Sweet Surrender

Today is Ash Wednesday. The Easter bunny will arrive in 46 days. ‘Tis the season for sacrifice.

Just about a decade ago (good grief did time go by quickly), G.G. and I decided to tackle Lent together. We gave up chocolate. The night before Easter, I stayed up until midnight – watching the seconds tick by until the moment I could maim my milk chocolate rabbit and devour his ears.

Last year, I didn’t give up anything. I figured I’d already given up enough to comply with pregnancy rules. And that which I had not voluntarily given up because of potential danger for my unborn children, my body spent the first trimester (including Lent) rejecting in a projectile fashion.

But this year, I felt that I should honor the vast amount of prayer lists the muppets and I spent months on. My boys are home and healthy, so in the grand scheme of the universe my Lenten sacrifice is not much to give up.

But just in case, I’m posting my promise publicly. Maybe that will make it easier to stick with it throughout the next 46 days.

This season, I decided to relinquish my desserts and junk food.

Perhaps it will make me more zen-like and serene. Perhaps it will result in a number of “oh my God, I need chocolate in the way the muppets needed air!” posts. Either way, I’m pretty sure you’ll be able to find me at an Easter vigil mass, staring down the clock, with See’s assorted chocolates stashed in my Easter bonnet.

And in case it wasn’t clear, back slowly away from my rabbit ears…

 

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Bertie Bots Every Flavor Baby Food

It’s official. The muppets like food.

That’s a good thing, considering our days pretty much revolve around it. Since they were wee little two-pound tots living in a plastic box, we’ve focused on food. The first few NICU days focused on whetting their appetites as doctors dripped 2mL (a single ounce is 30mL) into their pea-size tummies.

Then our nurses informed us that one of the first big challenges we’d face was determining how well the muppets would be able to handle processing food. Typically at 27 weeks, tykes prefer to just use the easier umbilical cord route – intestinal digestion requires an awful lot of unnecessary calorie burning. As we’d so traumatically (and literally) cut off that option days before, the neonatologist on call blithely warned us that NEC is a not uncommon preemie issue. (NEC, or necrotizing enterocolitis, is when the intestines die – often taking the attached baby with them.)

Caden and Logan didn’t get NEC. They progressively tolerated higher and higher amounts of milk – never experiencing the step backward we were constantly warned about. Then we learned how to drink from a bottle. Granted, drinking from the bottle wasn’t so much the issue as breathing in conjunction with said bottle. That took a bit of practice, but by discharge Logan had earned himself the nickname “Alarm Clock” for his high pitched screams should any nurse (or delinquent parent) be late with an every-three-hour feeding.

These past few days, both of my little men have been inhaling their big-boy solid foods. Breakfast consists of oatmeal (also a fabulous facial and hair care enhancer, a factoid the muppets wholeheartedly embrace). Then after nap time, the vegetable of the week is served as lunch. Carrots were our first endeavor; today we graduated to peas.

The carrots were a bright orange mush, but otherwise smelled like carrots. The peas are, well, pea green. Add in the gruel-like consistency, and they rather resembled something I’d expect to see extruding from the opposite end of my children. (In fact, I’m not sure I haven’t…)

Jon and I wrinkled our noses in disgust as soon as each 1.5 ounce jar. “Oh, they are not going to like these,” we agreed.

Turns out, they’re currently into food. Although we had a similar cause for concern when the foreign flavor crossed their lips, the moment quickly passed and the green goop was quickly gobbled up. Thankfully, this stuff doesn’t stain. “No doctor, they’re not feeling ill at all. Just a pea-bit fashion statement…” However, I cannot yet vouch for pea spit-up. I assume an uninformed spectator will very quickly be on the phone with an exorcist while keeping a keen eye to see if either muppet noggin begins revolving in 360 degree rotations.

Their love of food is showing. Especially on Logan. Jon and I decided to venture forth for a family breakfast this morning. After settling into a booth for four – muppets remain in their carseats – our waitress arrived to coo at our darling children (and allegedly take our order).

“Twins?” she exclaimed. I smiled and nodded. “A boy and a girl?” she smiled at us. No, two boys I assured her.  She was not phased by the correction and plunged right ahead with the interrogation. “Are you breast feeding?” I am not, but I would like some chocolate pancakes.

“Oh that’s good,” she sighed with relief. “I was thinking your little girl here was taking all the milk!” she laughed at Logan. So what I hear you saying is that my son looks like a girl and is fat?

Jon has repeatedly suggested that perhaps Logan’s eyelashes, with their perpetual appearance of heavy mascara, cause people to assume femininity. I disagree. Everyone knows ALL the muppets have big round eyes and long luxurious lashes.

More Carrots and Peas, Please

The carrots have been defeated.

Today was Day 2 of the solid food trials. Caden opened his mouth wide and stuck his tongue straight out. “I’m waiting, Mom…” Apparently, the taste is still a bit new – it took him by surprise and yesterday’s extraordinarily concerned facial expression returned. After the wrinkled nose subsided, he swallowed, eyed me suspiciously, and opened wide again.

In honor of yesterday’s fallen bib brethren (we’re on laundry load three), we experimented with plastic big boy bibs today. The washing instructions on those directed me to simply hose them down after the battle (I paraphrase).

Logan decided he wasn’t into eating carrots today. He requested a pass this afternoon, despite Dad’s repeated pleas. Rather, he was fascinated by his new bib and chose to chew on that instead. Caden took this distraction as an opportunity to knock the jar out of my hands.

Carrots aplenty!

While I futilely attempted to scoop up the vegetable bounty, Caden took the queue from his brother that the new bib may be delicious. Shortly thereafter, there were no carrot remnants left on his bib. He was a proud baby boy.

He took one last big bite, and sneezed. My little muppet shares!

Two washclothes, laundry load four running, and a brand new outfit later and we’re ready to take on tomorrow. Oatmeal breakfast (raspberries supplied by muppets) and carrots for lunch.

“Oompa Loompa Doompadee Dee
If you eat carrots you’ll grow big and see
But orange may be your color too
Like the Oompa
Oompa Loompa doompadee do”

Carrots and Peas, Please

Remember word problems? Solve for X:
The baby food vegetable variety pack includes 12 jars comprising 4 flavors. Each new flavor is introduced once a week. If Jon and Tricia have two babies, how many variety packs will they need to order so they have enough for each muppet can enjoy one flavor each week?

The muppets are eight months old today (actual); to celebrate, we awoke and trooped off to a morning doctor appointment. The boys continue their determined path to put their preemie days far behind them. Both are officially on the growth chart for their chronological age. More importantly, they are both maintaining a studly positively upward trajectory on their individual charts. My sons are obviously brilliant.

Caden Welker: 8 Months
15.5 lbs (2nd percentile for weight, 65th percentile weight for length)
25 inches (0.3 percentile for length – but double the 12 inches at birth)

Logan Anthony: 8 Months
17.5 lbs (16th percentile for weight, 95th percentile weight for length)
25 inches (0.3 percentile for length – but double the 12 inches at birth)

With two chubby growing boys at home, we continue trying solids. To build upon our math equation, eight months actual equates to five months adjusted. After tots decide their little tummies will tolerate infant cereals, “First Foods” are recommended for babes 4-6 months old – single ingredient pureed fruits and vegetables.

The idea to begin with vegetables comes highly suggested. Fruits are sweeter and kids may not want to go back to vegetables after eating pureed bananas that taste suspiciously like the filling in banana cream pie. So the menu options for this evening read: carrots, peas, squash or sweet potato. (Really only the first two, since the store was out of the latter two.) We decided on carrots.

The muppets were strapped into their highchairs, their bibs were read last rites, and we popped the little orange jar. (Interestingly, it smelled just like carrots – tasted rather bland, but Jon and I got the general carrot gist.) Caden and Logan are both used to the dinner-time drill. They expressed complete apathy toward rice cereal months ago, preferring to chew contentedly on the soft-tipped spoon, and have been enjoying oatmeal for several weeks. Jon scooped a small amount of orangey vegetable goodness and aimed for Caden’s mouth. Our little muppet opened wide and gulped down his first bite.

His face twisted in horrified concern, his little lips puckering and his tiny nose wrinkling. His eyes squinted in a combined glare and impending wail. He shrank backwards into his chair and tilted sideways as his 17.5 inch circumference mind raced feverishly. Words could not have more clearly expressed the thought, “Dad…there is something very wrong with my oatmeal!”

Logan’s response was strikingly similar, with the added effect of our more vocal child opening his carrot-filled mouth to explain, “Ablwaa.” The orange revolution had begun.

Both muppets decided to give this strange concoction a second try. And on the third or fourth bite, they both decided these “carrots” were good stuff. There were several successful big boy bites. (Of course, there were also several none-to-successful any size bites.) They finished the first jar, which we’d split between the two of them, and looked at us expectantly as they sat patiently in their high chairs. Ten minutes later, they’d polished off the second jar.

After dinner, we went straight to the bath. We did not pass Go. The boys shed their previously blue outfits. (I was going to type something here about what color the outfit was now, but there was no blending of colors. Orange won.) I then realized we were bathing Oompa Loompas. The boys had the distinct color of a bad spray tan. And it wasn’t coming off…

I’ve heard you can turn orange if you eat too many carrots. (I’ve also heard flamingos are pink because they eat shrimp and only polar bears that live in the snow are white.) The muppets apparently tried to fast-track this anomaly by simply staining their skin. I’m hoping the coloring won’t get worse as we continue to eat carrots for a full week. And given their raspberry-blowing abilities, I’m hoping my coloring won’t be terribly afflicted.

Next week we start peas. So if the muppets look a little green around the gills, no need to worry – it’s probably just pureed vegetables.

For those of you still pondering the opening question – the answer is 5.

In Which She Burns the Chicken

Any story that begins “It seemed like a good idea at the time…” usually isn’t going to result in a tale that has gone exactly according to plan.

I was feeling daring this evening. Jon said he’d just pick up something quick from the store for dinner. But no, I wanted to make chicken piccata. I found a recipe and laid out all my ingredients neatly across the counter. The garlic and olive oil began sizzling in the skillet and the kitchen filled with delicious scents of a culinary master. I had mouth-watering visions of the Cheesecake Factory dish – buttery angel hair pasta mixed in a lemon caper sauce coating thinly cut, melt-in-your-mouth, pan-seared chicken medallions. It seemed like such a good idea…

Then the fire alarm went off.

Jon put the muppets to bed while I pulled the dish from piles of parsley and caper ash and scraped charcoal off the chicken pieces. We sat down to eat and began sawing away at the meat before gnawing on the dry chicken for a bit. Swallow. The pasta was sticky and bland. Jon tried to make the best of it. “Well, I can tell that under better circumstances this could have potential.” This is what I get for trying to be domestic.

Yesterday, one of our little friends posted a story about an unfortunate blueberry experience. In an effort to avoid blowout inducing oatmeal, her mother thought a homemade banana/blueberry baby puree smoothie seemed like such a good idea… A bad blend of the blueberries led to a very cranky little one and a significant amount of arfing. This was followed by Pedialyte to sooth her upset tummy. (With both the berries and beverage being a lovely purplish stain tint when it is regurgitated back up onto a parent’s clothing and furniture.)

So far, the muppets have had meals of milk and the occasional bowl of rice cereal (mixed with milk). These recent (less than) successful mealtime experiments made me realize that I have absolutely no idea what I’m doing when it comes to establishing a timeline of solid food introduction for the boys.

Earlier this week, Caden and Logan ate their rice cereal like it was the most amazing thing in the world. They absolutely inhaled it. Logan would open his eyes and mouth wide as soon as you brought the spoon back up from the bowl. Caden was giggling hysterically; then he figured out how to blow raspberries once successfully taking in a full bite of cereal.

What foods did your kids like best? When did you start introducing what? What the heck am I supposed to be doing?

So far, I’ve learned:

  • Don’t attempt to prepare homemade baby food. I’m not that talented.
  • Bad blueberries are a bad idea – both for babies and everything within their projectile puking range.
  • Duck and cover when Caden has a mouthful of rice cereal.
  • If I think, “This seems like a good idea,” it is most likely decidedly not.