him down in the tub to wash his hair he just wanted to lay there in the water (if you experienced how hard it is to get them to lay on their backs for a diaper change you would know how remarkable this is.) It doesn’t seem to be both boys though: Ansel was more interested in sitting & playing with the bath toys than laying in the water.

Their teeth seem to be in a holding pattern for the moment: Ansel has eight and Cormac has five. Cormac’s teeth are bigger than Ansel’s and much more crooked. I’m curious to see what the dentist thinks when we see her in September. For awhile Cormac only had two teeth: one on the top left and one on the bottom right. We kept calling him Snaggletooth. Now that he has matching top & bottom teeth he occasionally grinds his teeth together. We noticed Ansel doing the same thing when he first got matching top & bottom teeth so it must be pretty typical.

We’ve started brushing their teeth, which is going better than I expected. Ansel especially seems to feel like it’s a fun sort-of tickling and always smiles when we do it. Cormac doesn’t hate it but doesn’t love it either: tonight he kept pushing his tongue out so I couldn’t get his bottom teeth well.

Today Ansel has been whistling on some of his inhales. I’m not sure how aware of it he is, but it makes me laugh!

In July we had a professional come shoot some photos of the family, so I’ve included some of my favorites in this post. I’ve posted more of my favorites on my SmugMug account.

Some Nights Are Harder Than Others

Typically, the babies go to bed around 7:30pm, give or take 30 minutes (we try to get them into bed on the earlier side if possible.) They’re pretty good about going to sleep– they’ll usually talk or whimper and within 20 minutes have drifted off to sleep. It doesn’t always go so well though…

The other night I arrived home from work at 6:30. By that time our nanny, Elizabeth, had already fed the boys dinner and put them in their PJs. Cormac was crying as I came in and Liz explained that Ansel had banged the cat door into Cormac’s head. I wasn’t completely surprised he was crying– both kids have been more sensitive lately: when he gets hurt Cormac cries harder than he used to and Ansel is much more clingy. I held Cormac and he quickly recovered from his injury. Meanwhile Ansel was crawling around like a baby possessed, stopping to play with toys (or other random objects he found: cardboard boxes, my backpack) and then crawling some more. To encourage both boys to calm down and get in a sleepy mood, we sat together in a comfy chair and read Hickory Dickory Dock. By that time Dan had come home and we started our nighttime ritual of nursing, more books, and singing the “Ay ay ay ay” song (aka Cielito Lindo).

As usual, we laid them down in their cribs around 7:30, snuck away and started dinner (a simple meal of leftover Chicken Adobo and corn from the CSA box.) The boys made some noise, but we crossed our fingers and hoped they would settle quickly. Twenty minutes later we heard Coco (our nickname for Cormac) crying for real, apparently ramping up to Full Sad Mode. Dan went up to calm him while I kept cooking (Dan is often the first line of defense). As I cooked I continued to listen to the baby monitor and heard Cormac quiet down. Soon after I heard Ansel start to cry with gusto. Dan stayed in the nursery (which is directly above the kitchen), rocking both boys, giving them pacifiers and doing a few more rounds of “Ay ay ay ay”. Nothing seemed to be calming Ansel though, so I offered to come up with my secret weapon– the ability to nurse, which often calms Ansel (though rarely calms Cormac). Dan was glad for the relief and left while I nursed Ansel. Surprisingly, Ansel didn’t want to nurse for long. Soon he was crying again even while I held him and rocked him. This was out of Ansel’s character, he must have been really upset. We rocked and rocked and rocked some more and he just kept crying. I asked Dan to bring Ansel some Advil, in case his teeth were causing him pain. Ansel sucked down the Advil (good thing they make children’s medicine sweet!) but continued to cry. His crying was interspersed with attempts to paw at my glasses or shirt and when I thwarted the attempts, there were more tears. It sucked to listen to him cry and not know how to make it better.

Meanwhile, Cormac was standing in his crib, leaning against the rail and waving both arms in the air with a huge grin on his face like he was saying “Look at me! Look, I can stand with no hands!” When Ansel saw Coco waving he giggled, so I tried to keep Ansel from looking because I felt like they would just feed off of each other’s energy. Eventually, around 8:30, Ansel accepted his pacifier again and I saw his eyes start to shut. I kept rocking him; for awhile he fought sleep and kept fluttering his eyes back open after they drifted shut, but in the end exhaustion won out and he fell deeply into sleep. As frustrating as it can be to rock a crying baby for 30 minutes, it makes it that much sweeter when they finally fall asleep. I transferred Ansel successfully into his crib and started to walk out the door.

When Cormac saw me leaving he stopped waving & grinning and started crying. This was a trickier situation, because while Ansel will usually go to sleep with enough rocking, it often seems like Cormac will use being rocked as an opportunity to play– with your hair, your clothes, the fabric of the rocker… So it’s always a question– is it be better to rock Cormac (while he plays) or is it more effective to let him cry himself to sleep? That night I was influenced by the fact that I just spent so much time rocking Ansel– isn’t it only fair that I rock Cormac too? Maybe this time would be different and he would fall right asleep! So we started rocking. As predicted, Coco did not relax. Instead he messed around with my shirt, my bra strap and the short hairs that are growing in around the edge of my scalp (like many women, I lost a bunch of hair postpartum but it’s slowly coming back). Cormac & I rocked some more, but he was still distracted and playful. I felt like he wasn’t going to calm down (and I was hungry for dinner) so I decided to put him down in his crib and see if he could settle himself after the rocking. I left the room and paused at the top of the stairs outside the nursery to listen… and I heard him start to cry. This was no babyish cry either, these were big gulping sobs. Oh goodness, what have I done?

After a couple minutes of listening and hoping fruitlessly that Cormac would calm down, I came back in and picked him up. We sat back down in the rocker and immediately he went limp against my shoulder. He had worn himself out. In a way, this was a rare treat, holding a sleeping Cormac. I rocked for awhile more and soaked up the moment: the weight of his (not-as) little body, his slightly sweaty head, his regular breathing. After several minutes more, I assumed it was safe to put him down, so I got up and started to lean over the crib. Sadly, that was enough to wake Cormac and immediately he was pissed. He had caught me red-handed trying to put him down like a sack of potatoes and he was not going to let me get away with that. I went ahead and put him down in his crib and walked out of the room in case his protest was temporary (sometimes he’ll cry just for a minute before falling back asleep), but no such luck this time. He was wailing in earnest, so I came back in and we rocked some more. Coco fell back asleep in my arms (ahhhh) and this time I waited at least ten minutes before attempting to lay him in his crib. Thank goodness it worked and I nestled him into his crib and left the room.

I closed the door and gave a big sigh of relief at the top of the stairs. Both boys were asleep and Dan & I could finish making dinner and eat. It was 9:15pm and we were ready to relax.

A picture of me with them from a different (and easier) morning:

One Year Ago Today…

One year ago today we woke up at 3am to arrive at the hospital at 5am for our planned C-Section (scheduled for 7am). We had barely gotten any sleep, especially me– I was nearly paralyzed with fear of the unknown. What would having a newborn be like? What would it be like to have two newborns? Would we be able to handle it?

One year later I can say with confidence: we handled it. We kept our boys alive and well for a whole year. Here’s to many many more years of fun (and frustration) with our sons. :)

It does take a village though– we couldn’t have done it without the vital help of our parents, our friends, the night nanny, numerous doctors, nurses & lactation consultants and the sage members of the local twins club. Thank you to all for keeping us going when the going got tough _and_ helping us retain at least a thread of sanity.

Today we celebrated Cormac & Ansel’s first birthday with a party of their “future friends”– about 14 adults and 10 kids (most within a year of the boys’ age) came over for snacks, brownies and cake. It got pretty chaotic at times! All seemed to enjoy themselves, including the birthday boys.

Ansel & Cormac in the sandbox, pre-party:

I love these guys.

Seven Months!

One word for seven months: maelstrom. The babies are moving and babbling and not sleeping and eating new foods and gagging and oh my god everything’s out of control. :P

At five months I had some routines going, I could write some extra blog posts, I could think about what to make Dan & I for dinner and have energy to cook it, I could keep the house up. Now it’s a crapshoot about what gets done around here! Plus Dan and I got a cold. Thankfully breastfeeding keeps the babies healthy, they scarcely seem affected.

Things are not all bad of course… This month we’ve had many firsts: First time on public transit (ferry to San Francisco), first time at the beach, first time in a swing and first time in separate cribs. Separating them was bittersweet. They were clearly getting too big to share one crib, but we were loathe to separate them. I think it affected me more than it affected them, though the first time they were separated they did end up as close to each other as possible in their separate cribs as you can see in the picture below.

Beach Babies Beach Babies Separate Cribs Separate Cribs Swinging Swinging

Things they’re currently enjoying: tracking Jules the cat as he walks around (Jules is careful to keep at least two feet between the babies and him), jumping up and down in the Baby Einstein jumpers they got for Christmas, putting everything in their mouths, playing with their Everearth activity cube and taking toys from each other. Luckily they don’t cry when they take toys from each other but I’m sure the day will come when stealing toys will trigger tears. They are definitely becoming aware of each other though. Sometimes Cormac will crack Ansel up… I’m not even sure what Cormac does that’s so funny but sometimes Ansel will watch him and just laugh.

Ansel’s teeth are making themselves known and his sleep is disrupted– waking up as early as 8:40pm when a month ago he was consistently sleeping from 6pm-4am! Poor kid. It might also be that his brain is working on new accomplishments. Recently I put him down on his tummy, turned to play with Cormac for a minute, turned back and he was sitting up by himself! I was shocked– and scared because the first thing he did after sitting up was topple over. He’s good but not great at sitting. Ansel is also working on crawling– he gets up on all fours and sometimes scoots backwards and at other times just rocks his body back and forth. Also, I’ve taken to calling Ansel my monkey baby, since when I balance him on my hip to carry him places he holds on tight to my arm with his hand.

Cormac seems content to hold onto toys and roll around instead of getting ready to crawl. Recently he’s been rolling off the blanket onto the rug and then further onto the wood floor where he carefully examines the floor and rubs his hands on it, I guess to experience the new texture? He also likes to do a superman pose where all four arms and legs are off the ground and he’s balanced on his tummy. I’m guessing it helps strenghthen his back so that he’ll be able to sit up (eventually). So far he only sits as long as someone is around to support him, otherwise he falls over immediately like a little drunk man. :)

Here’s a short video of the boys babbling:

Here’s a short video of the boys swinging:

Here’s a longer video of Cormac rolling with a toy and Ansel on all fours rocking back and forth:

Entering My Fortieth Year

Yesterday I began my fourth decade in existence. The last year of my third decade was the best yet, dare I hope life will get even better?

Speaking of getting older… in January my primary care doctor found a breast lump (really more of a pebble than a lump) and recommended I get it checked out. She said “I don’t know if the lab will  want you to get an ultrasound or a mammogram, so we’ll leave it up to them” and I replied “I’m sure they’ll want me to get an ultrasound, last time I had a lump they said that young dense breast tissue doesn’t work well in mammograms”. My doctor looked at me with her head cocked and all of a sudden I realized I’m not young anymore and a mammogram is probably appropriate. Luckily, when I went to the Alta Bates Summit Hospital they chose to do an ultrasound because mammograms don’t work for nursing women. In the end, the ultrasound was inconclusive– they thought the lump/pebble was likely a galactocele, but there was a remote chance it could be cancer. They needed to do a biopsy to be sure. Since I’m nursing they would use the less intrusive fine-needle aspiration biopsy instead of a core needle biopsy. The biopsy was performed a week and a half ago and was painless, though I did have to avoid nursing on that breast for a half a day. I must do a shout out to the Carol Ann Read Breast Health Center. They work hard to make women comfortable, treat them with respect and support them through difficult and scary procedures. The day before my birthday I received a great present: the news that the lump was benign and “consistent with changes due to lactation” (aka a galactocele or something like it). Yay! Cancer avoided (for now.)

In addition to that present and some other fun presents from my family, my sons have given me the mixed blessing present of being mobile! Watch this short movie of Ansel crawling across the floor:

Watch this longer movie of Cormac rolling to a new place, playing with a toy, and practicing using his pointer finger:

I had a grand plan for how to spend my birthday: First, I would pack the boys a lunch of split pea soup with a pear/oatmeal dessert, then after their morning nap we would go to Bakesale Betty’s for a fried chicken sandwich for me. We would visit the UC Berkeley Botanical Garden to watch the newts have sex and enjoy a picnic lunch. Of course life rarely goes according to plan. :) I got out the door later than I wanted and when we arrived at Bakesale Betty’s I realized I had forgotten their lunch at home. Doh! Nevertheless we forged on to the Botanical Garden which I assumed would be stroller friendly (hahaha). There is a wide gravel path that travels through the garden but to get to the good stuff (including the pond where the newts hang out), you need to navigate stairs. So I bumped the babies down one set of stairs so we could visit the pond and I saw some adorable newts swimming around, though they didn’t seem to be in a lovemaking mood. More crazy stroller/stairs shenanigans were required to get from there to the picnic area: a nicely shaded table surrounded by a dirt/gravel clearing. Once we arrived, none the worst for wear, I put the boys down on their blanket, piled their toys into the center of the blanket and unwrapped my sandwich to eat. Of course, instead of playing with their toys, Ansel & Cormac kept crawling/squirming to the edge of the blanket to play with the much more fun dirt & gravel. I snuck bites of sandwich between picking them up and putting them back on the blanket but soon I declared us done and packed everybody/everything back up and started for home. The outing did not turn out as I had envisioned, but if I let go of my initial expectations we had a fine time and I’m happy I attempted it.

My two ragamuffins and I on my 39th birthday at the UC Berkeley Botanical Garden

Five Months!

Wow, how can it have been five months?!?  So much has happened and they’re going through phases practically faster than I document them.  Since they were four months, here are some of the changes they’ve gone through…

We’ve given them nicknames: Cormac-Bear and Ansel-Pup.  (Dan actually came up with these nicknames several months ago, but I forgot to mention them. :)

Cormac has started smiling and laughing more– it really brightens our days.

Ansel has continued to be a big smiler/laugher.  He loves to interact with people!  The other day one of our friends aptly called him a “smile slut”. :)

New Year's Eve Dance Party

Ansel learned how to squeal, did it a lot for a week but now only brings it out for special occasions.

Cormac’s been working on the “buh” sound, pushing his lips together and then pressing air through.  It’s so much fun; we do it back to him (in raspberry form usually) all the time.

Cormac has mostly stopped his monologuing and has become a bit more reserved.  He still has the tendency to carefully, silently observe the world around him.  It can make him seem wise and people often remark on his “old soul”.

Both boys are rolling from their backs to their stomachs!  Cormac does it more often than Ansel does, sometimes he seems compelled to do it and usually he does it when we have our backs turned.  Is he doing that on purpose?  Who knows!  After they’ve rolled onto their tummy sometimes they’ll hang out there for a few minutes and then start crying.  I tell them they got themselves into this mess and now they can get themselves out of it, but they don’t seem to understand.

Ansel Pauses Mid Lion Munch

Ansel learned how to take his pacifier out of his mouth a month ago and recently has been figuring out how to put it back in!  

Cormac went through a phase where he would lift up both legs into the air and then *boom* slam them down on the ground.  It actually made the floor shake and when he did it in the crib in the nursery, I could hear it in the kitchen (located below the nursery).  Wow!  Weeks later, Ansel is starting the same thing.  Maybe it’s something all babies do?

Also, both kids are using their fists to thump on their chests like their King Kong.  I bet this is another phase all babies go through.

They’ve started watching us with interest while we eat: it’s time to start solids!

Dad Feeding Gruel to Cormac

The boys like to be lifted up and down, but I’m a little worried that they’ll gain weight faster than I can keep lifting them.  We had them weighed at their five month vaccination visit and Cormac is 16 lbs 8 oz and Ansel is 15 lbs 10 oz.  Seems like Ansel’s catching up to Cormac!  We won’t get an update on height (aka length :) until their six month visit in the middle of February.

We love taking walks and my favorite time to take them is in the late afternoon.  The boys usually wake up from their afternoon nap around 3pm and don’t go to bed until after 6pm.  That’s too long of a stretch for them to be awake, but it’s not easy for them to take a short catnap in between so they end up getting fussy instead.  By taking them on a walk in the late afternoon the excitement of being outside keeps them from getting fussy (for the most part) and sometimes they even fall asleep during the walk!  Though as the days have gotten short, we often end up in the dark on the way home.  It can be thrilling to watch the sun set, but occasionally I worry that I’m putting us in danger pushing a black stroller and wearing a black coat while walking at night.  I might attach some blinking bicycle lights to the stroller so folks will know we’re there.

Mom Plays With Ansel

A First: Pick Me Up

Dear Cormac,

Tonight, when 4am rolled around and you and your brother Ansel started babbling at each other, I waited until the babbling started to sound distressed before getting up out of bed.

When I walked into the nursery Ansel started crying with more gusto. As I searched for Ansel’s pacifier to mollify him (you stopped taking one months ago) I heard you start to cry harder as well.

Pacifier unlocated I decided to make the best of the situation by putting you in the swing to wait with some toys while I fed Ansel. Sadly, you were not amused.

Your sobs became more intermittent, but you were still making noise when your Dad came in to investigate. I watched him sit beside the swing and ask if you were cold or tired. You looked at him curiously and then, for the first time I’d seen, you deliberately held out your arms to him in that universal child body language of “pick me up!”

Of course he responded appropriately, turning off the swing, unstrapping and holding you. The waterworks stopped entirely and you and your dad amused each other until Ansel was done eating and I could feed you.

I know I’ll be seeing a lot more of the “pick me up” gesture in the future, from both you and your brother. I loved seeing you do it for the first time tonight and watching your daddy hold you in response.

I love you,
Mom

Cormac Looks Up