6 Months Old!

Hard to believe Norah and Naomi are closer to one than zero now! The doctor seemed positive about the babies’ stats during our appointment. She also gave us the go ahead to swim, run, and try solid foods! I was surprised that the babies didn’t weigh more. Naomi was 12 pounds 9 ounces (3rd percentile), 26.5 inches tall (78th percentile), and had a head circumference of 16 inches (7th percentile). Norah was 12 pounds 7 ounces (2nd percentile), 26.25 inches tall (70th percentile), and had a head circumference of 16 inches (7th percentile).

Earlier in the day, the girls got their ears pierced, so that I don’t have to keep painting Norah’s fingernails to tell them apart! Derek and I discussed this quite a bit, to make sure we were both okay with the decision. While it’s no worse than a shot, it is considered a procedure – so not a decision to make lightly. We have heard infant ear piercing can result in crappy looking piercings later because babies move around and have small ear lobes (the doctor said this is why they wait until 6 months to pierce). We also faced the challenge of actually finding a pediatrician that would do it. We did find a practice about 20 minutes away, and they were great. Norah and Naomi handled it like champions, only briefly crying. And now they look even more dazzling. We were surprised that they haven’t seemed to care about their new fancy earrings. It doesn’t bother them when I clean the earrings, and we haven’t had problems with the girls trying to pull at their new jewelry.

Norah & Naomi currently enjoy chewing on everything including our chins, noses, shoulders, etc. They like sticking out their tongues, playing with/eating their feet, standing and being airplanes (like always!). The girls have begun exploring our faces with their hands. They enjoy textures and scratching pillows, running their fingers through my hair and daddy’s beard, and smiling at everyone who talks to them. Our little ones are definitely growing and changing, as they can now make screeching noises, blow bubbles, and listen intently to us talk.

Naomi has begun army crawling much to my chagrin, as I was enjoying being able to leave them on their activity mat while I cooked, washed dishes, took a shower, etc. She has also just realized that she can cross her fingers. To add to the craziness of ear piercing and shots, Naomi also cut her bottom right tooth and the bottom left seems to be about the break through as well! What a 24 hours!

Norah the thumbsucker has adorably begun holding on to some fabric – her burp cloth, her sleeve, her bib, etc. – while sucking her thumb. She has some awesome sticking up hair and enjoys sucking on her bottom lip.

Now that we have told my employer, we can share our exciting news – we are spending 3 months in Brasil! We hope. Derek was selected to do a 3 month rotation in São Paulo, Brasil. After much research and discussion on health, safety, and costs, we decided the babies and I will join him for 2.5 months. While this is an amazing opportunity, it is not cheap or easy. We needed to figure out dog and cat care, buy tickets for me and the babies, figure out the costs of our housing situation in Brasil, get the girls passports, and get everyone visas. Getting baby passport pictures went better than I had feared and really their pictures look completely interchangeable. However, the visa process has been quite stressful, and we are still not 100% sure that we will get visas. The process requires many notarized documents, in person document delivery, and a hefty fee. We have heard that the process is difficult because they require Americans to do everything a Brasilian would have to do if they wanted to visit the U.S. Nonetheless, we are hopeful everything will work out and excited for this opportunity!

thumb_IMG_5311_1024

Biscuits & Gravy

Prep & Cook Time: 60 minutes

Feeds: 6-8 people

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb boneless, skinless, chicken breasts
  • 2 c butter
  • 6 T flour
  • 4 c milk
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • 1 package spicy breakfast sausage
  • 1 habanero/serrano
  • 1 can buttermilk biscuits
Cover chicken with water in saucepan; bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cook for 20 minutes, drain, cool, and shred. Set aside. Cook spicy sausage. Drain and set aside. Saute butter and habanero/serrano in a large saucepan; cook pepper until tender. Add flour, whisking until creamy. Add milk, salt and pepper; heat to thicken, stirring constantly. Combine chicken and sausage with mixture; heat through. Bake biscuits as directed. Serve chicken and gravy over hot biscuits.

5 Months Old!

I feel like there have been a lot of big changes this past month! Norah and Naomi like to help hold their bottles, and sometimes they are able to feed themselves for a short period of time. They started using a size 2 nipple, as the pediatrician suggested, and it has definitely helped speed up their eating time. The doctor said it should take them about 15-20 minutes to finish a bottle. While we are usually not that quick, I appreciate going from 30-40 minutes to 20-25 minutes. However, with the change to a bigger bottle nipple, they have been less interested in breastfeeding. It is bittersweet because breastfeeding was a struggle and I wanted to make it at least 6 months, but I also still hate how it schedules my life and often causes frustration both me and the babies.

thumb_img_5124_1024
Naomi

After Christmas, Norah and Naomi moved from newborn to size 1 diapers. Most babies do not wear newborn diapers for over 4 months! We tried to move them sooner, as they were over 10 pounds, but their skinny little thighs just didn’t work with the larger diaper. We went through a phase where they wore size 1 diapers over newborn diapers at night because after 8-10 hours the newborn diapers would leak out the back. We are thankful to finally be in the cheaper diaper size and using a whole lot less of them!

At a whopping 13 pounds and 25 inches, they are now wearing size 3-6 month onesies and pjs, and we are finally out of 0-3 month pants! I am especially happy about the new pants size, as 0-3 months fit in the waist but were capris (thank you 15th percentile for weight and 52nd for height).

The girls are now becoming more mobile – pulling themselves forward by grabbing onto the edge of the activity mat, mattress, crib slats, the other baby, etc. They have also realized that they can express their dislikes through sounds besides crying. I love that they can recognize their sister and will smile and talk to each other and baby in the mirror.

I started a part time nanny job (3-4 days a week for a total of 21-28 hours). The little boy is a week and a half older than the girls, so I am learning what a triplet mom feels like! Norah and Naomi realized mommy was a little stressed about this new job, so they decided to start sleeping through the night the weekend before the new job started. While we think our babies are pretty awesome and have good temperaments, we also attribute it to Babywise and Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Baby. We used a combination of the philosophies to foster positive sleep habits within a sleep schedule without sleep props. We have tried to “start as you mean to go.” Every day is a part of the process, and we are constantly tweaking our schedule to figure out what is best for our babies. We started the month with 90 minutes of of wake time, and we have now moved to 2 hours. Sometimes I feel like I get the schedule right because they wake up from a 2 hour nap or sleeping through the night and just happily lay in their cribs talking until I get them! Derek has thoroughly enjoyed the babies longer wake time and budding personalities! He has been a trooper because he has put up with the fact that due to our new schedule, the little ones sometimes go to bed before he gets home.

thumb_img_5218_1024
Naomi the jelly bean butt

4 Months Old!

So I am little late on this post, as Norah & Naomi turned 4 months about 2 weeks ago, but better late than never!

Derek was able to go to the 4 month doctor appointment with us. Our doctor was happy with the girls’ weight gains. Norah was 10 pounds 7 ounces, and Naomi was 10 pounds 8 ounces. This puts them in the 3rd percentile. They both were also in the 3rd percentile for head size. Naomi was 24.5 inches tall, a quarter of an inch taller than Norah. Thus, Naomi is in the 50th percentile for height, and Norah is in the 40th. We talked to our pediatrician about length of time it takes to feed the girls – 10 minutes of breastfeeding and then 30-40 minutes of bottle feeding. The pediatrician took a look at their mouths to make sure she didn’t suspect tongue or lip ties. She said that it appears they have high arches on their upper palates, but she didn’t think that should be causing their issues. At the doctor’s recommendation, we decided to go up to the size 2 bottle nipple. This may have been something we should have done earlier, as their spit up formula is thick, but I was concerned that a faster flow bottle would negatively impact breastfeeding. Because of our eating concerns, the doctor recommend that we wait on solids until Naomi and Norah can sit up better, and we figure out what is causing their feeding issue. Finally, our doctor heard a flow murmur in Naomi’s heart. She didn’t seem very concerned, said it was something to monitor, and thinner babies tend to have them. Michelle found out from her mom that Michelle also had a murmur as an infant.

As the girls started rolling, we had to drop the swaddle. We had tried to stop swaddling at 12 weeks because around 3-4 months the startle reflex isn’t as much of an issue, but it was a disaster, as they hadn’t yet figured out how to self-soothe. I found Norah on her belly twice in one night at 14 weeks – the week before we left for Cincinnati. We decided to do one arm out of the swaddle sack for 3 days, then both arms out of the swaddle sack for 3 days, and then zip up sleep sacks. The first couple days were pretty rough. Norah transitioned a little easier than Naomi because she figured out how to suck her thumb. Interestingly enough though, Naomi has become the belly sleeper and Norah still hates tummy time!

On Christmas Eve, we flew to Cincinnati to be with Michelle’s immediate family. We decided to check the car seats this time, and it made life so much better! The babies did pretty well on their two flights there. However, they were awful that evening from being overtired and overstimulated. Maybe they were also just too excited for Santa?! This was not the first impression we wanted them to give their aunt and uncles! The next day, they slept through Christmas mass and the opening of their presents to make up for it. It was wonderful to have Grandma and Papa babysit, so we could go visit my alma mater and have a movie/Skyline date. Even though they were now seasoned travelers, the girls struggled a bit on their second flight (the 7th flight of their short lives) home. It was an afternoon/evening flight, like their flight home from Kansas City, and I think this was part of the problem. By the time we got home at 11 on New Years Eve, everyone was ready to go to bed!

At 4 months, Naomi and Norah enjoy when we hold them so the can stand up and have dance parties, blowing bubbles, and giving big toothless smiles. Norah hates tummy time, and Naomi usually rolls onto her tummy shortly after being put in her crib. Sometimes she gets frustrated to wake up and find herself on her tummy, and we kindly remind her that she chose that position! For the record, we definitely think they are identical, as they seem to look more and more alike the older they get. It is still difficult to tell them apart, especially as their heights and weights get closer together. We are still painting a few of Norah’s nails, but we are counting down to the 6 month ear piercing appointment!

 

 

Crockpot Thai Chicken Peanut Curry

This recipe is only 227 calories per one cup serving for all of you working on those New Year’s resolutions!

Prep Time: 25 minutes

Cook Time: 30 minutes

Feeds: 4-6 people. Yields 12 cups

Ingredients:

  • 2 pounds chicken
  • 4 tablespoons coconut oil (or olive oil)
  • 4 tablespoons Thai red curry paste
  • 1 can (13.5 oz) of coconut milk
  • 6 tablespoons peanut butter
  • 2 tablespoons fish sauce
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1/4 onion, chopped
  • 2-4 tablespoons red chili paste
  • 1/2 can water chestnuts, chopped
  • 1 habanero, seeded and minced
  • 2 cups stir fry veggies
  • optional garnish: cilantro
  • optional garnish: green onion
  • optional garnish: peanuts


Place all ingredients, except for the veggies in crockpot and cook for 6-8 hours on low. My grocery store doesn’t stock red chili paste so I make my own – tbl coconut oil + tsp chili powder + tsp garlic + tsp salt + tsp pepper. Add the veggies for the last 20 minutes. I would recommend serving over rice!

Chicken Noodle Casserole

This recipe is only 227 calories per one cup serving for all of you working on those New Year’s resolutions!

Prep Time: 25 minutes

Cook Time: 30 minutes

Feeds: 8-12 people. Yields 12 cups

Ingredients:

  • 12 oz. egg noodles
  • 2-3 chicken breasts
  • 1 stick butter, divided
  • 1 can cream of chicken soup
  • 1 cup cheddar cheese
  • 1.5 cups Italian style breadcrumbs

Pre-heat oven to 350°F. Cook egg noodles and chicken breasts.
I simmered the chicken in
chicken stock.

Let chicken rest and then cut into bit size pieces. Spray 9×13 pan with non-stick cooking spray. Combine noodles, chicken, half of butter, and soup in pan.

Melt remaining butter and combine with bread crumbs. Top casserole with the bread
crumb mixture and cheese.

Bake at 350°F for about 30 minutes until top is bubbly.


3 Months Old!

 

 

We are liking 3 months – more smiles, more sleep, more cooing, and no getting into mischief yet! It has been so much fun to watch the babies gain more awareness of the world around them. We are constantly amazed by Norah & Naomi! They enjoy spending time kicking and hitting the toys hanging on their play mat, listening to mommy and daddy sing, putting their hands in their mouths and each other’s mouths, trying to mimic our sounds, and looking out their window. We think they are just under 10 pounds. Naomi rolled over from tummy to back at 12 weeks, and Norah rolled from her back to tummy twice in one night at 14 weeks. Norah also is enjoying sucking on her thumb (although sometimes she struggles to figure out how to get it in her mouth!). The girls are doing 8-10+ hours between their last feed and the middle night feed, so 6.5-9 hour sleeps. However, the swaddle is the bane of my existence. While they have become experts at breaking out of their swaddles, they refuse to sleep unswaddled, so I usually have to reswaddle them at least once a night, if I want to go 9+ hours without feeding them. With Norah’s new found rolling talent, it’s now time to break this habit…

We were lucky that Darryl and June (Grandpa and Gigi) could spend Thanksgiving with us. The babies enjoyed getting to meet them and interrupting our dinners! We also appreciated that they made and froze food for future dinners.

A few weeks later, the babies got to visit with Grandpa and Gigi again, but this time in Topeka, Kansas. The babies had their first plane rides (including a ride on a prop plane!), so that they could go visit Great Grandma Drayer for her 90th birthday. Mommy stressed a little about the trip, but it went about as smoothly as possible! We decided to leave the stroller at home, as this would only be a 2 day trip. We got lucky with the TSA agents, and we were able to keep the babies in their Ergos as we went through security, which meant that they slept the whole way through! (Some TSA agents will make you take off the carrier and put it through the x-ray while just carrying the baby.) We decided to carry the car seats to gate check in order to diminish the wear and tear on them, but they are heavy and unwieldy! The babies did an awesome job sleeping through their first 2 flights. Morning flights seem to be the way to go! Derek and I sat in the aisle seats of the same row, as only one 1 infant in arms is allowed per side of the aisle due to there only being 1 extra oxygen mask. However, we got lucky that we had empty seats next to us on our flights, which made diaper changes and making formula a breeze! For some reason, the airlines have a rule that babies can’t be in carriers for takeoff and landing. This doesn’t make sense to me as they seem more secure than just in my arms. I did some research and the answers I found didn’t make sense – crushing the baby in an emergency or flight attendants needing to get baby out if you are incapacitated in an emergency, so I think it is just a liability thing.

We got into Topeka with enough time to make family pictures. We then enjoyed a wonderful birthday dinner, where family members helped hold babies so we could eat. It was great to be able to have all of the Drayer family together! On Sunday, Grandpa, Gigi, and Great Grandma offered to watch the babies, so we could go out to lunch with the other cousins. The babies were a big hit in Great Grandma’s living community! We hung out with Great Grandma’s friends during a birthday celebration and then headed to the airport. Derek and I got super lucky and were able to sit in the same row because there was an empty middle seat! The babies were fussier on the flight home. This may have been because it was longer, or at night, or bumpier, or it was just there second day of travel. While they were a little more vocal, the people around us were very complimentary.

Norah and Naomi had a couple other firsts this month. They began getting in the Christmas spirit when we chopped down their first Christmas tree. The whole family drove up to Snoqualmie Pass to meet some friends.  After a few hours of walking around the forest they picked the perfect tree for our first Christmas as a family. As well, they got to babysit for the first time, when they helped mommy babysit a 21 month old and 5 year old. They also got their first babysitter when Grandma babysat for them for a 5.5 hour evening, so we could go to Derek’s holiday party at the aquarium!

As we count our blessings this month for happy and healthy babies, we wish everyone a happy holidays!

 

Pumpkin Bread

Prep Time: 25 minutes

Feeds: 6-8 people. Yields 2 large loaves.

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups white sugar
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 3.5 cups flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1.5 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon cloves
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 4 eggs
  • 2  cups pumpkin
  • 1.5 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1/2 cup pecans, chopped (optional)
  • 1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips (optional)


Combine all dry ingredients. Then add the wet ingredients. Fold in optional ingredients Mix until smooth and pour into 2 greased 9×5 inch pans. Baked at 350°F for about 1 hour (until toothpick comes out clean).

Two Months Old!

 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Time has flown! It seems like we turned a corner at 6 weeks and then again at 8 weeks. From the beginning, the babies were pretty fussy when put down in their cribs. However, I am very grateful that we started attempting to put them in their cribs from day 1. Even though they didn’t always end up sleeping in the crib, I think we did what was best for us to get the babies to sleep and for us to get sleep. It was pretty awful for the first 3.5 weeks, but I think it will make it easier in the long run. (See our post about the first month.) At our baby prep class reunion, everyone was in shock that our babies were almost exclusively sleeping in their cribs, as their babies would only sleep in rock ‘n plays or bassinets. We explained that we decided that we didn’t want to create habits we would have to break later – the babies sleeping in our room, sleeping in a swing or rock ‘n play, or sharing a crib. And, that we focused on the babies getting enough sleep (always with an attempt at the crib), then to understand the difference between night and day, then to sleep in their cribs, then putting them in their cribs drowsy.

img_4651
One of the few times they have shared a crib (because Naomi pooped all over hers…)

We suspected that part of our struggle with crib sleeping was that the girls, especially Naomi, were suffering from reflux and gas. We began using simethicone drops and probiotic drops (Gerber Soothe and then Mommy’s Bliss) at 2 weeks. At 6 weeks, we also switched to a Enfamil A.R. formula for supplementing to help with the spitting up and reflux. This formula has rice cereal to make it thicker. Giving the babies this formula helped with the spitting up, but they got frustrated by how thick it was, so we decided to mix it with a sensitive formula with probiotics/prebiotics (Gerber Soothe or Similac Total Comfort). We also put Naomi’s mattress on a 15 degree incline. Both of these seemed to help with the babies’ fussiness; however, their digestive systems also might also just be maturing.

At 6 weeks, we also took a road trip to San Jose to see our friend/co-worker get married. This was a 4.5 day trip with 15+ hours of driving on the way down and 14+ hours on the way back. The babies handled the trip like champs! It is a good thing they love their car seats! We stopped in Portland on Wednesday evening and stayed with our gracious friends who put up with 2 crying babies and 2 excited dogs. On Thursday, we were planning on stopping at Crater Lake as we continued on to San Jose, but as they had gotten a foot of snow a few days earlier, the scenic drive around the lake was closed and the viewpoints were socked in. So we made a change in plans, and the babies instead got to experience the majesty of the redwoods at Redwood National & State Parks. We drove down Avenue of the Giants, and we almost got the car stuck in the tourist trap drive-through redwood. When we got to San Jose on Friday, the babies visited Santa Clara Swim Club, where they got to meet mommy’s old swimmers and co-workers. On Saturday our little ones were well behaved during the wedding, didn’t interrupt the ceremony, and allowed us to spend some time catching up with friends at the reception. On the way home on Sunday, we stopped at the Tillamook Cheese Factory. The babies slept in their Ergo baby carriers while we walked around reading about Tillamook’s cheese history.

The trip was really an adventure for all four of us. We had to figure out how to soothe the babies without the help of swings and rock ‘n plays and how to feed babies every few hours on a road trip. For the record, pumping and then bottle feeding the babies while sitting between their car seats is the way to go.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Prior to our trip, Naomi and Norah were eating every 3 hours like clockwork during the day and every 4 hours at night. This meant the I was only getting 4 hours of sleep on average. I would often take a 2 hour morning nap after taking Derek to the bus, but this made me feel like half my day was gone. It was also frustrating because when the babies woke me up, I would be hungry for lunch, but so would the babies… After our trip, they seemed to be sleeping a lot more during the day, and we weren’t sure if it was because they had gotten used to sleeping so much on our trip or if it was because they were going through a growth spurt. At 8 weeks, the babies got their 2 month shots, and this was painful for them but ended up being wonderful for mommy. Babies grow and build their immune systems while sleeping, so often babies sleep more after getting vaccinations. This was the case for us! The night of their shots, they went over 6 hours between feeds! In the 5 nights since then, they have continued to do a 6-7+ hour first night sleep. It has been so nice for me to get some continuous sleep in an increment over 2 hours! This means they are eating more frequently during the day, but it is worth it to get some sleep!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The girls have caught up on their weight gain, so they have now averaged an ounce a day since birth. Norah was 7 lb. 14 oz. and 21.5 inches. This put her in the 25th percentile for height! Naomi was 7 lb. 11 oz. and 20.5 inches. Our little ones have soft hair, pot bellies, outie belly buttons, and long legs. They are still wearing newborn clothes, but the pajamas are starting to get a little small due to their length. The girls started giving me and Derek smiles last week and have started cooing and making noises besides crying! They enjoy looking around outside, baths, being worn in the Ergos, and taking naps during car rides and walks. They think tummy time is alright, especially if they get to do it on mommy or daddy’s chest. They tolerate puppy kisses and have started petting the dogs and cat with help from daddy. It has been fun to start to see their personalities develop, and we can now tell them apart (sometimes).

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 

Pumpkin Pie Cheesecake

The perfect fall dessert – a combination of cheesecake and pumpkin pie! (I have made this three times in the past 2 months…)

Prep Time: 25 minutes

Feeds: 6-8 people

Ingredients:

  • 16 ounces cream cheese, softened and cut into 1 inch cubes
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 eggs
  • graham cracker crust
  • 1/2 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 ground cloves
  • 1/8 ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 cup whipped topping (like Cool Whip)

Preheat oven to 325°F.

Combine cream cheese, sugar, and vanilla. Blend until smooth. Mix in eggs one at a time. Pour one cup of batter into crust.

Add pumpkin, cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg into remaining batter. Stir gently until well blended. Spread over the cheesecake batter in crust.

Bake 35-40 minutes, until center is almost set. Allow to cool and then refrigerate for 3-12 hours. Top with whipped topping before serving.