Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Big boy beds

This is a countdown to the end of my sanity. Part one: Big Boy Bed Transitioning
I took of the railing off one side of their cribs and installed a safety railing.
Kind words, stern words and pacifier threatening will not keep them in their beds. It might be a good thing to quit binkies cold-turkey since this is already hard...
Jake is wandering around and Sam is crying.
I'm off to research tips. Shout some out if you have twin secrets on this transition.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Yummy Southwest Breakfast Burrito (under 500 Cal's)

Your family is bound to love this treat! It's relatively fast to make and it is WAY tastier (and heartier) than running through Mc-D's and getting a tiny one for nearly the same amount of calories. It packs a punch because you get the protein from the eggs, filling carbs from the potatoes and tortillas and nutrients from the veggies; especially the avocados, the wonder fruit.

Serves 4-5

Under 500 calories.
>>>You can make it even healthier by using whole wheat tortillas, low fat butter and low-fat cheese.<<<

4 or 5 medium large tortillas (whole wheat preferably for heartiness, but I used white)
4 or 5 palmfuls of (low-fat) sharp cheddar cheese, shredded (1 palmful per burrito)
1'' slice of onion, chopped finely
1/4 green bell pepper, chopped finely
3 small Idaho potatoes, chopped finely
1 TBS butter
About 2 TBS canola oil
5 Eggs, beaten
Splash of milk
1 Avocado (1/4 cubed avocado per burrito)
A few shakes of garlic powder
Salt & pepper to taste

In a small skillet, melt the butter and oil. Add the finely chopped onion, peppers and potatoes, garlic powder, salt and pepper and cook until all the way done.  In a small bowl, beat the 5 eggs together, add a splash of milk and salt/pepper to taste. Turn down the heat to low in the skillet and add the eggs. Cook until it becomes a little solid on the sides and mix. Cook eggs as you would for regular scrambled eggs. Once done, turn off the heat, place the cheese in the middle of the tortilla, running along as a thick cheesy row, add the scrambled egg mixture and top with avocado cubes. Fold in two ends and wrap as a burrito.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Gourmet Snack: Cucumber & Chicken Poppers

Here's a quick and easy snack that is not only guilt-free but tastey!

Cucumber & Chicken poppers

A 1.5-2'' cucumber slice yields two poppers. Double or triple recipe for more popper bites!

Light Cream Cheese
Roughly 2 inches of a peeled & cored cucumber slice
Two thin slices of cucumber using a potato peeler
Several bits of shredded canned chicken--guess who's making chicken salad tomorrow?
A few bits of shredded carrots
A few bits of finely, finely chopped broccoli (use a food chopper)

Cut about 2'' off a peeled cucumber. Cut it in half down the middle so that it later forms a crescent moon shape. Scoop out the seeds. Using the potato peeler, thinly peel some unused cucumber (to be used to act as a "cup" for the rest of the ingredients). This isn't really necessary, but it makes it look gourmet and cute. Spread cream cheese onto the thin slice of cucumber and pile the rest of the ingredients into it. Place it carefully into the cucumber. Sprinkle a couple extra broccoli bits on to to garnish.

Eat your veggies! pt. 3: "Three Little Bears" Finger Sandwiches

Well, it's been several days since the Dino sandwiches, so I felt it was time to experiment with a bear cookie cutter and a couple of different veggies. Watch out, Goldie Locks may come into your home and snatch these up because they are "just right."
Three Little Bears Finger Sandwiches
Hey, how about reading the three little pigs story while they much away!

White or (preferably) whole wheat bread (1 slice renders 1 shape).
Light cream cheese
2 broccoli florets, chopped to tiny bits (use a food chopper)
Shredded carrots (about several baby carrot's worth)
Shredded cheese (about a palmful)
Several Julienned slices of tomato

Cut out your bear shapes. Spread the cream cheese all across the bread. Don't go too skimpy on the cheese...this is the glue that holds the veggies together on the bread, and what gets the kid(s) to love eating the sandwich in the first place. Spread a layer of broccoli on top of the cream cheese for the shirt, and then do a layer of broccoli where the pants should be. Gently spread the shredded cheese over the face. Place a julienned tomato for the belt between the carrots and broccoli. For the mouth, use one carrot shred. For the eyes, use two of the larger pieces of broccoli bits.

It's not going to be shot in a magazine, so don't worry about perfection and just have fun! Maybe let the kids "color" the sandwich themselves!

Did it pass the twin test? Let's find out!
Jake thinking: what's that, mommy?

Ooo...cream cheese! That's the hook & bait!

Sam just grabbed it and plunged in...

And devoured.

Yup, it was a complete mess, but a few bread bits was all that survived!
 What did mommy have?
 The older crowd who'd rather not have animal shapes can have little finger sandwiches. Just cover the bread as you please and cut into 4 squares.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Slow Cooker Beef Stew

An idea of a warm supper meal fit for the coldest of winter days: Slow Cooker Beef Stew! I believe these are all of the ingredients I used:

1-1.5 pounds of stew meat (try to get it lean), chopped into large bite-size pieces
4 or 5 red potatoes, diced
4 or 5 celery stalks, cut into large slices
a small bag of baby carrots, cut into halves
2 or 3 cloves of garlic
1 yellow onion, cut into chunky slices or wedges
2 bay leaves
3 cups of water
salt & pepper to taste
A few splashes of Worcestershire Sauce
several good shakes of paprika (for coloring)
A few tbs of flour (to thicken the stew)
You can also add some green beens, though I didn't think to add it at the time
(add even more veggie nutrition: finely, finely chop 1/4-1/2 of a bell pepper leftover from fridge)

Sprinkle the stew beef with salt & pepper and enough flour to coat it entirely. Sprinkle some extra pepper into the water. Throw all ingredients into a slow-cooker, except the potatoes and set on low for 8-9 hours. Add the potatoes after a 3-4 hours into the cooking process. Take out the bay leaf. If the soup liquid is too thin for your liking, add a little corn starch in a few tbs of water and mix into the soup while it is boiling. Serve with crusty french bread.

Serving it to toddlers ages 2-3 : strain the stew so there's barely liquid in the bowl, if they are not as equipped in using a spoon without your help. Let it cool off!! Chop up the veggies/meat so they are more manageable to eat. Otherwise, leave the broth if you plan on spoon-feeding.

Eat your veggies: pt 2 (Dinosaur Finger Sandwiches)

Really, you can make what ever shapes you'd like, but my twins are boys and that's what I had on hand that wasn't Christmassy. This is a great way to sprinkle on a little nutrition while making it playful and colorful. Find a cookie cutter in a shape that your kid adores to make it more meaningful to them. It's best to find ones that are easier to recognize. Like bears. Mine were pretty much incognito by the time I was done decorating. If they like a particular veggie, make that the top layer. I used a food chopper to make my life more simple. The smaller the pieces, the better.

White or (preferably) whole wheat bread (1 slice renders about 3 small shapes). Save the remains for bread crumbs if you feel badly about wasting it.
Light cream cheese
2 broccoli florets
A few slices of your choice color of bell pepper
Several cucumber slices

Cut out your animal shapes. Spread the cream cheese all across the bread. Don't go too skimpy on the cheese...this is the glue that holds the veggies together on the bread, and what gets the kid(s) to love eating the sandwich in the first place. Finely chop the veggies as small as possible. Spread a layer of broccoli on top of the cream cheese, and then do a layer of bell pepper. You can place the veggies in a manner that makes sense color-wise with your shape, like frosting and sprinkles on a sugar cookie. Place your cucumbers last on the sandwich.

Did it pass the kid test?

YUP! That one little sandwich on the plate was all that survived! I'm telling you, kids LOVE cream cheese!

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Eat your veggies: pt 1 (Scrambled Veggie Omlette)

This year, my resolution is to get fit and feed my boys even more fruits and veggies than ever!

Here's how we kicked off the morning: Scrambled Veggie Omlette!

Here's what I did: makes 4 servings
Finely chop an assortment of veggies, a small clove of garlic and about an inch of an onion slice (whatever is in your fridge).

I love using my Kitchen Aid chopper because it's so quick and easy! I'm sure other brands make the same type of thing. Try to get your hands on something similar if you need to finely chop things to sneak veggies into your meals!

Slow cook the veggies in a little bit of butter until tender. Beat 5 eggs, add a splash of milk and some shredded cheese, and add to the veggies mixture in the small skillet. Obviously, if you'd like this more heart-healthy, you can add egg whites and skip the cheese. My boys and I love cheesy "scrambies" though.

 Hint for moist and Delicious eggs: cook low & slow! Don't overcook the eggs.

Make sure you chop up extra of everything before you clean up. Store them in little serving containers and freeze them. You can whip up these gourmet scrambies in no time flat and impress your crowd!

Edible Playdough Recipe

This recipe yields a large dough, about 1 full medium sized mason jar.
It does need to be said that this recipe is for "playing with" and not for "eating," although it is edible. Just look at how much salt it calls for.

1 cup all-purpose flour + extra for kneading
1/2 cup salt
1 cup water
1-2 TBS canola/vegetable oil
2 tsp cream of tarter
Food coloring drops

Mix the dry and wet ingredients separately and then combine. Microwave on high for 1 minute, then stir well. Microwave for an additional minute, and stir again. Microwave yet 1 more minute, stir and then take out of the microwave. Knead the dough well, using extra flour for the table top and for kneading into the dough to form a ball that isn't too sticky. Store in an air-tight container (I used a mason jar). This should last several weeks.

What a ride! (The story of how it began.)

This is a story of a starter family. One were nothing seemed to be "typical." At least when it comes to the stereotypical "birth" and "welcome home baby" and all of the supposed development milestones. But I guess all families of multiples can say as such. You throw out the baby book and it's timelines and expectations...and learn each day for yourself.

Sound like venting yet? Just wait. Take 2 years of getting bare minimum sleep (and disrupted REM sleep) and add constant craziness of being a stay-at-home-mom throughout the day, and you'll start sounding like me. You're lucky I don't have a twitch. ;)

My husband and I married young, at around 24, and got pregnant (naturally) half a year later. We soon found out that we were going to have twin boys! as surprising as that sounds to most people, we half expected the possibility because my grandmother was a twin herself. The babies were born one month after moving into our first house together.

The ultrasound technician always mentioned toward the latter half of the pregnancy that Sam's femur was shorter than his brother's (and I mostly didn't worry because they were fraternal).

By 31 weeks, I was getting Braxton Hicks. Every 15 minutes. That was so uncomfortable, especially at night! I would barely breath. 

32 weeks in, My obgyn found out that I was 2cm dilated and was worried about preterm labor. She set me up to have another NST and a doctor check-up 2 days later, when I would showed signs of contractions every 8 minutes.  At that point, I was admitted into the Labor Center to stop the contractions, and I spent the day receiving shots and steroids to help the boys' lungs develop faster just in case I was to deliver anyways.

At the level II ultrasound while 33 weeks pregnant, the doctors found that Sam was around 2 pounds and 11 oz and Jake was 3 pounds 15 oz and that Sam's placenta was starting to actually revert in blood-supplying performance. The doctor says that because he didn't really gain anything all week and the Doppler showed a weaker supply than his brother, it was possible that keeping him in there longer just for the sake of maturation could actually cause more problems (and possibly death) if kept in there long enough. He recommended a C-section THAT NIGHT or the next day. They would be delivered 6 weeks early.

Still in shock, we waited for my regular obgyn to give me a call that she had the same opinion of an early delivery as the ultrasound doctor. Freaking out (and I mean FREAKING OUT), we got our affairs in order that evening and Thursday 10/28, I was C-sectioned at 8am. Talk about modesty going out the window! I had a whole team of people there to greet and whisk away the little ones.
jake and sam
Both born at the end of October in the morning, little Samuel (2Ibs 13oz) and Jacob (4Ibs 1 oz)!

I did not get to see the boys until later that night, which greatly saddened me (and still does). I wouldn't even get to hold them until a week later.

Baby Sam, even though a pound smaller, breathed well on his own and immediately went into an incubator, while his brother Jake was on a breathing machine with oxygen for many days in the NICU. My husband's company actually invented that breathing mask. We always joke that little Sam must have stolen all of the steroids the week before birth because his bigger brother starved him in the womb. It hurt to see the many wires, IV's and oxygen or feeding tubes running into the little guys. I ached that I wouldn't get that opportunity to just hold them after birth and bond with them.I had no idea what Jake looked like behind that mask until when he was well enough to have just the small oxygen tube.

Sam came home just in time for Thanksgiving. He only stayed a month in the NICU, while his brother kept having breathing episodes and would be forced to stay another 5 days...multiple times. He finally came home after 1.5 months, just in time for my December birthday.

Would you believe me if I told you that Sam came home from the hospital a whopping 4 pounds and only drank 40cc? 
Sam, home at last for Thanksgiving.

Jake, still in the NICU.

Jake came home with an apnea monitor, and did fine overeall, whereas Sam developed severe acid sever that he would suffocate through his nose and mouth! The first time that happened, I woke up in the middle of the night and saw that horrible, horrible sight of him refluxing like that and I panicked. I was alone at the time (my husband was out of town) and I ran downstairs with him and pulled out the suction bulb the hospital sent me home with, which saved his life. I don't know if he would be around today if it weren't for that little piece of plastic. He would continue to do this at random hours to the point that my husband and I stayed up around the clock until we could get him on a machine as well. We didn't sleep more than 3 hours then. There is nothing like catching a baby in the state in the middle of the night, by chance. Or perhaps by an act of God. It's one of the scariest feelings in the world knowing that you have no control and don't know when it will strike again.
That pacifier is half the size of his face!
Oh the cords, oh the cords!! They eventually were both on those machines. What a tangle-y mess and alarms going off and waking up what little sleep they had. Picture going anywhere with twins. With baby carriers. With apnea machines. With a diaper bag! You can imagine that we didn't get out for months! Plus, they would only sleep 15 minutes at a time! They slept in those Fisher Price rockers until 6 months of life!

Sam outgrew his reflux after 7 months, which seemed like eternity!  If you were curious as to what Colic really's mostly likely Acid Reflux. So I had a crabby and suffering baby for 7 months, as well as another baby to care for while feeling guilty that the attention wasn't spent evenly. Well, now look who craves attention?

The boys started walking at 12 months old, and Jake started climbing at 12 months old. Funny, but not. Really not. REALLY, REALLY not funny at this house. It's that constant climbing of anything and everything despite talking calmly to him, time-outs and whatever you can throw at him. He still does it at 26 months. Anything and everything. It's very, very hard to deal with. He learned to climb out of his crib around 16 months and is one of those "strong-willed" kids that will not listen and will not stay in their cribs with training. We baby-gated the crap out of our house because of this. I've been staying in their rooms since then, until Jake falls asleep. Sam will eventually go to sleep on his own.  I've thrown out that baby book long ago about what to expect and how long it takes to train them on sleeping and such things.They said it could take a week. COUGH, you mean a year or more??

Speaking of sleep. What is sleep? Really. I hate hearing those moms who complain about their kids waking up once or twice. Or that it took them a WHOLE MONTH to train them to sleep all through the night. My kids would wake up constantly. Jake would get to the point where he would wake up once an hour when he was around 12 months old and even 18 months. At one point around 12 months, they would scream bloody murder when it was time to put them in the crib, as if they were terrified of it. Jake would cry at me trying to sooth him to sleep with a lullaby (and I'm a singer). That was painful. They still go through cycles. They will eventually get to the point where they sleep 2 days through the night (but I've learned by now that it is the calm before the storm), and then wake up twice a night and vary night to night until they finally (finally!) get back to that 2-3 nights of sleeping all the way through. Just to spite you.

But they are cuties, and they have completely different personalities and a great sense of humor. Jake is already starting to say alphabet letters and they know all of their body parts and about 5 colors. They may be behind in speech, but they are spart in any ways. Sam will organize and Jake will reprogram your DVD-R so that the caption is off (I couldn't figure that out!) or unlock your 4 digit code on your phone (this happened twice...two separate phones!).  I swear, this little boy is a techie junky and will be some sort of hacker. They both learned how to say "remote," (or "mote")"TV" "DVD," "CD" "phone" by 20 months.

FLASH FORWARD: The boys are now healthy 2 years olds who throws their 2-year old tantrums and live to drive mommy insane (of course), and that is where I will start this blog journey. This is my documentation of our family, our crazy life and our goal to live healthy and happy lives. Hop on board! Just make sure you're strapped in.