Tuesday, March 29, 2011

February at Cannon Beach

Last month we went to the coast to celebrate my father's birthday. I posted about my house epiphany but not much else about the trip. We had terrific weather for February at the Oregon coast. When my dad turned 50 my mom threw a surprise party at the beach and flew me in from New York. After that it just became an annual thing which we have continued since he passed away. Since he wasn't religious he wanted his ashes spread at the beach so if the weather is cooperative we make the journey to the spot where he remains.
My Little Helper loves going to the beach. He lines up all the chairs in his room to create a garbage truck, has us get in the back of it or throws every.single.toy in his room into the big chair, and drives us down to the beach to have a picnic. I love his imagination! It was surprising then that after driving down to the beach and waking up in the beach house he didn't want to get dressed to go out onto the beach. "I don't want to go to the beach! I don't want to have fun!" he exclaimed. I have learned that 3 year olds are very fickle. But eventually we got him dressed and bundled up and out on the sand, which he of course loved. I wanted to take some nice family photos of my growing family since it was so sunny and nice. My problem is that even if I have everyone standing where I want them, zoom and set up the camera how I want it, and ask the photo taker to stand here, I never end up with the photos that I imagined in my head. This happened last year in Japan and San Gimignano; here part of my problem was you should never turn your back on the sea.
We had a nice, laid back weekend. Since we were there with my mom and sister, Mr. W and I even had a chance to go out for a walk on our own. We made a little trip into Cannon Beach and I was able to squeeze in an antique store on Hemlock St. One of the tables had some religious items on it and I found these holy candles which I knew had to come home with me. I haven't celebrated St. Jude's feast day yet so now I have some homework to do. After I unpacked the box of candles at home My Little Helper wanted to hold it and against my better judgment I let him. He promptly dropped the box on the floor and broke one of the candles. Sigh! I am constantly reminded of the Jeff Foxworthy routine and his line, "We just can't have nice things!"

Monday, March 28, 2011

Biting off more than we can chew

My friend Ms. Mc loves The Beatles, from the time we met in 6th grade she has always been a fan. She has a set of rag dolls wearing the Sgt. Pepper costumes and she has a tradition of placing her infants among the dolls, as the fifth Beatle so to speak, and taking a photo. Between us we have 5 sons. When this occurred to her last year she suggested that we dress the boys in Sgt. Pepper costumes for Hollowe'en. This year with her 12, 5 and 2 year old and my 4 year old we could have the whole band and my baby could be the 5th Beatle. Upon further reflection she decided that her oldest probably doesn't want to dress like the babies and would prefer something more scary.
After creating a duck costume for last Hollowe'en, I decided we could make Sgt. Pepper's costumes for the boys and add the embellishments ourselves. After perusing the internet to check on prices for professionally made Beatles costumes, and not finding any in children's sizes I realized that making them would be our only option. But I did come across this site which has incredible detail in recreating the Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band uniforms. I mean really tedious, specific detail. We certainly won't need to be searching for sources of pre-1965 London Fire Brigade buttons, but it will help us get the general look for each band member. On another site a poster recommended using the Simplicity pattern #2561 if adapting the costume for children.
With this information in hand Ms. Mc and I headed to Fabric Depot last week to start by buying the fabric. Yes, we have 6 months before October, but I'm a bit of a procrastinator and I'm already worried we may be biting off more than we can chew sewing 4 costumes for the boys. We were able to find satin fabric in all the neon colors we need and Ms. Mc was able to get a 40% off one item coupons for us. We have The Beatles divided up like this, her two boys will be Paul and George, My Little Helper will be John and the baby will be Ringo in hot pink.
Next step: prepping the fabric and cutting out the pattern pieces!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Sleep training

I love Dr. Ferber. I really, really love him. On Friday Baby Boy turned 3 months old. Time sure flies when you are sleep deprived! He is such a happy boy; we are very lucky that he is so easy going. But the nights were hard; not just the waking up frequently to nurse, but having him in our room and in our bed. I never wanted to co-sleep. I have lots of friends who had experiences with their children sleeping in their beds for a long time and I didn't want that for me. Don't get me wrong, bed sharing is fine if you practice safe bed sharing techniques, but I don't want anyone touching me when I sleep. Not even my babies. But I'm perfectly willing to do whatever is necessary those first few months during the newborn phase, when their little stomachs are too tiny to hold enough food to sleep through the night. But once they have hit that magic weight mark? I'm ready for them to be on their own. Not only will I sleep better, but they will too. Peaceful, uninterrupted sleep without delirious parents trying to figure out what their stirring means. Hungry again? Is his diaper wet? What?
So Friday night I began the Ferber sleep training method. With My Little Helper I actually did it at 2 1/2 months, which in hindsight seems a little early, but at the time everything was such a blur, I was so exhausted that I couldn't go any longer with him sleeping in our room/bed. Mr. W was tired too. I actually thought that when I finished nursing him and gave him back to Mr. W that he was placing him in the bassinet beside our bed. It turns out that most of the time he was letting the baby sleep on his chest so he wouldn't cry in the bassinet. So Mr. W's sleep wasn't very good quality either. The Ferber Method does several nights of checking in on your child while he learns to self sooth for progressively longer intervals of time. Each night it is supposed to get better, and eventually your child will fall asleep with out any crying. With My Little Helper it took 3 nights and on the fourth night he went to sleep on his own without a fuss. The first night with him was pretty hard on both of us though, it took over an hour of me checking in on him.
Baby Boy has been such a cake walk. The first night he didn't even fuss for 15 minutes after I put him in his crib. Then once he started crying and I began periodically visiting him it only took half an hour for him to fall asleep. Saturday night I only had to check on him twice before he fell asleep, and Sunday he stopped crying and fell asleep before I could go in check on him at 12 minutes. The next couple nights there has been a little fussing, but it never lasts long and tonight after I finished nursing him and put him down awake he looked up at me, turned and fell asleep. Sigh! Thank you, Dr. Ferber! It is so nice to be able to sleep in our room with total darkness! No light on in the closet so we can see what the baby is doing. And each night he has slept for 7-8 hours until he wakes up needing to nurse. That is the beauty of them sleeping on their own, he's not waking us up so we're not waking him up. When he really wakes up it is because he is ready to eat.
We have been keeping Our Little Helper up a little later so that the baby crying isn't keeping him up as well as preventing him from interfering with the baby learning to fall asleep. The first night his brother slept in his room with him there was a lot of acting out. He normally goes right to bed after his bedtime routine. But Friday he was out of bed running around and hollering. As I listened to him on the monitor it took all my will power to not barge in there and make him get in bed. If he woke the baby up I wasn't sure what I was going to do. But the baby stayed asleep and eventually his brother settled down and went to be too. Whew!
Now we just have to work on developing a combo bedtime routine so that they both go down at the same time. I also can't wait for this routine to include them bathing in the tub together. How cute will that be?!
Friday night I also learned my lesson with Stations of the Cross. I decided to take them out to dinner beforehand. In hindsight I realized that Stations at 6:30 and then dinner was pushing it. Going into church on a full stomach certainly helped My Little Helper. He was mostly quiet and well behaved playing in the pew. He didn't pester his brother at all. Now the only downside is that I'm not able to nurse the baby right before we go into church and we don't get to have dinner with Daddy. I'll keep working on it.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

St. Joseph's Day

From what I have gathered, St. Joseph's Day is sort of like an Italian Father's Day. It is only appropriate then that yesterday my father gave us the gift of rainbows. It was an unusually sunny day in the PNW and light was streaming in through the dining room window. My little helper started shouting, "There are rainbows in here!!!" The sun was hitting the bevels in the antique window from my dad. It made my son so happy to play with all the rainbows cast on the floor; and I said a specially little thank you to my dad, wishing that he could be here with us to enjoy his grandsons.
My little helper is very observant and has a good visual memory. He has lots of favorite statues around town. He likes to drive by the "Chinese gate with the two stone lions", the "Momma and baby elephant", the "Elk with the big red bow", and the "White St. Joseph." Heaven help me if there are no statues on our car ride! I thought it would be a nice idea to take an offering of flowers to the St. Joseph statue since it is in walking distance. The statue is in front of the old Mt. St. Joseph nursing home. One of my great grandmothers actually lived there for a while and I have memories of visiting her there when I was very young. I also remember the St. Joseph statue as a landmark on the way to another grandma's house.
I picked some of the Lenten roses in our garden and we picked up a few yellow, weedy blooms along the way. I put them in a paper cup weighted down with rocks. We had a nice little walk and bike ride over there. Although he was not keen on having to get off his bike at first, he was very happy once he started carrying the bouquet up the steps. Once we put the flowers up there we noticed the plaque on the back dedicating the statue in 1948.I tried out two new recipes from my Italian Holiday Cooking cookbook. The first was Poor Man's fava beans (Fave di povere). Several of the St. Joseph's day recipes in this book call for fava beans which leads me to believe that they must be in season in late winter/ early spring. However I have never been able to locate fresh or dried fava beans in Portland, and only a few store carry the canned variety. So I had to improvise this recipe a little using canned beans. It turned out pretty good, we enjoyed all the flavors and the combination of beans and greens. It really could have been the main, stand alone dish.The second recipe I tried was St. Joseph's pasta (pasta di San Giuseppe). I decided to try this in spite of the fact that I don't like anchovies. It's Lent so I can handle a little sacrifice. This dish was weird. It is definitely a peasant dish. Essentially pasta flavored with breadcrumbs and anchovy oil. It tastes like Lent. I don't think I'll be making this one again anytime soon.My St. Joseph's altar was much smaller this year because I just didn't have that much time. We still had a pretty table setting and a nice meal together.More great ideas for St. Joseph altars here:

Saturday, March 19, 2011

St. Patrick's Day

I think I finally have a St. Patrick's Day routine down now. I made Guinness stew with soda bread for dinner. The butcher gave me a hard time when I asked for stew meat and not corned beef. He made a face when I said I was making stew instead, it wasn't until I clarified that it was Guinness stew that he seemed to approve. New this year was cookie dough so I could use my large, shamrock cookie cutter.My Aunt T gave me a used Irish linen table cloth for my birthday. We don't normally exchange gifts, but she happened upon it at a church rummage sale. It is in great condition and has Celtic knotwork and shamrocks on it. I added a vintage handkerchief as a centerpiece and a bouquet of daffodils which always seem so St. Patty's to me. The weather has been odd though so I only had one sad daffodil in bloom. Odd especially since I bought a bunch of bulbs from the Wooden Shoe in the fall and Mr. W was kind enough to plant them for me in November. So I had to buy daffodils from the grocery store. So decadent! I also added a Longaberger shamrock basket and the Waterford crystal crucifixes. I didn't have the energy to set up the dining room table, so I wanted the kitchen setting to look especially nice.
I would like to return to the All Ireland Cultural Society's festival, but decided I wasn't up for nursing in public for half the day. I feel confident we can return next year.
My little helper wasn't in the best of behavior at dinner so he didn't get a cookie. I could tell that he wasn't going to make it so I kept the cookie dough chilled until Friday so that we could have a little St. Patrick's day tea. We used a smaller tea pot shaped cookie cutter to take advantage of all the dough. I ought to make cookies everyday based upon how well I can get a little boy to behave knowing cookies are in his future. I'm not above bribery!We had a nice little tea, me drinking from a tea cup my dad brought back from Ireland, and him drinking milk from his crazy glass with the green lid. Because green is his favorite color. I can't wait for the baby to be big enough to sit in his highchair and join us.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Stations of the Cross

In addition to giving something up for Lent, I am am going to do something good too. My mom doesn't give anything up, instead she goes to Stations of the Cross every week. I try to go at least once during Lent. This year I thought it would be good to go every Friday and then go out for dinner at the Hawthorne Fish House. I thought it could become a nice tradition.
Well, things didn't turn out quite as I had hoped. Attendance is very light at my church, usually only about 20 people or so and it lasts less than half an hour. The children could make it through that, right? I packed cars and trains and a coloring book. Plenty to keep him busy. But once we arrived he wanted nothing to do with any of those activities, instead he wanted to rip the baby's leg off. With all the up and down from the genuflecting and trying to shield the baby by switching arms constantly my patience ran out quickly. I drug them both back to the crying room thinking that this was my cross to bear. One of the women came back to help and make me feel better, which was nice. I am willing to try it again next week, but if he has the same behavior again, I'm going to ask Mr. W to come home early enough that I can go alone.
I had asked Mr. W to take the bus directly to the restaurant and get a table so that when we met him there we could order promptly. I felt bad because it took me longer to get there with the boys than I had anticipated. It did not go well. It is possible that I need to keep my son out of restaurants until he turns 4. I hope that is as magic a number as I have been told! I was hoping to make my way through the menu this season. I love their fish tacos, but decided to try the blackened salmon with sweet potato fries. It was very good even without tartar sauce for dipping. Since our dining experience was unpleasant with our cross companion I ordered a carrot cake to go. I wasn't impressed with the taste or the size. I suppose I really shouldn't be indulging in dessert during Lent anyway.

Thursday, March 10, 2011


Mr. W got a wide angle lens for his fancy pants camera. I decided to take more photos of all the work we have done on the house, especially since I'm now considering a move.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Fat Tuesday & Ash Wednesday

Mr. W doesn't like me to give things up for Lent when I am pregnant or nursing. When I was pregnant the first time he gave up alcohol so that I wouldn't feel the need to do something myself. I thought it was very sweet. This year I decided I'd give up cow's milk dairy; it's not as extreme as going vegan or even vegetarian. I'm looking at it as an experiment because Baby W spits up SO MUCH that I wonder if there is something in my diet that is negatively effecting him. It might be all the dairy I eat and drink. Even if there is no impact on him, no cheese is still a big sacrifice for me!
With winter sicknesses and her work schedule, it seems like it has been forever since I have seen Ms. Mc and we have gotten our boys together. Originally I was planning on making savory and sweet crepes again. Then it occurred to her that I wasn't pregnant anymore, we could go out for drinks to celebrate Mardi Gras. We could have a grown up night out! I could only be away from the baby for a few hours before I'd need to nurse again, but it would be something. Unfortunately she was unable to obtain a babysitter for the evening. Oh, well, another day with our children would be fun too.
We started out at Cafe Sip and Play in the 'Couve. They have a big play area there in which the children can roam for a small fee and the moms can watch from the cafe area. Our boys are at the age now where we can sort of let them be. It is a nice break. When her youngest M had had enough, My Little Helper wasn't ready to say goodbye to his friends. So instead she invited us over to her house for dinner.
She made a run for take out while I nursed and watched the boys. At some point I heard one of them pass some very loud gas. Then I noticed my son had a wet spot on his bottom. It was pretty small for it to be a pee stain and in the wrong spot. I realized he must have pooped his pants. I was filled with dread. He's never had an accident like that before so I don't pack spare clothes for him. This was not exactly the fun evening I had planned. When I took him into the bathroom to clean him up I discovered it was a shart, no solid material to remove, but his clothes would have to be washed. Immediately. Good thing we have all boys so borrowing clothes is no problem!
Because I hadn't planned on going to her house I also hadn't packed enough diapers. Her youngest had some smaller sized diapers, but they were swim diaps. I've learned from experience that these diapers are only designed for holding solid material in, NOT keeping urine in. What a difference a decade makes! In 2001 I was dancing on the bar at Bourbon Street, a bar on the Upper West Side of NYC. In 2011 I am fashioning a diaper out of a receiving blanket. I am definitely happy and grateful for where my life has taken me, but, wow, has it changed!
This morning we were up bright and early to go to Mass at 7:30 AM. I would never do this to myself, but Mr. W scheduled a meeting for us at noon which conflicts with the school Mass time. I made the mistake of telling my son what was going to happen as we walked up the ailse to get ashes. He didn't like the idea at all and started yelling, "I don't want it on my forehead!!" all the way up to the altar and back to our pew until I pretended to wipe it off him. Sigh! Fortunately there weren't many in attendance at the morning Mass.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Baby fists

Among the things that I love about infants are their little baby fists. Baby Boy keeps his hands balled up into tiny fists all the time. So much so that any dirt or dust that get in there is trapped. Any time I manage to pry his little fist open there is a ton of lint in there. The same thing happened with My Little Helper. Baby fists are just like bellybuttons. Every.single.day. Mr. W has lint in his bellybutton. He wears undershirts with dress shirts, not sweats, and yet he is constantly producing lint in there. I never get lint. Very odd. So as more baby fist is generated, I continue to remove it.
During his sixth week Baby Boy started smiling at us. Genuine, intentional baby smiles make all the hard work and sleeplessness worth it. My days are filled with baby smiles. The only thing better than a baby smile, is a baby smiling at his big brother. I feel so blessed!